Tue Dec 27, 2005 9:12 am
It's the time of the year to greet Janus, the god with two faces, one looking forward and one looking back. It's also a good time for me to sum a year of active site building (as opposed to a year of sitting on my butt doing nothing. So stupid).
I started my first SBI site in 2003. I was just back from Tuscany, I have always loved Italy and travel, so I took travel to Tuscany as my site concept. To tell the truth - I love Paris just as much, but it is very competitive, so I stayed with Tuscany.
At the time I was unemployed, and looked for a way to make a living on the Internet. I started the site and got to about 16 pages with one of the default look and feel templates (there were only a few back then) and no other graphic at all. There was no Google adsense, no forums, and I didn't even finish going through the action guide.
When I reached 16 pages I found a job, and had no time to spend on building a site. Every few weeks I would take a look at the traffic stats, just out of curiosity. For a very long time they were extremely low, than just a little better. Things (like being found in search engines)were mysteriously happening, but not much. I came to the conclusion that it was just a waste of money and time, and decided to let my site expire.
Then, one day I found a check in the mail. It was a check from Commission Junction for $417. I was very excited! After all it was possible to make money even with a few lame pages and no activity. This was in December 2004. A year ago. I renewed my subscription when it was almost too late, and started from scratch.
All that remained from the first phase of my site was the domain name (that I think could have been better), and some affiliate programs. I started using any spare time that I had to learn about site building and rebuild my site. I read the action guide again, read MYCPS and spent a lot of time in the forums.
At the time my site wasn't listed by any search engine (Yahoo, that sent me some traffic before dropped all my pages, and so did all the others). I took Anne-Marie's advice from the forums on how to get into Yahoo. It was very important to me, because it made me feel I had influence on what happens to my site. I wasn't just sitting there, and praying to be found.
Then there was Google Adsense - I implemented it, again according to advice from the forums (The famous Debs tip), and immediately saw some money. The sums are small, but they are there. Every little success pushed me to work for the next little success. I worked on incoming links, posted to forums, added more pages and graphics and found new good monetization options.
I was so excited about the money from Google in January that by Valentine's day I couldn't help myself and got another site on the sale. I planned to give the second site to my husband, but he wasn't very enthusiastic about all this work, so I ended up with 3 sites.
So, after a year of work, this is what I have to show for:
3 sites, all about vacation in Italy in different stages of building
Almost 300 web pages
About 400 incoming links in Google
A little over $2000 earnings
small traffic (I consider it small) - about 40 visitors per day, depends on the season.
A lot of knowledge I didn't have last year.
The great feeling of being able to earn money without being someone else's employee.
As you can understand, if it stays at this level of traffic and income, this is not a viable business. I cannot support a family with this. However, I believe I can make it grow. I started a newsletter, wrote a few articles, and I keep doing the action guide in loops. I believe that Each stage of the guide needs to be revisited over and over again. The only stage that can only be done once per site is the domain name registration. All the rest is a constant process of learning and improving.
My goals for next year?
The title would be - Generate enough income to keep going
I know money isn't everything, but my bank thinks otherwise, and I have to keep them happy.
Trying to break it down into goals and action items:
* Have 1000 visitors per day
* Earn more than $1500 per month (to justify another year trying to raise this number)
* Build new ways of monetization
* Have 500 subscribers to my newsletter
* Rank better on search engines
* Build more content pages
* Write 1 article per week per site
* Write a newsletter once a month
* Post 5 messages on travel forums every day
* Travel to Italy to improve my knowledge (and enjoy, that's the whole point!)
My greatest fear is not of failing. If I fail miserably I will know what to do. I would leave this subject and try a different one, because I know success is possible.
I'm afraid to be stuck in the middle. Not succeeding nor failing. I'm afraid of finding myself at a point where it's not obvious that I should continue, but it's a pity to stop.
I love the image of the tortoise, and I keep doing small slow steps uphill. But what if the tortoise is going in the wrong direction? Is there a finishing line in any direction you go?
I hope I'm walking in the right direction, since I plan on spending the next year walking in that direction.
Have a happy and successful 2006!!