Running a Content Site for 10 Years: What I’ve Learned

Wow! You know I just realized that I have been running a content site (ThinkComputers.org) for 10 years now! Time sure does fly! I am definitely privileged to be able to do what I love and what interests me as my job. There are not many people that can say that! ThinkComputers is a content site, which means we rely on our content to drive traffic to the site so we can make money. We don’t offer a service or sell anything.

Things sure have changed in the past 10 years with online advertising, search engines and much more. I have really learned a lot running ThinkComputers, even sometimes the hard way. So here is my advice for anyone who wants to start or is currently running a content site.

Content is King

Obviously with a content site the content is the most important thing. Without content why would people be coming to your website in the first place? The biggest thing that I have learned is that you need to post content often and have a schedule for it. If you are only posting one new piece of content a month your traffic will spike when you post it then die off soon after. Start with what you are comfortable with and work from there. So say 1 new post a week, that’s 4 a month. Release them on the same day each week, that way people will know when to come back to see the new post. The more content you have the more pages Google will index as well. Always have new content, no one wants to keep on going back to a website that has not been updated in months.

Diversify your Income

I first started making money off ThinkComputers using display ads via Google Adsense. I knew nothing about online ads and John Chow was a big help in helping me learn and understand everything. When I first joined Google Adsense it was very early on and I made a killing! Enough so that I decided to quit my job! Now if I would have relied 100% on Google Adsense I would be back working a 9-5! While I was making a killing back then, now I hardly make anything from Google Adsense. As they say, “Times have changed”. If you want your site to be a real business you need to diversify your income. So sell private ads, incorporate on-click ads, add a shopping element, sell text ads, etc. Good things do not always last so make sure you have a backup if your #1 money maker starts to make less money than expected.

Quality Content is Important

If you are running a content site as always content should be your number one concern, but creating quality content is also key. At ThinkComputers we work with many companies reviewing their products. Product reviews make up 90% of our content, but most of the reviews are not what I would call quality content. Quality content is something that is going to generate a lot of traffic and keep people coming back for quite sometime. No one is coming back to ThinkComputers to read about a 4 year old tech product. That is why I try and come up with some quality content that will keep people coming back to the site. Some examples are Install Windows 7 from a USB Flash Drive and Intel Ivy Bridge Overclocking Guide. These are topics which will keep people coming back to our website for guidance and reference.

Don’t Rely 100% on Google for Traffic

I’m sure if your run a website or blog a majority of your traffic comes from Google. So many of us try and optimize our websites for Google, a process knows as SEO (Search Engine Optimization). For the longest time we were crushing it with Google, showing up on the first page for many of the products that we were reviewing etc. Then all of a sudden the Panda update hit and it basically de-indexed 80% of our site! I talk about this in detail in this post. This was a huge learning experience for me. With that much of the site de-indexed our traffic dropped significantly, which of course impacted income. I was sort of in a panic! This is when I realized I needed to really take time and come up with ways to generate traffic for the site. Since this all has happened we have started a weekly newsletter, really promoted our social media sites and created a forum for users. You can also generate traffic with PPC, banner ads on other sites and news postings.

Make Your Site Easy to Navigate

This seems like a pretty basic thing right? You would be surprised at how many websites that I’ve been to where I’m like, “Um how to I get back to the home page?”. Having a website that is easy to read and easy to navigate can make the difference between someone leaving your website frustrated and someone coming back as a return visitor. About 2 years ago I finally moved ThinkComputers over to WordPress and it not only helped in the upkeep of the website, but also made navigation, reading, etc easier for our users. Always think about your users when you are adding or removing features from your website, they are the reason you are getting paid!

Anyways those are some of the main things that I have learned over the past 10 years running ThinkComputers. There is so much more, but we will leave that for another post! If you want to see what I’m up to you can always check out my blog or follow me on Twitter!


23 thoughts on “Running a Content Site for 10 Years: What I’ve Learned”

  1. Zak says:

    I can tell that I have the same story, 8 years back I was making a killing using adsense then time changed, people become more ads blind that way I started looking for other sources of income and also more sources of traffic.

    1. Wow you two are really on the net for quite some time now. It’s a good thing you were able to overcome some obstacles and get back up.

      And as we always say it “Content is King!”

