By ProBlogger Expert Nicole Avery.
If you follow even a few blogs as well as this one, you will know that within a few weeks from now there will be numerous posts about setting goals for the New Year. Goal setting is an essential tool to successful blogging, but before you can set a goal, you need to take time and look back over the last 12 months and review your progress. Now is the perfect time to do it!
There are two components two a blogging review that I recommend you undertake:
1. Quantitative review
This is your typical standard yearly review. You measure your performance against any goals you set for the year, plus a review of your key blogging metrics and analyse the results. The exact blogging metrics you are focusing on may differ to other bloggers, but the ones listed below will provide a solid foundation to analyse the health of your blog, especially if you haven’t done this before.
For these first statistics I have used Google Analytics latest terminology. While the exact wording of the statistic may differ in other analytics packages, the metrics should still be easily found:
- Sessions – a session is a group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame. You can read more about sessions here. What is the trend for the year?
- Acquisition – this refers to how visitors came to your site. Within this you can find out who your top referring sites and social media channels were. This data is important to know so you can make decisions about where you invest your time with activities like guest posts and how much time you spend on a particular social media for example.
- Average session duration – measures how long visitors are spending on your blog. Within this data set it is important to note the behaviour of different sources of traffic. Pinterest referrals may be your biggest referrer of traffic for example, but they may actually stay on your site for the shortest duration, bouncing quickly away from your site, giving you eyeballs but not engaged readers. This analysis allows you to place a more holistic view of the quality of the traffic you are receiving from differing sources.
- Popular posts overall – this will show you what posts are evergreen for your blog. By looking at these posts you can generate ideas for future content.
- Popular posts for 2016 – as with your evergreen content, finding out what has resonated with readers this year can help with ideas for content for the New Year. (You may need to do a manual analysis to collate this list of popular content.)
You can see Darren’s post on 17 Statistics to Monitor on Your Blog if you want to look into this area further.
The next statistics to look at are your newsletter statistics. If you don’t have a newsletter for your blog then that should definitely be on your list of key actions to do this week! To see why it is so important to have a newsletter read these posts from Darren 8 Reasons to Add a Newsletter to Your Blog and 4 Pretty Pictures to Illustrate Impact of Email Newsletters on Traffic.
If you have a newsletter take time to review these stats:
- Average open and click rate – to see how you compare to industry averages you can use this table as a guide
- Average subscribe rate – this looks at what your monthly average subscribe rate for your newsletter list. If there are months where you had higher subscribes, look to find the cause and see if you can replicate it.
- Annual subscribe percentage increase – while monthly subscribe rates are useful, it is good to see a longer term trend and know how your list has grown over the year.
- Average unsubscribe rate – look at what campaigns where above the average and try and identify what factors may have caused the increase. See if you can make changes to your campaigns to prevent it from occurring again.
- Popular campaigns via open rate for the year – like your popular posts on the blog, analysing the data can help you create content that will resonate with your subscribers for the coming year
- Popular campaigns via click rate for the year – if click through is something you are focusing on for your newsletters, then examine this stat, looking at what type of links get people clicking through to your blog and replicate it where possible.
Social media statistics
For those social media networks you are active on, it is important to analyse their performance over the year. The purpose of having a presence on social media networks may be different for each blogger. For some being on social media is key to amplifying blog content and having people click through to blog. For others it is about building community, engagement and trust. How you analyse the statistics of each social media platform will therefore depend on your purpose:
- if click-through is your purpose, then you will need to dig into your Google Analytic referral stats to see which networks are performing the best for you and what posts are gaining the most traction on your networks. You will also need to examine the reach you have on each network and what the trends have been over the year.
- if you are using social media for community then looking at engagements and growth stats would be your focus to assess if the time you are spending on the networks is giving the results you are after.
If you have monetized your blog, then you will also need to review this aspect of your blog’s performance for the year. A base review should include the following:
- Percentage changes from previous year in revenue, expenses and net profit – look at why the changes occurred and take this take this into account for your plan for 2017.
