Think Traffic Monthly Report – February 2012

  • March 7, 2012 by Corbett Barr
  • 26 Comments

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.

Stay tuned.

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…

Think Traffic - Analytics Feb 2012

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:

Thank you Maria and Brian for the guest posts this month!

Top Traffic Sources

Think Traffic - Sources Feb 2012

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

Top Content

Think Traffic - Content Feb 2012

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.

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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Ben Norman March 7, 2012 at 6:20 am

You know you’ve made it once you need a private server, well done! I always enjoy seeing these monthly review posts, I’m currently in the middle of completing my own for my very first month, it’s a shame the numbers aren’t quite as impressive!

Corbett Barr March 7, 2012 at 8:19 am

Hey Ben, congrats on your first month. It’s all up from here :)

I’m curious, what did you do to get the word out about your launch?

Jaime @ Eventual Millionaire March 7, 2012 at 6:28 am

Thanks for letting me be a part of ThinkTraffic this month Corbett!
Nice place in Mexico too- I’ve been wanting to do something like that with our kids every winter. Can you give me a general idea on what a place like that costs down there?

(Also, the link to my article is incorrect – it goes to Maria’s post on StumbleUpon – Thanks!)

Corbett Barr March 7, 2012 at 8:31 am

Hey Jaime! Places in Mexico can run from almost nothing ($100 a month) up to many thousands a month. It really depends on the specific town (generally how large and how many tourists). For the kind of place most gringos are comfortable with, figure on between $500 and $1000 a week for a good vacation rental close to the water.

Sorry about the incorrect link above. We used your name on the wrong article. Your guest article actually ran in March, so you’ll get another mention in the next monthly report :)

Jackie Lee March 7, 2012 at 6:50 am

Hi Corbett,
Congrats on a great month. Looking at your traffic stats ~ I see the time on site is HUGE when your traffic is coming from another website. How did those people get here from those sites? Did the person mention you? Did you do a guest post? Did you leave a comment and people followed you? I’d love to know more about that.

Thanks,
Jackie

Tung Tran March 7, 2012 at 7:57 am

HI Jackie,
In my opinion, Corbett has good relationship with some big bloggers like Pat (SmartPassiveIncome), Scott (Live Your Legend),… and he also uses guest blogging to promote Think Traffic.

Joel Zaslofsky March 7, 2012 at 8:50 am

Hey Corbett,

Although I’m not too sympathetic to the “challenges” you face while working in Mexico I’m happy you can make that happen. :)

I like the breakdown of the hosting options you provided as I’m always looking to plan my next move. As a regular reader here and at Expert Enough you’re definitely doing your part to help me achieve results.

From what I can tell you’re a really humble guy and your focus on others is as genuine as anyone else out there. I hope to need your future advice on how to stay humble and genuine while being wildly successful.

Corbett Barr March 7, 2012 at 11:46 am

Thanks Joel :)

I think “nice guys” can do pretty well online (Pat Flynn as an example), although obviously the less humble can do very well also (I’ll let you come up with your own examples).

The one thing that either category needs to succeed is a focus on delivering value. Without that, I think hype can only get you so far. (or at least I hope that to be true :) )

Cara Stein March 7, 2012 at 8:59 am

Hi Corbett,

I saw that you were using ClickBank for the latest launch–I was kind of surprised. It seems like most well-established people use 1ShoppingCart or something like that.

Did you choose ClickBank for the convenience of having them handle all the payments and the affiliates? Do they let you email all of your affiliates, even the ones that found you in the ClickBank marketplace? If not, what’s your take on that?

I can’t wait to see your in-depth post on this. Thanks for sharing!

Corbett Barr March 7, 2012 at 11:49 am

I’ve tried quite a few shopping cart solutions over the past couple of years and all seem to have limitations and annoyances. 1ShoppingCart wasn’t a perfect solution by any means.

We went with ClickBank this time for a couple of reasons. First, I like that they pay affiliates directly. That’s one less thing to worry about. They also handle refunds automatically, which is nice. Our other big reason for selecting CB was the affiliate network. We wanted to see whether we’d attract affiliates we wouldn’t have otherwise. So far the experiment is going well.

Regarding emailing affiliates, we worked around that problem by asking affiliates to register with us before we give them the details about our affiliate program. That also has worked pretty well.

