This case study is about one of our blogs called Bogoten.
Instead of doing a simple income report, we thought it would be interesting to showcase what happened with Bogoten over a year timespan.
In this blogging case study we will detail things that worked, things that didn’t, and where we want to take things.
Hello, we are Odd Noodle. We help people build successful online businesses and one of the components to that is blogging.
Bogoten is run by Odd Noodle‘s Brand Manager, Marybeth Santos.
She’s truly a machine when it comes to churning out amazing content for the site.
Throughout this case study, she’ll chime in with her own notes since she has a great perspective on what worked and what didn’t with the site.
With that being said, let’s dive into why Bogoten even exists.
Damn You, Pinterest
Pinterest just fucked us all over.
That’s not an actual quote from anyone in particular but it’s a thought that a lot of bloggers had in August of 2019.
Because Pinterest changed its algorithm and basically how it worked all together.
There is no need to go into the details about what happened because we go into great detail in our Pinterest Traffic Study. So why bring this up at all?
Because it’s the reason why Bogoten exists.
Now, I must say that Bogoten originally launched in 2017. I (Paul Scrivens) wrote about 20 posts for it, got it into Mediavine, and then I stopped because I had a million other blogs to work on.
So, for this reason, we can say that the blog didn’t start completely from scratch but from late 2017 until late 2019, it hadn’t been touched.
It might as well have been dead.
Here are how the numbers looked before re-launching.
And to zoom in on the 30 days before we re-launched it to give you a better idea of where things stood when we decided to revive it:
The site wasn’t starting from 0 so you can throw some salt on this case study if you want.
But let’s get back to Pinterest real quick.
So what does Pinterest have to do with us bringing it back?
Well, we saw the trouble that bloggers were having with Pinterest, and because we help a lot of bloggers build successful businesses we didn’t think it was fair to simply rehash the lessons that we’ve learned about Pinterest with our more established blogs.
We wanted to be able to answer the question of how does someone succeed on Pinterest if they are just starting off?
So Bogoten was reborn on October 13, 2019.
What the Site Is About
When I first launched Bogoten I figured it would be a good example of a general lifestyle site.
What is that?
The kind of site that seems to talk about everything and anything. Bogoten covered everything from DIY’s to Organization to Keto and more, initially.
Unfortunately, as I already mentioned, my mind got drawn to other things so it lay dormant.
When we discussed bringing it back we wanted to figure out what the site was going to be about.
One of the main philosophies of the Blog Business Framework is that you pick a silo, build it out, and then move on to the next.
Since the site already had some home decor and organization posts we decided that the site would be about the home.
We narrowed it down to 3 main silos:
- Home Decor
And that’s where our journey begins.
The Business Model
Before Pinterest changed its algorithm it was a very viable business model to focus on ads first.
Because you could scale your blog’s pageviews up quickly with Pinterest if you did the right things.
However, because Pinterest changed we weren’t totally positive if that was still the case and that’s what we needed to figure out.
For this reason, we didn’t plan out any particular business models from the beginning. At least not the ones that we help our students focus on now.
Usually, whenever we create a new brand we have an idea for a product or service that will launch with it, but in the case of Bogoten we first needed to see how it was going to be to drive traffic to the site.
This meant that we would start by sticking with the old blogging model that we used to teach which was to focus on writing Big Net, popular content that did well on Pinterest.
This meant finding the content in the Home blog niche that did well and then writing our own stuff for it.
IKEA hacks seemed like a natural place to start and so that’s where Marybeth began.
From September 12th – October 12th the site receive 1,843 pageviews. For the rest of the month of October the site received 3,268 pageviews.
That’s quite an improvement.
One thing to note is that Bogoten had an established Pinterest account and even though there was no activity on it for a long time it wasn’t starting from scratch.
So if you don’t receive 3,000 pageviews in your first month with Pinterest and you write about home decor, this could be a reason why.
What’s more important to notice is that the content that had been carrying the site for so long was now getting pushed out of the top 10 and being replaced by the new content.
You might be wondering what exactly we did to “relaunch” Bogoten. What did we do to get that increase in pageviews for the remainder of October?
We published 8 brand new “big net” posts including some Ikea Hack posts and a post about Dollar Tree Farmhouse Decor Hacks that you’ll hear more about later.
We didn’t just publish, we started pinning those posts, too. We also started pinning all of the old posts that were relevant to the Home niche.
