This has been an extremely hard post to write. It’s been hard to write because I’ve had to openly admit some things that I don’t want to admit. I’ve always made it my goal to be as transparent as possible so …
MH4C is changing. Since you read this blog, you deserve to know about those changes.
Shifting directions on a blog is always hard. It’s hard because you never know what your readers will think.
But what I’m changing at MH4C is not about pleasing my audience (sorry, savvy marketing advisors).
What I’m changing at MH4C will likely have a negative impact on profits (sorry, bank account).
What I’m changing will allow me to feel as though I’m fulfilling my God given call for this blog.
A little about myself:
I have almost no formal education in anything related to finance. The only exception is that back in the 9th or 10th grade we played Stock Ticker in one of my classes. Beyond that, I’m a Bible geek. All of my higher education (college and 84 hour Master’s degree) was in Biblical studies.
I have a unique experience, perspective, and gift mix.
For the last five years, I’ve been living in Papua New Guinea working in the midst of people who make less than $1,000 per year. I believe God wants me to use this blog as leverage to promote a simple, frugal, debt free, and generous lifestyle.
So why am I writing about topics that bore me?
This is hard to put in print because I’m embarrassed to confess this to you. I believe money has been a catalyst for this blog. I should probably go one step further and say money has been my master. There have been occasions when I’ve decided what I should and should not print based on what is more profitable. I’ve put a lot of effort into learning how to make this blog profitable.
To make matters worse, this blog is profitable.
In the end, I believe God is calling me to do something more with MH4C.
There may be a lot of bloggers out there who can properly balance between writing what is profitable and writing what is necessary. I’m not one of them. More often than I wish to confess, I’ve written posts to pay the bills.
Randy Alcorn prophetically said (in Money, Possession, and Eternity):
I believe that most of the financial matters we typically discuss are on the fringes of what’s important.
That’s what I’ve been doing with MH4C. Talking about finances, but only occasionally addressing what is really important – the spiritual aspects of finances. The reason is because the fringe topics are more profitable.
Though these fringe topics are important, I believe that there are others more qualified, more gifted, and more passionate who should be discussing those issues. Here are 14 other Christian finance bloggers.
Yet, God is calling me to do something different based on my history, experiences, background, and education.
One of my favorite quotes is something Elizabeth O’Connor wrote:
Proportionate to what?
Proportionate to the accumulated wealth of one’s family? Proportionate to one’s income and the demands upon it, which vary from family to family? Proportionate to one’s sense of security and the degree of anxiety with which one lives? Proportionate to the keenness of our awareness of those who suffer? Proportionate to our sense of justice and of God’s ownership of all wealth? Proportionate to our sense of stewardship for those who follow after us? And so on, and so forth.
The answer, of course, is in proportion to all of these things.
I need to be addressing financial issues proportionate to my call, experience, giftedness, and passion. I feel as though it is time to focus more fully on the blogging ministry.
What spurred on this change?
My wife can attest to the fact that I’ve been considering a change in focus for several months, but it only took two days for it to be clear that the focus of this website needs to change.
This is going to sound silly, but what happened was I came to America. After two days, I felt convicted that the focus of this blog needed to change.
Americans need to constantly be reminded of the dangers of materialism and wealth. When I wrote about the most influential voices in Christian finances, I started wondering why I wasn’t a voice that more clearly introduced an alternative form of simple and generous living. I’ve done it some, but it hasn’t been the focus of everything I’ve written.
To be honest, I haven’t exactly been happy about the changes.
You see, my dream was that in 8-10 months I would return to North America and live off the income from this and my other blogs. But this change definitely puts this dream further out of reach. It hurts. It really hurts (I literally have a tear running down my cheek right now). I’ve invested so much of myself into this blog. I couldn’t even begin to describe what I’ve invested and sacrificed.
But ultimately, when God tells us to give up something for the sake of his kingdom, we must respond – regardless of how we feel. Since monetizing this site has distracted me from focusing on what I feel called to focus on, I’m going to drop the majority of my money making endeavors on this site.
I feel like God is calling me to forsake that monetization investment and to turn this blog into something that is much more profitable – something that has eternal value. I’ll seek first the kingdom and patiently await God to work out the details.
I do still hope God opens a door where this can be an active form of ministry and also provide for the needs of my family. But that’s God’s business, not mine.
So what is MH4C going to become? What’s going to change?
Today I’ll talk about the advertising changes on the website, and tomorrow I’ll introduce how the content will change.
- I’ve removed over 95% of the Adsense ads from this website. Adsense offers the biggest temptation for me to adjust the topics I address so they’ll be more profitable. I’ve made over $1,000 a month using this ad network, but to do that I have to write articles that advertisers want to pay for (indirectly). I feel like that means money becomes the motivation to write about certain topics. Instead, I want to write about what is most important for people to hear. When I teach Bible classes, I never have to deal with the pressure to teach about classes that are more profitable. (I don’t get kickbacks from companies that make baptisteries when I talk about baptism.) I will keep some Adsense on older posts that are already in my archive (20-30 posts, I think) because the posts are already there. I just don’t want it to influence what I write going forward.
- No more product reviews in a post. I have a dedicated page – MH4C $ Tools – where I recommend products I use and love. That page will stay with affiliate links to the appropriate products. But I won’t be writing any direct product reviews because, even though those are helpful articles, they are profitable and might be drawing me away from writing about what is most important.
- Other ad blocks. I have a few other ad blocks on this site that will stay. They will stay for two reasons. First, I’ve signed a contract agreeing to run the ads on my site. Second, they don’t impact the types of posts I write. Since the ads are managed by a third party and are more generic in nature, they aren’t actually impacted by the content. I will entertain other advertising opportunities on older posts as those articles are already there.
- Yes, I will continue to sell my books because I’m proud to promote them, and I think they actually further the simple, frugal, and debt free message I’m trying to share.
I’m not afraid to make a profit on this website. In fact, I hope God makes that possible. But, I won’t make a profit in any way that requires me to alter (subtly or not) the content of a post. However, right now I feel like God is saying, “Craig, I didn’t send you to PNG for five years so you could tell people about how to open an online brokerage account. I sent you to PNG to transform your view of finances, and I want you to share that message.”
A note to my fellow bloggers: Writing about these changes has been hard because I know there are many other godly Christian bloggers out there who are using the very monetization methods I’m walking away from. Please don’t feel like my personal change is a judgment on any of you. It is something I’ve felt called to do for some time, but I’ve been afraid to implement. Through several personal experiences, I feel like this is the right reason for me. However, just because it is the right reason for me does not mean I think all Christian bloggers need to remove these forms of advertising. I only wish each of you the best in your efforts.
On Wednesday I’ll tell you a little bit more about where I’m going to focus my blogging efforts in the future.