Huge Month! January 2012 Monthly Report – Think Traffic, Expert Enough and Million Dollar Blog Project

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

Think Traffic - Analytics Jan 2012

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:

Thanks to Rick for the guest post and Jeff & Sarai for letting us interview you! :)

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

Top Content

Think Traffic - Content Jan 2012

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:

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.

Published by

Corbett Barr

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.

55 thoughts on “Huge Month! January 2012 Monthly Report – Think Traffic, Expert Enough and Million Dollar Blog Project”

  1. “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.” ”

    I began!!! I have been reading, scheming, lurking for a long time. I was feeling “exactly that”. I decided to allow my blog The Lash Life support my product & inspire my students, and I am learning oodles by just doing it and delivering good stuff. I think that after a while, the blog will grow its own wings and help fuel the learning project (my product). so, how symbiotic is that? And I have definitely now opened my mind to see that my current audience is just PART of the larger group that I can reach.

    And… I LOVE the manifesto poster! I bought TWO! It is so GREAT! Thank you for all the inspiration and info!!!


    1. Awesome Jill! I’m glad you liked our poster. :)

      As long as you continue to grow your audience new people can be exposed to a product you create, but only if you launch it before they find you.

  2. Wow! Nice month, Corbett. Do you attribute all of your stat jump to your new course?

    I have similar stats this month for my site (35k in visitors, 70k in page views) and it is almost double what my December ’11 stats were. I have been posting more but I think the bigger reason is PEOPLE LIKE TO GET SHIT DONE IN JANUARY!

    This is an inspired time of year with more people searching for ways to simplify, get more time, money and space in their lives. Google traffic to my site shot up last month.

    Lesson: I’m going to, again, take a short blogging break in December of this year. Let my readers enjoy their holidays, and then come back in January with lots of help for them in the new year.

    1. Haha, yes, you’re right about January. And December is usually a slightly quieter month, so that accounts for some growth as well.

      This December we did the opposite though: instead of taking a break, we kept things rolling in a big way. That helped set up opportunities that we took advantage of in January.

  3. First of all congratulations on such a great month Corbett! It’s nice when hard work pays off.

    You’re comment about patience really hit home for me. My blog traffic, is respectable, but small. However, it continues to grow every day, with additional boosts from guest posts and expert interviews.

    I’m not quite where I want to be, but I know I must be patient. I also have to recognize I am still learning – though this blog is bringing in 20x more traffic than my last attempt and that has a lot to do with you expert advice – so thanks! In addition, I know if I apply myself and hustle a bit more I can grow numbers more quickly.

    Keep doing what you do.

    1. Hey Vanessa, congrats on the huge improvement over your last attempt. That’s very encouraging. Keep going, you’re headed in the right direction :)

  4. Nicely done man!

    But I wonder what the ‘not stereo’ people got out of this? :) And the 21 Actions posts is still my favorite, given the impact it had on my attitude overall.

    Rock on.

  5. Corbett,

    What is your advice regarding creating a product if A) You aren’t consulting so you don’t know common issues your audience has and B) You don’t have a big audience yet so you don’t get a ton of feedback from surveys and such?

    It’s really incredible how quickly Expert Enough took off — but I guess success breeds success, and it all snowballs from there.


    1. Hey Alexander,

      One thing I would recommend is really focus on the what problem your product would fix. Think about things you, your friends, family, or people in your audience struggle with.

      That can point you in the right direction.

      – Caleb Wojcik

    2. Hey Alex,

      Great questions. First, I really like to encourage people to start by offering services for sale (like consulting or coaching). You learn so much from those initial clients. Then, you can take that experience and build a curriculum for a product that can help more people.

      Next, I recommend looking at forums and comments on other blogs that are related to your chosen topic. Dig in and find out what people are struggling with, what results they would like to achieve, and the language they use when talking about their problems and desires.

