July 15, 2016

Loosing Authority

Looks like my optimism in my last post was extremely premature. On Tuesday my stats plummeted. Between now and then I’ve had under 190 users a day, and earned just 30 cents a day. On a weekday! I would have considered those stats bad last year. This year? They’re abysmal.

Near as I can tell the best explanation for the nose dive is the loss of domain authority. I had previously read that by setting up 301 redirects that I would retain 90-99% of the ranking power. This may have been true if I redirected my entire site from SarahKTyler.com to Datayze.com, but I didn’t. I wanted to keep the splash page of SarahKTyler.com, which is serving as my online resume. I may have kept the ranking power of the individual pages that are redirecting, but that doesn’t seem to be helping much. It does not appear that I’ve kept much, if any, of my domain authority I’ve managed to build up over the years.

I’m starting off at a significantly bigger disadvantage than I thought I would. My new domain name is just 11 days old. I set up the redirect just six days ago, which means it probably wasn’t discovered by Google or Bing until six days ago. For all intents and purposes, my domain age is practically zero. In his video Matt Cutts says not to worry too much about domain age since it’s less of a factor at two or three months and it typically takes a few months to go from spalsh page to full website anyway. That’s still 53 days away. Seventy percent of my traffic is (or was) from the search engine. I’m worried if I lose those eyeballs it’ll take a very long time before they start to find me again.

I figured since my old name was in the top 2,000,000 sites per Alexa, both search engine giants would pick up on the change quickly. Neither did. I submitted a site map hoping it would help them get around to indexing my new site faster. Neither has.

I knew I would make missteps when starting my own company, but this one feels like the biggest so far. I should have held off on the launch until the new domain had a chance to be crawled.

At this point I think the best thing to do is keep moving forward. What’s done is done. Before now I’ve always been rather indifferent to search engine optimization. I’ve always held the belief that good content matters more than anything else. Now I’ve been reading about breadcrumbs, structured data, and sitemaps. Hopefully I can bootstrap this process and start getting my numbers back up.

July 11, 2016

Datayze Launched!

Last Friday night I quietly launched under my new name Datayze.com.

Unlike the other names I came up with, once I realized Datayze was available I felt like I had found “the” one not just “a” one. I pronounce it as data-yze as in “to data”. It has everything I was looking for: the credibility, the geek factor without being overly geeky, and it works across all my apps. At seven characters long it’s even one of my shorter domain names which is a nice bonus. But my favorite thing about it? When you pronounce it as data-yze it sounds like a call to action.

Even though it was love at first site for me, I polled my friends and family to get additional perspectives. Datayze was clearly a standout for them as well. DataLemma and DataQuod (Quad is latin for “fact”) were also favorites. The former is still up for sale if your interested. I never registered the later. As far as I know it is still available as well.

If there’s one drawback to Datayze it’s that it’s an off-by-one error of Datalyze. Datalyze.cc was one of the domain names I was initially thinking of, and one I was leaning towards for a while. I must admit I did type “datalyze.com” into the browser a few times when I was initially working on the migration.

Mistypings aside, I don’t view Datayze as a variant spelling. Sure, it’s one character different from both Datalyze, and Datatyze, two other domain names I considered. Unlike Dattaticks, which is one character different from the clearly better DataTicks, there isn’t a clear winner among Datayze, Datalyze or Datatyze. Each works on it’s own and independently of the others. I could see someone starting a company with any one of those names. Those two other names also aren’t being used even though they’ve been registered. Datalyze.com is a blank page and Datayze.com is a GoDaddy splash page. This means there’s no other website I could get confused with. It also gives me a chance to get out in front of users first and build my brand so that my domain is the one that gets the name recognition.

So far everything is running smoothly. I’ve set up 301 Redirects so the change should be mostly unnoticeable to my users. All old links and book marks should bring them to the right place. I even earned $2.04 over the weekend, which is higher than normal. It’s still early, but I’m optimistic that 2016 is going to be a very good year for my business. Here’s hoping.

July 10, 2016

Fourpalooza

Someone is having a good birthday party day? week? fortnight?!

Four Ta-da!

