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How Many Blogs to Focus Upon?

Paul wrote a week or so ago about his decision to scale back his blogs to those which are most profitable in a post titled One site or one hundred sites?:

‘a couple of weeks ago I sat down and made a spreadsheet of all my sites and where my revenue was coming from. I found that over 90% of my revenue was coming from two sites. That left me with two options:

1. Drop the non-performing sites. These sites obviously have the potential to be successful otherwise I wouldn’t have started them, but they also take time.

2. Work more on the non-performing sites. This requires that I spend less time on the sites that are performing.

I chose the first option because it’s much easier working on two sites opposed to twelve sites.’

It’s an interesting piece and an issue I’ve been wrestling with a bit of late. As I look at my 20 or so blogs there is a huge difference in earning capacity between the highest and lowest earning blogs.

When I first started rolling out new blogs in greater numbers about 12 months ago I remember promising myself that I would cull the ones that did not perform. What I was doing was putting the feelers out there to find which worked and which did not. The ones that worked I’d work more on, the ones that did not I’ll let die.

It’s a nice theory but in practice I’m not sure I’ve really seen it work for a number of reasons.

1. I’m a hoarder – This was evident when I sorted through the boxes that I keep under my desk before we moved house a couple of months ago. They were filled with all kinds of sentimental and ‘useful’ (well they might be one day) bits and pieces from my past. I find it hard to let go of anything that ‘might’ one day work – this includes my blogs.

I have a number of poor performing blogs that I hold onto with the hope that they might hit it big one day. The thing is that they actually could hit it big – but how long is it feasible to wait before I turn my attention to other ventures?

2. It takes time for blogs to take off - The reason I have this hoarding approach is because on a couple of occasions I did hold onto blogs that in time did take off. One that is currently seeing increases in traffic is my laptop review blog which I started last October but which has only really begun to grow significantly in traffic over the past couple of months. It’s still not massive but the signs are there that it could be significant down the track.

In fact this is the story for most of my blogs. The first 6 to 12 months can show few signs of growth (particularly if you’re using a completely new domain) and then out of the blue can come success….sometimes. It’s a hit and miss game.

So I find myself living in a bit of a quandary at times – torn between ruthlessly culling or selling off my slow growers and playing the waiting game for that burst of traffic that may never come.

Luckily for me, I am in a position to be able to play the waiting game to a point – I have some blogs that have already risen to a level of paying me enough to be able to put time into the slow burners. However I often find myself wondering what would happen if I was to take the time that I spend on the low profit blogs I write each day and put it into my profitable ones or even put it into new ventures – some of which could be cash cows. Am I being wise in the way I spend my time?

How long would (do) you sit on a non earning blog before giving up?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Ken says:

    Good question Darren, I think for myself, even though my blog has been up for about 2.5 months, I’m starting to see traffic go up because of the guest blogging that I’ve doen for your two sites. But not sure how long that will last for. All I can do is keep writing.

    You mentioned that it took 18 months before you really were able to go full time with this, but I’m sure one day a lot of this stuff will pan out.

    Also, it seems that a blog has to hit a certain mass of posts before it really starts to become something substantial in terms of not only being a blog but a reference site too.

    I’m barely scratching the surface with my blog but I’m hoping if I continue to chug at it, it will become a more viable blog for those who are interested in digital photo.

  2. Heat says:

    Great post Darren….

    This post made me think alot, and i speak while thinking now:

    This post reminds me of Heat Entertainment blog, which i funded 1.5 months ago, and closed after about 3 weeks of acticity due to the lack of readership, of course some will say i should’ve waited longer but…i wasn’t that keen about Entertainment without discussions, so i guess i wasn’t built and ready enough to wait for the success to come (and i doubted if it’ll ever come)

    So i decided to continue with my main Graphic Designs blog, that took off pretty fast comparing to what i expected it to…but even if it didn’t, i’ll still be posting and updating daily…cause i post with passion, due to the fact that i’m very attracted to graphic designs..

    I recently opened a new personal blog, with some rants, and interesting outlooks on different things, it’s not taking off that well right now…but i didn’t even open it so it to….it’s just my personal outlet..

    Generally, i think i won’t be playing that waiting game too much because i’m not that patient (which is bad), but someone like you, who have alot of blogs and income streams, can afford waiting for (more) big cash to come ;)

    Just an opinion of a very rookie :)
    Heat

  3. Remember the 80/20 principle.

  4. Allan Burns says:

    Thast encouraging that it takes about a year before a site really starts to see traffic. My sites currently have very low traffic, one of them has been up for 6 months now. I do hope soon that they will start to see some Google traffic, especially after spending time producing quality content.

  5. Bill Peschel says:

    It’s risky to pare back too hard, because if your top two blogs start to decline, what are you going to do next?

    At the same time, is the effort you’re putting into 18 underperforming blogs worth the effort? How much return are you getting from them. A cost-benefit analysis may give you some ideas.

    I clicked over to your laptop blog and thought it was interesting. Do you have anything on large screen TVs? Circuit City is offering a 70″ Hitachi as part of a package system for about nine grand. My wife saw it, then dragged me back for another visit. We had decided to buy a larger TV (like a 36″), but now we’re going to wait. After seeing that setup, we *want* the movie experience at home, and now prices are falling that people in our price range (e.g., salary of under $50K a year), can actually afford it.

    I know, one anecdote, but my wife and I are cautious people, and our first contact with a 70″ set made a big impression on us. Since prices are only going to go down, I suspect this is the Next Big Thing.

  6. Darren, I used to flip sites for a living (ie: build them, then sell them for 10-20x monthly earnings). My rule was always: if the site has plateau’d, not grown, or shrunk for 6 straight months, it’s time to sell.

    Looking back across the more than 50 sites I’ve build and flipped, I can’t see any that I regret dumping at the time. The money, traffic, userbase simply wasn’t there.

    It’s one thing if you’re seeing steady growth (10-20%/month). It’s another if a blog is languishing in the 100 pages/day world for over a year. Sorry, but even if that hits it big, it’s unlikely to pay off in the end.

  7. Michele says:

    The other thing I would wonder about is how you could have the same level of energy and enthusiasm maintaining 20 blogs as opposed to 6 (or some other number).

  8. Jon says:

    You could just continue with the non performing blogs as a side thing. And post less frequently on them; say just 10% or any number that justify what you are making on it. If traffic from Google is the problem it could be vise to sit on them, they could suddenly take off if Google suddenly starts to rank it.

  9. duncan says:

    I think you need to look at it from an search engine view point, and that’s the more links on more sites the more all the sites will benefit. Sure, you can pay for them or exchange links with other sites but having a network to do it on makes it that much easier in leveraging your existing traffic at promoting new sites. Also from my perspective the higher traffic blogs don’t always make as much money, for example my smallest blog at the moment in terms of traffic makes far more in revenue in percentage to its traffic than any other blog on the network.

  10. Andy says:

    Most of my blogs are very new so it’s hard to evaluate any of them realistically yet. Also, I regularly remind myself of a website that I let go even though it was pretty popular (back in the mid 90s way before blogs hit the scene). I could’ve used that as a platform for other things but I let it go for a number of reasons, and wish I hadn’t.

    So I’m reluctant to let my current projects go unless I get a strong gut instinct that I shouldn’t be working on them any more.

    Generally, I don’t think you can make a reliable decision on a blog that’s less than 6-12 months old, given the time it takes for various sources (search engines, directories, inbound links) to build up.

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