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The 91st Day

See that blip of traffic at the end?

Pretty cool, right?

That blip represents 293 pageviews.

Look, in the grand scheme of things that’s an extremely small sliver of traffic.

I’ve had days where a site has done over 100,000 pageviews in a day.

But those 293 pageviews were the greatest pageviews that I ever received.

We didn’t make a dime from those pageviews, but they gave me hope. They renewed my energy.

When you see just a small sliver of light it lets you believe that you can make it out.

And now I know we could.

But there was a problem.

I honestly had no idea WHY we got that many pageviews.

I looked at the source and saw that Pinterest was sending the traffic which made perfect sense as that was the only place we promoted the content.

But WHY this particular piece of content? If you’re curious it was a guide to carbs.

To be honest, I had no clue. I didn’t see why this content stood out from the others.

I guess we got lucky but there had to be a way to continue that luck.

So I pressed on. My excitement was contagious and it gave my wife and brother a bit of renewed energy.

The pageviews were dropping again, but they were at least higher than before. You wouldn’t think much of it, but there is a big difference between 7 pageviews a day and 55.

HUGE.

However, I was still trying to solve this damn puzzle.

Why did that one piece of content get “so” many pageviews?

Over the next couple of days the traffic didn’t rise again. I wasn’t worried, but I was worried.

I thought about that long drought that we had gone through and I couldn’t take seeing my wife and brother lose the enthusiasm again.

September 8th

But then on September 8th it jumped again.

203 pageviews!

Woohoo! Back in business baby!

I was pumped. So much so that I took us out for drinks. No way did we have two traffic flukes 10 days apart.

We were really onto something.

I was a little hungover the next day which sucked because I expected traffic to go back down. Nobody wants to see traffic go down while being hungover.

Things were slow at first, but then I randomly checked the numbers before dinner.

365 pageviews.

Whaaaaaaaaat?!

This was our biggest traffic day ever!

Were we on the path to glory? Should we go out for drinks again?

I decided against it because:

  1. I was still hungover
  2. 365 pageviews doesn’t really buy 5 rounds of drinks

Plus, I really wanted to figure this damn thing out.

Why in the hell were we getting traffic?

September 10th, traffic dipped a tiny bit but still over 300 pageviews.

Hm, would this mean traffic was now declining? I wasn’t sure but I was actually excited about the next day.

While I wanted traffic to go up, if it went down, then I would still have something to look at.

I’m curious by nature and I always want to understand things. This was my opportunity.

But on Sunday we got 660 pageviews

Yo.

660 pageviews.

What. Was. Happening??!?!

I had no clue, but I was loving it.

Monday? 2,019 pageviews.

That was it.

That was the day that I felt we made it. I don’t know why. Nobody said this in the blog world, but for me getting 1,000 pageviews in a day was legit.

Anyone could do 100, but 1,000? It felt like elite company.

(After doing this for 4+ years now I can indeed say that if you can get a site to over 1,000 pageviews a day you are in elite company. Sad, but true.)

I figured I would get a new membership card in the mail. Actually, I thought it would be delivered first class via UPS or something because this doesn’t happen to anyone.

Unfortunately, there is no General Blogging Society that does cool things like that.

It should exist though.

When things are going well it’s kind of weird because you don’t envision them getting even better. Especially when you’ve been at the bottom.

Tuesday came. 2,906 pageviews.

Traffic wasn’t going down, it was going up.

Does this usually happen? What do you do when it does?

I stopped watching TV at that point. Google Analytics was my new show.

I’d wake up in the middle of the night, turn on my phone, and open the Google Analytics app.

14 people currently on your site.

It felt good.

We had put in the work and were being rewarded. People were coming to our site.

I absolutely loved it.

I would randomly throw up my middle finger and point it in a direction.

Who was I flipping off? I don’t know, but it felt like people were against me and this was me showing them!

Wednesday came and well, let’s just get to it. 3,706 pageviews.

This was another special day not because it was our highest yet, but because that was the day I had belief that we could build a blog that does over 100,000 pageviews a month.

Remember how I said that 1,000 pageviews a day is elite company?

Well, then 100,000 pageviews in a month is some secret society stuff. If you get 100,000 pageviews then you can apply to AdThrive which was my dream ad network.

I imagined my bank account getting thousands of dollars of ad revenue every single month.

Hell, we didn’t need that much to survive. About $3,400 and all of our bills were covered along with food.

It would mean no more stress for the wife, no more looking for a job for my brother, and no more freelancing for me.

Don’t get me wrong, we wouldn’t live like royalty but nobody every thinks they are going to stop at the first goal.

But this was just one day.

I’d need 29 more days like this so I was very, very excited to see that the next day would bring.

4,000 pageviews?

5,000 pageviews?

Hell, I can’t lie, I even allowed myself to envision 10,000 pageviews happening.

Whatever it was going to be, I knew it was going to be great.

2,760 pageviews.

Hm, was our site down? Was something broken?

Why did we get less than the day before? We had been rising for the past 4 days it made no sense why it would drop.

So I dove into analytics deeper and found that the post that was carrying the weight was starting to die off on Pinterest.

Hm, maybe I could revive it in some way.

I tried everything

The next day, 1,388 pageviews.

Day after that? 840.

This was a nightmare.

Pageviews dropping. Dream of getting into AdThrive fading.

And absolutely no idea what I could do to change it.

Here were the following days until it felt like we were back at the bottom:

  • 812
  • 443
  • 392
  • 243
  • 199
  • 157
  • 208
  • 223
  • 146

It continued like that for a bit until it settled down to 27 – 69 pageviews a day.

From over 3,000 pageviews to the bottom of the barrel.

AGAIN.

But it was okay. The last time this happened I only had to wait about a week before things picked back up again.

I was wrong.

From September 24th to October 27th, the site wouldn’t break 300 pageviews.

Over a month of nothing.

Was it better than the 7 pageviews a day? Yeah, but it was probably more frustrating simply because we had seen the potential.

We had reached the summit only to tumble back down to the bottom.

What’s worse is that there was still no indication as to what was happening.

Until in mid-October it finally clicked for me.

Finding What Works

At this point we had over 40 posts on the site. That’s a decent number to start seeing what is actually working and what isn’t.

You see, I fell into the trap of thinking that the stuff that was getting traffic was simply things that had good writing.

But that wasn’t it.

The stuff that was getting traffic fell into one of two categories (sometimes both). It was either:

  1. Something people were searching for
  2. Something people had a high interest in

Some posts hit one of those two things while most of our posts didn’t.

So the question then became how could we ensure that EVERY single post that we wrote from here on our fit into one of those two categories?

It was simple. Just see what was popular on Pinterest and then write your own post about it.

And that’s what we did.

At first nothing was happening. I had a bit of patience so I didn’t mind, but you have to keep in mind that it had been a while since I felt like the site was on the right path.

The month of October was starting to feel like a dead month.

But on Friday, October 28th something changed.