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Killer Sudoku Blogger – Blog Case Study

Posted By Darren Rowse 3rd of April 2006 Case Studies 21

Sw1The following post was submitted by DJApe as part of the ProBlogger Case Study Series

In August last year I quit my full-time software developer job and decided to go back to Uni. Since I had more free time than before, I decided to start a blog and show the world a couple of shareware applications that I wrote. The first one was a Sudoku puzzle game. This is how my blog started.

Having read a few tips on ProBlogger, I decided to experiment so I signed up for every advertising program known. In early days, ads were everywhere – AdSense, Chitika, Amazon, CafePress. There were more ads than blog posts! But one tip that Darren posted worked out very well for me – ‘create controversy’ is what I remember from one of Darren’s posts.

So I did.

I created and posted one Killer Sudoku puzzle that was so difficult and pretty much unsolvable by a human, but people just wouldn’t give up. They kept coming and from double-digits number of daily visitors, in a couple of days it went to 5-6 hundred a day! Many Sudoku sites linked to my blog because of this puzzle.

I’ve come a long way since then. Daily unique visitors are around 1500 nowadays, although at one point there were some 2000 for a period of a few weeks. The income is significantly better from syndicating puzzles to newspapers than from ads, but I’ve learned a few things about ads, too.

I got rid of everything but AdSense, simply because it pays best. A few weeks ago I also decided to keep only 300×250 ads and remove all others! Why? Again – they pay much better. Skyscrapers and 728×90 leader-boards never paid almost anything, but I also removed 468×60 which were paying well, but nothing like 300×250. Further, I no longer show ‘Get Firefox’ and ‘AdSense signup’ ads, because they were not content related. My niche is very low paying, but since I made those changes, ad income has doubled!

When I started blogging I never thought that it would become a serious thing for me. It was an experiment and something that I thought would look good in my CV. But due to increasing popularity of my site which resulted from my quick reaction to the new Sudoku puzzle variation (Killer Sudoku), I have now published 2 puzzle-books and a couple more are coming. My puzzles feature in a number of magazines around the world. Not sure how long it will last, but I’m already extremely happy with it. This experience has convinced me in the power of the internet and shown me how the global marketplace works.

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.
  1. Very interesting concept!
    More importantly however- you are successful at something that you genuinely care about.
    Here’s wishing you nothing but the best in your endeavors.
    Great work.

  2. Great advice. I think I need to make some ad changes.

  3. I don’t know what it is about those puzzles. They are everywhere now. Never even played one. But this is interesting, definitely. A blog can be about anything and you will find an audience.

  4. Why 300×250 instead of 336×250 brings more profits?

  5. This is inspirational and informative for new bloggers!

  6. The Killer Soduko Blogger indeed knows his works and filled up its readers’ need for feeling smart.

    I think that if you want your blog to increase readership and income,
    you must identify the needs of your readers and fill that up with passionate blogging and relevant ad posting.

  7. Domenic says: 04/03/2006 at 4:07 pm

    Guys i know this is off topic , but i really need serious advice .

    if any experienced blogger can comment id appreciate it .

    i started 6 blogs on blogger 4 months ago and im really having major succes lately on basically all of them ,somehow i think im doing something right .

    Since i dont have much experience in marketing i have 2 questions .

    1. the 6 blogs are hosted for free by blogger and they are all related topics , would it be a good idea to crosslink them all ? will i get penalized ?

    2. Should i stop blogging and create a web site and link them all to my main web site or should i continue to make more blogs ?

    im getting great traffic results but im sort of stuck in a crossroads on what to do next .

    any advice would be appreciated .

  8. […] If you’re interested you can have a look here: Killer Sudoku Blogger – Blog Case Study. […]

  9. That’s quite a topic you got there. Good job! :)

  10. Your story is encouraging for another reason. It reminds me of how important timing can be to an endeavor. I heard of Soduko for the first time a few months ago. Within that first week I saw the puzzles mentioned in three or four other places. Now, as Stephan mentions, they’re everywhere. So you’re not only persistent and love what you do, but you’ve found a great niche for today’s interests! Kudos…

  11. this is the first time i heard of Soduko. interesting puzzles.

  12. I am addicted to Sudoku! I made an inventory of methods for solving even the most difficult Sudoku. Start with looking for duo’s, it’s an eye opener!
    Check for details.

    Good luck!

  13. Hi,
    Great Blog!!
    Here you can play sudoku online :

  14. Interesting your blog case study.
    At no advertising, but EXCEL SUDOKU a free game to download.
    “Computer Aided Sudoku Excel” includes :
    – generator helper solver
    – SURPRISES when sudoku solved without help
    – HISTORIC which records all the plays. Partial replay.
    – CLINIC where you can analyse your sudoku
    Enjoy to play it on you own computer.

  15. This is a pretty cool site to buy sudoku books.

    You can view by popularity, skill level, etc. I travel a lot, so I bought about 5 to keep me busy at the airport. :)

  16. gridrat says: 10/17/2006 at 10:27 pm

    After being hooked on sudoku these past few months i’ve moved onto something that i thought more interesting as you can play with 2 or more people. SHENDOKU is a new grid game i found at Check out there cristmas cards too!

  17. We tried to follow your advice on my small Sudoku site However the square adsense boxes can be really hard to integrate in a good looking lay-out and there are usually no image ads available for that format. So we switched back to the banner style ads.

  18. That a very interesting game, to someone to quit his job is because you really like to learn more of our life. I am kind like you :)
    Kisses from Portugal!!

  19. That’s really interesting. I made a sudoku site for fun too. My new feature was letting people chose the square they wanted to get a hint for. Never thought of making a super hard puzzle.

  20. you quit your job to write sudoku program ?

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