Monday, May 17, 2010

31DBBB Feedback Request

FeedbackWelcome, 31DBBB bloggers! Today I am asking for feedback on my blog. Please feel free to give any suggestions you think would be helpful on this site.
Here’s a little bit about me and my blog: I am a pastor of a small church in Grand Junction, CO. If you are interested in my personal story, it’s the first post on this blog. I have been blogging occasionally since I set up our church web site on OCC last year. Just before Paul S. started the 31DBBB thing I moved over to Blogger with a new vision to reaching a larger audience than just my church.
So I have not been at this blogging thing nearly as long as many of you. If you look at my archives in the sidebar you will see that the posts go all the way back to … April. I need all the help I can get.
I know the layout is kind of “plain Jane” (no offense, Jane) but I like the soft color, it’s easy on my eyes. Question1. Is it easy to read?
Having looked at some of the templates, layouts and widgets at Wordpress, I wish I had known it was better than Blogger before I started. I would like to have a picture or something that would be attractive, unique and informative in my header. I just have not found it yet. Q2.  What suggestions would you have for the header or general layout? (And for those of you on Blogger, do you have any tips that make it look better or work better?)
I have played around with the sidebar some since I got requests for feeds and sharing. I have been a little frustrated with Blogger (does it show?). Q3. Does the sidebar have what you are looking for?
The content of my blog is planned to be Biblical, practical help for following Jesus every day (daily discipleship). Q4. Do you find that my posts fit my pitch (Biblical, practical, helpful)?
Finally I know my writing style still sounds still sounds a little like a sermon (I’m a preacher, old habits die hard). I don’t want to come across as “preachy” even though my daughters would say that is just my natural style. Q5. What do you think of my writing style?
As a beginner, I really appreciate all of you who have much more experience in these areas. Anything you want to say might just help this poor preacher be a better blogger (or maybe a better person, I do believe in miracles!). Thanks for the feedback. Hope I can be helpful to you as well.


  1. Good morning Richard,

    I want to say thank you for being such a great part of my website. You have been faithful in commenting every day with valuable feedback and I have learned from that.

    Here are some of my thoughts to your questions?

    1. I think your blog reading difficulty scale ranges from average to moderately difficult. You make great and accurate use of words such as righteous, holiness, discipleship, and meekness. This is not bad, but I have found that people have heard these big church words their whole lives and really have no idea what they mean. I think that if you were able to put a little more of these big words into layman's terms, it would help those that might stumble upon your site to get more out of it.

    2.I think a header that pictorially(?) represents what you are going for would be a great addition. The picture that comes to mind would be maybe something like a group of people talking and Jesus holding out the Bible to one of them durin' the conversation. Only one person would be aware of his "presence". This kind of conveys what I think you are trying to do. "Help for following Jesus every day."

    3. I stink at sidebars and layouts. Some sights have a carnival feel. You know where the guys are hollering at you to come win a teddy bear, but you just keep your eyes forward and try to ignore everything they are "selling". Others are laid out pretty good and are very useful for finding related posts and more on the subject. This is what I am going to try to do.

    4. Your posts definitely fit your pitch. Personally, I would like to see more application. Your posts are very Biblical, they are practical, but I need something that I can do with it. For example, from your hunger post, you might say something like: "The next time you find yourself starving for a hamburger, stop and think that man cannot live on bread alone. When you feel your stomach growling, take a moment to thank God for continuing to fulfill your spiritual hunger and nourishment."

    I know you can come up with something a lot better than that.

    5. I am going to agree with you about the preachy part. But, I have seen things like the boxer story from a recent post that I really, really liked.

    You are doing a great job with your blog, I look forward to growing with you. Not only in our blogs, but in Christ also.

    P.S. If you like my header, email me and I can give you the people's name that helped me.

  2. To answer your last questions first, I think that your writing style and your posts are excellent. We could all use a bit of practice and improvement, but your preaching background lends the weight of authority to your words (at least from what I've seen).
    Something you might want to think about in terms of layout is seeing if you can't make the reading space a bit wider. The narrow column makes your posts look much longer than they actually are and could put some people off. It would also allow you to make wider use of pictures and images within the post.

  3. Q1. Is it easy to read?
    Yeah... This blogger template is a pretty simple, standard theme and is designed to be pretty simple and clean. I did notice that the font style and size seemed to vary from post to post... probably because of some properties hanging on while copy/pasting text into your posts. I would make sure that whatever you do there that you keep it consistent.

    Q2. What suggestions would you have for the header or general layout?
    It depends on what you want to do. You mentioned wanting to reach a broader audience, and right now your blog doesn't display your personality at all. It is easy and clean, but lacks personality. I do know that Wordpress themes may offer more flexibility, but I would definitely try to find a way to get some images in the theme to jazz it up a bit and show off who you are.

