In Search of Content - @stickyJesus Chapter 14

This is a guest post from Leigh Kramer.  You can find more about her after reading this post. “Whatever your niche in life, when you join social networks, the goal is to pepper your biblical content with interesting, culturally relevant, humorous, entertaining posts that uniquely bring God's voice into your area of wonderment of expertise.” -@StickyJesus, p. 160

This week I've been trying to answer two valuable questions for anyone involved with blogging and social media.

1.      Where do I get my ideas from?

2.      How do I decide who (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to follow?

As we've discussed throughout this @StickyJesus Read-Along, there are many things clamoring for our attention, both on-line and in real life.  It's important to sift the good from the bad, as well as identify your go-to sources for inspiration.

Consider your interests.  Bookmark sites or articles that make you think or stir your heart.  I have an Inspiration bulletin board in my office, to which I tack my favorite pictures, quotes, things that remind me of who I am and Who I'm writing for.  This isn't limited to online content either.  Pore over magazines, newspapers, books and gather ideas from these sources.  Write down a list of topics if you want.  I keep a notepad by my bed because I often get my best ideas before falling asleep.

Some days we simply don't have anything to say.  It's OK to take a break, no apologies or excuses necessary.  We should write from the overflow of our hearts and sometimes our hearts need to rest.  When you come back to your blog, you may find yourself refreshed and open to how God might use your latest composition.

I have two features on my blog that provide me with regular content.  First, Sunday Sentiments (http://hopefulleigh.blogspot.com/search/label/Sunday%20Sentiments) allows me to explore what God is teaching me or where I'm struggling spiritually.  Second, my 32 Things Before Turning 32 list (http://hopefulleigh.blogspot.com/p/32-things-before-turning-32.html) provides more lighthearted fare.  Both features tap in to what my blog is about: a Midwestern girl who purposely transitioned to the South in search of more adventure, fried pickles, and deeper faith.

I'm almost always participating in a Read-Along (case in point here) or a link up series (such as Remarkable Faith on Giving Up on Perfect (http://www.givinguponperfect.com/2011/03/do-you-have-a-remarkable-faith/) ).  Read-Alongs and link ups are great for building up your audience, as well as forming connections with other bloggers.  My one caution in this is to make sure your blog is not comprised entirely of other people's ideas.  You want your readers to connect with you and your voice!

This brings us back to the second question.  Who do you follow?  When should you stop following someone?  Is there such a thing as following too many blogs?  The answer to all of these questions is that it depends.

A friend recently asked me how many blogs I followed and what made me follow them.  Most of the bloggers I follow write in such a way that draws me in with our common interests, furthers my thinking, challenges me in the best of ways, and inspires creativity.  Some are Christian bloggers, some are not.  Some write food blogs, some write mom blogs, some write about what it means to write.  If you looked through all that I read regularly, you might have a sense of who I am.

While Toni and Tami educated us on using a reader, I prefer to use a few methods.  I subscribe to close to 60 blogs via RSS on my Bookmark Toolbar, Blogger Dashboard, and then email for those that  tend to post more sporadically or move me so much that I want the hard copy in my inbox.  That is a lot of reading, you might think!  Well, yes, but not every blogger posts every day and this is also why I stagger the way I receive my information.  I generally prefer to go to the actual blog so I can be sure to comment.  I don't comment on every post I read but I know how much I appreciate when someone comments on one of my posts and I know that this furthers the conversation and connections we're forging.

This is what works for me for so many reasons.  But I am me and you are you.  However you decide to gather content, tailor it to best suit your needs.  The rest is blogmaking history.

In May 2010 Leigh intentionally uprooted her life in the Chicago suburbs by moving to Nashville in an effort to live more dependently on God. Now working as a pediatric social worker, she writes about life in the South, what God has been teaching her, and her ongoing quest for the perfect fried pickle.  You can follow her adventures on Twitter @HopefulLeigh and her blog: http://www.HopefulLeigh.blogspot.com