Thursday, March 14, 2013

Titus 2 for Bloggers

As I've gotten back into blogging, I have to admit that I've been thinking of all kinds of things - and wishing I had a a great blog mentor or several. I imagine I'm probably not the first blogger to ever think this. I occupy a small little corner of internet, but I love to write and most of all, to share ideas with people, and stepping out online seems to raise all kinds of questions that I wouldn't have thought of beforehand.

One thing I've struggled with, quite frankly, is trying to figure out how much to share online. Obviously, I wouldn't post my home address and all my contact info online for anyone to see. And I try to be mindful about sharing stories that aren't entirely my own unless I have the permission of the other person involved. However, I don't want to go too far in the opposite direction and let nothing of myself show through in my writing. I've seen many different approaches online, but I'm still trying to figure out which would work best, and I could certainly use guidance with that.


Related to that is the issue of how to deal with commenters. Keeping down spam is relatively easy. I can't stand verification boxes or captchas, so I don't use them. I just set up comment moderation and check it a couple times a day. As a general rule, unless something is either spam or a personal attack, I go on and approve the comment. I don't mind debating issues because, done respectfully, I think we can bring out the best in each other and sharpen our skills and understanding.

However, I do wonder about how to deal with some of the more hostile folks out there. I hadn't realized it until it was brought to my attention in a recent email from a friend, but apparently there are groups online that pretty much exist for the purpose of mocking and sometimes even attacking Christian bloggers. I looked into what I was told and most of it looks harmless (though very rude), but knowing that there are some folks out there who hate various Christian bloggers enough that they would go digging through blogs and researching us online so that they could post private information, report bloggers to the authorities for various things, hound them to the point that they have to take their blogs private, etc... made me feel a little nervous. And perhaps a bit exposed and vulnerable. And, I'll admit, I'm not quite sure how to handle that sort of thing.

While I've used Facebook in the past, and I'm feeling my way around Twitter and now Pinterest, interaction with people that I don't know offline, but whom I have come to enjoy reading and whose wisdom I respect is very new to me. I feel comfortable with the basics of online etiquette (don't update your Facebook status 50 times a day, don't plagiarize other blogs, be responsive to commenters, etc...) but navigating the maze of relationship building online can be tricky. And as an introvert by nature, I sometimes still get that tongue-tied middle schooler feeling.

With all of that, it's hard not to wish for a relationship with a more experienced blogger/teacher. Am I the only one? Or have some of you been looking for that, too? If you've found good teachers, please share that in the comments, too! I feel like I am still exploring my way around the internet, finding new sites and checking to see what their teachings are like, so I may very well have missed a resource.

17 comments:

  1. Do you read Christian Mommy Blogger? I've found their advice to be very helpful, and they're very responsive to questions about everything blog-related.

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    1. I have not read that blog yet, but I'm definitely going to check it out. Thank you!

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  2. Hello Amy,
    Blog about what the Lord leads you to blog about. Blog what you know, your experiences. What is your spiritual gift? Can you discuss that. Such as, is your gift hospitality--then blog how that plays out in your life. Maybe its recipes or organization for guests, etc. Wishing you all the best:-)
    Blessings,
    Suzanne

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  3. I agree with Suzanne. I've struggled to find my "voice" online as well, but the best advice I read somewhere was to just be myself. I've come to try and not compare my small space in the blogosphere with other blogs - particularly big bloggers. That always leaves me feeling odd somehow. But I feel like God has called me to just write in my small space about things I think about or experience, and try and spread His Word through that way. I feel the most satisfied in that.

    I love your blog, Amy, keep being yourself.

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    1. Oh, thank you, Sarah! I like your blog, too, and I'm so glad to be back online and catching up with it again.

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  4. Always a balancing act, isn't it? Just one more sphere where we can apply the words of Jesus to rejoice when people persecute us and say all sorts of evil against us.

    Peace and blessings,
    Daja

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  5. I've been blogging for almost 7 years and I still am trying to find way through this. We are pioneers of sorts because we don't have anyone who has gone before us to look to as examples.

    One bit of advice I was given that I've taken to heart is, once you've shared something online it can NEVER be taken back. Even if you delete the post, it's still out there in cyberspace and people who know what they're doing (such as the not-so-nice people you mentioned in your post)can pull them back out.

    As someone else already said, just be yourself and don't compare yourself to bigger bloggers. Personally, I mostly prefer to read the smaller, lesser known blogs because they seem more sincere and share what they do because they want to, not because they're trying to make money.

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    1. So true. I tend not to think about that, but you're right. Once something has been said, it's going to be out there somewhere in cyberspace even if I later edit it.

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  6. I've been wanting a mentor for awhile. Personally, I'd like one with whom I can meet with regularly and in person, but I'm open to what the Lord has to provide. But I've been praying about it, and I feel God has impressed this on my heart, and it would be extremely helpful.

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  7. I agree with you - there are scary things "out there" in cyberspace. I've started and stopped blogging several times ... just trying to find my place in this arena. Knowing my starts and stops exist in cache files is a scary thought sometimes. But, I can't dwell on that or it'd drive me nuts.

