HONEST DISCLAIMER: I didn’t use any paid advertisements/traffic to get these page views. Over 68% of my traffic came directly from organic search. Here’s a quick snapshot from google analytics of Trade Brains.
Lessons from the past:
First of all, I would like to mention that Trade Brains was not my first project.
My blogging journey started back in 2014 (when I was a 19-year-old college kid). My first website, Messed Up Infinitely (MUI), an entertainer website — that I started with few of my friends in college, FAILED…!!!
After two years of working (inconsistently) on the website, we finally decided to shut it down in the year 2016.
The website doesn’t exist anymore, however, the different social pages are still there (In fact, MUI has over 3k likes on its Facebook page).
The reasons why my first website failed-
1. I (and my team) was not passionate about the niche. We just enjoyed building something big. But no one cared much about the value or content.
2. We tried to cover everything and hence failed to build a loyal (repetitive) audience. We started covering contents with FIFA 2014 news, then moved to TV Series like GOT, FRIENDS etc, then shifted to Harry Potter topics… The biggest problem was that even we didn’t know what was the theme of the website.
3. We focused too much on traffic and monetization instead of building a great website. With viral (clickbait) topics like “How Game of Thrones might end?’ and posting it in facebook GOT groups with over 100k members, we were even able to generate +10k pageviews in a single day from a single post. However, we lacked consistency. A GOT fan will not read FIFA posts, right? Although traffic means more revenue from ads, it doesn’t mean growth.
Nevertheless, failures are a great teacher.
I learned a lot from my first failed website and moreover, it left an etching feeling inside me. I knew that many people are able to build a successful website. But the fact that we couldn’t simply be meant that there was something wrong with our approach.
Trade Brains’ Success Story
I launched Trade Brains (https://www.tradebrains.in) in January 2017.
At that time, I was working as a graduate engineer trainee (GET) at Tata Motors. It was my first full-time job and I’ve been working there since last six months before starting Trade Brains.
Tata Motors is a fortune 500 company which manufactures automobiles. I was working in the Quality Assurance department and it was a hectic six days -nine hours job (Only holidays was Sunday). Nevertheless, in January 2017, I decided to hustle sideways.
Initially, it was really difficult to maintain a balance between work and side project. When you work in a day job, most of your productive hours are gone. By the time you reach home, your brain will be so tired that the only thing that it will want to do is to watch TV. It was really exhausting to come back home and work on the website.
However, this time, it was something different. This time- I was passionate about my website.
Btw… I forgot to tell you what is TRADE BRAINS’ all about?
Trade brains is a financial education blog focused to teach stock market investing and personal finance to the DIY (do-it-yourself) Investors.
The best part of starting trade brains was that I enjoyed talking about and writing about INVESTING topics. That’s why it never felt like a job and I was easily able to work on my website till 2–3 AM in the night.
Phase I: Jan-March 2017— (Zero Growth)
I started Trade Brains in January 2017. However, I was hardly able to give 2–3 hours per week during first three months. Moreover, I used these 2–3 hours only to build the website and write contents (no marketing, no social sharing… nothing else). Anyways, in the first 3 months, I was able to write 8–10 articles on Trade brains.
Although I have written a few of my best articles during this phase, however, it wasn’t getting any traffic. The monthly traffic for Trade Brains for the first three months of the launch was less than 100 page views per month. (Please note that I knew SEO at that time and had done on-page SEO on all my contents).
In short, I learned a very important lesson in this phase-
“BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME… IS WRONG”.
Even if you build a great website with amazing contents, you will not get traffic on its own. You have to market your website.
(In the next phase of Trade Brains, the same contents that I wrote in Jan-March are going to great the most traffic. Although the content didn’t change, my strategy did.)
Phase II: April -July 2018 — (Steady traffic)
It was April 2017- when I decided to get serious with my blog.
Working 2–3 hours per week was not enough. Moreover, just working on website and writing contents wasn’t working out.
I changed my strategy. I started working +30 hours a week (alongside my day job) on Trade Brains. Further, this time I was more focused on marketing and getting TRAFFIC.
I already knew that I have written some amazing contents on my blog in the phase I. Therefore, all I needed to do was to drive the audience on those contents.
Anyways, this wasn’t really difficult.
Because of my past experience of working on my first website, I already knew many tips and strategies to get huge traffic. (Please note that although I knew the strategies, however, it required a lot of work. It wasn’t difficult, but it was time-talking).
In this phase II of trade brains, I continued writing 1–2 blog posts per week and then dedicated the majority of time in marketing those contents. Few of the common sources to drive traffic that I used was to post in facebook groups, Reddit, answering on Quora, joining the forums and actively getting involved in different threads, cross promotion etc.
During this phase, the traffic was directly proportional to the amount of hard work that I did. The traffic was not passive!!
This means that the more I promoted and marketed my content, the more traffic I was able to generate. Between April to July, I started getting a steady traffic of 18k -20k page views per month.
Phase III: Aug 17-Jan 2018 — Rapid Growth
After three months of continuous content creation and marketing, finally, I started noticing passive traffic on my website.
With time (and work), I was able to generate decent backlinks to my website and moreover, it was even growing automatically.
(I realized this when I took a week off (no blogging or marketing) to go on a vacation with my parents. I was afraid that the traffic is going to decline and all my work from the past few months will be in vain. However, after a week, when I returned back and checked my website traffic, I was jumping on the bed with happiness. Literally no work and still I was able to generate over 8k page views that week.)
From Aug 17 to Jan 18, I noticed a rapid growth in the blog.
All the hard work of the last few months was finally showing up. My contents started getting ranked on the first page of google for many keywords. Different websites/bloggers started referring to my contents and website.
Although during this phase, I wasn’t working as hard as phase II, I was getting a consistently increasing traffic. From around 30k page views on Aug 17, trade brains grew to over 130k monthly page views by the end of January.
Reasons Why Trade Brains became a hit?
There are few lessons that I learned from my first failed website and second successful one. Moreover, I believe if my first website was a hit, I wouldn’t have learned so much. Here are the reasons why Trade Brains became a hit:
1. Writing ‘genuinely’ helpful posts.
All my contents on Trade Brains was focused to help people. I didn’t write contents just to write it. For my first website, we generally published 4-5 posts per week. However, for Trade Brains, the frequency was small: 1-2 posts per week.
But this time, the contents were genuinely helpful. I wanted the public to learn something when they are willing to spend their precious time on my blog. And once you start giving value through your contents, people (and Google) will appreciate it.
Since April 2017, I’ve consistently given +30 hours per week time to Trade Brains. It wasn’t like ‘work a month’ and then ‘take a leave for the next two’.
I didn’t consider Trade Brains as my side project since April and was consistently working on it. Even when I was hanging out with friends or was on a vacation, I was consistently thinking of what new ideas that I can implement to improve the website. Although it seems a small journey, however, being consistent for 12 months with a day job is really tedious (but worth it).
3. 20% time on content creation and 80% on marketing
It’s good to write amazing content but if you’re not marketing it, it won’t generate traffic automatically. From the phase II of trade brains, I started giving 80% of my time to market the content. And it really gave a significant result.
Building a successful website or blog is the dream of many online entrepreneurs. However, it’s not much difficult. All you need is a passion and a willingness to consistently work hard.
After over 18 months of launch, Trade Brains is still growing at a good pace.
That’s all. Take care. And keep hustling!!