Mid-year business evaluation

posted by Jeff | Monday, July 4, 2011, 10:43 PM | comments: 0

One of the things I've been paying attention to more at work since switching roles is how the business looks overall, in the areas that our product is related to. It's not really a job function, as I concentrate more on product design, but I definitely pay attention more. It isn't surprising then, that I'd pay attention more to my own business.

Overall, I see things going the way they did three years ago, with metrics slipping a bit. I'm seeing just as many visitors to CoasterBuzz, but they're not spending as much time there. The way I addressed that last time was to clean it up and relaunch the site, so that will probably be a priority for me again. It has been nearly three years, so it's time. I just think it will be a lot harder this time, with a full-time job and a toddler. Family time trumps everything else.

The thing I still worry about the most is the ad market. I've seen a number of articles indicating that spending would be up this year, but it has been far from consistent. Last summer was a serious rebound from 2009, but so far we're not there. Last year, I could count on revenue per thousand pages around $2.10. June averaged $1.55, and that was only because of a strong ending.

With the business finally out of debt, one could argue that it's all gravy, but I'm trying to be proactive now. I'd like to save some money so I can invest in new things down the road. I'm not sure what those things are, but I'm pretty sure I don't want to do any additional amusement related sites. I enjoy building CoasterBuzz and the forum app, and contributing to PointBuzz (which is really hard on one visit a year), but I'm not interested in empire building beyond that. I still have hundreds of photos to get up on MouseZoom too.

That's representative of one of the biggest problems, however. I've had lots of ideas, but rarely follow through because of a lack of passion. The Buzz sites will always be a labor of love that I happen to make a little money from, but stuff that I want to do purely for the sake of trying to make money never quite pushes me in the same way. I'm very much the accidental entrepreneur.

So my plans are to re-do CB again before the end of the year, even though it's so vulnerable to ad spending. I also plan to do a point release of POP Forums, which is purely for fun, since it's an open source project. I have a science project I've been working on and off on, too, and I could probably get it in front of people if I spent a couple of days uninterrupted on it.

It's definitely harder to spend a lot of time thinking about this stuff with all of the changes in my life during the last two years, but it's also something I really identify as a part of me. I don't think I would have nearly the number of opportunities that I've had if it weren't for the long, continuous "hobby business." That's why I plan to keep at it for a long time to come.


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