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I’m writing today to ask you for help. [If you don’t want to read “why I blog,” please skip to the “survey” at the end of this post.] I started the blog in November of last year, thinking I might post a couple or three times a week. I’ve found I enjoy it, though, more than I ever thought I would. Bogging has become for me many things — a hobby, a way in which to relax, a process for organizing and cataloguing thoughts and experiences, a means of keeping friends and family up to date on life in Tanzania, and a ministry of sorts.
Writing is a lot like running and cycling for me now, except I don’t have to shower afterwards. I think blogging serves me well because of the way in which my mind works. I believe my ability to process information is greatly heightened when I:
- put my thoughts in words, sentences, and paragraphs. There is a certain level of realization that can’t be reached until thoughts are shaped and molded to fit into a language. Blogging also brings organization to my thoughts and the ability to systematically read through them, allowing me to be just a bit more objective.
- make my thought process public, sharing with those around me. I’m not sure if I benefit more from the pressure of knowing people will hear/read how I work through a particular issue, or from opening my thoughts up to critique and improvement by others. [Both seem to be helpful.] In the states, there were dozens of different people in several groups with whom I could work through information and ideas. Here in Tanzania, though, I lack both the quantity and the assortment of friends present in the U.S. Blogging opens that group back up, providing me with a large sounding board of people from a variety of backgrounds.
I’ve decided that if I’m going to have a somewhat deep level of commitment to my blog, I will do so to the best of my ability. Not that I publish junk now — I like to think that I hold myself to a relatively high standard of writing, editing, and sharing (most of what I write does not end up on the blog). And it’s probably evident from my reasons for blogging above that I myself receive the bulk of any benefits to be had from my writing. But all the same, I’d like to have a feel for “my readership” (all six of you).
I don’t have any great survey — just a few specific questions and a general desire for you to feel free to provide feedback beyond the scope of these questions. I want to know what can make my blog better, what will help my readers enjoy it more, and how to accomplish those things. I’m open to really big changes as well as those that are quite small; and I don’t mind tweaking anything from content to aesthetics to ease of site use. Please help?
- A change in the title of the blog? Nothing against “aliens and strangers,” but maybe someone has a better idea? [I’m not wanting the title to have my name in it.]
- As far as content, which posts do you like best? I generally write stuff on Bible studies, Tanzanian culture, missionary life, theology/missiology, devotionals, practical Christianity, modern-day retellings of scripture, morning blend, sports, humor, and just thinking. Should I do more of a certain type of post? Less?
- I tend to write long posts. Should I… a) write as usual, b) make the posts shorter by dividing them into “series,” or c) just make the posts shorter, period?
- Right now I’m posting 6-7 times per week. Should I do less, or leave it the same? [More is not an option.]
- Do you like guest posts? What type and whom would you like to read?
- Are posts better with or without bolding the most important thoughts?
- Anything to improve as far as ease of use on the site?
- Aesthetically, anything I should work on?
And I’m certainly open to any other critiques or advice you’ve got. Thank you in advance to those of you who will participate in helping me improve my blog.