Welcome to another Think Traffic monthly report!
If you’re new here, in these reports we dive into exactly what we’ve done to grow this blog each month. We also share full details about the growth and revenue for our 3-month-old case study blog called Expert Enough.
This was a HUGE month for us. We launched a new course called How to Start a Blog that Matters. We saw record traffic to both Think Traffic and Expert Enough (full details below).
We also saw record month for revenue from Expert Enough.
Oh, and we have an exciting update on the Million Dollar Blog Project below in this post as well.
Are you ready to dive in? I’m pumped to share this with you.
Let’s get started.
Product Launch = BIG Traffic Boost and More
Here’s something I hear over and over again from bloggers who haven’t yet created a product for sale:
“My audience is too small. I think I should wait until my audience is bigger to launch a product.”
But here’s what most bloggers don’t understand: launching a product can grow your audience in a major way.
Every time I have launched a new product, from Affiliate Marketing for Beginners to Traffic School to How to Start a Blog that Matters, I’ve gotten a huge boost in traffic, subscribers and social media activity.
But that’s just the tip of this awesome iceberg.
Launching a product also always leads to tons of interview requests, links from other blogs, partnership inquiries, and a different kind of respect from colleagues.
If those were the only benefits of launching a product, it would be worth it.
On top of all that there is also the opportunity to earn revenue, both immediately and in the future. Earning revenue from a product you created a year or more ago is a pretty awesome feeling. It’s all gravy for the effort you originally invested.
Plus, if you’re planning to build a business around your blog over the long-term, there will be things you need to learn about building and launching products that you can’t learn any other way than just doing it.
If it isn’t clear already, I’m a big fan of launching products and services through a blog as a way to grow your audience and create opportunities you wouldn’t get otherwise.
If you’re a blogger and plan to monetize your blog in the future, you should consider creating a product or service for sale sooner than later.
Sure, if you have a small audience you might not make many immediate sales. But the fringe benefits alone make it worth it. You’ll also continue to make sales over time as your blog grows.
Questions about creating your first product? Don’t know where to start? Ask me in the comments and I’ll be happy to answer.
January Growth Stats for Think Traffic
We saw 37,894 visits this month (versus 30,113 last month). There was a large increase in this month’s traffic to TT (26%), which was heavily influenced by the launch of our new course, as I mentioned above.
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 over 68,300 visits to our two sites in January. That’s over 20,000 more visits than last month.
Also, 346 new comments were left on the site last month, our new posts were retweeted 504 times and we gained 734 subscribers.
9 total posts were published last month (vs. 9 in the prior month), including 1 guest post and 2 interviews:
- 6 More Priceless Lessons You Can Learn From My First Year of Blogging
- Kicked, Beaten Down, Back Up Against the Wall, Now You Have Nothing to Lose
- Amazing Case Study: How Sarai Mitnick Attracts 380k Pageviews a Month and Built a Business Around a Sewing Blog
- 81 Topic Ideas for Starting a Blog that Matters
- How to Start a Blog that Matters
- How to Be a Better Writer & Get a Book Deal Without Trying (with Jeff Goins)
- 3 Facebook Ad Secrets That Every Blogger Should Know
- December 2011 Monthly Report – Think Traffic and Expert Enough
- Best of Think Traffic 2011
Top Traffic Sources
We drove over 5,000 more visits via organic Google searches than we did in December, without any additional focus on SEO. We’ve said this before: epic content really is a great SEO strategy, especially for bloggers.
Top Search Terms:
- think traffic: 653
- unique selling proposition examples: 436
- blog post ideas: 399
- personal introduction: 372
- unique selling proposition: 325
- sales pitch: 307
- unique selling point examples: 233
- not stereo: 203
- blog topics: 181
- thinktraffic: 151
If you look closely you can see that only one of the top 10 most popular pieces of content last month was actually published last month (#6). That is the power of pillar content and organic search rankings.
Expert Enough Recap – January 2012
If you’ve been following along with the Million Dollar Blog Project, you know that we launched a new blog called Expert Enough in November as a case study.
