Know your numbers & plan ahead

Al and I both own $10k+ a month websites and it’s fair to say we are both still learning and earning, forgetting about mini sites, domaining and one off property flipping and concentrating on one main large website will be the subject of this post.

There are some basic rules that I follow now that I’d like to share and if you run a website that is your main earner or one which you are aiming to grow into your main earner then I would consider the following points quite important.

1/ Have an angle
There that wasn’t so hard was it? Or was it, why oh why do people churn out endless proxy, arcade crappy sites from free scripts every single day that add absolutely nothing to the world and then sit back and complain about the lack of their success. Do not ask why people will not visit your site, ask WHY SHOULD they visit your site. You must have a hook, an angle, something that separates you from the thousands and thousands of websites out there. That can be something as simple as taking something already out there and putting a spin on it to make it more fun , interesting or more interactive. It could be adding a useful free tool or calculator or service, whatever it is you must have it established in your plan long before you go spending time, money and effort into your site, non negotiable!

If you cannot tell me right now in less than 30 seconds and in a few sentences why someone should use your website then it is time to close your virtual doors my friend.

2/ No commodity in the history of the world has risen as fast as the value of domain names so get a good one, they are not all taken, granted it took Al and I a week or two to come up with Self Made Minds (it was unregistered) and for other projects I sometimes pay for the privilege of a good domain but take the time and energy to find a great brand-able domain. I think we can safely say there is no need for hyphens now so avoid like the plague and make sure it means something and can be remembered and easily passed across to another person either by text or speech.

3/ All traffic is not created equal, your traffic is the fuel that runs your business, it is more precious than gold yet webmasters seem to get complacent and ambivalent with it and often roll it into one large number of x thousand per day when describing their websites performance. Analyse your traffic, it can come from a variety of places, digg/stumble/direct type in/banner advertising/ppc/links but they are not all equal and you need to be aware how that converts into $ so that you know how to efficiently spend your time and resources, you also need to be prepared to analyse those spikes in traffic so that you know exactly what happened and how you can take steps to replicate it if necessary.

Poor converting traffic and good converting traffic often cost the same, make sure your time and money is spent on good quality converting traffic. When you get good traffic remember to push things like adding to favourites and give them reasons to come back, if you can make a tiny percentage of your visitors sticky then it can help waterpoof you from the search engines down the line, aim to have no more than 60% of your traffic coming from google if at all possible, this can be done by repeat traffic.

4/ Test test test, experiment experiment experiment tweak tweak tweak
Do not take your stats as a factual be all and end all, you can always improve your conversion rate, your serps, your click through rate, your layout, your whole website should be viewed as a fluid being that is constantly tweaked, tested and experimented with, small changes can have very large effects, don’t get complacent.

5/ If you sell a product, subscription or service online then know your numbers!
How many visitors to your website does it take to make a sale?
You need to know this and when you do, you need to constantly ask yourself what is happening to the rest of the visitors. If you make one sale in 1000 visits then what is happening to the other 999 people who walk away, what can you do to stop them, how can you ask them how to improve, what don’t you have that they wanted, why did they leave? Why are you not paying attention to them?

If you make 1 sale in 1000 too many webmasters then calculate they need 10 sales per day and therefore 10,000 visitors, too many people work blind not analysing the other side of what didn’t work. Don’t take conversion rates and multiply them, split them up and analyse them and go back to point 4 and test test test, experiment experiment experiment, tweak tweak tweak.

6/ Plan for success, this means analyse your business to see if your scale-able, if you suddenly do very well it can just as easily kill you off as make you rich, so plan. Can your suppliers cope, can your hosting cope, can your database cope? Now I am not saying spend money that you cannot afford but do the research now.

Don’t go looking for quotes on a dedicated server while your site is offline due to breach of shared hosting TOS, have a growth plan so that you know what needs to be changed at each stage of your growth, have contacts for people who can move & upgraded your database if needed, know your current limits and plan for success.

All very basic info to some of you but to the majority of webmasters who are trying to make a site their main earner you can be sure at least 2 or 3 of the above are neglected, it is Friday though and I plan on a long weekend off starting in a few hours time so have a good Easter Weekend folks.

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.


  1. I totally agree, the number of Proxie, Arcade and MySpace resource clones you see cropping up all the time is amazing but you’re never going to make a long term income off that, short term maybe though.

    I’m still amazed you cam up with this name and it wasn’t taken, I hate fiunding or choosing decent domain names.

  2. Choosing a good domain is a real pain, something we must be getting better at 😉

  3. What l dont analysis the visitors who didnt click my ads! Actually l ve aksed this question to myself too, but as you said to analysis these kinds of logs, we need times and experiments and professionale supports or should read lots of forums about them. Actually l only am able to arrange some of hours ( 1 or 2 hour in a day ) for net, and in these times l am only able to add new contents to sites. So No time to analys the logs and guests if they did add ur sites to their favorites or not or if they subscribed ur feeds or not.
    l think l will whenn l got rest from my work 🙂
    Thanks for this great article..
    ( Dont Worry l subscribed your feeds )

  4. Fantastic tips, even though most of them are something one would learn from commonsense and experience, but it is always good to be reminded of them from time to time.

  5. Well I’m happy to tell you that I’m doing most of what you’re discussing in this article. I’m even enlroling on an Ajax course at my local college just so that I can improve the user experience of my site.

    I do need to do more experiments with my Adsense tho in order to improve conversion rates. I’m especially happy to see that I’m getting more average page views than your site too! 😉

    Good luck, p.

  6. Good work Pondlife then your well on the way, I get around 250,000 page views per day through my adsense account.

    I prefer to find coders for certain jobs but if you can code and learn then that’s another string to your bow.

  7. Great Tips. It is amazing how many people don’t want to concentrate on building good portals but rather want to get easy buck by building crappy pages.

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