The Catholic Handbook Conundrum

By Jon Elordi

The Catholic Handbook is a side project that occupies a strange place. It’s by far my most successful. It gets 17,000 month users and the email list has grown to 1,543 subscribers, and I’ve spent almost no time on it this year. It’s working, but I’m hesitant to lean in. Why? Obviously because it’s religious. The thought of making money off my faith feels wrong.

My first thought was maybe I could try to make it into a nonprofit. But the truth is nonprofit is kind of misnomer. A nonprofit really is a business that doesn’t provide enough real value to be viable, so it provides emotional value to donors. The incentives of a nonprofit are misaligned. Their goal is to appease donors NOT serve people. Now sometimes there’s a place for that. But if my goal is to practically help people in their faith then the nonprofit model is not the best.

My second thought is that I should just do it for free. Charity is important. However, I’ve been doing it for free. And I haven’t been doing much of anything at all. There’s no incentive. the only pay off is seeing the numbers go up, which is interesting. But not fulfilling.

The best way to serve Catholics is to start a business. I’ll know if I’m serving them because I’ll make more money. Does it sound crass? Absolutely. Makes me feel gross. But everyone with a Catholic podcast or blog is doing the exact same thing. So Let me reframe it. I have the opportunity to make money by helping my fellow Catholics. Could I eventually make a living by providing a great resource to Catholics? I don’t know. But I think that would be cool

I’m accepting that a business is the best way for me to be useful.