I wanted to give you all an update on my original post about Ghacks is dying from February this year.
I don't want to rehash all the post to put those up to speed who have not read it but summarize what is being said in the post.
I founded Ghacks back in 2005 and quickly realized that I could do this full-time. I quit my day job and started blogging round the clock.
Everything went well for the next couple of years. The site depended (and depends) on search traffic and there especially on Google's and when Google introduced algorithms that would compute a website's quality, traffic began to drop by a lot.
This did not happen over night and I was not the only one affected by the change. Looking around, other tech blogs, with the exception of a few, were affected negatively by this as well.
This led to sites being closed or put on hiatus (Freeware Genius, Raymond CC, others) because the earnings of those sites would not allow their owners to continue writing for them regularly.
The effect of this was that unique sites vanished which left mostly bland corporate sites to dominate search.
While I, and many others, tried to improve the quality of sites affected by this change, by cleaning it up and following suggestions, it appears nearly impossible to get out of this as you don't know why a site is perceived as being low quality.
The main gripe I have with this is that Google does not provide you with a clear definition of what its algorithm perceives as quality.
For me, it is all about serving the best content to visitors. If I have a question and a site answers it in a single sentence, then this is quality. For Google, this seems to be a sign of lack of quality because the article is too short (the general consensus is that too short articles are bad).
Anyway, the situation is bad enough that another drop in traffic or revenue would force me to make life-changing decisions as this site cannot produce a sustainable income anymore.
The site faces two major and several minor challenges right now:
- Dependency on Google search traffic
- Huge use of ad-blocking scripts.
That's the main reason I decided to try Patreon, a service that allows you to support the site (and me) directly.
This not only takes care of the traffic issues, as one-day I may not rely on it at all anymore thanks to direct support, and also ad-blocking as ad-revenue is also not an issue anymore then.
Where we are now
After I wrote the post I received an immense number of comments and incredible support from many long-time and new readers of the site.
Many whitelisted the site, others became supporters on Patreon or supported the site with a one-time donation instead.
There was unexpected support as well. Kevin offered to write articles for the site which worked out great so far. You can check out his wireless networking articles here.
As it stands right now, there are 110 patrons on Patreon that support Ghacks regularly. That's a fantastic start in my opinion especially since about the same number made a one-time donation instead.
It is clear that self-sufficiency cannot be achieved in a short amount of time and that it is rather a slow but steady walk.
We have almost reached the first milestone goal, server and hosting expenses, on Patreon alone which would ensure when reached that Ghacks remains online no matter what happens.
Since the hosting costs are expensive, I plan to find a cheaper host for the site without sacrificing speed or availability in the process.
The ad-blocking situation has not changed much. About 40% of all visitors use ad-blockers and it is unlikely that his is going to change anytime soon. I believe that this is to get worse even in the coming years.
On the traffic side of things, traffic has remained stable in the last six month period or so which is somewhat of a relief. While that is the case, there is always a chance that it will get worse and by then, I need to have found a way to keep this site up and me running it.
I'm still working on the site. Currently, I'm testing HTTPS and will enable it once every last quirk is gone.
Another change that is coming soon is that I will implement a feature to promote exceptional comments which are highlighted then similar to how it is done on Arstechnica.
Working on adding Bitcoin as an option on the donation page as well which should happen soon. If you have any suggestions for additional options or services, let me know please.
I plan to publish more of these extensive guides in the future.
Last but not least, there is a secret project that I'm working on with Andrey (Rarst) right now that would complement Ghacks in a great way.
What you can do
There is lots that you can do to help out:
- Spread the word about the situation and share articles that you find useful on social media sites and elsewhere.
- Whitelist this site in your ad-blocker. Since some of the ads are impression-based, money is earned even if you don't interact with the ad in any way.
- Become a patron on Patreon or make a one-time donation.
- Help out in other ways: if you find an article with inaccurate or old information, let me know about it so that I can update it. If you have suggestions for topics to write about, or even want to contribute articles on a regular basis, let me know as well.
- Leave valuable comments on this site.
Things are looking brighter than they did two months ago thanks to you. It is such a great feeling that something that I have created has such a dedicated and loyal following. Thanks so much!