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Lord, Wilt Thou Not Leadeth My Blog to Reach 1,000 Page Views per Day?

September 3, 2009

When I first started the Shrinking the Camel Blog, I joked with a friend that I was creating a new market niche that didn’t quite exist yet. Although my friend smiled and nodded encouragingly, now I am fairly certain that what he was actually thinking was more like, “Good luck, Sucker.”

What I had meant at the time was that I was frustrated by the lack of compelling content I saw on internet sites around the idea of integrating faith, spirituality, work and career. Some I found to be mainly interested in using the workplace as a stomping grounds for evangelism (ready, set, convert!). But I am not interested in targeting my employees and co-workers for conversion, so this did not appeal to me very much. I would much rather have genuine relationships with people at work, respecting their existing faith wherever they are on their spiritual journey. If we do end up having faith conversations, it happens naturally, out of mutual respect, trust and genuine influence.

Other work-faith sites were offering inspirational bible study applications to address token workplace issues, such as dealing with annoying employees or handling straightforward ethical questions (Golly, What if my Sales Manager asks me to fudge the numbers on my expense report?). These generally came off as a bit too simplistic for me. I highly doubt that all of the complex issues I face in management and leadership can be boiled down to a few Sunday School adages from scripture.  To make matters worse, I noticed that many of the well-intentioned authors of these work-faith articles had little to zilcho experience in corporate management. This, to me, came off a little bit like asking for sex therapy from a celibate priest. Not that we shouldn’t apply scripture to encourage and direct the decisions in our lives, but I sometimes fear that the overzealousness for bible-quoting misses the nuances and complexities of the deeper, real-life complications that must be teased out in the process.

What I couldn’t find, it seemed, was anyone talking from a smart, spiritual perspective on the very things that I was struggling with at work, like: 

  • The angst of searching for a spiritual purpose in my career
  • Ideas on how to positively channel my drive and ambition
  • Managing the constant pressure and insecurities of delivering on corporate performance expectations
  • Balancing my desire to make money with spiritual priorities
  • Dealing with peer competition and skanky corporate politics
  • Working through periods of stress and burnout
  • Allowing an honest faith struggle where it’s okay to ask challenging questions now and then.

These were more reflective of the messy truth that I was living through every day as an executive in the corporate workforce. But the answers to these questions are not always accessible, immediate or apparent. Because, as you are well aware, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ does not guarantee that our situations are all zipped up tight. Just like a favorite worn-out sweater, my work-life experiences are graced with plenty of tattered frays and loose ends.  In a nutshell, my life as a Christian executive can not be distilled into five-bullet-points and a bible verse. 

So I was interested in creating a forum here at Shrinking the Camel where smart, ambitious and career-minded individuals could find a place to enjoy authentic, relevant and challenging commentary on the joys and challenges of integrating business and career life with spiritual life. Oh, and the writing had to be really good, too. With a healthy dose of pithy humor. Plus a little snarky cynicism peppered in there to keep everyone honest. But it also it has to be inspirational. And provocative at the same time. What I definitely didn’t want to do was to create another generic I-Have-All-The-Answers-For-You “Faith in the Workplace” site.

So I started posting stories and articles. Soon, a cadre of regular readers started showing up. Not much later, I got picked up by a couple of online magazines. I even got an article published in a prominent business magazine. It was all good. And at that point you would think the correspondents from CNBC would have started beating a path to my door. Jeez Louise, where are the press when you really want them to show up?

Then a year went by. And thankfully, I did start finding more of the type of discussion that I was searching for in these online magazines and through other Bloggers (more on that in an upcoming post!). But, really, where was I going with all of this? What’s the point?

So this past summer I climbed the tallest tree that I could find to get a look beyond the forest at the vast horizon of possibilities ahead of me, to see what could be next for Shrinking the Camel.

I didn’t see much.

I prayed for God to give me some direction and guidance. I still did not get an answer.

I often interpret those divine silences as if  God is standing there with his arms crossed, gazing intently at something else going on in the universe, and without turning to look at me, he says, “It’s none of your damn business! I’ll tell you what to do when I’m good and ready.” Which is totally okay with me, him being God, and all. I waited patiently.

