A Tale of Two Blogs – Why Expertise and Competition Analysis Matter

A Tale of Two BlogsIt has been one month since I launched my sailing website and 10 months since I launched Online Passive Income Journey.  Time for a bit of a comparison.

Comparing the Two Blogs

First, what are the similarities and differences?

Similarities:

  • Same Author (obviously),
  • Same free wordpress theme,
  • Same lack of a logo (still),
  • Same monetization technique (Affiliate links)
  • Similar posting frequency for the first period (actually, OPIJ posted more often at first and is now intentionally down to once every two weeks to allow time for the sailing site).
  • Similar attempts at social media promotion through twitter, reddit and forums, though I never tried facebook for OPIJ.

Differences:

  • There are many more lucrative affiliate income opportunities in the “how to make money online” market. This should be an advantage for OPIJ but hasn’t been so far.
  • The sailing website has a “Lead Bait” offering to entice people to join the mailing list.  OPIJ doesn’t (yet).
  • I am active and have credibility and expertise in the sailing community.  I’ve been on the largest sailing forum for 4 years and have 1700 posts there.  I own my own boat and am a certified offshore skipper.  I’ve sailed from Victoria, BC to San Francisco and from Bermuda to near Halifax non-stop.
  • As I’ve pointed out many times before, there are many very skilled operators in the make money online space.  They are very good at SEO, social outreach, and every other skill that’s important.  It’s very difficult for a newbie to be heard in this space, even if they have important things to say.  Competition Analysis is so important!

The Results in 1 Month vs 7 Months

Just to really show what an incredible difference expertise and competition make, I’m not going to compare apples to apples.  I’m not going to compare the first month of each blog (since I’m more skilled now than I was then, anyways).  I’m not even going to compare month 1 of the sailing blog with month 10 of OPIJ.  Nope:  I’m going to compare my first month on the sailing blog with the last 7 months of OPIJ!

The only reason I’m not going back to birth with OPIJ is that I was hit badly with referral spam in the first months, inflating my numbers.  I fixed that (and so should you), so the recent data is good, but I can’t tell the good from the bad data in the first few months.

 Online Passive Income Journey (7 months)Sailing Website (1st month)
Pageviews11805294
Unique Visitors3883101
Average Time on Page2:563:12
Mailing List Subscribers1159
Gross Income$0$34.45

Yep, ten times the visitors and nearly 6 times the subscribers.

Now, there is one telling statistic.  The time on a given page is about the same.  Since the posts are of a similar length, that suggests that once people actually arrive, they’re just as interested in the content (and 3 minutes is actually, pretty good to hold anybody’s attention these days).

It’s also worth noting that my conversion rate is almost the same in terms of number of unique visitors who turn into subscribers: 1%.  That’s nothing to write home about, but it’s an interesting statistic.

The most important point, of course, is that the sailing website is making money (woohoo!).  In fact, it made its first dollar on launch day!

Conclusions

Well, the most obvious point is that Online Passive Income Journey isn’t going to make me rich anytime soon (well, neither’s the sailing website).

So should I give up?  I’d say if the point of this site was to make me an income, giving up would be a pretty logical thing to do.  Luckily, that’s not why I’m doing this.

The real conclusion here is that finding the right niche really matters.  Just because Pat Flynn makes over $100k per month teaching people how to make money online doesn’t mean that you should jump in and try to emulate him. You won’t.  Not for a long, long time.

More to the point, you need to really understand your customers and be able to reach out to them.  If there are a thousand other people trying to reach out to them as well, then you’re going to get drowned in the noise.

On the other hand, if there are a dozen other people reaching out to your potential customers and they’re not super savvy about internet marketing, you can make a real impact on your customers very quickly.

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6 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Blogs – Why Expertise and Competition Analysis Matter

  1. Hi Chris,

    Kudos to you! Great to have a connection to your work.

    You should put a link to your sailing site in this article because now I’m curious. And maybe, just maybe some of those 388 peeps are enticed to take up this move as something valuable, worth following.

    1. Hi Maarten,

      I’ve thought long and hard about revealing the sailing blog on this site. Unfortunately, there are some unpleasant people in the world, and other people who’ve blogged about their efforts to make an income online have had their websites vandalized. Out of an abundance of caution, I’ve decided not to link to it here.

      I am active in the forums at fizzle and talk openly about both sites there. If you’re a member or are thinking of becoming one, come find me there.

    1. Thanks, Dave. It feels damn good to be making an impact and also to have some revenue! I’m trying hard to bootstrap and spend the minimum until I have revenue. I celebrated by upgrading to the Siteground GoGeek service which will give me better hosting and the ability to “stage” any website changes so I can test them easily. I was staging manually and it sucks!

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