In order to launch my new website in 2015, I read dozens of blogs and books about how to create an author website, grow a blog, and build a platform.
I learned five basic rules:
- Use catchy titles that promise something to the reader.
- Include bullet points and numbered lists to encourage them to read it to the end.
- Have a clearly-defined target audience, and you must stick to topics that relate directly to them.
- Ending a blog with a question promotes engagement and involvement.
- The look of your website should be a clear picture of who you are, your brand, and what you are providing.
The thing is, once I spent a month getting my website organized and working, when I finally sat down to start writing,
I didn’t feel like writing.
It’s like I had built a grid for what my writing should include, and in the process, I weeded out any free-flowing creativity.
It’s like I was afraid to write something that might break the formula that promised “success.”
Then, I read the book Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. (Review to come!) Here is how he breaks all those rules.
- Titles: I don’t even understand what his title means, so he certainly isn’t promising anything.
- Lists: There are no bullet points or numbered lists. The titles of the chapters don’t really give me any sort of structure either.
- Audience: I don’t know what his defined audience was. Maybe he had one. But you can’t stick it in a particular shelf, like evangelism, theology, biography, or anything like that.
- Question: He doesn’t really interact and ask questions of me. He just shared his thoughts, and I ask my own questions.
- Look: Although it isn’t a website, I don’t think the cover is very clear… its’ sort of ambiguous.
And yet, it was a best seller.
And it freed me.
The day after I read the book, I sat down and immediately wrote four blog posts – soon to come!
They won’t be targeted and they may not apply to whomever my audience is supposed to be. But they’re from my heart – fragments of words, mostly about God, sometimes about life. And if God is the only one to hear me, then that is enough.
(Should I end with a question? Well, I guess I just did.)