We’re back for another progress report on The Project! Not sure what we’re talking about?
If you were a brave soul who made it through the last project report you are up-to-speed on the first three months of SHEuncovered. We were pretty excited about the progress we made and are blown-away by how much our little blog grew in just 3 months.
Today we’re covering the next 3 months (we know it’s a lot of info – we’re just trying to get you up-to-speed!) including everything from announcing SHE on FFF and THM in January, bringing on writers in February, to some bumps we ran into in March. We think this post is probably the most informative yet.
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.
Let’s get started!
On January 2nd, 2015 we officially announced SHEuncovered to our readers over on The Healthy Maven and Fit Foodie Finds. While we didn’t disclose that SHE was connected to The Blogger Project, we did reveal it as our new blog. Even though we’re reporting about it here, we still run SHE as its own blog and it truly is a passion project for us. We opted not to introduce SHE to our food blog readers in the beginning few months since it would be cheating if what we’re trying to showcase is what it’s really like to start a blog. We figured after 3 months of doing no promotions for SHE on our food blogs or social channels and still managing to get it off the ground, it was game time to share SHE with our readers.
Naturally we saw a spike in traffic…
Even though we are the bloggers behind these “bigger” blogs, it just goes to show the benefit or building solid blogger relationships. Both Lee and I still experience the surge that comes with being shared on other blogs and truthfully this only happens because we’ve shared their content in the past. If you’re looking to start building your blogging community don’t forget to check out this post on the benefits of starting a blogging tribe and how to do it.
Here are our top referrers: Pinterest, Craftgawker, and Stumbleupon.
Not surprisingly, Pinterest killed it again! The 9 Ways to Rock a Bun post was our top post, which can entirely be attributed to the success of the graphic being shared on Pinterest. Goes to show the power of a great graphic.
For the first two months of 2015 we were aiming to post 3 times a week. This was strategic as we were trying to get as much content out there as we could. But as March rolled around and mine and Lee’s travel schedules got out of control, we pulled back on SHE immensely. Did we want to? No. But life happened and it will always take precedence to blogging.
The nice part about pulling back is that by March we had 5 months worth of content already circling around so we actually didn’t see a huge dip in our analytics. So the lesson learned here as a new blogger is to focus on producing as much content as possible (without sacrificing quality) so that when you do need to pull back your traffic won’t be affected dramatically.
We also thought that posting very thematic content would do better (valentine’s day, st.patrick’s day, etc.), but it turns out our best content are the posts that are ALWAYS relevant (bath bombs, 9-ways to rock a bun, etc.). This is somewhat different from our food blogs, where themed posts can be quite successful so we’re still trying to figure out the best answer to the question of themed content. We’ll keep you posted!
Here’s the total truth: For Jan, Feb, March we didn’t really have a social strategy.
As we mentioned, life got insanely busy and managing 3 blogs while also trying to get TBP off the ground meant that something had to give and social media for SHE is what we gave up.
Because Instagram is not a traffic-driver, we chose to scale back on it. We also pulled back on our Facebook posts but still made it a priority to schedule at least one post a day.
As our analytics have made clear, Pinterest is where it’s at so even though we pulled back on other social channels, we made sure to continue scheduling content on SHE’s Pinterest. To learn more about how we schedule check out last month’s project report.
In order to really help spread the Pinterest love we did some research to get SHE onto a bunch of group boards. Group boards are key for bloggers because it allows them to share their content with a larger audience outside of their own Pinterest following.
We went about getting SHE onto group boards by using a site called PinGroupie. It allows you to search by niche to find group boards that match your interest or niche. Rather than aiming for the group boards with the highest number of followers, we looked for more medium sized ones that would be accepting of a new blog. From there we got the contact info of the group board owner and either messaged them on Pinterest or sent them an email asking to join. We typically share some of the content we’ve produced to prove the quality of our work and always promise to play by the group board rules. It’s been successful for us most of the time! To learn more about beginning a Pinterest pro, check out this post with our top tips!
