January is in the books, and it was an amazing month.
For first time readers, this is my monthly update, where I share my analytics and lessons learned from starting a website. You can read my other monthly updates on my blog.
- Best month yet - over 10k visitors!
- Successful Product Hunt launch
- Doubled my conversion rate
- $5 in revenue!
Goals vs Results
Here were the goals that I set at the beginning of the month, and how I did against them:
- Launch on Product Hunt: ➡️ Success ✅
- Visitors: 10,000 ➡️ 10,488 ✅
- New Subscribers: +200 ➡️ +434 ✅
- New Interviews: +10 ➡️ +9 ❌
- Quora answers: +30 ➡️ +20 ❌
- Pinterest pins: +200 ➡️ +300 ✅
Reddit is still proving to be the best platform for my content.
I had 4-5 different posts that did well on r/entrepreneur. This one, in particular, was my favorite. Travis, the founder of the business was super engaged in the comments, answering people's questions and allowing for the post to do even better.
What's so great about posts like these are that not only are they well accepted by the subreddit, but they provide an incentive for awesome businesses to be interviewed - this post alone garnered over 20k views on the Reddit post itself. It probably doesn't drive a huge number of sales, but at least provides some nice exposure for the business and entrepreneur being interviewed.
Launching on Product Hunt was a personal goal of mine - it was something I've been wanting to do for a long time.
One thing that I was battling was the fact that Starter Story (as a product) is not really for the Product Hunt audience. I was a bit worried about how it would do.
This is why I waited so long to launch on there - I wanted to make sure the website looked great and had enough content to be as successful as possible.
I plan on writing a more in-depth post about Product Hunt in the next couple weeks, so look out for that, but here's the high-level overview on how I did:
- Launched on Thursday, January 25th
- Reached #7 spot for the day
- Traffic up to now: ~2,000 visitors
- Subscribers: ~100
Overall, I'm happy with how I did. Reaching the Top 5 would have been awesome (you get featured on their daily email newsletter) - but oh well.
I learned a lot through the process, so look out for the PH post coming soon.
One of my goals for this past month was to start posting on Quora to try to drive traffic. I can't rely on only Reddit.
Posting on Quora is not easy - it takes some serious motivation to post quality answers. That's probably why I was only able to complete 20 answers (I had a goal of 30).
I brought in about 60 visitors from Quora. Yes, I know that sounds low, but check out these stats:
- Subscriber rate: 10%
- Average time on site: 4:30
Those numbers are far higher than my average (about 4% subscribe rate, and avg time on site is 2:17).
With the fact that Quora answers "live" longer than Reddit posts and other types of promotion, it gives me some inspiration that if I post a lot more on Quora, I can build some decent traffic.
I also made it a goal to learn more about Pinterest and try to take advantage of that.
However, I haven't seen much success at all. I got less than 10 visitors from Pinterest. But, my impressions are growing. I'm willing to keep going at for maybe a month or two more, and if I don't see improvements, I'll probably give up on it.
I had a goal of +200, and I completely smashed it! This all happened because of my increased conversion rate.
In previous months, my conversion rates were at about 2%. For this month it was over 4%!
I think this was a factor of two things:
1. Better call-to-actions
On my homepage I have a big headline. It used to say something like:
Learn from successful e-commerce businesses.
And I changed it to something like:
Learn how e-commerce businesses are earning up to $100k/mo - Get our exclusive interviews in your inbox.
I think that helped.
2. More content
By having more content, my site looked better, or more legitimate I guess. I'm assuming this helps and will continue to in the long run.
Didn't reach my goal of 10, but got 9 done. Pretty happy with that, but I want to be able to pump out more content than that.
- Snappies - $2k/month
- D*** At Your Door - $25k/month
- Combat Flip Flops - $350k/month
- Bento&co - $1.4M/month
- w.o.d.welder - $35k/month
- Happily Ever Borrowed - $5k/month
- Joker Greeting - $30k/month
- Natural Stacks - >$200k/month
- Daily Orders - $20k/month
The huge amount of cold emails I sent early in December most certainly paid off. It built up enough steam to propel me into January with a ton of interviews in the pipeline, and I stopped searching for new interviews actively for most of January.
I'm also getting a good amount of interview requests these days, which is awesome.
Revenue & Costs
Are you ready for this one?
- Amazon Affiliates: $5.00 😂
- Boomerang (Gmail tool): $5
- Tailwind (Pinterest scheduler): $10
- Grammarly: $20
- AWS: $5
I also had 3 signups through my Shopify referral link. If those materialize (if they don't cancel), they would be worth $60 each, or $180 total. So there is some hope!
Important decision I made
I always knew this in the back of my mind, but I have materialized how important it is to show revenue numbers for the businesses I interview.
Although it sounds superficial, people don't want to read a 1,500+ word interview without having some sort of signal that the business is successful. Even if the content of the interview is amazing, a lot less people will actually read it.
It is why I've decided to only interview businesses that are willing to share their revenue figures, and I plan to do that moving forward.
Some businesses that I had interviewed had not provided the number, so I reached out to them to see if they would. Most of them agreed, which was awesome, and only one did not. Unfortunately, I had to remove their interview (which felt really shitty), but I felt that it was important to keep the front page consistent and move forward with this requirement.
I also removed all of the non e-commerce interviews I had done early on (before I had made the full pivot to e-commerce). I am now declining any interview requests that are not e-commerce focused.
I changed up the design of the site significantly. After getting some pretty harsh (but important) feedback that my site looked too similar to Indie Hackers, I decided to change up the design.
I did the redesign two days before the Product Hunt launch, so it was a bit of a hack, but overall, I'm happy with it.
I also finally started using a CMS for the content. Before, I was hard coding all of my content with code, which was becoming really time consuming and not fun. Now, I'm using Contentful to write my interviews, which is going to save me a lot of time and headache.
Goals for next month
Although February is a short month, I want to set the bar high:
- 12 interviews
- 15k visitors
- 700 subscribers
- 50k total views on Quora answers
I think it will be really, really hard to hit these, but I need to at least try to do better than last month.
- Reach out to 5 similar sites for cross post:
I want to reach out to some other blogs in my niche to see if they would be interested in cross-posting any of my interviews. This is a great way to build SEO, traffic, as well as relationships with these sites.
- Reach out to 5 potential sponsors:
I want to try to get a sponsor on my email newsletter in exchange for some money. Although my email list is small, it's very targeted to e-commerce. I at least want to start some of these conversations and see what is out there.
- Create e-commerce tools page:
This one I'm excited about, because it involves coding, and adding a new "feature" to Starter Story. I want to have a page that lists out many of the e-commerce "tools" out there, such as Shopify, MailChimp, etc.
I think this would be valuable to readers, and it promotes an opportunity to use my referral links.
- Learn Tailwind Tribes:
This is a feature for Tailwind - a Pinterest scheduler I use. In order for me to make a decision on continuing with Pinterest, I need to at least try this out and see if it can help.
- One non-interview, e-commerce focused blog post:
One thing that's in the back of my mind is SEO. I can't promote on Reddit forever. I need to write content that is SEO-friendly to drive traffic to my site. This is why I'm planning on creating just one long-form blog post about e-commerce. We will see how that goes.
Thanks for reading. See you next month!
Want to start your own business?
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help others get started.
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