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Below, I show you my progress from January to June 2014 after starting to build an online business a few months before. My hope is that these inspire and motivate you as to what is possible!
Note: These were originally published separately but have now been combined.
16/2/2014 January analytics and update on growth
Everything has been a bit crazy since we arrived back from our US and Caribbean trip on January 21. I started working as a teacher a few days later and it has been tough for me to spend much time with my kids, let alone work on my blogs.
My aim at the moment is to not lose the gains I have made on social media and blog hits on Where’s Sharon? So far, I am staying fairly steady, but I have also realised that I think a lot of the page views I was getting on my site were actually from me!
Before I arrived home, my site was still growing. I did notice that my hits diminished when I was offline for a few days and my plugin that tweeted old posts stopped working! So I realise now that that technique (tweeting old posts) is definitely working for me. Anyway, here is a more specific recap of the last month and a half…
I am still making good gains with facebook fans and twitter followers. I’ve got over 6500 twitter followers and nearly 800 facebook likes. I’m slowly gaining on instagram and pinterest, although I don’t do anything to encourage them. I get far more hits on my blog from twitter and pinterest than facebook. I am really only persisting with facebook since I like it and am on there anyway so it doesn’t take much extra time to have a blog page.
I am getting steady hits from pinterest, especially for my New Orleans post. My klout score is staying steady.
Here’s my page views and visits from google anaytics for 5 weeks over January. There was a slight growth at the start of the month, and then it has been up and down, but overall remaining reasonably steady. The drop in the middle is when my “tweet old posts” plugin stopped working and I lost my twitter traffic.
I still think this is a silly measure, but I have been happy to see it drop under 200,000. Since I returned home, I have an Australian ranking which is currently at 5,438! I can’t help but think I have given myself this ranking.
I have recently updated my banner on Where’s Sharon. I am mainly working at maintaining what I have. I am keeping to a schedule of two posts a week with that. I participate in some sharing threads in a facebook blogging group and I work actively on growing twitter followers (which then flows through to facebook).
I am getting more and more requests from people who want to work with me directly through my blog. I do not have enough time to always follow these up properly, but they have either not been a good fit, or the money they are offering is too low. I do feel confident that if I had the time now, that I would be able to make some money from the site. It does not seem worth the effort while I am so time poor though, so I’d prefer to put my energy into improving it for the time being.
I keep day dreaming about the other site I want to build, World Holiday Destination. I started building this on our trip, but I have no time now. I really think I could make a very successful site with this as I have some great ideas and have learned a lot in the past 4 months about building a successful blog. I think it would be a lot easier to start a site from scratch with the purpose of earning money, than trying to make my current blog successful.
1/3/2014 February google analytics and update
February has been a good month.
Here are my page view and visit google anaytics from February for Where’s Sharon.
The leveling off of traffic I saw at the beginning of the month has stopped and my traffic is now growing again. This is in large part thanks to pinterest, but my google search traffic is also growing again.
My twitter traffic is staying about the same. I am still working on gaining followers. I am now up to about 7800.
I experimented with changing my tweet old posts to only tweet two hourly for a few days, but my traffic dropped so I put it back to hourly.
I am just about up to 900 likes. The traffic is up and down from here and not very high. I had one peak at one point where I think someone must have shared a post of mine as I had more traffic than ever before. I wish I would work out who!
This has seen my best growth this month to become my highest social media referrer. My New Orleans pin is still driving most of the traffic but others are getting some hits as well. The only problem with this social media is the bounce rate is high.
I have done nothing to grow followers, but I am still getting more. I would really love some time to work out how to get more followers.
This is still slowly dropping. I am now at 157,000 for the world and just under 4,000 for Australia.
I was paid US$30 to write a very short travel anecdote this month. I would have asked for more money, but it was also going to give me great links, so I was very happy with this. The person who I was communicating with regarding this is also asking me to do other work.
I have had various other offers, but nothing has worked out yet. There are some ridiculous ones, like US$25 per permanent link. I do think I could be making more money if I had the time to chase people.
I published the post about our accommodation in Las Terrenas that I received complimentary and the people are happy with it.
