How To Be an Others-Centered Blogger

make someone's dayYesterday, we began discussing chapter 13 of @StickyJesus which is all about blogging to impact the world for Christ. One of the points that was made is that successful bloggers provide value to their readers. This is huge! Providing value to your readers starts with how you think about your blog.

Toni Birdsong made a great point commenting:

What’s valuable to YOU all the time, is not necessarily valuable to others. You need to find in your blog topic that “common thread” of value that will cut across the masses… This takes blogging from chatty TMI essays (that will never get you consistent readers) to the next level of value and writing that is actually discipleship and teaching, which equals VALUE to all … not just you.

Self-Centered Blogging

It struck me that what Toni was talking about is the difference between self-center blogging and others-centered blogging. Self-centered blogging is simply spilling out whatever is on your mind and leaving it up to the reader to try to find value in it. A lot of bloggers are self-centered bloggers. Even the traditional definition of blog – a weblog or online journal – implies “it’s all about me.”

I’ll let you in on a little secret… other than perhaps your family and closest friends, nobody really cares about what’s on your mind.

Ouch! Harsh, I know, but think about the blogs you read. Unless you’re stalker or celebrity worshiper, you probably don’t read any blogs that sound like… “here’s what happened to me today…” and “here’s what I think about…” You’re busy. You have your own life. If you’re going to spend some of your valuable time reading a blog, it’s going to have to add value to your life. It needs to inspire you, teach you something, help you be a better person, make you laugh. Right?

Others-centered blogging

Others-centered blogging is taking what’s on your mind and writing with the mindset, “How can I help the people who are going to read this?” To become a more others-centered blogger, try asking yourself these 10 questions while writing your posts and interacting with readers.

  1. How is this post going to add value to readers? – Is the goal to inspire them? Teach them something? Look deeper at an important issue? Motivate them to take positive action?
  2. How can I write the intro paragraph in a way that quickly clarifies what the post is all about and will help readers connect with the topic on a personal level?
  3. How do I clearly, succinctly communicate the main point of the post using words and illustrations readers will understand?
  4. How can I conclude the post in a way that will motivate readers to deeper thought, discussion, or take action?
  5. Are there any related resources I can link to that would help readers even more?
  6. Now that a draft of the post is written, while proofing it do I see any places where ME gets in the way? Are there any parts that are self-promoting or unnecessarily self-revealing and should be removed or rewritten?
  7. Are there any parts of the post that are rambling and probably only of interest me? Any unnecessary tangents or bunny trails? What can I cut to save the reader time?
  8. Now that the post is finalized, what title can I give it that communicates the benefit of clicking to read the post? What will entice people to click and read the post but not in a deceptive way that would frustrate them?
  9. When readers comment, how can I demonstrate my appreciation for the value their comment has added?
  10. When responding to comments, how can I keep the focus off me and provide additional value to the commenter by encouraging them, clarifying something, answering questions?

Discussion

  1. Take a few minutes to scrutinize your last 2 or 3 blog posts. Where do your posts fall along the continuum between self-centered and others-centered?
  2. Which of the questions above do you think could make the biggest impact on your blogging?
  3. What other suggestions do you have that could help others make their blogging more others-centered and maximize the value they provide to their readers?

[image by kelsey_lovefusionphoto]

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

16 Responses to “How To Be an Others-Centered Blogger”

  1. Deep-down this is what I really want to be: an others-centered blogger. I whole-heartedly agree that no one really wants to read about MY life experience, etc. Besides, I really don't want to write about "me" unless it's something that would be useful to teach others. Otherwise it's really no one's business and I don't think anyone cares.

    This was a great post and a great reminder to me I think I'll tack this one up somewhere in my office!

    • PaulSteinbrueck Jun 2, 2011 at 2:31 pm

      Awesome, Joe! I hope you'll let me know how it impacts your blogging.

  2. Very good points. It's a hard balance and totally depends on what your blog is about. I only use my personal stories when I know they'll benefit others or they help make a point. I don't read blogs if they are talking about their kid's milestones and what they had for lunch :)

    Blessings,
    Mel
    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

    • PaulSteinbrueck Jun 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm

      Hi Mel, thanks for your comment. I took a quick peek and it looks like you're already doing a good job of others-centered blogging. What could be more others-centered than responding to questions from readers? That's a great way to serve others (not to mention a great source of topics to blog about).

  3. Awesome Paul – I knew you would nail this one! Woohoo!

  4. Thanks Paul. We're just beginning to start a couple of pastor/staff blogs here and this is excellent advice. I'm going to share with my team about how we might run all potential posts through this filter. You' ve given us a good foothold to start with.

    • PaulSteinbrueck Jun 3, 2011 at 12:30 pm

      Awesome Debi! I'm glad to hear you're giving blogging a shot. Are they blogs up and running? If so, if you post links to them I'd love to check them out.

  5. great points to consider here! i came by via a link shared on overcomingbusy.com – i'll be sharing it as well!

    cheers!
    -h

  6. helmetorheels Jun 6, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    I've been blogging a short time and recently experienced the "others focused" phenomena. It sure was an eye opener to see people resonant with wanting to share about themselves. Great post to help me move forward! Thanks.

    • PaulSteinbrueck Jun 8, 2011 at 2:18 pm

      Very cool, helmetorheels! Glad you hear you're becoming a more others-centered blogger! If you'd like to post a link to a post on your blog, I'd love to see an example and have that example here for others to see.

      • helmetorheels Jun 8, 2011 at 6:29 pm

        Paul,
        Most of my posts have been about me and my adventure getting a motorcycle endorsement and bike. Recently I asked for help gather pictures of women motorcyclists to show what we looked like – because the normal response many women get is, "you don't look like a motorcyclist." I received about 55 responses with about 85 pictures. I did a collage of the pictures and put it up on the blog. That post { http://helmetorheels.wordpress.com/2011/05/30/wha… } received almost 1400 hits in one day! Oh my. Talk about a picture is worth a thousand words, I mean hits!!
        Thanks for the opportunity to share my story.

        • PaulSteinbrueck Jun 8, 2011 at 8:11 pm

          That's awesome! That's a great example of how engaging with your readers is so much more effective that talking at them. Way to go! Thanks for sharing your story and link.

  7. This was very helpful. Thanks for sharing it.

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