It’s been a week since the site launched, and as promised I’ve put together a status report.
Immediately after launching the site Matt linked to it. Then Andy. And while those two alone produced some respectable numbers, it wasn’t until Wednesday when the traffic to my announcement really started picking up with a mention from BoingBoing. On Thursday there was a dip as it moved down in the BoingBoing queue, but on Wednesday the mother of all traffic producers, Slashdot, picked it up. Check out the graph below, and while you’re at it, note that I’m not quoting any specific numbers of any kind. I’ve done this expressly because of all the crazies that contacted me about things like $100 keywords and such. It’s stunning how many people are willing to pay for information about where to find the best keywords, and I don’t want to fuel that any further by putting any specific numbers on anything.
Notice the last blip on the radar – this is where Google has started sending in traffic. Despite my serious amount of anxiety when both BoingBoing and Slashdot linked to my announcement, knowing that ultimately this would benefit page rank countered whatever negatives came from all that traffic (yes, negatives – read on). And in the end, a combination of page rank, relevant and useful content, and people who are interested in that content is what I’m looking for. I have a few of the pieces to that puzzle – it turns out that generating useful content is still the most difficult part. </p>
The Downside to Massive Exposure
Getting a lot of traffic quickly typically means servers crash and bandwidth budgets get eaten up, but thankfully I was prepared to weather the storm in that department. I also expected a certain amount of support from people as well as crazies. The crazies email me with things like “Your cat eats asbestos” and “why hasn’t your server crashed yet?”, both of which are completely benign to me; I’ve been “exposed” to the Internet for long enough to know that a certain fixed percentage of people with keyboards are completely nuts, especially if they’re coming from Slashdot.
Also, there was a lot of negative stuff, most of which I can handle. Some of the laughable comments on Slashdot included things like “he’s driving up the cost of health care” or “he’s ruining weblogs”. A lot of people just didn’t seem to get it – they assumed that I was trying some new angle on spam, or that I was some kind of crook for wanting to make a profit.
Then there’s the whole Google thing. I fully expect that Google will keep anything I “earned” over the course of last week on Asbestos Blog, for good reason. The clicks received on Asbestos Blog were nearly entirely driven by visitors from Slashdot or BoingBoing. Note in the graph above that Google didn’t start sending me traffic until the very end. This would suggest that the clicks weren’t from people interested in anything related to asbestos, but were from people interested in seeing what would happen. I wouldn’t blame them if they kept the money. If they cut me from the program entirely, that’s not going to be pleasant. I’ve been running digitalslr.org for over a year now with Adsense ads, and it makes a fair amount of income that I’m not interested in seeing go away.
The Good Things
I’ve met some very interesting people through the exposure so far. A father who’s two year old daughter has leukemia contacted me with a question about how he could setup something similar for leukemia. He and people he knows through his support groups will be able to post content relevant to something he’s been forced to become an expert on. I plan on helping him launch it as a resource, and of course allow him to capture any revenue from ads on it.
I plan to keep the project going. A friend is putting together a visual face lift, and eventually I’ll provide a resources section that points people to resources that I think are helpful. Maybe eventually I’ll expand into another keyword and try to repeat whatever level of success, if any, Asbestos Blog has to offer. Right now, it’s simply still too early to tell.