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Is It Worth Spending $400 to Have Your Blog Reviewed At JohnChow.com? Here’s My Experience

July 23, 2007 by  

I’d like to welcome those who have found their way here from my AdWords ads at JohnChow.com, BloggingTips.com and several others. I am currently running an AdWords campaign to see whether paying a ReviewMe is better than buying AdWords ads to drive traffic to your blog. Please subscribe to my blog RSS or via email if you’d like to see the result of this experiment when it’s posted later. Thank you!

 

I had the privilege of having Sabahan.com reviewed by John Chow recently and I can tell you it has been an interesting experience for me. I know some of my readers have been waiting patiently for me write this post.

Wait no more, because I am going to dissect the result of the review as I reveal whether it’s worth forking out $400 (that’s a jaw dropping RM1360 in Malaysian Ringgit!) to have my blog reviewed by John Chow.

John, if you are reading this, I hope you won’t get mad at me for revealing too much information that may or may not affect your ReviewMe order in any way. I doubt it will though, the supply and demand balance will always be in his favour .

The reason why I waited for nearly two weeks before I post this is because I wanted to see how the John Chow Effect affects my blog in the longer run. Sure I received a surge in traffic while the review was on his front page but does it sustained over a period of time?

Has it increased my blog’s income and my feed subscriber count? Is it a good investment?

 

Why Did I order the Review?

I should mention that I didn’t order the review to make money right away, or expect an immediate return on my investment. It’s also not an ego boost as some people may think.

It’s also not because I wanted some Google juice from a PageRank (PR) 6 blog. In case you haven’t realised this, ordering a review from a blog doesn’t get you a permanent link from the high PR page which is typically the homepage. The boost is only temporary while your link is still on the front page. Once your review gets buried, its PR is worth whatever PR the inner page has.

So if you want some Google juice, don’t order a review, buy a text link ad instead :)

I did it because I wanted to promote Sabahan.com free domain name and free hosting for life contest and what’s better way than getting a review from a big name like John Chow.

JohnChow.com gets a good amount of traffic perhaps about the same level as that of ProBlogger.net. You can see ProBlogger.net Site Meter data here.

jc-pro.png

As one of the few five star rated blogs at ReviewMe marketplace, JohnChow.com offers one of the best value for money at $400 per review. Any higher, I would have to pass.

reviewme.gif

With the exposure, I hope to get more linkbacks from other blogs that would be kind enough to give the contest a mention in their blogs. My ultimate goal was to increase traffic to my blog.

 

Did I get More People Joining the Contest after the Review?

I did get a couple of new entries as a result of the review but I am actually quite disappointed it wasn’t more than a handful!

From John’s positive review and the comments that followed, I expected new entries would start pouring in but unfortunately that didn’t happen. There were many readers who thought the contest was interesting and would consider taking part but they didn’t.

I did ask John if he could highlight (good or bad) the contest in his review and he did. But that didn’t seem to encourage more participation either. Perhaps most of JohnChow.com readers find the prizes not very appealing especially if they don’t have any intention to run another blog.

Perhaps, the requirements are too much? But I think that’s unlikely.

Anyway, I’d like to thanks those who took part in the contest as a result of the review. BTW, the contest is still running. So far I’ve given 5 free domain names and one free WordPress hosting for life to one winner.

I need two more entries for Group 6 before I could start drawing the winner for the free domain name. Full contest details here.

 

How Many Visitors Came from the Review?

Here’s where it becomes interesting. While the review did increase my traffic level over the next couple of days while it’s still on JohnChow.com front page, it didn’t bring in as many visitors as I initially anticipated. At some point it made me wonder if the John Chow effect is overrated.

The review was published on Tuesday July 10, 2007. It stayed on the top post for about 12 hours and it was off the front page on the third day. Over the course of a week, JohnChow.com has sent me 535 visits as shown in the graph below. From this, 422 are new visitors while 113 are returning. At $400 a pop, I’ve paid a pretty expensive $400 / 535 = $0.75 for each visitor!

johnchow_visits.PNG

I don’t know if spending the same amount via AdWords on JohnChow.com would bring me more traffic because I haven’t tried it. What I know for sure is that AdWords doesn’t guarantee traffic. The amount of traffic generated from an AdWords campaign would depend on how targeted my ads are to JohnChow.com’s readers. In addition, the more advertisers bidding for the same spot, the more I would have to pay to win the spot.

