Now that we are well into our fifth year of the blog, I want to pause and ask for some suggestions.  As always, I’m happy to hear your suggestions in general, but I have a problem in particular that I’d like to address.

First, in general.  Our goal, of course, is to increase membership on the blog, since the ultimate goal is to raise money for charities dealing with hunger and homelessness, through membership fees and donations.

Did I mention donations?   I am completely gratified and humbled by the donations that come in.  Please think about making a donation yourself, large or small.  You will earn my eternal gratitude.

But as to general suggestions: if you can think of anything that is simple to do, that doesn’t take much time, and that can attract new members to the blog, please let me know.  The blog has evolved in lots of ways over the years.  It’s hard to see because the changes happen one at a time, and we get accustomed to them.  But they happen.

It’s like my New Testament textbook, which is now in the sixth edition.  People ask me: why are you revising it *again*??  Can you really make it different and, more important, better?  Anyone who wonders that should simply look at the first edition then look at the sixth edition.  We’re in a different universe here.   It’s a bit like that on the blog.

And it’s like that because we have gotten so many good suggestions in the past and implemented the ones that seemed like something we could do that would work.  On the whole I’d say things are pretty good.

But that gets me to the problem that is developing.  I’m not sure what to do about it, since it is a result of our success.   Our numbers are growing, as we want and hope.  That part’s good.  Sarah (that would be my wife) sometimes tell me we need to stop growing because growth means more time invested.  Up till now I’ve been able to tell her that the time commitment hasn’t much changed.

But it’s starting to be a bit of a problem and I’m not sure what to do about it.  I try to get through all the blog work in about an hour a day, and as you know, I do it five or six times a week.  But for the past couple of months, there have been more comments than before.  And much longer comments.  And more comments that are asking me a direct question expecting (as they should) a reply.  And so I have to read more, interact more, answer more.   Now it is often taking me an hour and a half a day instead of an hour.   That’s a bit of a problem.

On one level a half hour doesn’t seem like much.  Hey, it’s a half hour – big deal!  As I’ve mentioned before, though, I’m ridiculously time conscious and structured.  I look at these things in what is probably a pretty unusual way.  I crunch the numbers.  If I were to spend a half hour a day longer on the blog on *average* that would be an additional 3 hours a week.  That would be 156 additional hours a year.  And *that* would be equivalent to four additional work-weeks of 40 hours a week.

Now like most of you, I work more than 40 hours a week.  But suppose I *did* work 40 hours a week.  I have just devoted an entire month of my year to the additional time on the blog.  Not to the time on the blog – to the *additional* time.

So I’m not sure what to do about it.  Among the obvious options:

  • I could just shut up and do it. That’s been my solution so far.
  • I could post less frequently, say 4-5 times a week instead 5-6.
  • I could ignore comments and not answer questions. (I do have to speed read them sometimes, so if I miss a question – apologies: I do try to catch them all)
  • I could get a volunteer on the blog to read through the comments, post the ones that don’t need a response, and then forward ones to me that do need one.
  • I could hire a Research Assistant – for example, one of my graduate students in the field of early Christian studies – to handle all the comments for me.

All of these solutions are problematic.  (The last one, e.g.: people aren’t paying good money to be on the blog to hear the opinions of a 24 year old graduate student, even if it’s someone I’m completely confident in….).   So I’m not sure what to do.   Any suggestions?

Let me say that I continue to feel energized and completely upbeat about the blog, and am doing my best to stay on top of it.  And I definitely want it to grow and not shrink.  If we began to shrink and raise less money, I would certainly rethink the whole endeavor.  I want it to increase in size and to raise lots, lots more money for charity.  But how to do it without making it a full-time job?!?

Let me know what you think!   And feel completely free to hit that Donate button!