Four Extraordinary Blog Writing Tips From An Ordinary Blogger

I don’t have a doctorate in blogging studies.

I’ve only been doing this for two years and some change. But I read dynamic viral blogs with huge e-followings. And I also read many thought-provoking blogs with not so huge e-followings.

I learn from everyone. None of this is groundbreaking info, just tools I picked up after a couple of years of poor trading. As a service to the awesome folks in my loyal e-circle here are my four top tips for succesful blog writing:

Write about what you love

Everyone is an expert on something….Oh, you don’t think you are? Let me ask:

What do you day dream about when you’re at work/church/school?

Now go write about it.

Food? Family? Crossfit? Relationships? Mini schnauzers? The “Walking Dead”? A TV show may seem like a trite topic to consistently blog about. But there are literally thousands of WD crazies who’d love to find an e-community that shares their passion.

The world doesn’t need less passionate writers. Half hearted writers produce half-hearted readers and no real following. Might as well be etching your posts on the floor of the Pacific.

No topic no passion is too narrow. It’s the world-wide web for Mary’s sake, someone out there shares your love.

Shorter is better

For blogging this may be the most important advice I can give. I’ve learned it the hard way.

This isn’t writing a thesis or some academic journal. If your word count reaches higher than 1,000 words you need to break the post up into a series. I try to keep my posts around 600 words (this one is 575). First time Internet visitors will scan before they engage. Intimidate them with length and you’ll lose them forever.

If readers want a longterm commitment they’ll pick up a book. They don’t, that’s why they’re at your blog. This “shorter” principle also goes with sentence length and paragraph length. Our collective attention spans are shorter than ever, so you better believe your audience reflects that.

Find your own unique voice

No one here is John Donne or John Piper or Jon Acuff. People know where to find their work. They want to read something from your unique perspective not some parroted regurgitation.

Talk about your quirks, your family, your fears, your triumphs. Be a real person not a ghost writer.

You have a specific God-given voice no one else in the world has. People aren’t reading your blog to hear the echo of someone else. They want to sit down and have coffee with you. They wouldn’t be there if they didn’t. Be conversational and use words to engage not impress.

Aesthetics Matter

This isn’t a book with static text pages. It is a comprehensive social experience. Make it simple and attractive. Make it clean and user-friendly. You may boast the literary skills of GK Chesterton, but if a reader gets a migraine from your theme forget about a following.

As a new self-hoster I am trying to get better at this. I may have contracted plug-in diarrhea with my new-found freedom so expect some scale backs here in the near future.

One or two photos may illustrate nicely. But bolding, italics, and especially headings (H2!) will make your main idea pop.

There it is. Top secret blogging tips from a non doctorate blogger. Free of charge to you my dear readers (and fellow bloggers).

What tips do you have for first time bloggers?

Bryan Daniels

Cheesy Movies And Gospel Adornment (SHARK-O-SAURUS!)

I’m a sucker for the cheesiest movies.

The Attack of SHARK-O-SAURAS!!!

I mean, overtly cheesy movies. I gravitate to them like a moth to a flame. Pretentious acting mixed with terrible special effects hooks me every time. I was recently transfixed by “Legend” (1985), which features an elf played by a young unibrowed Tom Cruise. It’s also replete with Goblins and a pair of endangered unicorns.

Tom Cruise in Legend
The Unicorn and Unibrow unite.

My wife saw the melodramatic cheese and immediately said, “Don’t record it.”

“Seriously, don’t record it.”

“Bryan.”

I recorded it.

A goblin chopped one of the unicorns horns off and the magical world of fairies and gnomes turned into a deep winter Narnian nightmare. Epic stuff.

I’m also a sucker for some of those Syfy Channel made for TV movies. They usually feature an 80s child star and dazzling Atari level special effects. Typically, you can bet on a helicopter faceoff with gigantic mutant Gators or Sharks or Snakes or Spiders.

Syfy Shark classic

The Artist’s Gospel Dilemma

I’m not as smitten with cultural Christian cheese.

I don’t want to offend anyone blessed by the following, but I had to turn off the movies “FireProof” and “Facing The Giants” after a few minutes of viewing. I don’t have the stomach for that flavor of cheese.  If you really have something worthy to say, say it in the most powerful, meaningful, excellent way you can.

