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Evaluating Your Blog’s First Year: 12 Great Questions to Ask

Posted By Darren Rowse 23rd of June 2017 Start a Blog 0 Comments

evaluating-blogs-first-year

Firstly … congratulations on making it through your first year. A lot of bloggers don’t get that far.

During this evaluation, we’ll take a look at key metrics for your blog, but we’ll also be thinking about what you’ve learned and accomplished over the past year.

Don’t get discouraged if the numbers aren’t – yet – quite where you want them to be. When I first started blogging, it was as a hobby … and it took me several years to start making significant money from it.

While some bloggers do succeed in making a lot of money in their first year, most take much longer. As you go through these questions, focus on what you have accomplished rather than on the goals you’ve not quite managed yet.

(Want to do this evaluation another time? Check out the option to download a free evaluation workbook at the end of the post.)

Key Metrics for Your Blog’s First Year

#1: How many blog posts did you publish … and how consistently?

Whether you published two posts or two hundred posts … was it as many as you wanted?

Did you write lots of posts in the first two months, then not much for the rest of the year? Or did you manage to blog fairly regularly all year?

#2: How many subscribers do you have to your blog and/or newsletter?

Hopefully you’ve got email subscriptions set up: if not, check out Ramsey’s post on Blog Tyrant: How to Start a Mailing List and Add Opt-in Forms to Your Blog.

If you can, look back at how your subscribers grew during the year. (You can find instructions for AWeber here and for MailChimp here). Did you see steady growth? Can you identify any peaks and what caused them?

#3: Did your traffic grow during the year?

Look at Google Analytics or WordPress.com’s inbuilt statistics to find out whether you were getting more traffic by the end of the year than at the start (hopefully you were)!

Again, look out for any spikes in traffic: what was behind those?

#4: Which of your posts were most popular?

You can use Google Analytics to find out which posts received the most visits, or look on your blog to see which got the most comments or shares.

Find your top three posts and see if you can figure out what made those posts especially popular.

#5: How much money did you spend?

This might require trawling back through your PayPal history or receipts in your inbox. You may want to create a simple spreadsheet to track your blog’s spending, breaking it into different categories, such as:

  • Web hosting and domain name
  • Email list provision
  • Premium theme and/or premium plugins (if any)
  • Design, editing or other services

#6: How much money did you make?

Ideally, you want this figure to be higher than #5 … but if it’s not, that’s very normal for blogs in their first year.

Look at your income from:

  • Advertising
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Product sales (e.g. if you launched an ebook)
  • Services provided (e.g. if you write for other blogs for pay)
  • Sponsorship from other companies

If you want to dig further into statistics, check out Nicole Avery’s post How to Conduct Your Annual Blogging Review.

I know that it’s easy to feel a little discouraged at this point. Perhaps when you started blogging, you dreamt of quitting your day job by now … and yet your blog hasn’t made a single dollar.

It can also be encouraging to look at everything you have gained, even if it’s not all about the numbers. Here are six more questions to ask yourself:

#7: Did you get any nice comments or emails from readers?

If someone wrote that your post came at the perfect time for them, or that it helped them with a problem, that’s a real success.

You might want to track down all your nice comments and emails, bring them together into one document, and print them out as a source of encouragement.

#8: Did you learn anything new?

Your first year of blogging was probably a steep learning curve at times. I bet you picked up lots of new skills. Perhaps:

  • You learned how to register a domain name and set up hosting
  • You got to grips with sourcing, resizing and editing images
  • You went from initial bafflement to comfortable familiarity with WordPress (or your platform of choice)
  • You set up an email list for your blog
  • You read a lot about marketing your blog or growing your readership or some other aspect of blogging … and you put it into practice

… or lots more things besides!

#9: Did you challenge yourself?

Perhaps you wrote a post that you were worried about publishing … but it went down really well with readers.

Perhaps you wrote a guest post for a big blog in your niche … and they published it!

