Looking Back: Joy of the Christian Blog Slog
As the 12th anniversary of ChristianWritingToday.com (CWT) approaches, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at the most popular articles, based on page views, according to site statistics.
A site like CWT is a niche site, and they are unlikely to get huge traffic like those with topics that appeal to a wider audience. Visitors trend down during certain seasons but sometimes spike to exceptionally high levels. For example, this month there were slightly over 12,000 page views. The number of CWT visitors is ever-growing but currently averages about 8,000 monthly page views.
Blogs of a more general nature can get larger audiences. I am an advocate of Christian blogging and have even written a book about how to do it.
I’m grateful to have the opportunity to provide information and inspiration to many Christian writers on an ongoing basis. Thank you to all CWT readers.
Readers Vote By Reading
I believe in “the long tail” when it comes to having information available. No articles are ever deleted from CWT. Most of the information is “evergreen,” but time-related articles (news of annual awards, for example) have the date at the bottom to provide context.
Over the years, I’ve tried to provide practical writing content to help writers, along with Christian publishing news. Almost all posts have many thousands of readers. Yet, this Top 10 list reveals as much about what interests Christian writers as it does about my publishing choices. Readers have voted their favorites with their page views.
The Popularity Countdown
Here’s the list starting with number 10 and ending with the article that had the highest traffic. Of course, this listing excludes the homepage which is where the largest number of site visitors initially land.
This is a simple, short, three-point article I wrote in 2013. Roughly 2,000 people still read this page each year, and just over 10,000 page views puts it in 10th place of all the articles posted. Reading demographics change, however, and page views sometimes come very quickly now. For example, the article I posted last week about a partnership between Walmart and Kobo books earned over 1,000 page views in just a few hours.
I never cease to smile at the staying power of this post. It has appeared high in my stats nearly every week since March 2009. Pastor Maxwell, the leadership guru, went through airport security with a concealed handgun and was arrested. He fessed up to his error and put it behind him, but many people have an interest in reading the story and seeing his mug shot.
Several years ago I wrote a book called, Capturing Faith: How to Write a Local Church History. Many writers are interested in this topic, especially since I reveal how a writer can receive a steady income from this kind of tent-making ministry. This particular article is a blatant promotion for my book, and it continues to sell well.
Lawrence O. Richards was one of my Wheaton Graduate School professors and a personal hero of mine. He wrote over 250 Christian books. His book, Creative Bible Teaching, should be standard reading for all Christian writers, in my opinion, because he defines his “hook, book, look, took” methodology in it. That formula can and should be the basis of all Christian books, articles, sermons, and curricula. This interview got normal traffic until Larry died in October 2016. ChristianityToday.com linked to my interview in their obituary and traffic soared, putting it in the #7 all-time page view position.
A large number of Christians hated The Shack. Some claimed that it wasn’t a Christian book. I never intended to get involved in that debate. I was just reporting on how a self-published book, ostensibly with a Christian theme, could sell such a huge number of copies. Of course, The Shack has sold far more copies now and was made into a movie. This article continues to get a large number of page views each month even though it was posted in 2011.
This CWT post especially pleases me. At first, I was reporting on a Christian publishing company that was offering a free preview of their easy-to-understand translation. The page got a huge number of views. However, I later discovered that the Christian publishing company was no longer offering the New Testament at the link on my page. I substituted another reliable, easy-to-understand translation. The New Testament has been downloaded tens of thousands of times from 86 countries around the world.
“Duck Dynasty” was a popular reality television show that’s still in reruns. Willie Robertson may have been the star of the show, but Christians loved the wisdom of family patriarch Phil Robertson. His book attracted a lot of attention when it was released in 2013 and people are still looking for information about it today.
The author of the Chronicles of Narnia and many other Christian books has had a huge following for decades. Back in 1959, he answered a letter from a schoolgirl who wanted tips about writing. His replies were were rather short and I added commentary from my own experience. This article has been a perennial favorite on ChristianWritingToday.com.
A number of years ago I added a new category called, “Writer’s Resources” which I update annually. It contains articles that writers can use, like Christian publications that pay freelance authors, no restriction image resources, Christian writing conferences, places you can send a news release to promote your book, and a list of Christian literary agents. The agent list is the most popular resource and gets a large number of hits each month. Occasionally, someone will complain that Christian Marketplace contains far more entries than the eight I offer. However, not all Christian literary agents are created equal, and my list is curated and trustworthy. No Christian author can go wrong if they snag one of the literary agents on my list.
Tens of thousands of people have wanted to know the word count for books in various genres, and this has been the most popular post over the years. In the article, I note that Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Church is 103,208 words. Gary Chapman’s ever-popular Five Love Languages is a short 46,145 words. Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins rode the profit train to the end of the line. The first volume in the Left Behind series was 109,512 words, but the last one shriveled by over 25,000 words to 77,776 words.
The Big Picture
The list above does not represent my most helpful blog posts or best writing, at least in my opinion. CWT is a cornucopia of helpful and inspiring information. But my intent has been to do as John Wesley urged all Christians to do, and that is, ““Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
I’d encourage all Christian bloggers to stick with it for the long- haul. Each idea you transfer from a page into the mind of a reader can have eternal consequences. I like the idea of being able to influence Christian writers, but what excites me more is that they are, in turn, influencing others.
A Trivia Question
What was the first article I posted on ChristianWritingToday.com? I was venting about one of my pet peeves, an issue that still concerns me today. You can read that first post here.