In the meantime, the feeling I was left with was that business and spirituality don’t really go together. Let me rephrase that. What I mean is, it is not really marketable. This “Faith in the Workplace” business is a niche that, by all accounts, has not really caught on with the greater public marketplace. Sure, maybe it’s of interest to a few fired-up Christians, those who want to preach to the choir of other fired-up Christians, but the rest of the regular mainstream business people – the ones who really need to hear and apply this stuff the most – seem to care more about the latest business news updates, or advancing their careers, or investment advice, or leadership strategies at work. No one seems to be overly concerned about linking any of that to their spiritual lives. Well, not enough to go and start up a Google search on the subject, anyway. Heck, they probably don’t even want to acknowledge that they even have spiritual lives.

Then how am I to reach this crowd? How am I to fulfill my little mission? I am afraid that this micro-niche of business and spirituality is so tiny in the scheme of things, it barely exists. Am I missing something?

                                       *          *        *        *        *       *

God finally got back to me. The first thing he let me know was that I was acting like a snobbish, self-centered, small-minded Blogger who was whining far too much about not getting enough traffic to his site.

 “Look around you!” He said. “Look at all the wonderful people, the rich and varied online resources that are providing the world with encouragement, advice and ideas for bringing their spiritual life into work. They are everywhere!”

Yes, I suppose he is right about that. Then he told me to get up off my sorry ass and keep blogging, and stop worrying so much about what’s next.

“Keep writing!” He said. “Blog even more! And btw, I love, love, love your work!”

“All right, all right.” I replied, a little reluctantly, because I am the type of competitive person who needs to see the prize that I am running after. Then God gave me some very specific tips on how to Blog more effectively. Well, it actually came from a Twitter feed, but the timing of it all convinced me that it was really God’s leading.

I am ever so grateful to all of those who have been faithful visitors and commenters. You truly have become like newfound friends. I will continue to post more stuff, probably with a greater emphasis on faith in the workplace, or business spirituality, or whatever is the most marketable buzzword for it at the moment. I hope you will continue to visit, and who knows? Maybe my audience will grow to become a greater and more diverse readership. Perhaps, I daresay, even growing enough to create a…a…a platform!  And maybe, hopefully, together, we can slog forward with our respective blogs and make some small dent in the massive media machine by introducing a spiritual perspective to the topics of business, money, management and career. And that will greatly please the Lord and inspire everyone to live better lives.

I’m looking forward to seeing what God will do this next year, with all of us.

 P.S. I would appreciate anyone’s advice on how to reach 1,000 views per day.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. Holger permalink
    September 3, 2009 7:00 am

    Just wanted to say that I appreciate your Blog and your honest-spiced-with-humor perspective of faith and work. I coincidently stumbled upon your Blog some months ago doing some research about Business as Mission and subscribed to it… So thank you.
    Keep up the good work. Greetings from Germany.
    Holger

  2. September 3, 2009 8:04 am

    I read the first part of this in despair. You put words to all of the doubts I have about my own work!

    But it got better. We’re trying at our sites, we really are.

    The biggest problem I encounter is this: the very people who are most knowledgeable about business (and faith) are so personally ambitious that they want to build their own empire rather than contribute to anyone else’s.

    If you have thoughts on how to address that problem, let me know.

  3. September 3, 2009 8:14 am

    I think you’re in a good spot, whether it’s a niche or mass market! I believe that Christians should be leaders in all fields – faith, compassion, science, business, literature, etc…

    I’ve personally been looking at the question, “how do you live out a life of faith?” At first I applied this to purely a personal level (it’s actually why I created R3). But as time went by I’ve become more interested in applying that question to a larger scale.

    So I created MeaningToWork.com, which looks at applying your faith in your professional life. The goal is to “translate” Biblical Principles into professional practices.

    I’m definitely looking forward to reading more from this site. And hearing how others address that same question.

    Marcus – Erwin McManus has a book called “Wide Awake.” In it he suggests that if you are passionate about helping other people pursue their dreams, people will in turn help you pursue yours. That might relate to your problem.

  4. September 3, 2009 8:31 am

    He told me to get up off my sorry ass and keep blogging, and stop worrying so much about what’s next.

    He used that line on you too?

    And btw, I love, love, love your work!”

    It’s cool when He uses others to tell me and I know it’s Him talking.

    So … um … if I’m only a lay minister aspiring to what may never actually qualify as a career, can I still visit and comment on your blog? Cause I sure like what I read here and I’d hate to stay away.

