What makes a great blog post? | Sarah Bessey

Mar 9, 2013Write!


I’d like to introduce you to my friend Sarah Bessey. We went to Haiti together, and we shared a room. (She doesn’t snore!) I learned a lot from her, and I’m so grateful we’ve had the chance to break and share bread, particularly poignant surrounded by poverty. That’s a rare experience, and Sarah is a rare person.

One of the things I love about Sarah’s blog is her round up post each week, where she shares which posts resonated with her. They’re usually ones I hadn’t seen yet, so I appreciate her service to me (to you) in pointing out thought provoking posts. This led to me asking her the how of her discovery. What moves her? What posts make them amazing and sharable? Her answers might help you, as a blogger, to write more compelling content.

So sit back and enjoy this very fun interview with Sarah.

Sarah, what catches your attention?
I pay attention to bravery, vulnerability, truth, and story. Any time a post connects with both my heart and my mind, I love it. I also look for unique and interesting perspectives. I like to expose my readers to new writers, as well as established voices, particularly ones that are counter-culture or challenging.

Clearly, I also have a weakness for anything related to Downton Abbey and missional theology. I lurk at theology blogs so those are fun to share with others. I don’t have to agree with a post or an article to link it up – sometimes I link up things that I don’t agree with or practice myself, but they were interesting or helped me understand a bit more. I often link up people who are responding to, or expanding on, a theme I’m currently blogging myself.

Let’s pretend someone wanted to write a post that you would share on your “in which I link you up” post. What would they need to do to spark your interest?
That’s a hard one to answer since I don’t really have a formula. I look for posts that are interesting, well-written, thought-provoking, heart-capturing. I look for posts which are funny and witty. I look for posts which make the world feel smaller and more beautiful. I look for posts that change my thinking or my actions or my mind. I look for ones that make me want to stand up on my chair and whoop with joy or relief. I also look for posts that somehow give words to something I’ve always thought or felt but didn’t have the words to say.
Which bloggers do you most admire and why?
I only subscribe to about 50 blogs but they represent a wide variety of genres – simple living, poverty and orphan care, social justice, feminism, church, theology, lifestyle, mothering, news and current events, photography. Everything else I find is organically through links on Twitter or recommendations from friends.
I read and admire so many bloggers for such different reasons. (Sometimes I think that’s a bit of the problem with blogging: we only read bloggers exactly like ourselves and our communities turn into an echo chamber of the same ideas and thoughts and tone. Even the voices aren’t differentiated. Something that helps me is to subscribe to bloggers outside of my own genre or blogging circle or sensibilities to learn from them.)
But the ones I love to read and never-miss are:

  • A Deeper Story: Tales of Christianity and Culture  – A collective of kick-ass writers, A Deeper Story was created as a place for tackling divisive and nuanced issues through narrative and personal story. I am always moved by what I read there. There are two sister sites: A Deeper Church and A Deeper Family, too.
  • A Holy Experience  – I have followed Ann’s blog for years now, and she is the most faithful, consistently beautiful and insightful writer. Her heart for God, her love for her family, has profoundly influenced how I approach my spirituality, and my mothering. Her photographs are peace-making, and she’s the one exception to the rule about No Automatic Music on Your Blog. Sometimes I open up her blog, and just listen to the music while I chore around in the kitchen.
  • Rachel Held Evans   – Rachel isn’t one of the 50 Women to Watch according to Christianity Today for nothing. She is bold, provocative in the best ways, a thinker, deeply theological, and funny as hell. She’s generous with her platform and truly celebrates others. Rachel is self-deprecating but don’t be fooled: she’s usually the smartest person in the room.
  • The Runamuck  – Amber Haines takes my breath away with her beautiful writing, she’s got the soul of a poet. I think she’s part priestess.
  • Adventures in Babywearing  – Steph isn’t exactly babywearing anymore so the title is a bit misleading. But she’s the master of “just write” and she can say more in a simple story or observation in a paragraph, complete with sermon and subtext and take-away, than most of us can say in a book. She’s honest, too. I am taking cues from her on how to write about the tinies and my life as a mother without compromising their private moments and thoughts.
  • Sorta Crunchy  – Megan was my first blog crush, and now she’s a dear real-life friend, but that’s beside the point. She wrote a book called Spirit-Led Parenting – one of my personal favourites  – but she writes on everything from television to immigration reform, cloth diapering to clothes, church to family. (She writes like she talks. True story.) I love how she sees the world, and I’m so personally invested in her life now that I couldn’t miss a single post.
  • SheLoves Magazine: Stories of the Sisterhood  – The manifesto of SheLoves is that we would be women who love (and I love that). Every single day of the week, there is a story about a woman in the world. It can range from women in Haiti, to women in Costa Rica, to women in Surrey, everything from single to married to mothers to grandmothers. Every voice and perspective is so unique and worthwhile. They do a great job of capturing the every-day stories of women around the world.
  • The Carnival in My Head: Kathy Escobar  – Kathy may eschew proper capitalization, but she brings the good stuff. She’s outside of the institutional church thing in what she calls “a messy little community” called The Refuge. She’s also a mother of five, and a pastor. She writes about disillusionment, being an ex-good-Christian-woman, freedom, all the stuff that gets under my skin and makes me want to give standing ovations, bang on pots and pans, that sort of thing.
  • Simple Mom   – Tsh was one of the first blogs I ever actually subscribed to, and through her links or shares, I eventually found most of my “tribe” in the Internet world. An entire empire of sites now, this one covers everything from finances to time management, cooking to parenting, it’s such a useful resource that lines up with much of how I like to run our life.
  • Eugene Cho  – Eugene comments on issues in the Church with a gentleness and wisdom beyond most others. He’s a good place to turn for perspective without cynicism. He’s a pastor, an advocate, and thinker.  I love the work that he does with One Day’s Wages, too.
  • Other favourites of mine these days are: Red-Letter Christians , Jen Hatmaker , Glennon Melton of Momastery, and Laura of Hollywood Housewife.

Bonus question: What do you think it means to live uncaged?
For me, the word “uncaged” will forever be linked to you, Mary! You have written so beautifully about this idea. Uncaged in my own life is often a practice or a habit, not so much of a feeling. I’ve always had to walk by faith when it comes to these kinds of truths: I had to walk out being fearless, long before I actually *felt* fearless. And in every new step, I often feel like I’m walking on water a bit, relying on Jesus for every breath, as I try to work out what he has already worked in. For me, uncaged means in-step with Jesus, and it’s a life of trust and faith. It also takes guts.
And the most important question: What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
Raspberry ice cream from Krause Berry Farms. They’re a local berry farm and, oh, my gracious, now THAT is ice cream the way the Good Lord intended.

Thanks for stopping by, Sarah Bessey! Have a nice weekend in Canada-land!