Top Posts of 2012

top post of 2012 blog postEach year, I try to share with you the top posts that had the most views for that year. I challenge you to go back and read them or if you missed them the first time, here is your chance to check them out. Also, leave me your thoughts as well so that your voice can be heard. So, without further ado, here are the top posts that my viewers viewed this year.

  1. Freebie Friday: Photo Scavenger Hunt List
  2. Bible Study: The Millennial Reign of Christ
  3. 4 Thoughts to keep students in church after graduation
  4. Top 10 Student Ministry Organizations to Follow on Twitter
  5. Top 10 Student Pastors you should be following on Twitter
  6. Top Places to get Student Ministry Resources
  7. Freebie Friday: Student Ministry Lesson on Sex and Dating with Powerpoint
  8. 5 Simple Thoughts on Influence
  9. 7 Major Topics you should preach on each year in Student Ministry
  10. My top 5 Epic Fails in Student Ministry

Enter for a chance to win #Going Social by Terrace Crawford

Terrace Crawford is a good friend of mine. We have connected through social networking, and have built a relationship that way. Terrace is one of the best bloggers and profiles to follow on twitter. He knows what is going on and what is working with social media, and what is not working. He recently wrote a book entitled, “#Going Social.” The book released yesterday, and I encourage you to order it. I actually am still waiting on my copy to come in the mail, but I am convinced that he will not disappoint with this read. You can enter for a chance to win a free copy by going here! Also, you can visit the #going social website by clicking here.

Enter for a chance to win “#Going Social” by Terrace Crawford!

Student Blog [by a student] that you need to check out

I had the opportunity to speak in St. Augustine, FL during my vacation last week. I spoke to the student ministry of “Turning Point @ Calvary.” They were a great group of students, and I loved being able to be a part of their student ministry. I was able to build some relationships while there with some of their students. One of those students is Brandon Gilliland. This kid is a world changer for as young as he is. Brandon leads worship in the praise band at Turning Point. He also blogs regularly! It is somewhat unheard of that a student can be growing in their leadership development and relationship with Jesus at such a young age. It was refreshing to hear. I love sharing youth and church leader resources, but realized that I have never shared a blog or resource from an actual student. I encourage you guys to follow Brandon on Twitter, and check out his blog. He blogs regularly about leadership, worship, and the Christian faith.

Check out his blog here

Follow Brandon on twitter

About Brandon: 
“Brandon is a passionate follower of Jesus who strives to “Amplify God’s Kingdom!” Brandon blogs at http://brandongilliland.com/ regularly. There, you will find posts about worship, leadership, and the Christian life.”

Question:
Do you know of a blog that is led by a student that you would like to share? Please comment below and leave a URL for the blog, and I will check it out!

Guest Post: 4 Insights I gleaned from building my own platform

“This is a guest post by Michael Hyatt. Michael is the Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the largest Christian publishing company in the world and the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S. he is an avid blogger at michaelhyatt.com This is his personal blog. It is focused on “intentional leadership.” He writes on leadership, productivity, publishing, social media, and, on occasion, stuff that doesn’t fit neatly into one of these categories.”

“Last week, I spoke at the Catalyst Conference in Irvine, California on the topic of my new book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World (Thomas Nelson, May 22). As part of my introduction, I shared how my audience has grown since I started blogging in April of 2004.

Note that these numbers reflect my average monthly unique visitors. I simply took the total number of unique visitors for the year and divided by twelve months (or in the case of 2004, eight months). With the exception of the first few years, this data came from my Google Analytics account.

I don’t share these numbers to impress you but to encourage you if you are working to build your own platform. Here are four insights I gleaned from taking a look at the big picture:

  1. It took me four years to attract more than 1,000 readers a month. In fact, I blogged for almost three years before I had more than five hundred readers a month. If you are not seeing much growth in traffic, don’t get discouraged. Focus on generating consistent, quality content.
  2. Suddenly, I hit an inflection point in my fifth year of blogging. I am not sure I can fully account for this, but I believe several factors contributed:
    • I started blogging more consistently (three days a week).
    • I focused more on my reader’s needs rather than my experiences.
    • A few big web sites linked to me, including Lifehacker. This gave me exposure to a whole new audience.
    • I found my blogging voice.

    So many people quit right before they hit the inflection point. I hope you won’t. Getting your message out depends on you sticking with it.

  3. I built a platform long before I needed it. As my audience grew, I was able to use it on behalf of my company to correct the media when they got the story wrong. I was even able to report on stories I felt the media had ignored.I also used it to promote my own products and, eventually, to generate enough income I was able quit my day job to write and speak full-time.

