Open Startup: Askablogr’s Second Month

Yesterday was Askablogr’s two-month birthday. I posted earlier this week about our recent styling changes (that’s our new logo to the left), but wanted to follow up with some stats and commentary about how things are going.

First, some basic numbers for the two-month period:

  • Registered members: 145
  • Questions asked: 239
  • AdSense revenue / eCPM: $5.59 / $1.12
  • Hosting expense: $68

Traffic stats from Google Analytics for the same period:

Here’s my quick gloss on how things are going:

  • Overall: The basic functionality is solid, and with the redesign in place I’m no longer embarrassed about how the product looks. We have a long list of enhancements on deck to reduce friction for both bloggers and question askers, but our biggest gating factor right now isn’t product, it’s adoption. Andrew Chen is our star member and the model for the kind of alpha user we’re looking for: he has a unique voice, great content and an engaged reader base. As a result, he’s received almost a question a day since he first installed the widget, and has found at least nine of them worth answering. We’re still trying to figure out how to find and win the hearts of more bloggers like Andrew, but until we do we don’t expect to see much acceleration in our core metrics.
  • Product: Despite the fact that Craig’s other projects pretty much took over his calendar this past month, we’ve been able to keep moving the product forward in small ways. The redesign was the biggest chunk of shipped work, but we’re close to releasing a rework of our question asking process which removes the registration requirement for first-time users, which we hope will increase question liquidity. We’re also noodling on some tweaks that would expose our value proposition more effectively within feed readers, since many (most?) readers rarely visit the blogs they read.
  • Marketing: I still don’t have a systematic marketing approach for the product, but I’d better come up with one soon because my friends and family list is pretty well tapped out (thanks again, y’all). I’ve been dabbling with an AdWords campaign built around some long-tail keyword combinations specific to our value prop, but don’t really expect paid marketing to do more than identify unexpected pockets of interest that we can then target via personal outreach. I also have some Google Blog Alerts set up on some of the same keyword combinations, and will occasionally leave a comment introducing myself and inviting them to take a look at the product.
  • Competition: This is more a marketplace than a competitive comment, but I was encouraged to see Union Square Ventures make a bet on Disqus. Granted, those guys are a real company and have done a great job driving adoption, but Fred’s explanation of why what they’re doing is cool hits on many of the ideas behind Askablogr (I’ve excerpted a few lines from his post below):

Disqus does a few extra things that make a big difference. First, they take the comments and save them on in addition to the blog. And they create profiles for the commenters that aren’t tied to the blog hosting system. Disqus ‘abstracts’ both the comments and the commenters from the blog hosting system.”

This is exactly what we’re doing with bloggers, blog readers and the Q&A they create together via Askablogr. But we’d like to think we’ve taken the solution one step further to solve an even bigger problem that Fred highlights in the same post:

“There is one problem with blog comments – most people don’t read them. “

We think our approach of packaging and inserting reader / blogger Q&A as inline posts is a big improvement on traditional blog comment systems because it gets these conversations up into the inline posts where the average reader will find them. (P.S. to Fred Wilson – I don’t think we need your money, but if you want to sign on as an advisor I’d love to have a chance to work with you).

That’s all for now, but comments are always welcome, and (especially for you feed readers out there), you’re always invited to ask me a question.