I often hear about people who want to start a Christian-based blog. Maybe it’s one based on apologetics, it’s a daily Bible study, while sometimes its just personal musings on a subject.
You know what I think when I hear that?
Even though it seems like there are already a ton of Christian blogs out there, we could always use more. The world is bereft of legitimate, thoughtful blogs that actually teach what the Bible says, so the more of those we get, the better.
Moreover, I’ve met hundreds of Christians in the Lord’s church that have a very unique perspective. And when I say unique, I don’t mean “heretical.” I mean unique, I-haven’t-thought-about-that-in-that-way kind of unique. I always learn something.
Those people need a voice, and a blog provides them a great outlet for something like that.
That’s what this Bible blog project is all about.
I’m going to build my own website and with the goal of getting a blog to 20,000 visits a month in less than a year.
Can it be done? Absolutely.
Will it be easy? Nope.
But I’ll document the process the whole way — warts and all — so you can see what steps I took to get there (or what to avoid if I failed miserably).
Bible Blog Project: The Goal
As stated above, the goal of this project is to get a blog to over 20,000 visits a month in less than one year. This email is going out in October of 2023, so that means by October of 2024, I should have met or surpassed that goal.
And don’t worry: I’ll share screenshots along the way so you can see the progress.
But traffic visits aren’t the only goal I’m shooting for. I want to find some way to capture those visitors so I can communicate with them directly, so I’m also shooting for 1,000 email addresses in that time span as well.
The traffic numbers are what I’m really aiming for. If I can get to 20,000 a month, that’ll set me above most other websites out there.
I know that website traffic numbers tend to grow at a parabolic rate as well, so it’s much more difficult to get a blog from 0 to 20k, then it is to get from 20k to 100k.
That means that the goal of 20k isn’t just a completely arbitrary number. It gives me a “make or break” point for my blog. If I can get to 20k, the sky is the limit for where it can go after that.
Bible Blog Project: The Website
The only rule that I have going into this project is that I won’t reveal the name of the blog on this site at all. Monthly updates will talk about the status of the blog in numbers and results, rather than specifics about content.
There are a few reasons for doing so, but the biggest one is that I don’t want to artificially inflate the results by linking this blog and that one together. The audience for this site and the Bible Blog Project are different enough that to link the two would muddy the results.
The website itself will be super simple. I have some ideas on what I want to do based on certain traffic numbers, but for now, it’s going to be basically a homepage with a blog.
I will tell you this: The blog will be hosted on WordPress and developed using Elementor. That combination is what I use for all the websites we build for our clients, and I’ve found it to be the most flexible website builder out there. It also allows me to use plugins that I’m already familiar with.
All of this is designed with simplicity in mind. I want this project to be something that anyone could set up and build on their own (with a little bit of effort). Otherwise, what’s the point of even talking about it?
Bible Blog Project: The Strategy
The real focus for this entire effort will be the strategy. Without an actual plan in place, I’m basically just writin’ and hopin’ for the best.
I’ll utilize basic SEO techniques (that I’ll talk about along the way), but the tools that I’ll be using to do so will all be free tools — or the free version of paid tools. If everyone can’t use it, I won’t use it.
I would encourage anyone starting this project along with me (or anyone that starts any kind of online evangelism in any form) to commit to doing so for at least 6 months. I see way too many people start a project like this, write four blog posts, then give up. Then, they wonder why it didn’t work.
In the world of blogging, persistence is key. Those who succeed often do so because they didn’t give up or get discouraged along the way (Galatians 6:9).
The biggest part of the planning stage is usually the keyword research stage. This is where you pick out your target keywords, then your subsidiary keywords that will supplement the target word.
For instance, if you were going to write on “David and Bathsheba,” you may also choose “did David marry Bathsheba” and “David and Bathsheba children.” Those could be the title of your subheaders, or just sprinkled (and discussed) throughout the article.
