It’s time for a quick recap of October!
Last month was almost exclusively focused on improving one thing for all my websites: page speed.
To be honest, my websites have never been dramatically slow, but with load times around 3-4 seconds, I always felt that there’s room for improvement.
Since I am spending this entire year focusing exclusively on on-site optimisation, it was only a matter of time before I decided to work on improving the time it takes for my websites to be displayed to visitors.
I’ve tried to tackle this issue from a few different angles:
- Server plan upgrade: This was long overdue. I had been hesitant to change my hosting plan to a bigger one, mostly because I wanted to save a little bit of money. I realized that the slow loading speed of all my websites was not worth the few bucks saved. So I just went ahead and moved to a bigger server with my hosting company.
- Server software upgrade: I have been running my websites on the same server for years and some part of the software had not been upgraded at all since I first started using this server. New versions came with some major improvements in speed.
- Premium DNS: In order to shave a few extra hundred milliseconds from every page load, I have experimented with DynDNS (a premium DNS provider that you need to pay on top of your hosting plan). The DNS provider job is to store the address of your website so when people visit your pages, it redirects them to your server. For my particular needs, this service was overkill and didn’t actually improve the load times, so I simply canceled it after a few days.
- Cache plugin & page preload: I have also been playing with the cache plugin on all my websites. By forcing page preload, I am making sure that every time a visitor comes to my websites, the pages have already been pre-rendered, and there is no complicated computation needed anymore. The pages look exactly the same for the visitors, but it dramatically improves performance in the back-end.
- Lazy-loading images: Lazy loading is the process of loading resources, mainly pictures, only when they’re actually needed. When you think about it, it makes sense that when a visitor hits a page on your website, you don’t need to load the pictures at the very bottom of the page. The visitors might never scroll so far. Lazy-loading allows pages to load much faster, because they’re lighter, and it also saves a lot of resources (which is good for your hosting plan, and also for your visitors if they have a cap on their monthly data plan).
With that being said, I must address another topic I didn’t really talk about too much for the past few months: my ecommerce stores.
I was supposed to be shutting them down months ago, but against all odds, I keep pushing back the deadline.
Alright, so you may be wondering why I didn’t shut down my 2 online stores yet… And the reason is as simple as it gets: they keep making money.
They’re not making thousands of dollars, but if you consider the fact that I’m barely spending any time working on these stores, there is really no reason for me to close them just yet.
The only work I’m doing consists of fulfilling orders, and answering a couple of customers’ questions every week.
100% of the sales are coming either from search traffic and email traffic. Since my email sequences were all set months ago, it means that I spend exactly 0 minute each month to promote these stores. It’s all happening on autopilot.
As you can see in the chart above, my average order value is still above the average cost per sale. In October, the return on investment was actually really good: 83%. That means that for each $1.00 spent to run these stores, I made $1.83. Not too shabby when considering that I have barely worked on these stores at all in October.
I’m still waiting for the month when these stores will stop being profitable and I’ll simply shut them down, but I’m not going to close them just yet as they made a little over $500.00 in profit last month.
WS1 Website (Launched 2013)
This website is targeting seasonal products (spring and summer), so I wasn’t surprised to see the traffic go down a bit compared to previous month. October ended up being my worst month since last May.
As you can see in the table, it was the best month this year in terms of click-through-rate and number of clicks, and the number of products sold stayed somewhat stable. However, the average revenue per product sold decreased significantly. It indicates that the products sold were cheaper than previous months.
In October, I spend a few hours tweaking my cache plugin for this website to improve the website speed for visitors and I saw some nice improvements. I’ll see in the next few months if it impacts the bounce rate, and rankings in Google.
WS2 Website (Launched 2015)
I have been pleasantly surprised to see that this website’s traffic keeps improving. It looks like the changes I made in September are starting to bring in some positive results.
I’m not going to get overly excited about this website just yet because the revenue is ridiculously low compared to my other websites. It’s mostly an experiement with Adsense at this point.
WS3 Website (Launched 2015)
This website keeps disappointing month after month. A while ago, I completely revamped the content of this website and reorganised and consolidated all the pages around some common topics.
I was expecting a drop in traffic, but not nearly as bad as what’s actually happening…
This website that was once worth almost $100,000 received a whopping 536 visitors last month (Yes, this is irony. There’s nothing whopping about this number).
At this point, I’m just wondering how low the traffic will fall before it eventually starts coming back up. Only time will tell.
WS4 Website (Launched 2018)
This website is where I put all my hopes and effort for the next few months / years. So far, the growth has been extremely slow, mostly because I refuse to actively build any link to the website. All growth will have to happen because the website will be worth linking to.
After 10 months of hard work, the website finally broke the 1,000 visitors mark! Yay! It received 1,205 visitors to be exact.
I am fully aware that 1,000 visitors in a month is nothing to brag about, but I’m happy nonetheless. I am a firm believer that every success and achievement, no matter how small, should be celebrated.
Now the part that gets me REALLY excited is that this website had a RPM (revenue per thousand visitors) of $260.34. When you consider that the industry-wide average RPM for this kind of website is about $40, that means I must definitely be doing something right when it comes to website & conversion funnel optimisation.
1205 people visited this website last month (almost 2x previous month). These visitors were converted into $313.71 in revenue (almost 3x previous month). This means that this website had a stunning $260.34 revenue per thousand visitors.
I’ve also decided to start sharing information directly from Google Webmaster Tools with you. This way you will see exactly how WS4 is doing in Google search results.
In October, this website had over 80k impressions on Google. These impressions resulted in 544 clicks, which means an average click-through rate of 0.68%. The average position in Google results pages was 50.3.
The following chart shows the cumulated revenue and expenses to date for each month. Additionally, it shows the current website value as well as the return on investment before and after selling the website (if I decide to sell it).
From the start of this project until the end of last month, this website generated $745.58 in revenue. I spent $9,240.06 since this website’s inception, which means a net loss of $8,494.48. In other words, that’s a 92% loss so far.
However, by using a conservative 25x multiplier on the average revenue of the past 3 months, we can calculate this website value: $4,542.08. By selling this website, I would reduce my loss to $3,952.40. That would be a 43% loss on my investment.
Of course I’m still years away from a potential sale for this website, but I’m keeping track of these numbers to know the trend, as well as the evolution month after month.
What about the money?
Here is a breakdown of the money flow for my various projects.
To make this report easier to understand, I’m using a simple color code: green numbers are positive, red numbers are negative.
Please keep in mind that these figures may not be 100% accurate due to various factors such as refund requests and network adjustments. The terms for each payment may also vary. As a result these numbers may differ from the actual payments issued and received.
|Cost of Goods||-$215.74||▲ $27.02|
|Payment Fees||-$48.66||▲ $3.31|
|Other Sites||$184.40||▼ $163.32|
At this point, I don’t really know what to say about this year anymore… Another month, another loss.
Let’s focus on the bright side, shall we? The only reason why I had another month with a loss is that I’m heavily investing in content for WS4.
As a matter of fact, if I was not building this new website, I would have lost money only in May this year. Every other month would have been profitable.
The reason why I keep pushing forward is that I know the potential of this particular website. And while its growth is extremely slow, it is still growing consistently month after month, and that’s all that matters.
What’s happening next?
The holiday season is right around the corner! Next month is Black Friday and Cyber Monday… And December will be all about Christmas shopping.
It’s getting me extremely pumped to see how WS4 will be doing for its first holiday season ever.
My strategy for November is going to be more of the same: more content, more editing, more growth.
Stay tuned for the next update!