Six months blogging milestone

Only six months? I feel like I am doing this for years. :)

I picked three months periods to sum up my blogging experience and set goals. So here is my second milestone.

Readership

Number of visitors in last three months is somewhat unstable. In a good way (averaging 14% monthly growth) – that means ball is rolling somewhere and only thing I can do is keep it moving.

In last month I had 2000+ visitors (+0, Christmas was evil to me) and 13000+ since beginning (+9000 ). So despite slow end of year actual number of readers doubled.

6months_visitors

Number of RSS subscribers is slowly (comparing to initial fast start) and steadily rising, currently hovering near 220 (+80). I suggest to those who hadn’t yet take a look at my updates page . My precious subscribers can add some feedback and testimonial to why are you reading my RSS feed post.

6months_rss

450+ comments were made (+90). I won’t list contributors this time because there are more regular visitors and I am saving deep research for when I reach 1000 comments (which might be soon). Big thanks to all that consider this blog worthy of your time to spend writing a comment! I hope you find my posts, answers and discussions useful.

Content

85 posts were made (-22). There was less small posts with minor stuff and I learned to let it go on bad days instead of torturing myself to write something. In various feedback I often hear readers saying that they like my pace so it’s about right and I will keep it. I’ve explored scheduling posts ahead and it’s very good practice but is takes calm day and right mood to produce 2-3 posts at once. Will try to do it more often.

Top pages:

  1. Getting rid of software with Revo Uninstaller (huge StumbleUpon spike)
  2. https://www.rarst.net/ (lost by few dozens visitors to Revo)
  3. DrWeb LiveCD – free bootable antivirus (Google, Yahoo)
  4. Edit files on FTP with Notepad++ plugin (Google)
  5. NewsGator family of RSS readers (StumbleUpon, gHacks )

It’s good to see that jumpy and inconsistent traffic of early months is slowly getting replaced with consistent traffic streams. Post on DrWeb LiveCD was liked by Google accidently but I managed to do it deliberately with post on using FTP plugin in Notepad++ . My first and only SEO achievement so far.

By the way I was pretty amazed on how much content overall I was able to produce while compiling digest for 2008 .

Traffic

Can’t say I got better at building traffic. It’s still probabilities, but there are more and more of them so there are more and more visitors. I could easily (ab)use StumbleUpon for few more spikes but I am hesitant to leverage that because it’s clearly grey hat zone.

Top traffic sources:

  1. StumbleUpon (26%, +10%)
  2. Google (20%, +10%)
  3. Direct (19%, new in top)
  4. gHacks (5%, +1%)
  5. Freeware Genius (4%, –7%)

StumbleUpon is going strong and I started to get some search traffic. Strong entry of direct traffic is curious – is it RSS? Word of mouth? gHacks finally overtook Freeware Genius with few good in-content links versus blogroll one. Kudos to Martin and Samer! Your blogs were inspiration for starting Rarst.net and your support means a lot to me.

Entrecard is taking dive and approaching drop zone fast. It is still quite a few visitors but in few more months it will become not worth sidebar spot and after some rules changed it’s now prohibited to participate without using widget.

I had only recently started to use Twitter and it’s too early to tell but traffic from there rises fast and already passed some long established blogroll links.

Google

I think Google is mistaking my blog for rollercoaster. Went to Page Rank 3 (+1) but search traffic swings are insane.

6months_google

At least average seems to be slowly raising. Search traffic is supposed to come with time. I hope. Since slightly improving my design skills SEO is new terrible at area. I’ve tried hard to ignore it but time approaches when I really need to fix blog internals for SEO and learn up on keywords stuff.

Design

I’ve spent New Year Eve and few days off after working like a slave on last areas that needed complete makeover – header and footer. Quite pleased with result taking in account my poor design skills. RSS subscribers should visit and take a look. ;) I’ve also almost cleared list of plugins I needed to try (and there was a lot on that list).

There are still some things that need polishing and one complex plugin to integrate. After that it’s optimization pass and I will hopefully have something close to first final iteration in months.

Monetizing

$0.00

No tackling monetizing at all. With rising traffic I could probably make some bucks already. Actually by some activities unrelated directly to my blog (like Reader Blog Critique Project ) I’ve made over twice in cash of what I spent on hosting so far. And over ten times in different stuff and services from participating in contests and group writings.

My biggest roadblock is PayPal since I can’t accept payments and so cut off from numerous opportunities. I won’t try for some more time most probably but sooner or later I’ll have to sit and figure out how to turn some of time put in this blog into money.

