Is It Keto: Month 5

February 6, 2019

One-Line Summary

It’s working, but not well enough.

Highlights

  • Is It Keto’s user visits continued to grow rapidly.
  • Revenues increased substantially from the previous month but missed targets for January.
  • I figured out an easy and inexpensive way to attract users via Twitter.

Goal Grades

At the start of the month, I laid out some high-level goals. Here’s how I did against those goals.

Achieve $50 in revenue

  • Result: Earned $23.37 in revenue (53% below target)
  • Grade: C

Revenue is growing more slowly than I expected. Almost 80% of the revenue came from a single order because the person bought some high-ticket items after clicking an affiliate link, but this doesn’t feel like something I can rely on.

Add 75 new food pages

  • Result: Added 56 new food pages (25% below target)
  • Grade: B-

I expected freelance writers do a lot of the heavy lifting here, but there was a longer learning curve than I expected, so I ended up having to write the bulk of these myself.

Hire a reliable content writer

  • Result: Still working on it.
  • Grade: B-

I did find a reliable writer, but it still takes me almost as long to edit their writing as it would to write the content myself. I’m still trying to find ways to reduce costs and eliminate the need for so much editing.

Stats and Metrics

Amazon Affiliate Stats

Amazon Earnings - Jan. 2019
Amazon affiliate earnings - January, 2019
Metric December 2018 January 2019 Change
Total Earnings $1.20 $23.37 +$22.17 (+1,848%)
Clicks 13 73 +60 (+461%)
Conversion 7.69% 23.29% +15.6 (+202%)

Revenues and clicks increased, but my experience with Amazon is that it’s bursty and high-variance. 80% of my revenue came from a single order, so it’s unclear if I’m at the high or low end of variance for the month.

Visitor Stats

Google Analytics - Jan. 2019
User sessions - February 2018 through January 2019
Metric December 2018 January 2019 Change
Unique Visitors 1,100 2,608 +1,508 (+137%)
Total Pageviews 2,938 7,614 +4,676 (+159%)
Referrals from organic search 641 2,054 +1,413 (+220%)
Referrals from Facebook 61 210 +149 (+244%)
Referrals from Twitter 65 374 +309 (+475%)

There was a huge jump in visitors this month, but it’s unclear how much is actually due to anything I did. It’s a site about a popular diet, so traffic increases dramatically in January with diet-related new year’s resolutions.

One big takeaway is that organic search dominates my traffic. While I’m pleased with my Twitter growth, it represents only 14% of the site’s traffic, whereas search accounts for 79% of users (up from 58% in December).

SEO Stats

Google Search Console screenshot
Google Search Console - January, 2019
Metric December 2018 January 2019 Change
Google-indexed pages 14 49 +35 (+250%)
Google indexed vs. excluded pages 24.1% 72.1% +48 (+199%)
Domain Authority (Moz) 9 9 0
Linking Domains (Moz) 10 9 -1 (-10%)
Ranking Keywords (Moz) 17 27 +10 (+59%)

Not many external pages link to Is It Keto or its sub-pages, so Google still considers several of the site’s pages to be irrelevant, but it’s fortunately increasing the proportion that it considers relevant. Oddly, it still claims that there are only 117 pages, even though it did a crawl of the sitemap on Feb. 1, when there were 132 pages.

Finances

Income/Expense Amount
Amazon Affiliate revenue $23
Content writers -$1,072
Twitter manager -$65
Net Profit -$1,114

Oof, I’m taking a hard hit on the cost of content writers. The problem is that it’s mentally draining to write well, so I can’t write articles and develop the technical parts of the site at the same time.

When I created the site, I expected to be able to get costs down to $5-10 per article, but in reality it’s costing me about $65 per article. On top of that, I’m still spending a lot of mental energy on editing. Overall costs are even higher than $65/article because I’ve hired several writers on a trial basis, but they turned in work that was unusable.

My Twitter Revelation

My biggest flash of insight this month was that people will follow Is It Keto on Twitter just to see which new foods we’re writing about.

It sounds obvious because that’s how almost every business uses Twitter. But I was locked in a narrow view because I had previously found almost all of my users in keto Facebook groups where just posting arbitrary articles would be considered spam. Instead, I had to search around for people asking whether a food is keto and I’d respond by linking them to Is It Keto (or, more commonly, quickly writing the article and then sharing the link).

But on Twitter, users will follow Is It Keto just to see what new foods I post. That opens up a whole world of possibility because I can guide users toward more profitable pages. For example, lettuce is keto but Is It Keto can’t show a relevant affiliate link on that page because nobody buys their lettuce from Amazon (except for a few dissatisfied customers). So even if I can answer someone’s question about lettuce by linking them to Is It Keto, they’d have to visit the lettuce page, then visit another page that has an affiliate link, then click the affiliate link, then buy something. It’s too long and tenuous a chain. Now Is It Keto mostly tweets to share analysis of keto-friendly products that users can buy through Amazon.

What’s more, if a product is keto-friendly and I @mention the brand in my tweet, that company often amplifies it by retweeting or liking it. One of the biggest tweets of the month was this one about Sparkling Ice, which the company retweeted to their 38,000 followers:

Outsourcing Twitter

Once I realized that people would engage with Is It Keto’s tweets, I needed followers. And for that, people needed to notice the account.

I did the normal Twitter thing and followed people who were following other keto Twitter accounts and engaged in discussions with the #keto hashtag. The discussions weren’t very in-depth because most people are just sharing weight-loss progress or pictures of food, so I’d respond with some positive encouragement.

I soon realized that all the stuff I was doing was pretty easy, so I wrote a guide that just described exactly what I was doing to find followers (i.e., searching for the hashtag, complimenting people on their progress).

I posted the job on Upwork and, within a day, found someone who took it over for $4/hr. There were some mistakes at first, but now it’s on auto-pilot. The Twitter contractor attracts about 35 followers per week for a cost of only $30-35 in weekly billing.

Wrap Up

What Got Done?

  • Successfully outsourced Twitter management
    • Gained 210 Twitter followers and 374 clicks
  • Published 56 new food pages
  • Tweaked the design of the homepage so that it exposes more fresh content
  • Added automation to reduce my manual effort in uploading images for foods
  • Wrote a tool to parse the logs so that I can get more insight into user behavior
    • e.g., Do users tend to leave after hitting a 404? What does it look like when a single user visits many pages?

Lessons Learned

  • Organic search is outperforming everything else by orders of magnitude, so I should focus my efforts there.
  • People find Is It Keto relevant even when they don’t have a particular question in mind about whether a food is keto.
    • This means that I can use standard techniques on Twitter to share content and outsource parts of that process.
  • It’s prohibitively expensive to train writers.
    • If a writer can’t produce content that’s very close to what you want by the second or third try, they likely will not be able to get there without months of instruction and feedback.
    • It’s better to hold out for someone who can quickly learn to write what you want than to burn time trying to train someone who’s below expectations.

Goals for February

  • Achieve $60 in revenue
  • Add 30 new pages for different foods
  • Reduce average cost per article

Updated: