September 2014 Progress

September was a pretty decent month. It ended up being my second best ever and a third month of recovery since the June drop. Since I was not able to identify any particular reason for that drop, I am now inclined to mark it up as “seasonal”. I simply do not have enough stats to say for sure. I guess we’ll see next summer.

I did not generate nearly enough new content, but even if I had this would remain a priority. My employer (unrelated to my online activities) has approved my vacation at the end of the year and I hope to use a good deal of that time for writing.

September in numbers:

  • Total revenue about 5.30 Euro. (Estimate, as YouTube revenue not paid out yet.)
  • Total pageviews across all sites: 6138. A 30% increase; I’ll take it.
  • Youtube channel grew slightly, to 66 subscribers.

 

August 2014 Progress

I still suffer from the “never enough time for everything I want to do ailment”, and if I have to pick and choose where to invest my time then this “meta” site is absolutely the right candidate for the lowest priority. Still, ten months is a long time and I will aim to post at least a monthly update in the future. Let’s see if that actually works out this time.

That said, I actually had a good bit of progress in the meantime. My websites still don’t even make pocket change revenue, but I did have a 7€ record month in April. I couldn’t maintain that but the monthly average, YTD, is 3.48€ compared with a monthly average of 1.67€ in 2013.

And yes, before anybody asks: my cost are way higher than that. This is purely a hobby at this point.

Now, August:

  • Total revenue about 3€ (final numbers not out yet).
  • Total pageviews across all sites: 4683, a very marginal increase over July and June. It’s above my total average (3632 since I started logging reliably).
  • Youtube Channel now has 63 subscribers.
  • I was ill early in the month, which resulted in even less motivation and energy for my “side project” – I am still fairly happy with the amount of quality I’ve created.
  • The “long tail” Geekworker.com strategy continues to work out; the site is now at ~1800 pageviews – twice what it had in November.

So, what’s next?

Content, content, content. I want to focus on increasing the amount and quality of content I post. I still need to get over my introversion and self-promote, however I guess in the end the more and better content I have to show the more effective marketing will be.

Long-term Goal

Now that I’ve had some experience with adsense and how much revenue one can expect, I guess that I fall short by a factor of 1000. That’s where I could start living off of this. Every 20% step of that means, naturally, that I could decrease time on the main job by one day per week. I am not holding my breath, but it’s good to know how much distance there is to go.

November 2013 Progress

Yup, I know. I am not posting enough. I just seem to never have time for everything. However, I have not given up on the actual work – and this website here is a bonus.

Some notes:

  • Bartmoss Plays went on to 47 subscribers.
  • I’ve managed to post a video almost every week.
  • Record revenue for all my activities combined was just over 4€ in October, then plunged down to 2€ in November. It’s still very random, but anyway, considering that at I was at less than 10 cents per month in early 2013, I think this counts as a success.
  • December is likely going to be a low-revenue month again though.
  • The “long tail” strategy for Geekworker seems to work – check out the access stats.

gw-visits

So, what’s next?

I have a lot of work in December, even with two weeks off. I am still working on consolidating my infrastructure, and I want to migrate my DNS to Amazon’s Route 53 cloud service. This means that content creation will be on the backburner again.

Besides actually creating content I ought to attempt to market my sites a bit. Not sure how, but it’s something I need to think about…

 

 

July 2013 Progress

So, now that I am back and set myself some minor goals, how have I fared in July 2013?

Youtube:

  • I’ve kept my Bartmoss Plays YouTube Channel on a weekly scheduling basis – new videos go up at least every Monday, with small ones in between as a bonus.
  • I’ve lost two subscribers and gained four since July 4th; in total I gained 5 subs in July and am now at 30 subscribers.
  • Views are up 30%, but more importantly, the time watched has doubled compared to June.
  • My Dungeons & Drgaons Online videos remain the most popular on the channel, but the three short Guild Wars 2 videos I published had a fairly good start – for me, 10 views and three “likes” in a day is excellent.
  • My co-host is AWOL. I’ve tried to get her to schedule recording sessions, but it seems she has lost interest.
  • Revenue was (as I write this) US$0.36, up from US$0.10 in June.

