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New Years, Dreams & Platforms

New Years, Dreams & Platforms

A funny thing happened this past year. RELEVANT had been experiencing three straight years of significant audience growth. And I mean significant—like tripling, quintupling type numbers, going from hundreds of thousands of readers each month to multiple millions all with the same team and resources. It was staggering to see. It was a miracle—the fruit of a lot of hard work and God’s grace.

But earlier this year, we were in a weekly content planning meeting and I could sense a shift. The plans seemed … familiar. It seemed like the hustle, hunger and “gut” that had driven so much of the content had subtly shifted into an unintended formula.

I don’t mean this with any hubris, but it felt like we knew what we were doing. If we wanted to have an article get 100,000 shares, we knew what kind of topic and headline to give it. We knew which articles would break out and which wouldn’t. We cracked the pattern. And all of a sudden, I stopped being interested.

One of the things I’ve learned about my personality in recent years is the moment something becomes familiar, easy or predictable, I don’t want to do it anymore. I feel like as soon as our plans (or lives) become safe, then we’re no longer having to rely on God. We can rely on our own ability. And what’s the fun in that?

So, here’s this website where so many good things are happening … what if we blew it up?

I started thinking, what’s a goal so audacious it could only happen because God was in it? Like, what if we were reaching 20 million people a month? What would we be doing then that we’re not doing now?

OK, let’s do that.

So, for the last nine months the team and I have been working to completely dismantle our digital platforms. The very driver of so much missional success is getting thrown out. We’re starting over.

Launching in January will be an all-new We’ve been working on the new site for the better part of a year, and we can’t wait to show it to you. It’s a beautiful reading experience, removing so much of the typical web clutter and giving you just the content you want.

But it’s more than just a new look. We’re fundamentally changing every aspect of our web platform, how it’s hosted and how you’ll be able to interact with it from all your devices.

We’ve pruned off sections we weren’t excited about. We’re introducing new ones we are. We’re doubling the amount of unique article content we produce every day, and we’re laying the foundation for some exciting new ventures in audio and video content that we will begin rolling out this spring.

RELEVANT is an indie company—a small team with big dreams. Just look at our masthead: There are about 20 of us producing this magazine, the podcasts, website and social media. The team is passionate, works incredibly hard and isn’t afraid to bite off more than we can chew.

That’s what I love about them.

The plan was to launch our new site back in September, but since when does Plan A ever happen? And I’m glad we didn’t, because during that time we had a rethink: What if the site we launch isn’t actually finished? What if it’s just the beginning?

Fundamentally, RELEVANT’s new digital platforms will be ever-evolving. We’ve built it to stay nimble, smart, experimental and compelling. With content that’s always new, tailored to you and the moment. With interface and content, you’re not going to find things safe and too-familiar again. I’m excited seeing this next era launch because honestly I have no idea where it will go.

Oh, and what about the print magazine? Why is the website getting all the attention; aren’t we just as excited to reimagine the future of the print experience as well?

Stay tuned.

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