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10 New Year’s resolutions for bloggers

Your church may host blogs on your website — perhaps one by the pastor or several tailored to various interests. As the newness wears off, it’s easy to let blogging slip to the bottom of the “to-do” list. However, don’t stop. These tips can make blogging easier and more effective.

1. Do more with your blog posts. Take a popular blog post (one that has many comments or the one that has received the most hits). Turn the subject into a sermon, post it on article directories, convert it to a podcast or video or just add it to the church e-newsletter for non-blog readers. (Be sure to promote it using different media!) Repurposing your blog content enables you to do more with the same idea or text. You can use it verbatim, explore the subject from a different angle or expand on one aspect of the post. Perhaps, you can write part two. For example, if a post about ways to volunteer as a family in the community had many readers, create another post with more ideas or write a new post expanding on one of the suggestions.

2. Make your blog easy to find. Pick a URL that is easy to understand and remember or make your blog part of your church's website. Make it easy for readers to subscribe to your blog. Most popular blogging platforms like Wordpress or Blogger allow you to publish an RSS feed automatically. If you don't use a blogging platform, you may need to pay for software like FeedForAll that allows users to create, edit and publish RSS feeds. Include a “subscribe” link in every post and make it readily available on your main page.

3. Keep it timely. Evaluate headlines and news stories for inspiration. Listen to conversations. What are people talking about?

4. Use keywords. Think of a few words for which someone might search when seeking information on what you're blogging about and include those words in your text. Optimizing your blog with keywords maximizes its position in search engines, ensuring more visitors. Place a keyword in the title and include several within the post. However, don't overdo (also known as “keyword stuffing”). Search engines can delete a post so saturated with keywords that the content is of little value to the searcher. Aim for a ratio of less than 2 percent keywords to total copy.

5. Understand political activity rules. As the election season approaches, be aware of political activity rules for churches. Avoid blogs supporting or condemning certain political candidates. Supporting particular candidates, regardless of party affiliation or whether or not they are part of your congregation, can endanger your tax-exempt status. Consult the IRS Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations for details.

6. Follow the “above-the-fold” rule. When buyers peek into the newspaper box, they make their decision to buy based on the content that is visible on the top half of the front page. Think along those lines with your website and blog posts.

Place the most important content to show on the initial load of the page so readers don’t have to scroll to get to it. Include the name of your church, a navigation bar, feed information and any other important details you want viewers to access right away.

7. Take advantage of Google Search. By using the Google Site Search (which costs at least $100 annually), you and your readers can use Google’s search capabilities for your blog. You can make the search page appear similar to your blog layout by using various themes.

8. Don’t forget the small stuff. Check spelling as well as your picture and other links. Proofread.

9. Use tools. Check out FeedBurner or Google Analytics to determine who is reading your blog, so you can tailor your posts to your audience.

10. Enable your blog-comment feature. Schedule a time each week to evaluate and respond to comments.