Anything that wasn’t home-related (like those Keto posts you saw in the original analytics) were not circulated. We’re letting those go dormant. Some of them still show up in searches, so they get some pageviews, but for the most part, those are starting to fade away.
And that’s it. Not a crazy amount of new content, but enough to give the site a good little boost out of the gates.
As you can see it’s a healthy jump in pageviews in November. This is a great sign and shows that we were moving in the right direction.
You’ll notice random spikes in the traffic and then a low period.
This is very common now with Pinterest traffic.
Before you could have a spike that would carry on for days or weeks, but now it’s more likely that your spike will last an hour.
However, even though spikes don’t seem like they can do too much, you still want to have them because it means people are looking for your content and usually it means that your traffic floor is being raised.
So if you were averaging 100 pageviews a day and then had a spike, maybe your new floor is 120 pageviews a day.
I know it doesn’t seem like a lot but any growth is good growth.
If you’re wondering why October and November have high pageviews for the homepage it’s because we run a large community of online entrepreneurs (pssst, right here) and we sometimes talk about Bogoten so that means a surge of traffic to the homepage.
In November we ramped up the publishing. We put out 16 new posts and continued with our pinning routine.
The new posts were almost all in the cleaning and organization silos and they were almost all “big net” posts about cleaning and organizing hacks.
Another month, another increase in traffic.
The month started off pretty scary as it felt like we would end up with a decrease in traffic, but as you can see, two spikes in traffic propelled the month-over-month increase.
The thing to learn from this month is to keep your head down and continue to churn out the work at the beginning.
It wouldn’t have made any sense for us to try and figure out what was happening with the site when we were less than two months into it.
The obvious key here is that one post went “viral” and carried the month.
(Note: People like to ask me what does viral mean and to be honest it’s all relative. Viral can mean 2,000 pageviews like this post or it could mean 2,000,000. To me it comes down to how the piece of content affects the overall traffic.)
In December we published 9 more new posts. That’s a total of 33 new posts since we had relaunched. It’s a pretty hefty posting schedule and it was a lot of work.
For perspective, though, I wrote the great majority (I think all but 2 of them) myself and I did the majority of the Pinterest promotion.
And I did all of that while balancing my work as Community Manager for our amazing community of bloggers.
It’s an important note because most people starting a new blog are juggling a lot of other commitments, just like I am. It can be done if you can work efficiently and focus on what’s important.
At this point more people are starting to hear about our story of Bogoten. Thankfully, traffic went up again so at best we were only partly full of shit.
You might notice two keto posts showing up again. These posts were written back when the site first launched and only showed up in the top 10 for this month because people were interested in Keto again.
We didn’t fix the posts or promote them. It was all-natural.
I believe the only part of this month that was disappointing is that the jump in pageviews wasn’t as great as we had seen previously.
You start to wonder if this site is destined to only have growth of 1,000 pageviews each month?
Since it was the beginning of the year we decided to set quarterly goals. That whole 12-Week Year thing.
Marybeth came up with a very distinct traffic goal for Bogoten and that was 30,000 pageviews in a 30-day timeframe by the end of March.
That meant we could apply to get the site into AdThrive which is an ad network that we use for some of our other blogs. Because we have other blogs in AdThrive, that allows us to apply at 30,000 pageviews instead of the usual 100,000.
9,674 was a long ways away from 30,000.
Part of the reason for that minimal increase in pageviews in January is that I gave all of our posts a “break” from pinning in the middle of January.
One of the things we learned from the Pinterest Traffic Study is that posts have a “shelf life” until they start showing up in searches.
With the shelf life in mind, I gave all of our posts a 30-day pinning hiatus and only pinned brand new content that Pinterest hadn’t seen yet.
Now that’s a healthy jump in pageviews!
Even though pageviews were climbing, we had seen enough with regards to how Pinterest worked.
A Change In Philosophy
January had shown me enough for what I needed to know. Pinterest wasn’t the same and it probably would never return to the easy days of getting traffic.
So what did that mean for bloggers?
It meant that if they wanted to make money sooner, then they’d need a new approach.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to buy it to understand our new approach to blogging. You can start at the beginning of this guide and it will tell you everything that you need to know.
To quickly sum it up, it meant that we couldn’t just focus on the Big Net content. We needed to focus on Small Net content as well.
