Welcome to another Think Traffic monthly report!
If you’re new here, these reports are an insider’s view into exactly how we’ve been growing this site and our business over the past month.
Think Traffic will be two years old this month, so watch out for our second annual report in early April.
What Happened Around Here in February
You might already know that I spend a few months every winter in Mexico. I’m writing this now from our beachfront condo on the Pacific Coast.
Living in Mexico in the winter is fantastic. I only have to walk 5 minutes to go surfing. Tacos and beer are incredibly cheap down here, and there’s plenty of sun and fun things to do.
For the most part business runs smoothly while I’m down here as well. Our internet connection is pretty good (DSL at around 3.5Mbps download / 0.37Mbps upload), and I’m usually great about getting work done, despite all the opportunity for distraction.
In January we were able to launch our new blogging course while I was here. Last year I built and launched most of the Traffic School program in Mexico as well.
I love this lifestyle, and I also love what I do for “work.” The two coexist well for the most part. I can take time off almost at will and still keep things running.
The hardest thing for me to work around are in-town guests. We love having family and friends visit us on our travels, but I also get the least work done when guests are here. This winter we have six weeks’ worth of visitors, and my work output in February definitely suffered a little (the good news is my beer consumption schedule improved).
Long story short, I’m looking forward to getting back into the work groove more later this month after our last guests depart. Caleb and I are planning some big things for Think Traffic and Expert Enough this year and I can’t wait to get it all under way.
How to Start a Blog that Matters
Our new course How to Start a Blog that Matters launched in mid-January. I’m happy to report that nearly 600 people have joined the course in the first six weeks.
To keep sales going strong, we’ve been split testing our sales page quite a bit. We’ve also been doing special promotions with affiliates (like webinars) and the ClickBank affiliate network has sent sales our way from affiliates we didn’t know before.
We’ll have more info about our experience with ClickBank and how we’ve promoted this course sometime soon. For now, if you have questions feel free to ask below.
Traffic School / Other Big Projects
We’re working on our next big projects for the year. We’ll be launching something new at Think Traffic in the next few months, as well as our first product over at Expert Enough.
Outgrowing Shared Hosting / Moving to Dedicated
On the technology front, we finally outgrew our shared hosting plan at HostGator in January with the launch of the new course.
If you’ve been following along, you might know that we were on shared hosting with DreamHost until mid-2011. We outgrew that and moved up to a VPS server from ServInt that didn’t work out, despite being significantly more expensive.
Eventually Adam Baker convinced us to try a shared hosting plan with HostGator. I was skeptical because of how many visitors we were hosting every month, but HostGator came through and served us well for nearly a year on a simple reseller plan at around $20 a month.
For anyone starting out and up to around 50k visitors per month, a basic HostGator plan is a great way to go. (sign up with the code “thinktraffic” to save 25% off any hosting plan and we’ll earn a commission )
But I knew that we would outgrow that plan, and it finally happened last month.
I considered a bunch of different options, and asked some popular blogger friends what they were using. Their consensus was that dedicated hosting is the best performing option and most reliable.
If you’re not familiar with the differences, here are some basic hosting configurations and details of how they work:
Shared hosting is the most common type of hosting. In that configuration, every website hosted on a server has access to the resources on that server. If that server hosts a popular website, it can make your websites become unresponsive. Shared hosting is the least reliable, but also the cheapest. Shared hosting runs between $4 and $20 a month typically (HostGator starts at $3.96 a month).
With a VPS (virtual private server), resources are somewhat protected, so one website can’t hog all the CPU / memory power and slow your site down. VPS have some advantages, like the ability to add extra capacity quickly when you need it. Unfortunately our experience with a VPS last year was terrible, especially considering the cost increase over shared hosting. VPS services typically start at around $30 a month and go up to hundreds per month for more resources.
Dedicated hosting means you get private access to one physical server. This is the best performing, and most expensive form of hosting. Dedicated hosting usually starts at $150 a month or more for a managed server.
