EnviroGadget Surgery Review

September 21, 2009 Steve

Welcome to the first post from Round 2 of the Affiliate Doctor reviews.

First up is a Surgery review of Dan Harrison’s EnviroGadget site. Dan started the site in June 2008 having previously run a niche site all about spy gadgets. Finding spy gadgets to be a little too niche, he decided to look for a different angle and decided to combine the eco-friendly products sector with gadgets to create EnviroGadget. Since its launch, Dan has achieved a daily RSS reader count of 550+ with the site receiving around 500 unique visitors a day, and a recent award from Time Magazine’s “The Green Design 100”.

EnviroGadget Screenshot

(screenshot)

Dan asks the docs:

“My site is http://www.envirogadget.com

After lots of link building and work, I now have about 500 unique visitors a day and ~550 RSS readers.

I’m making around $125 a month from Google Adsense, and about $30 a month from Chitika. The site generates around £20 every 3 months using affiliate links through ThinkGeek (US), Nigel’s Eco Store (UK), Maplin (UK) plus a few more.

I’ve tried a banner for Think Geek to target US visitors, but over a month, it’s had no sales at all. All commission so far has been through reviews of products.

I promote affiliate related products by doing normal reviews, but with a link to the product and a buy now button.

For example:

http://www.envirogadget.com/clocks-and-watches/customisable-mud-powered-digital-clock/

http://www.envirogadget.com/solar-powered/handy-solar-powered-keychain-flashlight/

I’ve not plastered the site with Google Adsense so that it doesn’t annoy my readers. However, I feel that my earnings are really low given my level of traffic, and I don’t know how to fix it.

Any feedback and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.”

Here’s what Lammo, Kieron and Kirsty had to say:

Lammo

John LamertonDo you know that you’re getting a decent level of US visitors? Otherwise that could explain why you’re seeing sales from the UK merchants, but not the US one!

You say the reviews are doing well, and it’s not surprising – they are very good, and probably the key selling point about the site. I’d keep on adding them, perhaps adding a more prominent call to action where users can buy the product (tell your users what you want them to do … BUY THIS PRODUCT!).

I’d also add some direct merchant links to bestselling/popular products in the sidebar rather than the “Google Search” and “Advertise Here” buttons – something like this perhaps:

http://easycontentunits.com/ecu_eco_products.html

Why not produce some “how to be greener” guides giving general advice about composting, using water butts, energy saving etc, which you could feature prominently on the site, and incorporate product links into?

Kieron

Kieron DonoghueThe site looks good, a few bits of feedback for you:

There is a lot of wasted white space on the right hand side. As soon as you scroll down past 3 or 4 posts you get pretty much half of the space wasted. Think about moving to a 2 column layout.

Get rid of the Adsense ads at the top of the individual posts. These just look unprofessional and annoying. Instead build some ad blocks within the homepage. Take a look at Autoblog.com and TechCrunch.com to see how well they integrate ads into the homepage and the sidebars. There is no need to “trick” users into clicking Adsense ads at the beginning of blog posts, it isn’t 2003 anymore. I would also recommend that you approach some eco retailers and ask them to advertise on your blog. Create 3 to 4 ad slots and charge £150 per month per slot. At those prices you should be able to sell them easy. Then when demand and traffic grows you can increase the prices. Put together a really good media pack that outlines the benefits or advertising on your site.

Your blog posts seem very short. In order to get maximum visibility from the search engines start writing posts of a minimum of 300 words and at the very, very least write 1 new blog post a day. Ideally 3 to 5 though.

You could also do with featuring your Twitter feed on the homepage. Speaking of which, your Twitter feed reads more like an RSS feed. Try to stimulate conversation and interact with your Twitter followers more instead of just Tweeting about a new blog post.

Kirsty

Kirsty McCubbinI agree completely with you Dan that you are only earning a very small amount of money for the level of visitors you have been achieving. It is a decent looking blog too, clean cut and well laid out. I’m not sure if perhaps you have altered your site structure since submitting your question in order to help monetise it with Adsense, but I’d certainly call your posts “plastered” in Adsense at the moment! I think you are going to have to choose whether this is an Adsense site or an affiliate site. I find those ads extremely offputting, and I find it difficult to focus on the page content because of them.