Blogs:

  • From the Office to the Beach: I’ve posted twice in July, including this one.
  • Enderra: Two posts. Not stellar, but better than nothing.
  • Revenue was €0.96, down from €1.27 in June. This is almost entirely driven by Geek Worker, though, and is very, very random; there is no real trend.
  • No new sites.

Other Activities:

  • I bought a new PC. 900 Euro investment, but it was worth it. It’s much less noisy (allowing me to concentrate better when I write), it runs games better (allowing for better-looking video content) and above all it can encode 1080p videos in real time. It really helps my motivation if creating the videos doesn’t take half a day per episode.
  • I’ve just started a Steam Group – no real practical point for that yet, but may be helpful in community building later on.

Summary for July:

I’m overall fairly happy with July. Financially, I have made no progress; but at the level I am at it doesn’t really matter whether or not I gain a few percent. Right now it’s all about building a basis – producing content, making that content better, gaining an audience, and I feel that I made some progress towards this. I am motivated and getting more organized.

The loss of my Minecraft co-host is annoying – it was fun to record with her, and I think we were a good team –  but it’s not a major setback; there are so many Minecraft videos around anyway that it’s hard to stand out. I can probably find another co-host if I tried, but I think I will attempt to conclude the series on my own. And who knows, perhaps she will reconsider.

Goals and Activities for August:

I am off work for three weeks starting on August 26th. I will travel a few days, but I should absolutely make use of the extra spare time and pick one or two “todo items” that are slightly more involved.

My plan for August is:

  • Keep the video schedule. This is a top priority, and as I write this I am still lacking a video for Monday. I need to try and keep the momentum of new subscriptions if at all possible.
  • Keep posting. Let’s keep goals realistic – I need to post at least twice on Enderra.com and once on this blog.
  • Concentrate on a few sites: Don’t spread my energy all over the place or I will get nothing done.
  • Reorganize Enderra.com: I feel that the site is currently unattractive and confusing. The actual content needs to be organized better.
  • Start thinking in Products: I need to get products out, not keep busy with self-management.
  • YouTube Channel Trailer and Subscriber Special (Optional): I should create a 25 Subscribers special video as well as a Channel Trailer. Need to at least brainstorm about both.
  • New Webserver (Optional): I currently run two webservers, which cost me about 100 Euro/month in total. I should rent a new one, and consolidate the two old ones to it. That way I can save about 40-50 Euro/month. The less expenses I have, the less I need to earn before I can achieve my ultimate goal of self-reliance.

I am not sure if I will do the webserver thing, but I really should try to do it.

A Year Goes By

Can you hear that? It’s the sound of tumbleweeds tumbling in the wind. Mea culpa.

It’s been almost a year and I have done almost nothing about my blogs. It’s the Big Curse I suffer from: I have no time and energy to focus on blogging as a side activity. Most of my time is spent at work, and then I have other things to worry about as well. Family, friends…

But it’s not quite true that I did not blog at all. I have kept my worldbuilding blog reasonably up to date, I have posted a few times on Geek Worker, and I finally started something I always wanted to do, a Let’s Play Youtube channel. Yes, just for kicks, not for the money. (I allow advertisement anyway, of course.)

Working on blogs and writing is still something I really want to do, though, and so lately I have been revisiting and consolidating what I have.

  • I created Facebook pages for two blogs and the Youtube channel
  • I created a Google+ page for the channel
  • Added advertisement to the worldbuilding blog
  • Managed to get the Youtube channel onto a weekly schedule – it has 28 subs now
  • Fixed a lot of problems with analytis which crept in

The site I was actually going to build as the subject for this experiment won’t happen, because the product I was going to write about was delayed and there are good, entrenched sites that I can’t hope to compete with.

Finances

The surprising thing is that I actually do make money from my sites. Very little money, not even enough to buy lunch – For example, June earned me 1.28 Euro plus 10 Cents from the Youtube Channel. It’s a start.

So… What’s Next?

I will keep this blog updated again. No point in running an experiment if one doesn’t document it.

I will make sure to keep both the worldbuilding site and the youtube channel up to date, and ideally keep to a regular schedule. They are both things I am passionate about, so it should be easier to do. Both have very low income potential, but that’s okay.

