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Lipstick on a Pig

Most of us start new sites/blogs because we have a passion for the subject matter. Well, let me re-phrase that. There are some sites we create because we’re passionate about the topic and other sites we create for the money.

If the moneymaking sites don’t make money, I recommend getting rid of them because unless you figure out how to make it profitable, it becomes a time and emotion drain. Sites created out of passion or a genuine interest in the subject matter is a whole different story.

The Story of a Pig

It’s not really a story of a pig, but in an attempt to honor the title of this post, I’ll refer to my Visit Hudson Valley site as a pig.

You see, I created the site back in 1996 when I was exploring the inner workings of site creation. Back then one of my favorite pastimes was eating in restaurants and discovering new foods. Being relatively new to the area, I searched online for local restaurant listings, but there weren’t any. Remember this is back in 1996 when folks were still afraid of the Internet.

Since I couldn’t find a site that had the information I was looking for, I created one. I loved creating sites, playing around in databases, taking pictures, eating out and so on, so Visit Hudson Valley was a labor of love. As time went on and life happened (in particular the illness and subsequent death of my mom), I lost interest in a lot of things, including creating websites.

Revisiting the PigVisit Hudson Valley

Over time, my interest in the Internet returned and I re-created Visit Hudson Valley (yes, re-created VHV because when I lost interest I allowed the domain to expire and the site was totally offline for a few years). Around that time I created Tidbits & Stuff and a couple of other sites. My interest in the various sites ebbed and flowed, waxed and waned, peaked and valleyed (no pun intended). You get my drift.

Over the past two years I allowed Visit Hudson Valley to sit there in its own sty (lost interest again, but this time I didn’t take it offline). I didn’t update any of the databases nor did I add much content. It just sat on the Internet unloved and uncared for (queue the violins). Last month I earned a whopping $4.82 from the site. It was never a huge moneymaker, but $4.82 is pretty bad even by VHV standards.

A New Tube of Lipstick

This month I slapped a little lipstick on the pig in the form of a new blogging theme and I’m working on updating the databases (there are about 5,000 entries across all of the databases so it will take quite some time to go through them all).

By changing the blog theme and adding a couple of entries, I’ve more than doubled my last month’s earnings in the space of 1 week. Let’s face it, when you only earn $4.82 it’s not hard to double those earnings.

Lesson Learned from My Pig and LipstickToo cute not to include in this post.

All too often we take our sites down because we’ve lost interest. I’ve found that interest, just like so many other things in life is cyclical. If you were once passionate about something, give it time, your passion will return. It may take a month, a year or 3 years, but it will return.

All I know is that when folks search for “things to do in the Hudson Valley,” or, “Hudson Valley Maps,” or “Hudson Valley Restaurants,” my little piggy shows up somewhere on the first page of Google’s search results. That wouldn’t happen if I had taken the site down a second time when my interest waned.

In this situation, it’s much easier to make an old pig look good with a little lipstick than it is to create a new pig from scratch. Before you ditch your old pig, let it sit for a while. When the interest returns, pick out a nice shade of lipstick and apply.

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{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Crystal October 9, 2011, 10:28 am

    Thanks for the sharing, Felicia – this is just what I needed. I’ve lost interest in a couple of my projects lately and have been trying to decide what to do. Guess I’d better pull out some lipstick!

    Nice changes to VHV, btw:)

  • Deanna October 9, 2011, 11:28 am

    Hi Felicia,

    I’ve done the same thing. I’ve had sites that I created a few years ago and then stopped adding to but kept live. Every now and then I may get excited about them again and start adding content. What I’ve found interesting is if the content of a site is evergreen and good, the site can sit for months and still gain readership even if you aren’t adding fresh content. It’s interesting because all the experts say you have to add new content on a regular basis to stay in Google’s favor – but I haven’t found that to be true. What are your thoughts?

    • Felicia October 10, 2011, 7:52 am

      Deanna, I’ve found the same thing. As long as the content is well written and relevant (evergreen), the blogs continue to earn and gain readership.

  • Ken Muise October 9, 2011, 1:33 pm

    Agreed. I think by changing up your blog delivery can help keep the passion too. Doing short posts, long posts, simple videos and elaborate videos can help keep yourself and the constant reader engaged.

  • cashflowmantra October 9, 2011, 3:23 pm

    A very interesting post that makes me think. It might be better to hold on to some sites if nothing for the age. Eventually, you might come back to it or could even sell it for a little bit due to the aged domain. I don’t know that I would have really considered that fully. You got me to thinking. Thanks for that.

  • D. Heath October 9, 2011, 9:09 pm

    I agree, since I’m still pretty young I realized that I had to grow into my niches.
    I didn’t really have blogs that I abandoned just ideas, but once I was able to figure out my goals and message then I was able to pick them back up again.

  • Gianna October 10, 2011, 3:23 pm

    hey, Felicia,
    I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of months now, since I’ve been reading your stuff.

    How do you create a site about stuff you aren’t passionate about? What do you write about? I understand the ebb and flow of websites and your passion for them. But I don’t know what I would write about or where I would write it, if it’s something out of what I know.

    • Felicia October 10, 2011, 4:47 pm

      Gianna, there are probably a ton of things that you have knowledge of that you can write about that doesn’t stir your passion. Me, for example, my passionless writing involves insurance. I was in the industry for more years than I’d like to count and have a ton of knowledge on the subject, but I don’t like writing about it.

      Initially, it seems that was all I wrote about. It was my introduction, sort of, to online writing. I also have knowledge about cars, regulations, certain laws and some technology. None of these causes me to do the happy dance, but some of them pay handsomely. Having knowledge of a subject is good. Being passionate about it is even better. The best case scenario is making money off of a subject that you’re passionate about.

