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!