When each of the girls was born near a major US holiday (Independence day for Nicki, Thanksgiving for Alexis) I was stoked. Having a birthday near a major holiday meant having an extended weekend for the party. Our family is spread out over both costs, so an extra travel day is most definitely an asset. It turns out having a birthday near a major holiday tends to draw out the festivities.

The birthday celebration started off with a school party on the 1st. Grandma and Grandpa were flying in on the 2nd. We like to keep the girls out of school for the week Grandma and Grandpa visit to maximize everyone’s time together. That meant cupcake day at school would have to be the 1st.

Who forgot about the school’s no home good policy? This girl! After making two dozen cupcake ice cream cones, fashioning an ice cream cone holder out of an amazon prime shipping box and some how managing to get them all to school relatively in tact I learned the kids would not be able to eat them. There are a couple kids with food allergies in Nicole’s class and even though the cupcakes didn’t have any nuts, the school didn’t want to take chances. I can understand that, it’s their liability after all. Thankfully there was a shop that sold cupcakes near by. When parents arrived at the end of the day they had the option give their child one of the home made cupcakes, so most of the kids got two different cupcakes.

Who ordered the wrong sized bike? This girl! I ordered Nicole a 12 inch balance bike. I thought it might be a little small, but doable since she’s on the shorter side. No dice, and now that it was put together I couldn’t return it. Domingo and I made a quick trip to Target where the only bike in her size was a frozen bike with optional sleigh doll carrier. Nicole was most definitely not disappointment about that.

On Saturday, when most of her friends had returned from their holiday travels, we had our first ever birthday party with just friends. That’s two sets of cupcakes at school, two bikes (now one for Alexis) and two parties. Fourpalooza for sure.

Four

Since this was our first year having a birthday party with friends from school we had a few lesson learns:

– Write your own invitations. Computer printing is far more legible than my chicken scratch, and we can easily create the number we need. The invitations we bought came in an 8 pack which was inconvenient given there were 17 kids invited, and didn’t have enough space to write “siblings welcomed.”

– Buy Cupcakes/Cakes. Seriously, when will I learn? Our local grocery store charges the same price for the customized cakes as they do for the generic cakes in the bakery refrigerator, and they’re good, really really good.

– Do not fear Chucky Cheese. I dreaded our friend party. I remembered Chucky cheese as loud, with obnoxious
animations, but it’s really improved since I was a kid. We were assigned a party coordinator who was fantastic. Speaking of which, I need to go call them and let them know what a wonderful job our party coordinator did!

Well that didn’t take too long. After dwelling on it, and dwelling on it, and dwelling on it, I think I’ve finally found the a name and it’s perfect.

Actually I came up with a few. Over the past month whenever I came up with a name I thought would be a possible solution I went ahead and registered it. I didn’t want to get burned like I did when I wanted to purchase my own name as a dotcom. Back in 2004 “styler.com” was the only form of my name that wasn’t available. Since I was so used to using my middle initial I decided to go with “sktyler.com”. By the time I realized I wanted “sarahtyler.com” someone had already registered it. Lesson learned: grab a possible domain name when it’s available!

Now that I’ve picked which name I’m going to go with, it’s time to release the others.

The first name I came up with was Dattaticks.com. My niche right now is all about data, and data munging to get interesting results. “Data Ticks” to me invokes an image of processing and graphing data. It fit well. The name DataTicks.com was registered only last November but currently points no where. All things being equal I would have gone with DataTicks.com if it were available.

DataLemma.com. Lemma is a mathematical term and linguistics term so it appealed to both my Math Geek and Word Nerd sides. In Math it’s a intermediate theorem or “helping” theorem. The phrase invokes to me the image of mathematical “helping” apps. The only drawback I see to this name is it’s highly geeky and not very approachable for every day users.

Since I’m not currently planning on using those names I decided to put them up on the NameCheap marketplace for $20 and $50 respectively. The price reflects what I think the name is worth. (Hey, it took me a ridiculous number of hours to come up with those! I am saving someone that time.) If by the time you’re reading this the auction is over but you still want the name and it’s still avaliable, message me and I’ll put it back up.