Cloud hosting is another type of hosting solution that has higher reliability (if a server goes down, your website should remain up), but also can be more expensive and usually doesn’t perform as well as dedicated hosting.
After spending days on the Web Hosting Talk forums we finally found what we were looking for.
We selected a “bare metal” server from Storm On Demand. This is a dedicated server with a virtualization layer that theoretically makes it easier to scale up to bigger hardware (or migrate in the event of hardware failure). You get some cloud-like benefits with the performance of dedicated hardware.
We have been really impressed with the support from Storm on Demand, and the performance of our websites is through the roof. Think Traffic is now loading in less than 2 seconds thanks to our new hardware combined with the Quick Cache plugin for WordPress.
Have you noticed how quickly this site loads now? I’d love to hear one way or another in the comments if you’ve noticed recently.
February Growth Stats for Think Traffic
On to the numbers…
We saw 37,010 visits this month (versus 37,894 last month, despite two fewer days), but after January’s 26% growth we’re happy with the numbers staying where they are. The huge bump in traffic has been fueled by the launch of our new course.
If you include traffic from our case study blog of Expert Enough (but not visits to the Start a Blog that Matters site) we had roughly 55,000 visits to our two sites in February.
Also, 366 new comments were left on the site last month, our new posts were retweeted 385 times and we gained 473 subscribers.
8 total posts were published last month (vs. 9 in the prior month), including 2 guest posts:
- 5 Steps to Making Loads of Affiliate Sales in Your Blog Posts (including 4 examples)
- Fluff Equals Failure
- 5 Essential WordPress Plug-ins You Should Be Using
- Is Going Viral Worth It? How to Get 55,000 Visits from Stumble Upon in 4 Days (Guest post by Maria)
- Two Simple Ways to Know Exactly What Your Audience Wants
- Ask the Readers: Do You Blog to Make Money or to Make Meaning (or Both)?
- 5 Critical Steps to Getting Your Creative Project Funded on Kickstarter (Guest post by Brian Kwong)
- Huge Month! January 2012 Monthly Report – Think Traffic, Expert Enough and Million Dollar Blog Project
Top Traffic Sources
Google organic traffic continues to grow by leaps and bounds every month, despite our lack of any focus on SEO here. Epic content is sometimes the best SEO.
Top Search Terms:
- blog topics: 926
- think traffic: 702
- unique selling proposition examples: 496
- personal introduction: 412
- unique selling proposition: 354
- unique selling point examples: 334
- blog post ideas: 293
- sales pitch: 264
- blog topic ideas: 255
- thinktraffic: 165
Expert Enough Recap – February 2012
We launched our case study blog Expert Enough back in November. We’re still dialing-in the content formula at EE, but in less than 4 months it has already attracted over 87,000 visitors (17,821 last month).
Expert Enough earned $182.45 last month (vs. $1,327.13 in the prior month) in affiliate revenue and through sales of our manifesto poster. Affiliate sales were up in the month prior because of this post we ran promoting the SBTM course.
As we’ve mentioned a few times, we’ll be developing a product for sale over at Expert Enough later this year. For now, we’ll be happy with some affiliate earnings here and there as we grow the audience and learn how we can best help people over there. This is a big potential long-term opportunity, and we won’t be rushing things.
We’ll have a proper update for the Million Dollar Blog Project later this month, so watch out for that.
Lessons Learned this Month and More
The most important thing I’ve learned to focus on over the past couple of years is helping other people achieve results.
Whether it’s through a blog post or a product or consulting, whenever I help other people achieve results, that effort comes back to benefit me in a major way.
The next time you’re wondering what to write about or what to work on ask yourself this simple question: “what can I create that will produce the highest results for my readers or clients?”
Questions, thoughts, concerns? Ask below and I’m happy to answer directly.
Thanks as always for the support and for another incredible month.