We’re back for another progress report on The Project! Not sure what we’re talking about?
Last month we covered the weeks leading up to the official launch of SHEuncovered. It was pretty cool to see some of the work that goes into creating a blog. We hope you found it interesting!
For this report, we’ll be covering the official launch of SHEuncovered along with the 3 months following it. As with each project report, we will be highlighting our analytics along with 5 main topics: social media, branding and marketing, monetization, tech, and goals.
SHEuncovered officially launched on October 18, 2014. A whole week ahead of schedule! This would not have been possible without our design whiz, Julie from Deluxe Designs.
Not surprisingly, we didn’t see overnight success with the launch of SHE. We made a pointed effort not to reveal it to our followers on The Healthy Maven and Fit Foodie Finds, since that would defeat the purpose of showing the growth of a blog from its beginning stages. We recommend that you share your new blog on your personal social channels after you launch it, but because we are friends with bloggers on many of our personal channels, we avoided sharing on those as well. Basically, the only people who knew about SHE were us, our designer and our moms.
This also meant that any traffic we got in the following months was entirely organic. It allowed us to see what were the main traffic drivers without it being skewed by features from fellow bloggers.
Here’s what the analytics for SHEuncovered looked like for the first 3 months:
13k uniques and 26k pageviews? Not bad for 3 months!
Our top 3 referring sites: Pinterest, StumbleUpon, and Craftgawker
As we expected, Pinterest was our #1 traffic driver. We also managed to strike the jackpot, by having a post go viral on StumbleUpon. And as it turns out, Craftgawker is a major referrer, coming in third. It produced more than double the traffic that Foodgawker produced. Crafts is where it’s at!
Free Holiday Fonts – this post went viral on Pinterest just before the holidays. Despite having less than 100 followers on Pinterest, it still managed to get 587 pins. This doesn’t count the repins, so it’s fair to say a lot of eyeballs came across this post. Goes to show the power of Pinterest.
We should note that we joined Ahalogy, a pin scheduling program (more on this below) soon after launching SHE. We attribute the success of our Free Holiday Fonts post on SHE to it receiving a pin score of 99 on Ahalogy and being featured on the front page. This brought us over 1600 pageviews to the post.
Someone also shared the post on Facebook, which gave us our first boost in Facebook traffic. Unfortunately they didn’t tag us in it, so we have no idea who shared it. To whoever did, THANK YOU!
DIY Color Blocked Mugs – Our first boost in traffic for this post came from its acceptance on Craftgawker. This led to quite a few pins, which garnered a solid Pinterest bump for us. This post picked up again closer to Christmas when it went viral on StumbleUpon. We had 3 very strong days of traffic from StumbleUpon, which died a sad, quick death on Christmas Day. It was fun while it lasted!
2-Ingredient Peppermint Body Butter – The traffic coming to this post is entirely due to Craftgawker. While it didn’t gather much traction on other social channels, the click-through rate on this post was pretty high. This was a note to us to always remember to submit to CG.
Something we’re realizing is that with posts that go viral we should be going back in an optimizing them to both increase pageviews and push affiliates links. An example would be making sure our DIY tutorials had affiliate links for readers to buy all of the products we used in the posts and making sure our Holiday Fonts post linked to some of our other font and design content.
Our worst posts:
Our worst posts were mostly those involving fashion. We think this may be for 2 reasons: 1) The market for fashion bloggers is very saturated and 2) You can kind of tell we don’t love doing fashion posts. While we love dressing up and putting on pretty clothes, our wardrobes aren’t straight off the runway from Paris. We much prefer the DIY and small home projects. We’ve started to reevaluate our fashion posts after realizing they don’t quite vibe with our readership either.
Just as we expected, Pinterest was our #1 social channel traffic driver. This is because most of the content we produce is visual-based. We also focused on Pinterest in terms of social media because it doesn’t require someone to be following you to see your content. And seeing as we were starting off with zero followers on all channels, this was obviously a big factor.
One of the ways in which we were able to increase our exposure on Pinterest was to join a pin scheduling program called Ahalogy. It sources, optimizes, and amplifies content on Pinterest and it allows us to schedule out weeks or months worth of pins and then sit back and relax instead of being on Pinterest 24/7. Ahalogy auto-pins content, meaning it’s going to pick the best dates and times for your pins to go out based on the behavior of your Pinterest following. It also adds our content to the network from which all members can pin, so even if someone is not following us on Pinterest but sees our pin on Ahalogy, they can pin it.