I’ll be honest, at this stage, I’m not sure how much keyword research I’m going to be able to do. I know that I’ll have a target keyword (indispensable), and then I’ll build my main article around that word. If I’m able to put more in there, that will obviously be key.
A big part of my strategy in this project will be focusing really, really closely on a “long-tail keyword.” These are phrases that usually have more than 3 or 4 words, and represent a really huge opportunity for bloggers — especially those in a niche as deep as Christianity.
The beauty of long-tail keywords is that there’s usually not as much competition for them. They’re not usually high-volume keywords, so most people would rather build on other words rather than focus on low-volume, difficult-to-find long-tail keywords.
But if you stack enough articles around long-tail keywords, you then create a lot of articles that are mostly bulletproof — each one of them bringing in a steady amount of traffic. If you lose one of them, it’s not the end of the world.
Aside from keyword research, I’ll also be utilizing basic linking strategies. External links outwards to authoritative websites, and internal links to other blog articles that I’ll write as well.
If you’re following along with me, you may choose to use a topic cluster at this point; for the sake of this project, I’ll just write each one independently.
For most blogs, the general rule of thumb is that the more often you write, the more success you have. Studies have shown that about four blog posts per week is the sweet spot, but that number is completely dependent on three things:
- Quality — Poorly written and edited content never wins.
- Goals — What are you trying to accomplish with your blog: reach or engagement?
- Traffic Sources — Paid traffic and social media can augment blog reach.
I’m going to shoot for five posts a week. One every single morning, every working day. Even on holidays.
Each post will be roughly 500-1000 words, which I’m estimating will take me around an hour to finish, from a blank page to fully published on my website. That’s my best guess as of now — it could totally change by month two.
However, I am not going to be writing these posts every single morning. Instead, I’ll batch them together — either at the beginning of the week or, if time, at the beginning of the month. Then I’ll schedule them to drop on the appointed day.
Batching is a hugely beneficial efficiency tactic that has served me well in preaching life. Instead of just doing that week’s Bible classes, I’ve always tried to do an entire quarter ahead. Other preachers I know write sermons for an entire year before the year even starts. It allows you to completely focus on one task at a time, instead of constantly switching gears.
I will also be using a content calendar. Once I get it fleshed out, I’ll know what I’m going to write on six months from now, which helps with linking strategies, keyword research, and planning social media posts.
Formatting a blog is the real difference maker in SEO. I tell churches all the time that writing quality almost takes a backseat to the technical structure of an article. Almost.
First comes your H1 tag, which is usually the title of your article. This almost always includes the main keyword in your blog article, so you shouldn’t have to worry about that.
Your H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6 headers are the ones you’ll have to manually input. If you’re using WordPress, you’ll be able to set these right inside the post interface. Other programs like Wix will generate them automatically.
Think of your header formatting like an outline. Your H2 subheading is the first main point of your keyword, so in an article where the main keyword is “water baptism,” your first H1 tag would be something like “what is water baptism?”
An H2 tag like that makes sense from a technical perspective (since it logically follows the main keyword) and a writing perspective. After starting an article about water baptism, the reader would naturally want to start with, “Well, what is water baptism?”
You may have an entire article with nothing but H2 tags. That’s fine if you want to go that route, but most well-constructed articles will have H3s and even H4s through H6s as well.
The mentality for this outline is just the same as you used for H2. Think of the logical questions and topics that exist for that keyword, and use them to structure the article.
Let’s take the water baptism illustration again. A well-constructed article may have a format that looks like this.
H1: Water Baptism: Its Role in Salvation
H2: What is Water Baptism?
H2: Why is Water Baptism Important?
H3: Water Baptism is Commanded
H3: Water Baptism Buries Us With Christ
H3: Water Baptism is an Appeal for Forgiveness
H2: How is Water Baptism Different From Holy Spirit Baptism?
You notice how it flows like an outline? You have main points, and then developing points underneath. That’s how I’ll structure each of my articles — space permitting.
