Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 54.221.9.6

Forum Moderators: phranque

Message Too Old, No Replies

Betting the Farm

I'm taking the week off work to write content for my website

     
9:58 pm on May 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

joined:Apr 24, 2005
posts:171
votes: 0


I'm not able to quit my job for adsense yet, but I'm determined to do so by the end of the year.

I'm taking the week off work to write content for my website, and fix up some of my old pages.

I'm self employed, so I won't get vacation pay. This is going to cost me significantly, but I'm hoping I might make up for it in May's adsense revenue - the check I'm going to receive July first or so.

While my wife is supportive of my ambition to change careers, she wants me to transition slowly, so that I'm always able to bring in enough money from my day job. She wouldn't be very happy about my decision, but she's away for a couple weeks. Don't tell her, OK? I'm hoping I can make up for it somewhat by working like a demon for my clients next week, so maybe she won't notice.

I'm only able to do this because I got both my AdSense check and a check from one of my clients this week. It's enough for us to live for most of the month, but not quite. In order to make enough to keep all the bills paid I'm going to have to deliver to my clients early enough that they pay me before the end of May. I get paid by the milestone, and it takes a lot of work to reach each one.

There's a couple reasons I've decided to do this.

I've spent most of what time I could devote to my site the last couple of months implementing a new HTML design my wife created for me. I did my old design myself, and it was pretty awful. I could see right away that the new design boosted traffic throughout my site. I'm sure more visitors were staying to see more of the content, both because of improved navigation, and I'm sure my old design used to make a lot of people just press their back buttons.

I'm not done yet, but I've got enough pages updated that it's making less of a difference to redesign new ones, so last week I added my first new content in over a year. I've been paying to advertise my updated pages all along, and I advertised this new content as well. This month, I also started placing ads on other websites than the one I had been. I'm more than doubling my ad budget this month.

When I added my first new page, I was finally able to put a "What's New" section in the index to my articles. I could see right away that people were clicking the link to my new article there, and I could see from the referring pages in my web server logs that many of the people who read that page were going on to see the rest of my site.

I thought "Wow! Fresh content really makes a difference." So I decided I would create some more, and try to have something new each day for several days.

Previously I did not say anything about my new design on my site, not wanting to call attention to the old one that remains on many pages. But one reason the new design has taken so long is that I've been updating my content as well, fixing broken links, adding new text, and removing obsolete information (many of my articles are very technical - in the field I'm in, a lot of the technology goes out of style quickly).

So I updated a couple more pages, and added them to my "What's New" section, saying they were "Updated" instead of "New". I placed ads for them as well.

The result has been that my updated pages have gone from the hundred hits a month they've had for more than a year, to over a thousand.

I have since written one more article. Traffic so far this month suggests that one of them will get a little over a thousand hits, which is about the best any of my articles have ever gotten in their first month, while the other is going to get seven thousand.

Most of my inbound links have always been either to my homepage or to specific articles. As a result, the index to my articles has never got a lot of search engine traffic. Most of its hits were from referrals directly from my own articles when the few people who ever did visit the rest of my site clicked a link.

Before I started to redesign my site, my article index got about a thousand hits a month. Last month it got 3500. Last month, I also started to pay for advertising directly to the index. It's looking like traffic to the index is going to be over seven thousand five hundred hits this month. It's also #1 for the most relevant keyword and has been advancing through the top ten for another that's more competitive. I expect I'll start seeing some referrals for more keywords soon.

My one money-making page gets the most traffic on weekends. It's not the sort of page most people read at work. I'm sure of that because it also gets the most traffic during the evening in the English-speaking world.

For the first time ever since I joined AdSense last September, I had a hundred-dollar weekday, on Wednesday. I have never made that much money on a weekday, just on a few weekends.

I eagerly await this weekend's Ad Performance Report.

Thank you for your attention.

11:22 pm on May 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Mar 4, 2005
posts:1161
votes: 0


Good luck Michael! Just a week off, you'll be fine. If your checks almost cover a month's worth of bills, a week should not hurt you any.

