I've been inviting you over to this space for a handful of years now, have tried to bake it out, give you a bit of bread for the road, have stood beside you, have wept with you, and have felt the impossible goodness of when you have, and have often, done the same for me.
If we want to play the numbers game, I'm doing well. There's a faithful good many of you who read these posts with consistency. I've added more Twitter followers in the past six months than in the past two years and that number only continues to grow. I found out by happenstance that I was put on a list of top Christian bloggers not so long ago, thanks to my numbers. So, numerically, I suppose I'm making it or whatever it is success is measured here by, if we're using those terms.
Because, the thing is, I hate this part of it. When people start talking about blogs as brands or products or as modern day street preaching or as changing the world or ever use the word platform---and I mean ever---I roll my eyes so hard that I promise, despite biological impossibilities, I can see my own brain.
I can't stomach it. I can't engage it. I can't talk about it without mocking it.
After a handful of years in this space, I have to be candid with you: I still have no idea what I'm doing here.
I can't tell you how to get big numbers on posts, I can't tell you why SEO matters---an acronym I only learned this year, I can't tell you what makes for good content. I know it when I see it. I can't tell you generally what not to do, but I can tell you lots of stories of what I've learned not to do because I've stuck my head in enough places it didn't belong to now know a bit better.
Though not by much.
I get angry in this space. I go on rants. I get weepy. I get overly honest.
I don't have a blogging voice. This is actually how my brain sounds all the time. (It's exhausting. It also sounds like how I sound on my food blog. These are my two extremes and, seriously, I'm always in one of those modes. Alarmingly so.)
I get more than one email every week asking me how I got into blogging, how I got my followers, how I built a base. I can't answer well. I can only offer these three pieces of advice:
1. Do everything as if it matters. Whatever you write, whenever you write it, wherever you write it, live as if the things you say really do, in fact, matter. Really do, in fact, have power. Because they do. (This is actually about sacramentality, but, whatever.)
2. When you think you're being controversial and cutting edge, you're boring and no one will read the post. Publish at your own risk.
3. When you think you're being boring and no one will read the post, you're being controversial and cutting edge and your inbox is about to be a minefield. Publish at your own risk.
That's all I have. That's my philosophy, my perspective, my understanding.
I am not a product and I am not a brand.
Preston Yancey is not a marketable skill.
I have glimpsed something beautiful and wondrous about God and I am trying, in this space, to use the poverty of my own words to communicate that marvelous Other. I will fail. I will stumble. I will write a post the next day contradicting what I said before.
Because I'm not selling Jesus here. I'm not trying to fix the church. I'm not trying to do anything but this: ask you to come over for a chat. This is where I am today. Who knows about tomorrow. Let's hash that out, too.
These rants? You'll find them at my real life dinner table. These poetics? You'll find them in the letters I write to my best friends.
Conversations about blogs as something more than a place where we graffiti art the side of a building and invite others to add their own interpretation leave me cold. This isn't real life in the way shared hearts are. Sometimes it can be, but that is in the blessing of God, not in the power of strategy.
And as it so happens, numbers mean so little.
Some of the very best blogs right now you aren't reading: here, here, here to name a few. Do I always agree with them? No. But are they consistently writing quality content that's not reduced to how-to posts disguised as story? Yes.
You want to know the secret to good blogging? You stop acting like there's a secret to good blogging. You tell the truth, you tell it well, you tell it with the measure of grace you have. No how-to posts, no reductive morality plays. Honest interaction with the Infinite God.
So. This year.
I'll keep calling it the Eucharist and I'll keep saying that we're allowed to criticise bad theology out loud and publicly. And I'll keep eating cheeseboards and saying that gin is superior to vodka. I'll keep saying women are equal and yet I vote conservative.
Why? Because I don't know how to care about the numbers.
I care about you.
I'm still amazed every time you show up in this space. It's still a surprise of grace and kindness.
4. Always be grateful. Always.
I suppose that's the last piece of advice I have. That's how you build a platform---vomit---you love the people you encounter, because they bothered to spend some of their precious love on you.
There's something vaguely Christian in that.
And that's why I keep doing this in my tiny corner of the Internet and I hope that's what has made you stay.