Blog micro-transactions – a follow up

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Hello and welcome back to my blog!

A little while back this year I wrote an article on my preliminary results for selling the source code which accompanies my technical articles and subscriptions to the site. You can read it here.

This article is basically an update with some longer term results in.

I always really appreciate when other business owners share their revenue details, so I like to be able to do the same when possible.

The results

Turns out that there is some promise to the idea of blog micro-transactions and people are generally quite receptive to the idea of purchasing source code accompanying my articles. As long as the main article contains enough value by itself, readers don’t seem to mind that I charge for the source-code which accompanies them.

The result is that this blog is currently bringing in around $500 / month in source code purchases and site subscriptions (whereby all the source I release is included for one year). Although its not a massive amount of money it does indicate to me that this is something worth expanding on, especially given the relatively low amount of page-views the site gets.

Page views

Transactions

Note, the transactions total is a little low, since I’d only added subscription tracking in analytics half way through the month.

Getting those page-views up

My current plan of action to increase revenue is to keep writing quality articles with attached code. The main difficulty is actually finding a topic which really resonates with developers. I’ve been using Google Adword’s keyword tool to try and get a handle on this, but the results are not that inspiring.

Using that tool I noted that the phrase ‘How to make games’ had a good high search volume associated with it (over 1 million worldwide searches), so I wrote an article targeted at the kind of audience the phrasing of the query implied – i.e. those who are absolute beginners just starting out and want to know how to make games.

You can read it here, if you’re interested.

I’m currently ranking number 7 on the front page of google (in the UK) for that search term, which I was very pleased with. I’m on the front page worldwide as well, but at the bottom.

Uk google ranking

However, this has not resulted in the influx of organic traffic I’d hoped for. In fact, that’s somewhat of an understatement; its resulted in 7 organic visits this month so far! Obviously there is a big drop-off to be expected from being the no.1 google hit and being number 7, but I hadn’t expected this.

Quite what is going on here, I’m not sure – I’m probably falling foul of my ignorance when it comes to using Google’s keyword tool correctly. Hopefully I’ll see some improvement in the coming months!

Advertising

The other obvious source of income for a blog is advertising and indeed, I’ve had a number of inquiries from companies wanting to place adverts on the site, but I feel that with the level of page-views I’m currently serving it wouldn’t really be worth it, as I’d only be able to charge a tiny amount. I do want to explore this option when the page-views are up to an acceptable level, though.

For now, I’m leaving AdSense enabled, although I need to work on my ad placement. I’m not including any revenue details from AdSense because I’ve only just had my account reactivated since I finally received my pin number.

Conclusion

Hopefully this business model has some scale to it so I’ll be trying to bring in more page-views throughout the rest of the year. I’ll also do some more analysis to figure out what is going on with the google keywords tool.

All in all, I’m quite pleased with the results – my goal is to be able to stop taking on contract work and devote myself to the blog full time. Hopefully 2012 will be the year, but we’ll see!

Until next time, have fun!

Cheers, Paul.

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About Paul Firth

A games industry veteran of ten years, seven of which spent at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, he has had key technical roles on triple-A titles like the Bafta Award Winning Little Big Planet (PSP), 24: The Game (PS2), special effects work on Heavenly Sword (PS3), some in-show graphics on the BBC’s version of Robot Wars, the TV show, as well as a few more obscure projects.   Now joint CEO of Wildbunny, he is able to give himself hiccups simply by coughing.   1NobNQ88UoYePFi5QbibuRJP3TtLhh65Jp
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10 Responses to Blog micro-transactions – a follow up

  1. Ben Hesketh says:

    Have you looked at Clickochet? (http://www.clickochet.com/) they trade ad impressions so you don’t have to pay. Not sure how it’ll work for super tech stuff.

    Congrats on the revenue! Have you thought about creating a service so that other people can sell their code?

    Ben

    • Paul Firth says:

      Hey Ben!

      I hadn’t heard of clickochet, I’ll give them a look :)

      I had considered expanding into a tech blog-platform with contributing authors and whatnot, but its a fair amount of work setting all that stuff up – thanks for reminding me, though!

      Cheers, Paul.

  2. Matt says:

    Hi Paul,

    I’ve been following your blog with great interest since your collision detection/Angry Birds articles – and you are doing a fantastic job.

    Do your stats account for users like myself who read via Google Reader or other RSS readers? There may be a more accessible group of users who perhaps are already established programmers, and want to get into game development but maybe find the beginners articles a bit too basic – especially since I often see your articles on Hacker News/Reddit and similar websites. It would be interesting to hear how your “How to make Games” article stacks up in terms of page views against the articles you did on advanced topics like collision detection.

    Keep up the good work!

    • Paul Firth says:

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks, glad you enjoyed them!

      The stats don’t account for RSS reader views, its only website visitors and pageviews. I think you might be right about the experience level I’m aiming at – the more advanced articles did draw a lot more page views than the more simplistic ones.

      Over the whole year, this is how the page views stacked up:

      /blog/2011/04/06/physics-engines-for-dummies/
      115,122
      /blog/2011/05/12/how-to-make-angry-birds-part-1/
      41,583
      /blog/2011/06/07/how-to-make-angry-birds-part-2/
      32,020
      /blog/2011/04/20/collision-detection-for-dummies/
      28,761
      /blog/2011/03/25/speculative-contacts-an-continuous-collision-engine-approach-part-1/
      26,107
      /blog/2011/12/14/how-to-make-a-2d-platform-game-part-2-collision-detection/
      7,686
      /blog/2011/12/11/how-to-make-a-2d-platform-game-part-1/
      4,966
      /blog/2012/01/06/how-to-make-games/
      4,184

      Cheers, Paul.

  3. Jordi Cabot says:

    Congratulations on the success of your source-code selling idea! I appreciate you sharing the results with us.

    Just one comment about the ads, I think your current number of page/views is more than enough to start getting some nice complementary revenue. Apart from sellings ads on the home page, you could also sell “sponsorships” for individual posts. This has worked quite well in my case (I don´t have many but those that I have are quite lucrative, prices depends on the popularity of the post but can easily be around 300 USD per year ) with the benefit that you´re not limited to the space available in the columns.

    • Paul Firth says:

      Hi Jordi,

      Thanks! Its very interesting that you think the blog is ready for advertising… Good idea about the sponsorship for an individual post as well, I hadn’t even considered that :)

      Maybe I’ll start looking into a word-press plug-in for sponsored advertising. How did you approach getting sponsored advertising?

      Cheers, Paul.

      • Jordi Cabot says:

        Some of them approached me themselves after I announced in the blog that I was open to ads. For others I just contacted them myself directly, in my case, it’s easy to know the companies that could be interested (you can for instance which are already paying ads in google)

  4. There’s a massive wealth of “beginner” level tutorials to be found out there for free. I think your stats prove that what people are most happy to pay for are articles about areas they find complex (physics, collision). I would imagine you could proceed along those lines for a good while! Creating an optimal game state manager, game loop, input handler (that could do advanced things like multi-combos), sequencing to beats in music, etc! I could probably give you a huge list :)

    Also can I suggest you get onto reddit and promote your articles on there. I get an incredible volume of traffic from reddit. Prominent pieces will bring in tens of thousands of visitors a day.

    • Paul Firth says:

      Thanks for the suggestions, you are quite right about the target audience – I’ve been learning this recently :)

      As for reddit, I’ve been a big fan since day 1 of this blog and its helped me to gain a good amount of traffic…

      Cheers, Paul.

  5. Pingback: BM: Blog Micro Transactions | Stories of a (failed) entrepreneur

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