Happy Monday! It’s back to reality for me today—I am heading back to work, and I think Q1 of 2020 is going to be just as busy as Q4. I am so, so grateful I had some time off to enjoy some rest and relaxation before hitting the ground running in the new year. I am also so happy I had some time to work on A Touch of Teal! Putting out great content here brings me great pride, and it was really nice to have the time to publish several longer-form pieces back-to-back (which is a rarity these days!).
Before we dive headfirst into the new year, I wanted to write one more recap post—this time, about the blog itself. I wrote similar blog recap posts in 2018 and 2017 and loved that by writing them, I was forced to sit down and spend some time with my Google and rewardStyle analytics. (rewardStyle is the affiliates network I use—if I recommend a product and you buy something from that retailer, I receive a small commission.) I also know that I always enjoy reading similar posts on other blogs since they always provide a peak behind the curtain, so hopefully this post is as interesting for you to read as it was for me to pull together and write.
Like I said last year, 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: email@example.com.
01. By the Numbers
I published 125 blog posts in 2019, compared to 137 in 2018 and 144 in 2017. I’m not surprised my blog post quantity decreased in 2019, I was a lot busier this year than in recent years and I also really focused on writing quality content when I could. Truthfully, I was a bit surprised I only wrote 12 less posts than last year! If I had to guess, my 2020 blog post number will also decrease—especially since about 15 or so of the posts I wrote this year were dinner club posts, which I plan to condense into a monthly restaurant roundup.
During a typical month in 2019, I published between 10 and 12 posts a month. The month I published the least number of posts was February—I published just five posts! Given it’s the shortest month of the year and was also my second month at my new job when I was really starting to hit my stride there, I am not surprised that was the least active I was here on A Touch of Teal. Unlike most years when I taper off my posting towards the end of the year, in 2019, I actually posted more in Q4 than any other quarter! I think it’s because I was starting to feel more inspired about my blog around that time and also felt like I had created a new normal at work—I had passed the transitional period of getting a new job and created new routines / better understood what the day to day looked like in my new reality.
In terms of blog traffic and social media growth, for the most part, I held equal YoY. My blog page views, unique visitors, and time spent on page stats were all similar to what they were in 2018, and my social media follower count was almost identical on the first and last day of the year. Given I didn’t prioritize growing my blog this year, I am happy that things held equal and that I didn’t lose much ground. Since I have no plans or desire to blog full time, being stagnant in terms of growth is okay for me—but I am motivated to grow my blog metrics this year as I focus on fewer, better posts. As it relates to social media, while I think it’s so fun and an extension of my blog—Instagram especially!—at the end of the day, I can’t control what happens on social media. The algorithm could change again, it could be gone tomorrow. But since I own my blog, I can control everything that happens here, which is why it’s always going to be my main priority!
This year on rewardStyle, my conversion rate increased, but I recommended fewer items, sold fewer items, and made about $200 less than I did last year. Again, this isn’t super surprising to me considering I posted less overall, meaning I shared fewer links, so there were fewer opportunities for my readers to buy a product I recommended. I also didn’t post about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale like I had in years past (I wasn’t personally shopping it this year, so it felt inauthentic to write a post about it!), which was always a big driver of sales for me. What did do well for me from an affiliate perspective was my 2019 holiday gift guide! This year, instead of doing numerous guides, I wrote one big one—and it paid off, I think, because I could personally vouch for every product on the list. So I’ll take that learning and let it help inform my strategy for next holiday season.
In 2020, I would like to find ways to authentically share things I am loving in a way that isn’t too sales-y. Right before Thanksgiving, I shared on Instagram Stories about the Baublebar Alidia Rings and ended up selling about 10—they were on sale for just $12, but I also think the review I gave was really genuine and that drove a lot of interest. So I am hoping to try to naturally share products like that this year as the opportunities arise. I know that personally, I love getting product recommendations from people I trust—so hopefully I can become a voice like that to some of you all, too.
02. My Most Popular Posts of 2019
So many of my posts each year are posts I wrote years ago—which is amazing, because that means they are still relevant today and have great SEO or are popular on Pinterest. My One Tree Hill Filming Locations post has been the top driver of traffic to my blog since I published it—so much so that a few people have emailed me inquiring about how they can set up a tour with my company, hah! So for the sake of this post, I wanted to share the top 10 posts I published this year, based on number of page views:
- 48 Hours in Austin, Texas
- Milk Bar Birthday Cake Class
- My Dupont Circle Apartment
- Katie’s Favorite Things: My 2019 Gift Guide
- A Hidden Gem in Georgetown: City Tavern Club
- The Lemon Dress I Bought from an Instagram Ad
- Quebec City, Canada Guide
- Dinner Club: Coconut Club
- The Best Cocktail for Holiday Entertaining: Pomegranate Moscow Mules
- How I Organize My Small Closet
One of the commonalities I noticed as I was pulling these top posts is that while for the blog, I wrote headlines for the post in a more conversational style, the SEO keywords I set were around product/restaurant reviews. So for instance, the post about the lemon dress, the focus keyword I set was “CKDress Lemon Dress Review,” so that it has a greater chance at showing up as a Google Search result for anyone looking for a review about that website. The focus keyword I set for the post about the Milk Bar Birthday Cake Class was “Milk Bar Birthday Cake Class review.” When setting those focus keywords, I really try to think about how people might search for the content if they don’t already know about or follow my blog.
