An Uncomplicated Life Blog: A Blog Year-End Review

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Blog Year-End Review

Conducting a year-end review for your blog to increase page views and business for the upcoming year

There's two kinds of bloggers, I've found: Hobby bloggers who do this purely for fun or for family. They don't post terribly consistently, don't usually attend blog conferences and rarely know the first thing about SEO. Then there's the professional bloggers, who look at their blogs like a business. They research, learn, and attend conferences; solicit brands and change things when they don't work. I fall into the latter camp, and view this blog like my business. So, just like in the working world, I'm conducting a year end performance review, and thought I'd share it so that any other professional bloggers can do the same with their blogs and brands!

Conducting a Blog A Year-End Review 

Year-end reviews always go over successes and goals met, highlight a few really great/bright spots in the year, discuss areas for growth and set a plan to address those areas moving forward. That either sounds really dry to you or gets you really interested! Likely, if you're a professional blogger and have an entrepreneurial side, it gets you excited. Either way, I'll keep it brief. The longest year-end review I had to write was nearly 70 pages and had an indices (fact!), and aint nobody got time for dat.

I started writing these posts because to be honest, reading other bloggers goal and income/traffic reports are what's responsible for my blog's success. I started this blog with no idea what I was doing or how to grow it. I only knew that I loved writing and creating, and hoped one day I would be good enough to earn some money with it. I learned through posts like this WHAT was possible and HOW to do it. 
An Uncomplicated Life Blog: Year-End Review
  • Monetized. I successfully started bringing in consistent income through this blog. I wrote this post on how I did it and some mistakes I made, but overall I feel really good about it. I went from averaging about $50/mo in early 2015 to $250 by the spring, and well over $1,000/mo by the end of the year.
  • Learned and implemented SEO basics. I look back on what I used to title posts, and while they were clever and funny, they didn't reveal anything about the actual post. AKA, they weren't searchable, didn't use keywords and therefore, people couldn't find my content. I read up on SEO and attended two blog conferences, and Google is now in my top 5 referring sites.
  • Site traffic more than quadrupled. At the beginning of the year, I was getting about 10K page views a month. Over the summer, I had an explosive 3 months with Stumble Upon and got up to 200K page views a month. I've settled into a constantly increasing but normalized growth pattern, and now average about 50k page views a month. Not as glorious as my summer traffic, but I'll take consistent growth!
  • I learned how to use Pinterest to drive traffic. All the way up until May 2015, I thought, "lifestyle bloggers don't need Pinterest! We talk about life, how does that translate to a pinnable pin?!" SMACKS FOREHEAD. In May, I got over myself and realized that I indeed needed Pinterest. I took three solid months and focused exclusively on this channel. I read every Pinterest article I could find, took my followers from about 280 to over 1,400, started creating pinnable images in my posts and now Pinterest is always in the top 3 traffic drivers to my site. If you're interested in doing the same for your blog, read this.

  • Getting my first real check was pretty awesome! I had done posts for product in 2014, but actually getting money to write and do what I love was AMAZING.
  • I was featured via One2One Network.
  • This post was my most viewed in 2015, and I'm so so so thrilled at the supportive response I got from it! It's true, I was paid for it, but it goes to show that when you tell your personal story about utilizing a product, people connect with both you and the brand - and that makes both you and the brand some very happy campers!
  • My sponsor chose to pay to promote this post for me on their social media channels. They have nearly 5 million followers! I got the traffic boost and they got the promoted message. Another example of a blog-brand collaboration win-win. Because of their promotion on my post, it was my second most viewed post of 2015.

Improvements needed:
  • Instagram. Photography doesn't come naturally to me. I have to think about images and plan and edit them. Basically, images are the most work behind all blog posts for me. Instagram is like it's own driving force of images and your blog's brand. You can't hyperlink in it (yet?! I hope that changes in 2016) so it's not a traffic driver to your blog - it's simply it's own thing that can make you money, support your brand, or ultimately end up hurting your brand if it's not done well. I think my account is decent. I want it to be GREAT. And running a GREAT Instagram account is nearly as much work (to me) as running this blog.
  • Diversification. The bulk of my blog's income comes from two sources. I need to diversify that if I ever want to make full-time level money blogging. Late in 2015 I added affiliate links but I need to learn how to implement these well/effectively. I was also just accepted to two more brand-blogger connection agencies - SITS Girls (iSway) and Pollinate Media Group. I need to continue diversifying who pays me to really round out a solid income stream in 2016.
  • Fashion posts. I started doing more fashion-focused posts at the end of 2015 - mostly on Instagram. And I was overwhelmed with the response! Pea in the Pod, Mothers In Protest, Warby Parker, and countless others all reached out and said, "We want to work with you!" As a non-fashionista, I'm shocked. And flattered! I need to determine if this is something I want to focus just my Instagram on (see first bullet above) or if having a regular series is blog-worthy. 
  • Photography. Ahhh, photography. See bullet one. But apply it to my blog, too. Add in the fact my host is Blogger, and it changes your images up (read: lowers the quality) despite the best editing. I *think* I've figured out how to get my images the same size (no, it's not as simple as sizing them the same pixels, not on Blogger!) and I've really worked to improve them (see my point about Pinterest) but when I see great blogs with great shots, I realize how far I have yet to go.