The gospel is the most spellbinding beautiful message in heaven and earth.

If we are going to “adorn” it with our art, I say make it the most spellbinding beautiful art the world has seen. Acting should be high quality and nuanced. A plot should have depth and grit. Production should be top of the line.

This goes for our endeavors in writing, music, finger painting, breakdancing, etc. CCM radio shouldn’t sound like an infinite loop of the same rehashed pop country songs. In some cases the contributions are literally rehashed pop country songs.

I’m not a model for this. But I’m trying to get better at my craft (if blogging could be called that).

Not Cool, Creative

I’m not saying we should be “cool” in the trite cultural sense of that weak word. Christ never set up a Kingdom of self-assured cool kids. “Cool” is a term beneath the gospel. But our message and our art should have a winsome way of attracting souls (or even repelling them in some cases). Don’t ever let someone walk away from your baby with a neutral shrug.

We have a God breathed word empowered to resonate with human nature and experience more than any other word in the world.

Be excellent with whatever skill He’s given you.

A God who is Creator has imaged children who are creative.

To be less than that is to be less than human.

What’s Your Favorite Cheesy Movie?

Bryan Daniels

Whoops…

It’s likely your friendly email spam monster ate my last post. Turns out posts that have titles that include “Hit me up” and “Facebook” raise a red flag in the spam bot system.

I guess the scurvy spam bots assumed the post was from some webcam scam based out of the nether-regions of the Eastern bloc.

Blog and learn.

The gist of my last post: Like me up on the “Chief of The Least” Facebook page (sidebar to your right), it would be greatly appreciated.

Thankfully yours,

Bryan Daniels

 

Hit Me Up On Facebook Yo!

The Chief is taking over Facebook!

Ok…we’re not really a tiny blurp on Zuckerberg’s radar…but you can help with that.

Facebook pioneer
I’m addicted to Facebook…take all the private info you want Mr. Zuckerberg…

If you’re into connecting through social media let me direct your attention to the sidebar. “Chief of The Least” just started an official Facebook page. It’s situated between the “Subscribe” menu and “Twitter” feed to your right. If you have a Facebook, I’d be honored if you “like” the page.

I still have some doubts that the WordPress.com helper monkeys transferred all my followers from the previous blog. Posts on .org are getting less than half the traffic they did in the previous blog.

Regardless, I appreciate the faithful readers who made the treacherous Oregon trail-esque journey with me over here. I write because I love to write. Connecting it with an audience is a bonus I don’t deserve.

Peace and grace,

and don’t forget…

Word is: Facebook is holding his soul hostage.
Word is: Facebook is holding his soul hostage.

Bryan Daniels

 

Big Blog News: “Chief of the Least” is Moving

In a month or so, “chiefofleast.com” will move to “http://www.chiefoftheleast.com/.” The name is virtually the same, but the significance is I will be going from a Wordpress.com hosted site to a self hosted site (WordPress.org). My next post will cover why I’m making the switch, but for now I want to reveal my major reservation in doing this.

WordPress.com does an excellent job of connecting fellow bloggers within the WordPress.com community. The WordPress reader, tag surfing, like button, and easy follow tabs are all great features. With a self hosted blog I have none of those easy mechanisms that foster an e-community. As a result I will be losing an overwhelming majority of my blog followers.

If you hit the “follow” tab to subscribe to me on this site you will no longer be “following” me at the new site. Pretty soon, that will mean no more “Chief of the Least” for you.

Tragic news I know (especially for me I assure you). Some of you I’ve only had the pleasure of knowing a few weeks…..*a single tear drop falls down my cheek*

But the solution to this is simple.

Click the link to the new site —–>(http://www.chiefoftheleast.com/) and follow by entering your email of choice and hitting the “Subscribe” button on the sidebar.

The new blog is updated and running (and very similar to this one), and I do have a few exciting bells and whistles I’ll be adding to it the next few weeks.

If at all possible, I don’t want to lose any of you guys and gals. Not because you’ll miss any blessing by re-following, but because I’ll miss out on the overwhelming encouragement and blessing you have been to me.

So in order to confirm I’m not making the worst mistake in my blogging life, won’t you just mosey on over to the new blog and subscribe so we can stay BFF?

Thanks a bunch.

Peace and grace to you and yours.

Bryan Daniels

PS

I ain’t too proud to beg….

