Nearly every church we work with at Diakonos has a blog.
That’s by design. Very rarely will we ever work with a church unless they commit to having a blog of some kind; if we do, it’s usually because they have some other kind of marketing strategy that they really want to lean into, such as paid ads, youtube or direct mail.
In fact, one of the first conversations we ever have with a church is “who’s going to write the content?” It’s almost always the preacher, but sometimes the effort is delegated to (or supported by) a deacon, elder, or one of the members who has an interest in writing.
The best case scenario is when multiple people want to write. It splits the workload, but it also gives the members a chance to get more involved in their local work.
Regardless of who writes, there are two main qualifications.
First, they have to be laser-focused on the Gospel. This is non-negotiable. The beauty of the internet is such that anyone can write anything at any time. When it comes to the church blog though, it needs to be dedicated to spreading the Gospel.
Truthfully, we don’t even care how well someone writes; topical relevance is the key, here. The only thing that matters to us is that they do want to write (and hopefully, improve their skills over time).
Secondly, they need to commit to a semi-aggressive writing schedule. Ideally, a church would post a blog a week, but the more we can get, the better.
Admittedly, a blog-first strategy is somewhat unique in the world of online marketing. That’s not because most people don’t see the value of blogs, but because there is so much competition, many agencies are in a constant race to get their clients to the top of the search results as quickly as possible.
A blog-first strategy is a long-term proposition. It may be a while before you see numbers start to increase, but we believe it’s the best choice for local churches.
Here are some reasons why.
Blogs are Cheaper
The average cost of a link can be anywhere from $100 to $1,000. Most churches don’t have that in their budget — and even if they did, I wouldn’t support it because there is enough gray area in Google’s guidelines that make the practice questionable.
To us, it seems somewhat hypocritical to use nefarious tactics to help churches advance a Gospel that is focused on holiness.
To be fair, content writing isn’t much cheaper. A good content writer will cost you at least $0.10 a word, while the absolute best can command $1 or more. When you consider that a good blog post needs to be at least 1,000 words (on average), you’re talking about hundreds of dollars every single month just to create content.
That’s why we focus on leveraging local assets. Churches are filled with local knowledge experts. In a church of even 50 people, you’ve probably got a few that have taught classes, done invitations, or studied with non-Christians. Why not use them to write content?
We view our relationships with churches as a partnership. We help provide the tools and methodology to increase visibility, but it’s the local members that do the real work.
Blogs are Timeless
The internet is based on the idea of content creation. It originated as a file-sharing network, where people from different parts of the world could share information at lightning speed.
For that reason, it doesn’t really matter what search engine eventually becomes dominant, they’ll all fall back on this central idea of what the internet is supposed to be. If churches focus on content as the hub of their online presence, they’ll have a much better foundation for future growth.
Blogs Create Assets
Think about what all goes in to creating a blog article.
You have to research. You have to create images. You have to write the actual content, which may touch on several different topics inside the same 1,000 words.
Why keep all that information relegated to just the blog itself?
Time is limited, so the more ways that you can reuse content, the more touch points you can create to reach people. You also create a sense of familiarity. They read your social media post, and it reminds them of your blog. Or sermon. Or Youtube video.
You want those touch points because they attach an authority to your content in the minds of the person reading it. The next time they think of those topics, they’ll remember where it came from.
Blogs Combat AI
Based around nascent technology like ChatGPT, artificial intelligence is taking the world by storm. A lot of people are using AI to compile information, write email headers, and yes, even create content.
But AI has a natural limitation — they cannot scrape and compile information that isn’t already on the internet. In other words, they can’t come up with anything that’s actually unique.
To demonstrate this, I even asked ChatGPT to write me a sermon. While it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t necessarily that good either. Certainly wasn’t anything that most people couldn’t put together on their own.
A blog that is composed of human thoughts and emotions is naturally going to be better, particularly in the long run. AI creates a “race to the bottom” effect where websites will eventually begin to sound the same, especially the more people use it.
The fact that your church doesn’t do that means it will naturally stand as more authoritative.
Blogs Demonstrate Authority
While I think most Christians would recoil at the thought of becoming a “thought leader” in regards to Christianity, there’s no question that having a well-developed blog gives you some authority in the eyes of the reader.
Not just any blog, though. The religious world is littered with devotional-style blogs that are largely opinion-based, whereas a blog that demonstrates in-depth research and logical thought patterns can actually help people learn. If those people feel like they’ve gotten value from your blog, they’ll return the next time they want to learn more.
The best part is you don’t have to have an advanced degree to demonstrate authority. Long-form content (2,000+ words), original research and creative visuals can take care of this for you. All you have to do is put in the work to craft quality content, and the authority will eventually come with it.
Blogs Drive Traffic
Most churches I talk to don’t care what kind of traffic they get to their website. As long as the people find them, that’s all they really care about.
But there is a huge difference in the type of traffic you can get, and there’s a lot of reasons you should care about where it comes from. Generally speaking, there are three main types of traffic sources.
- Branded: Where people are searching specifically for your organization (in this case, a church).
- Organic: Where people find you based off your appearance in search results.
- Paid: Traffic that comes from a paid source, like social media or Google ads.
Of the three, organic traffic offers you the best representation of what your reach is online. Branded traffic is when people are looking for you anyways, paid traffic (obviously) comes at a price, so the best (and cheapest) way to drive passive awareness is through organic traffic.
The irony is that very few churches in the religious world put a ton of time into their blogs. Most of them rely on events and livestream services to generate interest, despite the fact that Christians are entrusted with the greatest Message the world has ever heard. We should be writing copious amounts of info on Its material, not trying to get people in our buildings via Easter Egg Rolls and Trunk n’ Treats.
Blogs take work, but the payoff in passive traffic — the ability to educate and reach people in your sleep — is well worth it.
Blogs Drive Leads
Traffic is great, but what we’re really looking for is people to take action on the information they receive. At least in one way, this comes in the form of leads, or an email address that someone willingly gives you in order to receive communication from your church.
Leads are important because they move the conversation from cold traffic (where people are just finding out about you for the first time) to warm traffic (where they’re actively engaging with your church and looking for more info). It’s a signal that you can study with this person, just as you would if someone sat down at Starbucks next to you while you had your Bible open. You wouldn’t willingly turn down that conversation, would you?
Again, you can generate leads through paid ads, direct mail, or some other form of communication, but blogs do this on autopilot.
According to one study by Demand Metric, companies that blogged reported an average of 67% more leads than those who didn’t.
(I know your church isn’t a business, but you get the drift. Blogging works, and it especially works in getting people to respond).
Your Church Needs a Blog-First STrategy
It doesn’t really matter to me who writes your content. As stated above, as long as someone is committed to writing Biblical material about God, they can contribute.
The advent of the digital age has actually produced even more opportunities for people to contribute to the work of their local church. Whereas you used to have people that felt like they could only contribute if they were taking a public role of some kind — teaching, preaching, song leading, or something similar — now you have all sorts of people pitching in.
Digital graphics artists, tech people, and yes, even writers.
Why not put those talents to good use for the kingdom?