It's been forever since I posted my last blog statistics and income report, and I'll get to the reasons for that in a bit, but first: I'm happy to be writing these blog and Etsy reviews again! It's such a nice finishing flourish to my review process in my bullet journal at the end of each month.
While I'm planning a larger, more cohesive look back at my blog in 2017, there were a lot of small problems, beginner mistakes, and lessons learned I wanted to tackle before that.
And I wanted to let you all have a good laugh at my stupidity as I reveal a huge blogging mistake I made. Seriously. Big mistake. And I didn't even notice for the longest time.
So, here we go! My November blog and social media statistics, my income report, and the 5 beginner mistakes I'm guilty of.
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Blog Pageviews & Traffic Report
... and which blogging mistakes I corrected to finally get things going in the right direction.
During my summer/autumn blogging slump (more on that below) I hadn't really looked at my blog page statistics or Google analytics. So when I finally did just that, I was shocked to find that my bounce rate was extremely high.
At first, I thought that maybe that was just me. My blog is a bit of a mixed bag of different subjects and maybe people were just annoyed with my writing, or my English wasn't good enough, or something.
I got quite demotivated and posted less frequently since I felt that my content wasn't cutting it, anyway.
- First Ever Blog Statistics and Income Report
- Third Month of Blogging: Freelance Work and Blog Growth
- Four Lessons from four Months of Blogging (+ Income Report)
- 5th Month of Blogging Income Report: Little Successes and New Goals
But in the end, it turned out to be a much simpler mistake: My page loading time had gone through the roof in recent months!
My image files were HUGE and often crossing over into the 2MB file size range. Combined with my long posts and the sheer number of pictures in each post, that lead to pages loading slowly - and lots of people just closing the page due to that.
Lesson Learned: Don't just assume, but go and look at the numbers and reasons behind them. If you suspect a problem, don't avoid it.
Why hadn't I noticed this before? South Korea does have some of the fastest Wifi in the world, and while it did take a couple of seconds for each of my posts to load fully, I'd never considered that:
- Not everyone had the same fast internet access as I did.
- My Browser Cache was a big part of why my blog loaded so fast.
- My work as an illustrator had gotten me used to only ever working with large files, so I hadn't considered just how small I had to go for blog pictures.
It's such a stupid, avoidable mistake, but I hadn't noticed the problem for months and only went about correcting it near the end of November.
Here's what happened when I finally did:
What a change! My bounce rate went from the 90% range to hovering near 0%. And of course, that affected my pageviews, too!
So while I feel kind of stupid for not noticing what was off sooner, it's actually a relief to find out that it wasn't my content, my less-than-perfect English, or a similarly essential problem that kept my blog from growing.
While the page loading time is annoying to correct (I'm still changing pictures, one at a time...), it's also very simple as far as solutions go, and I'm very motivated to see what I can achieve now that this blog problem is solved!
Lessons Learned: Keep my blog posts shorter and make images as small as possible (even if my illustrator's heart cries out in pain).
Also: LOOK AT YOUR BLOG ANALYTICS. Seriously.
With that last-minute spike in blog traffic thanks to me going back through old blog posts and adjusting image formats, I got to:
- 7623 Pageviews
- 3451 Sessions
... for November 2017.
I hope that's the start of an upward trend after months of stagnation due to the mentioned page loading time problem and my irregular and infrequent postings.
I wrote a total of four blog posts in November. You can see how little that number is compared to what I'd call the "honeymoon period" of starting a new blog. During the first months after setting up my blog, I usually wrote double that many blog posts.
But it's an upward trend after the summer slump - and as I described in my NaNoWriMo Survival Guide, I actually pre-wrote a lot of material for December!
A note on why I didn't blog much from Summer till now:
While traveling to my home country Switzerland for my brother's wedding and then returning via Thailand (my first true vacation in years!) definitely played a role, too, in that I had to focus on freelance work before and after that long absence, the main reason I fell off the blogging wagon was this:
South Korea changed its PayPal regulations literally overnight. Suddenly, I could receive payments, but no longer transfer them to my (Korean) bank account nor send them to any PayPal account in Korea (so, not to my husband or friends), NOR could I use it to pay for online shopping in Korea. These new regulations for foreign residents made my PayPal account pretty much useless overnight, which stings since most of my international illustration freelance work is paid via the platform, and my whole Etsy shop (as well as any smaller income from blogging or Youtube) depend on PayPal, too.
So, I was thrown for a loop and had to reach out to long-term clients, switch up payment methods wherever I could, and start to work more for local Korean companies.
