I Survived, Waiting To Get Out Of The Sandbox - Month 6
This site has been live for 6 months which should be considered a miracle. Most sites do not live to be that old. The reason is simple: having a site that makes money is a lot of work with little reward – especially for the first 6 months.
The Psychological Ups and Downs During the First 6 Months
The first two months are easy. Excitement drives you forward. Adrenaline is pumped to your head and fingers. You are entering an unknown world – everything is new. Your site is born with a scream. With daydreams about how successful your website will be, you work late into the night and through the weekend. Everyday you learn something new and everyday your website grows. Like a seedling newly planted you notice progress everyday.
The fact that you have little or no visitors does not concern you, nor does the fact that you are working for free. Building the site, writing content, and thinking of all the ways you will spend your future riches is exciting enough. Every morning you awake with a new idea and you turn on the computer with gusto.
Months 2 and 3 your site is basically complete. Most of the design and layout is done, the content is written and it is time to focus on getting traffic. You begin to drive traffic to your site. Visit forums, leave comments on other blogs, write articles, and optimize your content for SEO.
But unlike the first 2 months you now get out of bed a little slower. Before you turn on the computer you have a shower, get your coffee and wait patiently for the ding on the microwave as it warms your muffin. You give out a tiny sigh as the computer starts. Checking your stats you find the same thing day after day. Almost nobody is visiting your site – just the standard 20-30 visitors a day. You check your revenue page - as sure as the sun will rise there is a zero.
You visit your favorite successful blog for a dose of inspirational reading. It says: “keep at it”, “success will come”, “do not give up”. Full of coffee and a shot of motivation you write some more content and promote your site.
Months 4 and 5 are the worst. The seedling is now a full grown tree – day by day there is no perceivable progress – the tree looks the same as it did yesterday, a week ago, last month. For 4 months you have been working on your site and promoting it. But traffic does not budge; revenue is a baby step from zero. All that work for nothing.
There are days that you do not even check your stats – what is the point you know what they will be. 40 visitors and just enough pennies to buy a gum ball. You rather not check – it would just ruin your day.
You begin to hate the Internet and curse at the stupidity of the visitors. How could they not like your site. Are they such dullards that they do not realize how informative and creative your site is? By now every other blog and site should be linking and talking about your amazing website. But they are not.
It is at this point that most people give up. They put in all that time and effort with no result. No reward, no acclaim, no feedback. You are in outer space, all alone, working for nobody and nothing. All that work for nothing – it can bring a gray haired man to tears. You loath the day you stumbled upon the website that inspired you to start your own. You laugh at your naivete and ignorance – how you dreamed of big success and making a living online. The dream is now completely shattered.
This happened to me. Month 5 was the toughest. I almost gave up. There was about 2 weeks during that month that I did nothing to this site. I was too angry with it, could not even look at it. I was giving it the silent treatment. Kept thinking to myself: what a waste of time. But fortunately the repulsion of my day job forced me to continue. I dusted myself off, wiped my tears and sat back down at the computer. My goal was to at get past month 6.
At the Beginning Google Is Not Your Friend – Get Past Month 6
If your website is new then it will be ignored by Google. And rightly so. The odds are that your site is junk and that you are a spammer. Google wants to avoid people doing a search and finding your crappy site. Almost all good sites are more then a year old. They are established and an authority in their field. Google's focus is on bringing good sites to people doing a search. Your site, being new, has a really good chance of not being good so Google ignores it.
At the beginning Google puts you in what is called a Sandbox. It means that even though your site is optimized for certain keywords and is the best match for what is being searched, your site will still not appear in the results. Google does not trust you. And the only way to establish trust is through time. Although there is no exact figure, it is estimated that to get out of the Sandbox takes at least 6 months (it varies for different niches. Google does not reveal actual periods). After this period you should start receiving the traffic you deserve from Google. Till then you are stuck in the Sandbox. You might have the best website in the world but until you are out of the sandbox only a few people will find your site.
