Why conducting a year end blog review is critical to improving your blog
Last year I wrote this post on why conducting a year end blog review is critical to having a successful blog - in whatever sense of the word success means to you. Some people want to make blogging their career and some just want to speak their truth and make friends in the blogging community. Any way you slice it, reviewing your work, celebrating your successes, admitting your weaknesses and creating a plan for the next year will greatly improve your blog!
I like to start on a positive so I'm starting off listing my major wins for the year. Then I'll admit some areas that I didn't do as well on, follow it with some strengths and end of my action plan to address my losses and weakness for next year. Here's how 2016 went for me and my blog:
- First pin went viral with over 30k repins that brought me 40,000+ page views just to that post! Which post you ask? Fall maternity style. I was shocked - that pin was a picture taken with an iPhone. Don't ever let people tell you you have to have fancy equipment, pay for website hosting blah blah blah to be a successful blogger. I started earning thousands a month with an iPhone 6 plus and a free Blogger hosted blog!
- Several more pins went viral with thousands of repins and tens of thousands of page views: DIY Acne Clearing Face Wash, Bringing Home a Second Baby, DIY Sunscreen, DIY Acne Clearing Toner. It makes me so excited that my DIY's with essential oils took off and that there's such a large interest for people to ditch conventional, chemical laden products.
- I reached over 10,000 people ORGANICALLY on Facebook with my Why Breastfeeding Moms Are Annoying post. Yes, I got many nasty comments and emails but you know what? When the haters start popping up out of the woodwork, you know you're becoming successful!
- I transitioned all my blog's photography and all my Instagram photos to DSLR camera images. Oh yeah, and I learned how to shoot in manual mode on the DSLR.
- Speaking of Instagram, I grew from about 5,000 followers to over 17k, with most of the growth happening after August! I finally found my aesthetic. But man, I could easily spend 40 hours a week just on Instagram - it's so much work.
- I've given up working with a few PR companies. Their demands for what they paid just wasn't worth it. And giving those up meant my income plateaued instead of continuing to rise month over month.
- I got several bids to do a site design re-vamp but never pulled the plug. At first I was going to switch to Wordpress, then decided against it for this year. Then I wanted to re-do this Blogger site but thought, heck if I'm switching to Wordpress in the future, I should just stick with what I have and redesign it when I make the move. I wish I would have done it! This site is pretty, but the features and design are dated. Ahh well, something to add to my 2017 goals.
- I started the year accepting sponsored posts from brands at their initial payment offer. Never accept the low ball number they first offer you! Hell, I knew better than this, I've negotiated all my salaries up when I worked a traditional job. I don't know what I was thinking. I'm blaming a newborn. By late summer, I got smarter and negotiated my payday up successfully (using data and examples to prove my worth to the brand). But I missed out on thousands because I botched the first half of the year. Whoomp.
- Consistency! I post every Monday and Thursday without fail. If I know I'm going to be busy or traveling, I work ahead. I believe my consistency is what's led to a large part of my monetary success with this blog. Brands know they can depend on me to deliver and readers know when to show up for new content, always.
- Instagram marketing. I've created so many great brand partnerships via my Instagram account! I'm really happy I chose to focus on that this year; it's paid off wonderfully.
- Authenticity. The biggest feedback I get when I work with brands is that I speak with an authentic voice. I don't shoot rainbows out of my butt with everything I talk about, and that's admired by readers and brands alike.
Areas for improvement
- Update the site's features and design. I plan to get this project off the ground ASAP in 2017, and have already started working with my designer on it. I'm excited for a fresh look for the new year!
- Enlarge my images. Now that I have high quality DSLR photos, I need to figure out the sizing issue on my blog. Long story short, I cannot for the life of me size them correctly to fit the full dimensions of my blog. I know, it should be so simple, but for whatever reason, it's not. I'll save you the boring struggle story of Paige and the Pixels.
- Do more video. If you're in marketing, you've heard that some 70% of what's viewed on social media is projected to be video in the next year or so. I need to figure out some sort of way to get in on that. It's easy if you're a food or beauty blogger but what about mom/lifestyle?! Ugh, brainstorming sesh needed. I hate video! Real fact: I didn't even get a wedding video because I hate watching myself. I find it so awkward to watch myself speak! I NEED to get over this.
- Find new PR companies to work with and start pitching brands. I didn't pitch a single brand in 2016. Not one. My income was solely from brands reaching out to me. That was a huge missed opportunity! I'm hoping I have more capacity to form business relationships in 2017 as my kids have gotten older and I'll have both the boys in preschool several days a week for a few hours.