      We’re a little surprised about how quickly Expert Enough is taking off as well. Part of it is the success breeding success factor you mentioned, but there’s more to it than that. Earlier this week we looked at the overlap in our audiences between Think Traffic and Expert Enough (and my other site). Surprisingly, the overlap between them (in terms of subscribers) is only about 20%.

      I think the biggest success factors for Expert Enough have been a) finding a topic that people really connect with, b) carefully planning the branding and launch strategy and c) creating the best content we possibly can. Word has spread pretty organically about the new site. We haven’t done much offsite promotion at all so far.

      Cheers, thanks for commenting Alex. I hope this helps.

  6. Corbett, as always very impressive. You can tell the patience and passion you put into your projects rewards you well with more than just monetary value. As a student of marketing your providing me with some insights that are comparative to the lessons I am/have learned. It’s nice to see the success you have created for yourself while sharing what you did to gain that success with others. Thanks for all you do!

  7. I’m having problems coming up with ideas for products (info or physical) for one of my blogs. It has a strong/growing readership, but the best selling products that I’ve found is affiliate offers with low commission rates, like Amazon. Any ideas on how to come up with products that I could sell, and most importantly help my audience?

    1. You have to start with a problem, need or desire that you think you could address. Either think about the issues you’ve gone through in the past, or look for evidence of problems other people have (either through your own site or by reading other blogs/forums).

      See also my answer above for Alex. Let me know if you have other specific questions Mike.

  8. One of the few monthly recaps worth reading, great synopsis guys and congrats on the explosive success of ExpertEnough.

    It’s been fun being apart of the MDBP, I’ll be fighting for that number 1 spot this month it looks like ;).

    I definitely resonate with that “failed” guest post, call it overconfidence, but I’m starting to think my guest posts would be better served getting posted on my own blog (newest) blog, now that an audience has grown.

    1. There is definitely a balance with guest posting Gregory, especially when your audience gets to a certain size.

      Watch out on the leaderboard, we’re coming for you :) Congrats on holding the top spot for so long now. Well done. We’ll have to share your story with the TT audience soon.

    2. Thanks Corbett, I’d be up for anything you have in mind.

      You guys have definitely made it interesting coming up on my top spot, especially since you’re more a “traditional” long post blog and Sophistefunk is an “entertainment” blog where it’s pretty easy to generate traffic.

      I should also clarify, when I said “One of the few monthly recaps worth reading…”, I meant the ones posted on this blog in general, not just this individual post.

      I mean, I am pretty much a jerk, but I didn’t mean it this time ;).

  9. Hi Corbett-

    Great post. I’ve been wanting to launch an eBook or something similar that would teach my readers something, but am struggling. I am a food illustrator, but not a cook (so recipes are out of the question). I already make paper products, but would love to do something more educational. Do you have posts on helping bloggers develop things like this? Thanks!


    1. Hey Lisa! I love your illustrations, great stuff.

      Are you familiar with The Oatmeal ( What about telling little stories about food with your illustrations, and then selling those as posters?

  10. Great post – I love bloggers who share information like this. In many ways, it’s one of the most interesting style of posts there are – especially in this niche.

    As for what I’ve learnt over the past month – I’ve learnt patience and calm whilst trying to build my traffic and subscribers up. I can see my blog going in the right direction at least and I’m making important contacts and backlinks.

    As for faith in my decisions, I guess we’ll have to see!

    1. Hey Kris, congrats on getting your blog moving in the right direction. That’s a great feeling. Once you find something that works, my suggestion is to put your full focus behind it to see it through.

  11. Hi Corbett, I’m getting set to launch my first (solo) product in April. What do you suggest for generating “interview requests, links from other blogs, partnership inquiries”? I would assume reaching out to people you already have relationships is a good idea, but the words “requests” and “inquiries” gives the impression those things are happening more organically as opposed to being due to your direct efforts. Is that the case? If so, any tips on how to make that happen? Many thanks and big congrats on your continued success.