Update: As John Chow points out in the comment, the analysis doesn’t take into account the readers from his RSS feed. Since half of the readership comes from RSS, I would have received more traffic than the 535 visits. I agree.

Come to think of it, I might do that next. So when the results are in, I’ll share my experience in this blog for your reading pleasure. Just be sure to subscribe to my blog feed to keep you updated :)

Fortunately, the somewhat depressing traffic level sent by the review was only part of the story. Barely a few hours after the review was published, one of my posts got stumbled upon which brought in an extra 36 visitors, still not too exciting.

Now for the first time ever, I am going to reveal the number of visitors Sabahan.com gets daily to see the big picture, I think it’s important to be aware that while the number of visitors sent by the review is relatively low, the overall increase in traffic is quite significant.

While Sabahan.com traffic level is still relatively low after the increase when compared to other more established blogs, if you could attract around 800 visitors to a relative new blog dedicated to making money and blogging, I would say that’s quite an accomplishment by itself. As you can see below, my average traffic level has increased to about 50% more over the course of the same week.

johnchow-review.PNG

These new visitors seem to come from anywhere. My posts got mentioned more from other blogs too. In addition, I’ve also seen a small increase in direct traffic and search engine traffic.

traffic-increase.PNG

So if we can attribute this increase in traffic as a result of the review, I would say I am effectively paying much less than $0.75 per visitors.

 

How Has It Affected My Blog’s Income?

As I mentioned earlier, getting an immediate return on my investment is not my goal when I ordered the review, building traffic is. The increase in traffic has a positive effect of increasing Sabahan.com AdSense income. While it’s nothing to shout about, the increase is still nice to have.

Obviously there are some visitors from JohnChow.com who click AdSense, let’s find out who they are.

I find that 7.08% of the returning visitors from JohnChow.com click on my AdSense ads while only 2.37% new visitors click my ads.

adsenseclick.PNG

The following are the top 10 AdSense clickers segmented by Country. I was surprised to see countries like Australia, the US and UK are in the top 10. This is in contrast to the digg traffic that I’ve analyzed previously.

adsenseclickerscountry.PNG

It’s no surprise that the Firefox users are the best AdSense clickers as shown below. They account for 58.88% of the total visitors. On the other hand, Internet Explorer was used by 34.95% of John Chow visitors.

jc-browser.PNG

As for my other advertising program such as Kontera, ReviewMe.com and Text-Link-Ads.com, I didn’t see any meaningful increase in their income during the same period.

 

How Does It Affects My Subscribers Count?

Before the review, the number of subscribers to Sabahan.com hovers around 195 – 210. After the review, it increases to around 282. I had expected more but it’s nice to see the increase anyway. As you can see below, the number has increased gradually over time after the review was published.

subscriber.PNG

 

Was the Review worth The 400 bucks?

Since I am making more than $400 dollars from AdSense per month from several websites, I didn’t look at the ReviewMe spent as an out-of-pocket expenditure. I usually reinvested all my monthly AdSense income anyway in AdWords to promote my own products and make more money from affiliate programs.

However, I think paying $400 to have Sabahan.com reviewed anywhere is the most I am willing to spend unless I can be sure I could get a good ROI. So John, please consider this before you decide to increase your price :) . Your new price could become unaffoardable to many more people which could reduce the number of orders. (On the other hand, a higher price tag could possibly make John more money even with fewer reviews).

Is there a better way to spend 400 bucks than getting a review at JohnChow.com? Perhaps there is but I wouldn’t know whether ordering JohnChow.com ReviewMe is worth it if I didn’t try it in the first place.

If all you are looking for is to have someone to critic your blog constructively, there are other bloggers that could do that for you at a much lower price. But if you are also looking for some exposure, I would say, ordering ReviewMe from JohnChow.com is a good move. I can’t say for sure you’ll get the same result as me. Different blogs would get different results, it all depends on what you have to offer and how it relates to JohnChow.com readers.

I guess the question anyone should ask is that, how you could leverage the initial influx of visitors. Well, after you get the attention, be sure to follow that up with some higher value content that will turn the one time readers into subscribers.

So to answer the question, yes I think the review worth the 400 bucks.

