January was one of the hardest months I’ve had so far as a blogger.
Actually, January was one of the hardest months I’ve had, period. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll be sick of hearing me go on about this, but wow, was it one stressful month. I’d ended the year feeling pretty burned out, and more than ready for a break: instead, Terry and I were thrown right into two of the most stressful weeks we’ve ever experienced, after which we had to get right back to work. I REALLY struggled to keep my blogs running as normal, while worrying about a whole bunch of other stuff, so the fact that this horrible month somehow managed to be my best month ever in terms of blog traffic… well, I just can’t explain it.
(No, seriously: I can’t explain it. If you’re reading this in the hope that I’m going to reveal some kind of big secret, er, apologies in advance…)
Here are the stats for the month:
Pageviews: 184,458 (last month 166,771)
Unique Visitors: 77,984 (last month 65,520)
Posts Published: 31
Unlike previous months, there were no particularly big peaks or dips in the traffic for the month. The highest points you see on the graph are all Mondays, and are all mostly due to the blog tips posts, which I publish every Sunday, getting shared on Monday morning on Facebook and Pinterest. This combines with the traffic from whatever post I published that morning to make Mondays my highest traffic days of the week (with some exceptions), and the blog tips series easily the biggest traffic driver.
This is quite interesting to me, because I seem to be constantly reading posts and tweets from other bloggers complaining about how there are too many of these types of post around now: I’ve said it before, but the reason there are so many of those posts is because people seem to want to read them. I also really enjoy writing them (because blogging is my career, I’m basically thinking about it 24/7, so I could talk about it forever!), so I guess as long as they remain popular I’ll just keep ignoring the naysayers, and do what works best for my blog!
Speaking of content, here are the posts that got the most views this month:
Top Content: Most Viewed Posts
As always, most of the posts that attract the most pageviews are the ones that are offering help or advice or some form or another. Unfortunately, those are also the posts that tend to be the most time-consuming for me to write, so I didn’t do too many of them this month. Of the posts I DID publish in January, the most viewed were Style Resolutions for 2016, Advice I’m Glad I Didn’t Take and How to Get a Salon Blow Dry at Home: and, just to contradict what I said above, only one of those is an advice post, which just goes to show that you can never really predict what will work and what wont, so it’s a good idea to experiment with different types of content!
I also noticed that my Makeup & Beauty category page got a lot of views this month. This is a little bit of a mystery to me, because it’s one of the least-used categories on the site, but, having said that, some of my most popular posts are beauty/hair related (despite the fact that I hardly ever write about those topics!), so it’s possible that the people who visit those posts via Google or Pinterest are then going on to check out what else I’ve written on those topics. This should be a sign to write more beauty posts, obviously, but it’s not my strongest subject, so we’ll see!
Top Content: Most Commented Posts
In terms of the posts that generated the most comments, the thing that really jumped out at me this month is the fact that this follows the complete OPPOSITE trend to the most viewed posts. So, while advice posts can always be relied on to generate traffic (and to keep on generating traffic, for months and even years after they’re published), they’re rarely the posts that generate the most discussion. Those ones tend to be the posts which are either asking a question (Should you ask a friend why they unfollowed you?, Can bloggers be honest if they’re being sponsored?), offering an opinion/perspective (How fashion blogging changes your style; A Day in the Life of a Full-Time Blogger) or simply offering something people might relate to, or want to discuss (Advice I’m glad I didn’t take; Things I should know by now).
Of course, there are some advice-y posts in there too, but what really surprised me was how many of this month’s ‘most commented’ were outfit posts. As I’ve mentioned before, my outfit posts drive a lot of traffic to the site from Pinterest and other blogs, but they’re rarely very popular on the blog itself. Towards the middle of the month, I decided to change my approach to these posts a little, and rather than simply writing about the outfit, I started to combine the outfit photos with other topics (‘How Fashion Blogging Changes Your Style; Things I Should Know by Now, etc) This worked quite well in that it gave people something to discuss other than the outfit, so while I probably won’t do it all the time, it’s definitely something I’d try again.
This month I also started doing roundups of my more “everyday” outfits, and that seemed to work better than outfit posts which just feature one outfit. Those posts are also pretty time-consuming to put together, so again, I’m not going to be doing them every week, but I will try to do them when I can.
This month was the first time social media overtook organic search in terms of how people actually get to the site – although only just. I put hardly any effort at all into social media last month, so I think this is mostly down to Pinterest, which was, once again, the top referring site:
I wasn’t particularly active on Pinterest either in January, but it is where I spend most of my social media time (As I said last month, you really can’t be everywhere at once, so I think it’s a good idea to pick the network(s) that work best for you, and focus on those), and I did devote a bit of time earlier in the month to updating the images on my older posts. I ran out of time for that as the month progressed, but will be trying my best to get back to it in February, because it’s really worth doing.
(The posts that do best on Pinterest are very similar to the ones in the ‘Most Viewed’ list, for the simple reason that it’s Pinterest that’s driving a lot of those views, but you can see my most popular pins here, if you’re interested!)
What I did differently this month:
I’ve already mentioned the changes I made to my outfit posts this month, and while I don’t think that had a huge effect on the traffic the site got, it did help, and it also increased engagement, which is always a good thing.
Other than that, January was really just an exercise in trying to keep going, even when writing a blog post was the very last thing I felt like doing: I’m thrilled with the traffic I got for the month, but I’m also very glad it’s over!
Although the traffic to the site has grown consistently since I started doing these traffic reports back in October, I think this month’s traffic will be very hard to beat. February is, of course, a shorter than average month anyway, but I’m also still feeling the effects of the last few weeks, and because of that, this month I want to put less emphasis on creating new content every day, and more on doing all of the other things that contribute to a successful blog. (Well, some of them, anyway: let’s not get carried away here!)
I touched on this in my February goals post, but for over a year now, I’ve been sticking to a daily posting schedule , and I think that’s one of the reasons my traffic remains reasonably high. I definitely notice a drop in traffic on the odd day when I DON’T publish a new post, and because I’ve been doing my best to grow the traffic, I’ve be trying to avoid those dips by making sure I have a new post up every day.
As important as it is to be consistent, and to continue creating new content for your readers, however, it’s not the be-all-and-end-all, and over the past few weeks I’ve come to the conclusion that there are other things I could be doing for the site that are equally important, and so this month I’m going to be concentrating more on some of those things, and not putting as much pressure on myself to post every single day without fail. (I’m not saying I’m going to actively avoid doing that, you understand: I’m just going to make sure I only post something new if it’s something I really want to write – that might mean a post every day or it might not, but if I’m lacking in inspiration this month, I’m not going to try to force it.)
I’m really aware that doing that will likely lead to a drop in traffic for February, but that’s OK: you can’t expect to increase your numbers every single month, after all, and I wouldn’t want anyone to read these traffic reports and think that chasing pageviews should be a blogger’s main objective. With that said, I hope you found this one helpful – let’s see what February brings!
(P.S. For those of you wondering how I monetise the traffic to the site, there’s a post on that here!)