This past week, I took time off from writing content. I quit my "day job" for adsense less than a year ago. It's back to "work" on Monday for me. My niche is arts and crafts, so posting new content is just a matter of completing a project and taking pics as a I go. Putting the pics on an html page and adding text to explain the project is the final step. I think I have the process pretty streamlined.

1:16 am on May 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Aug 30, 2002
posts:1377
votes: 0


Enjoyed reading your post Michael. I hope you'll be fine by the end of the month.
2:04 am on May 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

joined:Apr 24, 2005
posts:171
votes: 0


My ad performance report for today indicates this might well be a very good weekend.

Here's a tip: divide 24 hours by the time in the Pacific time zone, in California, where Google is. It's about eleven here in Nova Scotia, four hours ahead of California, where it's about seven. That makes it 19:00 at Google. 24/19 is 1.26. Now multiply that by the revenue so far today. For me that's $93 * 1.26, which is $117.00, indicating I'm about to have a very good weekend.

This doesn't account for hourly fluctuations though. I get more money in the evening, so it will likely be even better than that. Once I worked up this elaborate spreadsheet so I could make even more accurate hourly projections, but that was kind of obsessive, and took a lot of work.

I'm quite anxious to see the results for the first full seven days of May, so the weekend/weekday fluctuations are averaged out. My best Month ever was September, my first month in AdSense. I think May might well top that. If it looks like it's going to, I'm going to buy a bottle of champagne.

Well, back to work now. I have a lot of work to do on my site. Someone from here helpfully pointed out that my logo should be a link to my homepage, and it's not. It will be, on every page on my site, before I go to bed tonight.

It made a lot of difference to make the link to my articles much more obvious on my homepage, I can see that from the referring pages after I analyzed my log files just now. My homepage looks like this now:

MyCompany Inc. - Purveyor of Fine Widgets

Home of Lots of Articles About Widgets

There's always been a link to my articles from my homepage, but it didn't used to get very many clicks.

Later - Mike

8:43 am on May 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jetteroheller is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Jan 22, 2005
posts:3056
votes: 6


I'm self employed, so I won't get vacation pay.

I am also self employed as expert for delivering seminars how a company builds his onw web site.
CMS, SEO.

I'm hoping I can make up for it somewhat by working like a demon for my clients next week, so maybe she won't notice.

My main problem with clients is my motivation to work with them.

All this terrible wailing around about the money to pay me. Oh, I have somebody making it for 1/10 of Your money. Oh, I just wasted all my advertising money last year for a web site impossible to find in a search engine.

Why do You charge for Your SEO service, software license and hosting 80.-EUR per month, hosting at cheap-and-bad.com is only 1.-EUR per month.

When I run in discussions like this, I would like to shout in this morons face, that when I would put AdSense on a web site like the one, I would create for him, the site would make shure more than 200.-EUR per month.

Last week, I phoned the realtor where I rent my apartment for some problems. I discovered, that he has no web site. I made a termin to show my realtor solution. I mentioned my reference list with big realtors in several big cities.

I was phoned some hours later: "Oh, one of our employees has prepared a web site, we do not need You"

Why should I waste my time with a moron like this?

10:42 am on May 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

joined:Apr 24, 2005
posts:171
votes: 0


My main problem with clients is my motivation to work with them.

My wife was a freelance web designer for a while. I think she's very good. Once she understood what valid html, css and XHTML were all about, everything she did was in 100% valid XHTML 1.0 Strict with CSS.

She has a good sense of aesthetics too. I know some folks don't like it so much, but she did my new site design. I think it's the best thing since sliced bread, and my boost in traffic that started the very first day I first uploaded her new design demonstrates that most people at least agree with her.

But not her clients:

Her first client was a rock band. They were friends, and didn't have much money, so my wife agreed to do their site for a low cost.

