The Bioneer Blog – 3 Month Progress/Income Report and Lessons Learned

By on July 30, 2014

So I launched this blog a while back (May the 7th in fact) with the hopes of finally making a proper go of running a blog to generate income. I’ve been running my last website – ‘The Biomatrix’ – for about seven years, but it had never reached the point where it brought in all that much income. At its peak it was making me about $200 a month and in its lifetime it probably only made a few K. Why? Because I insisted on coding everything myself (at one point it was entirely in PHP… because I have issues) and had some pretty ugly designs (a friend described the first iteration as ‘an 80s vision of the future’), because I concentrated on short-term money making articles (‘How to Get Six Pack Abs Like Brad Pitt!!’), because I rarely promoted it (and I used dodgy SEO techniques when I did) and because I wasn’t at all consistent in terms of regular updates or quality even. Fair enough then I suppose…

thebiomatrix

So finally I decided to bite the bullet and let The Biomatrix give way to a new blog where I would do everything by-the-book. Hence, from the ashes of the Biomatrix, The Bioneer was born like a phoenix… This time I was going to actually put in time and effort to deliver high quality content, I was going to focus on just a single website and I would do everything by the book. The Bioneer uses WordPress which is tried and tested, and each article is highly researched and I believe offers something new that isn’t on every other fitness/self-development site.

Nearly three months have passed, so how is it going? And what advice can I share re: the launch of a new blog?

The Views

After three months I’m currently getting 100-200 unique hits on the blog a day. That’s pretty good I think, and especially as this number regularly goes up whenever I promote a new article.

How did I get to this point in such a short space of time? By promoting on social media, and particularly through Google+ (which Moz’s survey also found was one of the most important factors for search rankings on Google) as well as through Reddit. Google+ communities are a great place to share new content relevant to a website I’ve found as long as you choose the right niche and write some content with the post to avoid getting deleted by the moderators. The great thing as well is that quieter communities keep your posts at the top of their page for ages – I’m still getting a trickle of visits from posts I put there a month ago.

Reddit has proven more hit or miss, but the hits are big. My biggest hit was with my guide to ‘Almost Every Bodyweight Exercise Ever’. I shared this 3,000 word+ post to the ‘Bodyweight Fitness’ subreddit, and that day I got over 4,000 unique page views. You could consider that a success! Unfortunately the moderators on that sub were dicks about it, but hey – I’m now permanently at the top of their ‘Top Rated’ listing so jokes on them… A similar success came when I posted my guide to the human brain (another 2,000 word+ diatribe) to the Nootropics sub which got a few hundred hits. And the community over there are really supportive, nice guys and gals. ‘How I Made £15,000 From an Android App’ was also a big hit over at the Android Developers sub.

thebioneer-stats

At the same time as written content, I’ve also been focusing on video and have been pushing hard on YouTube by trying to upload new videos at least once a week. This has been a little less successful with most videos only getting 40-ish views in a day and then plateauing at around 300. There is one exception though, that being my Modafinil Review which now has nearly 7,000 views. This is the top result when you search on YouTube for ‘Modafinil’, which as far as I can tell is pure fluke (though picking a popular-yet-undergroundish topic I think is a good strategy). It does show the potential for YouTube though – it would only take a few more hits like that to start driving serious traffic to the channel… so I persist!

The Money

So that’s probably not what you’re interested in… what about the cash right? Well that hasn’t been quite as successful and I’m still working on better monetization. In the space of the last few months my site has probably made about $120 – not exactly life changing! This cash can be broken down as follows:

  • About $15 from on-page Adsense
  • About $36 from YouTube ads
  • One book sale of $30
  • Commission for one sale of Basic4Android $13
  • About $40 of sales on apps that were driven by this blog (a very small fraction of overall sales)

I’ve also been trying to get commission on Amazon sales by adding links to products in my articles where appropriate (only if I genuinely recommend the product). Nobody has seemingly bought anything yet though (even though they have been clicking the links). The good thing though is that those links are now going to be there permanently, meaning that people finding these articles years from now could still earn me commission.

So at this point the blog is not paying for itself and not earning as much as it should for the time I’m putting in. But this is always how a blog goes, it’s actually off to a very strong start and if I just focus on building traffic and followers for now, I’m sure there will be more opportunities for monetisation further down the line. And at the moment everything from views, to clicks, to sales is going up which is very rewarding. Even if this never becomes a massive earner, I’m enjoying the ride and would quite happily do this for free!

