GrowthBadger just had its one-year birthday, and what a year it’s been.

In this progress report, I’ll both share how things have gone during the past quarter (like I usually do) and also have a quick look back at the full year.

But first, quick announcement:

This is the last time I’ll be publishing one of these quarterly reports on the blog.

In the future, I’ll only send them to email subscribers — so if you’d like to see the next one, go ahead and subscribe real quick.

(I’ll explain why later in this post.)

Okay, now let’s start with a recap of past progress updates:

3-Month Update

  • 5 blog posts
  • 2,447 total site visits
  • 47 email subscribers
  • $0 revenue (hadn’t monetized yet)
  • 24 backlinks pointing at GrowthBadger; Ahrefs domain rating of 9

6-Month Update

  • 0 new blog posts
  • 7,688 site visits (3x increase)
  • 515 more email subscribers (11x increase)
  • $0 revenue (hadn’t monetized yet)
  • 65 external sites pointing 127 backlinks at GrowthBadger; Ahrefs domain rating of 24

9-Month Update

  • 3 new blog posts
  • 20,262 site visits (2.6x increase)
  • 527 more email subscribers (102% increase; 1,089 total)
  • $0 revenue (still hadn’t monetized yet)
  • 179 external sites pointing 6,760 backlinks at GrowthBadger; Ahrefs domain rating of 41

Now let’s see how these last three months went.

Drumroll, please…

12-Month Update

  • 3 new blog posts
  • 25,407 site visits (25% increase)
  • 684 more email subscribers (63% increase; 1,773 total)
  • $998 revenue (monetized in the last 2 days of the quarter; more details below)
  • 217 external sites pointing 4,840 backlinks at GrowthBadger; Ahrefs domain rating of 52 (nice!)

Note: in the past I’ve published these updates a few days before the end of each month, but starting with this one I’m changing to cover a regular calendar quarter (e.g. July 1 – Sept 30).

Traffic in year 1

My first couple progress updates were a little “loosey goosey” on their timing, so it’s actually been about 13 months since launching the site.

So here’s the traffic chart from Sept 1 2018 – Sept 30 2019:

As you can see, September 2019 was GrowthBadger’s biggest month ever, with 14,625 visits (sessions).

Total traffic so far since launch = 52,360 visits.

Here’s how that total traffic breaks down into top traffic sources:

So organic search has been the #1 driver of traffic — no surprise.

But at 36%, it’s actually a smaller proportion than I expected. But the amount of traffic from organic search will increase as I write more keyword-focused content.

Speaking of organic search, here’s a screenshot of how GrowthBadger’s Ahrefs Rank and number of referring domains have improved over time.

As you can see in the top-left, it broke into the top million sites by Ahrefs Rank a few months ago and is about to make it into the top 500,000:

That’s important because it means I’ll have a better chance of ranking for more competitive keywords in the future.

And that improvement is driven by the growing number of linking sites (bottom graph in the screenshot) — which is growing almost entirely thanks to just a few key pieces of data-driven content I’ve published.

You can read about how I put those pieces together and promoted them in my post about the Double Survey Technique.

How I’m monetizing

Big milestone in just the last few days of September: GrowthBadger started making money! 🎉

This is my first time ever monetizing a blog.

I’m using Bryan Harris’s product validation method, which consists of sending a product description (basically a rough sales page) to a small group of subscribers and asking if they’d want to buy it.

If they say yes, you send them a link to purchase it as a pre-sale.

And if enough people actually pull out their credit cards and purchase, then you create the product. (If not, you refund anyone who bought.)

That way you don’t spend a ton of time building something people may not actually buy.

The results?

So far, this process seems to be working out.

After reaching out to 75 subscribers, 2 ended up purchasing a $499 product on pre-sale.

The next step is emailing a couple more groups of subscribers, refining the offer based on their feedback each time — and possibly also testing price increases.

(If you want to see the process firsthand, get a look at the product and give me feedback, shoot an email to [email protected][this domain] and I’ll put you in the next group.)

Changing GrowthBadger’s positioning

After a lot of thought, I’ve recently decided to re-position GrowthBadger more toward professional content marketers and less toward bloggers and early-stage solopreneurs.

(Most of my content will still also apply toward entrepreneurs and bloggers, but they won’t be the main focus anymore.)

Why?

Two reasons:

1. Search trends. As a keyword, “blogging” is still more popular than “content marketing” in the US — but not worldwide. And “blogging” has been slowly declining in popularity for years while “content marketing” is more steady.

2. Hobby vs. profession. Businesses and professionals are more likely to have budget to invest compared to independent bloggers, so in order to turn GrowthBadger itself into a real business it just makes more sense to focus on the former.

I’ve had several people proactively reach out wanting to hire me after reading this blog, and it’s always been established businesses needing help with their content marketing — never early-stage bloggers. I probably should have taken that hint a lot sooner :).

So I’ve been changing GrowthBadger’s CTAs and descriptive text to reference content marketing rather than blogging. This isn’t 100% done yet, but will be soon.

For example, here’s a before-and-after of the homepage:

GrowthBadger homepage before and after

This positioning change is also why my future progress updates will only go to email subscribers, rather than get posted here.

As blog posts, my progress updates have been by far my worst-performing content.

I know some of you really love them, which is awesome — I really appreciate it! But I think they send a confusing message to the professional marketers who come here for more specific knowledge.

I’ll still do in-depth case studies about specific methods and share my learnings publicly that way, but these quarterly updates will only go out via email after this.

So take a few seconds to subscribe now if you haven’t yet.


And that pretty much sums things up.

It’s been a really fun first year.

I’ve learned a lot, and I think the future of GrowthBadger looks very good.

What do you think of my progress so far, and the positioning changes I mentioned?

Any questions?

Let me know in a comment below!