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Transparency report 1: September 2017

Introduction: Or, why bother?

At the time of publishing this, my first transparency report, I have had a grand total (according to Google Search Console) of 3 click-throughs from organic search. I also know with certainty that those clicks weren’t really organic at all — they were all people I know, searching for ‘linguaphilia‘ or ‘linguaphilia blog‘, and then declaring they would read it with enthusiasm!

Some of them may even have done so.

So with no readers, no advertisers, no income, and hardly any costs, why bother with transparency reports? The answer, obviously, is for myself.

Since at this stage this entire blog is for myself, the question really answers itself. I would like to keep a record of my costs; why not publish that record? I would like to distill my thinking about purpose, strategies, and planning; why not publish that thinking? If I have no readers, there’s no reason not to. And if I do have readers at some point, perhaps they’ll find it interesting and admirable in the same way I have admired it in others.

So, without further ado, herewith begins my first transparency report for the first month of Linguaphilia.

September 2017 at a glance

September costs: AUD$39.26

New posts this month: 5 — Muggins, Infer and Imply, Noun Phrases, Flotsam and Jetsam, Clauses

Words published, excluding diagrams: 4,757

Organic search clicks: 3

Most search impressions (excluding ‘linguaphilia’): prohibited in a sentence, 17 impressions (position 322.4)1

Average search ranking, ‘linguaphilia’: 10

Highest average search ranking, other: flotsam and jetsam phrase meaning, 13.0 (3 impressions)

Most search impressions by country: USA (18), Czechia (11)2, Russia (11)

Most clicks by country: Czechia (2)2

Notes on the statistics

1 I don’t actually have any content that matches this search. Perhaps I should write some! However, this was a statistical blip: all of these search impressions occurred in one day, right after Linguaphilia went live, while I only had one post. They haven’t occurred again since. This makes it difficult to interpret.

2 These are due to friends in the Czech Republic looking for the blog: see above.

Strategy & Planning

Linguaphilia is a small-scale passion project. It isn’t a business and it isn’t intended to be a source of income, and since the costs of setting up and running a blog like this are very low, finding a way to monetize it is not at all my priority. For the foreseeable future, I have only three priorities:

  1. Make a blog that I would like to read myself.

This may seem too obvious to state, but it’s worth keeping front-of-mind. The internet is full of sites with great ideas that are simply too unpleasant to use. Furthermore, I don’t want to simply create a vanity site — I have a sincere desire that Linguaphilia be an interesting, educational, informative, and usable site for a wide audience. This means for me, at this stage, some fairly elementary principles:

  • Keeping my design, theme, and approach minimalist and reading-focussed;
  • Creating content from inspiration, not from affiliate linking and monetization opportunities; and
  • Taking the opportunity while I have no readers (hello readers!) to play around with layouts, styles, and features on the site without worrying too much about breaking it.

These principles require no discipline as they are already my natural impulse, but there is value in articulating and committing to them.

  1. Make a blog that people looking for this information can find.

This, however, is a priority that certainly requires discipline, work, and learning. I have discovered that my natural style of writing doesn’t conform to SEO advice. It’s not too far off, thank goodness — I can write a full draft in a style that’s comfortable and natural for me, and mostly just need some tweaking. The technical side of SEO is perfectly fine for me, but there are three things that I need to keep in mind when writing, and when planning, content.

  • Internal linking

This is mostly a planning issue. As in, I need to start building my content beginning with some fundamental principles that I’ll rely on in later posts, and link back to. This helps in ways beyond SEO, of course — it’s good for my reader and for my writing if I can simply refer to an earlier, more detailed explanation of an important concept (such as, say, predicate adjectives, subordinate clauses, participles, etc) where necessary. This achieves the mechanic of increased internal linking, but also focuses me on building a corpus of good quality fundamentals in my content.

Goal: A minimum of 25% of my content will deal with grammar fundamentals aimed at English language learners and teachers.

