Written by: Greg Ellifritz
This is the 1500th post on my website.
I started the site in March of 2012 as a way to advertise my training classes. It’s grown into much more than I ever could have expected.
In the last seven years, 4,319,088 people from literally every country on the planet have visited the site. The site has amassed almost 24 million total page views in that time. When I started the blog, I had no idea that I would eventually reach more than four million people with my writing. It’s quite stunning whenever I think about it. Very few other blogs in the self defense/firearms niche have been around longer than me. Very few content creators in this industry pump out 200 absolutely free articles a year .
I wanted to use this post to thank all of you for reading my stuff over the years and to outline my path moving forward.
My site had a steady period of growth year over year until it peaked in 2017. Since then, total numbers of both users and pageviews have been on a rapid decline. People are reading far fewer of my articles today as compared with the 2016-2017 time period. In the last year the number of folks who read at least one article on my site dropped by about three percent. That isn’t a massive drop and it may not be indicative of any broader trends.
The better marker is total pageviews. In 2017 the site amassed almost five million pageviews. In the most recent 12 month time frame, I’ve had a total of 2, 753,138 pageviews. That’s a 44% decline.
When I first started realizing that I was hemorrhaging pageviews, I decided to write more. In 2019 I’ve been writing a few more articles each month. As compared to the same time period a year ago, my year-to-date writing is up 43,000 words in 2019.
An average novel is usually around 100K words. So I’ve basically written half a novel more free information this year than I have in any comparable time frame in the past years.
In August, I really busted my ass. I wrote 20 articles and my total word count was more than any other month in the history of my site. What did that get me? Fewer readers.
I got my August website stats update from Google. My hard work wasn’t enough. My total pageviews declined by 12.52% in the last month. The number of unique visitors to the site dropped 7% from July.
I really think that people lack the time/patience/intellectual capacity to read the long form articles I produce. I think it’s only going to get worse in the future. A retirement career as a writer may not have been the best plan I’ve ever made.
There could be any number of factors causing my pageviews to tank. My articles average about 1100 words each. For some people, reading 1100 words simply takes too much time out of their busy lives. Fewer and fewer people are reading long-form articles now.
Another factor is that my website is in the firearms/self defense genre. Google has been known to reduce search results on sites that may not agree with the company’s political views. My search engine traffic has declined 19% in the last year.
Finally, the impact of social media is incredibly difficult to measure. The majority of people are getting their online information through their Facebook/Instagram/Twitter pages. My traffic from social media has INCREASED 30% in the last year.
I’m glad traffic is going up, but I’m worried about that statistic. Facebook is notoriously anti-gun. I’m almost certain that they will be purposely censoring firearms and self defense content in the future. It’s only a matter of time until they find my blog and “shadow ban” my articles. I don’t think the number of visitors I obtain via social media is likely to increase in the future.
I mentioned earlier that my total pageviews have declined 44% from last year. The problem with this is that I fund my site based on advertising and affiliate marketing income. When pageviews are cut in half, so is the money I receive from the site. I think the downward trend will continue. Facebook and Google will work to ensure that my evil website appears in every fewer news feeds and internet searches. I’m certain that my ad revenue will eventually go to zero.
That presents a massive problem. I’m not going to continue to spend 100+ hours a month writing for a website that is no longer profitable. I don’t want to stop writing, but that’s exactly what will happen if my site revenues decline precipitously.
If you enjoy reading my writing, I need your help to continue. I can no longer depend on social media or web searches to reach you. In the next few years, both traffic sources will trend towards zero. My content simply doesn’t make Facebook and Google happy.
I would urge you to find other ways to acquire my content. Don’t rely on your Facebook or Twitter stream to get my updates. Instead, visit the site directly, sign up for my email updates, or subscribe to my RSS feed. These “old school” methods may be the only way you will be able to get my content in the future.
Right now, the site is largely supported by my Patreon subscribers and the folks who donate to the site each month via PayPal. All the money I get from those two sources goes directly into improving my website. Most recently I used the money to obtain a website security certificate for the site and to upgrade website speed.
That money is also going towards developing a second website focused on travel safety strategies. That second site will support my soon to be published third-world travel safety handbook. It will also contain daily safety tips for travelers visiting the developing world. Many of you will enjoy the travel safety content. Both the site and my upcoming travel safety book will be published soon. I will make an announcement here when they are live.
As I promised, any of my Patreon or PayPal subscribers will get a free digital copy of my travel safety book and free copies of all the other books I plan to release in the next couple years. Supporting my site at $1 a month via Patreon or PayPal will get you free access to the six books I’m currently writing.
I thank you all for your support over the last seven plus years. Your interest in reading my material inspires me to create additional content. I hope that all of you enjoy the next 1500 articles as much as you’ve enjoyed the first 1500. Thanks again for reading my stuff.