    Perhaps you have heard the old proverb about the best time to plant a tree. It’s also true about building a platform:

    Question: When is the best time to build a platform?
    Answer: Eight years ago.
    Question: When is the second best time?
    Answer: Today.

  4. It wouldn’t have taken me so long if I knew then what I know now. I made a lot of mistakes. I didn’t understand much about generating traffic. Social media didn’t even exist at the time.This is one of the main reasons I wrote my new book. I wanted to distill everything I have learned, so I could share it with people who need a platform but don’t have eight years to build it.

    Whether you are an author, recording artist, comedian, small business owner, or corporate marketing director, this book is for you.

Again, I am sharing this detail about my traffic to encourage you. Everything significant starts small. I didn’t achieve success overnight and you probably won’t either. But the great news is that it is possible. In fact, it’s never been easier—especially if you get started now and learn from the mistakes of others.”

5 Reasons you need to blog

Blogging is a great way to share ideas and get your thoughts out on the web for others to see and read. I personally think that blogging is bigger than it has ever been. Several years ago, I created a blog that I thought was legit and awesome, but it went nowhere. I tried to interact with others on the blog, and I tried to keep it updated regularly. I tried to blog as much as possible. It still went nowhere. Today with the social sharing sites that we have, it is much easier to get your blog out there. Now, this post is not about blog traffic or something like that, but why blog? Why do we blog? I was thinking about this, and I wanted to give you a couple of reasons why I blog:

  1. To glorify Christ- Obviously, our main purpose is to glorify Christ! Blogging is a great way to make Jesus name famous throughout the world! It is an opportunity to share the Gospel, and to give God the glory for others.
  2. To articulate my thoughts about my passions- I love student ministry! I am involved and know that God has specifically called me right now in my life to student ministry. It is a passion of mine. I love leadership and church life. These things drive me, and blogging is a way that I can create a database and archive of my thoughts and others’ thoughts on these subjects. Blogging has helped me articulate my thoughts better than ever.
  3. To train and teach others- I am trying to impact youth leaders across the globe, and not just my community. God has a much bigger impact than just your community and church. Blogging is a great way to connect, train, and teach others in our field that you may never meet face to face. Blogging helps your impact go deeper than you may ever know!
  4. To share events- It is another avenue that I try to share our major events. I have several parents, students, and leaders who have subscribed to my blog (shout out to you guys), and they can be reminded about the events going on in our ministry!
  5. To network with others- I have networked with numerous people through my blog. Now, you can do this with facebook and twitter, but I have networked with guys in my field that I would have never met or interacted with if I never decided to start blogging.

Obviously, there are many reasons, but these are just a few of the reasons why I personally enjoy blogging!

Guest Post: 10 ways to generate more blog traffic

Michael Hyatt is the chairman of Thomas Nelson publishers, the largest Christian publishing company in the world. If you click on the link, it will take you to his personal blog which you MUST check out. It is incredible. If you want thoughts on leadership, social media, technology, or blogging, he is a great guy to reference. I have been doing a lot of his reading lately, and he has blown me away lately with some of his posts. I have been so impressed with his thoughts on these subjects that I decided to share some of his stuff this week on my blog. He posted a blog that will interest you as it did me. It is entitled 10 ways to generate more blog traffic. Check it out:

“10 Ways to Generate more blog traffic” by Michael Hyatt:

“Whenever I speak on the topic of platform-building, someone always asks, “How can I generate more traffic for my blog?” Most are hoping I have a silver bullet, something that will instantly get them the recognition they deserve.

The bad news is that it’s not quite that simple. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a platform. It takes doing several things right—and doing them over a long period of time.

The good news is that it’s not rocket science. I have used these basic techniques to increase my blog traffic every year since I started tracking it in 2008 using Google Analytics. Some years have been better than others, but all have shown an increase:

Year Pageviews Increase
2008 574,778 N/A
2009 1,496,241 160.3%
2010 1,972,497 31.8%
2011 5,060,331 156.5%

Based on my experience, I believe you can dramatically increase your blog traffic by following these ten suggestions. (Forgive me if I cover some of the basics.)