Header tags and technical structures are important because it gives Google a snapshot of what the article is about. Google is lazy, so the less work it has to do to understand your article, the better it’ll rank your content.
And it should go without saying, but none of this content will be produced by artificial intelligence. I’m not against AI and it’s use in Kingdom work, but I’m not going to let a robot write my Bible study blogs for me. Won’t happen. Can’t happen.
Regardless of your belief about social media, it has a role to play in driving traffic. If an article gets shared a few times, has some comments, or even goes viral, you can catapult your traffic literally overnight.
The behemoth in the room is Facebook, so that will definitely be a part of my plans. Probably Instagram and (when I have time) Youtube, too.
The big one I want to focus on for this project though is Threads — Facebook’s answer to Twitter…er…I mean “X.”
I have a paid subscription to Meet Edgar that I’ll utilize for auto posting, and that will free up my time to work on content and other things.
To be honest, I could drive 20,000 hits to my website tomorrow if I just used paid ads.
There’s a couple reasons why I won’t, though.
First, it’s ridiculously expensive. Paid ads (Google or Facebook) are getting costlier by the day, so a traffic campaign with a goal of 20,000 daily hits would easily cost $10,000 (or more) every single day.
It’s just not worth it. Most people don’t have that kind of money laying around (including me), so in keeping with my mantra of “everyone can do this,” I’ll reserve paids for a singular purpose: list building. More on that to follow.
Second, it defeats the purpose of this whole project. The idea is not to simply drive traffic, it’s to drive traffic that is sustainable.
If you can get it, organic traffic beats paid traffic every single time. It’s reflective of the health of your site, it actually answers questions people are looking for in real time, and it develops a relationship with an audience.
We always encourage churches to start building out content on their site so they can start generating organic traffic. The more they learn about the Bible from a church site, the more they associate the church itself with teaching the Truth. When that happens — and if they’re close enough — the logical next step is reaching out directly or visiting your location.
Even if I did try to use paid ads to artificially inflate these numbers, you would be able to tell. Google analytics has two lines on their chart to distinguish the two, so when I share the screenshots of my progress, you would notice it immediately.
Plus, it’s just cheating. And what kind of monster cheats on a Bible blog?
List Building: The End Game
Now, does all this talk about not using paid ads mean I won’t use them at all?
Absolutely not. Paid ads have a huge role in this process, just not for driving traffic directly to the website.
What I will use them for — and I plan on implementing this the moment my site goes live — is building up an email list.
The more I work with churches, the more I’m convinced that list building is the single best way to evangelize online for local churches. It’s content-driven, audience-building, and cost-effective.
With a strong email list, you can:
- Re-engage subscribers with content
- Advertise events for free
- Create a custom audience for FB ads targeting
- Send a one-off invite to a special sermon (or series)
- Send leads through a funnel that drives them to action
- Etc. Etc. Etc.
I could literally go on and on about why churches need to be building email lists, but I’ll spare you the long-winded explanation for now. Suffice it to say that list building is a key component of any online strategy, and especially mine.
At the end of the day, my blog will be a place for me to continue to teach others the Gospel (hopefully). I need to start building that rapport with my audience from day one in order to maximize reach. I suggest you do the same with your blog.
How I Plan to Build My List
Every good list-building strategy has a few key components. They’re not hard, but they can be time-consuming, so take your time and set this up right.
The Lead Magnet
A lead magnet is anything you can give people in exchange for contact information. This can be an e-book, video series, a physical item (like a hand-delivered Bible), checklist or something else entirely.
The key with lead magnets is value. It needs to be something your audience actually wants, or else they won’t give you permission to contact them.
I feel compelled to give a disclaimer here. One of the reasons I’m starting this challenge is because I really, really like to write books. So I’m building up this website and this email list so that I can hopefully sell some of my books to this same audience.
Because of that, the audience that I’ll be targeting needs to prefer books. It makes sense then, that my lead magnet be a book of some kind, since that’s what I want to re-engage them with.