  5. donkimrey permalink
    September 3, 2009 12:35 pm

    Brad, count me as one of the 1,000. And I tell other folks about your site (you may reciprocate in kind, if you wish!). I’ve had some of the same angst, absent an obvious, adoring audience. Thought about whether a tree falling in a forest makes any noise, much less any difference. I know what you feel and keep hoping what I write may be of enough substance that others will read and tell others, etc. BTW,
    just to stay consistent in your vernacular,”wilt” thou already casts the sentence in the KJV era. ergo, “Wilt thou not lead me to thousands,” would have done the job sufficiently. Seriously, and personally, I think you’re the best writer I follow in the blogosphere. ~donkimrey

  6. September 3, 2009 4:00 pm

    Your posts keep blowing my socks off. This one feels like you’ve been living in my skin. You have a great gift here.

  7. shrinkingthecamel permalink*
    September 3, 2009 8:40 pm

    Hey, thanks you guys for being part of the journey!

    Holger – Guten Tag! Wie Gehts? Wilkomen.

    Marcus- I guess we’re all doing our best to figure this thing out.

    E. Barret – nice to meet you – and I will check out your site, too. Good to know who else is out there attempting to help people integrate work and faith.

    Anne, Don, Glynn, you are all such good Blog-friends. THanks for the encouragement!

  8. September 3, 2009 11:09 pm

    i really like your slog…um…i mean blog.

    i read your blog because,
    now, let me think…
    i know i had a reason
    it was right on the tip of my tongue…

    oh well, i’m sure it will come to me.

    anyway, if you want more views, maybe you can branch out a bit, maybe, add some poetry.
    would it help if i came by more often?

    or maybe you could just keep writing…i love to hear about your life and work thoughts and stories. i think that you already have your eye on the prize and that He is leading you to some very interesting places.

    remember, nike started with a waffle iron in a garage…
    that’s suppose to be encouragement…did it work?

  9. September 4, 2009 8:36 am

    Bradley, thanks for having this blog, sharing your concerns/problem and giving us a glimpse of your life and your heart!

    I just recently started in this “faith in the workplace”-niche with a blog, http://www.leonderijke.nl (sorry guys, it’s Dutch), and providing training and coaching on faith in the workplace.

    To me, it seems that the Lord is putting more and more emphasis on this “faith in the workplace” or “business spirituality” thing (don’t know His marketable buzzword yet… :)). I think the niche will continue to grow bigger! If we, with our respective websites, can help growing this niche by showing the Body of Christ that God loves their jobs, that would be nice, wouldn’t it?

    Keep writing Bradley, I’m looking forward to the stories coming!

    Greetings from The Netherlands.

    Leon

  10. Scott permalink
    September 4, 2009 12:59 pm

    Bradley,
    Keep writing as the Spirit leads you. I have enjoyed you blog for nearly a year. I have many of the same concerns that you mentioned.

    I am hoping you can help us all as we walk this faith journey.

    Thanks for the time you invest in your blog. It is a blessing to many.

  11. September 4, 2009 4:07 pm

    oh! i just remembered why i read your slog blog!

    it is because i love, love, love you!

    🙂

    take care, bro.

  12. September 5, 2009 11:29 am

    Great post and very thought provoking!

  13. September 5, 2009 12:34 pm

    Okay, this cracked me up…

    “Well, it actually came from a Twitter feed”

    And nAncY’s comment too was hilarious. (nAncY, girl, your advice is too cool and funny!!)

    1000 views per day. Well, I’d say first be happy with 1000 views per month, because that’s worth something.

    Of course, the “I scratch your back; you scratch mine” principle works in the cyberworld just as well as it does anywhere else. (Case in point… I just noticed you put me in your sidebar and I’m about to go put you in mine. 🙂 )

    nAncY is right. A little diversity in posting never hurts. You can bet that the minute you start writing poetry here (and not just in the comment box), I’ll be linking to it, Tweeting it, Facebooking it both on my blog and at HCB.

    Then there’s the matter of post length. Diversity never hurts in that regard either. I try to stay short: for the most part 250 words or so. Then some days I do the long stuff. Of course, there’s Miss Ann Voskamp of aholyexperience.com who can write as long as a river and 1000’s come to the shore just to dip… so it’s true that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

    It’s often about what people need. My sister started a blog for parents of children with Down Syndrome and she surpassed me in views within 3 weeks of inception. (Snarky little sister. 🙂 )

    Anyhow, now my comment is surpassing the acceptable length for a blog post. So you can come to my blog and read my sidebar section “Becoming a Blogger.”

