Like many other bloggers as 2016 was coming to a close I sat down and reflected on the past year. Most of my reflections were pertaining to my site arelaxedgal.com- what went well, what didn’t go well; what I could have done better; things I learned; things I planned to do and never did; etc. What I found is though 2016 was a mix of highs and lows it overall was a good year for a relaxedgal.com.
During 2016 I saw exponential growth on my site, grew my social following and implemented many other changes. Here are some of the highlights:
- My overall social following increased 388% since the beginning of the year
- Unique Visitors on my site increased 661% year-over-year
- Site Pageviews increased a crazy 763% year-over-year
- I started an email newsletter. If you haven't signed up already you can do so here
- I converted to rich pins on Pinterest
- I launched a Facebook page
- Revised my site topics to be hair, beauty, blogging, life (mix of personal finance, travel and home
A lot of these accomplishments are due to the yearly and monthly goals I set for myself. I won’t go through the monthly goals, but these were my 2016 goals and strategies for arelaxedgal.com
- Create and maintain a consistent look and feel for my content
- Finish the blog rebrand by end of Q1 2016
- Keep content focused on key topics
- Post on the blog at least once a week
- Upload a new video at least once a month
- Participate more on social media
- Find other areas for content promotion
Related post: Setting 2016 Blog and Branding Goals
These were good goals and I had a good strategy mapped out to accomplish my three 2016 goals. I even started the year off strong. But as time went on and life became a little more complicated with buying my house, moving, doing more volunteering at my church I just stopped trying to keep up.I had good goals and strategies, but no real implementation plan to help me reach those goals.
Taking the whole year into account here’s where I feel I ended up with each of my goals
- Create and maintain a consistent look and feel for my content
- To accomplish this, one of my strategies was to finish my blog rebrand by the end of Q1 2016, which I did. The problem was I redid most of that work at least three times. The most recent instance was in late 2016 when I was going through some old posts and realized I was using too many graphic templates, so the consistency just wasn’t where I wanted it to be. The goal of having a consistent look and feel is so it's clear to readers that the content came from A Relaxed Gal. Even before they start digesting the content.
- I do, however, think that I did a better job of keeping my content focused on specific topics. What didn't work was sticking to my weekly topics schedule. I had created a calendar noting which days I would share or post about certain topics, but I ended up only loosely sticking to that schedule. That being said I want to do an even better job in 2017.
- I started off posting about once week, then increased it to twice a week partly due to having multiple topics I wanted to touch on. I also felt it would help with blog traffic to have new content more than once week. As the year went on though I pretty much stopped posting and had multiple weeks in a row without one new post.
- I’m not even going to talk about videos. I probably posted a new one every six months. Total fail.
- I did do a much better job of content promotion in 2016 and that’s probably the only place I really did well in 2016. During the year I tried out a few different social posting tools.
- Hootsuite for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
- Recurpost for Twitter and Facebook which I’m still using
- SocialPilot which I started testing at the end of December for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
- BoardBooster for Pinterest. I love BoardBooster!
Though I didn’t fully achieve my 2016 blog goals, I still saw great things happen for A Relaxed Gal and built a lot of momentum that I want to keep going. To do that I’m setting six new goals for 2017 and expanding them so they aren’t just for arelaxedgal.com, but are more business related and will help A Relaxed Gal continue to grow. Additionally I will no longer be creating separate monthly goals for my site and social media. Instead in my monthly reports I’ll be sharing monthly updates about how I’m tracking against my yearly goals.
Goal 1. Finish optimizing arelaxedgal.com for SEO by the end of Q1I know about SEO. I’ve known about SEO for years, but I didn’t fully understand it and felt I didn’t really need to. Until I started a blog. During my first few years of blogging I basically ignored SEO. Instead I secretly said to myself “if it happens, it happens.” That mindset resulted in me having poorly crafted headlines, terrible URLs for posts and a lack of keywords in many of my posts. All of which opened the door for social media, in particular Pinterest, to become my number one traffic driver by driving about 50% of my traffic.
Late last year I decided to correct this and began implementing SEO practices in my new blog posts and updating my old posts. Here are the key things I did
- Updated some blog titles to include keywords
- Updated old blog posts to include keywords
- Included keywords in new blog posts
- Renamed blog images
- Included related post links in old posts
Since I started doing those things I’ve seen my organic search traffic increase from 17% to 26%. I anticipate that to continue increasing as I finish updating old posts and incorporate SEO best practices in new posts.