    1. Hell yeah Vic, that’s what I like to hear. Congrats on the upcoming launch.

      Maybe you’ve heard this about networking: you have to build the connections with people before you need them.

      My advice is to be as active as you can in talking with other bloggers and online entrepreneurs. Focus both on people you already know and people you don’t know yet but would like to get to know. Just “shoot the shit” with people and try to offer help where you can. Some of them will naturally ask you what you’re working on and some will offer to help.

      Then, when you have a firm launch date and are about 3-4 weeks out, I would send a short personalized email to anyone you’ve connected with who you think might be interested in promoting your product or helping you get the word out. Just say “Hey, I’m launching my course [insert awesome course name] that I told you about on [insert date]. Thanks for chatting with me about it back in February. Let me know if you’re looking for a great product to promote to your audience as an affiliate and I’ll send over more details and get you access to the course.”

      Also, make sure you drop hints on your own blog about the product and your launch plans.

      If you tell enough people behind the scenes, and on your blog, opportunities will start to come your way. Some of them you won’t have been expecting.

  12. Well the last month I remembered some lessons I had forgotten

    1.- Every time you want to do something amazing there will be a ton of people telling you to give up, so I learned to ignore those voices

    2.- Surrounding yourself with success models is the best way to achieve great leaps in knowledge, and surrounding yourself with people with the same goals will help you not to give up

    3.- Every time you do something with with double intentions, people will feel it, so do everything with a 100% commitment to give value to them just for the fun of it, it will work better

    4.- I have to be patient, much more patient

    5.- Must not be afraid of being social on the internet

    Those are my lessons for this month 😀

    1. Great lessons Rodrigo, thanks for sharing.

      Regarding #1, I find the opposite. Whenever I want to do something amazing, there are tons of people encouraging me to do it. I think it depends on a) who you surround yourself with, and b) what you expect to hear from people.

  13. It’s interesting to me that you said:

    “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.”

    I have been regretting the fact that I created an eBook to sell while I don’t have much traffic. To me it seems like my eBook isn’t selling because I haven’t proven that I’m trustworthy in my niche.

    My traffic increased a lot when I gave away the eBook one day in January (big name blogger posted the information for me) so at this point I’m trying to determine if I want to sell the eBook or just give it away.

    I’ll keep an eye on those fringe benefits that you talked about – you’ve given me something to think about. Thanks for your help and encouragement in crazy blogging world!

    1. Why would you regret offering the eBook for sale? What negative things have happened because of it? I think it’s just a mindset issue, or misaligned expectations. Perhaps when the book doesn’t sell, you feel bad about yourself? It’s all about your perception. Be thankful for what you learned about the launch and realize it’s just one step in your overall success story.

  14. Congratulations to Corbett, Caleb and anyone that was involved in the success of these projects. It always makes one feel good to be a member of such an effective and thriving tribe; I hope something may stick on me?
    This also makes us feel optimistic – with hard work and some “patience” as Corbett put it, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

  15. I am curious about the relatively high bounce rate of 69% Corbett. It would be interesting to see some data on which segment of your traffic tends to bounce off quickly, something I am constantly analyzing for my own blog.

    1. Hey Anshul, great question. Bounce rates don’t mean much in aggregate, but individual sources are interesting to look at. If it helps, here are the bounce rates for our top 10 traffic sources in January.

      1. google / organic 77.51% 14,129
      2. (direct) / (none) 63.16% 6,653
      3. feedburner / feed 68.75% 3,799
      4. / redirect 44.70% 1,273
      5. / referral 68.53% 1,036
      6. / referral 76.54% 993
      7. / referral 77.78% 990
      8. twitterfeed / twitter 79.59% 936
      9. / referral 49.34% 910
      10. / referral 52.76% 671

    2. Google organic is right up there! One of the things I have noticed is that as a blog grows in content and authority, you naturally tend to rank for a number of unrelated long tail keywords and in my case a lot of the traffic from those keywords is a near 100% bounce rate.