I am just still working as I usually do on Where’s Sharon and daydreaming about my future World Holiday Destination site. I really wish I had some time to work on this.
1/4/2014 March stats and update
March has been a great month, as I have reached many milestones with my travel blog in page views and in social media.
Here are my page views and visits from Google Analytics for the four full weeks in March for Where’s Sharon.
There has been general growth in my visitor numbers, visits and page views, and I was happy to reach my next milestone of 15,000 page views. The growth is across the board in social media and search referrals.
My twitter traffic is slowly growing again. I have reached the 10,000 follower mark that I had been striving for. I am now stopped following people in the hope that they will follow me back or look at my site. I am going to see how this affects my blog hits for the next couple of weeks.
I have made it to 1000 likes! My traffic from Facebook hit a new high in the middle of the month when I think two separate people/pages must have shared two of my articles. Otherwise, my traffic is not very high.
I am struggling with engagement on my page, as I simply don’t have the time to work on it. I made more of an effort in the last week which increased how many people were talking about it, but I saw no corresponding increase in my traffic on my blog and the links that I shared on there were still lucky to get to 50 people. I continue to wonder what the point is.
I am still getting great hits from Pinterest – more than any of the other forms of social media. It varies a fair bit though. I would really love to put some time into growing my followers as this is still a lowly 200.
I was happy that my travel blog’s website authority increased three times this month and is now up to 32. I have finally broken into the thirties!
This is still slowly dropping. I am now at 124,000 for the world and 3,200 for Australia.
I was paid US$250 to write a sponsored post this month. It was for the same people that I wrote the tip for last month. I was very happy for this as I was able to basically write about whatever I wanted and I ended up producing a post that I really like! So win, win!
Another thing that I wish I had more time for is to chase up advertisers, sponsored posts, etc. I am totally relying on people contacting me at the moment, and I don’t always have the time to respond properly.
Digital Nomad Wannabe
I am publishing a post on Where’s Sharon this week about how I have increased my website traffic for that site. I am linking within that article to this site. As a result of this, it has finally motivated me to do something extra for this blog.
I have published my facebook page and started trying to grow my twitter followers. When people follow me on twitter, they get a direct message asking them to do the same on Facebook, so I am seeing some growth in both. It will be interesting to see what traffic filters here from the blog post on Where’s Sharon.
I thought about publishing this article in here instead of Where’s Sharon, but I think it should generate a fair amount of traffic and that is more possible on that site. I will probably move it to here at some point.
I am still working a small amount on my new World Holiday Destination site, but I have started to work on another idea which I think I want to implement first. It will be a Melbourne focused blog all about things for families to do in this area.
In case I am not busy enough, I am also planning on changing my theme in Where’s Sharon. I am very scared about this, but I think it is necessary. It just doesn’t look the way I want at the moment, and my hits from mobiles are quite low. I do not really understand why this is as it is a responsive theme, but I’m hoping an even more responsive theme will help with this.
1/5/2014 April Progress Report
April has been a busy month. I had my best day ever on my site, WheresSharon.com, in terms of page views, I implemented a new theme on this site. I also became more serious about growing my social media interaction and followers. I went to Brunei for a long weekend. I also have some big news… I have resigned from my teaching job!
I will be working until the end of May doing that, but then I am going to focus on making an income from blogging. Wish me luck! I will need it!
Here’s all the information about Where’s Sharon.
Here are my sessions and page views for April.
The big rise in the middle is thanks to one massive day where I received over 2000 page views. This was from Pinterest across three posts. Unfortunately, I have not been able to determine what triggered this. Otherwise things have been stable at a global level which has been a bit disappointing with my focus on social media.
My hits have slowly risen across the month from google search. They have gone down from twitter since I started tweeting old posts slightly less often.
The most awesome part of the last month is that I have just about hit 20,000 page views with reaching 19,756. This feels like a massive milestone.
I talked to a successful travel blogger about the best way to get press trips and sponsored travel. Her suggested first step was to build up my social media, particularly Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, and to start using LinkedIn. I haven’t had time to do much on LinkedIn yet, but I have been working on growing Pinterest and Instagram, and I have been putting more effort into Facebook.
