Over the next few posts in this series, I’ll describe my plans for rebuilding a website (SimpleGiftsFarm.com) and I’ll report on the outcomes of what I’m doing.
The website started as my nursery site back in the dark ages (1997) of the Internet. Over the years, it has morphed to reflect whatever I was doing at the time.
The most recent iteration saw a valiant entomologist begin to identify insects for readers alongside various gardening how-to posts.
Insect Identification Upsides and Downsides
Insect identification became the website’s most popular feature and the content I had written slowly but surely disappeared in the rankings from Google as a traffic draw.
This meant the website morphed from a gardening one into an insect identification one. I would not have minded this if readers had responded by supporting our valiant entomologist by purchasing her e-book that was linked in every identification post. But they did not.
Even those who had an insect identified did not, for the most part, even take the time to thank her in the comments for doing so. It was a perfectly clear example of how site visitors did not value her time and effort, and I have to say I was annoyed on her behalf.
And Then I Got The Results Of Some Traffic Tests
It was about this time, the results of the gardening newsletter tests arrived on my desk as well.
The bottom line was that readers of both the newsletter and websites did not use the e-book links to Amazon for my e-books at any level that was sustainable.
And Adsense numbers had tanked relative to previous years.
We All Like Free
We all like free. (Both free speech and free beer.)
In this case, providing a free service was personally rewarding but financially impoverishing.
Without the affiliate link support or e-book sales from readers, sending a newsletter was not economically sustainable.
I was looking at a website that did not generate e-book sales or affiliate sales, a newsletter that did not support itself, and decided something had to be done. I note that AdSense results were not overly encouraging.
I took the site offline and thought about it for the past 8 months or so – and then decided things had changed.
So what has changed?
For entirely personal and sentimental reasons, I’ve decided to put simplegiftsfarm.com back online. Having said that, once the first burst of content goes live, other variables will kick in. (see below for my notes about income objectives.)
The major cost is my time (a considerable cost given my other projects that are lined up on my to-do list) as the hosting is absorbed in my general admin costs. I also already own many of the important plugins that run the backend of the site so the costs there are minimized.
My starting points.
Over the last month, I have posted approximately 50 rebuilt posts. Google has accepted there are no more insects involved and has re-indexed the website. Traffic has not yet started to flow from Google but I do not expect that to happen until the 8 to 12-week mark.
AdSense was installed on the website using a simple code that allowed ads wherever the Google software thought it was the most beneficial. This is a fully automatic system – untouched by human hands.
Traffic currently ranges from 60 to 150 page views a day.
The actual income level is around a few cents a day. Adsense projections are around $6/10K post views. In other words, for every 10,000 posts that are seen, Adsense suggests I’ll make $6.00
This isn’t a sustainable economic model.
In rebuilding the website there are variables I can control:
- Content stickiness (the words, images, videos, layouts that encourage visitors to spend time on site)
- Targetted subjects (what I write about)
- Keywords on the page (what I put on the page and how I do this.)
There are variables I cannot control:
- Click through rates
- Add values
- Reader response.
Here’s my plan
I went into my Google AdWords account, set up a keyword search and downloaded approximately 2500 keywords along with their values. This gives me both the keywords to use in crafting each post along with a possible value for each.
In other words, I start writing from the top of the list – where the keywords are more valuable – rather than from the bottom.
I can also target keywords that have high values but low competition. (In other words, they make money but there aren’t too many competing posts using those words)
Creating good content to encourage visitors to stay a bit longer is a time-honored technique on the Net and video is an excellent way to accomplish this. The data on video viewing continues to increase and video is almost essential now for some demographics.
- Every new post will have a video.
- I can’t decide how many new posts to create but with that level of support from readers, readers shouldn’t expect more than one or perhaps two a month.
- All existing posts will be rebuilt to include a video (over time – with no deadline).
- All text content will be presented with current standards of multiple headlines and short paragraphs.
- Images will be featured.
As an aside, I’ll also be adding videos to the premium membership site, DougGreensGarden, as well. With over 1000 how-to posts, and four new posts/week, that site is a bit of a monster to get a video on everything but I’ll be taking a good swing at it over the next year or three.
The initial objective is to reach at least 300 average post views per day every month.
After this first burst of content creation to achieve the target traffic, the income from the site will determine how much time goes into content creation.
The site has to pay for me to create more content. I’ll “lend” it some time to get it up and running but once my goal is met (300 uniques a day) then I’ll expect it to pay me for the work. (If you don’t get paid, you’re doing it as a hobby.)
I’m writing this in August as gardening website traffic starts its inevitable decline until December 27 when it turns upwards again. This means I’m building against the flow of reader interest.
Nevertheless, my goal is to hit this 300 post views per day by the end of November. In this way, I’ll be positioned to take advantage of the January traffic increase. (Stretch goals are a good thing I’m told.)
But Having Said That
The reality is that gardening sites aren’t huge money-makers.
In 2019, the amount of time I spend creating content for all my gardening sites will be determined by how much money they produce.
Stay tuned, I’ll report back as the adventure continues.