 

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53 Comments »

Comment by kucau Subscribed to comments via email
2007-07-23 22:11:00

what an extensive and cool review of johnchow effect. digg and stumbled! Personally i believe only quality blog should have ordered reviewme from JCW. Yours is one of them.

 
Comment by Iry
2007-07-23 22:49:43

It interesting to see how you analysis these data, probably a tutorial on these ? :)

Comment by Gaman
2007-07-23 23:40:18

I used Google Analytics to track the data in combination with javascript.

More details here

http://www.sabahan.com/2006/05/31/find-out-who-is-clicking-you-ads-by-tracking-adsense-clicks-via-google-analytics/

 
 
Comment by Katana
2007-07-23 23:49:22

Thanks for sharing all these great details with us Gaman! :P

 
Comment by km
2007-07-24 00:48:34

Thks for sharing the information… After read your post… iknowing text ads link effect or a contest is greater than johnchow.com effect.

 
Comment by chrisblogging.com
2007-07-24 02:34:21

Thank you for sharing this case study. I have been considering ordering a review, and this definitely gave me some good insight!

 
Comment by John Chow
2007-07-24 03:05:03

Hey cool! You forgot to take one thing into account however. Half of the readership read my blog from RSS, so if you received 535 visits from my blog, you would have received the same amount from RSS but that would not show up as a referral from johnchow.com

Comment by Gaman
2007-07-24 03:13:54

You are right John. I’ve included an update in the article. Thanks for stopping by.

 
 
Comment by Kay Kastum Subscribed to comments via email
2007-07-24 08:14:09

Looks like a 400 worth spending.

 
Comment by alam
2007-07-24 09:00:32

I do subscribe for rss after read John review for your good content.

 
Comment by dott-com
2007-07-24 11:49:51

Gaman just practices the evil score that John already practices before. But it’s worth spending right Gaman.

 
Comment by bobby
2007-07-24 23:50:41

interesting insight of the high price of johnchow’s review thingie

 
Comment by Wahlau.NET
2007-07-25 10:14:29

wow…a very good research on jc review

 
Comment by mrBadak Subscribed to comments via email
2007-07-25 13:51:32

nice one – this one is sure a quality review!

 
Comment by vangardx
2007-07-25 22:59:29

hello there, i like the part you show up the statistic..

 
2007-07-26 02:44:11

Hey Gaman, you have written a great article whether to get a review from John or not. I have been considering to get one since the start of this month… But looking at my blog, I think I might need a longer time for maturity reason also… Am I right?

 
Comment by Ajibxx
2007-07-26 03:36:35

Hmm..$400 for reviewing is too much i guess..

 
Comment by Bloggrrl
2007-07-26 12:10:46

This is facinating. I am particularly struck by the idea that perhaps targeting my blog towards Romanian readers could be profitable. ;-)

 
Comment by Asela
2007-07-26 14:48:49

Hey Sabahan as U tell in this one how coem U know al those details about AdSense ads in your site Who click te ad’s in your site & all.. are U using some plugin or..?

2007-07-26 15:18:05

He’s using Analytics and a third party javascript… It’s over at this link
http://www.sabahan.com/2006/05/31/find-out-who-is-clicking-you-ads-by-tracking-adsense-clicks-via-google-analytics/

 
 
Comment by Shaun Carter
2007-07-26 15:25:53

I found my way here via the adwords you have running at JohnChow.com and I think this is one of the best JC Effect breakdowns I have seen. Nice work!

 
2007-07-26 23:19:03

do you think you would have gotten better results had you created a special ‘landing page’ for new users or users coming from John Chow’s site?

Maybe with a special ‘welcome message’ or something…welcome to sabahan.com – this is what’s hot this week, subscribe here, etc.?

Comment by Gaman
2007-07-27 00:31:27

I am testing this for a couple of days and if I think creating a special landing page could improve the results, I might do it.

 
 
Comment by Minty Blog
2007-07-27 03:18:12

thats a very nice review there but i think Johns Review is a good investment or may be not cant decide yet lol

 
Comment by Michael
2007-07-27 06:17:50

Well I must say, I enjoyed reading this. I don’t usually click on the google ads, I was going to google your website, but I clicked it. I was very interested.
My website
http://www.msbands.com barely has any readers, it had 26 at one point, and it all died. I don’t know if it could be my layout, but I realize before I start an adwords campaign I need a good layout. What would be your advice?

