Just over a month ago, I launched Post Status. Post Status is essentially a WordPress news and information link blog, with a little extra flavor. The first month has been full of excitement, surprise, some disappointment, and a lot of fun. I like to be as open as possible, so I’m going to tell you everything on my mind about my little side project.
Why did I start it?
I got started with WordPress in a small way around 2008, but really entrenched myself in the WordPress community in early or mid 2010. Throughout that time, keeping up with everything going on in the community has always been a challenge.
At times, various websites and people have done a great job of keeping up, and I relied on them. I even contributed to one for a long time. But no website has really stayed relevant consistently, because it’s a demanding thing. No one has mastered how to sustain a WordPress news site for any sort of long haul.
Much of WordPress “news” consists of regurgitated blog posts, even when on popular WordPress news sites. This makes sense, because so many WordPress news makers have blogs! I know what it’s like to write these posts. Paragraph, quote, screenshot, paragraph. It takes time. But is it really relevant? Sometimes. But not always. Usually, the source does a pretty good job of describing the content, so what’s the need for a post from a news site?
The added benefit from a WordPress “news” post, to me, is the brief context or quick opinion that can be added to the story, as well as the pure filtering of global WordPress news on the site as a whole. But the screenshots, quotes, and full paragraph summaries are largely filler material in my opinion.
So I decided WordPress needed a place where just the relevant things could take place. That’s where Post Status was born. It’s a curation site. Titles are relevant. Very short descriptions are relevant. Perhaps a sentence or two of personal input make sense. But my goal on Post Status is for people to leave Post Status and visit the original article. I think this makes the most sense for the ecosystem.
How Post Status works
I don’t try to make Post Status what it doesn’t need to be. I don’t do tutorials, list posts, interviews, podcasts, etc. Instead, I link to great sources of information that do these things. I certainly add context, and I hope readers value that, but the primary goal of any post is to share just enough information with my readers so that they can decide whether the post is worth clicking on and reading at the source level.
Post Status can also be an appropriate place for comments and conversation. If the linked source doesn’t have comments turned on, or if the conversation is more about the context offered in the link versus the source information itself, it makes sense to have comments on Post Status. Also, sometimes discussions can be on Post Status if a post marries multiple links to form a more general conversation. Here’s a good example.
One thing I do ask of readers is to vote. That’s been a big struggle so far, and it’s probably my own fault. I originally required people to be logged in to upvote posts, which was probably too optimistic; not to mention the usability of the voting button didn’t make sense. It looked like a comment count if the user is logged out. I’ve changed that now. Anyone can vote on posts, whether they are logged in or not, using a cookie based system.
The votes help me a great deal. It helps me know the type of things people like, so I can feature more articles that are similar.
What I’ve learned
I’ve learned a ton.
Asking people to register for the site just to vote on articles wasn’t a great idea.
After a good start, voting really died down. Making that change was pivotal. For a while there, the site really looked dead with all those non-upvoted posts.
Traffic does not magically appear.
It takes hard work. The site is brand new, and the search traffic is pathetic (I’ll talk more stats soon). The primary source is social traffic. So unfortunately, I’m using my own Twitter account to pimp Post Status quite a bit. Hopefully I can change that as Post Status grows, but for now, it’s the primary traffic source.
Perception is key
Many people view Post Status as “just” a link blog. That’s okay, but I think I’m adding more context. That’s why I have excerpts, after all. If I didn’t think so, I’d just submit titles; but I think the excerpts are valuable. I just don’t have verification of that. Due to the perception of Post Status as a link blog, I often publish a post, and then see tweets linking straight to the source soon after. I don’t mind that, but a “via” goes a long way 😉
I think because I market it as a link blog, people don’t necessarily assign value to where the link came from, or the fact that the link was also good enough for them to share.
This is a tricky dance, and I’m not sure I translated it well here. But nevertheless, the point is that the perception you offer people for your website is likely the one they will accept.
People rarely submit
If you read the “Welcome to Post Status” post, you’ll see more emphasis on user submissions. I compare it to Hacker News, Reddit, etc. But in reality, people just don’t submit very often. Don’t get me wrong, I freaking love when they do. But as of this moment I’ve submitted over 60% of the posts.
To date, 13 people have submitted more than one post. I’m very excited about every submission I get, but I accept the reality that a tiny percentage of readers will ever be submitters. Maybe it’s the barrier to do so (logging in), maybe I’ve set it up poorly; I don’t know. I’ll be playing with this more in the future.
