2 years ago, yesterday, I booted up another experimental property to test a number of different hypotheses. I didn’t have any expectations but, like most things, I hoped that the results would be net-positive.
I’ll cut to the chase and get to the top-level details, right?
So, here you go:
- Lifetime # of Posts Published: 9,070
- Lifetime Views: ~7,000,000
Actually, to be fair, I always run at least 2 analytics packages and Google Analytics shows 6.7M while WordPress’ Jetpack shows a little over 7M (achieved just a few days ago!).
And, per usual, I want to provide some evidence, so, here you go – the actual screenshots from both analytics systems:
So, as you can see, there’s a bit of a difference and I’d like to say that the difference is statistically insignificant, a’la the 40,000 or so via the first year’s retrospective, but, 340,000 views is a pretty wide gap. Consequently, I’ll have to review the systems and see what’s going on there…
To do a little bit of the paper-napkin math for you, this means the following:
- Published 3,617 posts in the 2nd year, which is 1,836 less than the 1st year
- Gained ~5.7M views, which is ~4.4M more than the 1st year
So, again, I published less blog posts in the second year but gained more than 4 times the amount of traffic in the same amount of time. I won’t be coy here… it kind of blows my mind.
And, at this point in time, I can state very clearly that after a long 2-year experimental timeframe, my original hypotheses have proven to be true.
Chiefly, that it was still very possible to build a well-viewed blog / site on the backbone of nothing more than consistent investment (e.g. publishing blog posts every single day).
What I mean by “nothing else” is that I didn’t have some “robust” social media strategy or anything like that. I didn’t heavily advertise the site through my personal properties nor did I, for the first year, ever really make mention of it through my traditional channels.
The goal was to understand the true power of organic search and to see if I could harness that natural energy and resource to its utmost potential through organic optimizations and technology decisions.
This still holds true today, by the way, as the sources of traffic are still heavily-lopsided in favor of referral traffic and organic search. And not only that, the % of new visits are from almost all organic and referral.
And to add to the already mind-blowing statistical lineup, these organics have people click between 16-18 pages per visit and sit on the site for nearly 5 minutes!
For context, most people will have left this page and finished reading this blog post way before any of the new users to this experimental site have even gotten started cruising.
Finally, what about revenue? What about the cash’ola?! That’s a good question, glad you asked.
As you can see, I started with Google Adsense immediately to see if there if this small project had any legs to speak of financially. I spent zero time optimizing it, by the way.
This needs to be taken at face-value as I really did not optimize any of it in the slightest. I put some advertisements on the homepage and the single pages as well as in the sidebar. I then set them and then forgot about them.
Obviously, there are tons of opportunities for improvement, but, I’m not sure we’re quite there yet. Or rather, I’m not sure if I have the time… maybe… perhaps… I don’t know. Anyways..
As you can see, the graph of earnings went up and down and most of this can be triangulated around 2 important things: The algorithmic changes in Google Search and the technical decisions that powered the site.
The former were things that I couldn’t control or change. In fact, I had a massive dip in views after one of the bigger updates to Google’s search logic and then it returned to normal after a few months.
Also, I experimented with the site (powered by WordPress, of course… here’s my quick-start guide that might be helpful) on the backend a bit and I even messed it up entirely for a bit. This is most likely the reason for the discrepancy between Google Analytics and JetPack’s results.
But the point, coming back around, is that the site does make money and it makes more than enough to counter the growing cost to keep the site up and running.
So, the site is generating revenue and is cash-flow positive. 💰
But, this is not the best part…
The best part is the fact that I have a new partner involved in the project now: My 10-year old daughter. The above vlog introduces this announcement a month or so ago.
About 2 month ago I gave her the “keys to the kingdom” and also 25% of the project earnings, paid out every 2 weeks, just like a normal salary. I share more of the thoughts and motives around doing this on the blog post here.
Let’s just say that she’s earning more money than she’s ever seen in her life and the proverbial “dots” are starting to connect in her brain that she can earn income via the internet.
This month is also on track to be a record-setting month revenue-wise and I told her this morning the estimated earnings and her jaw literally dropped. I asked her what she’d do with all that money and she had nothing to say.
The wheels are turning… and I freakin’ love it.
To partner with my daughter on a revenue generating project and the opportunity that I have to export all that I know about building small side projects and making revenue through them and everything else in-between… it’s a dream come true!
At this point she’s taken my system and she’s copied it par excellence but also beginning to think about optimizing her own workflow too. We talk about it daily and she’s begun to treat it, tactically, strategically, and emotionally like it’s her small startup.
So that’s essentially my update on the 2nd year of this still-experimental project. I don’t have any specific traffic or revenue goals for the 3rd year but I do have a few around my new partner.
Essentially, I want to have my daughter increase her ownership percentage of the project based on a few levers and for her to be able to own it end-to-end by the end of year 3 and I can take a full backseat on the project and just let her kill it.
That would be great.
Here are a few more thoughts on this project via my vlog – give it a listen:
If you have any questions, of course, you know where to find me. In fact, leave a comment on the vlog above – and don’t forget to subscribe!
Now, on to year #3…
Also published on Medium.