You might be a little surprised by the title of today’s post, since I’ve already shared my top ten moments of 2017 and talked about my goals for 2018. However, neither of those posts talked about where I was able to take my blog last year or my goals for A Touch of Teal in the coming year. So, after reading Grace’s 2017 in Review, I wanted to put together a similar post where I reflect on the blog—an annual review of sorts if you will. Not only is this interesting for you (or, at least I hope it is!), it was really insightful for me to sit down and cull through all this information as I brainstorm new content.
I’m always looking for new posts ideas or behind-the-scenes content to share over on Instagram Stories, so if you ever have an idea or want me to talk about something, please don’t be shy about reaching out! My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
01. By The Numbers
I published 144 blog posts in 2017 as compared to 2016’s 163 posts. I was actually surprised by this number as I felt like I blogged less when I was in grad school than I did this year without that obligation. However, and this could be because I’m biased to my more recent content, I felt like in 2017 I did a better job at focusing on quality over quantity and didn’t succumb to the temptation to post just for the sake of posting.
During a typical month in 2017, I posted between 12 and 14 blog posts. However, it’s not surprising to me I ended the year with a little bit of blogging burnout since I posted 17 times in November and December. Luckily, I took some time over my “winter break” to step away from my computer and recharge, and now am as passionate about blogging as ever. I posted the least in October—just seven times. This is also not surprising to me since I was out of town 10 days that month, which interrupted my usual blog-on-the-weekend routine.
In terms of blog traffic, this was my best year yet! My pageviews were up 14.40% over 2016 and I grew my unique monthly visitors by 15%. I had my best blogging month ever in terms of pageviews this past March as Visit Charlottesville shared my Charlottesville Travel Guide on their very active social channels, which lead to over 2,000 pageviews in a single day—which is a lot for me! I think I was able to grow my traffic by sharing my posts more strategically on social media, continuing to focus on SEO, and engaging the small, but dedicated audience I have. I also really thought about what kind of blog I would want to read, and then I tried to write that blog.
I also had my best year ever on rewardStyle, the affiliate network I use to make commission off the products I link here on the blog. (If you’re curious, I explain a little bit more in this post.) I increased by conversion rate by 49%* and I increased my affiliate earnings by 125%. At the beginning of the year, I set a monetary goal I wanted to reach from affiliate earnings and only missed it by $100. This year, I made more of an effort to work affiliate links into content I was already writing as opposed to doing shopping roundup collages, which seem less authentic. I also took advantage of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, and ended up writing two posts on it (here and here). These two posts accounted for over 50% of my affiliate income this year, so needless to say, you’ll be seeing similar posts this year! In addition to promoting these posts on social media like I do for every post, I paid $50 to promote my first post about the sale on Facebook to a lookalike audience to this blog. I earned that money back in spades, so it really goes to show, sometimes you have to spend money to make money. (Though, that was the only post I paid to promote this year, so maybe I should take my own advice!) Lastly, I was featured on the Like to Know It Home Instagram—my first feature!—which drove some sold sales.
* Typically, a good conversion rate is 1% or higher, so we’re dealing with small numbers here which is why this is such a huge spike!
Social media was the one area that didn’t perform as well as I experienced close to zero growth, however, while it would be nice to grow my social following, I try to focus my energy on this blog since it is the only thing I can completely control. In the coming year, I hope to use these tools to better connect to the audience I have—and I think Instagram Stories is a great way to do this! I want to be more consistent in posting there over the coming year.
02. Most Popular Posts
I went through and pulled the posts that had the highest pageviews in 2017. I thought about excluding the posts that I didn’t publish this year, but I decided it would be more enlightening to show you the true top ten posts so that you can see how “evergreen” posts, Pinterest, and good SEO really go a long way when it comes to driving traffic.
1. One Tree Hill Filming Locations Tour—this has been the top traffic-driving post to blog since I published in 2014, and still regularly receive comments and emails about this post. My favorite one came from a Dad who said his wife and teenage daughter were dragging him to Wilmington and he wasn’t excited about it until he read my post. I’ve even gotten emails asking for me to shut my tour company down—which is hilarious, because if you read the post, you’ll see all we did was find the addresses online and drive to them ourselves. If you search for One Tree Hill filming locations, this post is one of the top results, which is how it’s at the top all these years later. And I’m glad it is—this was a fun day I spent with my cousins and my sisters on family vacation and it’s nice to relive the memory whenever someone new reaches out.
2. Link Love, Vol. 71—you might be surprised that a Link Love post drove so much traffic to the blog, but it’s because the featured image of this post is the photo of blush ballet flats above. I pinned that photo to Pinterest, and it has since gotten nearly 500 repins, thus driving a lot of traffic to this post.
3. Charlottesville Travel Guide—as I mentioned earlier, Visit Charlottesville shared this post, which drove a lot of traffic to the site. I also pinned the images from this post to Pinterest, and those have received some re-pins as well. I was happy to see this post up so high since it was such a fun one to put together as Charlottesville is one of my favorite places, and my sister and I had such a fun time driving all over town to shoot images for this post.
4. How I’ve Made $1,000+ Selling My Clothes on Poshmark—published in 2016, this is still one of the blog posts I’m most proud of. Not only did this post receive a lot of social media love when I first published it, it ranks on the first page when you search “how to sell your clothes on Poshmark,” which is the focus keyword I set in Yoast SEO. When I’m setting my focus keyword, I try to think about how I would search for that content, even if I give it a different, more conversational title on the blog.
