It's been almost ten years since I started two different passion project websites. Ten years online time is like...dog years or something. So these are actually seventy-year old sites!
When I realized that this anniversary was coming up, I thought it would be a great on-going project to work on as a case study this year.
For anyone in the same boat as me (with an antiquated website that they want to get more out of), following along with what I do will hopefully be helpful to you.
At the same time, my neglected website will improve for the better, my website visitors will have a better user experience and (if I play my cards right), I should also stand to make a little extra cash in a semi-passive way going forward.
What's not to like?
Case Study Website - BassGuitarRocks.com
I started BassGuitarRocks.com in July of 2007 as a WordPress.com site, then moved it over to the privately hosted version in September that year.
It was a passion project that helped to usher me into digital marketing and where I am today. It was a time in my life after the birth of my second child where I knew I had to change careers and also spend a lot less time playing the bass guitar.
So I thought, why not at least build a website about the bass guitar as a bit of a legacy, where I could share all the things I'd learned over the 15 years or so that I'd been playing at that tim?
BassGuitarRocks.com was born.
I set up the site and wrote content for it while honing my SEO chops. My goal at the time was to eventually transition out of the warehouse where I was working and move into a more computer-oriented role full time with an increase in earnings to show for it.
After I started getting some search engine traffic, I monetized the site with Adsense ads and Amazon affiliate links. It took me years to make my first $100.00 that way, 10, 25 and even 2 cents at a time!
About a year in, I ended up writing a blog post that went "viral". No, it wasn't millions of visitors - bass guitar was and still is a bit of a smallish niche, but it was definitely a traffic spike for me. While I wasn't getting millions of visitors to my site, I started getting attention from other bassists who shared it with other bass players in forums online. The article was about how to get the best sound possible from a bass amp in just about any room.
While it's changed over the years, it's pretty much looked like this for about the last five years.
(you can watch the video above if you don't feel like reading.)
I didn't start collecting email addresses on this site, even though I heard that I should be doing this - because I wasn't sure what the heck I would say or offer people to get them to sign up in the first place.
Eventually though, I decided to make my Bass Amp EQ Guide into a download that people could sign up for - and I've had hundreds of people do that over the last 2-3 years.
Updating Bass Guitar Rocks
Here are some initial goals I'd like to hit with this site:
- Improve mobile responsiveness
- Improve overall site speed
- Avoid a full-on site overhaul & redesign - just small tweaks that add up (80/20 | Pareto principle).
- Improve unique visits, time on site and subscribers by 10%
- Remove Adsense - for good!
- Create a tripwire funnel for an inexpensive product
- Get monthly revenue up to $50/month consistently
- Turn this into a "Stadium" website
- Create a new home page
These goals should be pretty attainable.
I'm not doing anything too drastic as I have other projects on my plate as well, but I feel these are some good initial goals to hit and work on as I chip away at them over the course of 2017.
I'm purposely setting low targets as I'm a firm believer in aiming for progress versus perfection; I like to use small victories to help build momentum while validating that my work is making an impact.
Having said that, I'd like to focus in on a few of the above items in great detail.
Avoiding a Full-On Site Overhaul (Item #3)
I've worked on more than a few websites over the last ten years, and I can tell you from experience that they often take far more time than you budget for. So while other people might just say to start a new site, I'm resisting that particular temptation.
I'm using an old theme, but luckily I'm using the Thrive Content Builder plugin. This lets me build landing pages, and if I want I can actually overwrite existing pages in terms of the design and page layout.
So instead of changing out the entire website with a new theme and potentially breaking something, I can just slide into my Google Analytics account, find the most popular pages on the site and update those ones first.
Here's a list of the most popular pages on BassGuitarRocks.com for the last few years:
So what does this tell us?
Well, I have to say that I quite like that average time on page! But besides that, based on unique page views alone, you can work on the top 4 pages on this site and handle the lion's-share of the visitors without having to do a full-on site rebuild.
