August was a record-setting month for EthicsDaily.com—571,742 pages were requested (one page request corresponds to one article read).
Cleary, something positive and dynamic is happening on EthicsDaily.com.
At a time when many Baptist organizations are barely hanging on and struggling to justify their continued existence, we're going gangbusters.
Some contextual information might qualify my exuberance:
- In 2004, I questioned if we would ever average 100,000 page requests each month.
- In 2007, I watched as we consistently registered over 200,000 monthly page requests.
- In 2008, I wondered why EthicsDaily.com numbers sea-sawed between the 200,000 and 300,000 ranges. The half-million mark appeared several years away.
- In 2009 with the launch of a new version of EthicsDaily.com, I expected continued incremental readership growth. When we recorded 433,380 pages in May and 456,599 pages in July, I expected an August dip followed by a steady increase through the remainder of the year.
I did not expect that EthicsDaily.com would surge past the half-million mark, surpassing July's numbers by over 100,000 pages.
Explaining our growth is more guesswork than empirical science. Nonetheless, I have some suggestions for why our readership has grown.
First, we have terrific, consistent and ever-changing content.
We have a stable of columnists who have something to say and say it well. Some write weekly; others submit pieces monthly. A number of folk contribute opinion pieces occasionally.
Our columnists range from those who write with a shearing prophetic edge to those who write on contemporary issues with pastoral balance, knowing full well that if they get too far in front of their community they will be mistaken for the enemy—and will be shot.
Other columnists are less concerned with social critiques and moral challenges. They offer practical insight into the life of the church and daily walk of people of faith.
Our opinion writers are not all goodwill Baptists! We post articles by Jews, Muslims and mainline Protestants.
Columnists deserve a lot of the credit for our growth.
Second, we deliver information and resources in a variety of ways that congregational leaders and other people of faith want.
We offer movie reviews, sermon manuscripts, sermon podcasts, a contemporary issues podcast and video clips. Additionally, we have a number of biblically-based, affordable, undated, online educational units.
No doubt, our award-winning documentary "Beneath the Skin: Baptists and Racism" and other DVDs have drawn to our site folk looking for high-quality resources.
Some readers are probably more interested in our hub for bloggers or hub for Religion News Service stories than other parts of the site.
Our team of freelance news writers—who cover contemporary issues, events and local church initiatives—deliver information in yet another way.
Third, we are tied into a global network.
We post news stories from the Baptist Times, Baptist World Alliance and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. We provide coverage and space to Australian Baptists and the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention. We have posted excerpts from a Judson Press book.
EthicsDaily.com is a platform that affords a synergistic mutuality for everyone involved. We get readers; other organizations get their stories told to a growing audience.
Fourth, we have a new Web site. Launched in February, EthicsDaily.com has a cleaner and simpler look with more graphics. More options are available on the front page. Article pages contain links to related articles. The purchase of online curriculum units is automated, speeding up the distribution of education resources. The search engine actually works—compared to the old search engine that caused the staff to grind their teeth.
These four factors are more speculation than certain fact.
Add to this conjecture three other factors that have determined successful growth.
One is the EthicsDaily.com staff. The staff ensures a quality product every day—managing the content flow, copy editing articles, administering the many moveable parts and assisting with organizational details.
Another is an engaged board of directors—folk who believe in the organizational vision and mission, share the good news about what we are doing, open doors and advocate for the common good.
Still another reason is our readership. EthicsDaily.com readers—for the most part—are evangelists. They tell others the good news about the Web site. Our readers readily forward articles to their friends, and maybe adversaries. They talk up articles and hand out columns in Sunday school classes.
Bottom line: EthicsDaily.com's success is a shared success.
Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics.