We have the full details of the launch and this month’s results to share with you today. We’re really happy with how the new site is turning out.
If you’re participating in the MDBP with your own blog, we would also love to hear a little summary of your results for the month in the comments below.
If you’re new here, the Million Dollar Blog Project (MDBP for short) is a group project we kicked off a few months ago.
There are two goals for the project. Goal #1 is to build a case study blog from scratch in public and document every step along the way. Our revenue target for this blog is $1 million over it’s lifetime.
Goal #2 is to have anyone who is interested to create a blog and follow along with us. We want the people who follow us to earn a total of at least $1 million from the blogs they create within the next two years.
We’ll be updating you on the progress of this project at least once or twice a month. So far, there have been 13 updates in the project.
We’ve covered a lot of ground, including:
- choosing a blog topic
- holding yourself accountable
- selecting a domain name and brand
- making your blog stand out
- creating serious buzz with your launch strategy
- developing outstanding content (or epic shit, if you prefer)
- designing a great looking blog on a small budget
It’s not too late to join us if you’d like to enter your own blog as part of the project. Head over to the MDBP sub-site to register and join the 330+ people who have entered. Participating is free and you’ll be added to the leaderboard. Some of the leaders on that list have received a decent amount of traffic just by people clicking through to check out their sites.
You can also always follow along with these blog posts without entering your own blog to participate if you prefer.
If you have questions, just let us know in the comments below.
On to the Results!
Before we jump in, please note: I do not share any of these stats to brag or to compare against your projects. Our results will be different from yours because we have access to different resources and relationships than you might. Heck, you could even do better than we’ve done if you’re smart and work hard (like Scott Dinsmore did with his recent re-launch). The bottom line is, don’t compare our numbers directly, but use the strategies we’ve outlined and you’ll do very well for whatever stage you’re at.
We spent about a month after that refining our topic and choosing a brand, developing our launch plan, designing the site, and getting content ready for launch. Expert Enough officially launched on November 8.
We followed the launch strategy I outlined in this post pretty much exactly. I’ve helped clients use this launch strategy numerous times and it has worked like a charm every time. I highly recommend carefully planning your launch if you have a new site coming out. It can make for an awesome first month, as you’re about to see.
On launch day, we had 4,335 visitors stop by the site. Over the first week, 10,966 people visited. Not bad for a brand new site. The visitors came from lots of different places, but here are the top 5 traffic sources for the first week:
- “Direct” traffic accounted for 5,840 visits. This includes type-in traffic and some untracked social media traffic and links. It’s frustrating that the direct traffic can’t be tracked, but it is what it is.
- 2,054 visitors came from Zen Habits, where we had a guest post on launch day. Guest posts can be a tremendous boost in traffic for a new site.
- 759 people came through RSS syndication. This includes any site that linked to Expert Enough but was read through RSS (like Google Reader).
- Social media accounted for 674 visitors. This includes Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, etc.
- 451 people came from Think Traffic. We mentioned the site here on launch day and in other posts during launch week.
(By the way, you can see all of these stats for yourself by viewing our analytics directly over at Clicky. All blogs participating in the MDBP have publicly viewable stats for you to follow along with.)
Some other interesting stats to note about the first month:
- Total subscribers: 1,419 (595 email and 826 RSS)
- Total comments: 204
- Retweets of new posts: 432
- Facebook “likes” of new posts: 317
- Total Twitter followers: 448
- Total Facebook page likes: 487
For the month, there were a total of 21,536 visitors. People spent 5 minutes 33 seconds average on the site, and the bounce rate was just 26%:
That first bump you see in the graph is launch day. The second bump is from a slightly viral event that happened in the second week (explained below).
The traffic of course leveled out after launch week, but we now have a great little foundation to build on of over 1,400 subscribers and about 300 to 700 visitors per day. It’s going to be fun to see where this goes.
For comparison sake, it took Think Traffic over 4 months to get to 1,400 subscribers and we didn’t have a month with over 20k visitors until 13 months in. I know it isn’t a fair comparison exactly, but interesting nonetheless.
Revenue (Yes, Revenue!) Results
We hadn’t planned to monetize the site this first month, but then something really exciting happened. The “Expert Enough Manifesto” post that we published during launch week went mildly viral (thanks to mentions on minimalmac, simple links, michaelschechter.me and Lifehack.org).