Setbacks

There have been one or two setbacks. The first was crashing the site through the wrong combination of plugins – one of the downsides of WordPress. And the site went down for about 24 hours at one point because I had too many files on my server (I’m a hoarder). That was pretty stressful and damaged my ranking in Google.

Another was switching to Awebber for my mailing list. Not that Awebber isn’t good – it is – and a friend very generously gave me an account. Rather the problem was switching after a month of already collecting e-mails at which point Awebber wanted me to send out confirmation to all those readers again – understandably losing me some contacts. Ah well… you live and learn!

The Journey

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of running this blog has been learning so much about health and fitness, improving my own training and discovering a bit about myself in the process.

When I launched this blog I intended it to be a multi-disciplinary blog that would discuss fitness, self-development, business, technology, bodybuilding and pretty much any topic that could make you more awesome. I planned to have this scientific/transhuman edge and be right at the cutting edge of ways to make yourself more powerful and super-dude-like.

For a while I tried out an intern. But he was lazy and incompetent.

For a while I tried out an intern. But he was lazy and incompetent.

I’ve been writing a lot more health content for my clients lately, so part of the plan was to spend days researching topics in-depth for those clients and then to summarise what I learned in-depth on this site. As I delved really deep into the content though I found some of my views changed. I’ve actually been moving away from some of the more cutting-edge/technology-driven ways to increase health and have moved more towards natural methods: things like quasi-paleo diets, barefoot running, bodyweight training and improved health and fitness through better sleep and more sunlight. This is just where the research has pointed – I don’t want this blog to get too hippy-ish but my experiments and research so far have shown me that cold showers, good sleep and coconut oil are much more effective for increasing brain power and energy than nootropics like Modafinil or even caffeine. And while I used to scoff at things like ‘carb-back loading’, I now believe that avoiding spikes in my blood sugar can make a big difference.

I’ve seen the difference in my own training and have been using all this new knowledge to create the most efficient training program I’ve ever used. I feel a lot healthier and generally more powerful – which was the goal and is a result of making wholesale changes to my diet, routine and even psychology all in service of more effective training and productivity.

It’s been great getting feedback on all this too: I’ve been sharing my posts on Facebook and a ton of people have given me feedback saying that they’ve enjoyed learning the science of a muscle-building/fat burning diet, and of muscle building. Actually I’ve had quite a few female readers too which was a surprise. This is great, but now I’m super-conscious that I have to try and keep the quality high while tackling topics with a broad appeal.

So that’s been fascinating, and meanwhile I’ve been researching deep into neuroscience which has been a great opportunity to re-learn some of my old psychology degree. This is helping me to keep the sciency-edge on the blog and just gives me a great excuse to keep my own grey matter growing by tackling and memorising new topics at a rapid rate.

Conclusions and Future Plans

So I really mean it when I say that this blog is rewarding in ways other than the finance. I’ll be continuing down this road for a while, and hopefully people continue to find it useful. Hopefully this post has been useful in itself for anyone thinking of running a blog to bring in side income/explore topics they find interesting. If you want the blueprint for what I’ve done so far for your own blog, you can find it below:

  • Create a basic WordPress blog – WordPress is the basis for many successful blogs and although it’s not perfect it is tried and tested and very SEO friendly
  • Post regularly, go in-depth and try to offer content that isn’t around anywhere else
  • Always have an audience in mind – that could be a specific niche, or even an individual you know. If you write ‘for someone’ in your social group, chances are that what you’ve written will appeal to other people as well.
  • Don’t be afraid to share on Facebook with friends – yes it’s embarrassing, but if you won’t even share with your existing network then that’s a sign that something is wrong
  • Where possible, hinge your post on a story – the human brain is hardwired to enjoy stories and we naturally find them very engaging
  • Look into multiple forms of monetisation
  • Use YouTube and make video content as well as written content! YouTube is the second biggest search engine on the net, it is folly to ignore it!
  • Share on Reddit and Google+ communities – and make sure to write some content around the posts to stimulate debate and avoid having your posts removed
  • Forums are good too
  • Find other blogs that are complementary to your own in a similar niche and then see if you can work together by creating a guest post for example
  • Keep plugging away!

I haven’t done that second last point yet, but this is my next step. I’ve already created a spreadsheet of bloggers I’d like to work with and I’ll be reaching out to them starting this week. I’ll let you know how that goes of course!

And if you’re still reading I’d like to thank you for helping to make this blog as successful as it has been! If you’d like to see more similar content, then please leave a comment below and/or sign yourself up to that mailing list!

 

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