The goal is to build a new blog, from the ground-up, in public, and show you everything we do along the way. Our goal is for Expert Enough to earn at least a million dollars in revenue over it’s life by creating something meaningful.
At Expert Enough, we attracted 29,837 visitors last month (vs. 16,823 in the prior month). This is thanks in large part to ‘The Lost Art of Becoming Good at Things‘ making it to the front page of Hacker News and receiving over 1,000 social media shares.
The funny thing about that post is that I originally wrote it for a fairly big-name blog as a guest post. I was introduced to the blogger who runs the blog in question (names omitted to protect the innocent) and wrote the post especially for that blog. I submitted the post thinking I had a good shot.
Then the post was rejected.
This happens when submitting guest posts. Rejection is part of the process, and it’s no big deal. I thought it was a good post, but the blogger I submitted it to felt otherwise.
So I saved a draft of the post and moved on.
Eventually Caleb asked me if I planned to do anything with that post. I had forgotten about it. We decided to revise it slightly for the Expert Enough audience and ran it there in early January.
The ironic thing is that this failed guest post went on to become the most popular post ever published at Expert Enough. It was linked to by Copyblogger, made the front page of Hacker News and has been retweeted and liked on Facebook hundreds of times.
The post has been viewed over 17,900 times.
We didn’t do anything other than publishing the post and sharing it with our audience. The Copyblogger link and Hacker News success happened organically.
Write epic shit and sometimes the rest takes care of itself.
Lesson learned: just because a guest post is rejected doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Your post might be a perfect fit for another audience, even your own.
Now, for some other exciting news.
I’m proud to report that last month we earned $1,327.13 in revenue at Expert Enough!
Here’s how it breaks down:
- $1,277.58 through promoting Start a Blog that Matters
- $29.51 through promoting Benny Lewis’s Language Hacking Guide
- $20.04 through selling manifesto posters
Our goal at Expert Enough is to build it slowly and methodically. We haven’t been trying hard to monetize the site yet. Eventually we will create a course for that audience specifically, but it will probably be six months before we get around to it.
Until then, we’ll be promoting affiliate offers to our audience when it seems like a good fit.
Last month, we decided to promote the new Start a Blog that Matters course.
We didn’t know whether the audience there would be interested, but thought it was worth a shot. We thought that aspiring experts might be interested in building blogs.
It turns out that some of them are. We sold 23 copies of the course through Expert Enough (we track the referrals from that site separately from our other sites).
The total affiliate commissions on those sales equalled $1,277.58, which is pretty damn cool for a blog that was barely two months old at the time.
If we can continue to earn at that level until we release a course specifically for Expert Enough, we’ll be happy.
Million Dollar Blog Project Update
Finally, we have an update for you on the Million Dollar Blog Project.
You can see the leaderboard standings here. Expert Enough is #2 on the list, and there are a bunch of other great blogs listed there that were started as part of this project by Think Traffic readers.
One of our goals for the project is to help our readers start blogs that in aggregate earn at least a million dollars over the next two years.
I’m proud to report that $82,363.02 has been earned from the MDBP blogs so far. That’s nearly 10% of our goal. These are self-reported numbers, so take them at face value, but we’re pleased nonetheless.
Lessons Learned this Month
We learned a lot this month.
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the past few years is the value of patience.
The Million Dollar Blog Project is a huge undertaking. Starting Expert Enough is another huge project. Likewise, How to Start a Blog that Matters took us an incredible amount of time and effort to put together.
A younger, more impatient version of myself might have given up on one or more of these projects after just a couple of months.
But now I realize that worthwhile projects take time and dedication. They need room to grow.
These projects are now starting to pay off in a multitude of ways, and I’m happy I now have the patience to let them grow.
Now I’d like to hear from you.
What have you learned over the past month about success and failure online?
How much value do you put on patience and faith in your decisions?
Leave comments below. If you have questions about anything we’re up to here, we’re happy to answer those as well.
Thanks as always for reading. We appreciate you being here.