Monday, August 4, 2008

Big for our britches?

The other day I was at a party, and the man standing behind me whispered something to his wife. "Just ask her!" his wife replied, and the man then asked me, "did you go to Princeton?" Yes, but as the party was in Princeton this was not such an unusual question. "Are you one of the Building Cathedrals writers?" Now, that was exciting. He recognized me (and my name) from my picture. Now, here I was standing with someone whom I had never met before talking about Building Cathedrals. It is amazing to me, frankly, that there are people not personally known to me who read Building Cathedrals, and while it did turn out that this particular man does personally know one of the other builders, it made me start to think that we may be reaching more people than we had realized.

As with many who are strapped for time, this man reads Cathedrals through a blog reader, which means that he does not click through to our page every time he reads one of our posts. I do this for lots of blogs, I happen to use Google Reader but there are many such services. It occurs to me that readers using feed services do not get tallied in our "site meter," and so in fact we know little about how many people are reading our posts. We do know that readership spikes when we get linked by some of the "big guns" like Danielle Bean, Amy Welborn or Rod Dreher. We hope that after a link like that some of the new readers stick around and join the conversation. We also know that while the vast majority of our comments come from women, there are more than a handful of men who are reading, and we hope that they know that even though we are the ones on the homefront we believe that Dads are builders too.

One peice of news is that we have been chosen as one of the ten blogs to do online book reviews for Catholic Company. The first review of sorts was AWOL Mommy's post about Magnificat, but we do have a book in hand and our review will be up as soon as I can finish the book. As a teaser, I will tell you that we do not agree in our opinions of this book, so it should be exciting!

Well, we started out to get talking and see what would happen, and we are so glad that others are along for the ride. Now that we have the conversation going, we need some technical help with the blog, logistics like how to get a more accurate readership count, and aesthetics (we would like to make the blog easier to read, and add a third column so that we can include more links). We have also had a request to create some sort of button so that other blogs could have a link that says that they, too, are Building Cathedrals. We love the idea that other moms feel like they are part of our gang. It can be lonely out there, and as I couldn't do it without these girls I am so glad to share them with all of you!

We have been looking into making these changes ourselves and find that right now it is beyond the scope of both our programming knowledge and our time constraints (after all, if we are going to write about family life we have to live it first!). Are you a web designer or have you worked with one whom you would recommend? Are you any sort of marketing professional who has ideas about this concept? Do you love Building Cathedrals and wish that we were doing more, if so, what? As a reader are there topics that you wish we were spending more time addressing? Would you be strongly turned off if we had some advertising on the site? Do you just wish that I would spell check my posts more often?

If you have thoughts about Building Cathedrals as it moves forward, you can respond in the comments or, if you prefer, email me at


AWOL Mommy said...

I am so glad you are enjoying the book, tell me when we get to have our face-off.

Also, as a non sequitur, I would like to call attention to the fact that once B-Mama gives birth (this week!), Mary Alice will be the only pregnant builder.

This is an all time low ratio of prego to non-prego.

Also, this really raises the pressure on the rest of us because how can we claim to be a site written by seven young Catholic moms without at least one of us being pregnant at all times in order to enhance credibility?

Nicole said...

I found your blog through another that I read frequently and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I am also you and Catholic and although not yet a mother, enjoy reading about your adventures (and making mental notes). It's great to see the faith tied into everyday life. Keep writing!

Nicole said...

*also young*

Bethany said...

My husband is the one who actually turned me to your site. He does read your blog through his rss feed; though he occasionally comes directly to the site when something captures his attention.

Mary Alice, I'm e-mailing you too.

becca said...

I think I've maybe posted here once, but I'm one of those who reads Building Cathedrals through an RSS reader (Bloglines). I can't remember how I found you, but it was at the very beginning. I really get a lot out of the posts and discussions here, and fit the demographic (except for the Princeton thing, I went to a small public liberal arts school in GA). Keep it up, please!! None of my friends are making the same choices (stay-home motherhood, NFP, faithful Catholic, etc), so I need this to regularly remind myself that our little-but-growing family is not alone.

We're in western Maryland, by the way.

chris said...

If you want more stats on your RSS subscribers, then you should consider using to track your feed subscribers. Of course, I don't want you to get your head too big by finding out just how many people really do read and enjoy your posts...

atlanta mom said...

Delurking to say hi and thanks....

Juris Mater told me about the blog when I ran into her beautiful family at the P-rade this year, and I've been a regular lurker ever since.

I'm not RC and not very crunchy, but I do enjoy reading your thoughtful, humble, and insightful reflections on being godly moms and wives. Thanks for taking the time to share these with the rest of us.

I'd love to see a modified site design because, for me, the chapel watermark behind the blog text makes things a bit hard to read. (I'd forgotten about this because I usually read you in Google Reader.) Also, more funny stories about your kids, please! :)

Anonymous said...

I found your blog through a friend of one of the bloggers and have loved every minute of it. Thank you for taking the time to share your families and yourselves with us!

This is a bit sombre, but I have especially appreciated hearing the thoughts and encouragement from other young mothers who have lost their babies, as prior to coming here, it seemed like everyone I knew was at least ten years older than me and had several other children, rather than loosing their first or second child and not knowing how to look to the future. The strength and faith and love that some of you have shown despite your loss has been a real inspiration to me.

I wish I knew something about websites so that I could help you in return!

God bless you all, especially the new mothers with new babies!

Catholic Audio said...

Here's a possible layout, though the current graphics are a bit rough (didn't want to spend too much time on something you're not into). Once you start posting, it will look something like this. Lemme' know if you're interested.

God Bless,

Right Said Red said...


Can you e-mail me and MaryAlice?

I can be reached at


Mary Alice said...


Thanks so much for the help you have given us so far! We figured that you were off in bar-bri land and did not have time for us, but if you have a bit more time now and your family can spare you we would be thrilled to have your help!

Mary Alice

Anonymous said...

Something I'd really like to see in your blog -- a q/a day or section. E.g., there's an email readers can send questions to (to any of the builders or a specific one), and a builder can respond as a post.
Love the blog!

Catholic Audio said...

Oh, you're quite right that I was off in BarBri land. Not bad for a visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

And I should have a little more time, at least for the moment. I'm taking the family to Disney World on Sunday for a week, then I start work on the 25th, but I've got a few days in there to do some...well...whatever you need. Again, just let me know and I'll do my best.

Oh, and if anyone with real experience web designing has written you, don't feel like you *have* to stay with me -- I'd love to help, but I won't be offended if you get a better offer. Honestly. No hard feelings, I assure you, so don't be bashful.

God Bless,

mary said...

I actually found out about danielle bean through your site, how about that. Now I'll watch those heads swell...

Sophie said...

I thoroughly enjoy everyone's posts on this blog as well. I usually read in the RSS feed I have but if you have graphics or I want to read comments, I come to your site. I'm no help whatsoever with comp. stuff, but my site is on Wordpress and I think it's superior in layout and what you can do to blogger.

Meredith said...

You might want to enable your RSS through Feedburner (it's free). That way, you can have a counter which displays (or keeps private) the number of subscribers from across the various feed readers. That number plus your sitemeter will give you an estimate of your total reach.

Anonymous said...

Whoops! I think Bloglines must be doing something funny because this archived post was dumped into the current stream. I'm sure you've figured out the Feedburner thing a year later : )