Think Traffic Monthly Report – October 2012

  • November 6, 2012 by Corbett Barr
  • 31 Comments

October’s over and November is in full swing. It’s time for another Think Traffic monthly report. If you’re new here, each month we recap the traffic/growth stats for Think Traffic and share what we’ve done and what we’ve learned.

We do this every month because we hope our transparency will help you build a bigger, stronger, more engaged audience for your own site. There’s a lot of snake oil and misinformation out there. Our goal is to always give it to you straight, warts and all.

Luckily this month there aren’t many warts to show. We shattered some records for Think Traffic, which I’ll get to below in just a minute.

Before we dive in, let’s talk about what we’ve been up to lately.

Growing, cautiously.

I’ve been building this little business of mine for over three and a half years now. Over the years I’ve started three major blogs (Think Traffic, Expert Enough and my former personal blog, which is now merged into this site).

My main business goal from early 2009 hasn’t changed much, but the scope of things has. When I first decided to start blogging while on sabbatical, I knew I wanted to build a “lifestyle business.”

Traditional thinking says there are two kinds of businesses out there. There are “get big fast at any cost” businesses and there are “provide for a great lifestyle” businesses. This is of course an oversimplification, but there is validity to this spectrum.

I’ve seen both sides of the equation, and having built a VC-backed company before I knew this time around I wanted to maintain more control over my personal life. I haven’t been interested in sacrificing my lifestyle purely to pursue revenue growth.

But things have changed a little recently, and I’m asking myself a lot of questions. The lifestyle part of my goals has mostly been satisfied for the past few years. We’ve lived in Mexico every winter for the past four years. We’ve traveled extensively to other parts of the world. I’m in complete control of what I do each day and which projects I decide to work on. The dream of living my ideal lifestyle has been accomplished and anything I don’t pursue now (within some financial limits) is by choice.

Now I’m wondering if this is it. I’m starting to think bigger, about fun, about challenges, about stability, about impact.

Some of this is simply the entrepreneur’s curse. I don’t think any of us are happy with routine. We became entrepreneurs because we like challenges and seeing our ideas become reality.

I don’t have any profound answers for you today. I’ve just been thinking about the bigger picture recently and wanted to share some of those thoughts. I have no regrets about what I’ve built so far at Think Traffic, but at the same time I’m re-imagining the future and what’s possible as we build out Fizzle and other projects.

Dreaming big is fun, and I think the line between lifestyle business and businesses with more impact isn’t so cut-and-dried, or at least it doesn’t have to be.

I’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment below if you have some ideas or examples of what happens after the lifestyle part of this kind of business has been accomplished.

Now let’s do the numbers. This is the report for October, 2012.

October Analytics for Think Traffic

Here are the traffic stats for Think Traffic from Google Analytics for the month:

Think Traffic - Analytics Oct 2012

We attracted over 97,000 visits to Think Traffic in October, compared with 67,999 visits last month, or an increase of 44%. This was an all-time record for Think Traffic, and was the biggest one-month percentage increase in visits since February of 2011.

We’re really happy with the results, but the raw numbers don’t actually matter much because the source of all this traffic isn’t all that valuable.

This month was the perfect illustration of how not all traffic sources are created equal. I’ve talked about this before: traffic quality is much more important than quantity. Smart, engaged, relevant visitors will beat out fly-by-night social media visitors anytime.

In this case, most of the extra traffic for October really came from one source: StumbleUpon. StumbleUpon (SU) is a service that lets web browsers “channel surf” to new and interesting sites and content. Traffic from SU is incredibly fickle and low-converting.

I’ve written about SU in depth before: How StumbleUpon Sent Me Over 127,000 Visitors to a Single Post (And Why It Isn’t as Great as It Sounds).

Like I said, we’re happy to have the visitors. It’s just not something to get overly excited about. You’ll see in the chart below that the SU visitors only visited 1.07 pages on average and spent just 49 seconds on the site, both well below the average for all vistiors.

The point isn’t to avoid StumbleUpon traffic, but to point out that the number of visitors a site receives doesn’t matter much if those visitors are low quality. SU traffic isn’t worth chasing. Your time is better spent trying to create engaging, useful content.

You should also avoid comparing your site’s top-line traffic numbers to another site’s. The comparison will rarely be apples-to-apples unless you can see the full picture.

Here are the 7 posts we published in October:

Thanks to Mike, Timo, Barrie, and Gregory for the posts last month.

Top Traffic Sources

Top Content

Here are the top 10 pages for the month:

The post that attracted all the StumbleUpon traffic is up there at the top. It’s one I originally posted on my personal site, now part of the Think Traffic archives: Need Some Motivation Right Now? Read This IMMEDIATELY.

That’s everything for this month.

Next month we’ll have some new information to report on Fizzle, because we’re opening the doors to new beta members later this week. Sign up on the Fizzle home page to be notified if you’d like to learn more about what we have cooking over there.

