When we started GloryBooks.org a little over a year ago we had no idea what to expect. We knew we were dropping into an over saturated blog market and that it would be incredibly tough to distinguish ourselves from the two dozen or so “Biblical Response to [insert current event here]” blogs already out there, especially those that have been around a while.
But, in an effort to give a voice to some incredibly gifted men and women who might not otherwise be heard, we moved on with the launch of two different blogs: our core devotional, and our women’s blog. Both of the blogs did incredibly well for about six months and then we started noticing a drop off in traffic that continued over the next six months to the present. I’ll address why I think that is happening in just a bit but first I want to share a few things that we’ve learned over the past year (this may interest you).
What We’ve Learned in Glory Books Year 1
1. Driving traffic to the site isn’t hard.
Look, if all we cared about were hits to the website, there would be no issue. If you want the secret to landing a lot of visits on your blog, allow me to make it very simple for you.
Aquire 1000+ Facebook likes on your Facebook page, grab another 500 or so Twitter followers, write an article titled 4 Biblical Responses to… and then insert one of these five topics: gay marriage/rights, the latest mass shooting, Islam, anything having to do with sex, or any religious/political group that is currently making headlines. Slap a three dollar Facebook promotion on it to the right audience and I’ll guarantee you 2000+ hits in a day.
As predictable as our human nature is, it’s not rocket science.
2. Christians, in general, would much rather read an article about the latest current event than an article about theology.
I found this to be a rather disturbing trend. Our articles addressing current events (or symptoms) are read far more than our articles that go straight to God’s Word in a topical or exegetical study.
I think because we have a barrage of “opinion articles” at our disposal through social media we have become lazy in figuring things out for ourselves. It’s kind of like with math…if you get too used to using a calculator you’ll forget how to do the arithmetic. All these “Biblical response to…” articles are breeding Christians, who in general, no longer want to study because either they’ve forgotten how to, or they would rather let someone else do the work and then adopt their opinion. This can’t be a good thing.
Let me give you an example. On June 30, 2015 we published an article titled, 4 Reasons Gay Pride Makes Sense, and it received well over 3000 views on the day we released it right in the midst of the supreme court rulings. Just three days later John Fast wrote a fabulous article called, Self-Examination and the Characteristics of the New Nature. This is a fantastic treatise on Lordship salvation and the characteristics of someone born again. It’s a way to check our lifestyle against the principles of Scripture. But guess how many views it received on release day? 274…That’s it. What happened to the 3000 Christians who were on our site just days before?
And it’s not that a majority of our audience isn’t Christian. Our Facebook campaigns directly target those who like us, who like John MacArthur, and who like The Master’s Seminary. So I would assume the majority of our target audience is at the very least, “professing believers.” These are not lost people who are obsessed with the world around us. These are solid, bible-believing Christians (for the most part).
This should be a challenge to all of us. I don’t have the space in this article to explore this in detail, but take some time to think about it. Why are we, as Christians, who should always be heavenly minded, so concerned with the junk of this world? These are nothing but distractions to keep us tied up in the news rather than the Word. Our fallen brains are wired for drama, conflict, and fear, and any marketer worth his salt is totally aware of this, and is exploiting it to the best of his or her ability for a share of your mind. Don’t give it to them!
3. There is a remnant of our readers who are craving Bible Study.
If you go to our subscribe page you will find a place where you can enter your email and then select which of our media styles most interest you. You can choose between blogs, podcasts, or Bible studies. Now, most people who subscribe will select all three because that’s kind of the default. But about thirty percent of our subscribers selected only one item. And of that thirty percent between eighty and ninety percent of them select Bible Studies only.
More on this group below…
4. We aren’t perfect.
We receive a good amount of encouraging emails but from time to time we receive some constructive criticism–I honestly can’t think of a time we have received non-constructive criticism other than the typical internet trolls on Facebook.
When it comes to constructive criticism, the number one feedback item we receive is that people tend to think Glory Books content is a bit random. As in, there is no focus, and honestly, I have to agree with them. Our content distribution has been all over the map. Sometimes we cover current events, sometimes we post devotionals, and sometimes we post a Greek word study or an exegesis of a passage. Then we have our podcasts (which are also on seemingly random topics) and then we have our theological write-ups too. We have concluded that this admittedly all adds up to a big mess.
Where Glory Books is Headed in Year 2
So after a year, I think it’s about time we sharpen up our focus and start producing more purposeful content. That basically leaves us with one of two decisions: 1) Do we go after the mass viewership and website hits and post constantly relevant articles that are “biblical responses” to currently breaking headlines, or do we 2) forget the numbers and choose to minister to a much smaller crowd who craves to study the Scriptures?
Being that this is an extension of Dr. Greg Harris’ ministry, Chairman of the Bible Exposition Department at The Master’s Seminary, and one of the most humble and genuine men I know, I’ll give you one guess where we’re headed. 🙂
Here’s the thing…
There are plenty of “evangelical blogs” where you can read someone else’s opinion on current events from a Christian prospective. They are social media hot buttons and these sites are taking full advantage (we’ve been guilty of this in the past as well).
In reality, these types of articles have no lasting value. Once the event is over, it’s over, and as human beings, we tend to move on very quickly. Not to mention these articles typically only address symptoms of a much deeper problem that needs to be addressed in the depths of Bible study.
On top of this, we want to teach people to go to God’s Word and formulate their own opinions about the world around them so they are no longer reliant on someone else for “enlightenment.” You don’t need someone to tell you how to think about something. God’s Word is completely sufficient in providing you these answers. But it does require that you put in the work.
And to be clear, we don’t find anything intrinsically wrong with reading or writing on current events, but we do find the wide gap of readership between current event articles and theology articles a bit concerning as it confirms the “soundbite theology” epidemic plaguing contemporary Christianity, especially with the rise of social media.
If the only content pieces Christians read are reactions to the symptoms of a fallen world then not only will the root issue never be addressed, but we’ll also develop a generation of Christians who no longer know how to study the Word for themselves and come to sound biblical conclusions through their own study.
Our New Year’s Resolution
A lot of our content is produced weeks before it’s published so we still have some back-stock we need to put out in fairness to their creators, but starting around early February you will see Glory Books making a big transition.
All of our content will center around studying the Bible. This means you will typically see the exegesis of a passage, or a topical look at a subject (saturated with Scripture). We also have plans for posting some practical content of the “How To” category for leading Bible studies, participating in Bible studies, doing them on your own, etc.
We want the Glory Books name to be associated with the purposeful and in-depth study of God’s Word–a resource for those serious enough to use it.
We’re going to need your help. A lot of our content will request input and feedback. Leave comments, participate in polls, and pass it on to a friend if you like it.
And of course we’ll still post on current events from time to time, but those posts will be sparse, and only when there is a direct link to how we study the Bible.
So while many around us cater to the quite real craving for answers surrounding politics, religion, and current events, we’ll be here for the student of the Bible. We’ll be here for the Christian who wants to put in the work. We’ll be here for the believer who spends more time in the Word than in the blogosphere. And hopefully together we can overcome that craving for the pop culture with a craving for the written words of the Creator of the universe and the Savior to all who believe.