Bible Blog Project (March, 2024)

As of March 1, 2024, we are officially five months into our Bible Blog project.

What is that project, you ask? Simple. Take a brand new blog on a new domain and get it to 20,000 monthly visits inside of a year.

(If you’re interested, you can read the full write-up here.)

Do I think it’ll happen? Unfortunately, not anymore. For the first time in this project, I’m actually more pessimistic about the results than I was at the beginning of the month.

I’m not getting the traction that I was hoping for, and even though I think I could be more targeted in some areas, I feel like I’m hitting most of my goals. It’s Google that doesn’t want to pony up the traffic.

But will I give up? Absolutely not. As I’ve stated before, I have big plans for this blog long-term, so even if I don’t sniff 20k in twelve months’ time, I’m going to keep at it.

Let’s dive into this month’s results.

What Happened in February?

Last month, I was successful in several key areas.

First, I was able to publish my blogs on a much more consistent basis. I found a writing schedule that worked for me, and I had much fewer issues hitting my numbers.

Second, my Facebook posts are finally driving traffic. I’ve got a good dose of images and blogs dripping on my timeline, so people are clicking from there to my website. That’s a step up from January.

Third, my organic traffic has once again doubled (from seven to 12). That’s probably the biggest reason I’m not confident I’ll hit my goal of 20k in less than 12 months. The traffic is increasing, but not at the rate I want it to.

Even if I continue my completely random and remarkably consistent doubling of last month’s organic traffic, I’ll still only hit an average of roughly 3,000 hits per month. That number is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but it’s obviously well short of my goal.

Here are the hard stats on my website. The light blue is January’s numbers and the dark blue is from February. As you can see, my email and organic social numbers took a nosedive, mostly because I stopped actively building my email list and took a different approach to SEO, which I explain below. You should be able to tell from the graph exactly when I pivoted, too.

What Changes Were Made?

As I’ve mentioned in the past, this approach almost entirely consisted of churning out tons of articles with low-volume, low-competition keywords. I’ve now published 65 blog articles on the site, with an average of 500 words each, which makes 32,500 words of content.

That might seem impressive (or it might not), but research suggests that you need around 50 posts for a website to hit a tipping point into more traffic. Since my blogs are about half the length of an average post though, I’m not expecting to see a dramatic improvement until around 100 posts.

But again, you never know.

The biggest change I made to my strategy this month was to pivot away from email-driven traffic. (*insert gasp here*)

I know, I know. After all the hoopla around building up a mailing list and using that to drive traffic, why abandon it now?

Two reasons. The first (and biggest) is that I wanted people to actually read my blog articles. My open rate and click-through rates were rock solid (25% and 2-3%, respectively). 

But at my rate, that only meant that 40-60 people were clicking through to read my articles. Those obviously help with SEO by sending signals to Google about online activity, but that left hundreds of people that never read a word I wrote.

From a religious standpoint, I just couldn’t do it. My primary job is to bring as many people the Word as possible, so if that means I’m sacrificing some SEO juice along the way, so be it. I actually got a few emails from people stating that they liked the new format because it was easier/more efficient to read, so it seems like people like this style more.

The second reason is that it’s way more fun to write this way.

The first 30 or so blog articles were written very fundamentally sound. They had headers and keywords in the right places, but they read wonky (to me).

Now, I’m writing them like I would if I were talking to someone. It feels like I’m reading the Bible with 3,000 of my closest friends and discussing it with them. That’s much more enjoyable for me than trying to adhere to a technical, strict SEO format. 

As a result, I found that I’m actually looking forward to times when I can write, instead of looking at it as a duty to complete.

Why Did You Stop Building Your Email List?

Since the start of this project, I knew that building a huge email list would be a big part of getting my numbers up.

You’re probably surprised to know then that I’ve completely stopped all list building efforts via paid ads for the time being.

That may come as a shock, but I wanted to reallocate that ad spend for a big project that I’m working on, which I’ll explain in a second.

I also wanted to practice better list management. My open and click-through rates were fine, but I didn’t feel like I was maximizing what I already had. A list of 3000 is much bigger than a lot of people in the religion niche, so I wanted to take a breather and make a plan for how to make the most of those emails.

Once I do that, I’ll jump back into it.

What About this Big Project?

I mentioned last month that I was working on a “new project” that had to do with selling books.

Not only is that project going well, it’s currently blowing away my mind in every way possible.

For context, several years ago, I wrote a short, 100-page Christian fiction book. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it scratched an itch I had to write some kind of fiction. I wrote it, uploaded it, got some sales…. and left it.

And for the last six years, that’s where it’s sat. Doing nothing.

I still love the story, so I decided to run some Facebook ads for it using only an Advantage+ audience. In other words, I completely relied on Facebook’s algorithm to find my audience for me.

And, at least so far, Facebook has come through for me in a big way.

At the time of this writing, I have sold 341 copies of this book in February.

And, since my book is also in Kindle Unlimited, I’ve also had 23,017 page reads this month as well.

My book is only 100 pages long, so when you do the math, that means my book has been read/bought almost 600 times.

If I were John Grisham, that would be peanuts. Big name authors can do that in two days. But, since I’m a relatively unknown writer, 600 “sales” is enormous. Most indie authors are lucky to sell 300 copies total, over the entire lifespan of the book, so I’m incredibly excited.

More than that, the reviews on the book were incredibly encouraging. I went from 25 reviews to 87, with an average rate of 4.6 stars. I won’t quote the reviews here, but let’s just say people had a lot of really nice things to say about the book.

At this point, I want to reiterate that I do not necessarily consider myself an experienced writer. I’m an experienced writer, that much is sure, but I can count at least 20 other preachers that have better writing than I do. 

This is an area that I feel like Christians need to be more engaged in. There is such a dearth of sound Biblical material online, but especially in the form of actual books. The best-seller charts are dominated by guys like Max Lucado and Joel Osteen, but there is nothing stopping your name from being up there as well. It’s not nearly as hard as you may think.

What’s the Plan for March?

This month, I hope to take what I’m already doing and take it up a notch. I have a new idea for generating backlinks that I’m currently experimenting with, as well as writing a secondary novel to piggyback off the success of the first.

We also are bringing on a few new churches to work starting in March, so I have that to work on. All in addition to my local work and this Bible-based blog. It should be a busy month (but also super fun).

See you in April!

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