    Q3. Does the sidebar have what you are looking for?
    The Feedburner widget looks a little strange. My biggest advice here is to try to make pieces blend with the template. And you probably don't need the pieces that tell your readers how to improve their blogs. Stick with functionality that adds value for your typical reader (think of your church members). I would also like to see some more links/icons to YOUR social networking profiles (FB/Twitter/YouTube). Oh, and I don't see a badge! You should consider joining a network like that, and check out what some of those bloggers are doing too...

    Q4. Do you find that my posts fit my pitch (Biblical, practical, helpful)?
    Yup... I think that you are good here. But with little content so far, it is hard to be 100% sure right now. But I think that if you stick with your elevator pitch, and let that guide your content, then I think you'll continue to be fine.

    Q5. What do you think of my writing style?
    You ARE a preacher! So go with it! Don't try to be something/someone that you're not! Just like in your church, I think that there will always be an audience of people looking for the very thing that you write, and in the style that you write it. Keep up the great work!

  4. I think that you have good solid teaching. Very hard to find these days! I agree with Kevin somewhat about the wording. I tend to do this myself. I have to remind myself that not everyone reading my blog has a Christian background and I could be turning them off. I have enjoyed following your blog.

    I visited you site and I like the video on the homepage. Thank you for your frequent visits to my blog.

  5. Richard, I just want to encourage you to stay the course. I have enjoyed reading your blog. My reading is not daily due to my schedule that is why I use Google reader. I follow your blog feed because I appreciate your unique insight. It hits home.

    I agree with the observation that your reading column could be a little wider. When I have a few minutes to read articles in my reader I will often only skim the articles that appear to be too long to digest. My intent is to come back to them, but I must admit that this rarely happens. (Since you are using blogger you may have to decide on a different template if the one you are using will not allow you to make changes to your column size)

    As far as the header, I believe that you can add a customized photo background to the header. This would add a little flavor to the blog (this is something I am working on for mine as it is about as young as yours).

    As for you sidebar, the feedburner e-mail subscription feels a bit bulky. The only thing you really need is the box to enter your e-mail and the subscribe button. The other stuff just becomes and advertisement for feedburer. If this is a widget where you paste the code I could probably help you change the code to only feature what you need to make it functional. Also, you share buttons at the top of the page are not linked to individual posts. I have been sharing many of your posts on Twitter but have to enter them manually. I tried to submit this post to facebook and the text being displayed was from the comments section. If you go to you can get a button that will link to individual posts. I just checked and they have a blogger option. Again, if you need help with installing this I would be willing to try and help.

    I realize that this is just personal preference. When I look at a sidebar I care more about the content that is provided than the recent comments. I would suggest moving your blog archive up and your recent comments down.

    I think your writing style is great and your content is on track with your intended goals. Again, I am enjoying reading your blog. I look forward to a relationship that extends past our focus group.

  6. Great Feedback all!
    Kevin, Good point about the "churchy" language. I will try to run my words through that filter more often. Also thanks for the suggection about application. Often we are more likely to know how to apply a truth if we are given a concrete example.

    Seiji, I will try to see if the layout lets me change the column width, that's a good idea. Thanks for the encouragement.

    Dan, 1. I have been writing my posts in WORD, pasting them to the church web blog, then copying the HTML from there to blogger--all because I can't figure out how to copy and paste my formatting directly into the blogger post. That accounts for some of the font changes.
    2. I'm still working on the personalizing thing. Hope to have something up soon.
    3. I agree. Not really pleased with that gadget. I'll check into joining the highcallings blog group. I have enjoyed their stuff.

    Ronnie, thanks for the feedback on the church web site. I am still tweeking that as well.

    Larry, I'll try to fix that e-mail subscription box. I am not happy with how it looks either. If I run into a snag I'll holler for help. Thanks for the encouragement.

  7. I see that you have already made some changes in the sidebar - good one.

    I like the fact that you honor commenters and other blogs, it makes it easier to come back :)

    The only thing I do not like is that the post page (the width excluding the sidebar) is to narrow.Larry Westfall and justapen mentioned that too.

    The font seems to be inconsistent as I scroll down.

    And scrolling down, it looks like you have ample space to add a few more widgets.

    are you on twitter?

  8. You have had a lot of good feedback here! I relate to the struggle with Blogger. I think I going to try doing a customized format on a new blog to see if it has more flexibility. Remember, if you switch to WordPress or something else you should be able to point you Blogger site to the new site to help with a smoother transition.

    I agree with your pitch and it is needed. You seem to be listening really clearly to God in you blog development. Keep it up!

    As for preachy - I agree with your kids, it just who you are and how you communicate. Your sensitivity to the possible down side of you "voice" helps keep you humble and working on your word crafting. I'll bet you are getting a lot of help out of this 31 DBBB that moderates a negative preachiness [which you don not have anyway].

