Process sheet for blog startup

Thought I would let you in on how I engaged the thought process of starting this blog. Check it out after the jump:

Markus Merz from gives an outline of how to create a content-driven blog. I followed it and ended up with

Here's his words in quotes, and my thought process added in...

Phase Zero: Seed the idea

Skipping the analysis part of classical product development I will assume that some idea got into my head worth to develop a content concept for a new website/blog. Basically when an idea for a new website comes to mind I structure the idea in four parts:

1. One sentence concept phrase
2. Some example article keywords
3. How to promote the site
4. How to monetize the site
OK, let's go through this:
  1. Sentence: United Methodist pastor blogs about ministry, social justice, and internet-age systems and groups theory.
  2. keywords: christianity, methodism, technology, systems theory, group theory, internet, discipleship, evangelism.
  3. promotion: Facebook friends, ministry friends, Methoblog, Blog submission websites.
  4. monetization: Will add AdSense and Amazon associates info, but that's about it. Not a money-oriented blog.
Concentrate on the content concept in a way that you can see the value of the content stand out from the crowd. Imagine a three-minute presentation to a stranger.
I'm a Christian minister, and these days it seems like everyone has their mind made up about Christianity. When you think of Christianity, I'm sure there are some thoughts that immediately come to your head. It is of this political party, it is exclusive, it is wishy-washy, its history can be as bad as Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. HackingChristianity is a blog that examines the symbols and language used by people to describe Christianity and their attractions or dis-attractions to it. There have got to be life-sustaining ways the Christian path can be attractive again. I've been in the parts of the country where Christianity is commercialized and maintains the status quo, and I've also been where it is on the margins, counter-cultural, and thus hard to be attractive to society that rejects it. I think there's a middle way, and that's what I'll be discussing here at

In many ways, Christianity is a system that is inaccessible to some people. Turn or burn mentalities of evangelism, and the divisive nature of Christian politics have made that system inaccessible to people. There are modern ways of trying to fit into the echo-chambers or digital life-patterns of people that fail be either being too "out-there" or too accomodating to consumeristic culture. This blog will be examining how others are hacking the system, and evaluating them on their health and approach.

Finally, I read a lot of news and views, and I needed a place to let other people know what I'm reading. A Blog is perfect way to do this, so that when you do read the articles and content, you have an idea of what I read to get there.

Phase One: Community driven?

After seeding the idea (read: take a note because otherwise I will forget it) the basic concept will hang around for an uncertain amount of time. Maybe I will discuss it with friends and maybe I will set up some search feeds to follow the basic keywords to get a feeling for the existing websites.

Very important is to decide if the site should have a community part. Can or should user generated content be one of the big values your new website has to offer? The community question is one of the big web 2.0 questions. Yesterday it was 'forum or not' but today all is possible.

Will the concept be worth to develop a necessary 'community management' concept (read: time commitment) or will a simple comment function be enough? As I am not really interested in being a community manager I will always try to stay with the simple solutions as long as possible knowing that simple solutions narrow the extension possibilities of a site.
I know Web 2.0 is all the rage, but for concept formulation stages, I don't think user-generated content will be necessary. There will be open threads to start conversations, but I think commenting and linking to other people's ponds will suffice.

However, when there becomes more of a regular readership, user-generated content and examples may be much more helpful in a wiki-like setting. I will figure that out when we get there.
Phase Two: Rough content sketches

After finishing the two basic concept phases I will try some concrete tests.
I wrote out the categories for hacks previously (you can find them here), but there will be more to come. Thus, I can write about different kinds of hacks that really don't work, really do work, and really do bring in arts/media to work. We live in a digital age of systems and symbols, so by defining them ALL as hacks, we can give them a standard way of evaluating them.
Phase Three: Design and template

And here we are already leaving the 'content driven website concept' part and it starts to become time consuming work. The more you could strip down your content concept in the phases before the easier it will be now to develop a nice and reader friendly design.
I borrowed a free design from for a newspaper. It was originally written to have only one post offered and the rest linked (like a newspaper), but I altered it to be easier to scroll and read. All "category" sections are in the upper-right. All "what?" questions are in the middle area (What is this blog, what is Jeremy reading, who are Jeremy's conversation partners, etc).

So, that's it. That's the basic thought process that went into the blog. There are other thoughts too, but I thought you'd like to see the process of birthing a new blog and how theory gets put into practice.


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