Or maybe you tried something and it didn’t quite work out: what matters is that you gave it a go.

#10: Did you make new connections in the blogging world?

When you started out blogging, you probably didn’t know many (or even any!) other bloggers. During your first year, you likely got to know at least a few.

Perhaps:

  • You’ve made friends with some other new-ish bloggers on Twitter
  • You’ve been commenting on an established blogger’s site and building up a relationship with them.
  • You joined a Facebook group for bloggers, like the ProBlogger Community.
  • You went to a local meetup … or a bigger gathering of bloggers, like the ProBlogger event.

#11: Did blogging open any doors for you?

Sometimes, blogging can lead to some amazing opportunities (Eli Seekins had a great post about this on SmartBlogger recently).

Perhaps your blogging meant that:

  • You landed a freelancing gig with a big blog or website.
  • You gained some new skills that you used on a job application.
  • You came across some interesting people who you’d never have otherwise met.
  • You got free products to review.

#12: Did you enjoy the year?

Perhaps most importantly … did you enjoy your first year of blogging?

Maybe it was the first time you’ve felt able to call yourself a “writer”, because you wrote regular posts for your blog.

Maybe you loved learning new things and putting them into practice.

Maybe you felt like you were finally reaching for your dreams.

While it’s a great feeling to make money from blogging or to see your readership grow, some bloggers simply want to enjoy the process of writing and publishing online … and that can be just as valuable.

What Will You Do During Your Blog’s Second Year?

Now that you’ve taken a look over the past year of your blog … what are you going to do with the next year?

You might want to think about:

#1: How often will you post?

If your current schedule hasn’t really worked for you, you might try posting less frequently and focusing on writing the best posts you can.

Get help: How to Be a More Consistent Blogger

#2: How will you monetize?

Whether you want to make a living or simply cover your costs, think about how you’ll make money from your blog. Some new bloggers think it’s all about advertising or affiliate income, but those aren’t your only options.

Get help: The Full Blog Monetization Menu – 60+ Ways to Make Money With Your Blog

#3: What successes can you build on?

Look at what’s been going well for you … and go further with it. For instance, pick a post that’s already getting lots of search engine traffic and update it to link to some of your other best posts.

Get help: How to Update Old Posts On Your Blog (and When You Should Consider Doing it)

Right now, write down three specific actions that you want to take as you move into your blog’s second year:

  • One during the next week
  • One during the next month
  • One during the next three months

Feel free to share them with us in the comments … and good luck for your next year of blogging.

FREE EVALUATION WORKBOOK 

Get the 12 step evaluation as a workbook to fill in and refer back to in another year.

A great way to evaluate where you're at and to monitor your progress.

Your Blog's First Year Evaluation Workbook

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About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Hi Darren,

    After being a pro blogger for 9 years, it is all about the #9 for me. Not from the energy of pushing myself, or challenging myself, but from a space of diving in to my fears. Being pulled by inspiration during my biggest blogging fear. Versus pushing myself to try to fall into survival mode.

    Example; a few minutes ago, I asked myself “Am I wasting my time, reading all these posts and commenting on these posts?” Of course not. But I am a human being. I fear. I have fears. Like even with my success and name and all that good stuff, and even though I have immense fun commenting and writing 2-5 guest posts daily and promoting my gazillion eBooks, I still fear I may be wasting my time.

    So I take a deep breath, breathe in the fear, feel it, and let it go. To challenge myself by diving head first into my deepest fears, by allowing my love of fun and freedom to pull me through uncomfortable moments.

    Again guys, if you are at this for 1 year, keep with it! Darren shares how he took a few years to get off the ground. I took longer. Don’t cower to your fears associated with outcomes – low traffic, little profits, etc – hold you back. Focus instead of your love of blogging, dive into those fears and challenge yourself regularly. Things will continue to come together for you.