They were absolutely unbearable. They were endlessly requesting revisions. One day, they came over to our house to work with my wife, and they pestered the poor creature nearly to death! On one page, my wife put a horizontal row of stars as a divider. They wanted every other star taken out!

My wife, as most web designers do, put a copy of their site in her portfolio page. But because her site had been around a couple years, and I'd linked it from one of my own PR 5 pages, her portfolio for the band ranked higher in google when searching for the band's name than their own homepage, whose domain was new and I bet still at PR 0.

They demanded she take their site down off her portfolio. We both tried to explain to them how to build PR. We suggested they ask fans to link their site when they perform at concerts. They absolutely refused to listen to reason. I'm still on their newsletter list, never once have I received a request to link their site.

When my wife explained that, as a web designer, she had a perfect right to display her own work in her own portfolio, they threatened to sue her for violating their copyright in some of the photos in their site.

Then they refused to pay her. The claimed my wife offerred to do it for free. She had only asked them for $180. We made it abundantly clear they were only getting such a good deal because they were friends, and because we knew they were starving musicians. A site like the one my wife did would cost a grand from any other designer, and would have been stamped from a cookie-cutter template, not hand-designed as my wife did for them.

They still refused to pay.

Then one day, along came a hacker and defaced my wife's entire site. Put up photos of this infant with pierced nose, lips and ears on every page of her site. My wife and I thought this was actually pretty funny. We notified our hosting service that they'd been compromised, but otherwise weren't in a big hurry to fix it. My wife by this time had given up on the idea of being a web designer.

When the musicians saw the defaced page, still showing up as the top hit for the name of their band, they went absolutely bananas. We were barraged with emails and angry phone calls. They thought we'd done this on purpose.

We were fortunate we'd moved out of the country by this time - we moved to Nova Scotia. (My wife is Canadian, I'm American. I'm quite close to getting my landed immigrant card now.) I'm sure that if we'd still been in Maine they would have beaten down the door to our house.

My wife explained to them that she'd been hacked, pointed out that they still hadn't paid her invoice, and said that if they wanted to come up ahead of her in Google they had to follow her previous advice for building pagerank. We still didn't remove the pierced infant. We just left it there.

The calls and emails continued.

After a week or so, my wife offerred to take down the pierced baby page if they paid her invoice.

A week later, a check for $180 appeared in our post office box.

My wife just deleted their entire directory from her portfolio. Of course, that meant that for a month or so, the #1 hit for the band's name turned up a 401.

My wife had one other client. This one wanted a pretty elaborate website, which my wife designed and uploaded, but then the client would never get around to ever having a look at it. My wife called, emailed and visited, but never would the client even take five minutes to approve her design. This went on for months.

The client was a manager of a wine store. At some point, the manager emailed my wife to say that the owner of the store had got some other designer to do the store's website. My wife was unable ever to get her to pay.

Two clients, besides me. Nearly a year of hard work, aggravation, and annoyance by the musicians, and then heartache at being ignored for months by the wine store manager and then unceremoniously dumped.

Revenue for the year: one hundred eighty dollars.

She let her domain expire. It's been picked up by a domain wholesaler. She's since enrolled as a fine art student at a leading art school in Halifax. She just finished her first year, and made blazing progress. Right now she's in Spain on a school trip with fifty other art school students - the reason I'm able to get away with taking a week off to work on my site.

I'm certain that she's really going to be someone, someday, in the art world. She's that good.

I credit my wife by name at the bottom of every page of my site. I thought she deserved at least that little victory. But when she told me she wanted to find work for the summer, I suggested she do web design under my company name. I suggested I make her name on each page a link to a page on my site offerring her web design services.

She says she'd rather work in a store, or maybe as a waitress. When I protest that she could make a lot more as a web designer, and that I'd handle the clients and billing for her so she wouldn't have to, she flatly refused. She said she never wants to work as a web designer ever again.

I've done my best to make clear to her what a difference her design is making to my income though. I've tried to help her understand that all she went through to learn web design - and she put a lot of time and work into it, bought and read over a dozen books on HTML and CSS - I want her to understand how she's benefiting in terms of me getting the money to put her through school.

