The new year is here (at least in many parts of the world). This is, as usual, a good time to look back and examine what we’ve achieved, but also a time to look forward. We would like to share our thoughts on the past and future of Ancient History Encyclopedia with you.
The last year has been excellent for Ancient History Encyclopedia. We’ve had our best year ever since we launched in 2009. A whopping 2.6 million people visited our site, viewing 5.6 million pages. In the last few months of the year, we had almost 500,000 people visiting the site every month! Almost 200,000 history enthusiasts follow us on Facebook and tens of thousands more on Twitter and Google Plus.
Those are absolutely stunning numbers! Let’s put that into perspective… Encyclopedia Britannica sold 120,000 copies in its best year (that was in 1990). Most history magazines have far fewer monthly readers than we do:
- Archaeology Magazine has a print circulation of 235,000 copies and 225,000 website visitors,
- All About History has 151,000 print & online readers,
- History Today has a print readership of 50,000 and 350,000 website visitors.
Compare that to our 500,000 per month! It’s incredible to know that this little website is reaching more people every month than most top publications do. Our interpretation: We’re doing something right.
We saw huge growth in September 2013, when Google switched to its “Hummingbird” search algorithm: They changed the way they rank pages, putting higher priority on pages with high-quality unique content… which was very good for us.
For 2014, we expect this growth to continue. We’re less likely to see another boost like in September, but we’ve seen a steady growth (of around 3% per month) in the previous years, and we expect that this will remain the same or increase slightly.
Almost every week we hear feedback from students around the world that our site has helped them learn about ancient history, complete their projects, or allow them to complete their homework. Many teachers use our site as set reading for class. More than ever before, Ancient History Encyclopedia is being used as an educational tool.
For 2014, we want to focus more on education. We’re analyzing textbooks and school curricula to make sure we deliver more of the content that teachers and students really need. We also want to create classroom materials for teachers, which contain selected texts, quizzes, and activities.
For this, we also need your help! If you’re a teacher, please write to us to let us know what you really need. Send us suggestions… we’re usually rather quick to act upon them.
We’re now nearing the 1,000 definitions + articles mark (we’re at 934 today). Of course we expect that number to increase, even more so than in all the years before. We’ve got more authors joining our ranks and our editorial team has nearly doubled last year, and we’re receiving more and more revenue from donations and advertising.
That money doesn’t go into anyone’s pockets: We use all revenue to produce more content! In 2013, we spent £1,251 on history source books for our authors, which they used to create a vast number of new definitions and articles. Without books, our volunteer authors have to rely on their private libraries, which are of course limited.
Thanks to our generous donors (thank you so much!) and ad-clicking visitors, we hope that in 2014 we will be able to purchase even more books for even more authors, producing much more new, unique, and high-quality content than before.
The primary goal of our non-profit company is to provide free ancient history information on our website, for students, teachers, and enthusiasts all over the world. We’re proud to be an Open Education Resource that is recommended by the European Commission and listed in the OER Commons. We’re always going to be a free online resource for the world — this is our mission.
We also want to explore other ways to bring out content to new readers, however. We’ve just finished creating an eBook on Ancient and Classical Greece (due to be published soon), which will be distributed to libraries across the world and also sold to the general public. We hope to publish at least one more eBook in 2014, and if we can make it work, possibly also publish a printed book. We’ve also repeatedly been asked to create a mobile app for offline reading, which is something we expect to do in 2014.
All revenue generated from the sales of books and apps will go towards creating more free content, of course!
We hope that you will continue to enjoy Ancient History Encyclopedia, and that you’re pleased with what we’re doing. A special thanks goes out to our donors and sponsors, who are making this website possible. And we thank all those readers who have written to us with feedback, suggestions, and corrections. Please continue to do so!
All the best for 2014!
Jan van der Crabben, Founder & Director