5. Birchbox vs. Ipsy—published back in 2014 when I used to love me a subscription box, this post still drives a significant amount of traffic to my blog because it ranks highly when you search for Birchbox vs. Ipsy, and the associated images have been pinned quite a bit. Truth be told, if this post wasn’t such a driver of traffic to the site, it’s one I would consider making private since I feel like it no longer represents my brand or my interests. (Also, can we discuss how far my photography has come?!)
6. 48 Hours in Punta Cana—this post was given a lot of love by several bloggers I know who also traveled to Punta Cana this year and shared it on their blogs, and the pins linking back to this post are quite numerous! I almost didn’t even write this post since I didn’t bring my DSLR with me to the Dominican Republic, but I think it goes to show you don’t always need professional quality photos to make a great post. I need to remember that in 2018!
7. DIY Glitter Champagne Glasses—published back in 2014, I used to make these glitter champagne glasses for special events and for my friends all the time. I’d love to re-shoot the imagery in this post as it makes me cringe a little bit now—I took the photos in my apartment clubroom and courtyard, hah! This post is consistently re-pinned to wedding boards on Pinterest, which is why it’s still in the top 10.
8. How to Edit a White Background in Photoshop—who doesn’t love a good flat lay? Before Monica sold me an extra marble pastry board she had, I used to shoot all my flat lays on a white foam board. I liked the look, but was frustrated by the grayish background that resulted, so I taught myself how to photoshop the background white and then shared how I did it. Apparently, a lot of people also want to correct that grayish background since this is still a top post two years later. This post does well on Pinterest, is regularly shared by The Blog Societies, and shows up at the top of the second page on the search “how to edit a white background in Photoshop.”
9. DIY Envelope Liners—this was one of the last DIYs I did for the blog, and it has always done really well on Pinterest. A lot of people still ask me to do DIYs again here, but truth be told, I don’t do as many in my real life as I did back in 2013-2015, which is why there haven’t been any here on the blog. That being said, I will definitely share one if Inspiration strikes!
10. The Most Wonderful Sale of the Year—2017 was the first year I really covered the Nordstrom Anniversary sale—and shopped it seriously—and I’m so glad I did! As mentioned earlier, this post drove a majority of my affiliate earnings this year, so it’s no surprise that this was a top post.
03. Most Popular Searches
Another key thing I monitor in Google Analytics is what you all are searching for on the site using the search bar above. Whenever I look at my Google Analytics data, I filter out my own traffic so that I have better data on how you all are behaving on my site—because let’s be real, I’m on the site all the time!
So, here’s a look at the top ten phrases you’ve been searching for this year—I’ll be sure to create content that matches these searches or is very similar in the coming year:
- Life Lately
- Reader Survey
- Washington, DC
- One Tree Hill
- Create Cultivate
04. How You Found Me
I love keeping tabs on how people find A Touch of Teal because it helps me figure out where best to dedicate my energy when I’m not working directly on the blog. This year, the top way people found me was Pinterest, which is ironic considering it is the social media platform I like the least, and thus, spent the least amount of time managing. Pinterest was also the top way people found me in 2016, so I am hoping that, this year, I’m able to finally figure out a system of updating Pinterest that ensures my new content is always posted, but at the same time, doesn’t feel like a chore. (I literally just pinned the second half of 2017’s content to Pinterest last week!)
- Monica Dutia (you’re the best!)
- Covering the Bases (I’m linked up in Krista’s February Book Review)
- The Stripe (Grace shared my post about SEO on this Weekend Reading post)
- The Blog Societies
- York Avenue Blog (thanks for the love, Jackie!)
As an aside, does anyone use Bloglovin’ regularly? I am always surprised at how much traffic this platform drives to my website considering I don’t even know the password to my account—whoops!—let me know if this is something I should be paying attention to.
05. Goals for 2018
While 2017 was a great year, I have a feeling that 2018 will be the best year yet. To keep me on track, I have several goals for the blog that I’d like to make happen.
First, I’d like to expand my travel content and work with more hotels and tourism boards. This past year, I worked with The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, reached out to Visit Palm Beach to schedule a sunset cruise while in town, and won a trip that Visit Virginia Beach coordinated. I used to pitch brands all the time, but the past couple of years have been more passive and let opportunities come to me. This year, I want to be more proactive about reaching out to hotels and connecting with tourism boards on trips I already have planned. Traveling, and then sharing my experiences, is one of my favorite things to do—and those trips above were some of my best memories from the past year!
Second, I want to increase my blog revenue by 10%. Blogging will never be my main source of income, but it is nice to have a way to make some extra cash and be compensated for the work I do here on the blog. I don’t keep track of how much time I spend each week on A Touch of Teal, but if I had to estimate, I’d say I spend anywhere between 15-20 hours a week creating content, answering emails, scheduling social media posts, editing photos, responding to blog comments, and managing the backend of this site. Blogging doesn’t feel like work to me, and I’ll continue to blog until it does. So while I’d do it happily for $0, whenever I can get paid for my work, I take advantage.
Lastly, I want to be better about saying yes to networking events and opportunities in DC. This year, I said no to more events than I said yes to—and while I think saying no is a great skill to have, I want to make sure I’m still putting myself out there in the creative community and getting to know new people. Last year, I was really focused on getting into a groove with my workout routine, so I prioritized those over a lot of the invitations I received to shopping parties, networking events, and talks. Now that I’ve got a good routine, a night off here and there to grow my blog will hopefully serve me well!
I want to conclude this post by extending a huge thank you to YOU. I am so honored you make this blog part of your daily, weekly, or monthly routine. Blogging is done in isolation—often on my couch, so a big part of what keeps me going is knowing that there are others out there I can connect with by sharing the things I love, the places I venture to, and the lessons I’ve learned. Here’s to the best year of blogging yet! x