This post is Day 1 of the 28 Day Blogging Breakthrough Challenge. You can chat about the challenge on social media using the hashtag #BloggingBreakthrough. Click here to view all of the challenge prompts.
It’s official. 2016 is here which means it’s the start of a brand new year of blogging. Like me, I’m sure you’ve got lots of grand plans up your sleeve and want to make this another big year for your blog. But how do you make sure that’s going to happen?
If there’s one way to kick start the new blogging year it’s this. Forget reading blog posts, guest posting for others and scrolling your way through endless social media feeds. If you want a breakthrough with your blog, the first day of this challenge is how you make that happen. That’s what we’re going to talk about today - by looking at where you’re at with your blog right now.
Why Is Reflecting so Important?
You can’t break through with your blog unless you know what’s working and what isn’t. It’s like anything - a business doesn't function year on year without a review. And you don’t move up the career ladder without an annual appraisal. This applies directly to your blog too.
Before you can start to plan what you want to introduce to your blog this year and how you want to grow it, you’ve got to take some time and reflect on your current situation. So, what does this start with?
What You Need to Look At
Before you even get into the numbers, there are actually far more important things to look at. The first of these is:
#1 How You Feel About Your Blog
I know this sounds vague, but stay with me. You can achieve a lot in a year and I bet you’ve achieved at least one thing with your blog over the past twelve months. Whether it’s been a certain number of pageviews or you’ve reached a specific amount of Twitter followers, you’ve met a goal.
But the problem I find is that if I’m not happy with my blog, then I don’t feel as good about achieving these goals.
Think about your blog. Think about the journey you’ve been on with it over the past year. I bet there have been times when you’ve been in love with it - and times when you’ve hated it too. Try and pinpoint the times when you felt these emotions. When you loved it, why did you love it? Was it because you were posting about content you loved? Was it because you were interacting everyday with your community? Was it because you felt comfortable with your posting schedule?
And when you hated it, why was that? Was it because you felt pressure from the blogging world? Was it because you didn't know what direction to go in? Was it because you just weren’t seeing the results you wanted?
Our emotions can go up and down with our blogs. But before you can decide how to move on in 2016, you’ve got to understand how you feel about your blog right now.
I recently read a post by one of my favourite bloggers, Katie on her blog, The White Journal. She talked about how content in the blogging world has become a lot more editorial and professional. She said she misses the personal, creative, lifestyle aspects of blogs and wants to bring this back to life in her own blog.
These are some of the things you need to think about. What gets you excited? That’s what you should write about.
#2 Your Content
This is what blogging is all about, right? Imagery, community and consistency are all really important. But content is what matters the most. And what you’re blogging about usually determines how happy you are with what you're doing.
While lots of people are cutting down on the amount they publish content, to me, it’s still the most important thing. That’s actually something I want to build on this year. So it makes sense that the first thing I look when I’m reflecting on my blog for the new year is my content.
Before you begin, it’s important to have your main message in the front of your mind. What purpose does your blog serve? People go to In The Frow for fashion tips and travel inspiration. People go to Kate La Vie for beauty and interiors inspiration.
What do people visit your site for?
Then it’s about starting with your categories or the theme for your blog. Ask yourself if these all are still in line with what your blog is about. If they are, keep them. If not, either get rid or change them into something new.
As for your content, look at all the different types of things you’ve been writing about over the past year. If you want to include more recipes, go for it! If you’re finding that you’re falling out of love with beauty, cut down on those posts and incorporate others.
Do a huge spider diagram and narrow down all your categories so you’re posting about things you enjoy. Combine this with a publishing schedule that works for you and you’ll feel happy about your blog everyday.
Blogging isn't about doing what everyone else is doing. It’s about being you and writing about what you want to write about.
#3 Track Your Progress
Now we’re onto the part of Day 1 of this challenge that many of you might shy away from - the numbers. I don’t like obsessing over them, but they still play a key part in the growth of your blog.
I check my stats once a month. That’s it. Just one hour a month is all you need.
You’ll also need access to Google Analytics. If you don’t have it at the moment, it’s really easy to set up. Lauren from Elle & Company wrote a really great post for beginners - just click here to read it.
There are a few things that are important in Google Analytics for you to keep a special eye on. I’ll just run through them with you now. Or if you want some more in depth info, you can read it here.
Pageviews: This is exactly what it says on the tin - how many pageviews your site gets. It’s about individual pages. So each time someone clicks on a new page on your blog, that counts as a pageview. You’ll find that this should be the highest number on your Google Analytics dashboard.
Avg. Session Duration: This is how long people are spending on your site. Are they clicking off straight away? Or are they having a look around? That is what this tells you.
Bounce Rate: The amount of people that go to a page on your site and leave straight away. We don’t want that. The lower your bounce rate, the better. Your pages have to feed together. What can you do to make people stick around?
Site Content: This tells you your most popular posts in order. It’s great for coming up with new content ideas.
So to help you track your progress over the next twelve months, I’ve put together a spreadsheet that I use for my analytics too. I really hope you find it helpful! Just hit the button to download it.
All you need to do is input your stats for each month in the boxes. On Google Analytics, make sure you put the date range to the month you’re reviewing, then you’ll see that each stat in the spreadsheet relates exactly to the right one on your Google Analytics dashboard. It’s as simple as that.
Download the spreadsheet and keep it somewhere safe. I store mine with everything else in Google Drive. Note down all your stats for December 2015. Then write a note in your diary for the first day of every month to update this spreadsheet.
This will help you keep track of your progress to see if what you’re doing really is working.
You can also do a big spider diagram of all your content ideas. Take some pictures and tag me on Instagram if you give this a try, and remember to use the hashtag #BloggingBreakthrough!
To getting a breakthrough with your blog
Let’s talk in the comments - do you find it helpful to look at where you are with your blog right now? Will you be keeping track of your progress with this spreadsheet?