Monthly Report – July 2012


Welcome to the first ever monthly progress report for July 2012!

For those of you following The Bootstrapped Entrepreneur leading up to launch, you may recall the weekly journal entries I was making for Traffic School. Well, now that the blog is live and running, I’m morphing those updates into these monthly reports.

For those of you who reading for the first time, welcome!

Two of my blogging “idols” Pat Flynn (SmartPassiveIncome.com) and Corbett Barr (ThinkTraffic.net) have popularized the concept of a monthly progress report or accountability journal as a way to share how their blogs are growing.

Do you keep a accountability journal or a running progress report on your blog or website? If so, what are the things you talk about and share? Let us know in the comments below.

I write these progress reports once a month not to brag or beat my own chest.

Instead, I write these reports for two main reasons.

  1. Keep myself accountable to the goals I said I was going to deliver from the last report
  2. Inspire you in your quest to building your business

I will be 100% transparent about the things I’ve learned this month and include real numbers and data to show you what’s going on “behind the scenes”. No bullshit. Just the real, honest truth!

Since there’s been a lot of ground covered in the first few weeks of the blog, let’s dive in.

July Analytics for The Bootstrapped Entrepreneur

Here’s a quick few snapshots from my Google Analytics account.

July 2012 Google Analytics Visits

1,000 visits in the first month! AWESOME!

While I had not made any specific traffic goals for the first month, this result far exceeded my expectations. With close to a third of those visits came in on the July 17 launch day, the trailing results for the weeks following show a strong foundation I can continue to grow and build upon in coming months.

Top Traffic Sources

July 2012 Google Analytics Top Traffic Sources

Prior to launch, I spent a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook engaging with people through follows, mentions, likes, shares, etc. I felt this would be an important way to hear what people are saying about bootstrapping and entrepreneurship, plus start building an audience ahead of time.

All that hard work paid off!

Next to direct entry, Twitter and Facebook are the two most popular traffic sources. And, without any requests or prompting, one follower included me in their Founders Weekly newsletter.

Thanks Rahul!

Top Content

July 2012 Google Analytics Top Content

Here’s the blog posts I published leading up to and during launch week to kickstart the blog.

You can see the most popular post was “The Biggest Lessons Learned from Bootstrapping a Startup” where I asked 47 entrepreneurs to share their experience on bootstrapping a startup. I got 20 responses back or a 40% conversion rate from ask-to-response – not too shabby!

I consolidated all 20 of these quotes into a “round up post”, where each entrepreneur was featured with their quote, a short bio, headshot and link back to their website and Twitter handle.

Then, once the post was published, I sent a quick email to each of the entrepreneurs, thanking them for their insight and including a non-intrusive link back to the post. I followed up the email with a quick Twitter @mention shout out to let them know I appreciated their support.

Well, without even having to ask, many of them went ahead and re-tweeted, liked or mentioned the post to their audience, driving traffic back o the post.

The round up post technique really works!

I also wrote a guest post that was published during launch week over on ExpertEnough.com.

Hack Your Way to Becoming an HTML Expert

Guest posting on other authority sites and blogs is a great way to bring referring traffic in to your site, earn backlinks to rank well in the search engines, plus help get your name out there. This will be a key tactic I will use in future months, as I look to build a thriving audience here.

Followers

Medium Pre-Launch July 2012 Difference %
Email Subscribers 8 34 +26 +325%
Twitter Followers 151 200 +49 +32%
Facebook Likes 19 55 +36 +189%

Prior to launch, I setup a splash landing page to give people a teaser of what the new site was all about and give them an opportunity to get notified when the new site would launch by entering their email address.

Coming Soon Landing Page

These email addresses would form the basis of my email subscriber list and will be important relationships to develop moving forward.

As I mentioned before, I also spent a lot of time on Twitter and Facebook leading up to, during and after launch. This not only helped me build an audience ahead of time, but I also made some great relationships with fellow entrepreneurs and people looking to start their own business.

I had a little extra help on the Facebook side of things, but I’ll get into later…

Financials

Since I’m treating this blog like a business and in the same vain of transparency from above, it’s only fair I share with you the financials or business behind this blog.

