Site Update: Where We Are and Plans For The Future

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Regular readers may have noticed some changes around here of late. Certainly, I’ve been giving the site more love. It’s been moved to a new host and I’ve been playing around with the layout. You’ll also notice from the message above that I’m experimenting with affiliate links. The latest addition is some (hopefully minimal) AdSense ads.

This is all part of my new longer term plan to turn this site into something more than just a place to document my projects. I want to build the site both into a resource for the community and into something that can hopefully make some money to support me doing more projects.

A Change in Perspective

In turn, the plan for this site is part of a larger change in perspective that I’ve had this year. For a long time, I’ve wanted to start my own business. This is something I’ve always been open with – even with my employers. This desire wasn’t driven by wanting to make tons of money, I just wanted the freedom to set my own agenda. The problem was I could never come up with an idea compelling enough for me to want to lay aside other projects in order to work on it.

As time went on, I realised what I actually want is to get paid to work on my own projects (actually I’d happily do it for free if I didn’t need money to live). The problem is no-one is going to pay me to do that! By building up this blog into something that brings in some income (however modest), I will actually be achieving that goal. I may never be able to live off the proceeds, but having the exposure will hopefully open up other opportunities.

My Ultimate Goal

The explanation for why this has come to the front of my mind this year lies in my discovery of the Financial Independence (A.K.A FIRE) movement. This is my ultimate goal. Unfortunately, I’m a long way away from that. It would have helped if I’d discovered it 10 years ago. However, 20’s me didn’t really care about money beyond having enough to live comfortably and not being in debt.

The main tenet of FI is that having enough money set aside to support your (hopefully reasonably minimal) lifestyle buys you the freedom to spend your time as you like. It’s really not about the money. Money is just the means to that end.

If only this guy had known about Financial Independence

FI is a long term game. However, for me there would be no functional difference between being fully financially independent and getting paid to work on projects and document them on this site (aside from the need to keep doing it, to ensure a steady income). So with that in mind, it would be nice if I could eventually make enough from this blog to be able to do it full time.

In the meantime, I’m intending to use any proceeds from this blog (after hosting costs), to both finance future projects and to put towards the FI fund.

Wait a minute, did you say AdSense?

As in Google AdSense. Yes, I did. However, I didn’t come to this decision lightly.

This is a blog about self hosting, DIY electronics and Home Automation. Google really doesn’t fit in around here. I don’t like the tracking inherent in Google’s Ad platform and I don’t like being dependent on an external service to serve content on my site.

I’ve thought long and hard about whether I would run ads at all, never mind Google ones. I’ve also investigated other Ad networks and specifically talked to someone at Mediavine. Unfortunately, not only do I not yet meet their traffic requirements, they also require the use of Google Analytics, so I wouldn’t be any freer from Google.

Ideally, I’d like to host my own ads (if I have to have ads at all), for products that are actually useful and relevant. As a (very) small publisher this seems to be out of reach right now. However, if you’d like to advertise here, feel free to get in contact!

So Adsense is here for now. I’m treating the period of the next few months as a trial to see how well it does. I’ll be sure to report back on whether I think it’s worth it. Given the content of this site, I’m assuming that anyone in my audience who doesn’t like the ads has the technical chops to block them. I don’t mind this, my content is still free for you. However, please don’t complain about it unless you’re willing to buy me a coffee! 🙂

Current Status

To have any chance of success in my efforts, I need to bring more traffic in to the site. The main way to do this is of course to produce more content on a more regular basis. This is something I’ve struggled with in the past. Although I’m improving here, I still have a long way to go.

Traffic for the last 30 days
Site traffic for the last 30 days

In order to benchmark to my progress, I’m publishing some of my traffic stats. As you can see from the graph above, I’m getting some reasonably decent peaks when I publish an article, with massive drops in between.

Over the time period above:

  • There were approximately 3500 visits
  • Maximum daily traffic was 886 visits (corresponding to my last Home Assistant article)
  • Minimum daily traffic was 10 visits, but on non posting days is usually somewhere in the 20s or 30s

I’m not going to bother with any further breakdown, such as traffic sources, etc. That can get really boring!

Where to Next?

My immediate goals are what I’m calling the “100-100-100 Challenge”, these are as follows:

  • Achieve an average of 100 visits per day on non-posting days (with a proportionate increase on posting days)
  • Gain 100 followers on Twitter (I’m actually 3/4 of the way there!)
  • Earn $100 (NZ) in blog related income (after fees and tax)

These seem fairly modest and achievable. In addition I’m trying to set up a blogging schedule so that I can produce one post a week – which will certainly help with the above goals.

That’s pretty much it for this update. As always, if you have any feedback on my plans or on the changes to the site, please leave a comment or get in contact.

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4 thoughts on “Site Update: Where We Are and Plans For The Future

  1. Craig Curtin says:

    Good luck on this – what i have read so far seems good.

    Can i make a suggestion – rather than waiting to make a weekly “perfect” post” – have a daily Journal/to do list on line (with just the technical stuff you want to share) and then put some notes into each of the daily tasks as they evolve and come to life – all of the mundane stuff that most people do not think of – when the task is finished/finalised it can (if deemed worthy) be turned into a blog post and polished etc

    As an example i recently added a 2nd MDADM Raid group to a home server with the intention of integrating it into a larger LVM Array and planning for the slow migration from a smaller set of disks to larger disks over time – took a lot of thought and strategizing about the best way to approach it – all of which (if i was a blogger) could have been documented as an evolving thought process – sort of an online technical journal

  2. Hi Craig,

    Thanks for the feedback. You are definitely right about keeping more notes. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all the details after the fact. Since I’m making more of an effort to turn projects into blog posts now, this is something I’m trying to do more of.

    However, I’m not sure about publishing these running notes for two reasons. Firstly, I’m not sure how interesting they will be to people. It’s kind of nice to be able to publish a finished thing and I think this is what people want to read. Secondly, it takes quite a bit of work to write things up for the blog. My internal notes are unlikely to be understandable without the context that I have from working directly on the project. It would take quite a bit of work to shape these up into something useful. Doing this every day would introduce a lot of overhead into the process (also there are some days when I can’t dedicate any time to projects or the blog).

    Thanks again for the suggestion.

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