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Blog Anniversary, 2020!

As I indicated in my previous post, we had our eighth anniversary as a blog two days ago, on April 3.   How things have changed since started this little venture in 2012.   As I have said before, at the time I had no idea how the blog would work or go.   A friend had suggested the idea of a blog over drinks, and I thought it was crazy.  Who has time to do a regular blog?  Lots of people, I guess, since there are millions out there.  But I said: No Way.  So he suggested I do it for money.  I said, Money for a BLOG???   Plus, I told him, I was doing just fine, thank you very much.  But then he said, You could do it for charity.  BINGO.

I thought about it.  Steven Ray contacted me out of the blue to see if I needed any website help.  I conferred with him about the blog idea, but it off for months and months, and finally toward the end of 2011 I thought I wanted to try it.  I thought, hey, maybe I could raise $20,000 a year for charity.  THAT would be good!   I conceptualized it, Steven designed it, we started it, and here we are.

I am thinking of 2019-20 is the year the blog started taking steps toward serious growth and development.  I think we are at the beginning of a sea change, thanks to sage advice, new directions, and lots of help from others..  We are starting to transform the blog from a mom-and-pop show to something more significant.  It will take a while, but it looks like we may be heading there.

The idea is to keep the same concept we’ve always had, but figuring out how to improve and to expand our presence.  As from the beginning, I post 5-6 times a week, every week (haven’t missed a week in 8 years), on topics of all sorts connected with the NT and Early Christianity.  All proceeds from the blog – membership fees and direct donations – go straight to charity.  (None go to the overhead costs of the blog). But we are working hard on getting the word out there, growing our membership, and improving the packaging of our product.   It’s already paying off and we hope this coming year it will pay off far more big time.

So here are the year’s numbers.   I just checked: I made 289 posts this past year, so on average about five and a half per week.   Altogether, since starting the blog, there have been 2302 posts.  Them’s a lot of words.  I have also posted 14,322 comments from y’all this past year — some 275/week – so your voices are being heard as well.   Altogether we have posted 94,811 comments since the blog began.

Yet more important: right now we have 9426 paying members.  That is up from 7100 last year at this time, an increase of nearly 33%.  We also have a number of free members, both those who cannot afford the membership fee who have been given year memberships through generous donations of other blog members for the purpose, and now, for the past two days, Free Memberships for a two-month period, as we are in the midst of the pandemic.   We’ve had more than 450 people take advantage of this recent offer, and have 595 free memberships out there altogether, making a total of over 10,000 members of one kind or another on the blog.

Now *that’s* a milestone.  And if we can keep growing at this rate, or even better, a higher one, well, we are all intimately familiar with exponential curves these days.  Only this time it will be for a very GOOD thing.

For me, one of the most important gauge of our success is the amount of money we raise for charity.  Corresponding to all the other increases, we have done gratifyingly well this past year.   Altogether we raised and distributed $189,000.   That is nearly 20% more than the year before ($158,000) — which itself was slightly less than a 14% increase we over the one previous.  So we are growing our revenues at a higher rate, and are definitely moving in the right direction.    If you want to see which charities we support, please simply click on the Philanthropy tab on the home page, and you’ll see.

As am important side note:  I have just now – this morning in fact – learned a flaw in our system related to donations, for which I need to apologize.  As you know, we use PayPal, and I receive an email from PayPal for every membership fee and donation that comes in (so: I get numerous emails of this kind everyday).  I rely on these notifications to tell me when a Donation has been made.  Looking at other things in our PayPal account, I have just now realized that some donations have not been reported to me as such, but as “payments” (the term normally reserved for Membership fees).  And as a result, SOME donations have not been acknowledged in a personal email from me.  MANY MANY apologies if that has happened to you.  I had no idea, and am so sorry if I have not thanked you for your generous gift.  If you’re not thanked from here on out, please let me know (“Hey Bart, did you get my donation?  Just making sure….”) and give me a VERY hard time.

The new phase the blog is now moving into will become graphically evident to you in the not too distant future.  Steven designed the blog stie back at the end of 2011, and for the past two years he has been holding it together with duct tape and bailing wire.   A year and a half ago he started building a whole new platform.  We have been working on it, both conceptually and materially, and we are getting close to being able to roll it out.  It may be another month or so, but when we do, it will be VASTLY improved in every way.  My posts will be of the same sort – I’m not changing that at all.  But the blog site itself will be brought up to date and improved.

That will help us as we try to get the word out there and acquire more members, which will mean more people better informed about these topics we are all deeply concerned about; it will mean more money for charities that now desperately need it more than ever; and so it will mean a better world all around.

I conclude with some words of thanks.  First and foremost, thanks are due to Steven, who has labored long and hard on the blog, entirely behind the scenes, and has done a fantastic job with his massive technical expertise on the site itself, membership services, and advice to me.

In addition, we have had the new phenomenon of volunteers this year, a number of them who have done a number of tasks.  Many, many thanks to all, especially to three volunteers who have come forward to donate significant amounts of time and effort to make the blog far better:  Nathan Gordon, Chris Huntley, and Ben Porter.   Their names won’t be in lights on the video screen, but they are all making an enormous difference.

Most of all I thank all of you, for joining the blog, participating in it, supporting it with your fees and donations.  It would not happen without you, and I appreciate your involvement, at whatever level, very much indeed.   As we move forward, please feel free to make comments not just on the content of the posts but also on the quality, usefulness, and utility of the blog itself.  Anything we can do to improve will be good for all of us.

