The 2015 Blog Report: What Worked, What Didn’t and What’s Changing
A few weeks ago, I read this post from Paige at An Uncomplicated Life about the importance of doing a year-end blog review. Then earlier this week, I poured over Jaelen’s blog report for the year (Jaelen is KILLING it over there at Making Mrs. M. She’s inspired two of my posts this week!) I had been chewing on the idea of doing a blog report for a few weeks now, but was a little hesitant to sit down and actually dig in. I think was afraid of what I was going to find! However, I’m really glad I decided to put together a 2015 blog report; I discovered some pretty surprising things about my traffic and stats and have been able to see what to focus on in the new year! I’ve never show so many stats before, but not for any reason in particular. I know I love reading about other people’s stats and seeing how they are rocking their blog. So, here we go:
2015 Blog Stats:
(February 1st – December 31st)
Total Pageviews: 85,361
-First Tri: 8,701
-Second Tri: 16,607
-Third Tri: 60,008
Average Time on Site: 3:52
Bounce Rate: 48%
25% of my visitors are new to my site
75% of my visitors are returning to my site
91% of my audience is Female
32% of my traffic came from social media
Facebook is my largest source of social media referral, followed by Pinterest
Facebook Fans: Grew from 0 to 945
Pinterest Followers: Grew from 328 to 1400
Twitter Followers: Grew from 28 to 1450
Instagram Followers: grew from 238 to 2700 (Dustin says this is a 1034% growth!!!)
Email Subscribers: Grew from 0 to 197
What I Can Learn from My Stats:
1. It is super motivating for me to see my page views double after the first trimester (4 months) and then almost quadruple in the last trimester of the year! I attribute this to a number of things: I narrowed down my niche mid-way through the year. I quickly found out that I am not a craft blogger and a few months later, realized I wasn’t super passionate about food blogging, either. I thought briefly about posting recipes again in December, but the day I sat down to shoot my food, I just couldn’t get the photos right and it just wasn’t clicking for me. I realized that this is OKAY! I don’t have to write about everything! I found more passion and drive writing about beauty/fashion, blogging and overcoming my personal obstacles to chase my dreams and as I narrowed my content down to those topics, I began to understand what audience I was writing for and how to get them to stay!
2. I worked really hard on some sponsored posts to make them as honest, authentic and true to myself as possible and was rewarded by having those posts boosted by the companies I worked with! My post about how Rosie changed my life brought in 11,000 page views alone! I think this really goes to show that when I am honest with myself and try as hard as I can to be ME instead of trying to be like someone else, I really reap the benefits. Not only did that post bring in over 300 dollars to my wallet, but I got to share something so personal and important to me and have thousands of people read about it!
3. Pinterest is where the sustainable pageviews are. Another reason why my traffic nearly quadrupled in the last four months of last year is because I got serious about Pinterest. I finally found my groove in creating pinnable images and narrowed down my strategy with Pinterest, along with trying out a Pin70 group and getting on to some awesome group boards. I only posted 12 times in December instead of my usual 20 and because of Pinterest, my page views still doubled what they were originally pulling the trimester before on the days there was no new content.
4. The pins that performed the best for me this last year were the ones for Travel Oregon, Best Blushes under 7 Dollars, 7 Lipsticks for Fall and Survivor’s Guilt & Anxiety. Kind of a broad range, but I can take away from this that makeup posts do well on Pinterest, especially if they offer something educational or in list format. I was surprised to see so much traffic come in from my Life after Cancer post, but there is a specific audience on Pinterest that have boards dedicated to cancer and after that pin was posted to a couple of them, it just exploded!
5. I had no clue that Facebook was my number one referrer from my social media profiles, which makes me nervous because the Facebook algorithms are constantly changing and making it harder to reach my audience organically. Recently, I’ve been changing up my posting habits to my FB page and have seen an increase in organic reach, but I definitely want to work on finding other sources of traffic that are a bit more sustainable (like Pinterest) instead.
