Two months have passed since I started this Bible blog project, and there’s been a TON of work put into it so far.
Some of my results aren’t what I expected, whereas others are blowing it out of the water.
Since I have long-term plans for this site (beyond just this one year), I’m super jazzed that things are looking so good so quickly.
Keep in mind though that the whole reason I’m sharing any of this with anyone is because I want this process to be replicable. I know tons of preachers that start blogs/channels only to give up a few months down the road when it doesn’t “take off” like they thought I would.
I scheduled a whole year for this project because that’s about how long it takes to see results after consistent effort. Nobody — outside of unicorn projects and some really shady SEO work — sees results in less than three months.
All of that is to say that if you have any questions AT ALL about anything that I’m doing here, please ask. I want this to be a roadmap that anyone can follow, so I want to produce content that is as helpful as possible.
Let’s dig into the results from this month.
What I Accomplished In November
The website was officially finished by the beginning of November, so I didn’t have to worry about that. There were a few touchup items that I needed to take care of, but that took all of an hour or so.
Most excitedly, my email list continues to grow. If you remember from my last update, I ended October with 574 people on my list.
At the time of this writing (December 1, 2023), I’m sitting at 1,532 contacts.
That’s seriously amazing. It takes some people years to generate a list that high, but that’s because they’re relying on organic traffic to create those leads.
Because I’m using Facebook ads to drive list signups, that process is going much quicker.
Speaking of ads, the average cost per lead for November was right at $0.53. Not as good as October, but still nothing to sneeze at. I’ll probably make some adjustments to the ads and see if that dips back down.
As for engaging that email list, I sent exactly one email in November: A weekly “roundup” of sorts that included all of my daily devotionals from that week.
That was how I originally saw myself delivering my content, but the more I thought about it, the more I think I’m gonna switch to daily, early-morning content delivery (more on that below).
The reasons for that are very simple. First, I want to maximize the connection that readers have with my website. More frequent emails will help people anticipate and read my blog.
The second (and biggest) reason is to maximize the reach of each particular blog article.
In my first email, I simply listed each of the blogs in the email in order of when they were released. When I went back to look at the stats, I noticed that the first blog article received wayyy more clicks than every other article put together.
Honestly, I should’ve anticipated that. People receive tons of emails every day, so only the most devoted of fans will actually scroll through to read the entire email and click on one that suits them – much less go back and read all of them.
By having a daily email with a daily article, each blog post will receive more clicks and be read more often.
A Quick Note About My Content Strategy
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention something about the actual content strategy that I have moving forward.
I mentioned in the intro to this Bible blog project that I would write short, staccato-type articles. Each one would be somewhere between 300-500 words total.
That’s roughly been the case. A few have stretched upwards of 600 words and a few less than 300, but most are in that sweet spot.
I intentionally designed them that way because I wanted them to be consumed briefly and early in the morning, ideally over a cup of coffee. A quick Bible kick start that shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes to read.
Because of that, there are a few limitations to this approach that I should probably disclose.
The Blogs are Not Very Deep
There’s just not enough real estate word-wise to go deep into subjects. They’re more along the lines of “Hey, here’s a quick write up on this one thing. Hope you gain something from it.”
I also don’t have the mental bandwidth to do an in-depth study on everything. That would take 10x more time; I’m going for quantity here.
That’s not to say I don’t cover deep subjects. Several of my blogs have gone into the nature of covenant circumcision, relationship between faith and works, and a few other otherwise-meaty subjects.
My first responsibility in this (and all things) is to the Truth. I have not — and will not — sacrifice anything in that area for the sake of clicks. Ever. Period.
The Blogs are Hyper-Focused
I haven’t really talked much about keyword research on this update yet.
Why? Because my keyword strategy is super linear. The keywords are similar from blog to blog.
Writing a daily article doesn’t allow me to do the keyword research on every single blog that I would normally want to, so I’m sticking with a low-volume, low-competition keyword that I can stick in a few key places and move on.
For instance, I’ll put it at the beginning of the title (the H1), somewhere in the first few paragraphs, as the alt text for the header image, inside meta description and in the URL string. (If you use WordPress and are looking for a quick way to do that, I recommend the Yoast plugin).
Only putting the keyword in those places is not ideal, but it maximizes efficiency and keeps me sane. And remember — I‘ve got to do this for a whole year. I have to pace myself.
Since I don’t have time to do research, I make sure I hyper link any verse reference to the corresponding verse on biblegateway.com, just like this (1 Timothy 1:15). I’m not sure that does much, but in theory, it should provide a signal to Google about what my blog is all about.
What I’m Planning for December
Despite the amount of work, I really feel like I’m starting to make some massive headway. I sent out my first daily blog this morning and got a really good open and click through rate that’s in line with industry averages (more on that in the January update).
Once my email list crosses 10,000 members — hopefully by the summer — I should see some massive traffic coming my way. At that point, several more marketing options open up.
Here’s what I plan to do this month:
Find a Better Writing Schedule
I made a huge mistake in waiting until after Thanksgiving to write my blogs, especially since I wanted to have a blog every weekday morning in December.
That meant I had to write nearly 21 blogs in less than a week, which amounted to nearly 12,000 words in all (basically a micro NaNoWriMo). That’s not sustainable long-term.
I’m hoping I can write a couple every other day or so to increase the quality of each post and preserve my fingers from falling off. Let’s see if I can stay that disciplined.
Increase Ad Budget
Right now, my ads are plugging along at $10 a day. That’s higher than I thought I would spend, but since my goal is to *eventually* monetize this blog through some different channels, while still maintaining its integrity, I felt like the investment right now was worth it.
No idea what I’ll increase it to eventually, but I’ll have to do it gradually so I don’t blip Facebook’s algorithm and cause my cost per lead to tank.
Get Comfortable With New E-Mail Service
In addition to an easier interface, the cost was also cheaper ($50 lifetime subscription for up to 5,000 contacts), and the platform is scaled back, which gives me only what I need. I’m sure it’s lacking in some areas that I’ll eventually need, but so far, so good (fingers crossed).
Get More Reviews for Book
Since Christmas is this month, I thought I’d send all my subscribers a free copy of my e-book: Broker and a Bum: A Modern Retelling of the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.
It’s already enrolled in KDP Unlimited, which gives me five days (every quarter) I can give the digital copy away for free. I’ll plan on doing that the day before and after Christmas Day in addition to December 25.
The goal is to generate some solid reviews, as well as personalize my email for that one day (instead of another devotional).
Is the book great? Probably not, but it’s the best I could do at that time and my mom loves it, so that’s all that matters. Plus, I’ve really enjoyed dabbling in fiction writing, which I think is yet another way to communicate the Gospel.
Here’s to December!
October was a great start, November was strong, so I’m looking forward to a great December too!
Until next month…