They say that the one thing constant in this world is change. And, that’s true.
Problem is, when you simply refuse to change with the times, it is all too easy to be surpassed. The universe waits for no one.
One thing I have demonstrated to myself is that I’m REALLY good at going steady. I’m the dedicated type… and once I start something, I usually keep running with it.
And that’s the story with me and my tech site – PCMECH.COM.
But, it is time to part ways with this site. In some ways, it is almost like therapy to get to a point where I say that publicly. After all, it is PCMech.com where I learned to do what I do. It is PCMech which helped me launch into this market, to have any idea what I’m doing. It is PCMech which served as that bridge between what would have been an almost certain life in a cubicle… to what I do today.
So, me and PCMech have been “besties”. 🙂 But, sometimes you outgrow your friends.
So, in this post, I’m going to share:
- The background of PCMech
- Where it stands today
- Why I simply need to quit and let go
- What I’d like to do with it, and how it could be an opportunity for one of my readers.
Let’s do it.
The Background of PCMECH.COM
PCMech started as a hobby. I was just a freshman college nerd who thought it’d be cool to start a website talking about an interest: computers. This was in the late 90’s and it was much easier to grow a website back then because… well, there just weren’t many good sites.
So, I started this site talking about how computers worked, how to do various upgrades, how to build a PC, etc.
Traffic grew. I also began expanding and checking out other sites in the tech niche (which was extremely immature at the time). I talked with a few other site owners and the potential business angle of a site like that began to take shape in my head. Banner advertising was like a damn gold rush back then, so I repositioned PCMech to be able to take advantage.
It worked. I bought the domain of PCMECH.COM in 1998, moved to an official host, began taking content more seriously, and began pursuing banner advertising.
In the next few years, things evolved. I expanded the editorial team beyond myself, I fielded an offer to buy the site… and the resulting flop of that company who bought it led me into the arena of direct sales of product. This introduced me to the worlds of internet marketing and ecommerce.
At the height, PCMECH.COM was seeing about 300,000+ unique visitors monthly. Over a million page views. Revenue was certainly over the six figure mark. And it was during this same timeframe that I decided to expand my activities beyond the tech space. I was certainly interested in the world of marketing, seeing as I was doing it for PCMech and finding success doing so. So, I began what turned into DavidRisley.com, and eventually into the Blog Marketing Academy.
And that changed everything…
The Day Google Slapped The Hell Out Of PCMech
We’ve heard all about them. The notorious Penguin, Panda and other animal updates from the big “G”. Well, that shit was real, let me tell you. And PCMech got hit. Hard.
As you can see in this long-range traffic graph, PCMech got smacked in early 2011. And it got smacked hard. It then steadied out in a lower range for while (although still on a slight decline), then got hit again by another Google update in early 2013.
Now, is it ALL Google? Should I just sit here and blame Google? No, not at all.
See, it is those periods of abrupt change which were primarily Google, but the numbers show there was a steady decline anyway. I think there are a few factors which went into all this:
- I wasn’t truly running the show anymore, as my attention and passions had shifted to DavidRisley.com and related businesses. This is, by far, the biggest factor.
- As a result of my other focus, I was relying on other writers to float PCMech from a content perspective. Because I wasn’t actively driving the ship, and my writers didn’t have the same passion (they were just earning a paycheck), the content dropped in quality because it was more about quotas than actually writing something truly good.
- That reflected itself in social activity, and PCMech has never had a big presence in the social media space. And we know Google looks for that as a sign of quality.
- The tech space has changed ALOT, and we were simply being outflanked constantly by higher quality technology sites.
Obviously, this whole thing affected revenue. PCMech dropped below the six figure mark in revenue. I had to let some writers go. The only reason PCMech was still doing as well as it was from a business perspective is because I had set up an in-house recurring revenue stream. That was quite the novel concept in the technology market when I did it.
You want to know why I teach my Academy students not to depend on the likes of banner ads? IT IS BECAUSE OF THIS. 🙂
Where PCMech.com Stands Today
Today, I look at PCMech kind of like an old house. That house used to be bustling, but today it is more of an old house in need of remodeling. With the right person, it could be remodeled and made extremely cool again.
But, are things completely dried up at PCMech.com today? No. Here’s the basic stats:
- Between the forums and the content portion of the site, traffic is sitting at around 3,000 visitors daily.
- The in-house membership is still going, and banner advertising is currently with Adsense exclusively (mainly because I didn’t want to take the time to pursue any other ad sources).
- Monthly revenue is sitting in the neighborhood of $2,000/month. Certainly not what it used to be, but it doesn’t completely suck either.
- The site currently has an email list of about 20,000 people. There’s likely overlap between lists, so real-world unique emails are likely in the 15K-16K range. The emails are in Aweber.
For most of the site’s life, it has been in the business of unique content written for techies. More recently, in an effort to change things up, I changed the approach over to a curation model. The thought there was twofold:
- I simply didn’t want to put the work into creating content of high enough caliber to compete in the tech space. It is a noisy market and if you’re going to do it, you have to bring your game.
- Given #1 above, I thought an interesting value-add to the market would be in a position of finding the best of the best and surfacing it. I still enjoy keeping up with tech and finding new tools… I just don’t enjoy having to write about them.
The curation setup is new. I’ve got a cool system designed for it – and honestly I’m sure that I could do some cool things with it if I pursued it wholly – but there’s still this problem…
I don’t want to.
Which brings me to the next phase…
Why I Think The End Is Now
My mastermind group knows that I’ve been flirting with this thing for awhile now – not exactly willingly.