  1. Write content worth sharing. Nothing I suggest in 2–10 below will compensate for weak content. If you are not writing stuff people want to read, smarter marketing will not fix the problem. Begin by creating a killer headline that makes people want to read what you have to say. Read Advertising Headlines That Make You Rich. It’s my secret sauce.
  2. Adhere to a consistent schedule. You can’t expect to increase your traffic if you don’t blog regularly. By this, I mean at least once a week. Three times a week is even better. Five times a week is best—but not if the quality of your content suffers. Frequency equals visibility.
  3. Get your own domain name. Make it easy on your readers to pass along your blog name. What do you think is easier, “yourname.wordpress.com” or “yourname.com”? This is the foundation of branding and making your blog memorable. If you can get your name or a short phrase, it is worth paying (within reason) to do so.
  4. Include your blog address everywhere. In the beginning, you are adding readers, one at a time. You never know when someone with a bigger audience will quote you or link to you. Include your blog address in your email signature, on your business cards, and on your stationery. It should appear virtually everywhere your name appears.
  5. Make it easy to subscribe to your blog. You don’t want to depend on your readers to remember to come back to your blog. Instead, you want them to subscribe, so they get every new post you write. They should be able to do so by either RSS or email. (Use both.) Position these two buttons prominently so that those who want to subscribe don’t have to hunt for them.
  6. Optimize your posts for SEO. You want people to be able to find you when they Google one of your key words or your name. I use two WordPress plugins for this: All-in-One SEO Pack and ScribeSEO. The latter analyzes every blog post you write and suggests how you can optimize it for the search engines. It is not cheap but worth every penny.
  7. Utilize social media. If you want to build visibility for your blog, you must go where the people are. In days gone by, people gathered in the marketplace at the center of the city. Today, they gather online in places like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. Which service is best? The one you will use regularly. Use social media to network, build relationships, and announce new blog posts.
  8. Engage in the conversation. Start by making it easy for your readers to comment. People today want to participate. I recommend the Disqus commenting system. (It’s what I use.) Don’t make them register. This only adds friction. Engage in the conversation yourself, reading your comments and replying as appropriate.
  9. Comment on other blogs. As you read other people’s blog posts, leave comments. I’m not taking about spamming people with invitations to read your blog. Instead, engage in the conversations that interest you and build credibility. Make sure that you register with their commenting system if possible, so there is always a link back to your blog.
  10. Write guest posts for other bloggers. Frankly, this is not something I have done. But most successful bloggers swear by it. Jeff Goins wrote a guest post for me on this very subject. He claims that it grew his own blog traffic more in six months than in the last six years. (If you are interested in guest posting on my site, here are myguidelines.)

You will also want to use a good, SEO-optimized blog theme. There are hundreds on the market. I use StandardTheme for WordPress and love it.

Finally, be patient. Building traffic takes time. Like anything else, the ones who win are the ones who stay at it after everyone else has quit.”

Yeah, gold, huh? I thought so at least. Well, if you have any thoughts, you know what to do, comment below.

Guest Post: How many blog posts should you write each week?

Looking to increase your blog traffic? Here are some helpful hints for all of you bloggers out there. This is a post that I stumbled upon entitled, “How many posts should you write each week” by Ali Luke.

“How many posts should you write each week” by Ali Luke

“When I started blogging, four years ago, many experts advised posting daily – to increase traffic and keep readers hooked. And many popular blogs do post every day (at least on weekdays).

Should you post every day, though?

Probably not.

Why?

Because:

  • If you write two posts each week instead of five (or seven), those posts will be much better written.
  • If you only post once or twice a week, you’ll usually find that you get more comments on each post.
  • If you don’t post too frequently, readers may actually read every post, instead of one in five.
  • If you don’t use up all your ideas in the first few weeks of blogging, you’re more likely to be successful in the long-term.

I normally recommend that bloggers aim for somewhere between three posts a week and one post every two weeks. Any fewer, and it’s hard to build engagement; any more, and you may find it difficult to keep up the quality.

Reducing Your Posting

What can you do if you’re currently producing five posts a week, Monday to Friday, and you want to cut back?

I’d suggest you simply change your blogging schedule, without even announcing it. Post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, or on Mondays and Thursdays. If you’re really concerned about reader reaction, then let people know your reasons: you want to provide higher-quality content, and the best way for you to do that is by focusing on just 2-3 posts per week.

Chances are, your readers will accept the change without any objections at all.

Increasing Your Posting

If you currently post once a month or less, you need to increase the number of posts you write.

Don’t make a sudden resolution to write three times a week, or you’ll quickly burn out (and you may well overwhelm your readers). Instead, work up gradually. Plan to post once every two weeks, then once every week, and so on.

Over the long term, quality trumps quantity. Sure, publishing loads of blog posts in a hurry may get you some quick attention and traffic – but it’s not going to help you build up a solid business.”

Ali Luke is a writer and writing coach, and has a weekly DailyBlogTips column on content creation. If you’re struggling to get enough writing done, check out her free ebook How to Find Time for Your Writing.

What I have learned in my first year of blogging

I am completing my first year of blogging. I sure hope that my blog has been a help and an encouragement to you. I hope that you have been challenged and educated about student ministry, leadership, and church life.