When it comes to blogging, there is no reason why you shouldn’t think that you can’t make money from day 1.
Every person that visits your site is a new opportunity to make money. However, you aren’t going to get into any good ad networks when you first launch your blog so how do you make money?
Affiliate marketing or by selling your own offers.
When you write posts that are specific to someone that is looking for a solution, then you have a good chance of making a sale.
Unfortunately, these aren’t going to be the posts that bring you a ton of traffic.
So what do you do?
Pick your silo and find a balance between Big Net and Small Net content.
Marybeth decided that she was going to go with the Bedroom Decor micro-silo and that’s where most of the new content went for the rest of the month.
Did changing the content strategy mean that we wouldn’t hit the 30,000 pageview goal? Maybe.
But we believe in doing the same things that we teach so it made sense.
February saw another 17 brand new posts published on Bogoten. But, unlike the previous 3 months, these were not big net posts that were going to garner us a lot of pageviews.
They were small net and they were built specifically for bringing in people who were ready or almost ready to buy some things for their bedroom decor.
So, none of them contributed much to the pageview increase. And that’s ok. That’s not their job.
The pageview increase in February was due to those top three posts (Dollar Tree Farmhouse, Ikea Spice Rack and Ikea Bathroom Hacks) and the fact that I restarted our pinning efforts in the middle of the month.
Our biggest pageview increase yet!
As you can see it was one post that completely carried the site on its back. But why was the Dollar Tree post doing so well with Pinterest?
This is something that is important to understand. Before the Pinterest algorithm change you could go viral on Pinterest and have consistently high traffic for days.
That isn’t the case any more and yet some people are still getting a ton of traffic from Pinterest.
If you want to get consistent traffic from Pinterest then you need to do two things:
- Pin consistently
- Get your pins ranked high in Pinterest Search
#1 won’t guarantee you consistent traffic but it’s the one thing that you can control so you should be doing it.
#2 is out of your control but it’s the one thing that will guarantee you consistent Pinterest traffic.
The Dollar Tree post was starting to rank decently in Pinterest search and the traffic backed that up.
Because of this we almost hit the 30,000 pageview goal which seemed like a distant dream the month before.
Looking back the 30,000 pageview goal was probably a HUGE stretch based on the data that we had when I chose it, but, boy did I get close!
(side note, we did reach that goal 5 days after the quarter ended).
As for the posts showing up searches, I think it’s important to note that those three posts were all published in October. So it was a solid 4+ months before they started showing up toward the top of Pinterest searches.
In March I took a needed break from churning out content and only published two posts, but I continued on with the pinning strategy and giving posts their “rest” period of at least 30 days.
Whether or not 30 days is optimal rest is not something we know for sure. But as we continue to write new content, we’ll be able to test longer periods of “rest” time for posts.
Not too far off from 100,000 in 6 months. Important to keep in mind that this site had some advantages from the restart:
- Established in Google so it didn’t have to wait to get out of the sandbox although SEO wasn’t really a factor at the time
- Established Pinterest account although it wasn’t being used until the restart
- A writer that could dedicate a lot of time to producing high-quality content
I don’t mention these to downplay this awesome result. I do so because I don’t want you to get create expectations of your own that aren’t fair.
Mid-April 2020 Update
Another major milestone was hit in the month of April. Surpassed 50,000 pageviews in a 30-day span.
As you can see the Dollar Store post is going gangbusters which is encouraging and something we need to keep a close eye on.
Over time you want your blog’s traffic to have a nice ladder of traffic distribution. For example, looking at the top 10 posts, we would feel more comfortable if they looked like this percentage-wise:
That would make traffic less reliant on one post. What could happen is that if Pinterest stops ranking the Dollar Store post highly then we will lose a significant amount of traffic. For this reason we are getting more posts out to hopefully redistribute the percentages a bit.
You never want to fall into the trap of having your whole business living or dying based on two pieces of content.
Over 50,000 pageviews in a month!
More than enough to qualify for any of the ad networks that we want. Did we apply to any?
We did not because we want to continue to see where we could take things without ads and we honestly didn’t believe we would get accepted to either network based on the traffic distribution.
We’d probably be fine with AdThrive since we do have two sites in there already, but look at that traffic distribution.
That’s honestly a nightmare but it’s out of our control.
That post is obviously the only one that is really performing well in Pinterest search and that is why you can see its consistency over time.