In addition to this, I will keep posting on Geek Worker whenever I find a solution to a problem I am experiencing. The way I see it, writing them up is not a lot of work, and the more material I collect on the site, the more Google hits I will reap when people search for the problem I write about – that is, the content doesn’t really become irrelevant over time. And the CPC seems to be fairly high for some of the ads that get displayed on the site.

Finally, I will think about ONE additional site to start, as a replacement for the one I intended to work on. I will take my time to come up with a Good Idea, however.

Step Five: Pages and Legalities

I added an About page, a Contact form and an Impressum. The later is a legal requirement in Germany, where I am located.

Speaking of legal requirements, it is also necessary to deal with data protection. For a long time, Google Analytics was in a legal gray zone here in Europe (at best – a lot of people even argued that using it was illegal), but in 2011 the data protection officer of the Hamburg government came to an agreement with Google on how to comply with Germany and European law. [Link in German]

Consequently, I’ve added the code necessary to enable IP Masking in Google Analytics. This I have done by adding code to the Google Analyticator plugin:

Google Analytics IP Masking

In the Analytics settings, I disabled sharing of data with third parties as well:

Google Analytics Data Sharing

I’ve also provided a link to the Google Analytics Opt-Out plugin on the Impressum page. I’d like to place this more prominently, but my header menu hasn’t got much space left. In an ideal world, I’d like for a warning to pop out for first-time visitors, which they can then dismiss permanently.

This should meet the legal requirements, but of course I am not a lawyer and this post does not constitute legal advice.

Step Four: Comments

This is a minor step, really. Now that I have two comments on the site, I’ve integrated the following:

  • Added the “Recent Comments” Widget in the sidebar
  • Added the Comments feed in the RSS Feed Widget
  • Also added and redirected the Comments RSS Feed to Feedburner

I did not add these earlier because I did not want to have empty sections – this is probably a minor point but then I did not expect for anybody to comment so soon. However,  WordPress returned a 404 instead of an “empty” RSS feed for the comments, preventing me from actually adding it to Feedburner.

Step Three (b): Bing and its SEO

Rolf (the first person to comment on this blog – that was much faster thank I expected!) remarked that my site was indexed in Google, but not Bing. I honestly did not really think about Bing, considering it instead to be a niche product. This is not really surprising; it was known as Microsoft Live Search until May 2009. And Live Search… well. I don’t think I know anybody who used that.

Microsoft’s fortunes seem to have changed since then. Their market share – including Yahoo! and all other partners powered by the Bing engine – is just under 26%. That’s not too shabby, and certainly far from irrelevant. Obviously, ignoring a quarter of your potential audience is a very bad idea.

Bing’s SEO Feedback

I can’t say anything about the quality of their search results – a very, very superficial test did not return any obvious garbage – but surely it must work alright or it wouldn’t be able to capture 25% market share. The interface is quite okay as well – I love their daily changing picture, for example. And their webmaster tools seem quite clean as well. In fact, they have a SEO tool which gave me some basic advice:

Nothing too bad, it seems, but since I want to “do it right”, I should deal with these.

Missing an alt tag on an image is, in my humble opinion, actually the worst offender on the list – not so much because of SEO (although I guess that does make sense too; computers are still fairly bad at interpreting arbitrary pictures), but also because of accessibility. I am colorblind, myself, and while that is a far cry from actually being blind, it does mean I can at times experience first hand what it is like to be disabled. For example, there’s no way I will ever paint colorful pictures – I will get everything “wrong”. And I everything that is color-coded is posing a problem to me.

Consequently, I always make sure that images I post have an alt tag. The header image should have the site name and perhaps the motto / tagline as an alt tag. Modifying the theme is trivial, and I’ll look into whether it is possible to submit a patch to the WordPress guys for this.

I’ll have to look into the missing description in the header section issue. Unless I missed something, WordPress doesn’t have any option to add one by itself, but the SEO Ultimate plugin I use can add such a description. However, the “Meta Descriptions Module” also affects a lot of other stuff and I don’t want to enable it and change settings blindly.