    Thanks for sharing :)

    Ryan

  • Hello Darren,

    I have completed my 2 years of blogging and also evaluate my blog on every year end. It is really a good practice to look in to everything about your blog from content to traffic and profit as well. Evaluation helps me to make some effective decisions and also help me to make my blog more useful for my readers. Thanks agian for this great post.

  • thanks for sharing………..

  • Blogging or article writing is not new form me but keyword selection is special for content creating. I love to write on environment, global warming or save energy subjects.
    Friends writing is simple and we should choose better keywords to write our blogs or articles.

  • Hi Darren Rowse,
    i have completed my one year of blogging and i didnt even think about the metrices of blogging you have shared..Thanks for sharing….

  • Hi Darren,

    While I haven’t quite blogged on my current blog for 1 year, it’s only been 8 months. This isn’t my first rodeo.

    I’ve started several blogs in the past and never followed through with them. I always found myself jumping to something else, looking for an easier path.

    I can honestly say that this is the blog that I’ve stuck with the longest. I’ll have to keep an eye on these metrics so I know what to check once I reach that year mile marker.

    I actually, just started keeping track of my metrics about 3 months ago. At the end of the month, I’ll update my spreadsheet to see how my blog is growing.

    It’s actually kind of nice to see that it is growing. Although it’s growing slow, the numbers keep increasing every month.

    Thanks for sharing these tips on how to evaluate my blog after the first year.

    Have a great day :)

    Susan

  • I got 385 people in my FB group, even Billionaires… And I never had asked me these very material question that you put in front… First I found out and then I had read it from the most successful publisher in the world Gerry Roberts, that email listing is not working anymore… or Jeff Walker (the most successful Marketing strategist to sell info-products in the internet (Product Launch Formula)) said a buyer list converts up to 60% and a non buyer list don’t expect more than `1%… And Today it is much worse. Do it selfless and out of fun .. My FB group: Relax with Meditation… and I post my blogs on many other sites… To be or not to be that is the question !!!! To get the people in the funnel you will loose a Ton of money… otherwise for free you don’t get your customer!!! And if the people sign up for free, they don’t like to buy anything!!!!

  • jose

    Of the ten questions that most caught my attention was the 8th and 10th, because we should bicker and offer news for our audience

  • Michael Diatel

    Hi Darren, I know how it feels to keep waiting until you start making money. Our website will be on its second year on September. I am glad that it’s working good now and we’ve been posting blogs weekly. Guess what, blogging makes us connected to our target audience and we even close deals. Now, you are making me think on what to do on our third year. Thanks for sharing these questions. Cheers to all bloggers!

  • Tung Le

    Hi Darren,

    Thanks for your question! They help me understand about blogging .

  • Hi Darren,

    Thanks for sharing such an informative post. Being a newcomer in this blogging world currently, I am in fear of low traffic and such a huge competition. Fingers are crossed that I will complete my first year by backing all the fear and weakness of mine and my blog.

    Nicol

  • Hi Darren,

    Simply completing one year is just not enough. But checking the impact of all the tactics performed in the year matters a lot. Thanks for sharing those checklists. Now one can properly check out how worthy the first year of the blog was?

    Webtigers

  • Mystech Dynamics Inc.

    You are a big help to me. I just made my blog and started doing affiliate marketing, however, I am struggling on the next step. I don’t know how will make people buy through my blog. It’s frustrating you know. What you said lifted up my spirit and I wish I can see sales next month or so. Cheers!

  • Evan Speight

    Hello Darren,
    I am looking forward to seeing what will happen to my blog after 12 months of blogging. I am now starting to find a groove and get into a rhythm of posting content. These are some great insights that you have given and I enjoyed this blog very much. Give me something to look forward to.
    Thank you
    Evan

  • Candance886

    Thanks for this article, it helped me a lot!

  • Candance886

    Thanks for this article, it helped me a lot

  • Lucas Smith

    These are great! Each of these can be used as a foothold to improve your blog writing and performance for the next year. It’s a really good way to assess yourself and chip in a little reward at the end of the year for a good performance.

    Cheers