I am no longer actively blogging on this website.
3 years ago I started a website called The Chemical Blog. I feel a real sense of achievement with this site. Almost 3,000 people a day visit it now and it has over 4,000 followers via social media and email. The site led me to interview some inspiring people including Elise Andrew (founder of the Facebook page I Fucking Love Science) and Michael Dayah (founder of PTable.com), plus other notable authority figures in the scientific community. The site has been featured in a wide range of publications including Scientific American, National Geographic and Wikipedia.
From a practical point of view, The Chemical Blog has furthered my own knowledge of chemistry, which was one of the original intentions when I started the site. It has also developed my knowledge of digital marketing and served as a test-bed for my other websites. For example, when I was considering rolling out a newsletter subscription service on my company’s website, I tested it on The Chemical Blog first to get to grips with it.
The Chemical Blog is continuing to grow in popularity and while the current version of the site has lasted well, I have taken the decision to rebuild it.
Here are some of the things which are currently being worked on:
The main demographic for The Chemical Blog is the 25-34 age group (coincidentally, this is my own age group). I would like the site to portray an image which resonates with this key part of its’ audience. The current brand is striking orange – the new one is a big move away from this – with black and pink being the primary colours. The new banding will also be applied to our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest accounts, along with the email template for newsletter subscribers.
The Chemical Blog is a built in WordPress. The existing website uses the Genesis Framework with a customized Child Theme. This will be replaced with a custom written Theme. It did cross my mind to try out the new Rainmaker Platform as I’ve heard good things about it and see an ever-increasing number of high-profile bloggers using it but I figured it was less hassle to stick with what I know – WordPress powers around 20% of new websites now – there’s no point try to fix something which isn’t broke.
In 2012 half of the visitors to The Chemical Blog were from the UK. In 2015 visitors from the UK account for just 28% of the audience, with the US following closely behind at 26%. It is clear that the site has out-grown the .co.uk domain so I will move it to the .com variant. I have experience of moving domains because I moved my main commercial websites to new domains last year. This is a good tip by the way – if you buy a domain which isn’t a .com, always buy the .com variant if it is available. You never know how a website will grow and develop in the future and for the sake of a few pounds it’s always worth giving yourself the option to use the .com. It also stops somebody else using it.
[Tweet “If you buy a domain which isn’t a .com always buy the .com variant if it is available”]
In 2012 14% of site visitors were using mobile devices. Today mobile traffic represents 34%. While the current website is responsive, it was built when responsive design was still in its relative infancy, so there is scope for improvement in this area. The new site will aim to improve the User Experience (UX) on users of all screen sizes, large and small.
The rebuild will feature a Store which will be driven by the Amazon Associate’s API.
I took the decision to monetize The Chemical Blog last August and signed up to Amazon Associates UK (the UK variant of Amazon’s Affiliate Program). This was more of an experiment than anything – I was interested to know if the site would bring in revenue.
As it is, The Chemical Blog brings in just over £80 a month. While this doesn’t exactly set the world on fire, if you consider this is only from UK visitors (meaning the revenue is generated by just 28% of the site’s audience) I think it’s pretty good. On the flip-side, 72% of the market for affiliate products is completely untapped. I can immediately tap into another 26% of the site’s traffic by signing up to the US variant of Amazon’s Affiliate Program. Once this is in place, I will look to grow the affiliate revenue further through the introduction of new affiliate products like online courses relating to chemicals.
I will also be launching an eBook called “100 Ways Chemistry Can Save You Money” which contains recipes for making your own chemical products – everything from air freshener and cleaning products to car care and pest control. Unlike tangible products, the entire order fulfillment process for information products is carried out online. And unlike affiliate products, the seller gets to keep all the revenue generated (save for small processing fee applied by PayPal).
I should point out that while I started The Chemical Blog it is by no means a one man operation. I work closely with talented developers, designers and copywriters to make The Chemical Blog happen. Please don’t be under the illusion that The Chemical Blog is entirely my doing – it isn’t! – there are people making all of this work and I am most grateful for what they do.
I’m very excited to see how The Chemical Blog fares over the next 3 years. It would be amazing if I could get another 3,000 daily visitors…