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A little over a year ago, we started an experiment called the Million Dollar Blog Project.
The goals of the project were ambitious but simple: 1) to create a new blog in public from the ground up that could earn $1 million over its life, and 2) to inspire Think Traffic readers to follow alongside us and create blogs that could also earn $1 million in aggregate within the first two years.
The case study blog we launched for the project is called Expert Enough, and it just turned a year old this week.
It’s been a while since we reviewed our progress. Now that Expert Enough is a year old, let’s see what we’ve achieved.
I think you’ll find the stats pretty interesting…
The Group’s Accomplishments
Hundreds of people have registered blogs for the Million Dollar Blog Project over the past year. We keep a leaderboard of the top 100 blogs in the project (sortable by monthly visitors and reported earnings).
There are some impressive blogs on that list. Several blogs attract over 10,000 monthly visitors and many have reported income well into the 1,000s of dollars.
A note on how we track: the monthly visitors on the leaderboard are tracked using publicly reported numbers via Clicky analytics. Total income is self-reported and members who remember to update their profiles do so occasionally. We used to report on RSS subscribers as well, but Google recently discontinued the API for FeedBurner.
Admittedly, we haven’t done a regular job of promoting this project or of reminding people to keep their profiles and reported incomes updated. Despite what we haven’t done, the group has accomplished a lot.
In total, MDBP participants currently attract 292,897 monthly visitors. 71 total blogs in the project have stats enabled and have reported at least some monthly visitors over the past month. That’s an average of 4,125 monthly visitors per blog.
On the earnings side, MDBP blogs have earned a total of $134,944 since the project started. That’s an average of $1,451 for each blog that has reported at least $1 of income (93 blogs have earned at least $1).
If you’ve been a participant, thanks so much for being part of the project. We appreciate the effort and congratulate you on your success. We hope you’ll continue updating your status. If you have any particularly good news to report, drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
Expert Enough – Stats and Earnings
Our case study blog Expert Enough has some accomplishments to report as well.
Here are the full compliment of stats. Since launching Expert Enough in November of 2011, it has:
- Published 124 blog posts
- Received 1,530 comments
- Attracted 3,479 total subscribers (2,005 RSS / 1,474 email)
- Hosted 257,566 total visitors
- Served 419,191 total page views
Visitors have spent a total of 895 days and 5 hours worth of time on the site.
Our full analytics for Expert Enough are public over at Clicky. Feel free to dig into the details yourself if you’re curious about anything.
Here are the top 5 posts from the past year (and number of page views):
- The Lost Art of Becoming Good at Things (28,325)
- The Expert Enough Manifesto (22,808)
- Do Shortcuts Exist to Becoming an Expert? (15,563)
- Pushing Your Body to Physical Limits: How to Train Like a Fitness Badass (15,071)
- Deliberate Practice: What It Is and Why You Need It (12,659)
In total, the site has earned $4,441.02 since it launched. Earnings have almost entirely come from affiliate marketing. Here’s how the earnings break down:
- Expert Enough Manifesto Poster – $125.25
- Only72 Sale – $399.47
- Benny Lewis Language Hacking Guide – $249.84
- Start a Blog That Matters – $3,049.01
- Traffic School – $355.47
- Udemy Courses – $24.50
- Opt-in Skin + Cloud Living (plugin used at the end of blog posts) – $164.92
- Amazon associates (random mentions throughout posts) – $72.56
Note: in the cases where we sold a product owned by Think Traffic through Expert Enough, we only count the affiliate commissions (typically around 50%) normally paid to any affiliates in the totals above.
Comparison to Think Traffic
I thought it would be interesting to compare Expert Enough to Think Traffic using stats from the first year of each blog.
|Metric||Think Traffic||Expert Enough||Winner?|
|Total Posts Published||92||124||N/A|
A few things about the table above are pretty interesting.
First, Expert Enough had close to twice as many visitors as Think Traffic in its first year. There possible explanations: 1) we’re more skilled at driving traffic than when we started Think Traffic, 2) we have more connections to rely on, or 3) the topic Expert Enough (gaining expertise) is based on is easier to attract an audience to than Think Traffic’s topic (marketing), which is a very crowded space.