She understands that now. That's enough reward for her.

My wife got to enjoy one small act of sweet revenge: the most popular page on my site is PR 5 and has been getting a hundred thousand hits a month for well over a year, nearly all of them search engine referrals. It's #1 for more keywords than I can keep track off, and in the top ten for several highly competitive keywords that yield five to ten thousand referrals apiece. There is one single query that consistently get me 20,000 referrals a month!

When I first wrote that page, back when those musicians were close friends of ours, I gave them a prominent link in the very first paragraph of the page.

When my wife discovered it, after we moved to Canada, she asked me to remove their link.

I was happy to oblige.

Thank you for your attention.

Mike

10:59 am on May 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

10+ Year Member

joined:Mar 25, 2005
posts:95
votes: 0


Hey Mike,

Have you thought of using php includes for site-wide elements like your headers and menus? That way you only have to change a couple files and the changes reflect across all your pages.

You could then spend more time on content development rather than updating all your pages individually.

I've went to the extent of making my sites 'modular' using php and css. I wouldn't dream of going back to editing all pages by hand.

I have a separate file for:

* CSS file
* Top of page from meta tags down
* Left side menu links
* Content area
* 2 Adsense code blocks per page
* page footer and nav links
* Copyright

...it's as if my page content is surrounded by php includes when you look at the raw code in a text editor, and sitewide changes can be made in minutes.

Something to think about.

K

12:10 pm on May 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

joined:Apr 24, 2005
posts:171
votes: 0


Have you thought of using php includes for site-wide elements like your headers and menus?

It just so happens that I've been increasingly reflecting on the disadvantage of a 100% hand-coded static HTML website.

On the one hand, it's cheap to serve and my site is extremely responsive, even though it's on a virtual host with about fifty other domains at a hosting service. I only pay twenty bucks a month for hosting, and I only pay that much because the hostmaster is an old friend who gives great customer service. I could probably host for five bucks a month at a cheaper service and still do just fine.

On the other hand, I've been up all night making my logo link to my homepage, and changing "MyCompany Homepage" in my navigation to just "Home". There are over a hundred and fifty HTML files on my site. I'm pretty sure I've forgotten what about half of them even are.

I'm also adding meta description tags to the pages that don't have them, and making the exact same text as the meta be the very first paragraph after the H1 tag. One or the other of these is what usually shows up as a page's sample text in search engine listings. Even where I do have a meta tag, I'm also having to reword them so they fit in the two-line space Google provides, or to make the description more compelling so people want to click my link when they find it in a search.

Picked that tip up right here at webmasterworld!

I expect that I'll eventually use some kind of includes, but most of the real work my site still requires is stuff like making my HTML validate, removing HTML transitional formatting tags such as <font> and <center>, closing <p> and <li> tags so the page becomes a conforming XML document, fixing broken links, and implementing my wife's new design. I've also been updating the content of each of my articles. For that reason, it's turned out that each one has usually required an entire day to update.

I think I can be done with all my articles by the end of the month. At that point, I'll ask my hostmaster what kind of includes processing they already support, and do whatever he suggests.

I can't change the URLs of any of the pages though, for obvious reasons. If I use PHP, can the filenames still end in ".html"?

Thnaks!

Mike

12:46 pm on May 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

10+ Year Member

joined:Mar 25, 2005
posts:95
votes: 0


Hi Mike,

You don't have to change your file extensions to run php on your pages. All you have to do is create a file called .htaccess in your root directory (where your site's homepage is located) and put the following in it

AddType application/x-httpd-php .html .htm

That tells your server to look for php scripting (includes) on htm and html pages when they're called by SE bots or web browsers.

So if you have your left nav menu in a text file called menu.txt, make up a php include to call that file and put it in all your pages you want your menu to show up on

<?php include '/menu.txt';?>

You can put your adsense code in a text file and call it into your pages the same way.