      Probably doesn’t have a huge bearing on the overall statistics as you said but good to know. Thanks Corbett.

  16. Those were some good stats, man. Very transparent and really cool to read. It will be interesting to follow your million dollar blog project, I’m sure it’s going to be epic.

    As far as what I’ve learned about success or failures the past month. It’s all about failures currently for me right now in my life, but it’s all good. I ain’t no quitter and just like you said in one of your earlier posts – once you’re at rock bottom all you can do is go up. 😉

    1. That’s the sprit Mathew :) Hang in there and please let us know how things turn out for you. It’s all about learning and practicing.

  17. Hey Caleb and Corbett,

    I’m so happy to see that you are sharing your experiences with everyone; it really adds value to your blog and makes me want to come back for more. I am at the beginning of my journey and so far the piece of advice I have found to be most valuable is “Take Action”.
    Still, sometimes it is difficult to know what to take action on… I’d love to learn more about how you started your traffic to your blog. I found your blog on the Blog Hopping Queen report, so I’m assuming that you have used this strategy as part of your traffic efforts…
    I am taking part in a coaching program with Kerry Russell who has been successful building a list and her entire business with giveaway events. What is your take on these events? Have you been involved in any giveaways?

    ~Jeremy Ruggles

    1. Hey Jeremy, thanks for stopping by. What’s the “Blog Hopping Queen” report? Haven’t heard of it.

      As for how we started building traffic here, you can read every monthly report since we started two years ago. Every action we’ve taken is explained here:

      Regarding giveaways, what kind of things are you talking about giving away? I’m not familiar with the term in that context.

  18. Corbett,

    I feel embarrassed now… Your blog is listed at the bottom of a report written by Sally Nell called Blog Hopping Queen. You can check it out here: (I’m in now way affiliated with her, it was recommended to me by my personal coach.)
    I will take some time and read about your process leading to your online success.

    As far as giveaways, I was referring to JV Giveaway Events where a group of people in the same niche get together and each offer a free gift to a large list of subscribers in exchange for their contact info. Each JV partner promotes the event to get as many people on board as possible. The free gifts are all useful products like ebooks, courses, videos, etc.

    I am personally new to the whole idea, but my coach and her coach swear by it as the fastest way to build a targeted list. I am joining my first JV giveaway event at the end of the month. I am excited to see the results.

    ~Jeremy Ruggles

    1. Oh, thanks for the follow up. I’m not familiar with the giveaway process that you explained, but I’ll be curious to hear about your results. Cheers!

  19. Corbbett,

    I’ve been following you around two blogs and I must say you deserve this great result for the dedication and hard work my friend. As always, Google (organic search) would always top the traffic sources list. I’ve read your conversations above and based on my December traffic and profit data, it’s a slightly quiet month indeed. Wish you luck for the coming months!

    Spatch Merlin

  20. Wow – I’d just told a friend today that I’m waiting to launch a product until my audience is bigger. Way to demolish my excuse! 😉

    I do have a question though. My blog teaches English to non-native speakers, which is a bit difficult since the medium itself of the English language may be challenging to lower-level students. I’d like to create a subscription-based video course focusing on conversational English, but:

    1) How can I compete with all the free material on YouTube and other sites?

    2) I feel like if I launch the paid content now with such a small audience, only 1-2 people will sign up, and I’ll have locked myself into a commitment to publish X number of video lessons per wk for only a couple subscribers.

    Should I perhaps produce a “packaged” video course to start (which doesn’t require constant production of new material) and see how that sells?

  21. Really inspirational stuff guys! I love these monthly break down reports. The main thing I take away from this post is the importance of getting a product out there. As I see it even if it’s not a huge success you’ll learn about product launches and your next launch will be better.

  22. I like these reports because they show how your website is growing. I have a music blog and I have found that my views are pretty steady for the month. I am thinking about launching a short ebook in addition to having merch. Trying to think of more ideas it may be time to invest in the courses that you offer.

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