Strategy: Update at least 2.5 posts per day
I have about 200 more posts to go through and 78 days to do it. That means I need to update at least 2.5 posts a day to finish by the end of Q1.
Goal 2. Retain readers on my siteThis goal is kinda broad because of what I want to get out of it. By retaining my readership I hope to
- Increase the number of pages viewed per session to between 1.5-2.5 for the year
- Decrease my bounce rate. My goal is to be between 75-78% for the year
Strategy: Make new readers feel welcome and have the content they’re looking for by
- Replying to all comments left on my blog
- Asking questions in my CTA and encouraging comments on posts
- Optimizing my site for SEO so online searchers find the content they were searching for
- Including related post links in all my posts
- Consistently posting new content that is related to my topic areas
- Growing my email subscription list and regularly sending emails to my subscribers
Goal 3. Grow my social followers and increase engagementLast year I really didn’t spend a lot of effort on my social media accounts outside of Pinterest. Because of the focus and effort I put into Pinterest it saw a pretty good amount of growth last year.
- Followers increased by 1,975%
- Average daily viewers increased by 6,087%
- Average daily saves increased by 5,000%
- And I had a pin go viral - How to Keep Relaxed Hair Moisturized in the Winter
When looking at my total number of social followers for each account I feel the numbers are pretty anemic. So by year end 2017 I want to have at least 1,000 engaged followers on each of the following accounts: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and YouTube. For Pinterest I’m shooting for 5,000 engaged followers. And by engaged followers I mean they are liking, sharing, pinning, retweeting, etc. on a consistent basis.
Strategy: Pre-schedule content
To reach this goal will take some serious commitment and work on my end. To try and get ahead of this I spent December and will be spending the rest of January creating my content calendar for the year and pre-scheduling most of my social content.
Strategy: Engage with followers
Another thing I’ll be doing throughout the year is engaging with my social followers by
- Sharing their content
- Asking them questions
- Responding to their comments
- Thanking them when they share my content
Goal 4. Grow my email subscriber list to at least 1,000 by 12/31I started taking email subscriptions in September and was surprised at the initial number of signups I received. In the larger scheme of things it wasn’t a lot, but considering I wasn’t really pushing my email list and had, at that point, just stuck a subscriber box in my sidebar it was a good start.
Over time I started to push the email list in a few new posts. I added a signup form to my email signature and offered a few incentives for signing up - a moving checklist and a blog and social media stat tracker. The moving checklist has greatly outperformed the stat tracker. Having incentives helped a bit, but proved what I already knew, they have to be incentives that my readers are interested in.
Strategy: Promote newsletter subscriptions
As I look towards 2017, I know that the way I’m going to achieve this goal of 1,000 subscribers is by gaining new ones and having a low number of unsubscribes. My plan to achieve this goal is
- Offer compelling opt-ins to sign up
- Offer free products for signing up
- Promote my newsletter(s) in my blog posts and on social media
- Send out emails on a consistent basis. I'm shooting for twice a month
Goal 5. Do a least one paid sponsorship post a quarterAs I’m growing my site and diving more and more into the world of blogging, I’ve realized that I could make some money from this. One way to do that is sponsored posts. I’ve joined several sites that offer the sponsored post opportunities, but I haven’t been eligible for most of them because of my small social following and/or they just weren’t a fit for my audience. Hopefully by growing my social following I can increase my chances of qualifying and being selected for at least one sponsored post each quarter.
Strategy: Focus on key influencer networks
I've joined a lot of influencer networks, but most of them don't have opportunities for me because I'm not a mom and/or don't have a large social following. Hopefully by achieving goal three, I'll have more opportunities available to me.
Goal 6. Create an image library of at least 24 images by year endOutside of writing a post, sourcing images and creating graphics is the biggest time suck. Mainly because I like to use my own images which means if I don’t have something that works I need to shoot new ones. This requires me to wait till I can get good light, finding props, setting up the shot and editing. It can take me several hours to get a couple of usable images. To help eliminate this issue I want to create my own image library of at least 24 edited images I can use for my posts.
Strategy: Add at least two images per month
To get to the 24 image goal I will need to shoot and edit at least two images per month. This doesn't count images taken for product reviews. These will be images I can use multiple times for multiple posts across topics. While I very well could add more than two images a month, I don’t want to overshoot it knowing how much time it takes me to set up shots and edit them.
What site and/or business goals did you set for 2017?