The blog has now been in existence three and a half years now, and as I like to do a couple of times a year, I would like to take its pulse, to see if it is still alive and well among us, and to find out what, if anything, we can do to make it better. I don’t think it is sick and in desperate need of hospitalization; in fact, from where I sit, it seems to be doing very well (see below). But I want to know what *you* think, since you’re the ones who matter here. I have some specific questions, set out in what follows.
Since we started in April 2012, I have posted – every week, 52 weeks of the year – five or six times a week. That’s a lot, but I still feel that I’m going strong and have lots to say (on that, see the specific questions). I have to admit, over the past six months I have tended to move more toward five times a week instead of six. I’m not inclined to go below that (to four), and at this point see no reason to do so. But I don’t *think* the frequency has been a problem. If you do think so, let me know! Specifically:
- Should I post more? Should I post less? Should I post with the same frequency?
- ALSO: my posts are almost always around 1000 words, or just over. Is that the right length? Longer? Shorter?
There have always been and still are two major objectives of the blog.
- The first is the one that most of you are most interested in: to disseminate scholarly information and knowledge about the New Testament and early Christianity to a wide non-scholarly audience (including: the historical Jesus, the writings of Paul, the Gospels, the other books of the NT, the books outside the NT up to the fourth century, the apocryphal Gospels, the manuscript tradition of the New Testament, the history of early Christianity [e.g., heresy and orthodoxy], the formation of the canon, and related topics [e.g., Hebrew Bible; the Jewish world of the first century; the Greco-Roman world). SO, big questions.
- Are there other areas you would like me to post on?
- Do you feel comfortable asking me questions on the blog that I can address?
- For months now I’ve been pursuing one particular set of questions (related to my book Orthodox Corruption of Scripture), but using it to spin off posts on all sorts of distantly related things. Do you like the idea of threads on the blog? Are you comfortable with something like this ONE BIG LONG thread? Is this thread sufficiently diversified to keep your attention?
- I have had one user complain that my recent posts (on whether Luke’s Gospel originally contained chs. 1-2) had been covered over two years ago in a different set of posts. My feeling at the time was that most members of the blog probably had not read those earlier posts, and that if they did, they probably wouldn’t remember them all that well. That’s because, well, I didn’t. But do you think that covering the same material a couple of years apart is a problem? Sometimes the topic seems especially relevant yet once again for a different reason, and it seems to me that if we’re talking about a couple of years later, it’s OK to cover the same ground again. But what do you think?
- The second objective of the blog is, by contrast, the one that *I myself* am most interested in. The purpose of the post is to raise money for charity. Here we are doing well, but never as well as I would like! One of my main goals has been to get the blog giving (both subscriptions and donations) to the level of $100,000 per year. I have two ways of calculating the giving: one is by calculating by fiscal year (I count my fiscal year as starting on April 4, since that was the day we launched the blog in 2012), the other by calendar year.
I am very happy to report that we will almost certainly reach $100,000 this calendar year.
This is a remarkable growth for us. Our first full calendar year (2013) we raised $51,000; the second (2014), we raised $71,000. So this year we will have reached one of my initial goals, and I’m very enthused about what we are doing. Much of this growth has been because of very generous donations from some of you, for whom I am very grateful. But what I very much want is to get to the point where we bring in $100,000 simply from subscription fees, with donations extending us to an even higher level. So, my BIG question for you: how can we do that?
- How can we attract more (and more) members to the blog?
- What can we do in order to generate more income for the blog outside of attracting new members?
- e., are there other fund raising things that we can be doing to raise more money?
- Are there any ways we can encourage people to donate to the blog? (Please note: all donations are tax deductible: so feel free to contribute!)
As I repeatedly say, all of the money we bring in goes to charity. I announced the charities at the beginning of our history together, and information about all four of them is found on the blog site itself. My inclination is not to change what we’re doing, but if you have any ideas you would like to share with me about any of that, let me know.
So that’s my pulse taking. I’ll be happy to hear your responses, whether in general (the blog is great; the blog is awful) or with specific comments and suggestions.
Finally, many thanks to all of YOU, who have made this endeavor not only possible but successful!