I plan on delivering this book through BookFunnel. I’ve used them before and the process is pretty straightforward. The dashboard is a little clunkier than I would like, but it makes sense once you stare at it for a few minutes.
The Automation Sequence
As the name states, an automation sequence is a series of emails that are delivered to the recipient automatically upon taking a certain action.
In this instance, the moment they’re added to my list, the automation sequence will begin. It should look something like this:
- Email 1: (Moment they sign up) Welcome Email. All I’m doing is delivering the e-book. Simple and quick.
- Email 2: (One day later) Introductory Email. Tell the reader something myself and my blog. Also offer link to book in case they didn’t get it the first time.
- Email 3: (One day after second email) Response Email. Ask them a question designed to get them to respond. This can be a prayer request, telling me their favorite Bible story, or something similar. Responses tell e-mail providers this is an email they want so it doesn’t end up in promotion or spam boxes.
- Email 4: (Three days after third email) Other Books: By this point, they should have at least started my lead magnet so I’ll send them a list of other books that they may be interested in.
I plan on sending an email to this list with updates on the blog (or other info) about every 2 weeks, so this will send automatically in the background when people subscribe.
And before you ask, I’m not too worried about unsubscribes. Some people hop onto a list just to get the freebie, but as long as they read the book, I know they’ll get some kind of spiritual value.
The final and arguably least important part of the entire puzzle is paid ads.
I say least important not because paid ads aren’t worthwhile (they definitely are), but because they only work if the other two are firing on all cylinders. You can still capture and nurture leads with an automation sequence and lead magnet, but paid ads without those two components is just a waste of money.
When designing your ads, you always have to think about the goal first. What are you actually paying for?
Some churches will say, “we want to build awareness,” but that phrase doesn’t actually mean anything. What does awareness look like? Increased traffic to website? More eyeballs on the billboard? More people talking about you on Facebook?
This is probably one of the biggest differences between traditional and digital marketing. Traditional media (magazines, newspapers, commercials) are largely unscientific. You can’t put an ad on the radio, but you can’t really tell how many people heard the ad.
Digital marketing is very data-driven. Not only do I want to know exactly how many people are viewing my ads, but I want to know what state they live in, what their political affiliation is, whether they prefer Taco Bell over Chick Fil A (my kind of people), and what kind of lawnmower they own.
When you have that kind of data, you can target your ads to exactly who you want to reach. This reduces ad spend and increases engagement. After all, I’m not just trying to reach people, I’m trying to reach an audience.
For that reason, my paid ads will be broad, targeting lots of different type of people and experimenting with different creatives. Over time, I’ll dial that in to exactly who I want to target and when.
My Projected Schedule
Before I even start, I want to lay out a year-long schedule of what I hope to accomplish (task-wise) and when.
I make no promises though that this will be the way it will actually unfold. I am 100% sure that this schedule won’t be followed exactly, but at least I’ll have some kind of guideline to work off of.
The best strategies need to change, though. They need to pivot, move, and adapt to surrounding circumstances.
Here’s a rough timeline of what I hope to accomplish.
- October, 2023: Website set up. 10 blogs written and scheduled. Ads going. Automation sequence created.
- November, 2023: More blogs written. Social profiles going. Link outreach for blog.
- December, 2023: Refine ads to reflect audience. More blogs written. More link outreach. Goal of 500 visits.
- January, 2024: More blogs written (hopefully through May). Start work on next book. Conversion ads to books online.
- February, 2024: More blogs (if necessary). Traffic goal: 1000 visits.
- March, 2024: October, 2024: Blogs. Links. Ads. Refinement. Goal: 20,000 visits.
Looks like a bulletproof plan, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, that’s all I can really anticipate at this point. As you can see though, there are a few key things I want to get going immediately because those are the ones that need the longest time to get moving. Everything else will come with time.
Want to Build a Blog With Me?
Even though this blog will be my personal project, I don’t want to write this alone. I’m posting the process and results here so that you can follow along with your own blog.
See you next month!