The third name I registered but never intended to make my company name is DataLies.com. One of the names I fell in love with was Datalyze.com, the combination of Data + Analyze. The DotCom was already registered, as was the Org, Net and the British spelling variants Datalize. The only name available was the .cc. I strongly considered it, but when test marketing it to none technical people they kept hearing “data lies”. I was shocked that DataLies was still available. This is an excellent blog name for disputing pseudo science people! I’m not sure when I’ll have time for another blog, but I couldn’t resist and snapped it up.

As for the name I did go with, that will be revealed soon. It’s probably a safe bet that it has the word “Data” in it though.

This month was an interesting month. Overall my revenue stayed above the $1/day threshold earning a total of $37.78, but my individual numbers were all over the place. I had one 7 day interval where I earned just $5.02 and another where my income was $11.34.

There were no new apps this month. I spent my time improving the existing apps, working on the new Adblocker Workaround, and thinking about new company names. That doesn’t mean I don’t have cool things to report!

My bounce rate on my apps right now is pretty A-maz-ing.

june-bounce-rate

Starting from June 15th through the rest of the month I enjoyed an average bounce rate under 1%, average time on site was 2:33 seconds with 6.96 pages per session. Those are some pretty incredible numbers. Some of my apps do require a page refresh, but none of those refreshes are automatic. That means I have a pretty wicked insane rate of visitors to my apps actually using my apps.

In terms of app use, my Miscarriage Reassure and Miscarriage Statistics Chart are finally starting to do well thanks to getting a few mentions on reddit. Some of those redditers were so positive about the apps it took every ounce of will power I had not to create an account and thank them personally. Joining the conversation would probably not have helped the professional image I’m trying to cultivate. If by any chance any of your daily users made it over here, just now that I’m incredibly happy to have built something you’ve found so useful!

This coming month will probably be another slow month. We have family visiting for Nicole’s upcoming birthday which means I’ll be down a week. My idea well is also a little dry at the moment, so I’ll probably continue to focus my energy on coming up with a new name. The name issue isn’t technically blocking me, but lately it feels as though it’s the main element holding me back.

June 17, 2016

The Value of the URL

I’ve been going round and round with my domain name registrar, trying to find a new name. I’ve done the temporary, I’m ready for something more permanent. Do I go with a cutesy mispelling? A different gTLD besides the dotCom? The experts disagree. To help narrow down my search I thought it might be a good idea to jot down exactly what I hope to achieve with a new name.

I need something that screams “I know what I’m doing.”

The biggest thing I’m looking for is something that ads credibility. I think one of the things holding me back is the fact that I’m using my name to host my apps. I found users tend to have a bit of mistrust when it comes to personally own websites. Not that I can fault them, I would trust “MiscarriageInstitute.com” over “SarahsMiscarriageApps.com” any day. (Less reasonably, some people discount my apps because I’m female, even in 2016, so not revealing my gender may be advantageous).

This was the logic behind Aaron Patzer’s purchase of “mint.com.” Without a trustable name, he predicted no one would trust his start-up with their financial information. I know I wouldn’t.

There’s also something to be said about operating from a high value domain name. Either you’ve been around for a while, or you were able to raise enough capital to purchase the expensive domain name. Both indicate a level of success.

I want a company name, not an app name

My big take away from This 2013 Forbes article is that generic names are not necessarily valuable any more. Those names, especially when misspelled or “cutesy” spellings are often associated with spam sites.

I also don’t really want to be buying a new domain name for each of my apps. That would eat up my entire current profit margin. I’m more than a little worried that because I’m writing apps, as opposed to a static blog, my margins will stay razor thin even if I ever become popular. Apps require more bandwidth and more CPU time than static pages. More users consume more resources than need to be paid for. I’d like to keep costs down for the foreseeable future.

I want something I can build a brand around

I found a name that I loved, where the .com, .net. org, and .io were all taken but so far unused. The only one that was left the dot-cc gTLD. I strongly considered purchasing it, until I read I can expect as much as 25% of my traffic to go to the dot com instead. (This came from antidote evidence, so I didn’t site the source.) I didn’t want to spend all this time building a brand to make someone else’s domain name more valuable.

