Over the years, I’ve experimented with different traffic models and monetization methods. Besides figuring out what to do, I’ve managed to figure out (the hard way!) what not to do. I thought I’d keep it real and share with you some of my giant flops. OK, here we go:
Mistake 1: A social-media-only traffic model (and/or expecting a site to go viral)
This is a huge mistake on all levels unless you really, really know what you’re doing – and even professional growth hackers can struggle to get success with this model. Even if you do manage to get some viral traffic, it won’t be sustainable.
What I did: A few years ago I created a site that was mainly just inspirational sayings accompanied by photos, and thought that it might go viral if shared on social media. Since I don’t have thousands of followers on social media, I paid some social media influencers to share my link (this was very small-scale; under $50 total). I was monetizing the site via Adsense, which would have been fine if I’d had the traffic.
What happened: It was a big flop. My site just wasn’t that amazing! People have short attention spans and there wasn’t really any reason anyone else would re-share the site. I got almost no hits resulting from the influencer shares, and there wasn’t really any other way for users to find the content otherwise: I had no blog posts, no well-thought-out SEO-friendly content.
Take-home message: This is a really hard model to do. If you have actual experience growth hacking via social media, you could have a chance of making it work – and then only if your site material is the type that grabs people. Otherwise, don’t expect a social-media-only traffic model to work.
Mistake 2: Trying to get search engine traffic with lots of little low-quality articles around one or two keywords
Although this model sounds good in theory, it didn’t work out for me with my keywords.
What I did: I purchased a domain with the keyword “toast” in it. I then typed lots of small articles that contained the keyword “toast”. I was using Adsense, which again may have worked if I’d had the traffic.
What happened: Almost zero traffic. No-one in their right minds would truly want to browse a site that was all about toast, so any of the few people who did land on one of my articles would leave the site shortly thereafter.
Take-home message: If you are planning to be an authority on a keyword, write quality articles about things people are actually searching for. Also, make your site look like proper blog where they’ll want to look around and have a chance of interacting with your monetization method.
Almost-mistake 3: Giving up on a promising site in less than a year
If your site is actually growing and people are visiting it, don’t give up in the first year!
What I did: I was almost about to give up on what is now my most lucrative site (no, not this one!) because I hadn’t earned anything via its monetization method of affiliate marketing after about a year.
What happened: Mainly because I couldn’t be bothered closing the site down at the time, I kept blogging on it. About a month after I’d seriously thought of calling it quits, affiliate commissions started to roll in. Things just kept getting better from there on in.
Take-home message: If your site is growing and getting more and more traffic, don’t call it quits just because people are not interacting with your monetization method. The time when you should call it quits is when you’re not getting traffic after about a year. If you’re managing to get increasing traffic but not earning anything, that’s a different, easier problem and your site still has a great chance to do well. Keep it going for longer, tweak things a little, but don’t give up too soon.
Hindsight is always 20/20. But in this case, you can take advantage of my mistakes and learn from them! Save yourself the time and effort going down wrong paths that I did.