BRANDING AND MARKETING
You’ll notice with all images produced on SHE we use similar fonts and overlays. We occasionally play around with color, but for the most part our images look like they’re coming from the same site. This is absolutely intentional. In our dream world, someone would see an image from any of our sites and immediately know, which site it came from.
We’re also big on including some kind of longer graphic in each post. This is done entirely for Pinterest-purposes. You’ve probably been seeing more sites with longer image-collages lately. That is because it’s been proven that longer pins take up more territory on Pinterest and are more likely to be clicked or repinned. We like to give people the option but when it comes to pinning our own content we usually just pin the long collage image. We attribute a lot of our traffic from Pinterest directly to these.
This is the first report where we can officially announce that SHE made money!
We were reached out to by a magazine asking to share two of our DIYs in their next issue. Originally they inquired to see if they could print it for free, but our experience with copyright of recipes for our food blogs could not allow us to give up rights to the content without being paid. All we did was ask for their budget and eventually we landed on a rate we were both happy with. We should add that it was substantially less than what we would sell content for for our food blogs and probably lower than we should have charged considering how much the magazine costs ($15.99 an issue!!!), but it was a good place to start and freaking awesome to see our names in print. Our little baby is growing up!
With traffic growing we thought it was time to explore the issue of ads. We also know from experience that we’d probably only be earning pennies with our current analytics so we decided to look into an alternative option rather than signing up for Google Adsense or trying to get into a premium network.
We decided to sign-up for Passionfruit Ads and test how it went. Passionfruit allows you to sell ad space on your blog as part of a marketplace where advertisers can browse to find blogs that might be the right match for their product. You set the number of ads, price and what you can offer to advertisers. It’s a neat concept!
It was quite seamless to sign-up and get things set-up but eventually our free trial ran out and without any offers from advertisers we didn’t think it was worth the cost per month ($3-$9 per month). Maybe it was the size of our blog or the content or how much we were charging but for whatever reason it wasn’t successful for us. Back to the drawing board!
We still don’t think it’s worth it to sign-up with an ad network because we won’t make much money and just end up cluttering our design in the process. We think we’ll reassess in the future as traffic grows.
TOTAL EARNED: $200
TOTAL SPENT: $50 (supplies)
In January, when we announced SHE on our food blogs, we decided to open it up to writers. SHE writers could talk about any of the various topics under our women’s lifestyle umbrella. We had a HUGE response, which was pretty cool but also made us realize how important it is to have a well-oiled machine in making sure we’re on top of all of the writers.
Coschedule was immensely important in ensuring we were consistently communicating and getting all the info we needed from our writers. Coschedule is a content calendar plugin that is linked to your WordPress account. You can assign writers profiles in WordPress and they can get access to your content calendar. This also allows you to assign posts to them and they can submit their posts for review before publishing. It allowed us to minimize the number of emails and drafts being sent back-and-forth and made it a lot easier on our writers.
Coschedule is also huge in ensuring we stay on top of our own content calendars. It also allows us to schedule social shares (from Facebook and Twitter) directly within WordPress.
If we could marry one WordPress plugin it would be Coschedule…
But even with Coschedule, managing writers is hard. With our own crazy schedules we made the the choice to scale back and try another round of writers when we have more time.
As with each previous 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 look into ways to monetize SHE. Even though our experimentation with ads was not as successful, we did manage to negotiate our first content sale. Huzzah!
Our goal for the following report, which will cover the month of April was to pull back on content to a rate where we could be more consistent and is more manageable with our schedules. We also planned to focus more of our content on DIY and Design. In looking at our analytics it is clear that this type of content is our most successful, and truth-be-told it’s where our interests really lay. It’s an interesting test of niche vs. general blogs.
Congrats on making it through this novel. Stay tuned for our next report coming soon!