    (Oh, and promoting one’s sidebar like that is only acceptable once you’ve exchanged notes on white shoes and clog fashions. 😉 )

  14. September 5, 2009 1:41 pm

    Well, it so happens that I am reading your post as I procrastinate on a paper I am writing for my PhD course. In front of me sits an article titled “Intuition, prayer and managerial decision-making processes: a religion-based framework” and a pile of other academic papers regarding the intersection between leader prayer, intercessory prayer and organizational effectiveness. All that to say that I feel your pain, share your interests and am grateful for the opportunity to be one of your 1000 viewers on this sunny New York Saturday. Keep up the great work and the page views will follow!

  15. September 6, 2009 10:39 pm

    welcome back Bradley. i missed you this summer.

  16. shrinkingthecamel permalink*
    September 7, 2009 8:07 am

    First of all, I am so delighted with my international following, bewteen Holgut in Germany and Leon in the Netherlands. I read Leon’s blog in Dutch, even though I didn’t understand a word of it, except for “God”. I guess that one translates across the Dutch-English barrier. Hey Scott, can I say that you are from Sweden? That will give me a nice swath of European followers. And to think those missionaries kept telling me that Europe was devoid of Christians… Great work, guys!

    Nancy and LL, maybe some day you will see a poem on the front page here..but don’t hold your breath! Not my strong suit, I’m afraid, but maybe I’ll play around with poetry more in the comment sections of your blogs!

    LL – I really appreciate your advice. That was very sound and practical.

    Bridgett, Joan and Jim – Nice to see you guys dropping in! Joan, can we post your paper on my site when you are done? It sounds absolutely fascinating. Who said a PhD couldn’t be fun!

  17. September 7, 2009 9:45 am

    bradley,
    i would be delighted to receive any of your thoughts in any form in my comments.

    this is my conclusion…

    your writing is poetry.

  18. September 7, 2009 11:05 am

    Poems are everywhere. You don’t have to write them; you just have to find them. Seriously, I found two poems on Twitter on Saturday; all I had to do was copy them down… 🙂

  19. September 23, 2009 2:33 pm

    Bradley,

    I’m happy to have found your blog, bummed it took me this long, but still happy God pushed me up on the shores of your blog.

    Frequently, blogging has felt like a slog for me too. Being in the real estate realm, there is no end of post ideas, but it all somehow began to feel like I was “chewing paste.” All motion and no flavor or satisfaction.

    LL hit the nail on the head…a couple of times. Diversity of posting topics is not a bad thing and the “wall o’ words” that many bloggers fall victim to can prohibit folks going deeper into the blog site itself. I’ve tried, successfully a few times, to use the “read more” tag in my long posts. That way, when that long, detailed post hits the front page, it doesn’t dominate the front page.

    Oh, and pictures. Pictures, video snippets, and audio bites all help to break up the “wall o’ words.”

    And can I make a reading recommendation? If you haven’t bumped into him, check out Tony Woodlief’s blog: http://www.tonywoodlief.com

    Not only can he write, but he mixes family life, Christianity, and being an author very nicely.

    Keep it up Bradley! God’s movin’ folks into the correct place all the time. And for those in motion, that’s all that counts…

    • shrinkingthecamel permalink*
      September 24, 2009 5:12 am

      Todd- Thanks for the visit and the real nice comment. Strangely, since I wrote that post, the traffic has tripled. There were some other things that I have done too that coincided with the traffic increase. Funny how that happens. Thanks for the referall to the Sand in the Gears site. That looks like some great stuff. I will be checking out your blog too.

      Hope you come back to visit!

      And.. see ya on Twitter!

      Brad

  20. Steve permalink
    December 2, 2009 5:03 pm

    God, or whoever he/she is is seems to have a very perverse sense of humour, and it is our daily lives that measure us, Pereseve, have faith, courage and above all cheerfulness and good humour…we wern’t put here to be miserable !

    When things don’t go right, try, try,try AGAIN !

    My saying in all adverse conditions has always been “we’ll get there, give it time !”

    Spread the word..the Lord (whoever he may be ) helps those who help themselves…never give up hope

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