Over the past three weeks I have been working on some big changes to come to this website. These changes should accomplish three primary objectives which I have for the website both from my perspective and the perspective of any of my readers. The first objective is monetization. Although this site has been ad-less since its inception, I am going to roll out changes in order to begin drawing a small income from this website. The second objective is usability. Although I think the theme I’m currently using is fairly attractive, it leaves a lot to be desired in the way of accessibility. My changes have tweaked the website a bit to make it a little easier to navigate and to make it easier to browse through the content I have (nearing 100 articles). The final objective is marketing. I want to be able to reach more people through this website and deliver content that has a greater positive impact on peoples lives. Although many of my changes in this area won’t be realized for some time, they represent a shift in my posting strategy.
Monetization with AdSense
My primary method to begin monetizing this website is to start putting AdSense  ads on the website. Because I have left this site ad-less for several months since its inception, that may have given some people the false impression that I am opposed to ads. The only reason I didn’t put ads on this website from the beginning was because I wanted 100% of my efforts to go to content building and not worrying about ad optimization for traffic levels that would have produced barely any revenue.
I subscribe to about fifteen to twenty blogs that I read each day. About half of them have ads, half don’t. I would actually have to stop and think of which ones use ads and which don’t. The only ones that come off the top of my head are blogs that have actually made statements about whether or not to use ads. I have looked at studies conducted for blog readers and seen that only a really insignificant portion ( < 5% ) would even care whether ads were placed on the website. Contextually relevant ads can also be helpful sources for people viewing the website. Unlike pop-ups, interruption advertisements and irrelevant distractions, I often find contextually relevant ads as being helpful starting points once an article I have been reading has triggered an idea. In this sense ads are actually valuable and not a distraction.
The other reality of this decision is that I need money. I will be attending University in the fall and I will be working hard to try and meet bare minimum financial goals that can allow me to invest more time into this website. I love writing articles and helping others, so I naturally want to turn that passion into a source of income. If ads allow me to make this my only source of income, that will give me more time to help others instead of being forced to work minimum wage at a job I hate just to pay the bills.
My current financial goal was to make an annual income of twenty thousand dollars Canadian (about 15k US) by 2008 purely from business streams. Not too grandiose, but it would be enough to pay for University tuition and food/shelter. Thanks to the interest of my readers and yourself, I think that I may be able to reach that figure in one year. I’m not a materialistic person, but I hate wasting my time on things that don’t fulfill me. Meeting these minimum financial goals will allow me to do that. AdSense seems to be the best way to do that right now.
But, I know that any success I achieve will be entirely because of my readers, so I won’t do anything to violate the trust and help I can provide. Most of the ads I have been testing on a local copy of this blog seem to be only minor additions to the website layout. I am still somewhat skeptical that the image ads provided by Google may be a little distracting, so I’m going to put them through a test period to make the decision between image and text or pure text ads. My promise to you is that I will never, never, ever in a million years, put my own attempts to gain money above providing value to my users. I believe strongly in win-win or no deal.
I will also be adding a donations page where you can send donations to help myself and this website deliver free content to you. Steve Pavlina used this method and reports how it provides a small boost with relatively no downside. I have received a small number of offers for donation, but I didn’t have a system to receive it. When my new website goes live, I will only have check/money order deposits available through mail but I will get PayPal and credit card submissions soon. I don’t expect anything but if you’ve found the content helpful I won’t try to persuade you that I don’t want the money. 😉
Originally I thought I might redesign the entire website theme from scratch. After a quick look at my mediocre web-design skills that idea was quickly scrapped. Instead I took the current theme I have and made some modifications to it. This includes a horizontal navigation bar to more easily access the primary areas of the website. Given that this blog writes articles that don’t usually have any chronological significance, I plan to create a more easily accessible archive. Steve Pavlina ’s layout for his archive is fantastic so I will probably make something fairly similar.
From this new design, optimizations will continually be made. I have a lot of little ideas for making this website better, from rating posts, retrieving random articles or even finding content based on your preferences. Hopefully in the upcoming months I can continue to experiment with how to make this website even better.
Not technically part of my design, but with more free time during the summer, I have been focusing a lot more on how to write better posts that garner greater interest. Some of my posts take off and become huge hits while others die without a whisper. Discovering what appeals to my readers is a very tricky business, but I am trying a modified strategy to help uncover it. Some ideas:
- More Interviews – Many areas I would like to cover but I simply don’t have expertise in that area. By utilizing the expertise of other people I may be able to bring fresh perspectives to this website. I’ve already done one interview and another is on the way.
- More How-To’s – I love practical and usable information. Some of my best articles were how-to related. With all of the changes I’ve made and am making in my own life, I hope I can offer some practical steps and advice for those who want to repeat those changes.
- More New Topics – My age is probably my primary distinction from virtually any other personal development writer. Having a unique perspective can certainly allow me to shed light on how personal development can be used in settings many authors don’t consider. Moving to a new city and making mostly new friends and relationships should give me a lot of room to practice things a lot of other authors don’t cover.
These changes should be up on my website in a few days. I still need to do some webdesign work on my own and then it should take a day or so to implement. I’ll try to make the transition as smooth as possible, but if you see any bumps along the way please forgive me. I’m sure there will be plenty more improvements to come.