I know I am still in the Sandbox. Once a day I get a visitor from Google looking for “make money website”. According to the keyword search tool 27,000 people perform this search every month. That is almost 1000 searches a day. My website only appears in the search results once a day. That means that Google filters my site out of the search results 999 times a day. Because I am still in the Sandbox. When my website gets out of the Sandbox then I should expect a large increase in traffic.
6 months is around the time I should get out of the Sandbox and be allowed to play in the real world. 6 months has passed so it should be anytime now – could be tomorrow. This is driving me forward. The promise of a big traffic increase just around the corner. In the meantime I am using the time to add content and improve the website. Every morning I wake up expecting to see a big jump in traffic. It has not happened yet – but I expect it soon.
The Google sandbox seems cruel but it is not. It has two major benefits, one for the webmaster and one for the Google user. The Google user is protected from crappy websites that suddenly appear and use devious (Blackhat) methods to get to the top of search results. The webmasters benefit at the beginning because they do not need to focus on traffic. They are stuck in the Sandbox with nothing to do but add and improve content on the site. After 6 months, if you have not given up, you should have a quality website with lots of content. A website that once the traffic starts to come will not disappoint the visitor.
This website is good, I know that and you know that, but nobody else knows it. It should be a success but it is not. Fortunately I am still not discouraged. For inspiration I like to remember the TV show Seinfeld and how it jumped to success. Seinfeld become a culture phenomenon and one of the most popular TV shows. But it did not happen over night. It was not until the 4th season that the show took off. For the first 3 years the show was not doing well in the ratings. It was almost canceled. But then during the 4th season the show gained popularity with the episode “The Contest”. After that episode the show exploded. People started to see the value in the first 3 years of episodes and reruns became very popular.
Compared to 4 years the 6 months that I have had to endure does not seem that bad. I only hope this website explodes soon – there is no way I will keep at it for 4 years with no progress.
Revenue Increased Due to E-Product
During month 5 I created the Website Starter Kit which has already sold a few copies. This has really improved revenue over the last month. Revenue is now just over 500 dollars. Without the Website Starter Kit sales revenue via AdSense alone would have been around 160 dollars after 6 months. Selling a product is a great way to increase revenue. By selling two copies in two weeks I made more money than 5 months of AdSense revenue.
I also added a couple of affiliates to the Make Your Own Website page. They have not generated any sales but it is still early and my traffic is low. There is a product, there are affiliate products and there is advertising. Everything is ready for this website to start making real money – all that remains is a big boost in traffic.
Traffic Is Still a Flat Line
Traffic is holding steady at around 60 visitors a day on average. There have been a few boosts from sites like Reddit and guest posts. But after a quick traffic jump that lasts a few days, traffic settles back down to the average.
I added a tweetme link so that visitors can tweet web pages and blog posts. It has been up for a week with no tweets. It looks bad because on every post and webpage it shows that there have been 0 tweets. Visitors who arrive the first time see that there are no tweets and get an instant bad impression. But you have to start somewhere and in the online business it is usually at 0. 0 traffic, 0 revenue, 0 tweets, 0 products sales, 0 affiliate sales. I cannot imagine how it is possible that western civilization managed without the zero until 800AD. A webmaster would not know where to start if there was no concept of zero.
Search Engine Traffic
This is the only statistic that makes me happy. I like it because it is consistently trending upwards. It is nowhere near where it should be based on the number of people that search for 'make money online' every month. But at least it is steadily increasing. It is also the only number that can bring me a big surprise. I am hoping to wake up one day soon and discover that I am out of the Google Sandbox and receiving 100's of Google users a day.
The next few months will see little change in this website. The focus will be on promotion – mostly guest posts on the top blogs of my niche. Guest posts provide good exposure and backlinks. The hope is that once I get out of the Google Sandbox backlinks from the Page Rank 4 and 6 guest posts will make Google really happy and send lots traffic in appreciation.
Want to know what happened next? Read Month Nine. This Website Is About You, Stupid
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