Goals for last three months

  1. Finalize design. Fail . Did a lot of work but still not there.
  2. Work on branding. Less conscious effort more actual results. It’s hard for me to judge but I think blog-related online activity made me times more visible and known then I ever was in all years online.
  3. Build traffic. Doubled , not bad I think.
  4. Produce more guest posts. Fail . I still have some tails with those and I did much less then I was hoping to.
  5. Increase interaction with readers. More comments, more Skribit suggestions, more hanging out on Twitter.
  6. Get myself better mobile device. Instead of changing smartphone I’ve bought Nokia N810 internet tablet and it increased my productivity a lot while away from desktops. Excellent device and I will do full review in the future.

Goals for next three months

  1. Finalize design.
  2. Start to learn SEO.
  3. Figure out possible monetizing opportunities.
  4. Produce social strategy and focus on it.
  5. Keep up the overall pace.

Notice that I am working on healing from traffic and stats obsession. :) Less looking around, more doing useful stuff.

Overall

I am bit scared looking at amount of time, work and dedication I put in this blog. Few None of things in my real life get that much attention. Not even talking about online. Where will it all lead me?

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25 Comments

  • For 6 months these figures are impressive. Well done. I see you have the same problem I have with PayPal, I also cannot withdraw funds. I occasionally transfer money to my PP account so that I can purchase various things on-line but that is all I can do with the account.

  • I’ve had about five months with my site. I probably plan on releasing a few of my stats as well soon.

    My main sources of traffic is
    Google
    Direct

    StumbleUpon gives me so so

    I use Facebook and recently started using reddit.

    My last five months visits have been 2,600, 2,560, 3,300, 3,700, and 4,480. This month seems to lean towards 6,000.

    I’m lacking subscribers. I only have 30. So I’m going to work on that.

    Money-wise? I’ve made around $40 this month with Google Adsense and other…

    I’ve learned a couple of things with this post! It’s good to hear you are doing good as well! Your content is great. Don’t stop. =]

    Expect me to make a report soon! :D

  • @Lyndi

    I find hard to determine what is impressive, some people would easily achieve more in same time, some wouldn’t ever achieve even this much. I’ll just keep the ball rolling.

    PayPal sucks, I wish I could at least get incoming money into PayPal account to spend on improving blog (without turning into cash) but can’t do even that.

    @Diego

    Glad Google works for you (unlike for me). :)

    Big thanks to both of you for always being around, always reading my posts and always leaving comments!

  • These look like good stats to me! This is the first comment I’ve made but i’ve been subscribed for three or four months and love your site. Just setting my own website up at the moment so I’m keenly following yours. Cheers for the update. :)

  • @JonnyDog

    Converting lurkers into commentators is good sign for a blog. :) Thank you and all other subscribers for reading my blog daily!

    Great choice of theme at your blog. Good luck with your blogging – it’s interesting experience. :)

  • You are off to a great start! With your stats, I would defiantly start looking into some profitable monetizing opportunities.

  • @Tara

    Thanks. :) Monetizing is slightly out of my zone, I am mostly techie. In next few months I will probably finish design and other technical issues (blog is great toy :) ) and will move on to SEO and monetizing.

    At moment I have some trouble picturing what kind of advertisment or affiliates my readers will be interested in. It’s going to be a lot of researching and figuring it out.

  • @Donace

    Thanks! Still in traffic I seem to be lagging behind people leaving comments, not enough work on promotion probably. :)

    My top day was something around 1600+ from SU. I managed to miss that, looked at GA day later and was freaked out by giant spike. :)

    I am not too obsessed with traffic because my goal is blog that is able to support itself. Some people spend one-two hours daily on Entrecard and are happy with traffic it brings… Until they skip few days and it poofs.

    So since monetizing is not a priority I can take my time for exploring and experimenting. SEO is probably best strategy in long term but I am so clueless it will take some time to get it. My excuse is that each day domain and incoming links get older and I survived sandbox effect without burning much nerves. :)

  • Hey way to go. Those are great stats. With the great content you have you should easily be able to monetize the site. Take a look at Affiliate Marketing through Clickbank, Amazon – Great book that I recommend the Super Affiliate Handbook.
    Good luck, I’ll keep reading your great posts.

  • Some sweet stats man; Made me look back at mine and I realised my blog is just over 7 months old now! (officially became a blog on May 31st, 2008)!

    Until about late October my traffic was useless (20-30 a day, On october 28 I decided to market the site a bit and hit 989 unique hits in one day!

    Since that day I have been working primarily on SEO and Using good-tutorials.com and tutoralized.com to drive traffic. I’m Happy to say I get between 180-220 unique a day.

    30% of these from search engines.
    54% via backlinks
    15% Direct

    My aim for the next few months is to ofc build more traffic (last 3 months averaging about 5k, going to do some social bookmarking etc, though Stumble doesn’t work on my site), some RSS subscribers (though not to fussed about this yet) and make some cash for hosting (currently $1 a month :p)

  • @Luca

    Thanks! I am glad you like my content and keep visiting for few months already (you was lured to comment by my previous milestone as well ;) ).

