This post is dedicated to all my team members who have been working alongside me through thick and thin.
My friends, family or team members will never fully understand the scope on why I ultimately chose this route. Because I NEVER talk to anyone about it in full details.
In case if you do not know, Boutique.humbleandrich.com is garnering an average of about 50,000 unique visitors per month or an average of 80,000 page view per month according to Google Analytics (see image below)… even at the time of writing this post, traffics are very consistent and stable.
So why did I choose to cease operation when we have such decent volume? Especially when these traffics are from organic searches (mainly from Google) and social media (Pinterest in particular). In layman terms, these are free traffic.
Though, it isn’t a lot of traffic but it definitely isn’t too shabby too. I believe for many webmasters today, they would be happy to see these numbers on any one of their websites.
I do not know about the general website’s average RPM. But based on my research, daily traffic of 2,000 UV would probably garner anywhere from a decent US$2,000 to US$14,000 in passive income every month depending on the niche and monetization strategy.
A Little Backgroud
I started Boutique.humbleandrich.com on September, 2017. It was originally just Humbleandrich.com.
I know the domain sounds cheesy with or without the ’boutique.’ I decided on this domain at 4am, half drunk on one of the mornings in 2017.
If you are reading this and laughing. Good! It means I delivered my point well. Never decide on your domain name at 4am and definitely not when you are half drunk.
Why Did I Choose to Cease Operation
The decisions were made after I was faced with the truth. A hard truth but a truth I have to accept nevertheless. I brought the website to undergo a very thorough & detailed analysis done by yours truly which took a full 3 days to complete.
There were a total of 3 results. To put it simply, I’ll just name them as diagnosis #1, #2 and #3.
I was supposed to do this analysis many months ago but I was too afraid to face the truth hence the delay. I knew the results will come out negatives so I decided to delay to allow more room for improvement (nice excuse).
After many months of hesitation, I finally did it and here are the results (the results are kinda complicated so I’m gonna write it as simple as I can in layman terms).
Diagnosis #1 – Overview
The statistics were good because we had a decent number of backlinks, we had over 3,000+ posts and 800+ pages. But this is the least important diagnosis of the 3.
Diagnosis #2 – Site Health
This is where shits hit the fan. Our site has terrible structure. Too many broken links. Too many categories (yes, too many is bad). No strong pillar posts. Not dominating in any one niche or category. Google has flagged some of our pages.
“This is interesting. If Google has flagged us than why are they still sending us traffic on a daily basis? Perhaps, we might have a chance to turn things around.” – so I thought.
Diagnosis #3 – Key Statistics
Google are sending traffic to our old posts. Our new posts are unlikely to get ranked highly because of our terrible structure. Based on the study, the chances of us ranking in page 1 of Google for new keywords are less than 7%. That is suicidal.
The final diagnosis explains why our website traffic are consistently increasing at a very slow rate. If I were to look at the site growth as an indication that we are going in the right direction than I would have been misguided by this very statistic.
I call it ‘fake growth’ because it is what it is. We are pumping an average of 40 posts per day in the last 60 days, and out of that number less than 7% were ranked highly. The rest were useless. That is what caused the gradual growth.
Another Key Indicator
Let me share a statistic I find very intriguing from this study.
Last year, 2018 in the month of April. Our website is garnering 14,000 UV per month which is equivalent to around 466 UV per day.
UV = Unique Visitor
Our earning in April of 2018 was $3,000.
Today our traffic is at 50,000 UV. Based on the statistics I just gave you, how much should we be drawing this month?
In another word, my question is…. if 14,000 UV can make $3,000/month. How much can 50,000 UV make?
Let’s do some simple math.
50,000 UV divide by 14,000 UV times $3,000 should give us the answer.
It turns out I should be making $10,714/month today based on that statistic.
However, it is only $2,000/month now. Something is absolutely not right. I understand that every business has it’s own fluctuation but a difference this drastic is definitely a big problem.
I don’t feel safe earning $10,000 today only to know that my earnings would be almost completely wiped out next month due to whatever reason.
This is important and I hope this goes without saying.
The moral of sharing this is that traffic may lie but the bottom line doesn’t. It is better to have 200 UV per day and make $5,000 per month than to have 5,000 UV per day and make $200 per month.
The Bottom Line
As a web developer, I would consider the traffic a success. But here comes the sucker punch. I am not a web developer, I am a business owner.
As a business owner, net-profit is the main statistic I am focusing on. Let’s be frank, I started this business to make money. I do not want to be in a business that is losing money. I will cut my loses and move on quickly
It costs me around US$4,000/month in business expenses and a return of only around US$2,000 in average/month in profit. Here is a basic math, I’m losing around US$2,000 on average every month.
How many more US$2,000/month can I bleed before I am totally dried out?
That is the question I asked myself when deciding to cease operation.
I don’t quit the website. The website will still be running even after it ceases operation. I am ceasing all expenses given to this site. Therefore, I say ‘cease operation’ rather than ‘I quit’.
A Moment of Truth
If it weren’t for diagnosis #3, I’ll still be investing around US$1,000 on the site to grow it slowly rather than completely cease operation. Because investing US$1,000 with a return of US$2,000 is still a profitable business.
But the final diagnosis came and it is clear that any further investment made to this site will be considered a bad investment because money could be better spent elsewhere… unless… a big unless… I see a 250% growth by end of August, I’ll cease this operation indefinitely.
A 200% to 250% growth would indicate that the site has been un-flagged. If that happens, this entire endeavor would be worth pursuing again.
But until then, further investment to this business is a big no-no.
Emotional Roller Coaster
As much as I love making money, the biggest pain I felt from this endeavor wasn’t about money.
I dived into business prepared to lose money and time so it didn’t hurt me that much.
But I wasn’t prepared to lay off my team members whom I have been working alongside together through thick and thin. It wasn’t as easy as I thought. Some of them took this business seriously – more serious than I am. It is hard to lose people who are so loyal to you and your business.
Read my 18th May journal. It was one of the suckiest days in my life.
At the time of writing this, I still have not told Tonie and Lawrence about this bad news.
To Tonie and Lawrence
If you are reading this, that means you would have probably heard from me already.
In case, I didn’t thank you properly. I want to seize this opportunity to thank you again.
I want to thank you for taking a chance on me and this website. Thank you for your contribution and for putting your best for the site everyday. I apologize that some days I drove you guys a little over the edge and for pushing you over your boundaries and/or comfort zone. I do this because I wanted us to grow. And I think grow we did.
To me, there were no easy days working on a site like what we’d built…. with your presences, it makes the entire process a tad easier to go through.
I’m sorry I delayed on the test, I’m sorry that I wasn’t a good enough employer to steer us in the right direction quickly enough and to make us grow to new levels. This entire business was ceased due to my carelessness and failed diligence. You did everything you could.
I know it is too late to say this but I will say it nonetheless. I will learn from this mistake and will not make this same mistake ever again.
It was a pleasure working alongside both of you. And I want to remember it for a very long time (That is why I decided to pen it down here for my own future reference).
Let’s keep in touch and see if the future would open up opportunities for us to work together again. If not, you can still always come to me whenever you need help.
From Now Onward
I have already started working on another website that I find meaningful. I have only started a little and it wasn’t officially launched yet. I will focus more on that later.
For now, till the end of May, I want to carry on working with my team members (Lawrence, Tonie & Faye) and give the best for the site like we always do. Despite knowing that we have been encircled, I am still willing to give my best till the very last day… before we finally cease operation.
Updated (11 June 2019):
Gone of an old is the birth of a new. I had published my first post on the new project on 9 June 2019. Check out the post here.