Traditionally known as April Fools’ Day, last Wednesday, April 1 also signified the end of the first quarter here at Modern Rifleman. As we closed the book on our second year in operation (founded 4/4/2013), it was exciting to celebrate Modern Rifleman’s most successful quarter yet. Led by new partnerships, popular reviews, and timely political insight, Q1 2015 brought Modern Rifleman to new heights and I am excited to share this progress with readers.
There exists no better measure of Modern Rifleman’s success than our monthly pageview counts for Q1. As readers can see, we continued the growth trend from Q4 2014 all the way through February. This strong growth can largely be attributed to a joint effort with Rugged Suppressors, coverage of the suppressor market in general, and analysis of the ATF’s failed M855 ban proposal. Q1 saw 28,055 total pageviews compared to Modern Rifleman’s previous best of 21,482 during Q4 2014. We also recorded our best month this past February with 11,120 total pageviews.
As of today, Modern Rifleman is the 1,153,141 ranked website in the United States according to Amazon’s Alexa site rankings. Despite strong viewership growth, this reflects a significant fall in our relative site ranking. A down March is likely to blame for this statistic as readership trailed off some following the ATF’s abandonment of its proposed ammunition ban.
Last quarter, I mentioned that political articles are often sources of short-term readership infusions that seldom drive sustainable growth. The fall in readership between February and March of Q1 nails this fact to the wall. While we experienced strong short-term growth during the ATF’s M855 ammunition debacle, as soon as the proposal was abandoned, readership of M855-related articles dropped precipitously. Suppressor coverage helped to offset some of this viewership reduction, but negative growth in March can almost certainly be attributed to the cyclical nature of political articles. Top posts for the quarter and all time can be seen below. Note that reviews continue to be our strongest drivers of website traffic.
Astute readers may have noticed my uncharacteristic use of “we” to describe Modern Rifleman. While post authorship is still very much a one man job here at Modern Rifleman, I did enlist my brother to help in designing our new logo. Thanks to his design and Photoshop skills, last month we were able to design a logo that I feel brings greater legitimacy to Modern Rifleman and is a more fitting face for the site. It is simple and clean, yet bold enough to catch readers’ eyes.
I’d like to take a moment during this quarterly review to thank Henry and Michael at Rugged Suppressors for reaching out and offering us a chance to work with them on exclusive content. Our press release and Q&A were very well received among suppressor enthusiasts and it was incredibly interesting to get an inside look at this new and exciting company. This was our first direct engagement with an industry player and it absolutely has been a key reason for our Q1 success.
In order to help fund the growing (and ever more demanding) site, we opened what I like to think of as the Mk I (Mark 1) version of the Modern Rifleman webstore. Hosted by Cafepress (www.cafepress.com/modernrifleman), this provides us with an outlet to sell logo products and other firearm-themed items. Funds from this store will be poured directly into our increasing site maintenance costs. It is also likely that we will announce a fund raising effort later in Q2 that will be geared toward raising money for Second Amendment organizations like the NRA-ILA, SAF, or GOA.
As we move into Q2, I look forward to sharing more fascinating content with our readers. We are currently trending ahead of schedule for our hosting move and it is likely that space constraints and readership demands will push us to migrate within the next month or two. The introduction of tutorials has also been a highlight of this quarter and there are plenty of additional “how to” articles on the docket for Q2. On the whole, I am elated with our Q1 growth and am optimistic that this success will continue through this still-young Q2.