  • External linking

This isn’t difficult by any means, I just need the reminder. It was always part of my concept that I would link out to relevant external material in my posts. I want my site to be useful for anyone at any level of English, as well as ESL and TEFL educators, and so being able to provide additional resources and alternative explanations is important. Furthermore, since a lot of my topics come from real questions and conversations with friends and family, they are often based on pop culture or current affairs references — linking from a topic to material and examples where it’s used in the real world is important, not just for search results, but for understanding the topic.

  • Links in to my site

So, this is obviously the part I have least control over. Here’s my planned approach to building links into my site. First: build good content. A lot of good content. Second, read other writers in these topics. Third, approach those writers/bloggers I admire most with sincere requests for feedback. Fourth, see if those writers organically reference my material if they choose to. Perhaps I’ll arrive at a more focussed or strategic approach to that over time, but that’s my thinking right now.

Goal: Establish a corpus of 20 posts of at least 800 words before sharing my posts in a targeted manner.

  1. Create a blog that’s going to last.

This may be the most difficult of the priorities, as it relies on the most unpredictable of factors: my fickle interests and the tides of motivation.

There are some important strategies to encourage persistence here. Success in strategies 1 and 2 above will definitely synergise with this: if I write about what I’m actually interested in I’ll keep finding things I’m interested in to write about; if anybody actually finds and responds positively to the blog, that positive feedback will be a boon to my motivation.

Furthermore, I’ll set some stepwise achievable goals that I will be proud of achieving. At the time of this first draft, I have 5 posts published, with little coherency as yet in topics, fundamental content, or keystone content. Up until now, this is fine, but I’ll impose some structure and goals upon myself here.

Firstly, I have my eyes on a logo I’ve used the excellent tools at Logojoy to create. (Please note: this is not intended as an affiliate link, merely sharing my plans and a positive endorsement of the site.) Not merely a logo, this would give me unlimited use and tweaking of a logo through the site, and high-quality downloads thereof. It would also give me a usable favicon, the site’s current lack of which is an irritation. This will cost about USD$55 to purchase with full rights, which would be a (comparatively) large outlay for an otherwise low-cost hobby project. But I really like the logo.

Goal: upon the publication of my 8th post, I’ll have proven for myself an adequate track record to justify the expense of a logo.

Summary and progress of goals

25% grammar fundamentals: Yes! 40% (2/5) of my posts are grammar fundamentals.

Build a corpus of 20 high quality posts: 5/20

Publish 8 posts to justify buying a logo: 5/8.

Expenses and income for September 2017

September had only one expense: domain registration. (All costs in Australian dollars.)

05/09/2017GoDaddy domain registration & privacy-$39.26Required for domain registration

I shouldn’t have paid quite that much for the domain registration, to be honest. It was only USD$0.99 for the actual domain registration for the first year: on top of that was domain registration privacy and an SEO product. Having opted not to pay for private registration before I decided this time that I would rather pay for it. However, in hindsight the SEO product was wasted money; I didn’t realise at the time that there were much better and more effective freemium SEO plugins that could be integrated directly into WordPress.

Predictions for October

As my web hosting is billed per usage in arrears, I expect to have approximately AUD$5 in hosting costs. I also hope to reach the 8 post goal that would unlock the expenditure of approximately AUD$70 on a logo for the site as discussed above.

Assuming an achievable publication rate of one post per week, I expect October to yield:

New costs: Approximately AUD$75

Total costs: Approximately AUD$105

New posts: at least 4

Total posts: at least 9

Goal: 25% fundamentals: at least 1 new post on grammar fundamentals.

Goal: 8 posts: Achieved.

Goal: 20 posts: 40% progress.

In summary

Will this be my first and only monthly report? I hope not.

September and October have, and probably will, contain the only large expenditures in the first year of Linguaphilia‘s life. It is my hope that after these first two months, I’ll have low ongoing costs and have developed the momentum to carry through to a productive future.

At the moment, though, the only person for whom that matters is me. And honestly, I’m happy with that. If nothing else, so far this little project has been fun! If that ever changes then I’ll still have learned a lot.

Here’s to the future.