Last but not least – multiple <H1> tags on the page. This is an issue I never saw or heard about. As far as I know, there is no definition on whether or not a H1 header should only be used once – as a document headline – or multiple times. Bing recommends against it, and if they keep their advice consistent with their own algorithms, the question becomes whether Google will rank  “one H1” worse than “multiple H1”. Opinions differ, but it seems that it doesn’t matter that much. I’ll probably just pay attention to it the next time I select a WordPress theme and err on the side of caution (that is, keep Bing happy).

Can’t wait for Bing to index my sites to see what else it discovers…

 

Feedburner RSS Feed Stats for my sites

Google is showing a day’s worth of statistics since I moved my RSS Feeds to Feedburner. Obviously this website is still unknown and unread, but my worldbuilding site has been around for a few years. Here are its stats, just to show what Feedburner offers you:

Enderra.com Subscribers - Pie Chart

Feedburner makes a difference between humans (actual subscribers) and bots of various descriptions. Among humans, Google Feedfetcher seems to be by far the most commonly used:

Enderra.com Human Subscribers

The “Web Browsers” category is people who clicked on the feed directly – that was probably me testing the feed.

For the Bots, the most popular by far is SimplePie, a PHP feed fetcher library. I am absolutely certain that’s the RPGBA polling my site although Google states that they factor unique IP addresses into these stats. It’s also possible that these are various spammers who subscribe to feeds in order to get posts for comment and backtrack spams.

Enderra.com Bot Subscribers

Note that I did not enable any of the advanced statistics – Feedburner can modify the links in the RSS feed so that it can tell you how much click-through you are getting on each article. I will probably enable that for a blog that I am attempting to optimize; Enderra.com is just a hobby and its key words so diffuse it will never rank very high on any search engine for anything.

Even with just the basic statistics though, I am already glad that I started using Feedburner. I learned somthing I did not know before – the blogging experiment is starting to bear (small) fruit.

Step Three: Setting Up RSS Feed, Analytics, Webmaster Tools

Now that I have a layout of sorts, it’s time to make this site ready for the public (and Google).

In order to get some additional functionality – for example, knowing how many people, if any, subscribe to it – I am running the RSS feed for this site through Feedburner. Feedburner not only gives you statistics, but also the ability to embed ads in your feeds. I use the FD Feedburner plugin to redirect WordPress Feed URLs to Feedburner. I also added the Jetpack RSS Button widget to the sidebar since the WordPress theme Twenty Eleven doesn’t have “built in” links for that.

I’ve also added Analytics to this site. For this, I like the Google Analyticator plugin. As an aside, I also use the Google Ad Wrap plugin – even though FromTheOfficeToTheBeach does not contain any advertisement right now. The Ad Wrap plugin wraps the actual content of my posts in HTML comments:

<!-- google_ad_section_start -->

<!-- google_ad_section_end -->

These comments are used by Google to determine what part of the web page is actual content as opposed to supporting structure. My theory and hope is that Google will still pick up on this even when no advertisement is used, at any rate it shouldn’t hurt to have these.

To prevent content from being indexed multiple times, I’ve edited my robots.txt file to add /category/ and /tag/ to the list of directories crawlers should ignore. I use SEO Ultimate, but for this experiment I turned everything off except the File Editor module.

I’ve registered this webpage in my Google Webmaster tools account. I like Google Webmaster tools because of the statistics and “health checks” it offers. I am also submitting my XML sitemap to Google; it is being automagically created by the XML & Google News Sitemap Feeds plugin for WordPress. This will cause Google to index the site but as I write this post that hasn’t happened yet.

Finally, my “Just do it” friend commented that I should add a Facebook “Like” button. The social media sharing buttons did include a Facebook button, but it did not look like the normal “Like” button. I looked into it and it turns out that Jetpack’s sharing module allows you to the sharing buttons to “official” styles. I did that, figuring less confusion on the function of these buttons is absolutely essential in the long run. I’ve also enabled the Open Graph Pro plugin to provide metadata to social media sites in the event someone shares an URL with them.

That pretty much covers all the basics, I think. Now that I have a functional site I can tackle some actual content – next time.