Well, hi there. I’m taking a break from my maternity leave to bring you a three month update on Jane and the New Blog. Since it’s been a while, or you might be new to the series, here’s a bit of information about the New Blog Experiment.
The New Blog launched on August 10th, 2015. This post is documenting the blog’s fourth, fifth, and sixth months of blogging from November 10th – February 10th.
The New Blog is going to remain anonymous because I want all the traffic to the blog to be “organic”. I refer to the New Blog’s author as Jane. Here are some bullet points facts about the blog.
- It is a healthy lifestyle blog: posting recipes, workouts, and other well-being related posts.
- Jane has never blogged before
- The blog’s platform is self-hosted WordPress
- The blog is using the Genesis framework + Restored316 theme
- Jane usually publishes new content 2-3 times a week
- Jane works on the blog for about 15-20 hours a week.
Goals for the New Blog
- Have a social media following and newsletter list before going “live” CHECK!
- Steadily grow traffic and following without plateauing. So far, CHECK!
- Earn at least $2,000/month by the end of one year (working only part-time on the blog) Still getting there.
Photo credit: #creativeconvex
Oh boy am I excited to share all the exciting happenings for the New Blog! Jane is on FIRE. Onto the update.
A report on Jane and the New Blog during months four through six.
The fourth month of blogging, November 10th – December 10th
November was a good month for Jane and the New Blog. Jane is a food blogger and November is naturally a time most of us think about food. The New Blog had a good size spike in traffic the week leading up to Thanksgiving.
The fifth month of blogging, December 10th – January 10th
The New Blog was featured on Buzz feed twice right around Christmas, which gave her some nice traffic and exposure.
Jane invested in Tailwind. Tailwind is a Pinterest scheduling app that not only schedules your pins, but the analytics are amazing. This one was my recommendation because I absolutely love Tailwind. It will free up your time and ensure that you are a consistent pinner. On a complete side note, I recommend only pinning (or scheduling) 10-30 pins a day. Pinterest Scheduling Frequency
Jane was featured in other bloggers’ round up posts. Jane has hosted round up style posts on her blog since month two, but it was fun to have her featured in other bloggers’ round ups. They weren’t always huge traffic spikes, but they are still bringing in consistent traffic.
She spent most of her time behind the scenes working on a massive freebie for newsletter subscribers. Being a healthy living blog, she knew that the new year would be a great time to launch the freebie. She did a great job pre-marketing it and got a good response when it went out the first week of January.
Take a look at how providing a quality freebie helped her email list:
January was a good month for Jane’s email list. Which leads us in to the month six.
The six month of blogging, January 10th – February 10th
I gave Jane homework to look into guest posts options. She did and was able to guest post on a popular blog during this time frame. We were both pretty bummed with the results, only seeing a handful of visitors to her site the days following the post. 🙁
That’s okay though, because… drum roll please…
Actually, I’m just going to show you the graph before I type another word:
BOOM. Pinterest, baby.
Jane had a post that went Pinterest viral. Here are some interesting things about this huge Pinterest spike that I think we can all learn from.
- The post has been pinned over 80,000 times
- Jane’s post was written in November and the pins did not gain traction until the beginning of February. What if Jane had deleted that pin that didn’t have repins in November? What if the other bloggers did? She wouldn’t have hit 6,000+ hits a day. The way the smart feed works, I do not recommend deleting under performing pins. Therefore, I say don’t delete pins.
- The majority of the traffic came from the home page. Also known as the smart feed. Tailwind gives a good explanation on how Pinterest decides what shows up in the smart feed. In short, Pinterest looks at Domain quality, pin quality, and pinner quality. For all the yummy details check out their post: Why Aren’t My Pins Being Seen? As more and more people pinned the post directly from Jane’s site, Pinterest started recognizing it a great pin and started bumping hers (and others) older pins.
Another thing Jane started doing during this time frame was submitting recipes to the Today Food Club. One of her recipes was featured in a round up, and one on the front page. Unfortunately, this didn’t bring very much traffic (only 19 visits)- but is great exposure and it made Jane’s day. It’s important for us bloggers to have WINS that make us feel great.
