I have a new reason to dislike February.
Not only is it one of the coldest and bleakest months of the year, it’s also the shortest: which makes it pretty much impossible for it to ever be one of my best months for blogging. If last month had been just a couple of days longer, it probably would have been, too: as it is, however, the fact that February has just 28 days in it meant that it just missed out on that title, although it was a good month in a lot of respects. Here’s my monthly progress report, and you’ll find the other reports in this series here…
This was another really busy month for me, with various non-blogging projects taking up so much of my time and attention that there just wasn’t much left over for the blog itself. I talked about this in January’s report, but although I’m grateful to have a lot of work on at the moment, as that’s not something you can ever take for granted when you’re self-employed, I’ve also been finding it incredibly frustrating: blogging is still my main passion, after all, and although I have tons of ideas right now, I just don’t have the time to put then into action, which leaves me knowing I could be doing a whole lot better than I am!
Still, there’s nothing I can do about it right now, but the end of this busy period is finally in sight, so I’m really hoping that March will be the month when I finally get round to writing all of those posts I’ve been planning. In February, meanwhile, I published slightly fewer posts than usual, and have, once again, really been struggling to keep things ticking over while my attention is elsewhere. Despite that, I did still manage to publish a few posts which did really well: my post on Instagram fakeness was the biggest hitter of the month, and gave me one of my best traffic days ever, with just under 8,000 page views on the day it was published, and almost the same the day after, too. That post also (and somewhat ironically) helped boost both my Instagram followers and my email subscriber list, so I guess it struck a bit of a nerve with people! Although the success of the post was a little surprising to me, though, the fact that it was also the post I most enjoyed writing this month was no surprise at all: I learned a long time ago that the posts I feel most passionate about, and have to stop whatever it is I’m doing in order to get my thoughts down in writing, are almost always the ones that get the best response on the blog: enthusiasm shows, and is the main reason I prefer lifestyle blogging to sticking to a very strict niche – it means I never get bored, or run out of things to write about!
The other lesson I’ve taken from the success of this particular post is to never under-estimate the success of social media, as that’s where most of this post’s views came from – unsurprisingly, I guess, given that it was a post ABOUT social media, which made people more likely to share it there. Because I knew that would be the case, I wrote the post title and created the graphics with social media in mind, rather than Google. I know no one’s going to be using a search engine to type in “long-winded rant about social media,” so while I’m a big fan of SEO, and get a large percentage of my traffic from Google, I think it’s a good idea to think about the audience of each post you write, and where you’re most likely to find them. In this case, most of this post’s readers came from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram itself: had it been a tutorial, or some other kind of “advice” article, however, I know most of the traffic would have come from Google and Pinterest, so might have written it a little differently, in order to better target that audience.
Here’s how I got on with the specific goals I set myself back at the start of the year:
GOAL: 200,000 per month
LAST MONTH: 173,000
THIS MONTH: 167,546
February’s pageviews were lower than January’s, but, as I said, only because the month itself is three days shorter: I actually had a few really good traffic days in February, so if the months had been the same length, I think it would’ve beaten January’s total – just!
With that said, I’m still a long way off my target, although I can’t really complain too much about that, given that I’ve made very little effort towards growing the traffic this month! Again, the largest percentage of traffic came from Google, with Pinterest a close second, as usual. Interestingly, though, Facebook managed to creep into third place this month, probably because one of the few small changes I did make was to start adding older posts to my blog’s Facebook page, to promote them. I normally don’t bother with Facebook at all: each new blog post is automatically promoted there, but that’s it. This month, though, I started making an effort to go in and add older posts occasionally, and it definitely paid off: I found that the older posts I was linking to got just as high a reach (sometimes more) than the newer ones, and also got just as many comments and shares. I’ve always promoted older content on Twitter, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to start doing the same with Facebook, but it’s something I’ll definitely be continuing with.
