Another month. Another report. We’re back with another Project Report for y’all! Sorry about going MIA on you there. This summer has been insane and while we LOVE being a helpful resource to you, as we mentioned in the last report…
We’re doing our best to get you up-to-speed on The Project, so the last few reports we’ve been combining several months into one report. We’re finally getting closer to being back on schedule so from here on out each report will only cover one month. I’m not making any promises about them being shorter though! So much to say. So little time.
In case you’re new here:
After the mayhem that was our travel schedules in March (June looked pretttttty similar too argh), we realized how necessary it was for us to scale back on quantity of content and focus on producing quality content on a more reasonable timeline. As a result, we pulled back on posting for April to only once a week. We also were a little off our game in most other areas of SHE (namely social media) since The Blogger Project launched in April and a lot of our energy was focused on making this site awesome for you.
But we still managed to post 4 times and we think this report will be particularly interesting to those of you who have a busy schedule and want to see what it’s like to grow a blog with only a limited amount of time to dedicate to it.
Let’s get started.
In April, SHE was officially 6 months old! We’re so proud of how far our baby has come.
We only had 4 posts go up in April so we didn’t anticipate a huge surge in traffic unless something went viral. With the Spring/Summer slump upon us (this is actually a thing) this never happened. I think it’s easy as a blogger to get used to the idea that all of your content needs to be “viral-worthy”, but we feel pretty strongly that it’s more important to just show up everyday (or as often as you can) and put out your best work.
What’s interesting is that our top posts for the last report are the same for this report. Not all new content is going to be your highest traffic driver. This is something we noticed a long time ago with our food blogs. Our top posts each month can be from 2, 3, even 4 years ago! Show up, do great work and then let the machine run. So far, so good.
Here’s what our page views looked like in April. Slightly lower than previous months but c’est la vie!
That large spike is when our DIY Grapefruit Bath Bomb recipe went viral on Pinterest. Pinterest, have we mentioned we love you?
When we initially launched SHE we wanted a place where we could cover it all; A true women’s lifestyle blog. You may remember from our first report where we talked about the 6 overarching categories that we used to plan out our content calendar. Well, sometime around April we decided to put these categories to rest. The two of us share passions across the board that sometimes overlap with these categories but sometimes they don’t.
The problem with this schedule is that we found ourselves trying to cover a wide variety of topics, some of which we truthfully didn’t feel all that passionate about. What became quite obvious was that the content we really cared about (DIY, Beauty and Design) seemed to really resonate with our readers, more so than the posts we were creating to just fill-out our content calendar.
So in April we made the decision to play to our strengths. Which brings us to the argument of mass vs. niche blogging.
Going into SHE and TBP we knew that conventional wisdom is that niche blogs tend to have a higher success rate (in terms of traffic) than mass-appeal blogs. This is due to the fact that as a blogger, if you want people to keep coming back you need to be known for something. Sometimes this means a specific category (i.e. fashion, food etc..) and sometimes it can be even more specific (i.e. vegan food, natural beauty etc..) We knew all of this going into SHE but still wanted to try to blog about everything. Once we saw that this a) wasn’t actually what we wanted to do and b) wasn’t successful, we reevaluated our plan.
Does niching ourselves mean that we can’t appeal to the masses? Absolutely not. But you’re better off being known for something. We’ll chalk it up to a great lesson learned.
Once again we didn’t have much strategy when it came to social media and SHE. This likely is why our analytics kind of dipped. What we probably should have done was gone in and scheduled a bunch of pins (since it’s clear that Pinterest is our main social media traffic driver), but we didn’t. Instead we maintained trying to post to Facebook once a day and as often as we could to Instagram.
Instagram was surprisingly easier to keep up with because even when we didn’t have real life moments to share, we still had a database of images to pull from. We’ve made it a priority to build our own stock images so that if we’re too swamped to style and photograph a picture, we have a database of images that can help us stay active.
Part of SHE’s brand is inspiring women and while we’re the first people to admit that our lives are not perfect and beautifully styled all the time, it’s incredibly difficult to garner a large following on social by sharing those unstyled, uncurated moments. So having that stockpile of images (generally shot in batches or repurposed from older posts or vacations) is so key.
BRANDING AND MARKETING
Honestly, not much changed in terms of branding and marketing between April and previous months. We’ve still kept our Instagram and Pinterest profiles well branded (read more about that here) and continue to stick to the same fonts and colors within our content (more on that here).
Next month we’ll change things up but April was about continuing to ride the ride from the brand we’ve built.
Once again, SHE earned a bit of money in April (despite a lack of effort on our part). We sold another recipe to Willow and Sage magazine (see last month’s report for an explanation) and April we began chats with a new brand for sponsored content on SHE. We’ll get more into the details of this relationship in next month’s report since the specifics of the campaign didn’t come to light until May but it was cool to see how the techniques we use in securing sponsors for our food blogs can be applied to baby SHE!
One of the more popular questions we get is when to know when to start charging and how much to charge. To be honest, there is no right answer. What we do stress is that value can be found in ways besides analytics. Bloggers get wrapped up in the idea that they can only charge if they have a huge readership, but this simply is not the case. Even though SHE’s reach is not nearly as substantial as FFF or THM, we still bring value in the form of shareable content for brands and professional photography.
We’ll get more into how we decided on a rate for SHE sponsored posts in next months report but we want to bring things back to what really secured these partnerships (both May’s sponsored posts and our magazine feature), our media kit. We use TBP’s media kit for SHE is we truly believe that having a well designed and professional media kit is what sets us apart from other bloggers. If you’re a new blogger who is trying to build relationship with brands, you need a media kit ASAP.
TOTAL EARNED: $100
TOTAL SPENT: $25 (supplies)
As Lee and I were discussing this report, we thought we had no other pieces of new tech from SHE to share with you and then we realized the most important one was the one we were both using, Skype!
Skype – its how we communicate. We skype at LEAST one time per day and usually spend most of the day on Skype in case we need to chat about something related to SHE or TBP or even our food blogs. We cannot begin to explain the value in having a trusted partner to work with when it comes to blogging. Blogging can be isolating, even if you’re interacting with readers and other bloggers all day long. It’s important to find and build those authentic relationships with people who you truly connect with but can also help you in building your goals or potentially collaborating on a mutually shared goal.
Not only do we live in two different cities, but we live in two different COUNTRIES. Having a way to communicate outside of text/email/fb messaging helps us to get our messages across to each other and get in the much needed facetime that’s required to build a project as a team.
Our goal from last month was to pull back on content to a more reasonable rate (check!) and focus more on DIY/Design content (fail). 1 for 2. We’ll take it!
Our goal for May is to get back on track with social and put some social strategy into play. Between our food blogs, TBP and SHE it can get a bit overwhelming so Lee and I are going to put an organizational system in place so we can be more successful at managing all of them.
We are also going to try to only post DIYs and beauty posts for May to see how good of a fit it is for us but also its implications on our traffic and reaching a wider audience. We’ll keep you posted!
Thanks so much for reading and stay tuned for the next report!