How my challenge is working out

On July 22nd I started a challenge. A personal challenge to write 100,000 words in 30 days. A professional challenge to start a new venture and attract 100,000 visitors to this website in the 180 days after its launch  (after 100k words) and do some science along the way. 

I wanted to see if I can write 100,000 words of content in a meaningful manner by creating valuable articles. But I also want to find out how I can grow a successful business from scratch and show you guys how I did it (and if it’s even possible).

It’s now day 19 of my challenge. I’ve written a total of 53,000 words (a bit less) while I should have written about 10,000 more. A total of 63,000 was  my target number until yesterday.

The yellow line is what I should’ve written. The grey one is what I did write. The orange bars are the amount of words per day I did.

The good

PRETTY GOOD  I’d say!! 53k words, on my own. All original content. I added over 160 images. 95% of which are unique and can be found nowhere on the web. A couple of them I “stole” and credited its publishers. On average I wrote about 800 words per hour. Sometimes a bit more. Sometimes a bit less. I spent about 66 hours creating content so far.

I’ve only written 9 articles until now. That means on average I wrote 5888 words per article. My biggest is 12,464 words. My smallest is 1,622 (but I’m stilling adding content to that one).

I wanted to create a few “ultimate” guides, which I think worked out great. I’ve done 4 of those. For each of the guides I peeked at what other “ultimate” guides did word-count wise. I wanted MORE words. MORE images. MORE good stuff. I think that worked out pretty good. I still need to improve a few articles with extra content and images.

If you want to rank high. If you want to be a valuable website. Words, content, images… That ain’t enough these days. So I started creating a small asset library. I made a Spreadsheet to make a budget with for example. (It’s not finished yet. I’ll include a link here once it is).

But that was also the nasty part of this challenge. Creating these assets are very time consuming. I could’ve written another 10,000 words easily if I didn’t put time in the assets. Probably another 5,000 – 10,000 if I didn’t add any images to the website and just concentrated on writing. I decided to keep adding images because the time I lose with adding those is minimal compared to creating an asset myself.

I will outsource the asset creation more. Some small tools can probably be built for under 100 USD. In the same time it takes me to create something similar I could’ve added a lot more value by creating more in depth articles.

If I had taken a bit more time I would’ve been on track to meet my target. So just to clarify: If I had nothing else to do I would’ve been well on route and have at least 70,000 words by now. This is just to emphasize for other people who want to start a business. YOU CAN DO IT! If you had a normal work week which you could spend on your business, you could’ve spent 112 hours on content creation / business building. If you’re a quick writer you could’ve even made the 100,000 words in that time.

The bad

I don’t think I’ll get to the 100,000 words in 30 days. I’m gonna do my best though. After this weekend I need to have a total of 70,000 words. I lag behind more than 15,000 words. I don’t do a lot of work in the weekend because of my family.

Whenever I thought: man I need an asset for that (as in something people can use as a tool, a spreadsheet, something other than just words) I lost a lot of time. I dug into what was out there. What I could do different to create more value / diversify myself from the crowd. That took a lot of time.

If I started in the morning and had no appointments, those were the days that I was really on a roll. Unfortunately I had very few days like that. Just a one hour appointment probably cut away 3 hours from my schedule.  The preparation, travel, and getting back in the writing vibe is expensive time wise. That was a big learning point for me. Consider if it’s worth the travel or if I should do a Skype call.

After about 5 days of writing I could really notice that it was getting harder and harder and that a lack of a plan was hurting me. I had a few broad topics I wanted to cover. But once they were (nearly) finished, my ideas started to dry up and my words per hour started to drop. I’m still not good at the planning part although I have created a mind map with about 60 article ideas to help me with structuring the website and my thinking.

This image is so small because I don’t want to show what I’m up to just yet

One other thing I should mention: for time sake I didn’t proofread a lot. That means (because English isn’t my primary language) a lot of typos and grammar mistakes remain (probably).

The ugly

Traffic wise I’m still at a point where I haven’t written a single word. OK, maybe a few. But for someone who wrote 53,000 words, you would expect the needle to start moving right? WRONG :))) Luckily I was expecting this. But I can image that for other people who don’t have a lot of knowledge about how search engines work, seeing these numbers after putting so much work in your website can be very frustrating.

The 6 direct visits is me 😛

I had a couple of hypotheses:

  1. It doesn’t matter how many words I write, until I get links from 3rd parties my (search engine) traffic will remain near 0
  2. Because I don’t have any external links (this is a domain I’ve had for a while but never did anything with) I will not get indexed by search engines
  3. If I don’t use writing platforms like Medium and Quora I will not get traction fast enough to get to 100,000 visitors 180 days after launch.

I was surprised to see even a little search traffic after only a few articles were live. That meant that my second hypotheses was false. Somehow search engines picked up on my blog.

The other interesting thing was that I was already receiving search traffic on a keyword that I wasn’t focusing on. The visitors that came from a “brand name” search query are from Bing. The not provided one (1!) is from Google.

I wrote one article which wasn’t about that brand in particular but somehow I did end up with some search traffic on that keyword. Because Bing has smaller market share if both search engines had similar algorithms I should’ve received more traffic from Google vs Bing. That wasn’t the case even though N was very small (4).

Once I saw I was being indexed I linked my website to Google’s Search Console to check what was happing there.

I have so little data, Google isn’t even showing any meaningful keyword data yet. Except for 1 keywords. I was found on a keyword based on a synonym. Will elaborate on that later when my blog is live. But it’s kinda cool: I was found on a search term containing the word Hello even though I haven’t mentioned that on my blog but I mentioned a synonym. So even without any authority, Google still “translates” for you to bring you value.

I am wondering if the number of impressions will get (a lot) higher even though I have 0 links to my website. Is creating valuable content value in itself? Or can you only get value from other websites? I hope to find out in the next few days / weeks.

Unfortunately a link opportunity has already popped up 😛 And I’m not passing on it just because of science. This is business baby. Hopefully they will wait a little while to place the link so I can see what happens with the intrinsic value of my blog.

Anyway, the ugly part is actually the best part for me 🙂 It would probably be pretty ugly for other people. I expected this to happen. If you want search traffic. If you depend on it. YOU NEED LINKS!

In the next few days I’ll try to get as close as possible to 100k words. Once I’m there or close, the most important part of this experiment will start. How to get 100k visitors on this website within 180 days! Exciting :))

The real ugliness is that I need to look beyond the 30 days. I need to already  look beyond the 100,000 words of content. I need to think about how to get visitors. That means creating assets. Starting relationships with other bloggers / editors / etc.

I’m in a psychological twist. Do I need a higher word count first? Or reach out. I said to myself that I would first create 100k words. But I know now that I should already be reaching out to people. I’m not doing that yet though. The link opportunities that come my way are all initiated by someone else.