Welcome to kuaby’s monthly report for September 2017.

You can probably tell that September was a bad month from the thumbnail above.

Continue reading if you want to know all the details about what happened.

Is this your first time reading this? Awesome!

Every month, I put down the profitability, revenue, expenses of this travel site in monthly reports like this. Along with the numbers, I am also documenting the lessons I learned along the way.

Without further ado, let me show you what happened in September.

What Happened in September?

Nothing much. I was hoping to get so much more done, but it didn’t turn out that way.

Commercial Content Production Takes a Lot of Time

In September, I only managed to work on one article – Best Areas to Stay in Kuala Lumpur.

At the time of writing, the draft of this article has about 5,000 words, and it’s only 75% complete.

Of course, I was working on August’s monthly report in the beginning of the month as well as a guest post. However, not completing any commercial content piece for the entire month of September is simply unacceptable.

Here are the total number of words I wrote in September:

  • Best Areas to Stay in Kuala Lumpur – 4,913 words
  • August 2017 Monthly Report – 2,397 words
  • [Guest Post] Food You Must Try When You Are In Kuala Lumpur – 517 words

TOTAL – 7,827 words

261 words – that is the daily average for the number of words I wrote last month.

It’s a cool number. Most people don’t write that many words in a week.

But here’s the thing – I don’t want to be “most people”. According to Jon Morrow in his article, Stephen King’s 20 Tips for Becoming a Frighteningly Good Writer, he wrote:

Every popular blogger I know reads at least one book every week and writes at least 1,000 words every day.

When you compare 244 words to that, it’s obvious that I have work to do.

More on how I am planning to tackle this later.

Hiccup in the Implementation of CDN

One of the things I wanted to happen in September was to speed up kuaby by using a content delivery network to deliver images across the site.

KeyCDN Homepage

My brother and I decided to use KeyCDN, and he implemented it successfully in a few hours. It was very obvious that the site was loading faster after the implementation was complete.

My brother also assured me that all should be good unless I see something abnormal in the next few days.

Everything was going well, but what happened next is a good example of how curiosity killed the cat.

I never implemented a CDN for a website before, so I was curious to find out how the control panel looks like. As I was browsing around, I saw a setting for robots.txt. I turned it on without thinking twice.

The robots.txt Setting on KeyCDN
The robots.txt Setting on KeyCDN

Days went by. Nothing significant happened, but there was a steady decline in traffic. At first, I wrote it off because the school holidays in Malaysia is over, so I was expecting a decline in traffic anyway. But it kept going lower, and lower.

  • Did Google slap me with a penalty?
  • Was my server down for certain times of day which I’m unaware of?
  • Did I break something?

All the above questions popped into my head as I scrambled to find out what might have caused the drop in traffic.

I decided to check pages on Google Search Console that I wouldn’t normally check, such as the Sitemaps section.

Ever since I started building blogs and websites, I never had issues with sitemaps powered by Yoast SEO WordPress plugin. Since I am also using the plugin for kuaby, I trust the plugin fully, and rarely checks the Sitemaps section on Search Console.

I didn’t take a screenshot, but I was presented with more than a thousand errors highlighting the fact that I have a robots.txt file that is prohibiting Googlebot from indexing any image on my site! At that point of time, all images on kuaby were nowhere to be found on Google.

Drop in Images on Sitemaps Indexed by Google Based on Search Console
Drop in Images on Sitemaps Indexed by Google Based on Search Console

Since I have the basic technical knowledge, I quickly realized it’s the robots.txt setting on my CDN provider that is causing the issue. I went in and quickly disabled it.

Looking back, it was a very dumb mistake. If I were more careful and read every single word in the label for the setting, I wouldn’t have turned it on in the first place.

The damage was done.

Drop in Traffic at the End of September 2017
Drop in Traffic at the End of September 2017

All I can do now is to wait for Google to reindex all my images. I don’t know how long it will take Google to reindex everything but based on the progress of things, it will definitely take longer than the time it took to remove all my images from its index.

I learned my lessons. I shall never be fidgety with tech-related settings again and have complete trust in my brother. I’m sure he will be snickering if he’s reading this.

Kapas Island Trip

Towards the end of September, I traveled to a beautiful island on the East coast of Peninsular Malaysia called Kapas Island, or Pulau Kapas in Malay, for a retreat with friends from work.

I wasn’t planning to work on any kuaby-related tasks during the trip because I just wanted to spend quality time with my team members.

We had a good time, plenty of laughter and fun conversations. The times when we were having small conversations that helped us get to know each other better are the moments I enjoyed most.

Just watch the two videos below to get a glimpse of what happened during the trip.

While editing the videos above, I kept wondering if I should get an action camera, or at least a waterproof smartphone anytime soon.

I missed a lot of the moments we shared simply because I didn’t have my phone with me when we went to the beach. I was afraid that I might accidentally drop it into the sea and all the inconveniences that will occur as a result.