  2. Caleb says:

    Relying solely on Google has destroyed many so it was smart of you to get that newsletter going 😉

    Great looking site by the way, I can’t believe this is my first time hearing of it and that content snippet image gallery above the header was an innovative approach.

  3. Quinna says:

    Bob, great article. Can you tell me more about the concept. “Sell private ads”

    Is there a site where you can sell private ads?

    Thanks,

    Quinna

    1. CrankyAds dot com is a great way to go!

      It helps you organize everything and has been really effective at selling ads for many marketers. Yaro Starak, Gideon Shalwick, and Ana Hoffman use it as well as many others.

      I’m not affiliated with them quite yet (only 600 visitors per month right now) but I’ve heard nothing but awesome about the service.

      Hope this helps,
      -Gabe

    2. Bob Buskirk says:

      Quinna,

      Most of our private ads are sold through companies we have already review products for. I have not really looked into a true marketplace for selling direct ads

  4. I have been thinking about coming up with a content calendar so I can plan what I put out an when a bit like a tv schedule so my audience always knows what to expect. I like the idea of the reference articles for constant traffic !!

  5. Jamie says:

    Wow for 10 years, thats quite some time Bob. I’ve actually just started my own blog and I’m having sort of a tough time getting visitors so far I’ve only gotten 2 posts down , and I’m actually taking it kinda of slow, don’t want to risk getting backlinks via blog networks or anything like that and jeopardizing my chance of getting my blog legitimacy out there, anyways wanted to say thanks for your tips above 🙂

  6. The Adsense era seems to be over with more people becoming ad blind…As you suggested, looking at other schemes to monetize your site is the way forward…

    Great content has always been a must do and it will continue to be, because why will someone come to your site or blog to read chaff? Robots won’t even do that LOL

  7. Moral of the story: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!

    The trick is to master one method at a time, but expand as you progress. You don’t want to burn yourself out with information overload, so find something that you can stick with for 90 days. Master that method then add another that you can work with.

    Repeat this process until you’re everywhere!

    Thanks for the great post!
    -Gabe

  8. Ten years is certainly perseverance! Thanks for sharing how you’ve overcome some of your obstacles. G has really been smacking down the little guy. (i believe even blogging carnivals are considered suspect.) It will be interesting to observe how bloggers will evolve and adapt their communities without relying so heavily on G-driven traffic.

  9. Suresh says:

    This is a great post and quite inspiring for a newbie like me. 10 years is a long time to manage a site. I found this article very useful. Yes you are right. We shouldn’t rely completely on Google for traffic. Content matters most.

  10. yes i agreed some above comment. Content is the important thing to help you get traffic

  11. Mark says:

    Great points Bob.

    To be honest. I think everybody’s Google Adsense earnings have dried up.

    I am really surprised that a strong replacement hasn’t given it some competition yet.

    In my opinion, Adsense earnings are so low that I bet some strong competition comes around soon.

    No empire lasts forever…that’s a guarantee.

    Mark

  12. faisal says:

    Awesome tips, goes a long way.

  13. JJ Wong says:

    Indeed, we need to keep on changing, nothing last forever.
    Currently still putting Adsense on my site, will continue to build more channels of income from my site. =D

    Thanks for the sharing.

  14. Clair Ryan says:

    Thanks for the great post. Really inspiring for someone like me who wants to get to where you are.

  15. JamesW says:

    Very useful post Bob, I had the same experience with the Adsense on couple of my blogs, in the beginning it was great but now it’s just about peanuts. One day I just decided to turn it off and never looked back since. We always need to diversify our income.
    thanks for sharing

  16. Guru says:

    Very nice post, anybody who really knows what he is talking about will tell you that a content website is one of the best ways to make money online. How you monetize it doesn’t really Mather as long as it fits your content. I prefer Affiliate marketing over AdSense but there are quite some people out there who make a load of money with AdSense.

  17. that is amazing to see here about this topic running a money making content. i learned some thing special from this post here at johnchow.com well done keep it up

  18. Solavei says:

    Wow…. 10 years is quite a long time to be in the game. I have been in it since about 2009 and a ton of things have changed in that short amount of time. I can only imagine what changes you have seen over your 10 years.

  19. I loved the part when you said not to rely on google for traffic and we should try to generate traffic from other resources aswell. Now thats what we say never die attitude.

  20. DylanC says:

    No doubts about number 1. Good content will always draw more readers.

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