Revenue

My #1 focus and priority for the first 6 months of this blog is building traffic and a thriving audience.

And, while there is no revenue to speak of yet, I plan on building out the following revenue streams along the way:

  1. Affiliate Marketing – This is the quickest, easiest way to start generating income. You will never see a banner ad on this site from some random advertiser or annoying Google Adsense. Instead, all you will see is quality products and services I have personally used and recommend.
  2. Consulting – While my time is limited, there are people out there who may find I can contribute to their success through dedicated time together. And until I have my own product to sell, the next best thing I can sell is my skills and expertise.
  3. Information Products – The most profitable and scalable business model will be the information products I have envisioned for the blog. These could be anything from ebooks to courses to apps to who knows what will come along.

Look for these different business models to debut when the time is right, as I build the business side of the blog alongside the traffic.

Expenses

Expense Cost
Total $328.35
Namecheap.com Domain Registrar for domain name “bootstrappedentrepreneur.net” 9.95
Bluehost.com Domain Hosting 8.95/month
WordPress.org blogging software FREE
iStockphoto 120 image credits 180.50
Coming Soon Pro landing page plugin 50.00
Genesis Theme Framework for WordPress 59.95
AWeber Email Marketing software 19.00/month
Google Analytics FREE
Clicky Web Analytics FREE

NOTE: Several links in the above table are affiliate links to products and tools I personally recommend. If you click through and decide to purchase the product, thank you! I will receive a commission for referring you and I will reinvest this money into the growth and development of this blog.

You may be thinking… “wait a minute, if this blog is all about bootstrapping a startup on a budget, shouldn’t I just use free tools to get started”.

While there’s a lot of free tools out there and included in this list, free does not always equal freedom or the amount of free time and know how to get started. Besides money, you may be bootstrapping your business as your time and resources are limited. If you don’t have the time or expertise available, shelling out a bit money is a small price to pay to fast tracking your business to market and revenue much sooner.

I won’t get in to detail here on all these tools or how they work. I’m saving that for an upcoming Resources page and future review posts to help you out.

Facebook Like Campaign

The only one I will mention is the $50 Facebook Ad Credit I received for FREE from Bluehost.com. I setup a mini “friend of a friend” Facebook Like sponsored campaign.

The Bootstrapped Entrepreneur Facebook Ad

This campaign is basically sponsoring the word of mouth reach possibilities by presenting your Facebook page to your friends and friends who like your page.

For more tactical reasons, I used this campaign to acquire the minimum 25 Likes on the page Facebook requires to secure the custom username, plus gain the valuable Insights reporting to see how people are engaging with the page.

I’ll break down how these campaigns work in a future post, so you can learn how to build a thriving audience on Facebook.

Key Learnings

Leading up to blog launch, I had enrolled in the Traffic School and Start a Blog That Matters courses offered by Think Traffic. These courses were a tremendous help in laying down a blueprint to follow. While I’m not quite 100% through the courses just yet, I did accomplish the primary goal of getting my blog launched in roughly the same timeframe they talk about in the courses. I will be finishing up these courses in the next 1-2 months to further grow and optimize whatever parts might still be needing attention on the blog.

Here’s the four biggest actions I took away from the courses that I feel that contributed to a successful launch.

  1. Pre-launch buzz

    In daily conversation, I mentioned to people I was launching a blog. And several of them checked out the site, entered their email address or became a Twitter follower or Facebook fan. Also, I got my social media outposts up and running as soon as possible.

    I cannot reiterate enough how these conversations and engagement helped create a captive audience ready for the content as soon as I launched.

  2. Write epic content

    The content I’m writing about related to bootstrapping and entrepreneurship is a bit lesser known to most people outside startup and entrepreneur circles. So, I wanted to produce content that would be consumable to the average joe or layman wanting to start their own business.

    I tried to put my best foot forward at launch by spending a lot of time writing and re-writing the posts published during launch week. Or, at least my best for now.

    Writing doesn’t come naturally to me, but one of the reasons I took up writing this blog was to hone and practice this skill. As I grow and develop as a blogger, some of my best work or “epic” content is still to come.

