I would like some ideas for making this blog better. Do you have any?
As you know, the blog really has two functions. On one hand, the idea behind it is to disseminate as widely as possible the views, perspectives, evidence, arguments, and conclusions of scholars who devote their lives to the study of the New Testament and the history of early Christianity.
As the disseminator-of-such-things-in-chief, I think we are doing a pretty good job with that. The blog covers lots and lots of topics: the historical Jesus; the New Testament Gospels; the life, theology, and writings of Paul; the other writings of the New Testament; the Apostolic Fathers; the early Christian apocrypha (books that did not make it into the New Tesament); the formation of the Christian canon; heresy and orthodoxy in early Christianity; persecution and martyrdom of Christians; early Jewish Christian relations; the conversion and life of Constantine; and … and lots of other things. We basically cover everything that I know anything about, and the only things we don’t cover are (a) topics of no relevance to the area of Christianity in Antiquity and (b) topics I don’t know anything about. OK, so there are a lot of the latter, but there’s only one of me.
I continue to post 5-6 times a week, at about 1000 words (slightly more usually) a post. That’s a lot of content. People comment on the posts and I post the comments after reading them. The only comments I don’t post are ones (a) that are completely irrelevant to the purposes of the blog; (b) that are offensive or mean-spirited and lacking, generally, in etiquette; and (c) that are proselytizing, promoting personal religious views in order to convince and convert others. When I get asked questions on comments (which happens ten or fifteen times a day, I suppose) I try to answer them. Usually my answers are direct and to the point rather than expansive. I wish I had more time!
For comments that require extensive treatment there is another regular feature of the blog, the Weekly Readers’ Mailbag. Virtually every week I handle two or three (sometimes just one) question at relatively greater length. On occasion, a question leads me to start a new thread.
Another feature I’ve started is to re-post a post from years past. I do this maybe once every two weeks or so. The assumption is that most blog members will not have read the post, or if they did, say three or four years ago, they won’t remember it. I never remember it myself, and I actually wrote the thing!
In addition, I post audio and video posts, lectures or interviews I’ve done.
All the posts are available to paying members of the blog. Once a week or so I will make an open post, available to everyone, member or not. This is mainly meant to entice people into joining, showing them what they could get 5-6 times a week simply by shelling out a bit of dosh. It’s not much dosh – about fifty cents a week, or a dime a post. Pretty good value I should think.
So the blog has developed significantly over the years and I think that it fills its first major function really well. This function is intimately connected to the second function, the one that is of most importance to me and the one that I am most concerned about. That is to raise money for charity.
Even though I enjoy disseminating knowledge about the New Testament and the history of early Christianity simply for the sake of doing so, I would not be doing so if it did not involve fund-raising for causes I am concerned about, principally supporting charities that deal with poverty, hunger, and homelessness. It simply takes too much of my time, energy, and resources! But it’s worth it for the sake of the charities.
On that front, we have done amazing work over the past four and a half years. For the first four years, we grew and grew, and raised more and more money each year, from relatively modest beginnings in 2012. In 2015 we raised $120,000 for charity. Amazing.
But now we are no longer raising more. In fact we are raising less. We are not raising hugely (bigly?) less, but somewhat less. But I want the blog to grow! Hence my concerns.
I would like to ask you for three things.
- First, I would like any ideas you have that would make the blog better and more attractive to potential members. I welcome all ideas! Let me have them.
- Second, I would like any ideas you have for raising more funds, any ways to increase the amounts we bring in. (Ways of “monetizing” what we have available here, or what I myself can do in connection with it)
- Third, I’d like to encourage you to make a donation to the blog on top of your membership fees. Many of you simply cannot do so, and I completely understand. I appreciate very much that you have sacrificed some hard earned cash to join in the first place! May your tribe increase! Others of you can make a small donation. Yet others can make a large one. Possibly you can make a very large one. All donations, small and large, are welcome and encouraged and received with real thanks and appreciation. The donation you make provides encouragement to me to keep the whole enterprise going, and even more important goes directly to charities helping those in need.
If you want to speak to me directly about making a donation, simply zap me an email (no need to post your questions or concerns or issues to everyone on the blog, unless you want to). But if you have suggestions for improving the blog or for using it to raise funds, go ahead and just make a comment here. I appreciate all the comments I get.
And I appreciate your joining me on this venture. I’m hoping we can blast out the year in style!