You may have heard a rumor that blogs are dead…
Don’t buy it.
We certainly don’t read blogs the same way we have in the past. With the death of Google Reader in 2013, most people don’t consume blogs through a subscription service anymore. But they still consume them. Today, it’s through search engines, social media, and (for our favorites blogs) email.
Your blog may be your church’s most important asset for potential guests who haven’t yet stepped foot inside your church. People generally don’t show up on Sunday morning without first checking out your website. Your blog tells prospective guests what you value and how you interact with the world.
But your blog has even bigger potential. It can also reach people who don’t even know they’re looking for a church. The people your church wants to engage have a variety of needs in their lives. They’re trying to find answers to those needs every day through search engines. For the most part, they’re not finding the church’s answers.
That needs to change.
You need a blog strategy for engaging people who don’t even know they’re looking for a church.
Here are five strategies to help you get started:
Pick out great keywords.
Keywords represent how people find your posts through search engines. You don’t need to stuff them full of keywords. Bad writing like that won’t help you with SEO.
Instead pick out keywords (or better yet, keyword phrases, also called longtail keywords) with high search volume and low competition. Also, choose keywords related to ministries your church participates in.
If you have a grief support group (and offer funeral services to the broader community), you’ll want to choose keyword phrases around grief and funerals. Want to drive people to a children’s camp? Choose some keywords around “fun summer kids’ activities.” Do you often host weddings or new couples’ classes at your church? Why wouldn’t you create keywords around weddings and the newly engaged?
Develop an editorial calendar around your keywords and personas.
Once you have some keywords identified, you need a plan for when you’ll publish posts around those keywords. Your plan should take into consideration keywords you want to target, personas you want to reach, and where people are in the process of engaging with your church. (By the way, if your church hasn’t developed personas yet, echurch has a Persona Worksheet you can download for free.)
Then decide how often you can realistically publish content. Consistency is the key. It’s better to publish one post every week than to run out of steam in a few weeks. Start slow. Pick a specific day (or days) a week your church will publish a post.
Mark those chosen days on the calendar and begin to pencil in posts connected to the keywords you’ve identified. You might want to rotate posts targeting your different personas.
Cast a wide net for writers.
Likely one of the factors holding you back from truly embracing a ministry blog is that you’re not sure you can keep up with the content-creation needs required. It’s a legitimate concern. No need to start something new if you don’t have the resources to keep it up.
But you likely have more available writers than you realize. A person doesn’t need to be a trained writer to create blog posts. Once you have an editorial calendar developed, look for other staff members and volunteers who have expertise on topics you’re planning content around. Involving more writers will make your blog infinitely more interesting, and helpful, to read.
Focus on helping people.
Your church blog isn’t primarily about your church. It’s about the reader. Certainly, you want your blog to communicate what’s important to your church, but your blog can’t be centered around your church. The people you want your blog to attract don’t care about your church. They have little interest in your ministries (at least for now). They don’t want to read your pastor’s take on last weekend’s high school football game. The people you want to engage with your blog care primarily about themselves. Typically, they are searching for content to help them solve a problem. Your content needs to focus on being a tool in that process.
Instead of writing a blog post about the wonders of your church’s marriage ministry, write a post about how to improve communication in your marriage. Then provide a link to more information about your marriage ministry. Solve their problem first, then give them a place for ongoing support.
Develop a social-media strategy for your blog.
Your blog posts have the potential to be some of your most effective social media shares. Don’t just share a post once, either. Do it multiple times. Re-frame the post a bit each time so it’s not repetitive, but you must be able to get your content out to people at multiple times during the day. Most people (hopefully) aren’t staring at their social media feeds every minute of every day.
Be a good friend on social media, too. Share the related content of like-minded people and partners in your community. People are much, much more likely to share your content if you’re sharing theirs.
A good blog that attracts new guests is only one part of an effective communications/marketing strategy for your church. Combining a great blog with an email strategy, a mobile-engagement plan, strong content offers, and a defined search engine optimization plan will take your blog to the next level. For more about how to integrate your blog with a broader marketing strategy, check out the free ebook The Definitive Guide to Inbound Marketing for Churches.