An Update on Traffic, Earnings, & More [Authority Site Duel]
It’s been a long time since I’ve written an update dedicated to my Authority Site Duel site.
Although you may see my earnings (or lack thereof) in my monthly income reports, you don’t really get to see what’s happening behind the scenes. Progress has been slow and steady, but continues to head in a positive direction.
Given the fact that my Slow Carb Diet Experiments site is in the health & diet niche, I expected things to move rather slowly, but I’m still confident that I can continue to get the site to grow.
Here’s what’s been going on with the site…
Traffic is what I focus on above all other metrics (earnings, etc.) because traffic is the source of everything good when you own a blog or website. No traffic means no….anything.
For along time, my traffic growth was pretty flat. Every day there were between 30-50 unique visitors, and it didn’t seem like that number was growing. Recently, however, I’ve noticed an uptick in traffic thanks to a lot of sharing via Pinterest.
Here’s what the traffic looks like since the beginning of this past December:
As you can see, traffic has more recently been in the 60-80 visits per day range instead of the 20-50 I was used to seeing over the past few months.
Given the length of my posts and the fact that most of them are recipes (i.e. they are shorter in length), I think a bounce rate of 61.75% isn’t too bad. I think the average visit duration is a bit lower than it used to be because a lot more of my traffic is coming from Pinterest.
Pinterest traffic is high quality (because most people are essentially bookmarking your page for future use), but when they initially visit a recipe (for example), they’re not actually using it yet. Therefore, they don’t stay on the page as long.
Here’s a breakdown of my traffic over that time period:
It’s clear that I haven’t yet made much progress with search engine rankings. Google has provided about the same amount of traffic as Yahoo and Bing, but I’m actually ranking better for my target keywords on Yahoo/Bing.
Most of my Google traffic is from people either Googling my URL or “slow carb diet experiments”, which I of course rank #1 for because it’s the name of the blog. Otherwise, Google hasn’t yet been kind to the site. I can’t help feeling like there might be some kind of over-optimization penalty in play either with my on-page keyword density or the anchor text of my backlinks.
Pinterest has been the best traffic source for the site, and to me that isn’t surprising. Food-related sites tend to do very well with Pinterest, assuming you can take good pictures of food. One of the things that has really helped me gain more traffic from Pinterest is this plugin, which makes it really easy for people to pin various images within each of my posts.
Ultimately, this is what everyone (including myself) is interested in. It’s great that the traffic is increasing, but is the site earning any money?
Up until recently, I made no real attempts to monetize the site outside of a handful of Amazon affiliate links placed in random places throughout my posts. Now, I’ve started integrating ads from Media.net.
Earnings have been minimal, but given my traffic numbers, the Media.net ads are probably doing just as well AdSense would have done. I placed the ads on the site earlier this month and they have, so far, generated about $4.00. Obviously, that’s nothing to get excited about.
It’s important to keep in mind that the food niche isn’t necessarily a hot niche for ad revenue. I suspect I will need a substantial amount of traffic to start earning anything respectable from these ads. Also, I can test the ad placement and design to see what might give me better results. Right now I have one ad block within each post (near the top), and one tower ad in the sidebar (“below the fold”).
I thought Amazon would do a lot better, but so far, it’s been a disappointment. Over the past month or so, the site has generated over 250 clicks and only one sale. It doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that this conversion rate is really bad. Again, this could be niche related – people who are browsing recipes may not be in a buyer’s mindset.
Nevertheless, people are always buying from Amazon, so just getting them to click on the link is really most of the battle. I plan on sticking with Amazon for awhile longer on the site, because I still think it can do a lot better than it has been.
The Mailing List
One other way I plan on making money eventually with this site is through the mailing list I’m building (via Aweber). Currently, I have about 40 subscribers. When it’s all said and done, I think any real money I make with this site will be with the list.
During the holidays, I can point people to a post that contains lots of Amazon affiliate links (such as “Top 10 Gifts for Amateur Cooks”), and if I eventually come out with my own product (be it an eBook, a course, or some other digital product), the list will be the key to making sales.
Overall Thoughts & Looking Forward
While progress has been slow on this authority site, it has so far been my favorite site that I’ve built. Cooking has become a real hobby of mine, and even if I have trouble actually sticking to the slow carb diet, I enjoy coming up with new recipes that taste good and fit the rules of the diet.
People always say to “follow your passion“, and it’s become so cliche that I feel weird even mentioning it. The reason it’s important to write about things that genuinely interest you though is because you will continue to work at it even when things aren’t going well. If my authority site was about something I had no interest in (such as women’s handbags), I would’ve easily given up months ago.
I still believe this authority site has a lot of potential as long as I continue to build the traffic and e-mail list. The only way that’s going to happen is if I keep cranking out new content, and that’s definitely something I plan on doing. In such a competitive niche, persistence is probably the #1 factor that sets the leaders apart from everyone else.
Anyway, enough about me. How is your authority site doing? Leave a comment below!