If I went with a non dot-com I’d likely want to purchase the dot-com eventually, unless the alternative gTLD was part of the brand identity. Of course the more successful my new business, the more the owner of the dot-com will want for the domain.

June 11, 2016

Thwarting Adblockers

When I started tracking adblockers on my site I didn’t have much of an intuition how common adblockers were, or how much it was affecting my bottom line. As a one person company, I have limited time to throw at any one problem so these types of questions always warrant an investigation to see if it’s worth my time and effort. If ad blockers were used by a small enough percentage of my audience, I would ignore the issue and focus on writing new apps.

Initially I came up with an arbitrary threshold of an acceptable amount of ad blocking. As long as adblocking was less than 15% of my traffic, my bottom line would remain mostly intact. Actually, the first number in my head was 10%, but I bumped it up after it appeared 12% of my ads were being blocked. There was no real reason behind either number, just intuition. The first time the percentage of blocked ads rose above 15% I decided to look the other way. Maybe 17% was a more reasonable number. Than I had my first 20% ads blocked day, followed by my first 40% day, and finally a day over 50%. The bandwidth I was paying for to host the webapps was costing me more than the money I was earning from them. Forget earning money, it was costing me money! Ignoring the problem was no longer an option.

Thankfully my Ad blocking detection script was generating a fair amount of data. I had replaced those “console.log” calls with google analytics event recordings, so I could generate a fairly extensive profile of just who was using adblockers.

I wasn’t surprised to see that adblocking was more common on desktop than mobile browsers. I think that’s pretty common knowledge these days. What caught me off guard was the stark divide between weekend behavior and weekday behavior. Even accounting for browser type, adblocking was nearly non existent on the weekends. Digging further I learned some corporate networks block ads as a matter of policy.

Penalize the user for their network administrator’s policy didn’t seem like the right course of action. Yes, blocking ads are against my terms of service, but what choice did they have? They have no control over their coprorate’s network policy and I’m more likely to incure their ire than get any positive benefit from blocking them. I opted to go a different route.

I opted to show different, unblockable ads that address many concerns that advocates of adblocking raise.

When google adsense is blocked, I now serve static image & text ads to Amazon. Because the only javascript running is javascript I wrote, rather than a third party script, there is no additional security concern. Nor is their an extra strain on resources beyond what running my apps would cause anyway. No third party involvement also means no additional privacy concerns. The new ad policy that addresses the objections of most people who use ad blockeres. That sounds like a win-win in my book!

If you want to see the Amazon ads used, but don’t have an adblocker, you can always check them out here. As always, I welcome feedback.

June 6, 2016

Animal Watching

birdofparadise
Bird of Paradise from our back yard, a substitute for the Birds of Paradise at the Zoo.

This weekend we took girls to the zoo. The zoo had switched over to their summer hours, and while not ideal zoo weather, it was much nicer than it’s been or predicted to be in the coming weeks. I like to maximize our membership, and Nicole is never one to say no to a zoo morning.

The big surprise for us this trip was Alexis. For the first time she wasn’t all about the stroller buggy ride. She spent most of her time in my arms, leaning forward to get a better view. She waved to the chimpanzees and screamed “hi!” in her little toddler voice. In the amphibian house she pressed her face up on the glass to get as close to the lizards as possible. For the first time she saw the animals as animals, and not just objects that moved. The experience hearkened back to Nicole’s first time at the zoo, at roughly the same age.

We’ll be maximizing our zoo membership this year for sure!

It also means I won’t be bringing my camera to the zoo for some time, as I’m not likely to have a free hand to use it. Not when neither kid wants to sit in the stroller, and both require a set of eyeballs upon them. Thankfully I have a back yard full of flowers I haven’t killed yet, and a surprising amount of wildlife we haven’t scared off to scratch my photographer itch.

deer2

When the previous home owner told us she saw all kinds of animals from her backyard, we assumed she was just working the sale. We have so many deer out here that we have recognizable family units. I always recognize this guy from the dark strip above his eyes. I’m pretty sure he was born somewhere near our house, he was such a tiny thing when we first spotted him. I thought he was abandoned, it was a couple weeks after we started seeing him before Mama allowed herself to be seen.