There’s this part of me which remains very stubborn about keeping things going once I’ve started them. Plus, from a business perspective, there’s a few factors:
- It feels almost like a defeat to give up on PCMech after the stats have dropped. The tiger in me wants to go in there and resurrect it… and quite frankly, if I weren’t much more passionate about Blog Marketing Academy, I’m pretty sure I could go into PCMech and do exactly that.
- The selling price on a site like this isn’t as high as one might think, especially when people see what has happened to the stats over the last 3+ years.
- The site isn’t exactly crap, though. It is still getting respectable traffic and making me an almost completely hands-off income each month. I have systems set up in such a way that the site doesn’t take me a lot of time to run, so the site is just a hair above the “passive income” category. Should I be walking away from that?
My mastermind group has been of the opinion for awhile now that I should part ways with PCMECH.COM. Their argument is that it is robbing me of my focus and therefore harming my ability to realize my full potential in other areas of the business – namely Blog Marketing Academy. Plus, there is a future for me in other markets if I wanted to pursue that, but there is simply no way I could pull that off with PCMech still hanging from my neck.
The more I think about it, the more I come to realize that they’re right.
Truth is… FOCUS WILL MAKE YOU RICH.
We’re not talking light focus, but relentless focus.
And, while PCMech doesn’t occupy much of my time – and I’ve been using that as my excuse to keep it around – the truth is that the mere fact that it is there DOES SUCK UP SOME OF MY ATTENTION.
The truth is that I simply am not motivated to deal with PCMech anymore. I don’t really care about the tech space anymore. That’s been going on for awhile, which is why I allowed the stats to drop without doing anything about it. If I were 100% dedicated to PCMech, that traffic graph above would NOT look like that. The fact that it dropped and just kept on going… that is solely because I was focusing on something else.
I only have so much attention to give. So much throughput. And, if I’m allowing those available attention units to get sucked up into other things, it decreases the success of EVERYTHING else I am doing.
It means I can’t get totally dialed in. There’s nothing worse than feeling obligated to do something that you just don’t feel like doing. It affects your energy.
So, that’s why I need to part ways with PCMECH.
When I started that website, I was 18 years old. I never in a million years thought I’d be sitting here at the age of 35 still dealing with it in any way.
But shit… 17 years is a good run, right? 😉
Now What? What Do I Want To Do With PCMech Now?
That is the question, isn’t it?
Well, as I said above, I began down the road of resurrecting it. But, that doesn’t solve my problem. So, the other three options are simple:
- Sell it
- Simply unplug it and go dark.
- Turn it off and let the site die on its own inertia.
Unplugging it is the worst option. As I said above, the site still has respectable assets, so simply pulling the plug seems an awful waste. Plus, it would be very disrespectful to people who do visit the site and read it, including forum members. It would also make me deal with existing memberships and the fact they wouldn’t be delivered, so I’d need to refund a bunch of people and basically make matters right with them.
I could simply stop updating anything and let the site coast. This is a more viable option, but the issue of existing members would still be an issue. I wouldn’t want to pay somebody money and then simply have them change their mind and decide not to deliver. Bad karma, and I don’t play that way.
The ideal solution, as I see it, is to hand over the reigns to somebody with the desire and motivation to run with it.
One thing I know is that it is a lot easier to grow a site which already has inertia than it is to build one up from zero. Plus, PCMech.com is an 17-year old aged domain, has a shit-ton of content sitting there, has a member base, an email list, a forum. The way I see it, PCMech is like a decent sized ship at sea where the throttle has been thrown back to idle and the ship is coasting. If somebody took the helm and threw the throttle forward again, stuff could happen.
I’m not saying the tech space is an easy market. It most certainly isn’t. Honest truth… if I were to start over again today, I would NOT start a tech site. 🙂 But, people do succeed in that space. It does require passion, though… and that I just don’t have anymore.
Are You Interested In Taking Over PCMech?
There are two options here:
- I simply sell it, wash my hands of it.
- I enter into a partnership with somebody, let them run it, and we profit share.
I’m not going to get into details on this post, but if this is something you might be interested in, you can contact me by emailing email@example.com.
I’m probably going to let my PCMech audience know about this as well, because there may be some people already very familiar with the site who might be interested in such a thing. But, I also had the thought of somebody here in the Academy community who may be interested in the opportunity to step into an existing business, see the challenges, and be willing to give it a go.
I have not listed the site anywhere, including Flippa. That may be in the cards, but I thought I would explore any possible options from people in my own audience first.
Confronting The Unconfronted
There’s so many business lessons I learned by operating PCMech. I learned so much during the process of building it up… but I’ve also learned alot on the flip side.
The first step to handling any problem is confronting it. Being able and willing to confront it.
With this PCMech thing, I haven’t been confronting it. I’ve been kicking the can down the road. I’ve been treating Blog Marketing Academy like my “real” business and basically letting PCMech coast.
If I had been doing things correctly, I would have been looking to sell PCMech much earlier. As soon as I saw my entrepreneurial ADD kick in and start paying attention to other more interesting things, I should have recognized the writing on the wall and moved to sell PCMech. If I had done that, I would have offloaded it during its height and made a lot more money selling it.
So, there’s a life – and business – lesson there.
Keep your eye on your true goals. Don’t put your head in the sand. Don’t fall for the trap of thinking that you have to continue everything you’ve started.
I might be a little late, but on this one, I’m ready to end phase one. I’m ready to finally disconnect from the site which got me started in this business…. and plant my eyes firmly forward.