I’m really really excited to be sharing today’s post with all of you. Since Lee and I launched The Blogger Project in January, there hasn’t been much talk about blogging and especially blogging as a business, over here. Most of you come for the food and wellness tips so it always felt a bit weird sharing blogging info with you. But just because most of that content has moved over to The Blogger Project doesn’t mean it needs to be crickets around here.
Every single one of you has played an integral part in the growth of THM and helping me turn my passion from a hobby to a business so I’m thrilled to include you in on this business update.
Not only is it cool to look at how far I’ve come, but also watch Lee’s journey, which gives me a ton of insight on where I’m headed. As many of you know, Lee just celebrated Fit Foodie Finds’ 5th birthday and I’m in awe at the incredible business she has built from scratch. Make sure you head over to FFF’s to catch her business update and also get a behind-the-scenes look on what a blog double my size looks like!
Since we’re both posting our updates, we thought we’d stick to a similar format so those of you on your own blogging journey can get a sense of where we’re both at. Remember, everyone is on their own path so do NOT compare. Celebrate each other’s successes, learn from each other’s mistakes, but most importantly, be true to you. Authenticity far outweighs any numbers.
So it’s kind of been a crazy year in terms of THM’s growth. In 2015 I saw my page views and monthly uniques more than double. Over 330k eyeballs gaze at THM each month with more than 2.7 million pageviews this year. Literally blows my mind.
There is certainly some strategy that has gone into THM’s growth (we’ll get to that below) but what I love most about looking at those numbers is that they are 100% organic. I’ve never paid for views, nor do I participate in those annoying FB promotional groups (except maybe 2x this year when a post did not get nearly as much love as it deserved). No one visited THM because they were getting something in return or were paid to be here, they came because they saw something they liked and I’m pretty damn proud of that.
Some things to take note of: In 2015 I saw my bounce rate increase but number of pages views per visit increase. This means that more people are coming and immediately leaving THM, but of the ones that stay, they are viewing more posts per visit.
My thoughts on this: In my dream world, everyone who visited THM would stay forever. Of course, this is not a possibility but I’m glad that some people are staying and exploring more. As your overall numbers grow, it is common to see your bounce rate increase. It’s hard to build an engaged brand of people who want to read everything you share. The reality is that a lot of people are ending up on THM through google or pinterest where it was a single recipe that reeled them in. Once they’ve gotten their fix, they move on. They’re not necessarily interested in reading everything I’ve ever wrote. This is probably a good thing 😉
Social Media Growth
Social Media Growth has actually been far more exponential than the blog analytics, but because we’re dealing with a smaller scale, it doesn’t appear as noticeable or substantial.
Dec 2014- 3,450
Dec 2015- 9,500
Ohhhhhhh Facebook. I absolutely love the engagement I get on Facebook…when I get it. My Facebook followers are seriously the best and have provided me with some invaluable wisdom, but due to Facebook’s algorithm, only about 5% of my followers actually see my posts. I don’t depend on FB for traffic, so I’m not too concerned about its growth. I think bloggers think that a high facebook following is correlated with tons of traffic and more brand opportunities but it so is not. Unless you have A LOT of followers, traffic is not hugely substantial (I get around 100-300 views a day) and brands are better understanding that a big FB following doesn’t mean a whole lot anymore. Kind of sad but so be it!
Dec 2014- 3,100
Dec 2015- 15,100
Instagram has seen some pretty exponential growth over the past year but I’ve also noticed a huge shift in how people are using it. Gone are the days of sharing crappy behind-the-scenes photos. Curating an Instagram account is a job in itself, and one that I’m not particularly keen on jumping into. I love being able to motivate and inspire people on IG but I don’t want everything to seem so picture-perfect all of the time. It’s not the most sound decision if your goal is growth but I’d like to believe that the people joining in appreciate this. We shall see.
Dec 2014- 3,350
Dec 2015- 17,200
WOAH. Is what I have to say about my growth on Pinterest. Pinterest kind of blew up for me this year and I’m certainly not complaining. I attribute a lot of this growth to being super active on Pinterest and also just a bit of luck. I really should do more digging into my analytics. One day.
Dec 2014- 2,100
Dec 2015- 3,400
Twitter Shmitter. Can I be totally honest with you guys? I don’t put a whole lot of effort into Twitter. I just don’t get it. I produce visual-based content and it really isn’t a platform to highlight that. I’m happy that you guys are following along and apologize when you discover I’m not particularly active over there…maybe 2016 is my year?
I only started using Snapchat for the blog this year so I don’t have any kind of comparison in numbers. I have absolutely loved being able to share more behind-the-scenes with you guys and have you share some of your behind-the-scenes with me! Snapchat is by far my favorite social media platform in 2015. P.S. Follow me –> TheHealthyMaven
As is to be expected, with the growth happening on the blog and on social, it was natural to see my income grow. Not only does ad revenue increase as traffic grows, a larger readership also increases interest from potential sponsors.By the end of 2014 I started to land some pretty cool opportunities, but as 2015 rolled around I made it my mission to get my act together. It wasn’t about hoping work would come along, but instead about going out and getting the work for myself.
Sometimes this meant pitching myself to brands that I wanted to work with, and other times it was about showing brands the value of collaborating in a long-term partnership. Either way, it worked. In 2015 I saw my income nearly double from what I was earning as a research assistant in 2013. So that’s kind of cool!