This way, even though you have 177 files on your site, you only have to edit one menu file, or one adsense block if you want to test a new border or background color and it shows up everywhere on your site. You'll still need to tweak your meta tags and whatnot, but this'll certainly save you time on your next updates.

K

1:21 pm on May 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jetteroheller is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Jan 22, 2005
posts:3056
votes: 6


When I protest that she could make a lot more as a web designer, and that I'd handle the clients and billing for her

That's so wonderfull at Google. I make the sites, AdSense makes the billing :)

3:44 pm on May 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

10+ Year Member

joined:Nov 1, 2004
posts:126
votes: 0


When I first wrote that page, back when those musicians were close friends of ours, I gave them a prominent link in the very first paragraph of the page.

When my wife discovered it, after we moved to Canada, she asked me to remove their link.

I was happy to oblige.

hehe nice one :)

Them losers will never succeed if thats how they treat people, especially after all what you both did for them.

I'm glad everything is working out for you both now!

4:00 pm on May 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

joined:Apr 24, 2005
posts:171
votes: 0


Them losers will never succeed if thats how they treat people, especially after all what you both did for them.

Ever since I posted that, I've been thinking about whether I ought to email them a link to this thread, and to suggest they think about what I wrote the next time they think about screwing someone who's been good to them.

Might do them some good. I can't imagine they're going to get very far in the music business if they make enemies of all their friends.

But I have better things to do than to do than to give them a clue.

hunderdown

7:26 pm on May 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Inactive Member
Account Expired

 
 


Michael, good luck, and keep us posted. Just don't spend too much work time on WebmasterWorld!
7:47 pm on May 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Apr 6, 2003
posts:2523
votes: 0


I am just curious why you haven't hired your wife to convert existing pages to the new template, or even outsourcing it - the bulk of the work is basically copy/paste.

It just seems like your time is better spent creating new content for the site, or continuing your day job.

1:46 am on May 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

joined:Apr 24, 2005
posts:171
votes: 0


I am just curious why you haven't hired your wife to convert existing pages to the new template, or even outsourcing it - the bulk of the work is basically copy/paste.

My wife has offerred to do it several times, but each time she tried, the sheer magnitude of the work involved just made her head spin.

There's a lot more than copy-n-paste. Much of my old HTML was invalid, or transitional. Now it's XHTML 1.0 Strict with CSS, and every single one of my new pages validates [validator.w3.org].

It's really best that I did it myself rather than outsourced it. A lot of the content was really old, some of it obsolete, and much of it written when I wasn't as good a writer as I am now. There were also a lot of broken links, and I had to search for suitable new ones to link to, or just remove them.

That's why each page on my site has typically required an entire day to redesign, or at least a few hours.

4:57 am on May 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

joined:Apr 24, 2005
posts:171
votes: 0


I was up all night last night, but somehow couldn't stay asleep for long when I went to bed in the afternoon, so I got up and worked on my site again.

One new article, actually lifted straight out of my weblog from a community site where I'm a member. I thought it would make good content for my site. A lot of my articles are that way, they start out as weblog, mailing list or Usenet posts.

I posted links in some places where they'd be welcome, and placed one ad, but it hasn't started running yet. I also added it to my "What's New" section, and straight away it started getting traffic. So far, two or three hours since I posted it, it's gotten 35 hits. Pretty good, right out of the gate.

Revenue for the first week of May, with a couple hours left in Saturday, indicates I'll make three grand this month, but traffic to my site has been accellerating dramatically in the last couple weeks. I have the idea I might actually make four.

I'm going to back to bed now.

8:06 pm on May 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

joined:Apr 24, 2005
posts:171
votes: 0


I said:

I'm quite anxious to see the results for the first full seven days of May, so the weekend/weekday fluctuations are averaged out. My best Month ever was September, my first month in AdSense. I think May might well top that. If it looks like it's going to, I'm going to buy a bottle of champagne.