People generally like the concept
Most everyone I’ve talked to have been super positive about the concept of Post Status. This is exciting to hear. I think it has promise, obviously. But what I’ve learned is that people’s positivity about the site doesn’t necessarily turn them into unrelenting advocates.
What I mean is, the ideal reader is someone that considers Post Status as part of their daily workflow. I want people to read it every day, share it every day, and advocate for the site itself. I’ve yet to prove that Post Status is worthy of many such advocates, and it’s a goal moving forward to make readers this happy. And of course, that will take time, and more importantly, consistency.
I should have just launched
Pre-launch I stressed pretty hard about how to structure the site. How would I handle commenting? What about voting? What about registration and submissions? What about calculating popular posts?
Screw all of that. I should’ve just launched the damn thing as a link blog and built what people asked for as they asked for it. Instead, I spent too much time trying to predict how people would use the site, and I was wrong in many ways.
Post Status could’ve launched months earlier if not for the fretting I did. Once I actually decided on things, the site build didn’t take long at all. It was the deciding, and deciding incorrectly, where I wasted all my time.
Stats so far
This post is getting long, so I should share the site’s progress for the initial month.
In short, it’s been a wild ride with incredible variation.
- Let’s start with published posts:
- 205 posts have been published in 35 days
- The most popular categories are Development (56), Plugins (37), News (27), Themes (18), Discussion (18), Business (14), and Design (11). The rest are spread across nine more categories.
- There have been 429 upvotes on posts. 28 posts have 5 or more upvotes.
Here are the stats from Google Analytics:
- 5,607 unique visitors
- 11,319 visits
- 19,349 pageviews
- 2:04 average visit duration
- 1.71 pages per visit
- 62.65% bounce rate
- 1,530 clicks to outbound articles
The last stat matters the most to me. Post Status has helped generate at least 1,530 visitors to other people’s great content. I hope that number continues to grow.
All in all, these stats are okay for the first month, but they aren’t astounding. And they are super influenced by social. Like, big time.
Here’s a sample of referrers:
- Twitter accounts for 4,462 of overall visits
- Direct visits: 2,292 visits
- RSS: 992 visits
- Hacker News: 677 visits
- Google: 424 visits
The site has had 7 days with over 1,000 pageviews. A decent day where content is being both posted and shared, the site is getting 300-600 pageviews. Some posts have done particularly well and driven the 1000+ pageview days. The bad news is that there are a handful of sub 100 pageview days as well. And that’s the nature of the social beast.
So, what I’m saying, is I appreciate you a great deal each and every time you share Post Status on your social networks and with your friends. It truly means a lot to me.
I’d love to monetize Post Status. I make no qualms about it. But I intend to do it openly, and in a non-terrible manner.
My favorite concept for monetizing so far is to use a sponsorship model. So basically, I would sell complete sponsorship of the site: one advertiser, with their product featured in various attractive formats throughout the site for one month.
I’d charge one flat fee. If I value a conversion for the sponsor (as in, someone buys their product from clicking my link) at $100, then I need 10 people per month to convert from Post Status to make $1000 per month.
In addition to the display ads on the site, it makes sense to me to do an honest review of the product, available on the site. That way, a permanent record for the sponsor is available.
I would not allow a sponsor whose product I haven’t tested and approve of. No exceptions. If the sponsor has an affiliate program, I’d put it at the bottom of the review, with disclosure. If they don’t, I’d still include the link just the same.
My question is: I wonder what sponsors think of this idea? I’ve talked to one or two people about the concept, and have been told it depends on if it converts. So we’ll see. I haven’t decided when or exactly how to implement such a system, but I’d like to roll it out in the next few months and see how it goes.
I’m really excited about this project. I’ve had a great time managing and curating valuable WordPress news, links, and resources for Post Status. I’ve always done it, just via Twitter. So it’s really fun to have a more permanent place to share things I find about the community I so enjoy.
I hope that you found this post worthwhile. I’ll continue to be as open as possible.
I look forward to a bright future for Post Status. And I ask that if you enjoy it, that you please share it on your social networks, vote on your favorite posts, and even submit posts if you feel so inclined. Also, there’s a newsletter signup available, and soon I’ll start sending personal letters through the newsletter as well.