  9. Hi there! I'm new to blogging as well. Just found your site through your comments on the 31 Day Blogger project. I'm sure that you will get a lot of great feedback to your questions from those who are more experienced than me.

    I encourage you to just be authentic... you know the person God created you to be. It' will be good to be able to incorporate the feedback you receive as long as you stay true to you.

    I have a friend that has a blog on blogger and she's customized it quite a bit.

  10. Phillip, Just set up a twitter account the other day. Have not tweeted yet. Still trying to figure it out. I think I need to figure out some people to follow first and then get tweetn.

    Wayne, Thanks for the sympathy with Blogger. I played with the HTML trying to change the column width with some not so good results. I'll have to try again. thanks for the encouragement.

    LaShorne, Welcome, fellow novice blogger! I like your site, has a good layout and easy to read. Good reminder about joy today.

  11. Richard, you have great content! In my opinion, content is king and without all you have is another website. I enjoy your subjects and loved the post about hunger especially. My only suggestion in addition to what others have said would be that most blog readers seem to gravitate toward shorter pieces rather than longer. In my personal experience, my best posts are 300-500 words, although I think you can probably get by with 500-700 if your content is compelling. Write good stuff and post regularly (which is the key to writing good stuff) and you will have lots of folks visiting and subscribing to your site!

  12. Richard, this sidebar looks much better. I posted this page to twitter and it worked fine with the new share button you have.

    Nolan makes a great point with word count. I just read on Michael Hyatt's blog that he is going to a 500 word count average. He had been posting 800-1,000 and through reader feedback realized that was too long. Michael Hyatt is the CEO for Thomas Nelson Publishing and has 100,000+ readers.

    If you want to follow me on twitter to get started the link is

  13. Nolan and Larry, You're so kind. My kids just say, "Dad's a long-winded preacher!" Which might show up in long-worded posts as well. I need to work on making both more concise. --Richard

  14. Q1. One thing about blogger is that they make it hard for their sites not to be readable - so yes it works well in that respect.

    On the point of using WP you can transition to it really easily. They make it easy to import all your blogger posts / comments.

    Q2. It's been a long time since I was on blogger and forget now whatthe options are - but your plain Jane comment is spot on. Ifyou can somehow add some interest then do so.

    One thing I'd do if I was you and blogger allows it woul be to widen the post area. On my screen res it takes up a tiny part on the left hand side and just looks lost :)

    Q3. Does the sidebar have what you are looking for?

    Yes and No - links to your old posts and search is about all I need along with a way of identifying who you are and how to contact you. Unfortunately your profile link doesn't really give anything away ....!

    Q5. What do you think of my writing style?

    The few posts I've read I've enjoyed and not had any issues with your style - though I'd agree with the other comment about getting rid of the "churchy words".

  15. Stuart, I've tried messing with the HTML for the template to widen the post area with no luck yet. I finally got an image up in the header. I'll give some more info in the profile. Thanks for the help. --Richard

  16. 1. Yes, it's easy to read, and I like it. Nice, pacific, expressive theme. And I like the header, too.

    2. You should come over to Wordpress. Wordpress is better. ;) Actually, lots of people love blogger as you know. It's just that I started at Wordpress, so naturally I like it better.

    3.Yes, I think your sidebar is just fine. I don't usually pay attention to them unless there are pictures, but I do like to be able to use them to navigate to other posts the blogger may mention in his current post.

    4. The posts I've read so far have been very good. I like that they're short. Sometimes I do write longer posts, but I think people are more likely to read the short ones. As a bonus, it makes an idea stretch out over several days. ;)

    One suggestion: I'm a lot more likely to read a post with a picture. Not sure why that is, but it's the way I'm wired. The picture doesn't even have to have all that much to do with the subject, but if you can tie it in, so much the better.

    5. I grew up in the church, and possibly for that reason, your writing style feels natural and easy to me. Realistically, with a blog like this, your demographic is going to be believers, so I'm not sure there's anything wrong with this style.

    You could loosen up and be a little more chatty if you like. I like your stories best, and you tell them well. It could be good to mix things up a bit--include some more variety in your posts. (I need to do that, too.) Sorry not to make a bunch of helpful suggestions here, but I honestly think you're doing well. Haven't read the other comments yet, as I wanted to give you my own un-influenced opinion.

    Blessings, Cindy

  17. Cindy,
    Thanks for the help. You are right that I need to open up more and tell some stories about the Lord and me. Workin' on that. -- Richard

  18. This is a very good job. As Christ Ambassadors we have the duty of declaring Jesus to the world and activating the believers to be what God want them to be.

  19. Ohakosim Everistus, Thanks for the encouragement. --Richard


Thank you for commenting. I appreciate your thoughts and opinions on this post.