In the comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts on growing beyond the original intent of a “lifestyle” business. What do you plan to do after you accomplish your personal goals for your business?

Cheers for now. Thanks for reading.

-Corbett

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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Tamal Anwar November 6, 2012 at 6:32 am

Hello Corbett, I really enjoy your monthly blog growth update. I like the transparency and this actually motivated me to publish my blog traffic and earnings report from this month. You can see it here: http://www.blogkori.com/traffic-earnings-report-oct-2012/

I wish for awesome growth of TT in the upcoming years and wish me the same too!

PS: I have a question my friend; ThinkTraffic was in a .com if I remember, why do you put it in a .net domain? Any special reasons for that?

Thanks

Caleb Wojcik November 6, 2012 at 7:05 am

It was originally a .net and we later purchased the .com to redirect to.

Uwe November 6, 2012 at 6:33 am

Hey Corbett,

greetings from Germany :)

I wonder what you are going to do with your Feedburner subscribers – do you have a plan to transfer them to another service because Google will shut down the platform in the future?

Best,
Uwe

Corbett Barr November 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Hello Uwe. Google has not indicated that Feedburner will be shut down. The API for developers has been discontinued, but the main service remains intact.

Li-ling November 6, 2012 at 6:53 am

Firstly, thank you for sharing so transparently and honestly your traffic reports and your thoughts, particularly those pertaining to bigger bolder goals.
It is very true as your say, the Entrepreneurs’ Curse, forever reaching for bigger and better, akin I suppose to the Type A personalities so commonly defined by the psychologists.
I personally think (yes, I am typically Type A too), our ambitions and dreams do somewhat need to be tempered by a feeling of REALLY enjoying the fruits of that labour, and yes in your case, the lifestyle, but also perhaps take time to consider what IS really important in your life.
If yours are reaching for bigger goals, then there’s your answer. Other people might find satisfaction in trying to find balance in their lives, still others might devote time and lives to charity or helping others.
We went through some rough times which resulted in a dramatic change in the way we lead our lives and how we define our work. And at the end of the day, I found that it really is all about what makes you happy in your life.
I am sure all will work out well.

Corbett Barr November 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I appreciate the thoughts Li-ling, thanks for sharing.

Chase November 6, 2012 at 6:53 am

Corbett, you’re a gentleman and a scholar and I’m pleased as punch to know you. Great thoughts up top. I’m not wearing undies :(

Corbett Barr November 6, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Likewise, my friend. Where’s the proof of that last statement?

Mike Kawula November 6, 2012 at 7:11 am

Amazing numbers love how you share it.

Just finishing reading The 4-Hour Work Week and doing a lot of reflecting on being self-employed. I’ve owned 4 businesses in the last 6 years, 2 Franchises and 2 Independent. Definitely impacted by the entrepreneurs curse as you called it but also always looking to have more of the lifestyle that I dreamed of when becoming self-employed. Each business has turned into a job that I’ve either had to much responsibilities or employees to manage. As I start my newest venture I’m making sure that I build around my desired lifestyle and that it doesn’t define my lifestyle.

Corbett Barr November 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm

It definitely sounds like you love the challenge of starting up. Some people make a career out of just that.

Benjamin November 6, 2012 at 7:18 am

Corbett & Caleb,

So… when I see Think Traffic’s success… I see how focusing on GIVING, SERVING, and creating long-term customers… can have a huge impact on a huge number of smart and motivated people.

You have created a huge tribe of brilliant people who are doing things that matter.

In the blogosphere… there is a strong incentive to give as much as possible and you leveraged that and you are making a killing from it. Boom!

I love watching it. :)

But our world is still really fucked up and the same model you have created… can be used to make it a little less fucked up.

How could you use your obvious gifts to leverage this more in the ‘real world?’ How could you help create a world where everyone had an incentive to create long-term ‘customers’? What system would we need in place to make that happen?

I’m not saying start a non-profit… and work tirelessly at trying to change the world.

I am saying… just keep doing what you are doing. You can change the world in a much bigger way… as ‘easily’ and with the same philosophy as you have created the success here at Think Traffic. :)

And it looks like you are already doing it. :)

Rock the world!

Corbett Barr November 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Great questions Benjamin.

I was at dinner with some entrepreneur friends last week and the topic of what our respective “missions” in life were. My answer: to change as many individual lives, communities and even societies as I can by empowering people to build successful small businesses. I really believe our world is better off when people work in small teams on things they feel connected to, as opposed to collecting paychecks from giant corporations contributing to things most people could care less about.

Jon @ authority site income November 6, 2012 at 7:30 am

Corbett, that is one of the best possible problems you could have in life….

A. Keep working on your terms making enough to live the way you want

Or

B. make an even bigger impact

That being said I completely understand the desire for making a bigger impact.