    And thanks for suggestions, keep them coming. I have bookmarks folder for piling up links on different topics for blog. Almost cleared plugins folder so filling SEO and monetizing ones bit by bit.

    By the way for regular readers who share my passion to RSS for information consumption – I am adding subscribers and testimonials on https://www.rarst.net/updates/

    So if you are commenting anyway and like RSS then add few words about it please! :)

  • Congratulations for completing 6 months. You publish posts regularly and the posts are interesting. Great stats!

    don’t worry. the future will be great for you!

  • @Nihar

    Thanks! I appreciate you being regular reader and leaving plenty of comments. :)

    I am working on not worrying. I am not even depressed over comments above from people that have more traffic – see! :)

  • I second what others have said. For 6 months this is excellent.

    And the quality of what you have done here is impressive. Good work!

  • @Samer

    Thanks! Maybe some day I’ll rival Freeware Genius. ;) Would take aproximately five years to infinity from now to get there, lol.

  • I don’t think I have ever seen that many comments in a post here, good job! ;) Or maybe is it stats posts that attract comments? I don’t know, but whatever it is congrats!

    I think you are on the right path for 2009.

    I just had a quick look at your page’s source (because I care about your Google traffic) and noticed that for all your pages, the title is actually your blog name or more precisely http://www.Rarst.net. This is good for your home page, but in single posts like this one, you want your H1 to be the title of your post. By having your blog’s name as the H1 on all your pages, it’s more or less like saying to Google your pages are about the same subject: http://www.rarst.net.

  • @Ben

    Nah, post with most comments (47) is Dropbox invites giveaway. If not forever then for a very long time. :)

    Thanks for being faithful reader!

    H1 heading you mean, title is fine. I am aware that headings (and rest of that stuff) are totally screwed. This theme is natively very weak for SEO it seems.

    That would all need fixing after I am done with design. :(

  • No problems Rarst!

    Yep, I talked about the H1 heading. I understand it’s all part of design, but it’s fairly quick to change. By the way, I’ve seen some websites using two H1 heading on the same page, one for the name of the website and one for the title of the post.

    Good luck with the design! ;)

  • @Ben

    It would be quick to change if whole freaking CSS, widgets and some more weren’t tied directly to those specific tags. :(

    I will get to it… Eventually. :)

  • These are very impressive stats for the time period. Lots of comments, wish I knew the secret of how you got that.
    I don’t get many comments on my blog at all, not sure why. I get good traffic and I don’t think my posts suck, so it gets me to wonder if I am actually doing something wrong.
    I have tried adding images to my posts and that wasn’t the case either. So, I wonder if I am not getting enough targeted traffic? I also participate with other blogs related to my niche, but less than 3% return the favor.

    However it is a good thing that my web directories are the money makers which keeps the blog alive. I plan to give things another six months to see what my next move is as in continuing the present format of the blog.

  • @Madmouse

    I’ve covered related topic of getting questions from readers:
    https://www.rarst.net/web/encouraging-questions/

    I think building up comments require a lot of:
    – attention
    – time
    – personality

    I lack in personality so I make sure that I pay attention to every single comment and keep it going. It takes weeks and even months for lurking regular visitors to drop their first comment, it’s important to make them aware it was appreciated.

    Let’s flip this – you had made three good relevant comments here today (thank you!). Why had you decided to do this? What reaction you expected from me? What benefit you expect for yourself?

    Think what makes you leave comments.

    I know for me it’s when blogger cares about me as reader (that wasted some time to actually make comment) and is willing to keep discussion going. So that’s exactly what I try to offer my readers.

    Need to check your blog later this evening. :) I had it bookmarked (seen you at nice2all I think)… Somewhere… Sometimes I save stuff for later and it becomes realyl long later.

  • @Rarst

    I do pay a lot of attention and time when it comes to people who comment on my blog. At times I tend to also lack in the personality which attracts people like a magnet.

    I made comments on your blog because you offer things which I am interested in and because they are related to my blogs niche.
    I spend much time looking for other blogs which I can learn from and that helps me to improve my blog as well. The reaction I wanted is that if you found my comments to contain substance, then you would take the time to respond to my comments.

    The benefit that I am aiming for myself is to make new blogging friends which I can network with.

  • @Madmouse

    If I get more ideas after looking at your blog I’ll tell you. :)

    By the way I think bloggers are focused on other blogger bit too much. Natural because a lot of people leaving comments are bloggers (even more so in tech niche) but bulk of visitors actually aren’t.

  • @Rarst – I appreciate that you are taking time out to look at my blog and for your ideas.

  • […] skipped comments analysis at half year blogging mark because I wanted to reach nice round number. Took one more month but I am there at last and it is […]

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