Getting from there to here

It has been almost 10 months to the day since I closed on my house. This marks a good moment to evaluate where there site has been and how it got from there to here.

Since about the beginning of December, I’ve been making a concerted effort to build traffic and get the word about my website. Prior to that, I mostly left it in the hands of fate….and Scott Kurtz.


Figure 1. Daily visitors since March 2007. Click to Enlarge

The traffic spikes I’ve gotten sort of throws off the scale, but there are three definite periods of traffic:

  1. The start of the trip to the first big spike in May. That spike was a mention in and accounted for about 2,100 uniques.
  2. The first spike to the second spike. The second spike was also a mention on PVP. In between the spikes, average daily traffic rose about 25% to around 90 uniques per day.
  3. Early December until now. The third spike came from StumbleUpon a few days ago. It was totally unexpected and accounted for about 1,500 users. The gradual rise in daily traffic over that time was accounted for by joining EntreCard, BlogCatalog, and MyBlogLog. I’ve also submitted my site to some directories, but that hasn’t accounted for much traffic. Average daily traffic now is in the 150-200 range.

Basically, since I’ve started paying attention, I’ve managed to double my daily average traffic. Not bad considering I’ve had no mentions on big websites.

The biggest driver of new users has been StumbleUpon. Putting the buttons for SU under each article has been a very good move. I’ve also created a profile on the service and befriended a bunch of people. I also spent $25 the last few days and purchased stumbles from StumbleUpon. I expect traffic to dip in the next few days, so I’ll better be able to see how it works.

I’m considering just passing any ad revenue I earn from Google (which isn’t going to be much to start) right to StumbleUpon and use it to build traffic. Each Stumble costs $0.05.


Figure 2. RSS Subscribers

The 3 phases are even more obvious when you look at RSS subscribers. I hit 150 the other day for the first time.

I like to use RSS subscribers as my primary metric because you know they are return visitors and will most probably be there tomorrow. The slope of the RSS subscriptions has really picked up since I started promoting the site in December.

I’ve also moved to putting full text and images in my RSS feed about a month ago. I think that certainly helped.

Other Metrics

I’ve set a goal of winning the Bloggers Choice Award for 2008 in the Travel category. Given the system was new last year, I’m estimating it will take about twice the number of votes to win this year as opposed to last year. That means I would need around 500 votes to win. I’m currently #1 with a 15 vote lead. All it takes is some big corporate site to bother to throw its hat into the ring and I’ll probably lose. I get about 10 visits per week from the site, and I’m sure being listed #1 helps.

I’ve gotten into the top 100,000 on Technorati with an authority of 72. My authority was 15 a month ago.

I’ve submitted my site to several blog ranking directories. They are pretty bogus, but it at least gives you some sort of yardstick to measure your progress against other sites.

  • TopOfBlogs uses a running daily average. On that list I have been either first or second since I joined.
  • TopBlogArea uses a weekly average. I’ve gotten in the top 10 on that list.
  • TopBlogSites uses a lifetime count, and I’ve gotten to #31 in a month on that list.

From a qualitative standpoint, I’ve got a 10.0 review average (out of 10) on, and I’m in the top 15 for the site with the most reviews on EntreCard (and I seldom drop cards anymore and haven’t solicited any reviews either). I also have a Facebook group with 142 members. (Facebook publishes my RSS, so some people could be just getting updates from there and not showing up on my RSS numbers)


As far as the world of blogs and independent travel websites go, I’m in pretty good shape. Most people never stick with a travel blog long enough to make it big. By the time it gets going, the trip is over.

While I’m made significant progress the last month, I still have an enormous upside I can exploit.

My next post will outline what my goals are for the next few months and how I intend to get there and a SWTO analysis of my site and my trip.


Why I’m Here

I’ve had a website at this domain name since 1998. I was blogging before there were blogs. I was blogging before blogging was cool.

This site is an adjunct to my primary website, I don’t want to keep that site on topic with my photography and my trip. I especially don’t want to bother people by talking about the website on the website.

So, I figured the best approach was to revive this site.

In 2008, I want to start making inroads towards covering the costs for my trip. To that extent, I’m going to start to try and monetize my photography. In the next month, I’m going to launch the following advertising based sites:

  • A website for travel themed wallpapers.
  • A website for travel MySpace themes
  • A website for travel iPhone wallpapers
  • A site to sell high quality prints of my photos

The first three sites are really the same thing populated with slightly different content.

The print sales site I’ll probably run through SumgMug or something like that.

Based on similar sites I’ve seen, I’m shooting to make $5,000 from online ads in 2008. Most of the traffic I’m expecting to be driven from Google.

I am also going to be paying for a custom WordPress theme or my main site. There are several design elements which I think are unique to a site like mine I want to integrate:

  • I’d like to put my Google Map front and center in the site header. The best example I’ve seen of that is on The rest of the site sort of sucks, but the map integration is sort of clever. I think using a map in the header not only neat graphically, but it is functional as well.
  • I want to integrate the photo of the day more prominently. I don’t know how, but it has become one of the most popular features on the site
  • The country navigation is getting to long and unwieldy. I’d like to make the country lists collapsable by continent.
  • I’d eventually like to integrate advertising into the site, but I want to be very subtle about how I do it. I really don’t want to turn it into a NASCAR page. The photo download pages can go full blown NASCAR, but the main site I’d rather focus on increasing traffic.

Those are my goals for the next 30 days.

Next post I’ll go over my traffic history for Everything-Everywhere, my strategy for increasing traffic, and my goals for the next 3-6 months.