Some miscellaneous administrative announcements…
Ing Direct Referrals. I’ve used up all of my Ing Direct referrals for those who wanted the $25 sign-up bonus, but my wife still has some left on her account. If you happen to want one, read the original post, and let me know. Also, if you requested a referral from me but changed your mind about signing up, please let me know so I can recycle your referral and give it to someone else who will use it. If you’re not planning to sign-up within a week or two of receiving the referral, I’d prefer that you didn’t request it so I can give it to someone else who’s ready to sign up. Use it or lose it.
Site Traffic. In November StevePavlina.com received 1.2 million page views and chewed through 106 GB of bandwidth. I still have plenty of bandwidth capacity left, but once it doubles again, I’ll probably offload the audio files to a separate server. In January this site received only 36K page views, so now it’s getting more traffic each day than it used to get in a month.
Cashflow. Last month this site generated over $4700 in income for me, about 98% of it from advertising and the rest from affiliate programs. My income goal for the year was to reach $3000/month (from this site that is — this isn’t my primary source of income). In January of this year I made less than $10 from this site, so that’s a nice increase. Aside from adding new content, every month I dive through the metrics and do more experimenting and optimizing. This year my plan was to put down a solid foundation for future growth without concerning myself too much with making an income from it — the second year will be a lot more exciting. Even if I did nothing but continue to write new content and stopped working on optimization altogether, I’d be very surprised if this site generated less than $100,000 next year, so I expect I’ll soon be joining the ranks of six-figure bloggers. Once the cashflow is a bit higher, I will probably hire an adminstrative assistant to help out with emails and routine tasks, and I may offload some of the web development work as well. This site wasn’t my main source of income this year, but next year it probably will be. I expect that 2006 will be my best year ever — financially, professionally, physically, spiritually, etc.
Email Explosion. Due to the increases in traffic this year, my email inbox is overflowing with reader feedback and questions. I’ve long since lost the ability to reply to more than a fraction of it, and I rarely answer open-ended personal questions via email because it’s hard to justify taking the time to write a long reply to one person when I could use the same time to write something that will be read by tens of thousands of people. It’s now starting to become a challenge to even read all of the email I receive, let alone reply to it. If site traffic doubles again (it increased by 33x in the past 10 months), I’ll have to hire someone to pre-digest my email for me. Many of the questions I receive are simple questions that could be easily handled by an assistant. My wife hired an assistant for her business earlier this year, and I’m already jealous when I see how well that’s been working out. I started this site just 14 months ago, so I can only imagine what this situation will be like 5 or 10 years from now. Even so, I love all the feedback and have made many improvements to this site as a result of reader suggestions.
Blog Comments. After turning off comments two months ago, I’ve only become more convinced it was the right decision. I’ve already explained the reasons for this here and here, and those reasons haven’t changed. I don’t see anything on the horizon that would induce me to reverse this decision, especially given the site’s traffic growth. Not having to manage comments has allowed me to put more energy into new content. My email didn’t really increase much after turning off comments — it was the site traffic growth that led to the email explosion.
Tip Jar. A couple days ago I added a donations page to the site, which is something I’ve seen on a few other blogs. It’s linked from the main menu bar at the top of each page. While I don’t feel I need the income (of course more income is always nice), a number of people have told me they wanted to pay me something in exchange for the value they received from the site’s content, even though I’ve been making it free/ad-supported. At first I rejected that idea, but the Million Dollar Experiment has been opening my eyes to all the ways I deny myself from receiving, even when it’s offered freely and willingly by others. So I reconsidered and decided, “What the heck.” I might as well create yet another pathway for abundance to arrive. It’s not like I’d be using the money for evil. Donating is of course completely optional, and I don’t want anyone to feel in anyway obligated to do so. I’m still not sure about the whole idea, but when in doubt, I generally prefer to test something and experience it from both sides instead of simply dismissing it out of hand. The top of my head is pretty banged up from all the doors I’ve smashed open with it, but every once in a while I find something that makes it worthwhile to continue the practice. No doubt I’ll soon be receiving a barrage of emails from people telling me that this is yet another bad idea that’s politically incorrect, that makes me look unprofessional, and which is unforgivably anti-blog.
Buy Your Own Blog Entry (BYOBE). This is an idea I’m toying with that was spawned by a reader suggestion I received last night. I frequently receive requests for private coaching or counseling and even offers of payment to answer complex emails, but that isn’t really something I personally want to do. That sort of thing can be very time intensive, and I’d have to charge a fairly high hourly rate to justify it, one that would probably exclude most people. Plus the manner in which people want to grow often isn’t the area in which they most need to grow, and I’m more keen to address true needs as opposed to surface desires. I want to help people grow holistically rather than just help guide them through a one-time change, and this involves telling people what they don’t necessarily want to hear. I think as a personal coach I’d be very tough on people, and I suspect many would quit on me before we got deep enough into the real issues.
However, what might work much better for me than personal coaching would be the idea of allowing readers to buy their own blog entries. So you’d submit a question via email, even a lengthy one with a complete background story, and I’d answer it publicly as a blog post within a short period of time (perhaps a week). I receive reader suggestions all the time though, and my current list is up to 80+ questions. Even as I pick away at it, it just grows bigger each month. All of the questions on that list are good ones I feel I can answer, but most are complicated enough that it would take me at least 1000-2000 words to really answer the question adequately. There’s no way I’ll ever get to the bottom of this list, so some of these questions will never be answered. However, if I charged a small fee for answering a reader question publicly, I could justify doing it for a lower rate than I could if it was done privately, since then all the readers could potentially benefit from the answer. I’d probably have to charge something like $100 for this, but I’d answer each question in my usual deep and lengthy style. I’ll even include a full money-back guarantee if you don’t feel satisfied with my answer.
For some people who really want an answer to a pressing question, this may or may not be worth it. I’ve written about a dozen paid articles for $1 per word, but I can charge a lot less for a public blog post that will be posted to this site than for a custom article that will appear in another publication. Even so, I don’t think it would be worth it to do it for less than $100, especially if it’s a topic I’m not currently writing much about. But if it’s too much for individuals, I might be able to setup some sort of group BYOBE system, where I could list all the pending questions, and people could bid on certain questions to move them higher up the list. Then I’d answer perhaps one question a week, picking whichever one had accrued the most dollars. That might be a bit overkill though.
Anyway, if you have any interest in the individual (not group) BYOBE idea, please let me know your question, and I’ll let you know if I feel it’s one I can answer. I would never take anyone’s money unless I see the question first and think it’s one I can do answer effectively. In fact, since I’m interested in testing this idea to see how it goes, I’ll give the first person who decides to do this half-price, so it would be only $50.
Just some of the crazy ideas I’m considering… I’m sure someone will be offended by them.