The others? Tiny little spurts.
At this point for the month of April and May I settled into a normal posting habit with a little over a post a week per month.
There was a good base of content on the site and I didn’t have to continue with a high volume posting schedule.
To be honest, this is probably the month where I messed up on the strategy.
Seeing how the traffic was maintaining itself due to the Dollar Store post, I should’ve advised Marybeth to start putting a focus on Google & SEO.
It’s obvious that Pinterest is Pinterest at this point and you should still consider it as a traffic source, but it’s a crapshoot until you start ranking.
Which is exactly like Google and SEO so there is no reason why you shouldn’t put a heavy emphasis on that at the start of your blog.
Looking at the top 10 compared to April you can see it’s mostly unchanged with regards to what is bringing in the traffic but the order is slightly different.
With how much content is on the site at this point we would want more things showing up.
While there wasn’t a specific focus on SEO, I was always practicing the basics of SEO. Researching keywords, writing good posts and linking posts together.
Just these simple practices have helped Bogoten with organic traffic. In January of 2020 we had 528 organic visitors and by September we were at 3,407.
This is when things kind of start to feel like they’re on autopilot. Traffic doesn’t really go up or down.
You post new content with the hope that something changes, but you feel you’re at this plateau for right now and it makes sense when you have certain pieces of content dominating.
What can you do in this case?
- Create more content
- Work on your promotion strategies
#1 is something you do all of the time. #2 is where things can get difficult.
With Bogoten the promotion strategy was Pinterest. That was it. If Google showed up then that’s great.
Maybe there were Facebook groups we could’ve joined. If we truly had a passion for this stuff then YouTube would’ve been a viable option.
One thing that usually gets overlooked by people when they hit this stage is that they don’t go back to update old content.
Revamping an older piece of content can be like publishing something brand new. Maybe you notice a post ranking for a keyword even if it’s on page 6.
Why not improve it to see if you can climb up the ranks some more? Get more pins for it out.
Treat it like a new post.
That’s the difficulty of being a content machine. When you’re just one person you have to always figure out how you can maintain the steady flow of traffic because once gain, looking at the top 10, what happens to Bogoten if the Dollar Store post drops?
It was around this time that I was beginning to think about where to go with Bogoten.
I had been experimenting with a funnel for an affiliate product, but not much was happening with it.
I knew that was partly because of the traffic we were getting. It was still mostly to that Dollar Store post and the people visiting weren’t the Hero for an organizing product.
I knew at this point that if this was something I wanted to take down the product route, it would almost be like starting over from scratch. The traffic that was coming in for the content that we currently had was not the same traffic we would want to come in to a funnel for a product.
I started to think about whether that was something I really wanted to do or not.
Not a bad jump in traffic.
So what happened? A combination of two things:
- More Pinterest traffic
- More Google traffic
In June, the site received 38,690 visitors from Pinterest and 3,087 from Google.
In July, the site received 47,637 visitors from Pinterest and 4,403 from Google.
The strategy didn’t change. This is just consistency over a lengthy period of time.
Another increase in pageviews.
You can look at the charts to see how the top 10 changed and was increased/decreased.
That damn Dollar Store post is still holding steady. At this point you’re yelling at your Analytics because you want other posts to reach the same level.
But having IKEA Spice Rack Hacks increase slowly is a good sign.
When you’re just looking at the over numbers it’s hard to miss these increases, but when you start to notice them they are good opportunities for things you can improve.
The traffic increase was solely from Pinterest as Google visits actually decreased to 3,759.
The final full month of this journey.
What’s interesting its that when you’re under 100,000 pageviews a month-to-month drop of 10,000 pageviews seems huge.
The reality is that this is quite normal for any site. While this could be a downward trend if we were to stick with the site and continue to follow a routine then we couldn’t jump to any conclusions until October.
I think this was the first month in a long time where Dollar Store was finally under 60% pageview share.
This could mean 1 of 2 things before looking at the actual numbers:
- Other posts are finally catching up
- The top post dropped in traffic
12 Month Blogging Case Study
Since we restarted on October 13, 2019 that means that October 12, 2020 is the full year.
October looks like it’s continuing the traffic trend with no surprises.
We applied for AdThrive and got accepted. Ads went up on October 5th.