That change did take its sweet time, but by now, I've got my income ducks in a row and can get back into blogging and Etsy.
While I won't be able to use the money here in Korea, I can still pay for the occasional international online shopping, and travel booking sites like Agoda allow paying with PayPal, too.
And I actually got to work on some very interesting and creative illustration projects here in Korea thanks to that forced change!
Lesson learned: The internet is always a bit unpredictable, so stay flexible and make the best out of problems that are out of your control.
The internet is a wild beast and you never know when certain sites or platforms change. I'll keep on trying to diversify my income streams so that I'm ready for any future changes.
Another Mistake: Inconsistency in my Blogging Schedule
The summer and autumn slump explained above really took a toll on my blogging rhythm and growth. While a lot of it had to do with those months being very busy and my work situation changing so abruptly, there was also a bit of a "blog hangover" involved.
Starting a new blog gave me so much inspiration and creative freedom, and I wanted to post ALL THE THINGS.
But as always, life happens, other projects and work take up blogging time, and the initial motivation to write blog posts even if it's the middle of the night after a busy day, ebbs out.
A lot of first-year blogs run into that slump. Maybe growth doesn't happen as fast as hoped for, or ideas run out, or you have to re-evaluate what worked and what didn't.
I had to learn to not let obstacles get me down.
Lesson Learned: Instead of focusing on what doesn't work yet, I looked at what I'd created so far, what made me happy, and how I could evolve.
Using some time at the end of each month to reflect (I use my bullet journal for that purpose) helped to get me back on track!
Creative Life & Blog Income Report:
Since I'd been focusing on my work as an illustrator for the past few months, I didn't really take on private commissions. Here's a little income report, anyway:
Private Art Commission Income: 620$ (all of these came in via Instagram or Etsy, so that alone is a great reason to keep going!)
Etsy Sales: 136$ (My best month yet, especially since most of that was passive income through printables!)
Ads/Affiliates: I'm still taking baby steps, but after having solved the bounce rate/page loading time issue, I was motivated to finally place ads and hope to take my affiliate links more seriously in the near future!
So far, I'm signed up for Shareasale and Amazon Associates since they have the products and programs I personally use most - like Grammarly or Audible.
In the single week I had Google Adsense up and running, I've earned a whopping 2$.
Society 6: Also, only 2$. I need to start uploading some art there!
If you're looking to buy something from Society6 or Etsy, consider signing up for Ebates to get cashback on your purchases. I use them to shop at Amazon and Rakuten, too, and you'll get a bonus 10$ credit if you sign up via my referral link.
Social Media Account Growth
Not much changed over on Facebook and Twitter, since I barely use either of those - still, even my random sketches attracted a couple of followers.
Twitter: 768 Followers
Facebook: 1925 Likes/Followers (maybe I should get back to posting on Facebook...)
Pinterest: 841 Followers
Instagram: 3215 Followers
Pinterest is ever-growing, and that's really all I can say about it!
I've switched back to manual pinning just because that's easy to do on my phone when I have free time and I always forgot to schedule new pictures anyway. So while I loved the ease and automatization both Tailwind and Boardbooster brought, I didn't feel they were that essential to my style of pinning and my "niche" (if you can call this random blog that). I might get back to them once I have more content to pin, though!
On Instagram, I finally switched things up in November!
I love Instagram and it's the social media platform I personally use the most.
But for the longest time, I'd only posted once per day or even every few days. I was scared of spamming and wasn't sure in which direction I wanted my account to go since I like to post a variety of themes and didn't want to make my feed "messy".
I gave up on that completely and embarked on a fun little challenge for myself at the end of November: Posting three times a day (morning, afternoon, late at night) and with only a dark-light-dark-light overall color scheme as my limitation.
Suddenly, Instagram was so much fun again!
Since I posted so much, the pressure on choosing the "right" image disappeared and I just gave glimpses into my work, life in Korea, Etsy stickers, participated in the #meetthemakerweek (which I wouldn't have had the courage for if I hadn't "loosened" up first) and just generally felt more genuine and engaged.
Lesson Learned: If you're feeling stuck, switch things up and have at least one part of your online presence be purely for fun!
I used an Instagram tracker doodle in my bullet journal to plan my feed sporadically and check off each day's worth of posts.
The pen and paper approach to planning for a digital platform felt great! Much more intuitive and mindful than just playing around in my (beloved) VSCO cam or Instagram feed planning apps.
The final doodled Instagram feed looked so nice and was so helpful that I immediately sketched a new one for December! While I won't keep on posting three times a day since that takes forever, I plan on two posts per day and switching it up as I go.