  3. Content promotion

    As I published posts throughout launch week, I made a point of syndicating this content to the social media outposts and email subscriber list. Also, for the round up post, I reached out with a personal thank you to each of my interview subjects, who acted on my behalf to promote the content to their audience.

    It’s one thing to write good content. But, if there’s nobody around to read it, what’s the point?

  4. Join a mastermind group

    This is probably the single, most productive thing I did leading up to launch. I hooked with a few other students from Traffic School to meet once a week, where we discuss what each other is working on, what we may be struggling with and how we can help each other from one week to the next.

    This form of accountability is a godsend for a procrastinator like me. Each and every week these meetings give me a “kick in the pants” to spur me on to bigger and better things for this blog and my business.

    Thanks Pamela, Jason and Ryan for your continued support along this journey!

Looking Forward

For the month of August, I’ve got my work cut out for me.

Rather than trying to set unrealistic goals outside of my control like x number more visits or y number of Facebook fans, I’ve tried to set SMART goals that I can control based on my time devoted to the blog.

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Relevant
T = Timely

In due time, the traffic and followers will come based on the actions I take below.

  1. Continue posting a minimum one post per week.

    While this is the BARE minimum, I have a lot of post ideas floating around in my head and lots of info to share. And, I develop a better rhythm and schedule for posting, getting these posts on to paper will be become much easier over time.

    So, I may from time to time send out more than one post per week. I don’t think anybody’s gonna mind that, eh?

  2. For every 1 weekly post, write 1 guest post

    As I’ve found already, guest posting will be the key to growing my audience OUTSIDE my current network. So, for every weekly post I publish, I will also be writing and submitting a guest post to blogs that have similar interests, topics or audiences that could use my skills and expertise.

  3. Build up a 4 weekly post reserve

    I am preparing for a two-week holiday to Turkey in early September. And I plan on visiting a few remote locations where it’s doubtful I’ll have WiFi access. So, to hedge my bets, I need to get ahead of schedule and build up a reserve of posts that I can schedule while I’m away. This will mean one extra post per week for this month in order to get there.

    But, don’t worry… I’ll still check in and respond to comments as often as I can. As, building relationships with you, the readers, is the most fun and exciting part of this blog.

  4. Finish Start a Blog That Matters course

    Since I cannot finish both courses at the same time, while I’m also posting and guest posting, I will focus on wrapping up SABTM first. And, since I’ve only got 5 more lessons to go, this should be quite feasible to accomplish.

  5. Photo credit: #18627043, iStockphoto

    ***

    What are your goals for the summer? Do you write a similar journal to keep you on track and accountable?

    Leave a comment and share your experience below.

Comments

  1. Blair,
    This is truly fascinating! How long did it take you to put this post together? As a fellow new blogger (and traffic school student with you) I am very interested to watch your growth. I also appreciate that you are straight up about how you eventually want to turn this into a business.

    This transparency takes some balls, especially since you are very new. I guess since there are less eyes on your content someone could think otherwise, but I would disagree. I think it keeps you accountable. What if each month everything stays the same? Well, since you are being transparent I think it brings another level of push on your end.

    Just as someone who enjoys looking at numbers I thought it was very interesting. Especially because everything I see at Pat Flynn’s blog and Thinktraffic is after they have been a massive success. It is cool to see someone who is new doing this.

    Thanks man.

    • Izzy

      Thanks for not holding back! Appreciate the compliment here.

      While this post took longer than expected (8+ hrs), I feel it was well worth the time and effort. Even if one person like yourself finds it useful, than I’ve done my job.

      I’m guessing this won’t take near as long in the future, as I get more into a rhythm writing and blogging, plus have more to talk about in between the months. Stay tuned for next update!

      B

  2. OMG! Hey Blair, your stats are impressive. Your pre-launch number of subscribers is my post launch number! What do you think contributed best to getting this number to the 30s?

    • Thanks Rob!

      I think the biggest contribution was getting as much engaged traffic as possible coming to the website. Like I mentioned in the report, I worked on getting my Twitter following and Facebook Likes up ahead of time. Plus, I had the opt in form ready to take email addresses on my splash page when they landed.

      Hope that helps!

      B

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