 
Comment by lucia Subscribed to comments via email
2007-07-27 10:10:44

What this proves is that a full review John Chow can’t drive as much traffic as a modest inconspicuous link almost hidden inside the text of a long post by a knitting blogger.

Wendy Knits sent my knitting blog 500 visitors a day for two days after dropping one inconspicuous link to my sock tips page in one of her long blog posts. I continued to have visits for weeks. The Power of Wendy. The Yarn Harlot can drive similar traffic– and sent me huge amounts several years ago.

Advertiser might want to be aware of that the real traffic is not on blogs about blogging.

 
Comment by RemodelingMySpace Subscribed to comments via email
2007-07-27 22:56:45

Hey Gaman;

DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON JOHN CHOW!!

Unfortunately, from our own experience, we DO NOT think a review from JohnChow.com is worth the $400, unless your goal is to sell something for free to teenyboppers… LOL!

We found traffic to be very poor (low quantity and low quality) and the service we received (or DIDN’T receive) from John Chow personally is an embarrassment to professional bloggers.

We paid to have John review our $5000 blogging contest because we figured John’s readers are bloggers – our target market – but we clearly DIDN’T GET WHAT WE PAID FOR. John didn’t even do the review, his ‘assistant’ did (which was never disclosed to us that this was a possibility), and it was a lackluster review at best. The only entries we got for the contest were childish spam entries (his teenybopper crowd), and mention from his readership blogs was nill (as far as we can track).

What really made this a completely horrible experience was that John has continually refused to answer any emails regarding our concerns… a virtual ‘fuck you’, while Patrick Gavin of ReviewMe has seen the light and offered us discounts on further reviews (won’t be happening, we’ve wised up to better traffic sources like StumbleUpon and niche authority sites).

John’s Alexa and Tecnorati figures are inflated and skewed by his scumbag tactics for getting traffic… want a really good laugh? Listen to John spew how ‘Google is foolish’ for de-ranking him for his tactics – & make up your own mind about John from this interview: http://www.pronetadvertising.com/articles/john-chow-speaks-out-on-google-technorati-and-more34415.html

So please don’t waste your money on John Chow – just do a little research to find niche sites to market your site on… the traffic is better, it costs less, and you’ll be happier and wiser in the end.

 
Comment by John
2007-07-27 23:11:56

Great Post! Thanks for sharing your results. I always wondered if a written review was effective. Thanks for sharing your details & stats!

 
 
Comment by Dev
2007-07-28 07:48:58

Very interesting review Sabahan. Do you feel that JohnChow is growing too fast and hence compromising on quality? It’s pretty shocking that other people are doing his reviewme reviews.

Dev from http://www.dailymoolah.com

 
Comment by pinolobu Subscribed to comments via email
2007-07-28 21:52:39

Gaman, I’d be very interested to know what you have to say about the whole JC thing after reading what remodelingmyspace and Lucia have to say above.

Comment by Gaman
2007-07-29 01:27:20

hehe

 
 
Comment by College Guide
2007-07-30 19:16:05

I’m thinking about purchasing a couple of reviews my self, this post was very helpful. Thanx

 
Comment by Tracy
2007-07-31 21:56:09

Hi,
The result :

John gave you a review.
You gave John 400 bucks.

You gave a review to John.
You got nothing!

Conclusion :
The more bigger you are, the more money and fame you earn automatically!

Cheers!

Comment by Gaman
2007-07-31 23:42:13

The fact that you are visiting this blog and care enough to leave a comment means that this blog has left an impact on you. Check out my other post about my AdWords campaign on John Chow too ;)

 
 
Comment by Atah Subscribed to comments via email
2007-08-21 06:43:00

I guess over time, the traffic decreases to your site as more reviews are done for other people.

 
Comment by BlogsTheme.com
2007-09-19 21:20:32

I enjoyed reading your post. I’ve only seen positive remarks regarding the John Chow effect, now your post it makes me think more about buying a review… Thanks a lot for sharing all this information with us!

 
Comment by zam
2008-05-13 23:14:27

why not you try video marketing. I can tell this by doing for my garden-anime.com and look very good traffic for me.

 
Comment by Richard
2009-03-01 22:06:40

Thank you for this. You have just saved me $500 (his new price of reviews)

 
Comment by partition software
2010-06-23 18:17:32

I am testing this for a couple of days and if I think creating a special landing page could improve the results, I might do it.

 
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