As many of may very well know my team launched a new blog called WP Daily back in December of last year. This blog was our attempt to provide more value to the WordPress community that we all loved and also fill in an obvious gap in the industry at large.
Our first post was December 1, 2012 and 143 days later, on April 22, 2013 we started monetizing and sold out nearly all our original stock overnight. A few weeks later we established our baseline (direct sales) offering (had a pre-sold list demanding us to increase quantity) and found the property to be grossing in excess of $3,000 / month.
Annualized this property could easy sustain a person as a full-time writer for the blog. At the very least it began contributing directly to the bottom-line for 8BIT and made the continued investment of time and slots on the product development roadmap much more attractive and reasonable.
Not bad for a blog that had existed for less than 5 months (4 months, 22 days to be exact). So, how the hell did we accomplish this? I’ll try to provide a bit of a retrospective that takes a look at our mission: “Make This Blog Pay For It’s Very Own Existence“.
To start, let me be very clear that WP Daily was like many of my other blog properties – an experiment with goals and metrics of success that if achieved would justify continued existence. One of those goals, besides traffic, engagement, and # of blog posts (you can read those here) was simply financial – does this blog deserve the attention that is required to make it work?
We tested our hypothesis and hoped to make our benchmarks quickly because the “attention” that is required was/is immense. We set our sights on making it happen and hit the ground running.
And we hit that shit hard. We beat our goal of 1,000 blog posts seemingly overnight (it felt like that) in 5 months, on the dot and are easily trending toward over 1M pageviews for the first calendar year, another one of our goals. We launched 2 more sub-properties (a Job Board and Pro Network) that have already beaten our internal goals as well as adding direct revenue as well.
So what did we do that made this all so magical? Was it luck or experience or something else in between? Here are some top-line thoughts:
- Experience – Pure and simple, we’ve done this before. The most profitable blog that I’ve run was another technology blog that was acquired earlier this year. At the peak it was grossing more than $200k a year, around $17-18k per month. I personally know what it takes to make a blog “work” financially. I share a lot of my core strategies in this series here and here. What’s neat is that I’m 1,000% better at doing this now than I have ever been.
- Work Your Ass Off – We committed as a team to a 12 month trial period and that I would lead that effort exclusively. Over the last 6 months I’ve written nearly 900 blog posts myself, averaging over 4 posts a day. There have been a few days where I’ve posted over 20 times. This isn’t crap compared to one year when I wrote 3,248 blog posts – I’m taking it easy in comparison! The point is that blogging is really tough work and I recently wrote a post on how I manage this from a multiple-blog perspective. In fact, I’ve written a ton of articles about how I do what I do but so many people don’t pay any attention because weekly I get inquiries about it.
- Leadership – I mentioned this in the previous point but it’s worth mentioning that having exclusive leadership over an area of the business was vital. Without that no one would, at the very least, lead the charge and rally the troops when times got tough. And they have been very, very tough, in many more ways than I have time to share.
- Team – I’ve mentioned previously my thoughts on leadership and team and it’s worth reviewing it again if you haven’t. I couldn’t do anything without these goofballs. Blogging for yourself is one thing as self-leadership is all you really need there (and a swift kick in the pants on occasion) but if you’re blogging for a business or trying to build a world-leader in a particular niche I just don’t see this as easy nor plausible without a team, even if you had one just by name.
- Focus – There have been a lot of thoughts around the internet recently within our circles about how to make our “type” of blog work. Nearly all of the pundits and commentators are emphatically wrong about it – so wrong it’s embarrassing and hasn’t warranted any direct response. Ignorance breeds more ignorance and it’s infectious, rude, and so very annoying. But what we did was we double-downed our time and energy, as a team and as individuals, to make this work. I left a startup to do this, a highly profitable one that I co-founded. This is what it costs to do something like this. Not all the time, but the logic is quite simple: If you had a shot of building a profitable and growing blog and you knew that it was 100% possible and that the X-factor was time invested – wouldn’t you give it the best shot possible? That means saying “No” to tons of stuff to give it the very best opportunity to work. It’s not that we weren’t busy – some of these people act as if we’re sitting on our laurels just twirling our hair and blogging on occasion. No way man. The team oversees a successful product with thousands of customers. We had just launched a new Podcast called Hello Dolly, which has seen an incredible growth as well and had also moved into some new offices in downtown Atlanta (anyone who’s done this knows that this is time consuming like no other). We we’re throwing a party (or two), and hosted our local WordCamp Atlanta 2013. We were busy as fuck (and we still are) when we launched. But we focused. Cut ties to non-essentials and hoped for the very, very best. This is why such activities like this are so crucial.
- A Plan, Kind Of – Plans are great. Execution is better. Plans must change so that success can be engineered and experienced properly. Execution is required regardless. We had a “plan” but it was only to simply kickass and make the few goals taht we had. Anything else was nuts to plan around. Do more, talk less. People spend hours, days, weeks, months planning their world domination while they could be actually doing it instead. Plan? Do you think we really had one to begin with? Pshhh.
- Luck – We got lucky more than a handful of times with coverage no two-ways about it. We were at the right place, at the right time, and I was physically awake at the wee hours of the morning to capitalize on those opportunities that hit us in the face. There’s nothing else to say about it – luck is a very important part of entrepreneurship, an essential part I might add. We’ll take it, every single time.
- Skill – I’m kinda good at this blogging thing. No ego here, just stating the facts, ma’am.
- Hard Work – Oh, I already mentioned that. I just wanted to say it again. 99% finger-breaking work, 1% inspiration and all that other fluff.
- Misc. – There are of course other miscellaneous parts but I’ve covered much of those things in the many blog series I’ve created. Go read those if you have some time.
And that’s about it. At some point I may break-down some of these points more specifically but that basically sums up the project as it stands 6 months in or so.
Launching a profitable blog is possible and you don’t have to be a genius to do it. If anything, I hope my blog over the years has showcased the simple fact that most humans have everything they need to accomplish blogging greatness; unfortunately most will never see it because they don’t commit themselves to seeing it as a marathon, not a sprint and you can’t quit before you see the fruits of your work.
WP Daily is a fringe case of “success” (or at least to projecting a trend toward success). It’s not a model and so don’t make it into one and we’re not even close to where we want to be. But we’re headed in the right direction and sometimes that’s all you can hope for in the very short-term.
Talk to us in 12-18 months from now and we may even say that our efforts have been an utter waste in a much better retrospect. Hard to imagine but that’s a very real and legitimate possibility. I hope not but you never know.
But at least we’ll go down swingin’.
Learn These Techniques!
We’ve got some neat blogging workshops and seminars that you must check out as I will be a part of the teaching team that will walk you through much of how we accomplished this!