We have been blessed to build a website that has reached over 25 million unique visitors.
Over the past number of years we have built from scratch a large fashion website. You can check out the site at DenimBlog.com. It is one of the largest denim-focused sites on the web. We wanted to take some time to look back and share a couple of the things that we have learned from building this site. There are a number of things that we have done right, and many that we could have done better. So here are 9 things we learned from our first 25 million visitors.
9. Be sure to ask yourself right from the very beginning, what am I actually selling?
Selling page views doesn’t really cut it. We did this wrong from the beginning. It’s essential to have a gameplan to sell an actual product, or multiple products. People exchange their hard earned money for products and services. If your site doesn’t have a specific product or service to sell then all the work you are going to be putting into your website might not be the best use of your time.
Page views and the money coming from ad networks might seem nice at first, but there is always the creeping cost of hosting, and the fact that sometimes you might not get enough money to pay the bills. In order to make $500 a month in income from page views alone you probably have to reach around 200,000 visitors. That is a lot of people!
What you might want to consider is adding products into the mix. Amy Hoy does a great job of encouraging her students to do product focused work. You can check out her blog post on selling your first product at: http://unicornfree.com/
8. What is your plan? You gotta have a plan
A content marketing game plan is essential. Putting things down on paper and setting up a game plan for what you want to accomplish is very important.
Some things to consider:
- How often are you going to produce content?
- What type of content? (short blog posts, long blog posts, videos, podcasts etc)
- What is your budget for all the content you are producing?
- Do you have a system in place to check and see if all the money you are spending on content has a positive ROI?
Belle Beth Cooper’s post on setting up a game plan for Buffer should be required reading. She really nails it with her well researched post: http://blog.bufferapp.com/how-we-manage-a-blog-with-700000-readers-per-month
7. Turns out, it is a pain in the ass to create 2,750 blog posts a year.
Lets be honest, creating a ton of content is in fact a ton of work. Content production is not easy and its not cheap either. We have learned this the hard way that consistently cranking out post after post can be quite the challenge.
Over the past number of years we have spent over $75,000 on content production. It’s been an incredible learning experience to try to best determine how to spend money and time on creating valuable content.
If you haven’t taken the time to compliment a blogger yet, you definitely should. In fact, give them a high five. It is easy to overlook all the hard work that bloggers put into creating all their online content.
6. Surprise: People actually really like high quality content.
As it turns out people actually do like high quality content. If you take the time to create high quality images / posts / videos / podcasts then people will find you through search engines, word of mouth and social media. It might take a while, but they will.
An excellent case study on the amazing work that the Mint Life blog has done. https://www.mint.com/blog/. Notice the high quality in the posts that they create. This content marketing game plan helped Mint top the other competitors in their space and they were later sold to Intuit for $170 million.
For additional reading I recommend reading about how Alex Turnbull spends over $1,600 on each post and the positive ROI that high quality blogging has for his company. http://www.groovehq.com/blog/roi-of-blog
5. People will find you and come to your site for all different types of weird reasons. Just go with it.
Have you ever checked your google analytics for keywords people type in to get to your site? It’s probably all over the board. And that’s ok. Every visitor and pageview is a win.
Please check out this post on how they talk more about the different keywords that people use to come to their site. Keyword research from Moz: http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo/keyword-research
4. Layout and Details Matter
The way your site is laid out can have a huge difference on the amount of time people interact on our site.
An excellent resource on this is Neil Patel’s blog post where he shares how he spent over $252,000 to make sure his site was designed in the best way possible to convert visitors to buyers. Also check the second link where he goes through some of what he has learned from 5 different redesigns.
3. Hosting and content production can get really expensive.
I met with the CEO of www.Etsy.com a number of years back. At that time he told me he was spending $21,000 a month to keep his site online. Incredible. That was just the price of hosting the site and loading up all the content and images. Now granted, this is an extreme example, for a huge site. But the point is when you make your business plan it is important to account for these costs and realize that as the company grows, the costs associated with it will grow as well.
In fact, a lot of small sites will barely cover the costs that are associated with a site by using their advertising income. Its important to take the time to really understand how much money you are spending on the site vs. what you expect to get out of it. Clear expectations are essential.
2. You can’t do this by yourself, you need awesome people to help you out.
“People don’t build companies. Teams do.”
For most content marketing websites there is just no way to do the entire overwhelming workload by yourself. No way. You can try, but it’s probably going to be brutal and burn you out. As Mark Suster the venture capitalist says “People don’t build great things, teams do.” This is important to remember in every stage of your business. Recognize that some people may be better at certain things than you are and welcome their speciality into your organization.
3 Ideas for where to find great writers to help you:
- Hire from local colleges and universities
- Hire from Craigslist
- Use a job board like http://jobs.problogger.net/
1. And the most important thing we learned about 25 million visitors is that you don’t actually need 25 million visitors.
You really don’t. You just need to make money.
Just because you create great content doesn’t mean that you will make any money. Visitors are just visitors. What you actually need are conversions. You want people to take some kind of action on your site. Maybe that conversion is buying a book you wrote, or maybe its just clicking on an ad. Either way you have to have some sort of conversion that happens. While a large number of visitors and page views is awesome and great to write blog posts about, it is not necessarily going to help you pay the bills and keep your business going. The key to this is turning those visitors into conversions.
Derek Flanzirch from TheGreatist has taught me that it’s really important to create amazing quality content that also converts. Check out the guides he has for sale. Really good stuff. http://greatist.com/training-guides
Your Next Million Visitors — How to get them and increase your revenue as well !
We would love to help you grow your web business. We would love to take what we have learned from our first 25 million and help you get even more people to come to your site. We can help with all the different aspects of creating a popular site. We can do this by helping you establish and organize an editorial calendar, set up a content marketing game plan, hiring great people and organize them, and effectively manage and develop your social media.
Please reach out and drop me a message at www.Twitter.com/DaveCraige . I look forward to hearing from you.