Although 2016 was a terrible year for many, many different reasons, as far as my blogging business goes, last year was… well, it was OK, I guess.
Wait: that’s not quite fair. While my blog didn’t grow this year, it didn’t do too badly either: in fact, it was ranked amongst the Top Ten UK Fashion Blogs, and the Top Ten UK Lifestyle Blogs, and is currently sitting at number 5 in the HIBS100 – all of which is way more than I could reasonably have expected to achieve during a year when I was so preoccupied by other things that it’s amazing I managed to blog AT ALL for some of it.
That’s the good news, though.
The bad news is that although I did manage to keep things fairly stable in terms of traffic and finances last year, that’s pretty much ALL I did. I ended 2016 in almost exactly the same way I started it: sure, I managed to get onto a few lists, which gave my ego a bit of a boost, but in real terms, nothing has really changed. My traffic for December 2016 was almost exactly the same as the traffic for December 2015, for instance, and although I can choose to view that as an achievement in itself, especially given how hard it’s been to keep things ticking over this year, it would’ve been nice to feel I’d made at least some progress, rather than just standing still – which is what I’ve basically been doing all year.
So, this year, I want to change that.
I’m the kind of person who works best when I have some kind of goal to work towards, but I’m also the kind of person who often needs someone else to keep me accountable (Otherwise I’ll just be all, “Goals? What goals?!”), so, in a bid to provide myself with both goal and motivation, here’s what I’m hoping to achieve in 2017:
Yes, I know I said pageviews aren’t the be-all-and-end-all, and I stand by that. They are, however, a useful way to measure a blog’s growth, so I’m setting myself a goal of hitting 200,000 pageviews per month at least once this year. I came pretty close to meeting that target in 2016, but then the summer slump hit, and things in my personal life took a turn for the disastrous, so things basically went downhill from there. At the moment, I’m averaging around 150,000 pageviews/month, so this shouldn’t be too hard to reach: or WILL it?
20,000 Instagram followers
This one is slightly more ambitious, as I’m currently at just under 12,000, so I’ve quite a way to go. After a year of almost no growth whatsoever, though, my Instagram did start to pick up towards the end of the year, and I’m hoping to build on that this year. I’ve worked out that I’ll need something like 700 new followers each month to meet my goal by the end of the year, and although it’ll be tough, I don’t think it’s impossible, and I figured setting this goal a little too high would probably be better for me, motivation-wise, than setting it too low. We’ll see. (Oh, and you’ll find my Instagram account here, by the way, if you fancy giving me a nudge towards this goal!)
1,500 email subscribers
Yeah, so this one will be a whole lot more difficult. At the time of writing, I have just over 800 email subscribers, and that number has remained the same for literally MONTHS now. As used to be the case with my Instagram account, every day I gain a handful of new subscribers, and then lose exactly the same amount, so the list never grows. Unlike my Instagram issue, however, I’m not really sure what to do about this one: my list is purely to notify subscribers of new posts, and I suspect people probably just get sick of being emailed every day, or find some other way to follow instead (Well, it’s either that or they suddenly decide they hate me, obviously…), so they unsubscribe.
Either way, I’m not sure what else I can do with an email subscription to make it more attractive to people: I keep reading advice about starting a newsletter instead, or offering some kind of incentive to sign up, but I just don’t have time for a newsletter (It’s one of those things that’s been on my ‘I should really try this’ list forever now, but I’ve basically accepted that my resources are stretched enough without giving myself pressure to create even MORE content: not that I can even think of anything I could include that isn’t already on the blog or social media!), and don’t really want to have to ‘bribe’ people to follow me, so… yeah. I have no idea.
I also don’t wan’t to dump the email list, either: I can see from my analytics that although I don’t have a huge amount of email subscribers, the ones I DO have are very important to my blog, and that little list sends me quite a bit of my daily traffic, so if I can work out how to grow it, it could be a very good thing indeed!
(P.S. If you want to help me out with this one, you can subscribe by email here!)
Publish another ebook
I published my first ebook in 2016, and would really like to write another one this year. The problem with that, however, is that I currently have no idea what the next book should be about, and I have even less of an idea when I’ll find the time to write the thing, so I guess it’s a good job I have an entire year to do it, huh?
Also, I don’t have a set goal for this, but I’d also like to work out to to better promote my existing ebook. I had grand plans for this when it was launched, but then life got in the way, and I never did get around to them, so I ended up basically just hoping people will stumble across it and buy it. As business plans go, that’s not really a great one, obviously, so this year I’ll aim to do my research, and find some clever ways to promote it!
Stress less about my posting schedule
I do find a schedule a useful tool for my blog, and mine definitely helps me stay on top of things every week. With that said, even although I know perfectly well that most people won’t even notice if I miss a day (or even a few days) here or there, I still have a tendency to get stressed if I don’t have a new post ready to go on a day I was “supposed” to be publishing one, which leads to me rushing something out just for the sake of it. This week, for instance, is always a difficult one blog wise, because while the rest of the world is back at work, we still have various birthdays and other events to attend, which means I’ll be out of the house most of the day: by the time I get home it’ll be too dark to take photos, and I’ll be too tired to even WANT to.
Most years, I’ll have scheduled posts in advance to cover this week, but this year I didn’t get round to it, for obvious reasons, so instead of just enjoying the extra days off, I’m finding myself stressing over the fact that I don’t have any new posts scheduled, instead, which is silly, really. I mean, obviously if it was an extra month I was taking, that would make a difference – I AM running a business here, after all – but I know from my analytics that a couple of days here and there isn’t really significant in the great scheme of things, and this year I’d really like to focus on quality over quantity, and to find a better work/life balance: I know I’ve said this before, but it’s very easy to turn a “dream” job into a nightmare if you’re not careful, and I’d hate to see that happen just because I can’t allow myself a day off occasionally.
I’m not making these public, because, despite appearances, I like to keep at least SOME things private here. I do, however, also have some financial goals for my blog, most of which revolve around my main aim, which is to make Forever Amber my sole source of income. As some of you might know, I currently run three separate blogs, and although this one is by far the biggest in terms of traffic, it’s NOT the biggest earner, which means I still rely on the other two sites for part of my income.
This has always been my biggest blogging issue, as well as my biggest blogging regret: I know there are plenty of people out there who are able to run multiple blogs without breaking a sweat, but I’m unfortunately not one of them, and I find it stressful as well as time-consuming to constantly have to juggle the running of three separate websites. In the long term, I just don’t think it’s sustainable for me, and while I don’t really want to close the other sites down altogether, this year my main aim is to make Forever Amber successful enough that I no longer have to rely on the other two for income.
This is going to be a pretty big challenge, and I’ve no idea if I’ll be able to pull it off or not, but my experiences during the past year (and particularly the days I spent quite literally working from my sick bed because I knew I couldn’t afford to just NOT update those sites while I was ill…) have made me even more determined than ever to make it happen… er, in around about a week’s time, that is. After that, though, I will TOTALLY knuckle down to achieving these goals, I swear it. I will also stop eating chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner, start working out again, and basically do ALL the good things I’ve been promising myself I WILL get round to as soon as the holidays are over. No, seriously, I mean it: just give me a few more days to finish off the last of the Christmas chocolate, and I’ll get right on it. Really.
What about you? Do you have any blog-related goals for 2016?