I really didn’t expect to be able to increase my blog’s traffic in December – so much so that I didn’t even bother setting a goal for it, in fact.
Actually, between the holiday season (which always means there are less people around to look at blogs), plus the fact that I was ill for most of the month, I was really expecting there to be a drop in traffic, as there has been every other December. So I’m absolutely amazed to report that over the course of December, the site got a total of 160,000 pageviews, making it my best ever month so far in terms of traffic. Here are the stats:
Pageviews: 166,771 (last month 150,835)
Unique Visitors: 65,520 (last month 56,296)
And how did I manage to increase my blog’s traffic, despite the usual holiday slump? Er, I dunno, really. *Looks embarrassed.* This month was a real struggle for me: the fact that I was ill for most of it really affected my motivation, and I had absolutely zero energy most of the time. November had been a really good month for the blog, but by the start of December, I was honestly feeling pretty burnt out, and totally lacking in motivation. I suspect most of this month’s success, then, had absolutely nothing to do with anything I did, and was mostly down to a roll-on effect from the previous month, and some posts that continued to do well. Here’s my top performing content in December:
Top Content: Most Viewed Posts
The dip in traffic you can see on the graph came on Christmas Day, but there were also a few peaks in traffic, which came from the November Blog Traffic Report, my post on how I managed to double my traffic from Pinterest, and the “What Happened When My Husband Did My Makeup” post. This is pretty much identical to what happened last month, and I discussed why I think these particular posts did well in my November Traffic Report, so I’ll spare you any more analysis of that, and simply say that I guess the main lesson to be taken from this month is that if something works, you may as well keep on doing it!
This month was also the first time that a couple of my older posts were pushed out of the ‘Most Viewed’ list by newer ones, which is really encouraging. The same posts had been the best-performing ones on the site for literally years up until this month, but while they’re still doing well, and are getting the same amount of traffic they always did, I now have a few newer posts which are doing even better. I’d been getting quite discouraged by the fact that my “best” posts (in terms of pageviews) were ones I’d written years ago, so hopefully this is a sign that I’m doing something right: I just need to try to work out what it is!
Top Content: Most Commented Posts
December wasn’t a great month for comments – partly due to the holiday season, and also partly because I decided to do a series of outfit posts, which never get many comments. With that said, two of my outfit posts did make it into this list (and they do bring visitors to the site, which is why I keep on doing them!), and one of those (the ‘Four Ways to Wear a Pink Tulle Skirt‘ post) was actually a sponsored post, which I found interesting: that post was also one of the most viewed posts of the month, so maybe that’s a sign that readers aren’t quite as opposed to sponsored content as you might assume. I always do my best to try to make sponsored posts as close a fit to the rest of the content on the site as possible, and I think that’s the only way to do it, really. If you’re writing about something you genuinely love (and I really love that skirt!), and which isn’t a huge departure from your usual style, it should be possible to make it interesting to your readers, even although it’s sponsored. Or that’s the idea, anyway…
My most commented post was ‘What Happened When I Let My Husband Do My Makeup‘, closely followed by the November traffic report. I tend to find that my blog-related posts get the most comments these days, which is handy, because they’re some of my favourite posts to write, too. I know they’re not relevant to all of my readers, which is why I try to ration them to one a week, but they’re often amongst the most commented and the most viewed of the month, so I’m glad I decided to start doing them, even although at the time it was something I worried would just bore people. As I said in this post, though, if you’re trying to grow your blog, and not having much success with it, it can be a really good idea to try writing about something new (assuming it’s something you’re genuinely interested in): you never know where it might take you!
Google was, as always, my top referrer this month: I know a lot of bloggers (especially fashion/lifestyle bloggers) who don’t pay much attention to search engine optimisation, assuming it’s not worth bothering about, but ranking well on Google for keywords related to your blog’s topic will REALLY pay off, and will keep on paying off for years. Even once a post has long-since been forgotten by your readers and social media followers, it can continue to send you traffic from Google, and those visitors tend to be the ones that are most likely to click on adverts, so if you’re using a pay-per-click model, like Adsense or Shopsense, paying attention to SEO will really help.
Pinterest was another big referrer of traffic this month, and I had over 17,000 visits from the site, compared to just under 12,000 last month. This was really interesting to me, because having tried a ton of techniques in November, which had resulted in me doubling my traffic from Pinterest that month, I spent hardly any time at all on it this month: whoops! I had the very best of intentions, but, well, I’m sure you don’t want to hear one more word about how OMGSICK I was all month, so let’s just say I ran out of time. I am, however, still using Boardbooster when I have the chance, and have also been updating the images on some of my older posts, to make them more ‘pinnable’. I’m not sure whether it’s that specifically that’s allowed my traffic from Pinterest to continue to increase this month, or if it’s simply, as I said at the start of this post (if anyone can remember back that far!) a roll-on effect from last month’s efforts, but whatever it is, I hope it keeps on working!
What I tried this month:
This month was mostly dedicated to battling a never-ending head cold, and struggling to keep the site updated while busy with Christmas preparations and events, so I haven’t had much spare time to think, let alone come up with ways to try to grow my blog. I always knew December would be a difficult month, and that traffic would be likely to drop, so I didn’t set any traffic goals, either. So other than the updating of Pinterest traffic, which I mentioned above, I think the only other difference this month was my ’12 Days of Christmas Outfits’ series, which I did in the run-up to Christmas day.
Did it work? I didn’t actually do this with the aim of increasing visits to the site: in fact, I was pretty sure it would have the opposite effect, because I know not all of my readers are interested in outfit posts. My main reason for doing it was basically to take some pressure off myself: I found it much easier to come up with an outfit every day* than to constantly keep coming up with ideas for other content, and the closer you get to Christmas, the harder it becomes to interest people in other topics anyway, so if you can’t beat ’em, you may as well join ’em, huh? So I’d consider this a success in that it allowed me to keep the site updated at a time when I’d otherwise have really struggled to get a new post up every day. And although there was a (predictable) drop in comments due to the increase in outfit posts, there was an increase in interaction on social media (outfit posts tend to do well on Pinterest, for instance), to balance it out.
(*I know there were some days during this series when I posted two posts per day, which probably makes it seem like MORE work, but on the days when there was a second post, that post had either been written in advance, or was one that didn’t require me to take photos etc, so it was still much easier for me than writing a new post from scratch…)
Overall, December was a really good month, much to my surprise. I really don’t expect to be able to beat it in January (and to be completely honest, we’ve had a horrifically stressful end to the year, which has left me totally behind with everything, including my blog, and really lacking in motivation…), but I guess we’ll see!
P.S. When I published my last blog traffic report, I had a couple of people ask if/how I monetise the site, so you’ll find a post on how I make money from blogging here!