Plan for improvements:  
  • Take a photography course. Thank goodness I live in a massive city, with ample access to both community colleges and photography stores and centers. The Dallas Photography Center offers a ton of classes - day long, weekend long, or multiple week stuff. I want to take one of those to work on improving both my blog and Instagram images.
  • Utilize the different income streams I have access to. I'm now a member of seven blog-brand connectors, and just added an 8th. Being a member is the first step, but doesn't translate into income unless I utilize those resources! I want to make it a point to interact with these people and the brands they represent frequently to increase and diversify my income. 
  • Start DOING. A lot of blogging is planning and preparing. You see it in editorial calendars, and in blog groups of Facebook that have endless questions from potential bloggers doing their research before they actually start DOING. Heck, when I go to blog conferences, I usually meet at least a handful of attendees who haven't even launched a blog yet! They're "busy planning and getting ideas" for their potential, future blog. WHAT? Seriously? Having a plan is cool, but you need to start acting on it! Case in point, my ambivalence about fashion. I can plan, read up on, scheme and strategize for months on that... But who the heck knows what will actually happen until I start DOING it? My best advice for other bloggers is to get moving and start doing, so I'm going to take a page from my own book (like that pun?!) and just start doing things to see what works and what's successful there. 

That's the breakdown! It's really interesting to think back on this year and give it a thorough, comprehensive review. This process has helped me plan well into 2016 and has given me tons of ideas and concepts to work on moving forward. If you're looking to take your hobby blog to the next level or already are a professional level blogger, use this year end review template to conduct your own review to advance your brand and your blog in the coming new year!


  1. Great ideas to think about, thanks for sharing.

  2. This is a great way to analyze how well your blog is working for you! I am definitely going to do this so I can see continued growth throughout the new year!

  3. I think it's great that you've been able to improve your blog so much in this last year - being able to make a little money with it is always great!! Makes me happy when I buy something with solely blog income! Plus Gary can't say anything about it haha! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  4. I definitely fall into that second half of the blog business type. This is such a great post to save and then go back and really analyze. I have never done a blog edit but you have inspired me to hold my business accountable and do this!

  5. I love this! While I started 2015 as a hobby blogger (hadn't made a dime off the blog) who wanted to become a professional blogger, I am finished the year making consistent money off my blog, with increased page views, and real hope of turning it into a career. You had an amazing year on your blog! So many exciting things going on! I'm totally with you on Instagram too. It doesn't come naturally to me, and it's one of my biggest goals for 2016. I don't do fashion on my blog, but I would also like to start incorporating some into my Instagram! Can't wait to see what you do in 2016!

  6. I think it's really important to self evaluate anything that you are passionate about and which you invest time and money. It sounds like you've done an awesome job over the past year and I hope you much success in 2016!

  7. This is awesome Paige! You've done a great job really turning this blog into a business this year. I fall somewhere in between the 2 categories, but am working on moving to the latter, once I can get my ish together and get into a routine and better schedule. Excited to see what 2016 has in store for you!

  8. Thanks for this blog post! I am going to do this and see where I stand. So glad you have had a great year.

  9. I love how you broke all of this down. I need to do this - heck - perfect way to spend my *fingers crossed* last sick day.

    Also - MEGA congrats on all the awesome stuff you've accomplished. 2016 is definitely a year that I hope for growth - now I just need to get it down in writing.

  10. Damn girl, you are on fire. I feel honored that you respond to me when you have that many readers.
    You've consistently grown and out in the work,mom so proud and happy for you!! I think I, too, fall somewhere between the two categories. I had Adsense going and I actually removed it. It was mentioned it cheapened the look, and I agreed. Now I'm doing a few sponsored posts and I've connected with a huge pet blogging organization, who knows where this will lead.

    Hurry up and have yo' baby! ;) xoxo

  11. I love this idea, definitely something I will be doing!

  12. Thank you for sharing all of this!! I love seeing how other bloggers are growing and succeeding in their journey. You always write such relatable info... I feel like I could have written this post! I wished we lived closer bc I'd love to grab a coffee with you and chat all things blog and growing out brands. Great job this year and the best for next!!

  13. I'm doing my reader survey now and I reached out to those I sponsored because they have read my blog and promoted my work. I wanted to see what they thought. I opened it up to my readers as well and plan on promoting it on social media until the 21st! I think this will give me a great overview of what my readers think. I also have signed up for two webinars and finishing Helene's Quit Your Job course this month. All of this is to help me plan and implement things into next year.

  14. I appreciate you sharing this with your readers! I have been blogging off and on since 2010... was fairly active until I had my first son. Then started another blog about homeschooling, and never go into it, as I didn't want to just focus on that one small part of my life. I'm starting from scratch with a new blog, trying to get an audience.... I will definitely make goals for this next year, so at the end I can hopefully have some successes to report! :-)

  15. Great idea! My blog has been mostly hobby but this year I decided to open it up a little more to the business side as well. It's always great to see what worked and what didn't for others as well!

  16. Hi there! I found your blog from Life with Rosie Blog/Chelsie and noticed you're from Dallas. I'm here in Houston and was just wondering if you could share the blogger conferences you enjoyed? I just hit my first year blogging (about beauty), and of course, looking to grow, learn and improve for 2016. Thanks in advance and good luck with all of your strong goals this year! Steff @