  • Diane October 10, 2011, 4:59 pm


    When I read this post, I remembered a vintage recipe site I had started 9 years ago and had made online friends through it. I abandoned it when my mother required full-time care during the last few years of her life. Since it was a free website, I decided to go looking for it. To my surprise, it is still up and running.

    I’m trying to decide whether to buy a domain name and add adsense, or put the 200 recipes on my blog.

    • Felicia October 10, 2011, 5:03 pm

      That’s awesome! After 9 years it’s still up and running.

      I always have a tough time deciding whether to start a new blog or roll my ideas into an existing blog. I’ve started new blogs only to find out later that I didn’t quite have enough in me to write a full blog’s worth of information. Then I’d shut it down and roll it into an existing blog.

      You have 200 recipes and that sounds like a new blog to me, but it’s a decision you’ll have to wrestle with. I’d love to know what you finally decide.

  • Alexander October 10, 2011, 5:31 pm

    I’ve recently started work on a helicopter pilot job blog, and I think I’m on the right track – I see you have all kinds of links and articles on your website. It’s comprehensive. It sounds like if you give it all your attention and a makeover, you can turn almost anything into a profitable website. I am currently keeping the site closed until I have a few articles up. I only have one so far, any thoughts?

    • Felicia October 10, 2011, 6:38 pm

      Alexander, just keep at it.

      When I first started blogging and creating websites, I used to prevent Google or other search engines from indexing it because I felt it wasn’t ready for public view. When I was finally ready for the public to see it and I wanted Google and the other search engines to find it, it took a long time to gain traffic. Sort of like throwing a party and no one showing up.

      After that initial experience, I allow my work in progress to be Googled. I make sure to have a post explaining that it’s a new blog and things are just getting started, but if the initial information is interesting enough, folks will come back to see what’s new.

      Not only that, it takes the search engines a while before they index a new blog (especially if you haven’t established any backlinks).

      I usually feel like I’ve accomplished something if I have 5 posts on a new blog. With 5 posts, I breathe a sigh of relief. 5 posts is just enough to wet the readers appetite and encourage them to come back to see subsequent posts. It also gives the search engines something to search.

      After the initial 5 I take my time and post information as I see fit, unless I’m on fire about the topic. If I’m on fire, I can’t stop posting. 🙂

      Find what works best for you and stick with it.

      • Alexander October 11, 2011, 3:45 am

        Thanks for that, I am eager to get it out there, so that’s what I needed to hear 🙂 I like the 5 minimum to relax a bit. I was thinking about 10 at first!

  • Amanda October 11, 2011, 10:27 am

    Regardless of the subject, I find there is another element that makes a site worthwhile. I have a blog where I write about my own experience on a particular subject. I also have another website where I talk about a similar, but in fact different, subject matter. I don’t know why, but I lost my interest in the second site only after one or two months, because on that site of mine, I mostly write on an impersonal, informative tone. That site is now sitting on the Internet collecting dust. I wonder whether I should turn that into a personal blog. That way, I may have more motivation to write.

    • Felicia October 11, 2011, 11:04 am

      Amanda, you bring up a valid point.

      Over the summer I knew I wouldn’t be writing much so I chose to write for one of my blogs that is a financial winner but an emotional drain. I managed to muster about 20 to 25 posts on that blog over the summer.

      Once the summer was over, I felt worn out. The blog is informative and does bring in a few bucks, but when the summer was done, so was I.

      Fortunately, I knew the blog was finite. Once I covered the subject matter adequately, there was no further need for me to update it unless there are major changes in the industry. Writing from the heart is so much more rewarding from an emotional standpoint. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to adequately monetize my warm and fuzzy blogs.

      Unless your second blog is making itself worth your time and effort, I agree with your thoughts about making it more personal. There’s nothing worse than having a blog that is both a financial and emotional drain.

  • Gip @ So Much More Life October 11, 2011, 9:26 pm

    I seem to refine my definition of what a blog really is every time I read your blog. There are blogs like my So Much More Life blog that are updated frequently, there are mini-sites and there are also abandoned blogs. But I never really think of blogs as something you write for a while and then leave up to come back to later if the mood strikes you.

    Very interesting.

    • Felicia October 12, 2011, 6:54 am

      Some bloggers, especially newbies, try to follow the “blogging rules.” Unfortunately, once they get knee deep into blogging, they find that so many of the rules make blogging a bore.

      If I followed the rule of blogging regularly, it would make blogging feel like a job. Blogging regularly is great if you have something to say, but to blog regularly to fit the blogging rule of regular blogging makes blogs stale, stiff and boring.

      Leaving blogs alone for a while and coming back later with the same vigor and enthusiasm as when the blog was created makes for a much more interesting blog (in my opinion).

      BTW: I added the hyperlink to your blog in your comment.

  • Maria (Work at Home Mom) October 12, 2011, 1:15 pm

    Good points, Felicia — and that’s why I’m once again renewing all my domains with content on them, even though some haven’t had a new post added in a year and earnings are just a couple dollars a month. If I ever want to and am motivated, the bones are there waiting to be resurrected and improved.

  • Master Dayton October 13, 2011, 7:20 pm

    One of the nice things about building multiple niche sites is that you can have several on one hosting account. So if one site isn’t quite pulling the full amount to break even, you can still keep it up as the other sites on the account earn and go back to them if/when the passion hits. It’s amazing what a difference age can make for a site, in my experience.

    • Felicia October 14, 2011, 8:01 am

      One of the few places in the world where age is respected and rewarded.

  • Darrin May 5, 2012, 7:43 pm

    Wish I would have had this article at my disposal a few years ago when I closed down MY food blog. I’ve since relaunched it, and re-tweaked it a bit, and my traffic is increasing daily. Now.. I just need to figure out how to monetize it correctly. Great article!

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