GOAL: 20,000 followers
LAST MONTH: 12,012
THIS MONTH: 12,333
I became very disillusioned with Instagram last month, and really started wondering if this goal is even worth trying to attain, given the current state of play over there. Still, I started, so… well, I probably won’t finish, to be honest, because at the current rate of growth, I definitely won’t meet my end-of-year goal. It’s worth noting here, though, that I’m trying to grow my Instagram totally organically: so, no follow-for-follow, no Instagram pods, no automated scripts to like and comment on people’s posts. Basically, I’ve just continued to upload photos I like, follow people I’m interested in, and use relevant hashtags to try to reach a wider audience. That got me just over 300 new followers this month, which I realise is absolutely nothing compared to some Instagram users, but hey: it’s better than nothing, and at least I know those followers are genuine ones, who are (hopefully!) interested in what I actually post there! (Oh, and if you’re one of those people, by the way, you can follow me here!)
03. Email subscribers
LAST MONTH: 957
THIS MONTH: 1,073
Whoops. Yeah, I did absolutely nothing towards this goal this month, so I’m amazed that I managed to get some new subscribers anyway. One for the “to tackle in March” list, I think…
04. Write another eBook
Lol! I was so naive back when I set these goals in January, wasn’t I? Needless to say, no progress on this one either, although my existing book will be released in paperback soon, so watch this space!
05. Financial goals
Finally, to the financial goals I set myself at the start of the year. As you might recall, I’m choosing to keep the specifics of these goals private, but I do have some progress to report here, as February was one of my best months ever in terms of what I actually earn from blogging, and my income actually doubled from the previous month, mostly due to a sudden influx of sponsorships. This was obviously very good news, but just in case you think I’m bragging, I should probably point out that January was a lower-than-average month for earnings, and who knows what March will bring – so it’s swings and roundabouts, really.
One of the things that puts a lot of people off blogging professionally is the fact that it’s so uncertain, and you can have a really good month, followed by a totally dire one. There’s no real way to know how the year will pan out, either, which makes it hard not to accept every piece of work you’re offered, just in case the opportunity never comes again. Because of that, I ended up doing more sponsored posts this month than I’d ideally have wanted to: although I was happy to work with all of the brands I collaborated with, I prefer to space sponsorships out a little more, and am always a little frustrated by how last-minute these collaborations are, which makes them quite stressful to work on, especially when you’re busy with other projects, too. Still, my hard work this month will help set me up for the rest of the year now, and give me a bit of breathing space, which will be very welcome! (I’m hoping it’ll also help pay for new floors downstairs, so watch this space! Er, if you’re particularly interested in floor coverings, that is. Just me? Moving on…)
Anyway, as I said, I like to keep financial specifics private, but I use the Daily Money app to track my blog income, and I thought it might be interesting to show you a breakdown of where that income comes from, for anyone with an interest in blog monetisation. So, here’s a comparison of January and February’s income:
(Not sure why the text didn’t appear, but the brown sliver in the second chart is Amazon, i.e. ebook sales.)
So, quite a big change, although, as I said, not really a trend I see continuing. The other point to note from this is that, as you can see, RewardStyle was pretty disappointing this month. Actually, February was a really good month on RS: the problem with affiliate networks, however, is that the payment terms are really long, and you generally don’t receive your commission until the returns period on the item purchased (which can be up to 30 days) has passed. That means I’m currently awaiting payments for commission I earned back in November/December, when I wasn’t blogging much, and wasn’t blogging about outfits at all, due to ill health. (And this is why it’s hard to justify taking a break from blogging – you can still be feeling the implications of it a few months later!) Those payments, then, will obviously be lower than usual, but, again, I should make up for it this month, which has been much better – I’ll just have to wait a few weeks to actually get paid!
Finally, if you enjoyed this post, or are particularly interested in the business side of blogging, I go into all of this stuff in a lot more detail in my eBook, which is available to buy on Amazon: enjoy!