I cannot wait to share the numbers with you!
Welcome to kuaby’s monthly report for August 2017.
For first timers, monthly reports like this are how I document my journey of growing this travel website from scratch.
As you continue reading, you will discover key numbers of this website such as traffic data, revenue, expenses, and profitability. I will also be sharing the things I did to grow the website, together with the lessons I learned along the way.
Hop on and enjoy this monthly report. I hope it will eventually inspire you to start your own side project one day.
- 1 What Happened in August?
- 2 Upcoming Highlights for September
- 3 Profit and Loss Statement
- 4 Traffic Update
- 5 Revenue per 1,000 Impressions (RPM)
- 6 Community Update
- 7 Charging Ahead with Focus
What Happened in August?
On the surface, August 2017 seemed like a month with a lot of activity. I had that feeling of busyness before, but this time, it felt different.
Throughout the month, my focus was to produce more commercial content that will generate affiliate commissions, and I centered all my efforts around that.
I first announced the focus in June 2017’s monthly report. As you can see below, things are starting to move. I cannot wait to see what’s ahead.
Experimenting with Different Commercial Content
Last month, I published an article with the title, Best Hotels Near Putra World Trade Center (PWTC) Kuala Lumpur: The Ultimate List, which is in line with my focus to put out content that is capable of generating affiliate commissions.
Aside from the article, I also came up with this idea of a page that aggregates luggage deals and discounts for Malaysians. I managed to put that up in one day.
As I am writing this, around 10 bargain hunters are visiting the site every day to check out all the featured deals.
Moving forward, I will update this article on a weekly basis so it stays relevant. In the coming weeks, I will also be expanding it to cover more luggage brands and to have a section that sorts luggage deals by price.
So far, both of these articles haven’t generated any affiliate commission. It will take some time for them to start receiving organic traffic since I am not promoting them at all.
Implementing ‘Related Guide’ Cards
The sidebar of a website encourages visitors to browse around, thereby increasing the visibility of content beyond the initial page where visitors land.
Obviously, it is always better if my site visitors get to enjoy more of the high-quality travel guides that I am putting out.
A while ago, I thought having a two-column site didn’t make sense. On mobile devices, the sidebar gets pushed all the way down to the bottom of a page, a place where visitors will rarely reach.
Knowing that the sidebar will still take up a portion of page load time despite it not reaching mobile visitors, I decided to ditch it for good.
Since changing the layout of the entire site from two-column to a single column, I always have this question on the top of my mind:
How do I surface related content for visitors when all I have is a single column on my website?
One day, I noticed how Facebook is injecting ads into its Instant Articles product. I immediately thought the feature is something that can be replicated for kuaby.
For those who don’t know, Facebook Instant Articles is a product that helps websites load their content faster when a Facebook mobile app user clicks through on Facebook.
I prompted my brother, who is helping me with kuaby’s tech side of things, to come up with a ‘Related Guide’ Card feature that does the following:
- Picks a random guide from the same primary category as the page that a visitor is reading.
- Displays the guide’s featured image, title and meta description of the guide.
Also, I wanted to embed these cards manually throughout my guides using a shortcode.
It took my brother about one week to come up with a prototype, and here’s the finished product:
What do you think? Do check it out on your mobile device too!
At the moment, I’ve embedded cards like this on kuaby’s most popular content. Moving forward, I will insert them by default when I publish new travel guides.
Pausing the Promotion of My Personal Facebook Page
After doing that and constantly iterating on them for about 3 months, I decided to scale things back.
Right now, these daily videos, like the one above, are documenting my days and the work I am putting into kuaby. Even though I wish they are as interesting as those produced by popular vloggers, I have to admit that they are nowhere near that level.
Most of my days are repetitive and boring. Nothing wrong with that because that’s the actual nature of things when you are laser-focused on building something. However, it does not offer viewers any entertainment or educational takeaway.
Also, people who are not close to me or those who haven’t been following me from the very beginning will not have any context for the videos I am putting out. All they see is a random guy going through his day. I bet almost all of them don’t care enough to find out more about kuaby either.
With that, I am going to stop spending money on Facebook Ads and invest the money elsewhere.
Trip to Ho Chi Minh City
Flying to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam with my family is another highlight of the month.
Since my family members are not adventurous travelers, we spent most of our time in the city center, visiting museums, shopping and hopping from one café to another.
It was pretty laid back as compared to my usual trips, but being able to spend quality time together was priceless.
Besides, I also learned a thing or two about planning a trip for a small group, which was obviously harder than coming up with a plan for just my girlfriend and me.
Oh, and if you haven’t been to Vietnam, you should!
Upcoming Highlights for September
It’s always fun choosing my focus for the month ahead, especially now that I have a strong feeling about what my focus should be with kuaby.
Let’s have a look at the things that I’ve lined up for September.
Publish Commercial Content Around the Journey of a Travel Customer
Like I mentioned earlier, I am 100% focused on publishing more commercial content.
In September and the months ahead, I would like to narrow my focus even further. Instead of putting out random commercial content, I will work on pieces that can be lined up against the journey of travel customers.
In simple language, since most of my readers are here for travel guides related to Kuala Lumpur, the commercial content I work on should be those that are useful for travelers who are planning a trip here.
Here are some content ideas that I could work on based on that:
- Best Area to Stay in Kuala Lumpur
- Best Malaysia Prepaid SIM Card for Travelers
- Recommended Hotels Near KL Sentral
- Best Luxury Hotels in Kuala Lumpur
- Kuala Lumpur Hostels with the Best Design
I cannot wait to start writing these content pieces just to see their capabilities in attracting more site visitors and affiliate commissions.
Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN) to Serve Images
Last month, I came across this article about the can’t-wait-to-explore moments that travelers experience when they arrive at their destination.
One sentence in the article stood out to me:
85% of leisure travelers decide on activities only after having arrived at the destination.
How do you think these travelers, especially those that are visiting another country, are accessing the Internet?
Most of them will be using poor Wi-Fi connections at the airport or some random cafés. Even if they got a prepaid SIM card, it doesn’t guarantee high-speed browsing.
After finishing the article, I implored my brother to propose a solution that will shorten the time it takes for a travel guide on kuaby to load.
Just like any other travel website, the biggest obstacle to a fast page load speed for kuaby is the images on the site. Even though they are compressed, their sizes are still usually around 200 to 300 kilobytes.
One of the suggestions that my brother had is to deliver these images through a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN is a network of servers around the globe that help to speed up the serving of multimedia content such as images or videos.
For example, since kuaby is hosted in San Francisco, a traveler in Malaysia browsing the site will enjoy a faster page load speed if the CDN I ended up working with has a server in or near Malaysia.
We don’t know for sure how much speed improvements will this implementation bring, but I think any bump in page load speed is a good thing.
More updates on this coming in the next monthly report.
Allocate 3 Hours a Week for Guest Posts
When I was publishing detailed guides of attractions (like this klia2 guide), I was getting incoming links consistently through the blog posts that I was linking to.
For the commercial content that I am creating, it will be hard for them to generate inbound links on their own. Look at the article ideas that I will be working on next. It is very unlikely that someone will link to them.
As such, I will allocate 3 hours every Sunday to write guest posts for other blogs or websites. These will probably be restaurant reviews, travel tips, and compilation/curation blog posts.
Once I have them ready, the next step is to look for websites or blogs to host them.
In my previous projects, I always send a pitch to bloggers about the content ideas that I have in mind before I start writing.
For kuaby, I want to do it differently because I believe I will definitely be able to find someone who is willing to publish my guest posts if they are of top notch quality.
These are the characteristics of a guest post that I believe will impress bloggers enough for them to publish it:
- Value-packed content regardless of word count.
- High-quality images.
- Contains links to relevant sources or internal links to the blogger’s other blog posts.
- Usage of different content elements such as bullet points, quotes, and social media embeds.
I don’t know how well this will work, but I will report back in the next monthly report on how this goes.
Short Getaway to Pulau Kapas
Towards the end of September, I am going on a short getaway to Pulau Kapas, a small island off West Malaysia’s east coast, with my friends from work.
It will be another chilled trip for sure. I am looking forward to all the fun conversations and activities that we’ll be having and doing together while being close to Mother Nature.
Will I be doing tasks related to kuaby during the few days at the island?
Most probably, but that also depends on the things that we’ll be doing there. You can find out by following me on Facebook or Instagram.
Profit and Loss Statement
kuaby made a loss of $55.64 in August 2017.
Revenue stood at $40.80 in August, which a 236% month-on-month increase from $12.16 in July.
- Agoda Affiliate Program: $4.49
- Booking.com Affiliate Program: $6.50
- Google AdSense: $18.31 (+51%)
- Involve Asia Affiliate Network: $11.50
TOTAL: $40.80 (+236%)
The huge spike in revenue this month is mostly from affiliate commissions.
All these commissions are results of single transactions across different affiliate networks. This spike pumped me up, and I am more certain than before that I am on the right track.
Here are the expenses for the month of August:
- Digital Ocean: $12.00
- Adobe Creative Cloud: $9.99
- Google Apps: $5.00
- ActiveCampaign: $9.00
- Developer (my brother): $47.20
- Facebook Ads: $13.25 (-54%)
TOTAL EXPENSES: $96.44 (-14%)
In the coming few months, the spend on Facebook Ads should be zero.
In August 2017, kuaby received 8,870 unique visitors. This resembled a 20% month-on-month increase from the 7,364 unique visitors that kuaby received in July 2017.
The increase towards the end of the month is probably due to the Term 2 school holiday in Malaysia from August 25 to September 2.
Here are the top traffic sources for kuaby in August:
These are the most visited content on the site last month:
The rankings are pretty much the same despite the increase in traffic.
Click on the links below if you want to check out the top 5 travel guides:
- KTM ETS Train in Malaysia: The Ultimate Guide
- Sungai Chiling Fish Sanctuary
- KL Sentral
- KLCC to Bukit Bintang Pedestrian Walkway
- KL Bird Park
Revenue per 1,000 Impressions (RPM)
Revenue per 1,000 page views or RPM is a metric to measure a website’s efficiency in monetizing its page views.
kuaby’s RPM for August is $3.14, up by 180% month-on-month.
I don’t know what the industry average is for this metric, and it is also not a metric that I am focusing on right now. Please share your RPM of your site with me if you are tracking this metric.
- Email Subscribers: 93 (+15%)
Charging Ahead with Focus
With a consistent increase in traffic over the past few months and a promising result in revenue this month, I am more convinced than ever that with my limited time and resources, it is vital for me to focus on just a few things that will bring the most results.
As I wrap this monthly report up, I am very excited to see what’s ahead of kuaby and the high-quality content pieces that I am publishing in September.
Until the next monthly report, thank you for reading!