How We Turned 200 Hours Effort Into Zero Revenue and 22 Subscribers (Part 2)

By Jacob Aldridge

Today’s Itinerary

Why we are sharing all of this information with you? Because we love articles that peer under the hood (open the kimono?) of other web businesses, and wanted to contribute to that community.

If you’re looking for “3 things we did that changed our business”, this isn’t the right post. As the title suggests, we haven’t nailed this yet – but we’d rather be open about all our efforts and thoughts now than spin you a sanitized version later about how we were an overnight success.

Perhaps it will encourage another business (that idea in your head?) to get off the ground. We are also welcoming to any feedback and suggestions from those who have gone before us. If you do have some observations or thoughts, you can comment below, on Hacker News, or privately by emailing us here.

Website Traffic

We’re pretty happy with our first month’s website traffic, with yesterday’s caveat about low subscriber numbers. We are also mindful that Unique Visitors doesn’t mean what it used to mean, when 1 person can access our site from their home laptop, iPhone, and work PC and be counted 3 times.

 

Google Analytics - Launch Month

Lots and Lots of Numbers and Pictures

Here’s the Google Analytics chart – again, because we love when you share, and want to do the same.

We twice beat our launch day numbers, which was great. Those 3 peaks (the beginning, middle, and end of our launch month) were:

  1. Launch day – everybody sharing on Facebook etc, plus loads of people opening and clicking through the email.
  2. Chris had a personal blog post reach the front page of Hacker News – a percentage of people clicked through from his site to ours (and 5% of them signed up for the newsletter, which was nice). So being a dribbling, selfish jerk paid off.
    (Due to time differences, most of that traffic was from the US on Christmas Eve, which means Christmas Day in Australia was our highest traffic day!)
  3. Was a particularly active day on Reddit – we had relevant articles posted on several subreddits that day, which cumulatively drove some traffic.

Indeed, Reddit has been our big find in regards to traffic numbers. We headed over to /r/travel when Lonely Planet temporarily closed its Thorn Tree threads, and have enjoyed being part of the community. Specifically, the niche aspect of the subreddits has allowed us to engage with different communities on different aspects of what we’re talking about – whether it’s Wine tours on /r/wine or our Soft Kiwi, Warm Kiwi meme on /r/BigBangTheory. We’re still learning our way around the communities there – no spectacular successes, and some interesting discourse (we’ve been told to fuck big bang theory, fuck facebook, and fuck this post, which does make you pine for the artistry of being called dribbling and selfish).

Reasons we love Reddit.

Reasons we love Reddit.

Our social media presence (and consequently traffic) has also grown where we are most active, on Facebook (35 Likes at the end of month 1; now up over 50) and Twitter (62 followers at the end of month 1; now up over 75). Each of these send regular traffic now – we have some automation in posting to the sites, but have found the best returns come from being present and engaged.

(We hope nothing we publish here gives the impression that we are more interested in business and money than we are about creating great content to entertain travel lovers. As we said in Part One, we’re here because we’re Travel-, Business-, and Tech- lovers, and we’re keen to share parts of all three.)

We also receive a small amount of traffic from Flickr - some of our best photographs are sourced from Flickr as ‘Creative Commons – for commercial use‘, and we are sure to always acknowledge the photographer directly and ask if they would like us to make any amendments.

Going, Going, Gone!

Going, Going, Gone! The first two photos are Adam Selwood; the splashdown photo is by Mat, Licensed under Creative Commons.

Search Engines are the last source we’ll discuss here (specifically Google, as we only received our first traffic from Bing this week). According to Google Analytics, we had 15,000 impressions in our first month for 60 clicks through (0.4%). Of course, this includes impressions where our average position was >100 (we rank 1,200th for ‘Sydney, Australia’), and Analytics also seems to round up ‘any impressions’ to ’5 impressions’. We don’t think 0.4% is accurate (or, more specifically, we don’t think it measures the most important element in converting from a search engine query to a visitor), but it’s the benchmark we have and will aim to improve.

When you rank these Search Queries by Google Property, only 23 of 1,851 have come from ‘Web’ searches. Almost all the others have come from Google Images. We’d like to see both numbers increasing of course, but driven by improved showing in Web searches: It’s fantastic that we average #1 on Google Images for ‘pantheon hot older male’, but we don’t think our Ancient Rome in a Day post is as relevant for those searchers as it would be for someone on Google Web searching (you know) “ancient rome in a day”.

Content creation

We are storytellers. It’s the most time consuming part of what we do, creating a detailed, engaging article every day. (As an aside, if you want to experience our content by receiving our daily destination emails you can sign up here.)

We are committed to this quality content, and also filtering it through a realistic journey – we don’t find random destination emails to be engaging, we want to be part of a story. So far, feedback is that our readers love being part of that story as well.

@globatris on Twitter

@globatris on Twitter

@Al_followUs on Twitter

@Al_followUs on Twitter

And we’re getting better at telling that story efficiently. Perhaps our biggest win was changing the email template from Jacob’s original design to one designed by Chris, based on reader feedback and email statistics (See Part One for some more information on this change). Photos are now a larger part of what we’re sharing, and the email is more digestible for all readers with links to dive into the full journey if a specific destination is interesting. We are also no longer producing the same content in two locations (our efforts to link MailChimp and WordPress were not successful).

We would be remiss to talk about our content creation without another acknowledgement of the generosity of so many photographers who share their images through Creative Commons. There’s been some controversy in this area of late – mostly because of sites using photos without permission or attribution – so we want to be loud and clear how much we love the photos we use and the photographers who share them (oh, and all those people who share their travel tips with us as well!).