Although I am not faced with the problem you have (yet) my thinking is you are already making a big impact. If you are not satisfied with the impact that won’t change witha bigger impact.

However, if you have fun doing more work than go for it… and I will enjoy watching reading about whatever it is you do.

Thanks for the monthly update, for me mine really help keep me accountable to my goals each month, do you find the same benefit?

Jon

Corbett Barr November 6, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Hey Jon, yes, I find these monthly reports help me stay accountable.

Great points about impact. I certainly appreciate the impact we’re already having; I just want to make sure we feel the same way 5 or 10 years from now.

Holger November 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Corbett,

thanks a lot for the impact YOU already had on me. I really appreciate what you are doing here !

“I certainly appreciate the impact we’re already having; I just want to make sure we feel the same way 5 or 10 years from now.”

Two quotes from Alan Watts (“The wisdom of insecurity”) that came to my mind:
1.
“How long have the planets been circling the sun ? Are they getting anywhere, and do they go faster and faster in order to arrive ? How often has the spring returned to the earth ? Does it come faster and fancier every year, to be sure to be better than last spring, and to hurry on its way to the spring that shall outspring all springs ?”

2.
“What we have to discover is that there is no safety, that seeking it is painful, and that when we imagine that we have found it, we don´t like it.”

Learn More. – 100% approval.
Do More. – Ok.
Be More. – I disagree.

I´d call this one the more-is-better fallacy, because it´s virtually never enough. To me it´s not about being more but being who you really are, that is: authentic.

Once again, I truly love your stuff on TT ! If only I could make sure you´ll do MORE of that kind in the future… ;-)

Holger

Tim Ferraris November 6, 2012 at 8:49 am

Creating your ideal lifestyle will lead to creating better and better work. So I figure, work hard on the lifestyle and hopefully the greater content will follow.

That’s a heckuva lotta traffic this month, and I’m especially impressed by the amount of new visitors to the site. Did they have an effect on subscriber numbers? I would hope so, even though you term the SU traffic as not “worth chasing.”

Well done! Keep it up!

Corbett Barr November 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Very few visitors from StumbleUpon become subscribers. The traffic is simply not well targeted. People from SU aren’t specifically looking for your content; they’re just randomly directed to it through an algorithm.

Bryan Knowlton November 6, 2012 at 8:59 am

I really love your traffic reports and thank you very much for explaining that all traffic is not created equal. I also made note of all your top articles and will be re-reading them for ideas and inspiration. I loved your session at the talk to the top! Signed up through your affiliate link as well!

Bryan

Corbett Barr November 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Fantastic Bryan, thanks for reading these reports.

Zach Turner November 6, 2012 at 9:55 am

I feel u on wondering if uve reached the pinnacle of all u set out to accomplish. I’ve been feeling this for the last few months also, not relating to my blog zso much just in the life I’ve set up for myself. Its a very easy existence. I have everything i need and most of what i desire.
The next steps to level up r even more difficult because they require more motivation than is inherent in me at this current state in life. I will definitely be watching how u overcome this feeling of “doneness” and hope my blog can continue to challenge me and bring on a new level of lifestyle formation.

John Muldoon November 6, 2012 at 10:00 am

I read this excellent post about goal creep today: http://37signals.com/svn/posts/3304-follow-the-goal-creep

Reminded me of what you’re experiencing, Corbett. And what I’m experiencing, too.

Corbett Barr November 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Awesome, thanks for sharing John.

Wilson Usman November 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Kudos to Thinktraffic, probably best advice on getting traffic and also most transparent people on the web. That’s why I love visiting this site anytime you post something.

Corbett Barr November 7, 2012 at 10:14 am

Thanks Wilson :)

MIke Yasieniuk November 8, 2012 at 6:22 am

Corbett, it’s fantastic to see you had a great month of traffic. I understand that stumbleupon traffic is nothing to get over excited about, but I’m of the opinion that even if you convert a couple of those visitors to subscribers, those are new subscribers you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Bounce rates are high and conversion rates are low for stumbleupon traffic, but submitting links to SU takes a minute or two. Do you still think it is worth the couple minutes it might take one to submit their links to SU?

Jane November 11, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Hey Corbett, October sounds like a great month for you. But as you say, we cannot settle for mere numbers – analyzing if those numbers really matter and if that traffic converts or not is a great deal.

Stumble Upon traffic usually increases my bounce rate and gives me some raw numbers that are somewhat less useful. However I must admit that I got some loyal subscribers and readers who found me through SU.

Great going man!

Financial Samurai November 15, 2012 at 12:30 am

One of the things I recommend everybody in the Yakezie Network due is diversify their revenue. Hence, having banner ads based on a negotiated CPM will help a great deal.

I know that even if I have no affiliate sales or other revenue opportunities, I will still make a couple thousand from CPM banners on Financial Samurai given the 300k pageviews a month. Diversify your revenue streams everyone!

Sam

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