November 5 marks the The Inquisitr’s 6 month anniversary, the first major milestone we set for the site when launching it back in May. The good news per the screenshot above: it’s not up for sale, least yet 🙂
October 2008 was a good month for The Inquisitr, and a new record for us of 454,000 page views, up from the 420,000 we did in August, and the 250,000 in September.
The better result compared to August is the reliance on a single post. In August, the leading post accounted for 48% of page views for the month, vs the leading post in October accounting for only 25% of page views. That single post happened early in the month, and had no effect on the second half of the month, which I’m pleased to report did (from October 15-31) 215,000 page views. Over the same period from the 15th, our distribution of daily traffic varied between 8,400 page views and 17,200 page views, with only 3 days dropping below 10,000 page views a day; although we had no “huge” posts during this period, the regular flow of higher traffic across the board bides well for the site in November.
For the first four days of November, The Inquisitr did 104,000 page views. I’d expect the figure to drop before it increases as our election coverage helped during this period, although notably the two largest posts for the month to date (30% of this figure) were not election related.
October was notable for a new look for a site announced October 13, which neatly fits in with our increase in regular traffic in the second half of the month. The new site highlights our content and content outside the site through a partnership with ReadBurner, and has so far been meeting and exceeding our expectations. Traffic to the front page is up, although still only makes up less then 10% of traffic to the site.
The new look also gave a new emphasis to engagement, through the inclusion of visual links to content on each post, and through highlighting popular posts and latest comments. I haven’t tallied the comment figures, but I’d say roughly the average number of daily comments would have gone close to doubling during this period, and page views per visitor are up.
6 months in and the site has yet to make a profit, however October was our best result since launching. We also would have been profitable had we had not added Steven Hodson to staff. It’s too early to call November, but I’m confident that if we can maintain base numbers along what we did for the second half of October, we will be profitable for the first time this month. I would note though that my definition of profitable does not include my own writing; I’ve never pulled a cent from the site in 6 months, so the aim this month is for me to be able to pull a monthly writing fee from the site along the lines of the rest of the team.
The economic crisis
The news for online advertising isn’t great at the moment, and we will not be immune to it. Our current advertising provider has failed to deliver expected rates to date, and if they had the site would be highly profitable at this time. However, our advertising provider is delivering rates higher then what we were getting previously, and as such our overall situation continues to improve.
The best immunity we can have to the economic crisis is to continue growing our readership, and this will continue to be our focus. Our ad rates are already low, and projections are based on these figures, so as long as they don’t completely collapse, the outlook is positive.
Cashflow does remain an issue for the site. We’re now on 60 days net payment for advertising, so our improving returns don’t flow through for 2 months after each month. The site has burned through money, although conservatively compared to what others may have spent, the site has no external investors and is funded exclusively through my savings. Additional funds are available should we run short of money, and through into January finances will become very tight. The site is financed through to the end of January presuming no income during this time, so although I won’t be having a huge Christmas spend this year, we should make it. A Sitepoint auction while unlikely, isn’t off the table yet.
October was notable as the first month The Inquisitr broke into the Top 1000 on Technorati…twice. We did it early in the month then Techonrati did something strange with their index as we broke through 800, and overnight we ended up at 1200 again. As of today, we are back in the Top 1000, and this was a major 6 month target for us. We’re now in the open slather part of Technorati Rank, as we start losing the count of incoming links from when we launched, so we may go backwards before we improve again. Given the 2nd month was low for us, I’d expect the rank to improve in December. Our next goal will be Technorati Top 500, maybe by January or February.
Notably The Inquisitr was completely banned from Techmeme is October. We thank Gave Rivera for doing so, as our traffic has increased significantly from this time, as it did when we were weighed off the front page at the beginning of our 3rd month. It’s just a shame Rivera can’t ban us some more, his petty little power plays have always resulted in good karma for us.
The strength of this site continues to be our writing team of who continue to improve with time. Our ability to focus our writing better shows in the monthly numbers. Steve Hodson was our first new hire, brought in to write tech and opinion posts. He has delivered strongly and has driven engagement on the site.
Per our financial situation our ability increase pay rates or bring in new staff is limited by cashflow, so we won’t be considering any major changes until the new year. I’m still getting around 5 people a week contact me about writing jobs, and there’s been a few people I would have loved to have hired but had to pass on. Maybe next year, but our current writing team is my primary focus in the short term.
A few people have complained about our content in October. The emphasis on our new slogan “the better mix” has seen a change in what we produce, but notably we are not doing less tech (the numbers remain steady), we are simply moving into different areas. October was notable for its inclusion of new categories, including Movies, TV, Media Industry and Funny Pics. Our traffic would support the notion that the broader mix is working, but that will be best assessed over time. We continue to maintain specific pages for each category, and recognize that not everyone will like everything we have up. We also maintain feeds for each category as well (see following)
Feeds continue to be a weak point for the site, however the outlook continues to improve. Depending on the day I check FeedBurner (which seems to dance up and down on a daily basis) we how have around 5,000 subscribers across 5 feeds. The main feed is up only a few hundred subscribers, but the sub feeds have boomed as we’ve produced more content outside of tech. Entertainment is up 500%, Media has between 130-150 subscribers for a feed that is brand new, Odd and Funny up 400%, tech up 50%.
Notably the increases in subscribers has followed on from a new emphasis on the site (big RSS buttons basically) and the inclusion of browser auto discovery.
Ultimately we want to continue to grow these numbers, and the trend is good after a long period of stagnant or small growth.
I say this every month but it still holds true: we’re not quite there yet, but the outlook is rosy. The notion that it takes 6-9 months to establish a blog would appear to be holding true: we continue to improve in content, engagement and page views. We may go backwards this month, and historically every second month we do less than the month before, but the start to the month is strong.
The Inquisitr is still a crazy idea. Everything I’ve ever learned, or taught about blogging has said that you target your vertical space and if we had, the outcome may have been better again. But when I started this site, I wanted to write about stuff I enjoyed and liked with nothing more than the thought that my personal interests may be liked by others. Sometimes risks pay off, and we’re getting very close to that point.
Most of all though, we’re having fun. October was great partially because the finances have improved, but most of all our increased mix has allowed me to break out of the myopia of tech coverage into things I’m interested in as well, such as the media industry and even movies. Having to sit through movie trailers is really hard work…. 😉
We’ll be back next month hopefully with more good news. My thanks as always to the many people who believed in the site, its team and me personally along the way. We couldn’t have done it without you.
Update: just a note on the figures, all figures are per Google Analytics. If I were to use Awstats I’d be reporting 1 million pages this month 🙂