Adsense considerations aside, there are a few things we need to think about here.

What percentage of your 500 visitors per day actually make it through to merchant? If the percentage is low, then you may need to look for reasons why and try to resolve them.  Your calls to action may not be strong enough to compel your visitors to visit your merchants. I’d suggest taking a look at a highly successful merchant site in your sector. Place yourself in the position of a shopper looking to buy something, and check out how they funnel their traffic through to point of sale and try to emulate that as far as possible within the constraints of your blog structure.

Alternatively, your traffic may not be targeted enough to compel your visitors to visit your merchant, i.e. what you are ranking for and what you are targeting are two different things! If a healthy proportion of your traffic is getting through to merchants it may be that for some reason they are not able to convert your traffic. If this is the case it may be an idea to seek out other merchants and test your traffic with them instead.

Another idea might be for you to set up your own shopping resource and add it as a feature within your blog. If you have lots of subscribers why not simply ask them what kind of green products they are likely to buy, perhaps even run a survey with a small prize draw as an incentive and really find out who your readers are, and what they are looking for when they search online and end up on your site.

Editor’s Note

Steve KennyDan has made some changes to the site recently since submitting for review and it being published, so you may see that some aspects of the review have been addressed.

Thanks for writing in and submitting your site for review, I hope it helps you out with some ideas. You’ve got a great site there and it’s obviously pulling in a nice audience for you to target. I’d agree on the Google Adsense front, but can also see that it’s bringing in most of your revenue at the moment.  If you need the money for now, perhaps you could work on building the affiliate side before winding it down. Alternatively, why not try posting your newer articles ‘Adsense free’ for the first couple of weeks or so, and then add them to the older posts so that your regular readers don’t have to see it (I think Al has experience with this). On the more blog posts front, I know this can be a headache especially if you’re still working full time in another job – but maybe it’s time to outsource and get some trusted writers on board?

What did you think of Dan’s site?

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Filed under: Blogging, General, Surgery

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4 Responses to “EnviroGadget Surgery Review”

  1. Thank you for the feedback everyone. As Steve says, I have made some changes since I submitted the question. This includes:

    1) Reducing the amount of adsense ad-space by about half

    2) Experimenting with more obvious call-to-action buttons, such as “Buy Now” but in more prominent colours (Red buttons rather than Green, for example).

    3) Adding the featured posts in the top right of the page, which link to the most popular products that visitors can purchase. I vary these weekly too.

    I’m also getting some guest articles written for EnviroGadget using my new guest blogging platform http://www.blogsynergy.com, which saves me paying writers too.

    Regarding article frequency, there is a limit to how much you can write about eco gadgets, as there is a finite number coming into the market place. I’ve found that around 5 articles a week is the right balance between interesting eco gadgets and fresh content.

    There are a number of eco technologies that exist, but most are dull and my lack of interest would very easily show in the low quality of articles. Therefore I cherry-pick the most interesting gadgets.

    The comments about selling adspace, using easy content units and whitespace have all been noted and are at the top of my to-do list.

    To target eco-gadget buyers, I intend to do a mix of what Kirsty and Lammo suggest (a shop area, and detailed articles respectively), and I am brainstorming ideas along those lines.

    Thanks for the ideas everyone!
    Dan

  2. Really like the site Dan, just thought I’d point out a little glitch I noticed in Safari & Firefox (Mac) – the “Read More” links only seem to work when you click just below the text or arrow, not directly on them (worse in Firefox).

  3. Thanks for the heads up, I’ve now fixed the button on EnviroGadget. It’s a strange issue, as I could not reproduce it, but I’ve used a less error-prone method of showing the link to the article now.

    Dan

  4. […] your recent surgery review for Envirogadget, you mentioned selling advertising space, and developing a media […]

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