More than anything, I’ve gotten to explore so many different projects that have pushed my skills and challenged me both personally and in my business. As much as I’ve hated the taxes, business accounts, HST numbers etc…I so value every lesson I’ve learned in building a business. I’ve also worked on some insanely cool projects alongside some of my favorite brands (Avocados from Mexico, Simply Organic Spices, Aura Cacia, among others) and we’ve been able to pursue our goals together. I couldn’t ask for better partners and people to work with!
I also started to explore affiliate links and what types of products you guys were looking to buy. In the end I ended up closing down my Parsel shop because it really was not resonating with you and started to focus more on Amazon Affiliates. The truth is, I totally get it. I use and trust Amazon and if you want to support THM by buying through the site, I want you to use and trust your sources too. It’s not the highest commission but you guys seem to appreciate its ease and accessibility so I’m happy to oblige.
Something I did differently in 2015 was go into the year with a brand strategy. Part of the growing pains of blogging is figuring out your voice and what you’re ultimately trying to say. It took me 2 years before I really figured out what my goals were with The Healthy Maven and I’m the first person to admit that these goals shift all the time, but I knew I wanted some overarching principles in place.
I also wanted these principles to dictate what THM actually looked like so 2015 was the year of the re-design. It took me 6 months of researching to figure out exactly what I wanted but eventually I took the leap and I’m so happy I did. THM now looks more like a reflection of me and the message I’m trying to convey. About that message…
I thought long and hard and wrote down a lot of ideas, but ultimately settled on three guiding words to help keep me and the blog on course. They are: Growth, Holistic, and Inspiring.
The bright, simplistic design, fonts and color palette of THM was intentional. My hope is that you see some youthfulness in there, because I truly believe that youthfulness also signifies growth and a pursuit to learn. I may be getting too deep here but I do really value having these principles to help guide me when I’m struggling with content or brand opportunities.
I also shot some lifestyle images with the insanely talented Bettina Bogar. I wanted pictures around this space that really told a story of what THM is about. I think she captured just that.
With the brand strategy in place, it was a lot easier to make choices when it came to my content strategy.
Am I encompassing a holistic view of health?
Does this post bring value and inspiration to my readers?
Does this content encourage growth and progress, not perfection?
But then there’s the question of, does this inspire me?
2015 was about finding a good balance of content that inspires my readers, but also content that I wanted to share, regardless of how it would do. But then there’s also the factor of finding an equilibrium between Evergreen content and what Lee and I like to call “EverRed content” (read the post Lee wrote about this HERE)
In order to solve these challenges, I needed to be HELLA organized and thoughtful about my content calendar. I feel like I kind of got it together this year in terms of organization so I’m pretty proud of myself for that. Yes – a calendar that manages my content. Bloggers, you need to get on this bandwagon.
Other Exciting Things!
I had some incredible things happen in 2015 that are worth mentioning:
- I hired the insanely talented, Jess as my social media manager and woman extraordinaire. I seriously don’t know what I would do without this lady. She’s patient with my craziness, adds so much fun to THM cooking sessions and has become my sounding board for just about everything. Bringing her on board was without a doubt the best decision I made this year.
- I launched my YouTube channel! Video is something I’ve been thinking about since I started THM but never had the courage or the know-how to do it. Once I let go of both of these things, turned on the camera and was just ME, I realized how natural it felt. I’ve loved exploring this new medium and can’t wait to see where in goes in 2016. Here’s the latest up on the channel!
Onto That Big Announcement…
Actually, it’s TWO big announcements!
#1. Lee and I are so grateful for the incredible support and mentorship we’ve received from other bloggers so we are thrilled to be able to provide the same level of guidance in return. Over on The Blogger Project we’ve been hosting Coffee Chats each month where we opened up 4 slots to our community for a free 20 minute chat about all things blogging!
In 2016 we wanted to expand on this idea so we will be offering TWO year-long mentorships spots to THM, FFF and TBP readers. Think of it as “spiked coffee chats” 😉 One spot will go to a reader who wants to start a blog and the other to an established blogger looking for mentorship to grow their blog. Lee and I will together mentor both of you through the year to help you achieve your blogging goals. All you have to do is:
#2. We absolutely wish we could mentor every single one of you, but since that would be impossible, we thought we’d offer you guys the next best thing. Tons of people set health and wellness goals for the new year, so we thought, why not set blogging goals? To get you off on the right track, we are offering a month-long e-course/challenge over on The Blogger Project that’s all about starting, improving and growing your blog.
The course is tailored towards new bloggers (those who are just thinking about starting to those who have just started) and experienced bloggers. You know all of those big blogging plans you have but never get to? This course will encourage you to tackle those goals. It’s full of important info, from photography to design to SEO and everything in between. The best part, if you successfully complete the challenge you will receive a blogging kit courtesy of TBP. This blogging kit includes a media kit, customizable pricing guide, and ebook walking you through the process of growing your blog and running it as a business.
All you have to do is:
You’ll be added to the TBP email list specific for the blog challenge. You’ll receive exclusive emails, tips and be entered to win a blogging kit if you complete the challenge. It kicks off on January 1st, 2016 so stay tuned!
Clearly, it’s been an exciting year but I am so so soooooo stoked to see what 2016 has to offer for THM and also for you guys! I’m getting good vibes about this upcoming one being the best year yet!
Questions, Comments, Suggestions! What do you want to know about the business side of THM?
[All images courtesy of Bettina Bogar Photography or The Healthy Maven]
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