- Revenue make up – analysing key sources of revenue and their trends. This means breaking down revenue into streams like advertising, sponsored posts, product, freelance work, affiliates etc.
- Most profitable revenue streams – while revenue in raw total maybe high for a particular stream, once expenses including your time are accounted for it may not be the most profitable revenue stream. For most bloggers time is a key restraint, so working out where you are getting your best return for time invested is important.
2. Qualitative review
Once you have completed the number based review, it is important to undertake a qualitative review of your blog as well. This allows you to take a bigger picture look at the performance of your blog for the year. The blogosphere is fast moving and changes rapidly. So you can capture all of what you achieved, not just the numbers that fell out at the end, there are some questions you can ask yourself:
- What were your key achievements – you may have failed to achieve some of the goals you set yourself, but you may have scored your first speaking gig that you hadn’t set as part of your goals. It is important to take time to acknowledge your successes that cannot be measured by a stats package.
- What challenges did you overcome – blogging will have thrown you many challenges over the year. What did you face and overcome? Your blog might have been hacked, you might have lost some freelance work from one source but pitched for new work and won it.
- What did you learn – there is always so much we can take away from the challenges we face, so take time to reflect on what you learnt and how you can apply it to improve you blogging for the year to come.
- How do you feel overall about your year – some years are definitely better than others! How did this year feel for you and what does that mean for how you want to approach your blogging in 2017?
- What are your initial thoughts for the New Year – without even having thought about goals or targets for the New Year, you may already have a feel for how you want to tackle 2017. Is this the year you ramp it up and go full time? Or is it a year where you want to reclaim your nights and not work so much on your blog?
Once you have completed your annual blogging review, you will be in a much better place to be able to set a goal for your blog for the New Year; a goal that will truly reflect where you are and where you want to go.
How has your blogging year been for you?
This is a great approach – I often feel that we can oversimplify a blog review. Saying something like, “I want to increase the time people spend on my page” is way too general. You’re right in that taking the time to examine what worked or what didn’t, is key to a successful blog.
I definitely know it is worth the effort to put in the time to do a detailed review. It really sets you up for a successful new year!
I like the idea of separating the reviews in two parts. It can be really hard to analyze how did I overcome from some odd times.
I have learned a lot of things this year and there would be a resolution for the upcoming year. The things I always wanted, the things I always tried.
Thanks for making me remember.
It can be easy to look at what we didn’t achieve, without looking at what it taught us or what opportunities it may have given us later on. Good luck for 2017.
Acquisition is definitely great focus on and it’s great to track on it to see where traffic is coming from and track from then on.
Bounce rate is also one of the important factor, don’t you think? But it seems to be ignored.
Bounce rate can be misleading at times I think. As we share so many of our posts on social media, readers often just come to read the one post. It is something worth monitoring, but as you can see from this post, blogs do tend to have higher bounce rates http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/decrease-website-bounce-rate-infographic#sm.0000i0b1bw10mcekfsuv3jgmgsop5
This was a fantastic post – thank you! You inspired me to do my own – been thinking about it for a while and this is exactly what I needed to just get it done.
With best regards,
Good luck with your review Amar!
I think both newsletter stats and website traffic stats extremely vital.
You should know how your conversion rates are. Without increasing your conversions, it’s hard to measure your blog’s success.
Newsletter stats are vital because they will tell you how you are nurturing your subscribers. Educate your audience, build a fan base, promote the right products, scale up your business.
Nice content, I found it useful and informative!
Thank you for sharing.
Great Post Nicole,
You have mention some good tips to self assessment of our blogging journey. These two methods will help bloggers to check their loopholes and also pointed out their weak points as well. I will definitely self assessment my blog.
It is really worth the time you will spend on it Vishwajeet – all the best for 2017.
It is really good to learn how you have divided a review into two really admirable parts Qualitative and Quantitative.
Thank you for sharing really informational article.
I will be doing my blog’s review for this year and this post will be very helpful. It’s so easy to miss out on things and I especially love the qualitative part, since we tend to forget about that part so easily. Thank you for this!