This is what happened with our Free Holiday Fonts post. The post was quite popular among the Ahalogy community which led to quite a bit of repins and traffic.
If you remember from the last report, our goal was to be as active as possible on Pinterest and try to post to Facebook and Instagram once a day. We were quite successful at this though admittedly it didn’t lead to an explosion of followers overnight. But we made an effort to be active in general, so by the end of the first three months our social numbers were okay. We admit we could have been more active in terms of commenting and engaging with other bloggers and influencers on Instagram and Facebook but this just didn’t quite happen. At the end of 3 months, here were our numbers:
Pinterest – 152 followers
Instagram – 132 followers
Facebook – 47 followers
Twitter – 10 followers (we totally ignored Twitter…whoops!)
BRANDING AND MARKETING
Thanks to our brainstorm session before launching SHE, we had a good idea of what our brand was all about. As you can tell, all of our images use similar graphics and fonts so you know they are produced from SHEuncovered. We wanted to keep this consistent across our social channels, so we decided to brand our social channels from the get-go.
If you check out our Pinterest page, you’ll see that all of our boards start with “SHE” followed by the board theme i.e. SHE eats, SHE wears etc..
In addition to organizing our Pinterest page in a very well-branded way, we made sure that what we were pinning from other blogs was completely in line with the message of SHE both in terms of content and quality. In our experience, bloggers are guilty of two Pinterest no-nos. 1) Only pinning their own content and 2) Using Pinterest as their personal account and pinning content that is not in line with their brand.
It is equally as important that you be pinning other people’s content as it is your own. Doing so connects you to other blogs on Pinterest and typically Pinterest users don’t follow pinners who are only pinning their own content. We tried to take the perspective of the kinds of Pinterest users who we would ideally have following us. This goes along with point #2 as we wanted everything that we pinned to be entirely in line with our brand. Even though we may love pinning infinite pictures of food, that isn’t what SHE is all about so we made sure we were pinning a diverse number of themes all of which were still under the umbrella of a women’s lifestyle blog.
We also took a similar perspective with our Instagram account. If you check it out you’ll see that we’re attempting to keep all of our images vertical with a white border with the exception of our inspirational quotes. We wanted people to come across our account and have it stand out. Even a small change like a little white space between pictures can do that.
Almost all of the expenses for SHE were spent prelaunch so besides the basic ingredients and supplies used for posts, we accrued very few costs.
At this point monetization didn’t seem worthwhile. While we could probably throw an ad or two up there through Google Adsense (there’s no application process to get in), we opted to keep a clean layout since we knew we’d only be making pennies. We figured after a few months we could assess our traffic and decide the best way to monetize.
We kept things pretty simple when it came to technology on SHE. Once the site was up and running, we installed some essential plugins but didn’t go overboard as plugins can seriously slow down your site. Here were our must-download plugins:
WordPress SEO by Yoast – this plugin allows us to enter information like focus keywords and meta descriptions and can tell us how SEO-friendly our post is.
Related Posts by Zemanta – you’ll see this plugin at the bottom of our posts and it helps reduce our bounce rate by encouraging readers to check out interesting and relatable posts once they’re done reading whatever post brought them to SHE.
Akismet – for blocking spam comments
jQuery Pin It Button for Images – this places a pin it button over images to encourage readers to pin from within our posts.
Outside of plugins, some other important tech for SHE includes:
Wunderlist – an awesome website and calendar app which allows you to easily create to-do lists. Since there’s 2 of us running 4 sites, it was imperative that we have some sort of organization to keep us on top of our tasks. Wunderlist not only allows us to organize, but we can share our lists with each other and assign tasks.
Adobe Creative Cloud – this includes programs like Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. We would be nowhere without these. They allow us to easily create graphics, add text and edit photos and create awesome visuals for SHE. Since the visuals are our selling point (as is the case with most blogs) these programs are our lifesavers.
As we indicated in last months report, with each report we set a goal or two for the following month and assess how well we achieved our goal(s) from the previous month. Last report our goal was to stay on track with posting 3 times a week, focus on growing our Pinterest account and post to Facebook and Instagram once a day. Success! We even managed to post more than 3 times a week. Say what?!
Our goal for the following report, which will cover the month of January was to look into ways to monetize SHE. Whether it be through ads, affiliate links or sponsored content, what would be the best and most effective method to monetize SHE? We’ll keep you posted!
We know this report was SUPER extensive and if you read it all, we’re impressed. From here on out, our reports will only cover a single month but in this case it made sense to pack 3 into one. Stay tuned for January when we officially announce SHEuncovered to our food blog readers.