The manifesto was no accident. I highly recommend putting together a manifesto style post to follow up your launch post that outlines exactly what your site stands for and why people should be reading. Here’s another example of a manifesto type post that Scott Dinsmore ran during his launch week.
In this YouTube video (below), I share how this poster came about, how we monetized the exposure and what you can learn from the experience:
People liked the manifesto so much that they started asking for a physical poster of it in the comments. I didn’t think much of it for a while, but then took it seriously after a few more requests.
We headed over to CafePress and whipped up a poster version. This was incredibly easy, and I had a poster version ready to order in about 15 minutes. Cafe Press lets you set the “markup” on each copy over the amount they charge to print the item (they also do t-shirts, cups, calendars, etc.). I set the markup at $5.01 to make it an even $19 for the poster. You could go with $0 in markup if you like as well.
So far, for November, we sold 9 copies of the poster at $5 profit each! This was so fun because of how unexpected and different it was from how I had expected to monetize the site at first.
That’s a total of $45.09 in revenue for the month. It feels great to have earned something in the first month, even though we didn’t expect to.
We also made a pitch at Expert Enough for the big Only72 sale that happened this week. We didn’t make any sales unfortunately, and we’re learning a lot already about what this audience is interested in. We’ll be doing a lot of experiments in the coming months as we build out the revenue sources.
I’m also happy to report that MDBP participants (excluding us) have earned a total of $27,369.00 in revenue from their projects so far! Keep in mind this is self-reported revenue (not verified), but it’s fun to keep track of this as well.
That puts us at 0.0045% of the way to our first revenue goal and 2.74% of the way towards our second revenue goal
How Much Overlap Came from Our Existing Audience?
It’s difficult to see exactly how much of the new Expert Enough audience was already familiar with my work or Think Traffic. We do have a couple of ways to estimate it though.
First, FollowerWonk will show you the overlap between Twitter followers from different accounts. According to this site, there is about a 45% overlap of people who follow @ExpertEnough and follow @ThinkTraffic or @CorbettBarr.
That doesn’t necessarily confirm that the Expert Enough follower came from our existing audiences though, because they could have followed me or Think Traffic after learning about Expert Enough. We link to my personal account and the Think Traffic twitter account from the bio of Expert Enough.
Next, of the current 449 people who “like” the Expert Enough Facebook page, 100 of those also like the Think Traffic Facebook page (about 22% overlap). I can’t determine the overlap with my personal Facebook account because it isn’t a business page.
My gut (given the stats above, and the percentage of visits that came to Expert Enough directly from CorbettBarr.com or Think Traffic) tells me this: probably somewhere between 30% and 40% of total Expert Enough visitors this month were already familiar with me or Think Traffic.
This is a rough estimate, and not really all that important. I share it out of curiosity and in case you were wondering how much of a boost the new site got because of our existing audiences. If you have thoughts about it, feel free to share below.
What We Take Away from This Launch
With a website launch like this, there is always more that could have been done. We could have guest posted more, written more “great” content in the weeks after launch, built buzz better in the weeks prior, etc.
But in the end, you do what you can. We put a pretty substantial effort into this launch and I’m happy with the results so far.
It’s important not to look at a launch as a single event, but as the beginning of a big exciting journey. I have little idea where this site will take us over the coming months and years, and I know that producing great content and earning revenue will be a massive challenge. But that’s part of the fun!
This is only the beginning.
Now Let’s Hear About Your Month
How has your own Million Dollar Blog Project been coming along?
What results did you achieve last month? What did you learn?
We would love to hear about it in the comments. Please share.
And if you have any questions for us, about the Expert Enough launch, about our plans, or a question about your own site, feel free to ask below.
Thanks for following along with this project. We appreciate your support!
Oh, and if you’ve been following along on Twitter, you know that the #MDBP hashtag has been, um, taken over by the Murray-Darling Basin Plan activists in Australia. We’ll let them continue their cause and get out of their way by using a new hashtag. Use this instead to talk about our MDBP: #TTMDBP
If you’re planning to launch a new blog in the near future, we have a live workshop + Q&A session scheduled just for you today at Noon Pacific / 3pm Eastern.
Launching a blog is a critical opportunity to get buzz and build a solid foundation of visitors to your site. As you read above, there are some tricks you can implement to make sure you attract lots of viewers and subscribers with your launch.
Join us in this live workshop to create an unstoppable launch strategy for your new blog. We’d love to see you there. Bring your questions and a notepad