This week’s task in the Blogger Challenge (task #28) is to write a review. Yeah! One of the things I love about blogging is reading and reviewing — books, curriculum, experiences, you name it! I have a huge stack on the bookshelf in need of reading and reviewing right now in fact!
Ideas for Reviews
In his workbook, Darren lists a few ideas for reviews:
Personally, I do a lot of books and curriculum resources. Recently, we’ve been doing a unit on How to Use My Bible, so I’ve been trying to get reviews out on all the Cool Bible Tools we’ve discovered. I also plan on doing a few reviews on classroom decorations we’ve found (easy on the budget and fun!).
Always Room for Improvement
Darren lists many tips in his workbook to improve your reviews. Here’s two that I could improve on:
- Visuals —anything that can help your readers visualize the product you’re reviewing will help. Use pictures, videos, screen captures, or diagrams wherever you can to add depth to your review post.
- Details on How to Obtain the Item—if your review is about a product that can be purchased, give as much information on how they can buy it and how much it’ll cost.
What about you?
What kind of things do you review? What would you like to be reviewing? What are some tips for writing a great review? Leave me a comment!
I’ll admit it. I love links. I’m a connector by nature (some personality test told me that in college), so the idea of links fits great into this pattern of thinking. I once read a book about the beginning of blogging. The book highlighted some guy’s site that was one big tangled web of links (this was before you could post by days). If I could find that blog, I might end up wasting half a week checking out all the links. I often wish I could somehow build links into the pages of my journal, but since I’m still using old-fashioned paper, I guess that’s not a possibility.
One thing I don’t like, however, is dead links. There’s nothing more annoying than seeing those blue letters of promise, highlighting some interesting tidbit, clicking on it and ended up on a 404 screen or something like that.
Let me let you in on a little secret. Your readers hate that too. Dead links (or link rot) is bad for several reasons. Darren Rowse shares these in his workbook:
- Readability—clicking on a dead link can mean your readers can end up on error pages or being redirected to other irrelevant content. This can lead to reader frustration and give the impression that your blog is old and out of touch.
- SEO—I’m unsure of the technicalities or what the latest research shows, but from what I can tell, a dead link is unfavorably looked upon by search engines which means you run the risk of penalties.
So, how can you get up to speed? Darren lists several free programs that track down dead links (in the workbook). Check a few out and start eliminating those dead ends!
For this week’s task (#26) in the Blogger Challenge, you are to improve someone ELSE’s blog. Not only will you leave a good impression with a fellow blogger, it’s just an all around nice thing to do. I remember when I first started blogging and had signed up with Beacon Ads. Tony from Ministry to Children was the first one to buy an ad space. He did it to show support for another ministry blogger. I have to say, that left me with very positive feelings toward’s Tony and his blog, and I send readers there whenever I can. (Speaking of which, check out the great Mother’s Day ideas over there!)
What Are Some Ways You Can Improve Another Blog?
- Write a high quality guest post that will be useful to another blog’s readers
- Leave helpful and insightful comments
- Link to the blog and share your readers with them
- Recommend to your readers to subscribe to their blog
- Email the blogger with some suggested topics you’d love to see them cover
- Check out the workbook for more ideas and tips on guest posting
My Favorite Way: Link Love
It’s hard to make your way around the web, checking out all the great content every day. Whenever possible, I try to link to other blogs, highlighting their great content. Check out some of these link-loving posts:
Blogs I Hope to Improve
Out of all the super quality blogs out there, two I’ve really clicked with are Ministry to Children and A Different Way. They always seem to have something helpful on the radar, and the guys who run them are always willing to give back. Over the next month, I hope to leave some helpful comments and direct readers their way whenever possible.
What About You?
What blog do you hope to improve this week (or month)?
After taking a break last week for TV-Free Activity ideas, we’re back with the Blogger Challenge! This week’s task (#25) is to ask a question. There are many reasons to ask a question in your post. Here are four big ones:
- It gives readers a sense of community and participation—there’s nothing like coming to a blog where readers are interacting; it gives the blog a sense of being alive.
- It increases Blog Stickiness—people are more likely to return to a blog if they’ve contributed.
- Reader answers can fuel future post ideas for your blog.
- Well-worded questions can often rank high in search engines. Pick a question that people will ask when they search the Web for answers and optimize your page for that question, and you could rank quite well.
Seems simple enough. Be on the look-out for a question post here in the next week or two. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know if you’ve got a question on your blog so I can answer it!
Update: Check out the great response Joey got on his Question Post: How Do We Know God is Real?
For this week’s task (#24 in the Blogger Challenge), you’ll be doing an offline activity. All you need to complete it is a pack of sticky notes, a notebook, a pen, a magazine (or a newspaper), and an hour of time.
You can do this at home, at the library, or even at a Barnes and Nobles (or a Borders if yours hasn’t closed yet!). If you head to Borders, I recommend the Raspberry Mocha Kiss (yum!). Any magazine will work, but for our type of writing, those focused on the ministry might be especially helpful.
Here’s some benefits of this task:
- Marketing Ideas—the way the magazine markets and pitches itself to readers can teach a lot, particularly what they do on the front cover as it’s all about convincing people to buy the magazine.
- Post Ideas—whether I choose a magazine on my blog’s topic or not, I almost always come away with a story for a new post. Sometimes the inspiration comes from a completely unrelated topic, but the article’s headline or title could be applied to my niche.
- Learning About My Niche—if you choose a magazine on your topic it’ll keep you across the latest news and developments.
- Writing Tips—a good article on almost any topic can teach you a lot about effective communication
- Reader Engagement—while a very different medium, magazines are increasingly trying to become more interactive with readers by running competitions, setting up online areas, and using reader contributions. I often gain sparks of inspiration from watching how magazines reach out to readers.
Check out the workbook for Darren’s complete process and more details on this assignment.
What about you?
What are you favorite magazines? And what kinds of things do you think you could learn from them?
TOTAL SIDE NOTE: Target.com has some awesome daily deals today! If your family loves to play games, check out the 17 family board games Target is offering at 30% off today only. As always, Target Daily Deals include free shipping. Grab one for your family in preparation for TV FREE WEEK (next week!). More details here.
This week’s task (#23) in the Ministry Blogger Challenge is to write a post that contains some kind of a call to action While this type of post might not be one that you’ll use all of the time, it’s a handy style of post to have in your tool belt of blogging techniques. There are different types of actions you might be interested in seeing your readers participate in:
- Implementing an idea that you’ve written about
- Subscribing to your RSS feed or an email newsletter
- Buying an affiliate product
- Writing a comment
- Voting in a poll
- Making a donation to a charity
- Voting for you on a social bookmarking site
- Buying a product that you’ve developed
- Visiting another site
- Hiring you for some service that you offer
- Reading another piece you’ve written on your blog
Some of the actions will benefit you as a blogger and others will benefit a cause you’re writing about. Some might do both.
I’ve done a few posts along these lines
Of course, I ask for comments on most posts. I’m also thinking about adding some polls to regular posts. I’m hoping to walk in our local Women’s Care Center’s walk-a-thon coming up soon and was thinking about asking readers to contribute support to that. What about you? What could you do to call your readers to action?