So, it’s the last day of the year, and I thought I would take a moment to reflect on life, meaning, and the state of the blog. Mainly, for now, the state of the blog. Some statistics would be useful, both of what I wanted to accomplish before the year was out (which will be in five and a half hours, my time) and what we did accomplish.
So, to start with, my plan at the outset.
I really didn’t know how the blog would go, whether it would have any success at all or be a complete dud. My computer guru for the site, Steven Ray, and I worked for months getting it set up. Well, actually, he worked for several months. I dilly-dallied and told him what to do. He had earlier designed my website, www.bartdehrman.com , which I liked very much (and still do like), and so I asked him to set up the blog. He did almost all the work, and I still think it looks fantastic and works great. Any problems I direct to him, and he deals with them promptly and efficiently. You should hire him too!
My first post was at the very beginning of April (April 4). At the time I was completely clueless: how many posts to do a week? How long should they be? How would I be able to keep thinking of things to talk about? How could I possibly respond to all the comments? How would I find time every day to do it? Would anyone be interested? Would *enough* people be interested that it would be worth my while?
As all of you (members) know, I do the blog not because I’m so desperate to have the entire world to know what I think every day about the NT, the historical Jesus, the history of early Christianity, and so on, but because I want to raise money for charities, especially charities that are near and dear to my heart, those dealing with issues of hunger and homelessness. And so a whole other set of questions had to do with that. Would people be willing to pay to get onto a blog? How many people would be enough to make it worthwhile? What could I expect and what should I expect? And for them to pay, what would *they* expect?
My reasonably sanguine hopes and goals going into the whole thing, at the beginning of April, were the following: by the end of the year I wanted:
- To have 1000 paying members (actually, there aren’t any other kind of members) on the blog.
- And to have raised $20,000 for charities.
But I didn’t know how often I would blog or how long they would be or how the topics would fall out.
I hate to say that I’m a prophet, but, well, I may not be the son of a prophet, but damn I’m good. As of now we have just over 1000 members (1023 as of this moment). The first month it started out at about 250, and it grows every day. We probably get 4 or 5 new members a day; maybe half of these buy the year-long membership for $24.95; those are the ones who warm the cockles of my heart. But even those paying for three-months at $7.95 or one-month at $3.95 are good news, since if they keep renewing at that rate, they will pay much *more* than $24.95 a year!
Every penny of every membership fee, and every penny of every donation (BTW: you’re encouraged to donate!! It all goes to fantastic causes) has gone to charity. I have paid for the site itself, for the upkeep, for the administration, everything, myself, out of my own pocket, not from membership fees. And as it turns out, we have met my goal for the year for funds raised. Almost exactly. As of this afternoon we have raised just over $22,000.
If people keep renewing their memberships, and if we keep adding more members, this thing can just keep growing and getting better and better. I’m personally in favor of it.
In terms of substance, since April 4 I believe I have posted on average about six posts a week. I usually have a day I take off each week, normally because I’m off doing something and just can’t get to my computer (like watching the NFL, or something equally pressing). According to WordPress there have been over 4300 comments made by readers. I don’t respond to all of them, since many of them are comments pure and simple; I do try to answer the questions that I get asked in the comments, although I sometimes can’t handle long and complicated ones. But on the whole, I think the threads are going well.
I seem to have no shortage of things to talk about, especially since so many of the posts deal with questions that have been raised. And I’ve scheduled it into my daily routine, so the time so far is not a huge factor. I can imagine getting redundancies over the course of the year, and I’m not sure how bad or OK that is (in other words, on 9/28/13 I may post something that is a lot like something I posted on 5/3/12 sort of thing).
And that’s about it from my end. I hope from your end that you’ve enjoyed the blog. If you have, please tell friends, family, acquaintances, and pets all about it, and get them to join as well. And if you have suggestions for improvement, do let me know.
Many thanks to all. Have a safe and happy New Year.