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March 16, 2022

Why 2022 is the year of the blog (for me!)

Every five years at my day job, we're gifted with an extra month of vacation to use as we please. Last winter, I took my first "sabbatical." Unfortunately, being the pandemic, that meant a staycation for me. But, it gave me about seven weeks to immerse myself fully in my side-hustles.

I learned a lot from Thanksgiving to New Year's, but translating it into action has been challenging. For all of knowledge, skills, and experience that I gained on SEO and Marketing, I don't have enough time in the world to apply it. Especially while I'm juggling, as many small business owners do, a few ventures.

But I did set out one intention that I plan to see through: dedicating myself to content development through blogging. Since November 1st, 2021 ish, I've published or scheduled 93 blogs for one of three websites. And I'm nowhere near done.

In this blog, I'd like to layout the projects I'm doing in 2022, and explain the experiments I've set up and what I think will happen. Then, I can return to it as a progress marker later on.

Author blog create creative

Sticker Crypt: A One Stop Shop For Sticker Shop Owners

As I began my own sticker business (Nonbeenary Designs), I found that a lot of crafting business advice was geared towards people doing t-shirts, tumblers, and wreaths. These larger items have bigger profit margins, too. The business is just difference. You can run an ad on a $20 item, but running it on a $4 item is inherently different. My goal with Sticker Crypt was to create a completely FREE resource hub for Sticker Shop Owners, funded by advertising.

In the five months I've been reworking the domain, I've gotten 55 articles published with another good chunk pending publication; and traffic has risen pretty dramatically. I'm not financing anything more than a candy bar with the advertising, but we'll get there.

WITCHYVERSE: A Pagan Lifestyle Blog

Can I let you in on a secret? In my youth, I was Wiccan. I really felt connected to nature, and loved the polytheistic choices. While I'm now comfortably settled into agnosticism, with a substantial fascination towards Christianity, my love and affection for the pagan faiths remain. Plus - I had a really old blog that I didn't want to lose. So, I decided to resurrect that old content into a resource for people looking for pagan connection online. My goal was to create a niche site where I could sustainably pay authors for content creation.

This project hasn't been going as well. The world of "pagan lifestyle" is much more diverse - and competitive - than the world of sticker making. Nevertheless, I'm slowly adding content. I was originally paying authors, but I started overspending my earnings from my own sticker shop. To date, we've freshened up about 40 new or old articles on WITCHYVERSE. The traffic is about 1/3rd of Sticker Crypt's.

Nonbeenary Designs: My E-Commerce Venture

Nonbeenary Designs is a labor of love. If I were paid hourly for the work I've put into it, I'd be making like, $0.05 per hour. But I LOVE LOVE LOVE making weird art, and Nonbeenary Designs is my way to share it with the world. Nevertheless, I've slowed on art production. Partly because I've had a messed up hand, and partly because, well, I've been busy with my other projects.

I've always felt like my marketing has just been... off, for NBN. Like I've got quips, but no real marketing strategy. Add in the fact that folks can have trouble understanding my brand (Non-BEE-nary - like nonbinary, but with bees), and it's just kind of a mess all around. But I do get reliable Etsy traffic and sales, even if I'm nowhere near reaching the top 10 on Etsy.

My goal with Nonbeenary Designs is steady growth, and a transition away from Etsy. Etsy fees are pushing 25% of my total sale, which means that even if my buyers are paying $4 for a single sticker, I'm only seeing about $1.50 of it after fees + materials. That's not even factoring in the time.

But to do that - I need to be able to build e-commerce landing pages that actually convert organic traffic. Because stickers won't sell themselves, and at $4 a pop, it'll be hard to advertise them effectively.

SamDavisPhD.com - My professional and freelance home

I've been using nonbeenary.com as the place for me recently, but it's not great. Like I said above - it's hard to spell for folks, and it's pretty removed from the other services I offer, like SEO and content development. My problem with this site is that it's new: pretty empty of content, no backlinks. And so I see a big crossover with StickerCrypt, where I've begun to write a lot about SEO and marketing.

Do I transfer those articles over here? Do I just take the hit and keep making unique content for two platforms? It can be a challenge. I think my goal with this particular site is to use it as an experimental space. Report on how things are going; give reasoning; share resources. Sort of like a "true" blog. Monetization, if it comes from this site, will take a while.

Worry and Wood: A Laser Cut Keychain Shop For Anxiety Relief

As if that wasn't enough, I've got a whole other brand to think about. Granted, this project is new - but I do so love the idea. I want to create custom worry stones from bamboo for people who struggle with anxiety. You know, people like me. It's also a chance to reach a completely different target audience compared to Nonbeenary Designs. Specifically, I'm creating more conservative designs with Worry and Wood.

The same issues that I have with Nonbeenary Designs apply here. It's an e-commerce site, so no ad revenue. It's newer, so low/no backlinks. And it's harder to do content development for an e-commerce site. But, keychains would be a much higher profit margin if I could begin reliably selling them - even on Etsy.

So, what now?

I feel like I can't devote all of my time and resources to these projects. So what can I do for the in-between to keep some of them afloat while I focus my energy all-in on one?

I think my first major goal is to reach 100 posts on Sticker Crypt. This will give me a good benchmark to evaluate how much time/effort it'll take to continue building that niche site. To do that, I need to de-emphasize focus on my other projects. Like this:

  1. I need to develop a content plan to knock out the remaining 39 posts for Sticker Crypt and get them on the schedule. I feel like getting Sticker Crypt up and running is ultimately going to be a bigger money maker through affiliates and advertising than Nonbeenary Designs is.
  2. I could publish monthly blogs on WITCHYVERSE to keep the Google gods happy.
  3. NonbeenaryDesigns is slowly declining in sales, but that could be seasonal. It is my #1 money maker, so I need to keep creating.
  4. This blog doesn't need to draw in a lot of traffic - yet. I'm good to keep it going "as is" and just publish occasionally.
  5. I'm listing my W+W keychains on Etsy under NonbeenaryDesigns because I already have an existing shop. I could publish monthly blogs on W+W to keep the Google gods happy.

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