The sun rises above the mountains as I dig my toes into the sand. The scent of camel wafts over me in the hot air. I sip my mint tea and am grateful to be present in this place. Sounds good, right? That’s Jordan – the destination I chose to focus on for (yet another) one of my 2021 niche sites: Jordan Traveler.
In this post, I’ll recap what’s been happening for this site in the past six months since I launched it in May 2021. Using some similar strategies to other sites I’ve launched, Jordan Traveler has been one of my third-tier priority sites – and now that we’re at six months, it’s time to come up with some new strategies to help it grow.
If you’re curious about this site, read on. I’ll share insights into the traffic and the totally new idea I have for what t do with this site. I’ll also share some of the questions I ask myself when evaluating whether to continue investing in a niche site when it’s not getting traffic as I hoped.
What are these Case Studies?
As a reminder, I’ll be doing case studies for every site I’ve created, at the 6-month, 9-month, and 12-month marks. Then I’ll switch to every six months for the next year, so you can expect reports at 18 months and 24 months. If a site reaches its two-year mark and I plan to continue writing, I’ll switch to annual reports. Here are the ages of each site and its current status:
- Valerie & Valise – 8 years – annual w/ monthly recaps
- Space Tourism Guide – 4 years – annual
- Discover Sausalito – 22 months – semi-annual
- Follow the Butterflies – 19 months – semi-annual
- London on My Mind – 10 months – quarterly
- Great Plains Travel Guide – 8 months – quarterly
- Soup Whoop – 7 months – quarterly starting at 6 months
- Jordan Traveler – 6 months (this post!) – quarterly starting at 6 months
- Eat Like Bourdain – 5 months – quarterly starting at 6 months
- True Crime Pods – 4 months – quarterly starting at 6 months
- Solar Smarts – 4 months – quarterly starting at 6 months
(Links will take you to the full list of reports about that site!)
I thought about doing 3-month reports, but as you’ll see below, I don’t believe there’s much to report when a site is that young. I might occasionally call out a site if it’s doing something really unique before six months, but that wouldn’t be a regular thing.
In this Case Study update, I’ll try to give you everything I think is interesting about running this site so far, and a real “peek beneath the hood.” If you want to know anything else, be sure to let me know in the comments!
|Date First Published||March 1, 2021|
|Articles Live (as of 9/1/21)||28|
|Publishing Cadence||Weekly (Fridays)|
|Monthly Pageviews (last month)||3953|
History & Status of Jordan Traveler
I decided to start Jordan Traveler this year when I discovered that there weren’t many niche sites specifically focusing on the country, and I’ve been eager to make a return trip since my first visit in 2016. I was originally supposed to lead a group tour to Jordan in March 2020 (organized through Space Tourism Guide) but that obviously didn’t happen. (I’m now doing a very small trial trip in March 2022.)
As you might have guessed from my fast facts, Jordan Traveler has been a small project on my docket; I haven’t had a chance to ramp it up as the prospects for international travel are so bleak right now.
Instead of my typical 10-10-10 launch cadence, I launched Jordan Traveler with a weekly cadence from the first post; the first three posts were migrated from my main travel site, Valerie & Valise. The rest of the posts on the site were topics that I found on other, abandoned Jordan niche sites or through keyword research. In some ways, this site is very much like London On My Mind – I don’t worry quite as much about the specific ability to rank for keywords or targeting the absolute lowest difficulty keywords first. Instead, I write the content to answer the questions I know people will have.
Unfortunately, I haven’t really stuck to a weekly publishing cadence after the first few months. As the site has struggled to get meaningful traffic, I’ve diverted my energy and my team’s work onto other sites.
Content Niche Structure & Effectiveness
There are five main categories for posts on Jordan Traveler, again quite similar to the earliest content structure of LOMM:
- Travel Tips
- Where to Stay
After starting a few destination-based niche sites like this, I think this is a healthy structure to start with; you can then add others and sub-divide these ones once you get past the basic information people need.
I’ve created two charts to show how my content breakdown by category, and by traffic:
As you can see, Inspiration is the biggest traffic driver on my site, in large part due to my top post about Jordan Film Locations. That post is originally from V&V and it alone drives 5x more traffic than the next-biggest post for traffic. It’s about 33% of my traffic alone.
The hard part about reporting on Jordan Traveler at this point is how small the site is – but I’m not really sure when international traffic will return to normal, so I want to do these reports anyway. It goes to show you that some of my sites are really struggling due to the pandemic – even though that’s what gave me the inspiration and motivation to start them in the first place.
Data-Based Progress Report
At six months old, Jordan Traveler is a pretty healthy site – especially considering how few articles it has. I have no doubt that it would be doing somewhat better if I had chosen to launch with my 10-10-10 plan and stuck to weekly posts after that (it would have over 30 posts at this point), but that wasn’t something I had the bandwidth to do when I launched this site in May.
(To be honest, I launched it on somewhat of a whim – I had the idea and domain picked out several months earlier, but got a wild hare and launched it one day out of the blue… hence not having the strongest content launch strategy set up.)
As you can see, it’s finally starting to move in the right direction after a ~4-month sandbox window.
***I know there’s controversy about the existence of a Sandbox, but based on all of these sites, I’m fairly confident there is an “evaluation window” where Google is apprehensive about ranking new sites (which basically equates to a Sandbox). Once you prove yourself and create strong content for those few months, you start to see real growth. Even Space Tourism Guide had a sandbox!
So with a little site like this, what should I do? Maybe you’re feeling the same way about a site you started during the pandemic that hasn’t had the pick-up you’d hoped.
I can say for certain that abandoning it won’t help it grow – but it’s important to decide if investing in further content (either your time or money) is worthwhile. Does the site have the potential to reach the threshold for any ad networks worth joining? How much content will that take? Are you willing to do that work (or pay for someone else to)? How long are you willing to wait for those returns?
On my end, I’m adjusting my mindset about Jordan Traveler: it’s clear that international travel, especially to the Middle East, is going to take a long time to recover. A few years, if not 5-10 years. So this site isn’t going to jump back to pre-COVID levels like some of my other sites. Additionally, I’m not sure the demand for travel content about the Middle East is that great – many of the niche sites I found about Jordan were abandoned, likely as a result of content creators realizing that they would never hit Mediavine levels (50,000 sessions per month).
Am I willing to stick it out? For now – sure. Here’s why: I employ a great writer and she wants to learn more about running websites.
Over the next few months, I’m going to be training her on the different parts of running a site like Jordan Traveler, using this site as the workspace. She’ll learn how to do SEO, how to pick topics, and all the other steps I’ve been doing with the site so far. Eventually, she may be fully running it “on her own” – though I’ll of course be supervising it too.
From a reader perspective, this won’t/shouldn’t look any different. In fact, we may get a better user experience because she’ll start writing more frequently and consistently than I was.
Other Strategic Ideas
Given that content is the core of a successful site, I don’t have any plans to focus on monetization or community building in the next few months. For the next three months at least, I’ll be working closely with my writer on the plan I outlined above, and then we’ll decide where to go from there.
Do you have any other questions about this recap for Jordan Traveler? I’m happy to share anything that I forgot to include!