One thing I’d love, love, love to be better about next year is making sure I pin my content to Pinterest like I used to—especially the travel content! It’s a step in the social sharing process I usually let go, but some of my top posts of all time are the ones that have a lot of re-pins on Pinterest.
03. Most Popular Searches
One of the best things I ever did on my Google Analytics was set it up so it tracked what people are searching for on my blog. In addition to looking at my most popular posts, looking at site search helps me figure out what my readers are most interested in seeing on A Touch of Teal. Here’s what the most popular searches were in 2019:
- Life lately
- Arlington apartment
- San Antonio
I love that so many of these searches are for travel guides I have here on the blog! Travel posts are some of the most labor-intensive to write—I have to go through hundreds of photos, pick the best ones, edit them, sit down and cull through everywhere I went/ate/shop/stayed, and then write everything down in a coherent narrative. I’d say one travel post on average probably takes me between five and six hours! So knowing that they are helpful to people and that y’all come back and search for them when you’re planning trips, really makes them worthwhile to me.
And since life lately posts are also very searched—I am glad I picked up that series and wrote a new one just last week! I am going to try to write these types of posts at least every two months or so.
04. Most Popular Products
It seems like a lot of bloggers this year are sharing their top products according to data from affiliate sales, and while I’ve never shared this in the past, I thought it would be a really fun thing to include in this year’s blogging recap. Here’s what my top sellers were this year:
1. Custom Ikea Slipcovers from Etsy—you may remember when I lived in my Arlington apartment, I ordered custom slipcovers for my Ikea bar stools from RockinCushions. (You can see them here!) I am glad these are so popular and that this was such a helpful resource for all of you, too! As an FYI, she also makes amazing pillow covers—I ordered a pair in the same pattern.
2. Madewell Prague Satchel—this is still one of my all-time favorite handbags! I bought mine several years ago and it has held up so well—I take it to work, on trips, out with friends. It’s a bag I don’t ever see myself getting rid of. It was also my best buy of 2017!
3. Vintage Furniture from The Resplendent Crow—my green dresser is my all-time favorite furniture pieces and one of my best buys EVER. You can read all about it here! I’ve often shared about the Etsy shop where I’ve bought it, and seems like this past year, six of you have made a similar investment!
5. Nordstrom Lingerie Moonlight Short Pajamas—hands down, the best pajamas I own! They are so soft and they make me feel really sophisticated whenever I’m going to bed—a step up from my previous uniform of mismatched shorts and a t-shirt. If you’re between sizes, I would size down.
6. Zella Live-In High Waisted Leggings—one of my favorite pairs of leggings of all-time, I’ve been recommending these for years! (As evidenced here!) If you have these and are in the market for another pair, I have been loving these Zella 7/8 high-waist pocket leggings!
7. Baublebar Twist Mini Alidia Ring—it looks like the holiday season wiped Baublebar out of most of their stock of these rings, but I hope they bring them back! I have both the clear and the fuchsia. The clear is one of my daily go-tos, and I know I will wear the fuchsia more this summer when my nails are white—I paint them red pretty much all winter and it clashes with the fuchsia!
8. All Nighter Setting Spray—this spray from Urban Decay is a holy grail beauty product for me. I use it anytime I do a full face of makeup, and I swear, it makes your makeup last forever!
9. Gigi Madison Crossbody—such a great crossbody! It holds so much and is such a classic shape. I know I will have this one for years and years and years. For a personalized touch, I had mine monogrammed. I have this in the black, but the cognac is also beautiful.
10. Sonia Kashuk Makeup Brushes—Sonia Kashuk makes my favorite budget buy makeup brushes, as they average only about $10 each and are amazing quality and look beautiful, too. If you’re looking to spend a bit more money on makeup brushes, I love the ones from IT Cosmetics—this one being my all-time favorite.
05. Looking Back on 2019 Goals + Goals for 2020
Last year, I set several goals for my blog:
- I want to be more selective about the content I create and post only things I would want to read.
- I’d like to take at least one media trip or partner with a hotel on at least one post this year.
- I’d like to continue to expand my DC content and write more local neighborhood guides like this one and this one.
- I’d like to grow my blog revenue and continue to increase my sponsored partnerships.
Overall, I think I did pretty good on my blog goals this year—I created more DC content than I ever have before (you can see it all here! I promise my Dupont Circle guide is coming before the end of the month), I partnered with a hotel in Alexandria to highlight an amazing program for book lovers like me, and I grew my blog revenue thanks to my ongoing partnership with Master of Mixes.
If you’ve read this far, it should come as no surprise that this year, my main goal for my blog is to focus on creating really great content—the type of content I love to read on other blogs—because I think if I can focus on doing that, everything else will follow: blog growth, increased revenue, more partnerships and opportunities.
Thank you so much for reading A Touch of Teal! I always say, I would write this blog if no one read it because it brings me a lot of joy—but it makes it even more enjoyable having a supportive group of readers. I’d love to know if there’s any particular content you want to see from me this year—drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org! x