A combination of those factors is probably at play.
Granted, we do have the advantage of having the Think Traffic audience now, but we have deliberately mentioned Expert Enough very infrequently, and usually only in the context of reports about it as a case study like this.
Surprisingly, the overlap between the audiences at Think Traffic and Expert Enough is very small. Only 28% of email subscribers at Expert Enough are also subscribers to Think Traffic.
It’s pretty encouraging to see how well Expert Enough compares to Think Traffic on most metrics (and beat it in three categories). This is especially true because the amount of time we’ve spent on Expert Enough over the past year has been a fraction of the time we spent on Think Traffic in the first year.
The most glaring difference between the two sites is obviously the income category. Think Traffic earned over six figures in the first year. Expert Enough earned just over $4k. Four thousand dollars isn’t anything to sneeze at, but it’s not exactly enough to live on either.
I’ll explain the income disparity more in just a minute. Let’s finish up with the rest of our stats.
Other / YouTube, Facebook, etc.
We have also worked offsite to establish presences for Expert Enough on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and with a podcast. Here are some stats for each of those platforms:
- Facebook fans: 1,614
- Twitter followers: 1,864
- YouTube video views: 9,906 / subscribers: 203
- Podcast downloads: 6,604
Top Traffic Sources
Here are the top 10 traffic sources to Expert Enough over the past year:
Note that Google, Twitter and Facebook are the top 3 sources of traffic, aside from bookmarked/subscriber traffic. Also note that direct Think Traffic referrals account for less than 2% of all traffic to the site.
Search engine traffic started showing up in significant numbers by the third month, and has grown steadily since, now accounting for about 42% of monthly visitors.
Here’s a graph of weekly search visitors over the past year:
I like where that graph is headed.
Expert Enough Summary / Future Plans
All in all, I’m pleased with what Expert Enough has accomplished over the past year, especially when you consider how little time and effort we’ve put into it.
The Think Traffic team spends about 15 total hours a month on Expert Enough. 80% of the content is contributed by our fabulous unpaid guest contributors who write primarily in exchange for the exposure and link back.
I would love to spend more time on Expert Enough, but it hasn’t made much business sense to do so yet. We’re busy serving the Think Traffic audience (which is much bigger at this point) and that leaves little time to focus on EE.
As I mentioned before, the revenue at Expert Enough has fallen short of where we’d like it to be, and where I think it could be. On a revenue per visit basis, Expert Enough earned 1.7 cents per visit to the site, versus 75 cents for Think Traffic in its first year. We’re leaving a lot on the table right now.
There is a ton of potential for Expert Enough and I think it’s worth pursuing. By developing a course specifically targeted to the EE audience we could improve revenue by at least an order of magnitude. Likewise, there are many other affiliate marketing and partnership opportunities we could be pursuing.
The trick will be finding the time and deciding to make it a priority over the next year. I’ll share more details with you once we’ve made a decision.
Overall MDBP Goals
So, where does all this leave us with respect to our Million Dollar Blog Project goals?
Well, with Expert Enough, I guess you could say we’re $4,441 of the way to $1M. That’s a big gap to close. As I’ve said before, the $1M lifetime goal probably breaks down to around six figures a year for a blog that might last 10 years. In that case, we made it 4.4% of the way to our goal last year. We should be able to do much better this year.
For our second goal, of inspiring Think Traffic readers to start blogs that earn $1M in aggregate, we’re about $135,000 of the way there, or 13.5%.
We’re not particularly close to either goal yet, but I’m still encouraged by the progress. If we gave this project more attention, I’m sure the situation would look different than it does now.
Thanks again to everyone who has participated, and thanks for reading this in-depth summary. I hope the stats and figures and takeaways are helpful to you and your business.
As part of this project, we’ve written a whole series of detailed blog posts about how to develop, launch and grow your own blog. It’s essentially the blueprint we’ve used to create Expert Enough. Check out the full series here.
Until next time, cheers
If you’re interested in building an online business like we have at Think Traffic and Expert Enough, check out Fizzle. It’s quickly becoming the essential library of training and community for people building real, honest, meaningful online businesses. Fizzle is enrolling new members today, for 24 hours.
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