Matt White March 7, 2012 at 9:25 am

Nice place in Mexico.
Thanks for the lesson about servers. One can get very confused sometimes about this techy stuff.

Corbett Barr March 7, 2012 at 11:51 am

Sure thing, I know how confusing it can be, especially with all the sales pitches making technology seem so different from provider to provider. In reality it’s all somewhat similar. Reliability, performance and support are the three things we looked for and Storm has delivered so far.

Dan O'Keefe March 7, 2012 at 11:48 am

Corbett,

What town is your vacation spot in? What are restaurants, shopping, etc like in that area? Been to Mexico a few times, never rented a car as it is always discouraged against, so are you close enough to everything to get around via taxi?

Thanks,
Dan

Corbett Barr March 7, 2012 at 3:07 pm

There are a bunch of great little beach towns up and down the coast, especially in Jalisco, Nayarit or Oaxaca. Check out http://tomzap.com/ for some details and ideas. Most places don’t require a car unless you want to get out to other beaches or something.

Steve |MyWifeQuitHerJob March 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Hey Corbett,
I’m surprised you had such a bad experience with ServInt. I’ve been with them for 3 years now and I run all my sites on my VPS with higher traffic levels than what you are seeing without any problems whatsoever. What didn’t you like about them?

Corbett Barr March 7, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Hey Steve, I was surprised as well. I had heard nothing but good things about them before I signed up.

Email me if you’d like to hear details.

Patricio March 7, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Loved the report. The information on hosting was especially useful.

Philip Kristians March 7, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Hey Corbett
Congrats on great month. I actually wasnt aware that you needed that much “power” for that amount of traffic. Would hate to imagine what a huge site pays hehe.

These numbers are so nice to look at from a numbers geek :)

Again congrats on great results and hope you enjoy Mexico to the fullest.

Okto March 7, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Hi Corbett,

I was impressed at the first time I visit your blog. I like to watch the progress report and you are one of inspirations for blogger to stay as blogger.

Can’t wait the next month report :)

Ankesh Kothari March 7, 2012 at 11:45 pm

Thanks Corbett for being so transparent.

I see that Storm is a Liquidweb company. We were with Liquidweb for 2+ years before we switched to Amazon AWS – cloud hosting. Love their support. Was wondering: had you checked into a specialized hosting service like wpengine.com before deciding to go with Storm?

Had one more question: would love to know how well the Hello bar is performing for you. Is it a major cause for the number of subscribers you get per month?

Brigit | Biddy Tarot March 14, 2012 at 3:00 pm

It’s awesome that you are working out of Mexico for a few months. We have just done the same… moved from Melbourne, Australia to Andalucia, Spain for 6 months while I work on my online business. I am thrilled that I have been able to establish my business in this way and I can now spend 6 sunny months with my hubby and two kids kicking back with tapas y vino. Many thanks to you, Pat Flynn, and Tim Ferriss for the inspiration!

Corbett Barr March 7, 2012 at 10:51 am

Hey Jackie / Tung,

The links from other blogs generally come because the other blogger mentioned us for some reason. I spend a lot of time behind the scenes getting to know other bloggers and have become friends with many. We also spend a lot of effort working to establish ourselves and Think Traffic as thought leaders in our space.

We don’t guest post often (I can’t think of the last time we ran a guest post to promote Think Traffic), and I don’t leave a whole lot of comments on other blogs, although those are good strategies in the beginning for any blogger.

Cara Stein March 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm

About emailing affiliates, that makes sense! I had a few people sign up for my affiliate program through e-junkie, but even though I asked them to also sign up for the mailing list, they never did. Thanks for that insight! Sometimes it’s the simple things. :)

I do like the idea of not having to handle paying the affiliates, or paying sales tax, or making 1099s. That is sweet.

I’m glad to hear it’s gone well for you! I’ll be interested to read the rest when you do the full post. Thanks!

Ben Norman March 7, 2012 at 3:03 pm

My blog is simply to keep track of everything I do, yes I’d love it to gain a large readership but that isn’t my main goal so I didn’t focus on a big launch. The first site which I’m building as part of my overall “make money online” approach should be launched in May, many trumpets will be sounding then!

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