Today is exactly six months since I started my website and the related PPC project (see the initial post outlining the project here). And, fortuitously, it is also the day that I’ve hit 3,000 Facebook fans for the fan page associated with my website! And my e-mail list is about to hit 600 subscribers (probably by tomorrow).
My PPC report is a bit overdue, as the last update was in early December. My end of the year goals was to hit 2,000 fans and 500 list subscribers, but I did miss those totals (I had 1940 Facebook fans and only 380 email subscribers by the end of the year).
Here are my fans and subscriber totals from December 1, January 1 and February 1st:
You may notice a dip in the traffic reported for 1/1/13 – but I believe that was largely because those numbers were for the last week of December (Christmas – New Years).
Here is screenshot of traffic for the past week or so, to bring you a bit more up to date:
As you can see, my daily unique visitors numbers is averaging close to 500 a day, while my returning visitors are nearly 170 (yesterday I actually had 200 returning visitors).
I should note that even when I stop paying for ads, the traffic numbers stay pretty much the same. About half of the traffic comes from my Facebook Fan page, while the other half comes from my list. A very small percentage (maybe 10%) comes from Google AdWords ads (currently, as I’m only paying $1-2 day for these ads), and possibly a dozen organic searches a day.
One of my goals was to finally turn a profit in December by reducing the amount I spent on ads to less than what I was averaging per day from income from the site. I’m happy to say I met this goal, although it also slowed down the growth of my fan and subscriber lists (since I was paying much less in terms of ads each day). I didn’t make a huge profit, but it was enough to cover my ad expenses of about $5/day for the month of December.
In January, I was expecting a big drop in Amazon revenue (since the holidays were over with), but surprisingly (to me) that drop didn’t come (in fact, tracking ID clicks were actually up). There was a small dip in sales revenue, but author interest in purchasing paid advertising on the site also surged in January – and January actually ended up being my best month since I started the site. I didn’t have a profit for January, however, because I ramped up the ad purchasing once again.
Here is my earnings and expense spreadsheet for the past few months:
As you can see, the site is averaging around $200 a month in earnings – which isn’t spectacular, but I think this will grow as my fan base continues to grow. I will likely continue to invest most of my earnings back into ad revenue to continue growing the site this year. (Currently I’m spending around $7/day in Facebook ads and $2 a day in AdWords).
In terms of my e-mail list: I’m currently getting five to six new e-mail subscribers a day. My broadcast message open rate has dropped a little – from almost 70% to more around 65%, and my unsubscribe rate is about the same (currently 13%).
Here ‘s a screenshot of recent subscriber activity (as of 10 a.m. this morning):
In terms of Facebook fan page engagement and readership, most posts are getting around 300 views daily (about 10% of my total fan base). “Likes” of individual posts usually range from six or seven up to fifteen or more, with maybe one or two comments each day from readers. Not huge, but I’m seeing a nearly predictable rise in these numbers as well. The number of “likes” does help me know which books are popular, as does the number of clicks on posts for my Newsletter, and I’ve been using this information to help better gear my book selections towards what my readers want.
From what I’ve read, a lot of people are quite unhappy with Facebook’s recent moves to show posts to fewer fans and push people towards paid “sponsored posts.” I can’t say I’m enthusiastic about this change either, but being relatively new to Facebook, I’ve mostly accepted this as part of the process. Currently about 50% of my site’s traffic comes directly from Facebook, and as the fan base grows so does my traffic to the site. Of course, it would be nice if they showed a higher number of fans my book posts, but I’m still going to stick with this strategy (for now).
I also created a new Facebook ad using the new logo, and since I’ve started using that ad, my new Facebook subscribers has increased from around 20-25/day at the $7/day mark to between 35-40/day. This really shows the importance of testing new ads, something I’ve been a bit slack about. (By the way: for my new site and cover image, I used Lauren at HeyHeyDesigns. She has a great portfolio of images at iStockphoto which you can pay to have her customize to your specs – often for under $50 a image. She was quick and super easy to work with).
My current goal is to reach 25,000 fans by the end of the year and have a list of 5,000 email subscribers. I’ll need to double my current ad expenditures mid year to reach those numbers, and I’ll wait until summer to see how things are going before I decide whether or not to do this or not. I probably won’t continue giving monthly updates on the PPC experiment, but I’ll try to provide another update at least before the end of the year. And you can also always check out my Facebook Fan page to see where I stand in terms of fans, if you are interested.
Any questions or comments? Sorry again for the late update – life has been super busy as of late! – and if I left something out you want to know please let me know!
Thanks for reading! – Michelle
Update: Just this morning I got a note that as of March 1st Amazon won’t pay commissions on any Amazon account that receives more than 20,000 free eBooks downloads a month (around 650 a day) and 80% of the total number of books download are free books on an account. I’m not sure how I’ll manage that exclusion, but I mentioned in earlier posts that I thought this may be coming and need to start promoting more paid books each month.