Since I don't want to be dragged into revamping the entire site right now (as I have other important projects I'm tackling at the moment), I'm opting for this approach. "Fix" one post at at time using the Thrive Content Builder plugin.
What will I do to improve these pages?
- Add or improve images
- Update with new links and resources
- Add bullets and subheadings
- Use pullout quotes
- Look for opportunities to interlink with other site content
- Look for related videos, animated gifs or diagrams
These are just a few different ways that I can improve the content so that it looks more modern and is more helpful to my visitors.
Using the Thrive Content Builder will make this a relatively quick and painless thing to do, so I can likely update at least one or more posts per week without neglecting my other commitments (as long as I manage my time effectively). The other cool thing is that it should also will improve the mobile responsiveness of these individual pages at the same time as well.
Create A New Home Page (Item #9)
The home page is often one of the most important pages on your site, but as you can see from my particular stats....I get more traffic to other pages. This is because the vast majority of my traffic comes from the search engines and points to specific pages. So yes, all that old SEO work I did back in the day is continuing to reap rewards.
I haven't given the design a lot of thought, but I have played around a little with the some of the templates inside of Thrive Themes, so it shouldn't be too hard to come up with something a little more current looking than that old design.
Ideally my new home page will position me as a cool, knowledgeable and trustworthy guy (ok, I'll settle for just knowledgeable and trustworthy) by showcasing my best content. The end goal is always to grow my subscribers so that they may be interested in possibly buying something from me at some point.
Create A Tripwire Funnel (Item #6)
What the heck is a tripwire funnel you say?
It's a low priced offer that entices people to buy and solves a very particular problem for $7-10. As I mentioned earlier, I'm already getting a decent amount of sign ups on this site, but I'm not really doing anything with them.
For a long time I've wracked my brain on what I could actually sell them (besides Adsense and Amazon products). I now have an offer that I want to test, so I will be adding it to the download page of my lead magnet that is getting me all the sign ups. This will be from 100% free traffic from the search engines, but if it seems to be working I might test sending paid traffic to it as well.
The main goal here is to not become a millionaire, but see if there is any degree of buyer intent with my audience thus far. If so, I can expand into possibly doing more courses or a membership of some kind. If not, this will be a small test without too much of time invested. This is likely how I'll hit $50/month in earnings from new sources for this website.
The second part of this will be the email automation sequences that people will get when they download that lead magnet. I will be able to track whether they take me up on my tripwire offer and follow up with them from there. I will be building out an onboarding or "indoctrination" sequence (as Ryan Deiss likes to call it) to warm up my audience and hopefully help them to know, like and trust me.
With a solid foundation in place, and once I've proven that I can help them out I'll be more likely to convert more email subscribers into buyers.
This will help offset my costs, as I am currently hovering close to the maximum number of active contacts I can manage on my ActiveCampaign account, so it would be nice to get a bit of an income boost and upgrade to the new level effortlessly.
Turn This Into A Stadium Website (#8)
Okay, what the heck is a "Stadium" website you might be asking?
It's a concept that I have towards building websites. It incorporates lead magnets, content upgrades, membership areas and certain tools so that I can make relevant offers to my visitors and build a site with high engagement and conversions.
I'll be sharing the concept behind it soon. But right now it mainly exists in my own head...so I want to test out my assumptions before I start sharing how it works. I think it has the potential for exceptional results, but it could also be a lot of added complexity; so I will start small with the revamp and build up the stadium if the results I'm getting are favorable.
Case Study Summary
So there you have it, some solid goals that I'll be working towards to improve a legacy website that will be turning 10 years old later this year. I will be posting periodic updates on my progress with the revamp, share what's working, what isn't and what's next.
Do you have an old website that you want to revamp this year? How do you plan to change it? Share your comments or questions below.
Photo Source (Thumbnail, filter applied and size altered.)