Kent Chow is a fellow sidestrapper who has done very well for himself. Despite his full time job in the Silicon Valley, he spends his free time working on his side projects. Last year he brought in an extra $20k from his side websites, which is why when he reached out to me for a chat I was thrilled to meet up.
It was a very informal meeting over Skype, but Kent was able to look at my portfolio of side projects and offer a few tips on how to get more traffic, how to get more engagement, and ultimately how to earn more from my websites. Here’s his take on what I need to go to drive things to the next level.
Improving Host Benchmarker
- Create comparisons – People want to know how Host A compares to Host B. Create pages specifically highlighting the differences between them.
- Add more content – There’s a lot of numbers and graphs. People (and Google) like more conversational content. Add more discussion and images.
- Add social media – Create facebook, twitter, etc accounts and start getting followers. May not help now but will be nice slowly build an audience.
- Cater to the high end – People concerned with hosting performance might not be on shared hosts, but instead on VPS and dedicated servers. Consider changing what I’m benchmarking.
- Add more benchmarks – Consider WordPress tests. Could take it further by even running tests to show which host is the best for specific wordpress themes.
- Offer incentives – Why should someone signup through your affiliate links? Offer them a unique advantage that sets you apart from others.
- Add coupons – People will often search for coupons before signing up for new hosting. If I’m not providing coupons I may be losing the referral credit.
- Get involved – Start sharing results and insights on forums, and become someone people look to and trust. If you’re an authority, people will follow you and you’ll get more traffic that way (Google ‘forum marketing’ for tips).
Kent makes some great points, and I loved the one about offering an advantage so much I implemented it immediately (example: my new interstitial page). Eventually I’d like to do all of these, yet due to limited time I’m going to start with creating those compare pages and providing coupons.
Improving Song Key Finder
The next site we tackled was Song Key Finder. Kent pointed out that this site is getting lots of traffic (about 4k page views per day) and it should be making more than the $100 per month that it’s currently bringing in.
- Optimize AdSense – I only have one ad in the footer of the page. Why not experiment around with other sizes, placement, and multiple ads (as the creator of a wordpress plugin for AdSense optimization, I am ashamed of this).
- Create Amazon-focused pages – Creating articles about the best beginning guitars, or the best guitar tuners under $20 would be a super easy way to make money through Amazon’s affiliate program
- Embed Youtube videos – When visitors are looking at a specific song, why not embed a video of the song so they can play along with it. This will increase the average time on site, which is something Google considers as a ranking signal.
- Add more content – The pages about songs are pretty thin. Any way to add a description, lyrics, or comments?
Kent says that with these improvements it should be making at least $500 per month – that’d be great! I’ll work on these improvements after I get Host Benchmarker humming along.
Kent offered tidbits of advice on my other projects, but these two were the focus of our conversation. I’m going to work on the suggestions mentioned and report back in a month. Thanks for taking the time to offer help, Kent – you rock!
Do any of these optimization suggestions apply to your side projects as well? Let me know if you’ve tried something similar before!