Blogging is a great way to record your thoughts for others to see. It is an easy route to express yourself. Blogging has been around for years, but in my opinion has developed even more over the last couple of years especially in the area of ministry. I began a blog about 3 years ago for our student ministry, and no one ever checked. I thought that it was legit, and I updated it regularly, but it was not big at all. Now, blogging is huge. I regularly read other blog posts about student ministry and leadership. Blogging is an art that you have to learn. Through this process, I have learned several things about blogging. Here are a few of them:

  • Blogging is an excellent way to record your thoughts- I am a naturally passive person. I struggle sometimes articulating my thoughts in such a way for people to understand and to grasp. Then, I started blogging, and I have slowly found myself articulating my thoughts much more clearly.
  • Blogging is a great way to train volunteers- I have used my blog to put down thoughts about youth leaders. Several of the leaders in our student ministry have read my posts, and been challenged to change something in their life to better fit the role of a youth leader. I was not even going for this, and it worked. What a resource that we can use for easy and quick training for our leadership.
  • Blogging is growing- The more that I have gotten into blogging, the more that I have seen it grow. I have come across many blogs that I did not even know existed. Blogging is much bigger than I thought, and it is growing.
  • Blogging is a commitment- The number one reason that people do not read your blog is probably because you are not blogging consistently. This is something that you have to commit too. Blogging takes a great deal of dedication from the writer. You must be dedicated before entering the blogging world.
  • Blogging is work- It takes work to think of a new thought to pen down for others to read. It takes time and effort to keep the blog up to date, and to make things professional.

Year in Review: Top 11 Posts of 2011

I just began blogging consistently this past year, and have really enjoyed it. I find it interesting that you have found my blog posts to be helpful and encouraging to you. I will continue blogging into the year 2012! I pray that my posts will continue to be a help to you in your area of ministry.

Today, I am going to share with you the top 11 posts of 2011 on my blog. This is based upon the number of views per post. I hope that you may have missed one of these posts, and this list could help you go back and check some of the older posts out. Here are the top 11 posts of 2011:

7 Tips on creating a Popular blog

I tried blogging several years ago to help build our student ministry, and it fell through. I thought that I could use the blog sort of like a website for our student ministry. So, I did, and it ended up being like 2 people that regularly checked it. That is not what I wanted so I disabled the blog all together. Back in February of this year, I began another personal blog. This blog was going to be about student ministry, leadership, and church life. These are three things that I regularly discuss and write about. I also share resources and helpful articles that pertain to these three things as well. I began blogging unsure of where it would take me. I thought that I could throw a few thoughts out there, unsure at or if anyone would read it. No one did at the beginning, but over time, I have acquired several regular readers of joshhevans.wordpress.com. I want to give you a few helpful tips on creating a popular blog:

  1. Find your niche – This is very important. For instance, I mentioned above, I write specifically about three things: Leadership, student ministry, and church life. 99% of my blog posts pertain to these three topics. Finding your niche is tough to do. Find what you want to write about, and write about it. Do not just blog to blog, blog with a purpose in find. Find your niche, and write about it.
  2. Blog consistently – If one thing aggravates me (I have been guilty of this) is a blog that has not been updated. I hate seeing a blog that the most recent post was from 3-5 months ago or possibly longer. If this is the case, you will not have readers look at your blog regularly. You want people to check out your blog regularly, and this will be a great way to do it. Blog every couple of days at least. This is where people go wrong, they begin blogging, and forget to update the blog. Keep it updated.
  3. Use links – At first, I never used the links, and now I do. If I mention another writer, book, or blogger, I link to their site. This is a great way to build connections with others. Also, many people will comment back and thank you for sharing their blog or article.
  4. Share on twitter & facebook – I always tweet and facebook my posts. This is a great way to share to all of your friends and followers.
  5. Use relative hashtags on twitter – If I blog about student ministry, I always use the hashtags: #stumin & #studentministry. So, when people look at these trends, they will come across your blog and check out the blog post. When I started doing this, my readers immediately increased.
  6. Tag your posts – I always tag my posts so that people can search for the topics and hopefully come across my posts. I use between 2-4 tags for every post so that I can carry the main topics of my posts for bloggers to come across.
  7. Share your blog posts in facebook groups – This is extremely helpful with student ministry. I am in a couple of student pastor groups, and I always try and share my post in their. I usually blog about topics that we are discussing so it is relative to them and their ministry. This is an easy way to get your post out there for readers to see.

Beginning a blog is a dedicated process. It is a process that you have to be committed too long term if you would like for it to become popular. If you have any other thoughts, or would like some more information on blogging, send a direct email to joshhevans@gmail.com or like always feel free to comment!