The web is no place to make money right now. On the contrary, it is such an uncharted and demanding market that any business managing to break even online is considered a smashing success.
But that is not news to our readers. The demise of many previously cash-flush dot-coms, both secular and religious, is announced daily on CNN and trumpeted loudly on investment-site "deathwatch" pages. And, as Mark Kellner notes in "Is God.com Dead?" (p. 32), Christian sites aren't immune to layoffs, shutdowns, and other burn-rate fiascoes.
Kellner, a CT regular whose writings on the tech world also appear in The Washington Times and Los Angeles Times, outlines the financial ebb and flow of the dead (iBelieve.com), the dying (Crosswalk.com), and the contending (Christianity.com) in the world of the for-profit Christian Web.
But who is CT to deliver this kind of Christian dot-com postmortem? You might say we're one to talk.
Christianity Today International, CT's nonprofit parent company, first went online in 1994 alongside many other Christian nonprofit and for-profit companies. Originally, AOL paid us to post content from our magazines, but CTI's eventual strategy was to develop an independent Web presence at a "crawl, walk, run" pace.
"I think we're walking now," says John LaRue, CTI's vice president of Internet research and development. "We began with repurposed magazine articles and free e-mail newsletters. Then CT started delivering original Web stories, and we developed channels for our other magazine content."
CTI has also worked to create multiple revenue streams instead of relying solely on advertising to support its Web operations. With the company's launch of PreachingToday.com, paid access and special sales also boosted online operations ...1
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