Jane took advantage of her high traffic numbers this month and applied for influencer networks so hopefully that will provide opportunities for sponsored campaigns in the future.
Month six brought in a total of 62,079 visits (sessions) – that is a 1371.07% increase in three month! Definitely explanation point worthy. (Month three’s total sessions were 4,220.)
Six Month Traffic and Follower Report
Since the New Blog is half way through our year experiment, let’s look at Jane’s growth in a a six month overview.
Note: all accounts started at 0 at the beginning of the New Blog Experiment, except for Pinterest which had about 500 followers.
- Twitter – 543
- Pinterest – 1336
- Facebook – 582
- Instagram – 828
- Newsletter Subscribers – 786
Traffic Graph for the first 6 months
Isn’t that a beautiful chart? This is the New Blog’s overall traffic for the first six months, viewed by months. I like changing how I view analytics, it gives us a better view on growth.
Traffic Overview for the First Six Months
Top 10 Traffic Referrals for the First Six Months
Pinterest is obviously The New Blog’s main source of traffic. Pinterest traffic is notorious for having high bounce rates though. The viral pin increased her bounce rate significantly. We’ll continue to work on ways to reduce the bounces from that viral pin. Facebook continues to bring in steady traffic for Jane and the bounce rate for Facebook hovers in the 50% range.
Income and Expense Report
$115 1 year Tailwind
Total blogging expenses so far: $346.35
Wahoo. There’s something to report here.
- Nov 10 – Dec 10 = nada
- Dec 10 – Jan 10 = $8.88
- Jan 10 – Feb 10 $50.56
Total blogging income so far: $59.44.
Obviously, there is a long way to go before Jane’s blog hits $2,000 a month. What do you think? Can bloggers make that kind of money during their first year of blogging? HAVE YOU? Share in the comments below.
Goals for the upcoming months.
Define a style for her graphics. I will be the first to admit that I have held off on defining a graphic style for Pinterest. To me, it seemed boring. But that’s where I was very wrong. Having a style does not mean that every picture you design looks the same, it just means they have a cohesive blend. It means that people will recognize your picture by its style and branding.
My friend Kate did an interesting study on branded/styled images verses random pictures. You should check it out.
Also, I should note: you don’t have settle on a style the first time. Keep experimenting until you find something you love and catches on fire with the social sharing.
Evaluate how the top dogs in her niches are making money and see if we can incorporate some of those into her own blog. Remember, our goal is to have Jane make $2,000 a month by the end of the year. I am still confident that she’ll get there. The first 6 months (let’s be honest, year) are hard work. Work that you’re doing for nothing (in the monetary sens). It will start to pay off though, we just have to figure out the right fit for her. Which brings me to the next goal Jane has:
Jane is brainstorming products/courses/services she can create and sell on her blog. There is good money to be made online through affiliate marketing, ads, and sponsored posts – but creating your income stream is becoming the biggest way bloggers make money online.
Takeaways to apply to your blog.
Be confident, assertive, and friendly.
One of Jane’s biggest strengths is Jane. I am constantly impressed by how she takes action to make things happen for her blog. She doesn’t wait around for things to happen – she makes them happen. She’s also friendly. She is kind and sweet in her replies to comments. She has created friendships with others online and they help support each other.
(Jane, do you read my posts? Know this: you’re doing great!)
Look at your analytics in a 6 month chunk.
Sometimes, it is hard to see growth when you are only looking at a month or two weeks. Set your analytics to show the last 6 months, then change the view to weeks or months.
You don’t need a ton of Pinterest followers to get a huge spike.
Pinterest is drifting away from the social aspects and becoming a true discovery tool. You can have great success on Pinterest without having a huge following. Jane’s huge traffic spike is due to one post that went Pinterest popular. I haven’t found out which keywords she’s ranking for, but I’m pretty sure it’s either ranking in a search term or showing up in one of the popular feeds. Focus on posting quality content, with great descriptions and titles. Then, pin those on relevant boards.
*There are affiliate links in this post.