January 2, 2017

December 2016 Progress and Income Report

This past month I earned $103.91, making my 2016 grand total $495.90. I’ve finally reached the second target of $100/month! December was roughly 5 times greater than January, which is nice progress, even if most of it seemed to happen at the end of the year.

Last month I worried that Thanksgiving would affect my metrics, but the impact ended up being minimal. I was lulled into a false sense of security going into December. My numbers continued to climb and I was on track for another month of 32% growth. Then Friday December 16th – the first major travel day of the season – hit. Everything cratered from that point on through the end of the month. Visitation and income were down dramatically and continued to fall through the 25th. It looked like I was going to rocket past the $100/month mark and instead I just inched passed it! User growth ended up being just 15.4%, well under projections.

I was really worried that something other than just the holiday season was affecting my numbers. After all, the free fall started on the 16th! Even though I said I was going to focus on new content this month, I ended up spending a lot of time monitoring the health of my website. There I was, on my parents computer, remote connected to the server, long after everyone else had gone to bed on Christmas trying to identity and fix any possible problem.

I’m not sure how big an impact it had, but I did discover my website was running needlessly slow. Checking my speed performance I was getting an warning message that text files (including css, javascript, etc) were not compressing. I don’t remember ever seeing that warning before, so I’m not sure if something changed in the server configuration. (The joys of shared hosting…). Since I was already minifying Javascript and CSS, I thought I’d also minify HTML as well. And I thought minifying Javascript was non trivial. Minifying HTML with embedded javascript and PHP is a whole different can of worms. My solution works for the way I code, but isn’t general enough to make it to a how to article.

I did end up with two new pieces of content this month.

The first is Time Between which is just like Time Until, but allowing you to specify the start time.

The second app I’m really proud of. It’s the Sitemap Index Analyzer.

I wanted to get a better feel for how Google was indexing my site. The consensus online was to use proxies to query google and aggregate the results. That approach is a violation of Google’s terms (another reason for proxies – to escape detection), and I’m too much of a strict rule follower to ever consider something like that. I realized that I could work backwards. The Sitemap Index Analyzer profiles the sitemap, not Google’s index! It reduces the problem space to a few queries that are easy for a human to do. It then uses a statistical significance test to identity sections not being indexed. Same result, but with a way that doesn’t violate Google’s terms!

This month I’m going to work on more site improvements. There are a few things I can work on to enhance to professionalism of datayze, and I think as I continue to pass new thresholds of users that is becoming more and more critical to help maintain growth.

I am worried that revenue might fall in January. Now that we’re out of the shopping season, users may be less “clicky” and the worth of a click might be less. As long as I have strong user numbers, I can consider other ways to monetize.

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