    It's contagious to want to say more than you should. It can be enticing to want to draw people (followers) with various types of posts you might regret later on. I've found that when I listen within to the Lord's voice, that's the best way. It's daunting to think one has so many or so few followers and really not know if anyone's reading a single thing or if you're doing anything worthwhile. I guess that's where the personal satisfaction factor enters into it.

    The creative side - learning about the admin of my blog, what it can do and utilizing it is part of what I like. Writing, sharing, creating are things I love to do. Being smart about it all ... extremely important!

    I truly think about Hebrews 12:1-2 - where we're to keep our eyes/focus on the Lord. In a place such as blogging, where we need to be brave and yet careful - who knows best but the Lord? A growing experience? Blogging and the Lord? I guess so. Always focusing on Him to see what He has to say. (A learning experience always in all things, for me.)

    You've got me thinking ... big time ... about this. Hmmm.

    I notice in your about that you like discussing faith, books and homemaking. Sounds like a really good plan to me. I think someone else commented similarly about what you have been doing. That's focusing and staying on plan with just that. Right?

    And, off I go into thinking about this some more. ;) Thanks, Jenn (Visiting by way of Sarah's Homemaking Link-Up).

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    1. Very good points! I seriously doubt my blog would draw the attention of the sites that go after Christian blogs, but after I was alerted to what was going on, I saw one of those sites really tearing into some blogs that I enjoy and whose authors I like and admire. And I'll admit that made me nervous. As you said, all those starts and stops are out there in cyberspace, and that's a little scary. Like you, I try not to think too hard about that and I have no intention of letting that sort of stuff drive me into taking the blog private.

      And yes, focusing always on the Lord and how He guides our writing is so important. It's a hard journey sometimes and I do often pray that He would send me good counsel, but it's an adventure too, isn't it?

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    2. I enjoyed reading your reply. Thanks!

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  8. I have only heard of two blogs that people were attacking and neither of the authors are blogging anymore. I didn't realize that there were current sites. Makes me wonder if they are attacking the blogs that *I* read.

    I read a post that a person with a large blog wrote, and they said that you should ask someone with a larger blog to mentor you, and that you should also develop a relationship with someone who has a blog smaller than you.

    They also said that you should gather a small core of people around you and that you share information with one another, etc. I recently learned how to add a "reply" option in my comments in order to interact more with my readers. It was so easy and I didn't even know that blogger had the capability and wouldn't have known it if my bloggy friend hadn't shared it with me.

    In turn, I shared a suggestion with another bloggy friend of something I was doing. Then another bloggy friend shared an idea with me. It's just fun to bounce ideas off one another.

    Also, apparently some people don't like to leave comments on a blog where there's only a couple of comments (or no comments). So it was suggested that bloggers form a small sort of "comment club" and pledge to comment on one another's blogs for a period of time.

    I love helping bloggers learn how to do stuff that I already know. And much of what I know was taught to me by other bloggers. I just asked them how they did that, lol! :)

    I am often surprised at the stuff that people share on line, especially about their children and even about their fights with their husbands. I have seen people post pictures of their children standing out the preschool, with the preschools address and phone number right on the door.

    I have seen people put links to their church's website saying "Come join us" which basically is like saying "Come find me!"

    I didn't start blogging until my kids were in their teens. Every time I posted a story about them or my husband I asked for their permission and asked them to read it.

    Frankly, my kids got tired of me asking and kept saying "It's FINE mom!!!!" Lol! However, I still let my husband and children know when I am telling a funny story on line about something they did.

    I also had my son (and husband) read it when I did a post called "Don't Stop Hugging Your Kids!" At least, I think that's what I called it, and posts like that.

    Well, now I have written a book and hijacked your blog, lol! This was a lovely post and I would love for you to link it up Monday on my "Making Your Home Sing Monday" link party, if you'd like. :)

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing all this. It is really helpful! :)

      And yes, it does look like there are still sites out there that attack Christian bloggers. At least one specific site that was mentioned to me looks like it is still active. It made me sad, particularly for the bloggers mentioned there who have been made to feel like they had to close blogs down or take them private.

      I like the idea you mention about gathering a blogger small group to encourage and share ideas, and I know I've seen it mentioned on other blogs. I tend to be kind of shy by nature, so I wouldn't know quite how to jump in and do something like that right off the bat, but I think a group like that would be good for fellowship as well as developing as a writer/blogger.

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  9. Hi Amy!

    Thanks so much for linking up your post. I haven't felt the need for a blogging mentor, personally, but maybe that's because I'm meant to be one! The best way I've found answers to my blogging questions is just by reading what others are doing and seeing how their ideas my fit into my unique blog. I'd be glad to help you along with whatever needs you have. Hope you're having a great week!

    Mrs. Sarah Coller

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  10. Hello, I just think that you are being wise! It is kinda weird being connected to so many others that are real but their is no real relationship with many.
    I like the idea of having those Bloggy friends that walk with you.
    I can only write what the Lord is doing or has done in my life.
    Also I have heard and know of a lady who had her blog jammed from a very hostile group. I feel out of place at times because I am in a different stage in my life. I have a heart to mentor and so that is my bent in blogging.
    Blessings, Roxy

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  11. I really appreciated this post. I've am slowly getting into blogging again after several years and it's tricky! The Lord is so faithful to give us counsel when we seek Him for it, and I'm confident that He'll help each of us!

    Blessings!

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