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Bible Blog Project (February, 2024)

Another month, another update. Getting tired of these yet?

GOOD BECAUSE I’M NOT.

Seriously, I look forward to this article because I get to geek out on a bunch of stuff that I don’t normally get to geek out on.

For instance, the last few articles for me have been about core updates (yawn), ChatGPT (mk), and linkbuilding (so so). There was one awesome article about Church’s Chicken that was pretty fun to write, but I had to temper my anger at that infuriating establishment several times so it was a chore to get through.

But I digress.

Regardless, I look forward to writing these updates because I kinda feel like they’re the more casual, roque version of the regular blog. Nothing but unstructured, fly-by-the-seat of your pants, SEO goodness (or maybe that’s just me).

Without further adieu, let’s get into it.

How’s the Progress So Far?

On the surface, things appear to be progressing nicely. Here’s a quick look at my Monster Insights graph for this month (This connects automatically to my Google Analytics page so this data is coming straight from the horse’s mouth).

All the numbers are green, which is a good thing. Bounce rate has gone up a little bit though, which is not a good thing.

Ultimately though, I haven’t really made much progress. It may look like I’m 1/10th of the way to my 20k goal, but I’m actually far from it.

Here’s a look at my traffic acquisition chart from Google Analytics. 

As you can tell, the graph is kinda all over the place. The thing to focus on though is the fact that email still makes up an overwhelming amount of the traffic my website receives. 

I’m mot surprised; in fact, that was all a part of the plan. The initial push for traffic was always going to be via email, in the hopes that a rapidly developing email list would send signals to Google that my website is (a) legit and (b) alive.

So far, that seems to be working because the numbers on the organic search are increasing. Not by much, but hey, we all start somewhere.

Again, the organic search is what I’m angling for in this project. Not email, social, or referral — organic. That’s the one that tells me how my site is ranking on search engines and tells me how people are finding me.

In January, I had a grand total of seven organic search visits. That may not seem like much (and it isnt), but it’s up from 5 in December and 1 in November. Any progress is good progress at this point.

I also know that search traffic tends to go parabolic at some point. One month you’ll have 30, the next you’ll have 300. Then, the next month you could have 3,000. That’s just the way the internet works.

How’s the Email List Coming Along?

Ah yes, the email list. My cherished prize. My ticket to 20k visits.

The email list is going great. I took the ad spend down a little bit because I earmarked some of that money for another purpose (see below), but I maintained a healthy growth regardless.

Final numbers for this month are 2,546 total contacts with 2,243 active contacts. “Total” refers to how many emails I collected, whereas “active” is how many haven’t unsubscribed or marked me as the ever-dreaded spam.

I’m ok with a loss of 300 “active” contacts for two reasons:

First, the nature of my lead magnet lends itself to a low engagement rate. People sign up on the list for a free book, then jump off once I start sending them emails. A different lead magnet would attract a different type of person, so this is just the nature of the beast.

Second, the average unsubscribe rate has stayed inside a reasonable number. It’s never gone above 1% of my list size, and has actually been zero for a few days. The average unsubscribe rate across industries is 0.26%, so mine is par for the course.

My open and click through rates also remain steady (~28% and 2%, respectively), but here’s the cool part: Since my list is growing, those numbers have also grown as well.

For instance, back in December, when my list was around 1500, a 2% open rate meant 28 clicks on my blog. Now that my list is closer to 2200, a 2% open rate means 40 people are clicking through. 

Quick napkin math shows that I’m generating around 1 click through for every 54 subscribers, with remarkable consistency. If my numbers hold steady, that means when I hit 10k subscribers (which I should by this summer), I should have 185 click throughs on every single email I send out.

And remember, my blog is a daily blog. I send it out every single weekday — rain or shine — at 5AM. That’s a ton of hits on the website, and a ton of signals to Google that my blog is active. 

With any luck, they’ll wake up and start showing it organically to other people.

What Went Wrong?

January wasn’t a total win for me though. There were a few goals that I had outlined at the beginning of the month that just didn’t happen.

The biggest one was that I did absolutely zero link building. None. Zip.

I had — and still have — plans to hit it pretty hard this month, but I’m irritated at myself that I didn’t get the ball rolling on that this month. With such a short timetable to hit such an ambitious goal, I needed every month possible to get traction. Totally dropped the ball.

The other misstep was that I never once logged on to Threads. I had high hopes of getting started on Threads and making posts and writing a whole article on it and blah blah blah. Never happened. The app is literally sitting on my home screen and I never once tapped it. Shame on me.

Both of those things I’ll hope to remedy in February (fingers crossed).

What About This “New Project”?

Oh yeah! The new project!

I’m not actually sure if I’ve mentioned anything about it here before, but one of my other goals for January that actually did work was starting a Facebook ads campaign to sell some books I had written several years ago based on my Bible classes.

One in particular was a fiction work that was Christian-based. It had a few good reviews so I was optimistic, but I never expected the success it had in January.

With just a minimal ad spend and Facebook’s AI algorithmic targeting in the campaign itself, I was able to sell more than 100 copies of that book in less than 2 weeks. I also got 15 five-star reviews on that book, too. It was all pretty overwhelming.

I’d like to segway here for a second and let you know that I do not consider myself Hemingway. I like writing, I feel like I can come up with half-decent material, but I can rattle off several dozen Christians I know who can write better than me. Who use better grammar. Who create word pictures that dazzle the mind.

All that to say that if I can do it, you can do it.

I know this will probably be an area of interest to several reading this, so I hope to have more info on that in time. Prayerfully, this will be another way to get more Bible-based content out on the shelves that actually helps people get closer to God, rather than the pop Christian garbage that floods the best seller lists right now.

What’s the Plan for February?

With all of this in the rear view mirror, there are a few things I really want to lean into this month.

  • Better focus on SEO for articles. My articles are short, but that doesn’t mean they’re “un-SEO-able.” Just gotta take a little extra time.
  • More targeted link building. Or, as I mentioned ago, any link building efforts.
  • Account on Threads. I need to get that going. Seriously. Maybe it’ll be a bust, but anything with Mark Zuckerburg behind the wheel stands a good chance of taking off.
  • Text-based social media posts. I usually use images, but I’d like to put more mini-devotionals out there too. Might help drive conversations.
  • Better editing for my posts. I tend to write and post because I hate editing so much. But I also believe that if I’m going to put out material that helps people learn about the Bible, I can’t have egregious grammatical errors everywhere.

That’s it! Hope everyone has a great February. See you in the funny papers.

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