in Start

8 Lessons Learned from My Successful Stealth Blog Projects

Growth. Oh yeah.

Last year I posted an entry about a stealth blog project that I was hoping to experiment with. I had done all the research that was necessary to see if the idea was even viable – and the amount of research wasn’t that much to be honest.

So I posted that I needed a bit of help and that it would be a year-long experiment to see if it could be successfully executed. I had a few start-stops with the first person that was going to help and eventually had to bring on someone else that had a bit more time to dedicate to the project.

The stats tell most of the story as seen above – a small crawl as I ironed out the part time blogger issues and we began to see steady growth in March. Then what happened next was exactly what I was hoping: Google and subsequently the rest of the world discovered the blog and it took off.

As a result we’re closing quickly to half a million pageviews and nearly 100,000 uniques. The dip at the end was a mistake I made of forgetting to put in Google Analytics when I updated the WordPress Theme – doh! Typical, right?

But that’s not the end of the story – the trend was obviously signaling a movement up and to the right so I started a sister blog that complemented the primary blog’s content and launched that in April as things were picking up. That was a runaway success too:

Up and to the right!

In fact, the sister blog has continued to grow steadily month-over-month and will most likely eclipse the primary blog’s traffic quickly.

Together, both blogs have nearly 2,200 blog posts published with an incredible average pages per visit. As I dig even deeper into the statistics it shows that an incredible 60-70% of traffic is organic in nature which can be highly profitable when leveraged well.

Overall my stealth blog project(s) have been an incredible success. The model worked so well that I started 3 more blogs with the same method and one of them has also taken off:

Excited.

As you can see I started this one two months after the second one proved successful. The other are trending well but are still very much in infancy and have yet to even clear a first quarter mark.

A Few Lessons Learned:

Naturally I wanted to share with you some exciting lessons learned (and a few reminders) from these experiments so that you can try a few blogging experiments yourself:

  1. WordPress – I used WordPress for all of these experiments and wouldn’t consider any other platform to be an option. I also used Standard Theme, the WordPress Theme I use on this blog to help with Search Engine Optimization which was a huge traffic source for all of them.
  2. Patience - I knew that it would take time and it did. I also knew that a true blogging experiment would have to be at least a year to gather enough traffic statistics to be noteworthy and to move them to a place where a higher level strategy could be implemented. You need to be able to commit to your experiments with an attitude of a marathon race, not a sprint!
  3. No Guarantee - You must be willing to admit that any blogging experiment can fail – in fact, most of them will. The only advantage that I have over most people is that I’ve been doing this blogging thing for a bit longer than you so I have a better sense and intuition about what will work and what will totally fail – but that’s about it, to be honest. This also means that you must be willing and able to financially afford the failure (see next point).
  4. Time Commitment - I have to remind myself and you that you must be willing to commit the time and resources to make these types of experiments really effective and worthwhile. For myself I was able to hire a few people part time t help with them but most of you may not have the disposable income to spend on part time bloggers for an entire year. This means that you will have to blog yourself which means that you’ll be spending more time blogging on these experiments and you’ll need the margin to do just that. Do not underestimate this time commitment!
  5. No Rush - What comes with patience is also the ability to wait to recoup the cash and expenses that these types of experiments accrue. With these traffic numbers you’d think that I’d be monetizing the snot out of them but I’m not – only experimenting and for sure they are not profitable, yet. That will come in time as well. Any good blogging experiment will take a “no rush” approach. You have to be in it for the long-haul.
  6. Deadlines - I’ve set a year deadline for all my experiments to hit certain metrics of success before I pull the plug. Having these in mind keeps me focused and stable enough to deal with 12 months of blogging and being ready to abandon them even after those date milestones are met. That also means (see #4, again) that you won’t quit before your deadlines are up. That’s tough too.
  7. Get Help - As I mentioned before it’s worthwhile to get help and if you can afford a part time blogger then I’d go for it but for only high quality, high potential, and highly vetted ideas. Otherwise find a blogging partner or someone who will go halfsies with you in on it so that you can share the load and responsibilities. Communication is super important and I failed to do this on one of them and had to fire the part time blogger unfortunately – it was partly my fault for assuming too much and their part for not asking for help.
  8. Stay Engaged - Most bloggers who will even entertain blogging experiments are already prone to starting a lot of things already and this can be the death knell for any (or all) projects. You must stay actively engaged with your authors to keep them motivated and aligned. I physically met up with some of my authors and coached them on the strategies that I’d like them to employ and use. Can you say “invested?”

I’m really excited about these experiments and all signs point to an eventual positive return, both on my time and financial bottom-line. I’m also excited to share some more in-depth strategies and tactics with my professional coaching groups that I hope to expand and grow this year – what a treat!

So, what’s the plan from here on out? The successful projects will continue to grow while I’ll spend more time this year on optimizing and building revenue from them – heck, some of them may turn into their own little business ventures and I may even reach a liquidation (sale) event for one or two. It’ll make a nice profit, regardless of the outcome.

Are you considering doing any blog experiments this year? What’s stopping you? What will it take you to try one?