If you want to help out the blog even more, it requires just one thing, involving no expense and very little time.  Please tell everyone you know about the blog.   Use your social media; email people; talk to people.  It is endlessly frustrating for me to hear stories from devoted blog members, who have been with us for just months or a year, who are extraordinarily interested in what the blog is doing, but until now had never heard of it.  Word of mouth (or word of social media) is the one and best way we have of communicating our existence.  Please join us in doing so.

And most important, in this time of serious crisis, please stay safe.

Here’s looking forward to the blog’s 2020-21 iteration!

 

 


The Blog Podcast and Some New Protocols
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Comments

  1. Avatar
    James Chalmers  April 5, 2020

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, and thanks again, Steven Ray and Bart Ehrman.

  2. Avatar
    davitako  April 5, 2020

    This is just impressive, what else can I say.

    Bart, have you tried using ads for the blog? Maybe it’ll help spread the word even further. Also, I think I mentioned this a long time ago, have you considered creating multilingual articles (maybe) with the help of volunteers? I’m pretty sure there are plenty of non-English-speaking people who’d be interested in these topics.

    And of course, thank you for the amazing job 💛

    • Bart
      Bart  April 6, 2020

      a. Ads: we’re thining about it; b. translations: interesting idea.

      • Avatar
        turbopro  April 7, 2020

        Curious: what do we mean by ‘using ads for the blog’?

        Do we mean having ads on the blog? (to generate additional income for charity)

        Do we mean advertising the blog?

        I’ll be frank: if we introduce ads on the blog, I may be inclined to forego the pleasure of your company.

        I have enough ads on all the other websites out there to last several lifetimes. I come here everyday specifically to escape ads.

        Thanks.

        • Bart
          Bart  April 8, 2020

          Yup, I’m not a fan of ads either. I’m not going to do anything that compromises our lovely aesthetic. 🙂

  3. Robert
    Robert  April 5, 2020

    “… and for the past two years he has been holding it together with duct tape and bailing wire.”

    It’s baling wire, not bailing wire. Are you sure you really come from Kansas?

  4. Avatar
    forthfading  April 5, 2020

    Dr. Ehrman,

    Just curious, do you have an idea of the ratio between the members on the blog who are Biblical scholars of some sort compared to lay members?

    I have been a member for two years and it is still the highlight of my day when I get to fire up the computer and open the blog. I’m very grateful for the time and effort you put into this because it’s not like you have anything else to do. I have learned a tremendous amount , and I can honestly say I am a better person because of what I’ve learned from your scholarship. Many blessings to you and your family and I look forward to the next year!!

    Thanks, Jay

    • Bart
      Bart  April 6, 2020

      Of the 10,000 members, I know of only about five or six who are actual Bible scholars. And they tend to be on it to be amused at what I say….

  5. Avatar
    Shawnmrmsh  April 5, 2020

    Congratulations!! And thank you for your commitment to education, as well as raising funds for charity.

  6. Avatar
    RRomanchek  April 5, 2020

    “None [payments-amazing!] go to the overhead costs of the blog. Thank you, Professor Ehrman! I have a small library of your books, and signed up for the blog a couple of years ago. Learning stuff daily. Should get your latest book tomorrow.

  7. Avatar
    cwjose99  April 5, 2020

    I can’t tell you how enjoyable this blog is. I have enjoyed some of your courses from The Great Courses and have been educated by reading most of your books. As a former language teacher, however, I have to suggest you check your spelling for typos. It detracts from the appreciation of what you have to say and this is a shame since there is so much to learn from your words. Thanks for the wonderful job you are doing. You have been a source of much knowledge for me in the past and now, thanks to this blog, I will continue to be able to share in your thinking and teachings.

    • Bart
      Bart  April 6, 2020

      Thanks! And I really wish I could! But, well, it ain’t gonna happen. I write something, edit it once (for style and typos), and that’s all I can do. The blog already takes up way more of my time than I can afford: in addition to a day job I devote most of my hours to research and writing; and I simply can’t devote another 15 minutes a day = 75 minutes a week = 3900 minutes a year = 65 hours a year = an entire week a year away from my other work. As you may know, I’m very time conscious. I’m also typo conscious, but it’s a rock and a hard place. Or a hard palace.

      • Avatar
        Matt A  April 9, 2020

        I’m happy to volunteer as a typo fixer. Just let me know if you need one, Bart.

        Although typos do give bad impression, I think minor typos on blog posts are okay. And sometimes they bring a chuckle, too.

        • Bart
          Bart  April 10, 2020

          Thanks! But I crank these fellas out and post them tout de suite. Just think of these posts as mansusripts of the Bible: imoprtant contenbt with lotss of speling errrors.

  8. Avatar
    Bewilderbeast  April 7, 2020

    Thank you Bart, this has been a most rewarding ‘follow.’ I love the fact that as I learn, people who really need help get helped – that’s a big part of the magic. A personal note on growth: Growth is not everything. In fact growth is a big part of the world’s problem. If this wonderful blog makes even $100 000 a year for the next ten years (and no more) that’s STILL wonderful and worthwhile, and I’ll be there supporting it. More is bonus, but that amount alone is worth keeping going.
    Admin: I feel I’m due for annual fees? How do I get told?

    • Bart
      Bart  April 8, 2020

      I completely on growth per se. But in this case it means more food for the hungry and housing for the homeless: that kind of growth I am ALL for. Your membership renews automatically (it’s an arrangement you — and all members — made with PayPal)

  9. Barfo
    Barfo  April 8, 2020

    I have not been so immersed in a single subject at one time in my entire life, (I will be 60 in May). Over the last two years I have been on a learning adventure and the material in your books and on this blog have been the primary asset in gaining knowledge. Thank you for your tireless efforts to teach others.

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