Upcoming Highlights for October

The focus next month will still largely be in content production, and specifically, putting out content that forms a funnel for travelers researching or planning their trip to Kuala Lumpur.

At the same time, I will allocate some time, as mentioned in last month’s monthly report, to write guest posts for other travel-related blogs or websites.

Pushing Myself to Write More

From the brief summary that I shared above, I wrote about 244 words a day in September.

Throughout the coming few months, I feel this is an area of improvement for me that will also help kuaby to grow.

You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

Thus, in the coming monthly reports, I will start reporting metrics on content production.

This section will include metrics such as the average number of words written per day and updates on the content pieces that I put out.

Other than just putting the accountability on me, I believe this section will also push me to find ways that will help me to produce more content, faster.

In October, my goal is to double the number of words I wrote per day from 244 words to 500 words.

Things are not looking good for now since I’m falling behind. Besides, I have some travel plans coming up. Nevertheless, I will strive towards the goal. Let’s see if I can achieve it.

Three Upcoming Work Trips

I am traveling to three different destinations this month.

First up, I will be going to Kota Kinabalu for a company-wide team retreat. It’s at a 5-star beach resort, and I can’t wait for it. There will be lots of team building activities and parties for sure.

A few days after the retreat, I’ll be heading to Singapore for a short training. It’s a work trip, so I’ll mostly be working.

Right after the trip to Singapore, I will be departing to London for a conference and workshop about paid advertising.

The main purpose of me visiting London is to attend the conference, but since it is also my first time in the city, I’ll probably do some sightseeing in the evening or when I have some free time.

To sum it up, here’s a summary of all the cities I will be visiting in October:

  • Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • London, United Kingdom

I never traveled to so many places within a month, so I am super excited! It will also be interesting to see if I can take it all in within such a short period of time without exhausting myself.

If you have tips on things to do, places to visit or food to try in any of the cities above, please leave a comment below to let me know.

Profit and Loss Statement

In September, kuaby made a loss of $64.41.

Revenue

Revenue declined by 53% to $19.24 in September from $40.80 in August.

TOTAL: $19.24 (-53%)

The decline is largely due to the spike in commissions that the site earned in August. As I produce more commercial content for kuaby, income from affiliate programs and networks should become more consistent over time.

Be the first to know kuaby’s revenue in October. Click here to get notified by email when the next monthly report is out.

Expenses

kuaby incurred the following expenses in September:

TOTAL EXPENSES: $83.65 (-13%)

Expenses decreased a little this month because I stopped running ads to my personal Facebook page.

In the coming month, you should expect a new expense item for KeyCDN, which is the content delivery network I am using.

Traffic Update

kuaby's September 2017 Daily Unique Visitors Overview Based on Google Analytics

In September, 8,891 unique visitors came to kuaby. This number is pretty similar to the unique visitor count for August, which was 8,870.

The steep drop in traffic at the end of the month is due to the dumb CDN implementation mistake that I did.

Even though it’s fixed, it will take Google some time to reindex all the images I have on the site, and for the traffic to come back to where it was.

I showed these two images earlier but let’s put them next to each other so you can see how the drop correlates to the date when Google deindexed all the images on my site.

Drop in Images on Sitemaps Indexed by Google Based on Search Console
Drop in Images on Sitemaps Indexed by Google Based on Search Console
Drop in Traffic at the End of September 2017
Drop in Traffic at the End of September 2017

For those of you who want to dive a little deeper into kuaby’s traffic numbers, here are the top traffic sources in September.

kuaby's Top Traffic Sources in September 2017 Based on Google Analytics

Also, here is the list of the most visited content last month.

kuaby's Most Visited Content in September 2017 Based on Google Analytics

Click on the links below if you want to check out the top 5 travel guides:

The top 5 most visited content didn’t change for months now.

However, what caught my attention in the screenshot showing the top 10 most visited content is the fact that there are two commercial content pieces in the list.

Luggage Sales in Malaysia was published last month and updated on a weekly basis.

Kuala Lumpur Hotels with a View of PETRONAS Twin Towers, on the other hand, was published a while back, so it didn’t have the nicer layout for commercial content like Best Hotels Near PWTC Kuala Lumpur.

If I have some free time this month, I will probably update it, so it can start earning some commissions from the article.

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 September is $1.62, down by 52% 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.

Community Update

Email Subscribers: 100 (+8%)

Should I Do This? Should I Do That?

That will be it for this month’s report.

It was a little nerve-wracking when I saw my unique visitor count sliding downwards towards the end of the month, but I am grateful that it didn’t take long for me to discover what went wrong.

Now that I am concluding this report, I can’t wait to work towards my goal of writing 500 words a day this month.

How did your blog or website performed in September? What did you learn about growing it this month? Feel free to share your answers in the comment section below.

Until the next monthly report, thank you for reading.

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Wayne Liew
Wayne fell in love with traveling and every aspect of it when he traveled to Singapore in 2013. He is a newbie when it comes to traveling and he loves chatting with other travelers to learn from their experiences. Are you a traveler? Let's connect!

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