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On Starting a Blog: What's Your Purpose?

Remember these days?! I would have never usurped Jim’s #1 position, though I think I cracked the top 10 once. Funny stuff.

I get asked from time to time, mostly by friends, about my thoughts on the pros and cons of blogging, especially in the biblical studies niche. I include here part of a response I sent a friend recently.


As for blogging, I understand your concern. I started my current blog in 2008 (I think it was Update: tech. it began with Xanga in 2006, blogspot ’07-’09, then at current address from ’09) and I’m sure there are old posts I disagree with or would word differently now. The blog has always been fairly academic, though I probably mixed in more practical/opinion earlier on. One thing about blogging is that although it is semi-permanent publishing, your old stuff tends to be forgotten (although I have some old posts that get regular traffic from google–I’m among the top results for “ancient flushing toilets,” for example 🙂 ).

What’s Your Purpose in Starting a Blog?

I would start by asking myself what the purpose of starting a blog will be. I think that will go a long way in determining your content and the level of risk you’re willing to take in publishing. A blog can help you build mutually beneficial relationships (e.g., job recommendation or opportunity, book review, publishing opportunities, etc.). It can also be a nice place to improve your writing skills since it entails publishing without quite the formality of a print publication. Blogging, because of its social nature, is also a nice way to air ideas (though social media is increasingly plagued by trolls).

Another consideration is your target audience. If your blog is to help build your academic resume, you’ll tend to use the jargon and discuss the issues accordingly. But if you want to target students or interested ‘lay’ folks, you might avoid technical academic discussions.

Examples of blogs that come to mind [take these rough categorizations with a grain of salt!]:

Nijay Gupta‘s is a mostly academic blog and is a good example of a career-blog. I read almost all of Nijay’s posts because most posts will save me time in one way or another.

Andy Naselli‘s is more of a mix between ministry and academics, more outwardly evangelical (not a criticism, just an observation). Andy is good at providing his readers useful content, links, and resources.

Jim West‘s is a mixed bag, from technical academic to practical ministry to recent news to his personal love of cats (or something like that–right Jim?) It is one of the best examples of a personal blog among bibliobloggers in the sense that, as one reads it, one gets to know Jim–the Doc., Rev., and Mr.

Le Donne and Keith‘s (a new blog) is semi-technical, though seems to try to keep both academics and interested “lay folks” in view. It (so far) strikes me as mostly “career-safe” but willing to be more provocative than, say, Nijay’s blog.


Speaking of old forgotten posts… For more on social media and biblioblogging see the following series (it is quite relevant actually):

Part 1: Communicating Truth: Media Trends and Why (biblio) Bloggers Should Care

Part 2: Bibliobloggers and Spheres of Influence

Part 3: Blogging with Integrity

Part 4: The Future of Biblical Scholarship

Part 5: Jumping on the Social Media Bandwagon


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