Well, I won't be opening a bottle of champagne quite yet. Revenue for the first full week of May was $692.35, if that holds steady I should make pretty close to three grand, which will be my second-best month.

But traffic is way up in May from the week before, and Alexa says my traffic is skyrocketing over the last couple days. So it could well still be my best month.

Why the traffic? A few things: the first was a tip I got from a WebmasterWorld member who looked at my site. I made my logo a link to my homepage on every page of my site, or rather all the ones that I have updated to use my wife's new web design. Also I changed "MyCompany Homepage" in my navigation to just "Home".

The other was that I added a much more prominent link to my articles than what used to be there on my homepage. Now it's impossible to see my homepage at all without knowing that I write the articles that I do. As a result my tips have gotten 600 referrals from my homepage so far this month. It didn't used to get very many at all.

Finally, I have added several new pages of content in the last week, and updated some old articles, and announced them all in a "What's New" section that I was finally able to add to the beginning of my tips index. I've also been announcing new content on message boards and Usenet, in places where it would be welcome.

I can see from my logs that my homepage is getting hit at a rate of 11,000 a month, and my tips index at 8,000 a month. For my home page, that's three times what it was before I kicked off my compaign, and for my tips, its eight times more.

Well, back to work. Time's a-wasting.

Mike

1:21 am on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Junior Member

10+ Year Member

joined:Apr 1, 2005
posts:135
votes: 0


Michael, Good Luck! I love to read inspirational posts like this one. Please keep us updated with your accomplishments.
4:48 pm on May 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member

10+ Year Member

joined:Jan 6, 2003
posts:533
votes: 0


Hi Michael:

I just wanted to let you know that I did the same thing last year: started updating an old site, and when I jumped from $150 a month to over $600 a month, I got the idea that we could make a living from this, and to @#$@ with website designing.

It took more than a week. In fact, I gave it **three months** without any significant client work. We ran up our line of credit on household expenses... but it paid off. We tightened our belts, even bought a used car to get rid of car payments, etc. And that was that. We've already paid off the debt we ran up building our income.

Our revenue for last year was low - but that was good for taxes. This year we should be able to match our best year of website designing. And I expect subsequent years to continue to increase and eventually we'll pull far, far past what we could have made continuing to design for other clients.

The funniest part... we "broke through" last September, making more than our household expenses. For about six weeks, I could hardly get any work done. Take off the afternoon? Why not? Sleep in? Sure thing. Go play with the kids? You bet, guilt-free. And so on.

One word of warning: there WILL be annual fluxations. For us, November/October was a yearly high... because we were adding new material every day, we thought it would just keep going up and up, that by adding new material it would always increase.

Very wrong. It dropped off halfway through December to mid-January. We lost more than 1/3 of our peak income (but still enough to live on, barely). February was better, March and April were back to the top, but again, this month is heading lower than the previous two. It's a rollercoaster.

So just PLAN for these contigencies. Make sure that if you lost 1/3 of your current revenue, you could still get by.

Don't just think that adding more material will automatically mean you make more money every month. Or that you'll grow by X amount every month, either.

And I highly recommend getting a line of credit from your bank - a few thousand dollars helps out, if you can't/haven't saved up enough money as a buffer.

Some people would say - "don't quit your day job 'til you have a buffer" - but I argue back that this time is special, revenue might not be so high, the web won't be as crowded as it will in the future - so take advantage of it while you can.

And diversify. Everyone says it, but that's because its true. Even if your current site is "diverse", it won't be enough to handle whatever the next curveball Google introduces (ie. SmartPricing, Image banners, and so on.)

Good luck

1:49 pm on May 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Feb 24, 2005
posts:965
votes: 0


Once she understood what valid html, css and XHTML were all about, everything she did was in 100% valid XHTML 1.0 Strict

ROFL! Pity she didn't understand what backwards compatibility is about as well!

 

Join The Conversation

Moderators and Top Contributors

Hot Threads This Week

Featured Threads

Free SEO Tools

Hire Expert Members