Successes of the Year:
Monetizing – For someone who started blogging seriously in the last year, I’m pretty dang proud of myself for being able to successfully monetize my blog by the end of the year. Although I struggled at first with trying to figure out how to monetize (which resulted in some pretty poor posts with affiliate links) I feel like I was able to figure out how to monetize it without being sleazy or sneaky. I learned to only take opportunities for products I genuinely had a connection with and could write honest posts about. The month of November resulted in my highest income yet and I’m able to finally pay for all the things I want and need to run this space on my own!
Clicking with Instagram – Like my stats show above, I was able to grow my Instagram account by 1034% and 95% of that growth came after I stopped participating in follow for follow threads around September. Instagram has quickly become my favorite platform, probably because I’ve dabbled in photography for so long and I’m excited to see such an engaging and inspiring community when I open up my app! I know so many people have been asking about my Instagram strategy and for some more information on how I’ve been approaching it. After reaching out to some of my favorite communities (and getting a resounding positive response) you can expect to see some information coming your way about Instagram and how I’ve been using it right after my rebrand launches!
Where I want to Change in 2016:
Diversify my Income – One of my big goals for this year is to diversify my income; I don’t want to solely rely on sponsored opportunities to keep my blog and business afloat. I know that there are so many other avenues to explore to help pay for the things I use to run this site!
Stock Photography – I feel like I have a good grasp on my DSLR camera (I took several courses in college) but still struggle with getting good stock photographs for my site! I’d love to use ALL of my own photos, even for the title images and not rely on others for pretty flat lays.
Updating old posts and making them better (or deleting them)- Okay, if you want to know where I started from when I launched this blog, take a peek at one of my very first posts (at the time, I was very proud of this post.) I want to go back, edit up my old posts that are not very clear or well done, adjust them so they are evergreen and get them circling again now that I have a stronger following and know what I’m doing (kinda) on Pinterest.
Writing for you (and me) – Thanks to all who opened up and gave me some awesome feedback on my reader survey last week. I loved getting to hear what others have enjoyed and what they want to see more of (personal stories are apparently a huge hit!). One of my biggest goals is to get back to writing for you and me. The holidays saw a huge push of sponsored posts and after getting all of that out there, I’m ready to take some time and focus in on writing content that is of value to you and enjoyable for me to write.
Managing my time/schedule – I’m still not 100% perfect at optimizing all the time I have in a day. I usually do great through the morning but by the early afternoon, I’m ready to Netflix and have a hard time getting back into the swing of things after. I’m working on setting myself actual office hours with breaks in between for snacks and HGTV, along with scheduling everything out in advance
What I WON’T be doing in 2016:
Follow for Follow: It took me a long while to figure out that this was NOT the way to grow an audience or be successful or honest in blogging or business. I remember a few months ago I was scrolling through my Instagram feed (I was following almost 900 people at the time) and thinking: “Who the heck are these people?” and “I cannot relate to this photo at all” (a picture of a naked baby with food all over her face.) I want to be in complete control of who I am interacting with so that I can continue to find people who I’m writing for and connect with people who actually interested in what I have to say.
Facebook Like Threads (all or nothing): Like I mentioned, Facebook’s algorithms are crazy and always changing. It kind of hit me over the head when I had 158 people like a facebook post and it had only been seen organically by 88 people. I thought to myself: “This is a complete waste of my time.” I’d rather just let the pieces fall where they may when it comes to organic reach and work on curating content to share on that page instead. News flash: since I stopped doing those threads, my organic reach has been through the roof.
Saying yes to everything: There were a few points last year where I was so excited about all the opportunities being sent to me that I just said yes to everything I felt I could tie into my blog. This resulted in me being very burnt out at times, and some posts that were not as well done as they could have been. I also had some companies that I worked with that were a bit sketch and that resulted in not getting paid for a long time for my work. This year, I’m going to be extra picky and choosy about what which brands I choose to work with; for my sanity and in order to make sure I can put my very best work out there!
Wow, that was a ton of information to go over. All in all, I’m really proud of myself and all the growth I saw in this space since I first started seriously blogging in February. I’m also really pumped to jump into 2016 head first, to tackle some new projects and to make this year even bigger and better than last year!
Have you done a blog review before? What strategies are you going to use (or not use) in 2016? Did you learn anything from my stats?