I posted an article like this one in the past and did so only with great trepidation. Yet today (during the lowest-traffic day of the year) I will do so again in the hope that you’ll be willing to give my motives the benefit of the doubt. I write about this not for my benefit but for the benefit of my fellow bloggers. With Christmas fast approaching, the timing just seemed right.
I first wrote about this subject when I was the guest on a radio program and received a call from a reader of this site who asked an interesting question. He wanted to know how he, as someone who reads the blog, could serve as an encouragement to me. I thought it was a good and kind question and one I answered the best I could “on the spot.” Today I want to address it a little bit more. This could so easily be seen as self-serving, so I do encourage you to take anything you learn here, head to another blog, and apply it there!
Bloggers, or at least the bloggers who have sites that convey valuable information, typically put in a lot of work for very little tangible reward. It’s the nature of blogging, I guess. While I’ve heard that the big-name bloggers–the one whose sites draw hundreds of thousands of visitors each day–can make a handsome living doing what they do, I’ve also heard that even they make relatively little. I tend to believe the latter. The blogosphere, at least in my experience and at least as it pertains to “amateurs” like myself, has not yet found a great way of generating substantial income. Lots of people place advertisements on their sites, either banners or Google AdWords, but these tend, at least in most cases, to generate only small streams of revenue, especially since site costs increase with site traffic. As revenue goes up, so too do costs.
Thankfully, most bloggers do not blog for the financial benefits. Christian bloggers in particular work for the higher ideal of furthering their own faith and serving the church. As they do this, they can always use a bit of encouragement. This article is geared primarily towards Christian bloggers, though most of it is applicable more widely. Let me provide just a few ways you can be an encouragement to the bloggers whose sites you enjoy.
Leave a Comment. This is likely the easiest thing you can do but it can be very encouraging, especially for people whose blogs do not receive a great deal of traffic. Simply leave a comment, noting that you read and enjoyed the article. If you feel there was a problem with the article, leave a rational comment and the reason you disagreed. Just knowing that an article is being read can be a real blessing to a blogger.
Send a Note of Encouragement. Short of leaving a comment, this is probably the easiest thing you can do. Find the person’s email address or contact form and send him a brief note, mentioning that you enjoy reading his blog (and perhaps why you enjoy the blog) and encouraging him to continue seeking the Lord.
Pray for Them. I find that the greatest source of encouragement is to know that people are praying for me. Of course it is always a blessing for a Christian to know that another person is holding him up before the throne of grace, but I think in the case of blogging is also stands as validation that his efforts are sufficiently significant that they are worth praying for. So pray for a blogger and drop him a note to let him know that you’re doing so.
Tell Someone Else About the Site. When you find a site that you enjoy and that has been a source of encouragement to you, tell other people about it. While most bloggers will say (and, in most cases, truly mean) that they do not much care how many people read their site, it is an encouragement to see more people gravitate to a blog. So tell your friends!
Look For Affiliate Links. Many bloggers join affiliate programs through Amazon, Monergism Books, Westminster Books, and other stores. This means that we typically receive a small commission (of about 6 or 7%) on any item you purchase after clicking a link from the blog to the store. So if a blogger posts a link to a product on Amazon and you click on the link and then purchase the product, the blogger will receive as reward a small percentage of that amount. Also, the blogger will often receive a similar percentage of anything else you purchase during that session. This is unlikely to generate a great deal of revenue, but even a gift certificate that allows the blogger to purchase a couple of books per month is a nice little bonus. So when you are thinking of shopping at Amazon or another store, find an affiliate and enter the storefront through that person’s link. This is a simple but effective way of sending some support to a blogger. And best of all, the store foots the bill!
Look for Wishlists. Many bloggers maintain an Amazon wishlist (or a wishlist for another store). This is simply a list of products they would like to own. You’ll often see a link to this list from a blog or you can even visit the Wishlist section at Amazon and search by name or email address. You can then send a small gift anonymously or with a small note of encouragement.
Again, I trust you’ll take these in the spirit I intend them, not as a plug for you to do anything for me, but as an encouragement to take notice of the people whose blogs you enjoy and to serve as an encouragement to them for the glory of God.