Shelby Meyerhoff, Public Witness Specialist at the Unitarian Universalist Association in Boston has asked me to fill out this survey on best practices for Unitarian Universalist Blogging. SHe also asked me to post it on my site. So here it is …
Why do you blog? What goals do you have for your blog? I started this blog as a means to expand the discussion of Unitarian Universalism as an alternative to the conservative religious discussion that is prevalent in the south, particularly Mississippi and now Alabama.
Who is your intended audience? My intended audience are people who are interested in a free liberal religious voice in Mississippi and Alabama.
Who owns your blog? Does it belong to you as individual or to your congregation or other organization? The blog belongs to me. These are my own thoughts and opinions and do not represent any of the opinions of the congregations I serve nor of the UUA.
How frequently do you post? I try to post several times a week. Before I moved to my new congregation’s community I had developed a fair number of readers, fair for me anyway. The move meant I had to take a hiatus… redeveloping readership was slow to occur.
What is the tone of your blog? I try to set a tone that is inviting for comments. I welcome alternate opinions to my own.
What steps do you take to make sure that your blog is a safe space, both for you and for other participants? Do you have a code of conduct? I do have a code of conduct. I state under my about page to only write things that would make your mama proud. In other words, hate speech is not welcomed here and will not be published. Thoughtfully worded opinions that are opposed to opinions expressed are welcomed. I also will not discuss internal discussions or controversial events that are happening within the congregations I serve. Congregations need to wash their own laundry and not have it sent out to the internet for cleaning. I will only mention those events that advance the promotion of Unitarian Universalism.
What kinds of boundaries do you observe around confidentiality? See above. Because I do not seek to discuss the internal affairs of the congregation here, I have placed a firm boundary on what I will discuss.
How do you respond to comments and email from readers? I try to respond to questions that readers present to me in their comments. My hope is that this furthers the discussion of a liberal faith.
What are the most challenging aspects of blogging in your experience? So far, my challenges are finding topics that will be of most interest. What is of interest to me may not be of interest to others. [Hard to believe, isn't it?... ;-) ]
What are the most rewarding aspects of blogging in your experience? I have enjoyed the responses that I have gotten from literally all over the world. And I have enjoyed meeting people for the first time who have said ”O and btw, I have been reading your blog.”
What advice would you give to Unitarian Universalists who are new to blogging and want to get started?
I would say, write what you want to write. Don’t worry about whether people are going to like your blog or not. If you have something that you believe is worth telling, than tell it.
How do you evaluate the success of your blog? What have been your most successful blog posts or series? I am not sure I know how to answer this question. There are several things that I look at but I don’t know yet if what I am looking at are true indicators of success. I look at the numbers of unique visitors per day. I look at the types of comments I receive. I look at whether a particular blog has been linked someplace else on the web. Based on this criteria, my most recent blog entry on the immigration raids in Laurel, MS received the most ever hits, over 500 people read that blog entry and there were over 15 comments made. My blog on whether or not Unitarian Universalism was a unique religion or a subset denomination of Christianity also received a high number of readers and multiple links from other sites. Are these a sign of success? Bottom line for me is do I feel good about what I have written after I have published into cyberspace.
What do you wish you had done differently in your blogging? I did my research in choosing a blog program to host my blog. What I wish is that I had more computer savvy to do some additional things on the blog. Everything I have done here thus far has been a learning curve in implementation.
What other online tools do you use to promote your blog? (i.e. social networking sites, Twitter, social bookmarking tools, etc.) I am registered at DiscoverUU.com and other aggregator sites for Unitarian Universalist bloggers. I am also linked to the congregations’ websites that I am serving so that visitors to those sites can read some ot the perspectives that the minister may also be sharing with congregants.
Do you use an Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed? How many subscribers do you have? I have not done this as of yet.
Do you track site traffic? How many unique visitors do you have per day (on average)? I do track site visits. In the last few months, I have had about 1,000 visitors per month or about 33 visitors on average per day. The range is far greater… I have had as few as 4 visitors to as many as 259 visitors on any given day. I imagine this average will grow as time continues.
Do you find Unitarian Universalist Association resources helpful to you as a blogger? What additional resources could we provide to Unitarian Universalist bloggers? I am grateful to the aggregator service that is provided. And also grateful for the weekly summary of what UU bloggers are discussing that appears in the online version of UUWorld.
Please write any additional comments or suggestions. Have fun with this. Don’t think of this as another work related project or as another way to grow your congregation. Rather, think of this as another way to connect to the community in which we live. Unfortunately, we may never know what sort of impact the words we write here will have another’s life. Do we ever fully know even if we know the person well? So write from your passions. Write from your values as a Unitarian Universalist. And enjoy doing it.
SerenityHome aka Rev. Fred L Hammond