Blogging Tips for Congregations
So you want to start a blog. Before you do, here are some tips, resources, and policy suggestions.
What is the purpose of your blog?
Your purpose may be to explain Unitarian Universalism, to offer pastoral messages, to discuss denominational issues, to address social justice problems, to share information about what is happening within your congregation, or to publicize a particular campaign or program
Who is your intended audience?
Potential audiences may include congregants, colleagues in ministry or professional leadership, lay leaders, newcomers to Unitarian Universalism, local press, and other Unitarian Universalist blog readers and writers. Once you have identified your intended audiences, you can tailor your posts with them in mind. (See footnote 1.)
Who will own your blog?
You may choose to write a personal blog, where you speak only for yourself. In this case, you may purchase and own the domain name, hosting plan (if needed), and other blog elements.
Or you may choose to create an institutional blog, where you speak on behalf of a congregation, organization, or committee. In this case, the purchase and ownership of the blog’s domain name, hosting and other elements may fall to the sponsoring institution.
It may be helpful to include a written disclaimer on your blog clarifying whether you are writing in a personal or institutional capacity, so that readers understand who you are representing in your writing. (See footnote 2.)
Frequency of Posting
How often will you post to your blog?
Consistency is critical to a successful blog. Readers will look forward to your posts, and will be disappointed, concerned, or just plain turned off if you suddenly vanish from the scene.
Decide on a posting frequency to which you can consistently adhere. The optimal posting frequency is probably between once and twice a week; this is frequent enough to retain your readers, but not so frequent that you will have to sacrifice quality for quantity.
Tone and Impact
What tone will your blog have and how will that make readers feel?
The design of your blog, your title, your writing style, and other elements contribute to your tone and impact.
How will you make sure your blog is a safe space for you and for participants?
A code of conduct, clearly stated in advance, can set the expectation for how readers will treat you and how they will treat one another. Consider how you will respond to comments or other communications that express hatred or disrespect, or are threatening. Remember that this is your blog; you have the right (and responsibility) to remove content that you consider threatening to your own safety or to the safety of other participants.
What kinds of information about yourself and about others will you need to keep confidential?
Consider your obligations to congregants, colleagues, family members and other people who have entrusted you with confidences.
Also keep in mind what kind of information about your self and your family can be left off the blog. For example, you don’t need to announce the exact dates that you will be out of town!
Every blog needs a good commenting policy. Here is a sample that you can adapt for your own purposes.
In The Blogging Church: Sharing the Story of Your Church Through Blogs (by Brian Bailey with Terry Storch, 2007), the authors ask “Is your blog for members of the church, or people who have never stepped through the doors? Is it for fellow staff members, or dedicated volunteers and key leaders?...Your audience will help determine your style of writing, the design of the blog, and possibly what service you use.”
Bailey and Storch of The Blogging Church write, “Does the blog belong to you or to the church? Before you take a step into the blogosphere, you have to know the answer to this question…If you’re eager to launch your new blog, ask yourself this: If I eventually move to another position or another church, will the blog come with me? Or will my replacement take over the blog and continue where I left off? The rest of your blog decisions will flow directly from this one…”
Produced by the Office of Information and Public Witness's Unitarian Universalist Blogging Resources Project.