I’m sure it’s more a indication of their patience than my tenacity that I’m able to get so many photos of them. Even the kids banging on the patio door doesn’t phase them much. Both kids have a fondness for the twin fawns that sometimes sleep in the shade of our rose bushes.

June 4, 2016

Not So Savey Shopper

Evidence that Sarah is not always as good a shopper as she thinks she is:

Christmas for me isn’t confined to December. I usually purchase new Christmas Ornaments year round. As of a month ago I had purchased four new ornaments. The smart thing to do would have been opening up those nondescript brown shipping packing boxes as they arrived and inspected the contents. In my experience “mint in box” and “never opened”, usually mean “used – like new” with the occasional “used – very good”. Rarely it’s “used – ok.” Once an ornament arrived with a break that could only have been during use, not shipment. Yes, opening the boxes would have been the smart thing. Life was busy. Some of the deals I was getting were very good – good enough to be worth it, even when the ornament in question’s condition wasn’t quite perfect. Good enough to not be worth the hassle of the return. So I let the boxes accumulate in the corner.

Today I sat down to open those boxes and discovered this.

cozies

It turns out I purchased Cozy on Ice once off ebay in February, and another time off Amazon in May. (Yes, that also means I had a package for 4 months before finally getting around to open it.) Oops. Neither purchase was an exceptionally good deal. I paid $13 and $15 including tax and shipping respectively. You can get it off of ebay right now for under $10, although the $13 price is more typical. While I generally don’t mind have a back up ornament, I prefer to only get a back duplicate if it’s a couple of dollars. An extra $15 probably won’t break the bank, but it’s still annoying. At least I really love the ornament.

Can’t Wait to Skate was ok. The pom-pom on his hat looked to be partially torn off. I can probably fix it, but I’m also debating about removing it entirely. It was a fine purchase at $5. I didn’t like Making Mom & Daughter’s Memories as much in person as I did online, especially after discovering this year’s version which I like much better.

Not my finest shopping moments. Oh well. Perhaps I should refrain from online shopping for a little while.

May was another record breaking month for me. I earned $40.52, and that’s with a travel holiday weekend in there, pulling down my numbers. I’m finally starting to see the growth I was hoping for last year. Better late than never, right?

May was the month of maintenance. In business there’s a motto that it’s ten harder to acquire customers than to keep customers. If I want to keep my customers (users), I want to make sure their experience using my apps is as easy and straight forward to use as possible. I had amassed a 35 item list of minor (to the user, not necessarily in implementation) tweaks that could make my apps more user friendly. My javascript skills have improved quite a bit over the past couple months, and some of those early apps looked like they were written by the javascript newbie I once was. It was time to update them. The list is now down to a paltry 17. My goal is to get the tweak list down to under ten items and keep it that way.

I finally got around to writing my privacy policy, and have been trying to come up with a new business identity.

I was so busy with my task list that as of yesterday morning I hadn’t published a single app in May. Yesterday I released three, including two I started just yesterday.

The new apps include:

Word Blender. The word blender uses the same underlying support code, but the heuristics and language model are tweaked for generic English words, and not specific to names. I had mostly finished this app a few weeks ago, and have been using it to explore new domain name possibilities.

Labor Probability Chart. After the initial interest in the Miscarriage Probability Chart, I thought I’d create a similar graph for the Labor Probability Calculator. Although the Labor Probability Chart and the Labor Probability Calculator have similar names, they’re actually modeling different things. I worry that this might be a little confusing for causal visitors. I could better than I English. If I ever get big enough to consider hiring employees a technical writer will be high on my list.

Alternate Spelling Finder. This app has dual purposes. I’ve been considering this app for a little while as a means to give visitors a chance to create unique baby names with a little more control than the name generator affords them. I could also see it being a good tool for fiction writers writing about alternate earths or post apocalyptic words where language has evolved a bit differently. Lately I’ve also been tinkering with the idea of an alternate, cutesy spelling business name.

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