July was a nice "reset" month for me.
I took some time away from my business to "stop and smell the roses".
I enjoyed the lovely weather in Toronto, caught up with old friends, tried new things like ultimate frisbee and sailing, and went to my first music concert!
I also spent a long time reflecting on my first year as an online entrepreneur. You can find my full review post here - the journey, challenges, milestones, positives/negatives, and surprises.
In addition, I continued to work on link building and started tinkering with more on-page SEO.
Finally, I created my strategy and next steps for the remainder of 2019.
I've simplified the key metrics that I'll report each month:
Revenue increased slightly over June 2019, with international contributions from Amazon Canada and Amazon UK, as well as a non-Amazon program on ShareASale.
Traffic increased in the latter half of the month, although the average ranking of my target keywords declined according to AccuRanker.
RPM remained relatively stable ($25.08 vs. $26.59 last month).
As I explained in my next steps post, RPM is the combination of 4 key factors:
This month, I did a complete site design overhaul - making my older posts look consistent with my brand guidelines - colors, heading sizes, padding/margins, CTA button layouts, etc.
Frankly, it's a pain in the ass but a necessary step to upgrade the overall quality of my site.
Better site design has several benefits:
It'll be interesting to see where CTR lands in the next few months as I continue to upgrade my site through content optimizations, CTA & layout improvements, and custom visual assets.
Here are the results from my most recent "shotgun" email campaign. To be frank, it wasn't all that impressive as I had a total of 2 conversions out of over 2K emails sent.
But... (and this is a big but):
On the positive side, I did these things well:
Overall, it definitely feels discouraging to do all this work and only build 2 links to show for it.
Longer term, I think shotgun skyscraper make sense as it's scalable and can eventually be outsourced to a small team. And as I improve my process, the incremental gains should add up over time until this becomes a link-generating machine.
In contrast, guest posting (another link building technique) requires new content each time so it's not very scalable. However, it's easier to pitch a guest post than a one-way link as you're providing something of value to the other person. I wrote a guest post back in May and I'm waiting to get another one published in August on a high DR site.
For now, I think doing a bit of both strategies makes sense at this stage. Shotgun skyscraper because I need to develop the processes/skills for long-term link building. Guest posting because I need some "quick wins" to boost my rankings and traffic today, not next year.
On-page SEO is the art and science of nailing down the relevancy of an article for its target keyword. Fortunately, there are several tools that can help us do this.
I've mentioned PageOptimizer Pro in the past, a great tool by Kyle Roof, that provides a technical blueprint for on-page SEO (word count, keyword, variations, LSI / NLP / TF-IDF). It's also reasonably priced at $2 a run (but this can add up as you'll want to re-run the same article several times as you implement the recommendations).
I've also bought an AppSumo lifetime deal for Copywritely, an interesting combination of Grammarly and PageOptimizer Pro. It can analyze competitors' meta titles, meta descriptions, H1's, and keyword phrases to produce recommendations on improving your article.
What's interesting, though, is that you can upload an article and the software will provide on-page suggestions directly in the editor. This means you can get your writers to follow best practices for on-page SEO when they create your content.
Last of all, I replaced my SEO plugin (SEOPress) with Rank Math. Typically, you want an SEO plugin to do just the basics, such as creating an XML sitemap for Googlebots to crawl.
Rank Math, however, is full of useful features beyond the basics. I went through the entire plugin and was amazed by its powerful functionality.
For instance, it can add nofollow tags to external links based on what domain the link points to (e.g. Amazon and other ecommerce stores). It can also add the "open in new tab" attribute to links across an entire site - something that I was (foolishly) doing by hand until now.
Rank Math also does a basic on-page analysis of all your posts and provides a score out of 100. This is a nice visual way to see what posts may need more attention.
I've published a post on my next steps for 2019.
My primary objective is to increase revenue to $1,000 per month.
I think this is a realistic (but audacious) goal. I plan to achieve it through 5 key workstreams:
I'm excited to bring this plan to life in the coming months and I'll see you next month!
To Flexibility and Freedom,