As I wrote in the first part of this story, I had a bunch of 'Latin jokes in Asterix' content that was bringing visitors to my old blog. My plan was to move the content (and, I thought, the visitors) to a new and better site.
The first thing to think about was - how did I want to build the site? The main Content Management Systems (CMS) options are Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, Squarespace, or coding the site yourself. I'll go into that topic in more detail in future, but for the Asterix site I chose Squarespace. Time spent on that decision? Oh, as many as 8 seconds.
Lesson learned - the choice of CMS is a pretty big deal actually. There are things you can't do on Squarespace that you might want to do. In fact, being on Squarespace hasn't harmed the Asterix site in the slightest. The point is - I didn't know that. I know now that some sites shouldn't be built on Squarespace.
Next I needed a domain name. I came up with EverythingAsterix and was happy to find the .com was available. I think that's a pretty kickass name, but if I had my time over I'd think twice about it. Why? Because I've got a frikkin trademark in the domain name! I have no idea if the name 'Asterix' is under copyright or how litigious the copyright holders are, because I just jumped in with two feet and now I'm stuck with it. And I could get shut down at any minute.
Lesson A - Don't be too trigger happy with your domain name choice. If you have to change it down the line it's quite likely to be the same as starting from scratch.
Lesson B - By including the word 'Asterix' I eliminate everything that ISN'T Asterix from the site. That gives it a lot of focus, which can be good. But what if I see an opportunity to write a bunch of stuff about Tintin? It's not going to work on a site called Everything Asterix.
If I could start again I wouldn't change the name (except for legal reasons), but it's worth considering the 'end state' of a site you're starting. Maybe you want to limit yourself, maybe you want to have some options in the future.
For example, if I'd called the site 'Asterix and Beyond' then a few Tintin articles would fit very nicely.
From day 1, the site has had disappointing numbers. My mistake was assuming that deleting an article on my old blog post and reposting it on the new website would just transfer the traffic across.
That's about as wrong as it's possible to BE on the internet. It totally doesn't work like that.
I'm not sure how much value there would be to a detailed explanation of how it DOES work, because you are probably not thinking of doing what I did.
Maybe I'll go into it in detail in the future. For now it's enough to say that if you type certain Asterix-related terms into Google, you'll be directed to my old, deleted blog posts and NOT to my sexy, user-friendly new site.
I do believe that Google's programs are not completely stupid and they will figure it out eventually... but on the other hand it's been a year already with no sign of that happening.
Baby Step 1
I learned quite early in the niche site process that getting links from other sites to your site is vital. On the bottom of the link food chain are comment links - you know, you go to some blog post and there's a few comments on the bottom and a random link to an unrelated website.
On the other end is the T-Rex of links - the .edu links. Getting a university to link to your site is like having a supermodel wingman.
Because a lot of the content of the Asterix site is translating and exploring Latin, I thought I could get some links from universities. I wrote to the University of Notre Frikkin Dame and said 'hey my site is incredible why not give me a link' and the dude was like 'no problem, buddy!'
Blammo! That's a domain authority 87 link. (That's AMAZING.) Just by asking!
As a next step, I did NOTHING AT ALL because it didn't seem to have much impact and I lost motivation. In retrospect I should have gone at it a bit more. Those links are like gold dust and I could get them if I hustled.
It's pretty harsh calling this a misstep, but one thing I've learned is that some sites do well on certain social media and die a cold, lonely death on others.
My 'learn English' sites do great on Facebook, but zero on Twitter. I'm not sure there's a way to really know that without trying everything.
Asterix? My site has done shitly on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +. Trying to get its social media off the ground was just a waste of time.
Baby Step 2
Over the course of the year I did reach out to several people - mostly people who've written about Asterix. One let me republish one of his articles on the site, and others wrote some stuff for me. I even got in touch with the moderator of the Asterix section on internet kingmaker Reddit. If Asterix was my only site, I could cultivate those relationships further.
1-Year Visitor Numbers
You can see from the analytics that the best days had 120 visitors and the typical day is something like 40.
I'd be happier with much less if there was an upwards trend. But there isn't. Something is seriously wrong with this site.
There's a merchandise page taking people to Amazon. A couple of people have bought mugs. The total income in the first year has probably been ten dollars. Squarespace costs 96 dollars a year (prices have gone up since but only for new sites. Old sites pay the same forever, apparently. Which is nice.)
What *IS* Wrong With This Site?
Possibly a few different things. I found that I'd set some things up in a less than optimal way. But those mistakes would account for a few % of lost visitors.
It's also up against the official Asterix site (which as you'd expect is top of the Google searches for many search terms), Wikipedia (ditto), and some very old fan sites (Google prefers old sites to new ones). They all have lots of links pointing towards them.
But I think the real reason the site hasn't done well is simple - it's a bad niche. Sure, there are millions of Asterix fans in the world, but they don't tend to gather to discuss things. The main Asterix forum is fairly barren, and the Asterix sub-reddit doesn't see much action. It's not like Game of Thrones where there's infinite things to discuss and speculate about.
In addition, there's not that much money in it. People buy Asterix comics and maybe a mug and a t-shirt, but that's it.
There's more to life than money and I plan to add to the content of the site, but I don't believe it will see a lot of visitors and it will probably never pay for itself.