@RaineBaljak on Twitter

@RaineBaljak on Twitter

One piece of content feedback not yet implemented is a ‘Weekly digest’. It’s something people suggested in our pre-launch survey, and it’s common feedback when we talk to those who have Unsubscribed to our daily destinations email. This will be the largest test of our “everyday” model – if most people want a weekly digest, albeit of 5 x daily destination articles, that will be particularly telling for us. Our hypothesis at present is that the people who want weekly, not daily, are not our target audience – but we would be crazy not to listen to that market as well.

Specific Target Market

Slightly more targeted than yesterday’s chart. Not to scale.

 

Probably the greatest asset we have right now is our ‘Calendar of Awesome’. This is a detailed calendar that plans our itinerary in advance. Some two dozen major events (from the Superbowl to the Cheese-rolling festival) are pencilled in, and we fill in the gaps by drafting realistic holiday itineraries. This means a lot of time on sites like Skyscanner and travel forums, seeking (as a current example) the best way to get from Osaka, Japan to New Orleans, USA, via Cancun, Mexico.

The Calendar of Awesome is the business platform on which the interesting content is built – it prevents us from travelling into a dead end. It will also prove its worth when direct advertising (see below) is implemented – knowing where we will be and what we will feature months in advance allows us to have conversations with businesses who could be (ethically) included in our content.

What’s Next for Content?

We’ve never missed a deadline, and our lead time is improving. Our Calendar is now a month ahead, and our emails are a few days ahead. Both of these will continue to improve, freeing us up from daily deadline pressures in order to focus on other elements of the business (remember, this is not our full time focus).

Our Local Guides page is now live, but we’re not actively driving traffic to it (eg, by PPC). Our readers want local knowledge, and we want to give it to them. So if you would like everydaydream holiday to visit your city or your favourite travel destination, we would love for you to tell us why.

Revenue

We used to laugh about how at #HNLondon Meetups some hacker would show off a neat little piece of hobby code, and immediately be asked ‘what’s the revenue model?’ Not everything needs to be a business or have a revenue model … but our intention is for everydaydream to be a profitable business.

Simultaneously with launching we developed a great list of potential revenue models. We then identified that content was our core, which ruled out some models like paying for subscriptions (we want our gorgeous articles to be enjoyed by everyone) or becoming a daily deals site (“12% off your trip to Sydney” isn’t the level of discourse we dream about).

We established an Amazon affiliate account from the beginning (if you buy this Apple MacBook Pro, we will get a commission), and it has a presence in our newsletters and website. We’ve had 61 clicks through so far, for zero conversions. This all links back in to yesterday’s “more subscribers” discussion – even if our conversion rate were a few percent, seeing 0 from 61 would be the most likely outcome. When we’ve sent 500 people through for 0 conversions, we can confidently say that our processes aren’t working here.

That’s also why we haven’t pushed too much further with Affiliate advertising. We’ve been approved for some others, but the time to implement those into our site and newsletter process has been time better spent increasing subscriber numbers.

In the medium term, Direct advertising is our plan. Amazon is great when talking about Lord of the Rings, Big Bang Theory, or Photography (none of those are affiliate links, by the way – they go to our articles on that topic). But more often than not we’re talking about learning to surf in Byron Bay, or eating the best gelati in Rome. So far, none of our recommendations or links have been sponsored; eventually, when some are, we will only do this in an ethical way. The details of that are still being discussed internally – any examples of websites doing this well are gratefully received.

We said in a recent post that our revenue is approximately 100% less than Buzzfeed (but at least we source of photos properly). We plan to change that. Our funding is also 100% less than Peek.com. We are less concerned about changing that, and definitely not before we demonstrate traction.

What’s Next for Revenue?

Had you offered us, one month ago, the sort of engagement numbers we have, we would have been happy. Now that we’re knee deep in this baby, we know we can do so much more.

Indeed, we need to rapidly 10x our subscriber list – failure to do so will mean shifting the energy away from holiday content generation and into our next idea. Thankfully, we believe our focus will create the targets we’re setting ourselves.

As we noted yesterday, part of that focus is PR and Guest blogs, for both travel industry sites and also general start-up or business sites.

If you run a travel or business website and would like to discuss content creation or partnerships with everydaydream holiday, please contact us and start the conversation.

And please – if you do have any observations or questions about any of what we have shared, you can comment below, on Hacker News, or privately by emailing us here. And if you got this far, you should also follow Jacob and Chris on Twitter.

Thanks, as always, for reading and sharing.
Jacob and Chris, on our everydaydream holiday

2 Responses to “How We Turned 200 Hours Effort Into Zero Revenue and 22 Subscribers (Part 2)”

  1. Erich Stauffer

    I came here through Hacker News so you know (as you mentioned) that traffic works from there, but like you mentioned elsewhere, that’s not your target market for your product. I too have seen success with Reddit traffic, but it seems similar to HN in that it gives short bursts with little return. It’s much better I found to treat content like products and try to solve people’s problems with what you’re writing. I call this the “content/market-fit”. By mining forums and sub-Reddits you can sometimes discover questions people have about a place that you can then answer. Google wants to deliver the best answers to people so people will naturally start seeking you out, which is what you want. Thanks for writing this up and sharing your ideas. I’m now following you on Twitter and look forward to future posts!

    • everydaydream

      Thanks again Erich,

      You’re right – 10,000 bored travel lovers would have been more fabulous than 10,000 business / startup types. Hopefully at the end of month 2 we’ll be writing about how we found the right fit!

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