2012 Chief of the Least Blog Year-In-Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for “Chief of the Least.” I share this because you guys (readers, lurkers, subscribers) are the reason for this blog’s existence.  I am consistently encouraged and grateful for the cloud of e-witnesses I’ve come to know through blogging. Thanks for your involvement, may God bless your pants off (figuratively) this new year…

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 72,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Chief of Least Twitter Year-In-Review

A short journal of the year that was for me in pithy sarcastic 140-characters-or-less tweets. As you can see, I can rarely be taken seriously within the bounds of Twitterland. If you can handle the random cheese, follow me up:

Bryan Daniels

Is Punching Cats The Cure For Manboobs? The Internetz knows….

(Please don’t take any of this seriously)

People are delightfully weird.

I appreciate this.

Because deep down, so am I (as my wife can attest).

Every few months I peruse the “search terms” tab in my dashboard for the sheer enjoyment of basking in other people’s quirky internet search items. For the record, the overwhelming way most people find “Chief of the Least” using the mysterious algorithms of SEO is by looking for “awkward christmas photos.”

Supposed internet anonymity brings out the latent weirdness in folks.

As pointed out in a previous post, many people come to my neck o’ the internet through searching “Rastafarian Polygamous women.” Somehow a post I wrote on Mormonism and a separate post that mentions Rasta music got hopelessly intertwined as they traversed the high-speed internet. I’m sure some Bob Marley lovin’ stoner with a sexual addiction was displeased when he found my blog.

Here are some more recent search term gems I’ve dug up for your pleasure:

“p90x insanity manboobs”

I’ve done both “Insanity” and “P90x” workouts in past. Both regimes have their positives, but I can’t really say either combats the serious heart breaking condition of gynecomastia. The most unfortunate phrase for those suffering from this disease is: “Pool Party!” Seriously, the best anecdote is to eat healthy, stay physically active on a daily basis, and find a girl who likes you for you.

“purple haired lady in old testament”

I don’t recall ever studying a purple haired prophetess in Sunday School. Pretty sure I mentioned a notable TBN female character’s, er, “hair extensions”, during a post about an Old Testament prophet. Who knows: Joseph’s coat of many colors could very well be a foreshadowing of some modern Christian TV personality’s mane of many colors.

“cat punch”

I’m not gonna lie. I have fought the urge to punch a cat before. But I don’t think I’ve ever divulged that information to anymore. Except now. They’re so self-assured. So laid back. So bored with you. And at the same time in a feline fit of rage they may unexpectantly maul the living crap out of your ankles. No thanks.

I’m curious what gems you dug up from the dusty recesses of your dashboard? Do share.*

Bryan Daniels

*Please keep it family friendly as possible…

The Danger of The Web…

“The danger of the web is this: where everyone has a right to speak, everyone ends up thinking they have a right to be heard; and when everyone in general thinks they have a right to be heard, then you end up with a situation where nobody in particular is listened to.” -Carl Trueman, Minority Report

My Summer Sabbatical (Follow Me)

As you may have noticed, I’ve taken a sabbatical from consistent blogging. As family time, summer part time jobs and football camps have taken precedent I’ve taken an extended leave from this blog. I really don’t “feel” like taking the time to contribute any coherent consistent blog thoughts on God, family, and life in general.

Focusing my time on leading and loving my wife and two sons seems like the best choice right now.

I’ll be back in commission at some point. I don’t know when for sure. But the itch to write rarely leaves me for long.

Meanwhile, I’ll devote more free time to reading this summer rather than writing. I want to keep a steady balanced diet of fiction and nonfiction works. First up is Jared C. Wilson’s Christological examination “Your Jesus Is Too Safe.” Next, I plan to finally finish off Leif Enger’s “Peace Like a River.” I’ll see where the summer wind blows me after those (I have a slight addiction of purchasing books I never get around to reading).

I’d also be honored if you follow me on Twitter. I may not have the mental fortitude right now to daily blog, but I can manage to tweet a few daily random blurbs in 140 characters or less. Probably half of my tweets are serious theological musings, the other half trite tongue in cheek snarks about current events. Excuse my sarcasm in advance.

Thank you guys for your continued involvement and encouragement on my little corner of the blogosphere. I’ll see you around soon.

The grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.

Bryan Daniels