At the beginning RPMs (amount you make per 1,000 pageviews) is always low. I expect it to settle in within the $12 -$15 range which means that to reach $1,000 a month we’d need to hit 70,000 – 80,000 pageviews which is definitely within the realm of possibility
However, the question is would we be satisfied with $1,000 in ad revenue after a year’s worth of work?
Of course not and that’s why I say that ad money should be viewed as bonus money.
I know for many reading this that money will pay bills and provide you more freedom. Money is awesome.
But hopefully going through this case study you can see the amount of work required to even get to this level.
Of course, things can be different for you but some things to keep in mind with this site:
- Marybeth wrote over 100 pieces of content in a year
- The site wasn’t brand new, just dead
- It is in one of the popular niches on Pinterest
That’s some good stuff going for it. Most people reading this won’t even have one of those things on the list.
Here is the full year.
One of the reasons why we wanted to document heavily these first 12 months is to not only share it with you, but allow ourselves a baseline for things that work and didn’t.
It was more about seeing the experience of working with Pinterest now and while it has changed massively you can still get some really good value out of it.
You just have to be consistent with it.
The major take away is that you better turn into a content machine if you want to get any traction with Pinterest.
I don’t say this because Pinterest requires a lot of content from you.
I say this because you really have no idea what content is going to pop for you or what might end up ranking highly in Pinterest search.
Because of that your best bet is to continue to throw wet noodles at the wall to see what sticks.
As usual though, we urge you to create quality content. Pinterest isn’t the only game in town. You want to create high-quality content that your audience loves which in turn grabs Google’s attention.
One advantage that many bloggers will have over everyone else on Pinterest is that most of the content that you find on Pinterest is complete shit.
Oh, and the site designs are mostly shit as well. I can’t probably count on my hand the number of sites I visit from Pinterest everyday where the content is easy to read and not blocked out by a million ads.
But like I said, this can give you a huge advantage.
Many bloggers that are sticking with Pinterest as their major source of traffic don’t seem to want to change. They’re stuck to their old habits and this is only going to hurt them in the long run.
We hope this case study has helped to provide some details into how you can start to use Pinterest to your advantage with your own blog.
When it comes to traffic, everybody loves organic (search engine) traffic!
6 months tends to be the sweet spot for a lot of blogs. What I mean by this is that’s when you can start to see a trickle of traffic coming from Google.
But only if your content is worth Google’s time!
In a perfect world, we’d have something closer to a 70/30 ratio of traffic between Google/Pinterest.
Obviously the site is now making money with ads and it was making some money with affiliate marketing over the past couple of months.
However, if we had started with our own offer in mind then we could’ve built a content strategy around it and seen better results with revenue.
The site is taking a backseat as we work on our other projects. Things that we have a bit more interest in and can really work on them the way that we want.
Bogoten was a great adventure and it’s always helpful to do these year-long case studies to see how things play out.
Mainly, we wanted to show you the difficulties of relying solely on ad revenue as a new blogger.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the hype that some bloggers will tell you about ad revenue when they are already in the ad networks and getting the traffic.
But we don’t like the idea of having to wait 6+ months before we start making money.
It’s like dieting for 6 months before you see results. Nobody wants to live like that.
So I don’t know what the future holds for Bogoten, as of now it will be put on autopilot and collect ad/affiliate revenue.
If you’re wondering, it’s hard for me to turn away from Bogoten after the last year of working on it. But in the end, it’s not where I want to keep my focus, so I’m ok with moving on for it.
I learned a lot throughout the year including how easy it is to break through perceived limits like “It takes me 3 days to write a post”.
What We Would Do Differently
If given this opportunity again we would definitely figure out our own offer to create.
You don’t need to wait to create content before creating the offer, but at least understanding the offer we would create would allow us to come up with a content strategy.
We could do a better job of targeting the SEO keywords that we want and then we would plan the Pinterest content accordingly.
It’s a much better feeling like the people you bring to your site have a shot of buying something from you instead of people coming to look at things for 30 seconds before bouncing.
Please note that the strategy I mention here doesn’t mean that over time the site wouldn’t qualify for ad networks. It’s just switching the idea of what you’re going to make money with first.
Instead of trying to build an audience and then figure out how to make money, you figure out how to make money with your own offer and then build the audience.
More Income Reports
If you enjoyed this blogging case study and would love to see more of how we build our brands along with their income reports then check out the Pocket Business Lab.