I was looking at social media as just a way to get people to my blog rather than the fact that having these large audiences is useful as well, even if they don’t go to my blog often.
My twitter traffic has decreased since I started tweeting old posts less often.
I changed my tweet old posts plugin from one by that name to tweetily as tweet old posts was tweeting posts it was not supposed to and tweeting several times an hour.
I have continued to grow my followers by following others, but only about once a week. I now have over 13,000 followers.
I have made it to nearly 1300 likes. I had a bump in traffic from here one day when someone must have shared something. Otherwise, the latter half of the month is better than usual since I started using a schedule of facebook posts that I put some thought and research into. It is still low, but my engagement on my page is better. I post once a day now, using tips I received from a Problogger webinar on social media.
Pinterest continues to perform well. I have grown my followers a lot in the latter part of this month (260 to 640) by fixing up my boards, adding some more that might appeal to families in a general sense (eg kids activities, food), adding more pins from other people and following people who follow similar accounts.
I was hoping this might lead to more hits on my website, but it has not. It seems group boards are still the best path for me to get people back to my website. My USA pins are going very well on Pinterest (compared to my Asia posts which go best on google).
I have been growing my Instagram account by following people who follow similar accounts in my niche and by commenting and interacting with people who tag photos with “#familytravel”. I have managed to go from 200 followers to over 900 so this has also been quite successful. I am yet to see any hits from Instagram to my site though.
I am more organised with how I post to Instagram too. I have a folder on my phone with photos for the next week and I post 1-2 a day.
I have finally taken the time to start trying to tame this beast.
I still struggle to understand exactly how I should be using Google+ but I am trying to get on there most days and interact and share. I have been told photos perform best, so I keep this in mind and have also been uploading photos. Interaction is growing quickly, so I do seem to be getting somewhere. My hits go up every week, but with only 8 last week, it is nothing to brag about!
I have doubled my followers in the last week by following others and participating in sharing circles.
This is still slowly dropping. I am very very close to making it under 100,000.
My domain authority went back down to 31 and stayed there at the latest update. As long as it doesn’t go back into the twenties, I am happy for the moment. I do want to work on rising it further though.
I implemented a new theme and I love how the site looks. I’m hoping this will improve google hits from mobiles and just look more professional. I am working on getting a new banner made as well.
I have not made any money this month, but I have secured a sponsored trip for a couple of weeks time with activities, accommodation and meals so I am excited about this. I also have two sponsored posts coming up.
I am thinking about making an ebook.
I am slowing building subscribers. I think I have doubled them since implementing my new theme so it must look more obvious to people now. My numbers are still very low though, and this is a big thing I want to work on in the near future.
My big news for the month is that I just quit my day job.
Teaching has not been working out for me. It is a ridiculous amount of work. I am part time, so I am getting paid for 23 hours, but I have been working closer to 50. It has basically taken over my life and I feel I have no work/life balance and it is making me miserable. I feel absolutely horrible quitting, but my mental state is not good, and I need to put myself and my family first.
On the upside, I am going to do my best to make blogging my new job. I don’t expect to make massive amounts of money, but I do need to concentrate on trying to make enough that I can pay for the kids to be in child care two days a week (about $200 a week).
I think there are some exciting months ahead!
1/6/2014 May Progress Report
May has been another great month – mainly because I finally started trying to make an income from blogging and I had some success. I also finished my teaching job right at the end of the month, so I am very excited about what lays ahead now that I will have an extra 55 hours a week!
For new readers, the following is about my progress with growing my family travel blog, Where’s Sharon.
Here are my sessions and page views for May for Where’s Sharon.
A weekly view shows a fairly static number of sessions and page views across the month, except in the middle of the month where there was a spike from Pinterest.
My number of page views across the month is over 18,000. At the beginning of the month, I finally hit the big milestone of just over 20,000 views. Unfortunately, this was caused by a big traffic day last month which I haven’t been able to replicate, so I fell back down to 18,000.
My twitter traffic is staying about the same. I am now up to about 15000 followers.
I am still working on gaining followers, but not as much as I was. I am happy with my number of followers, but I have found that the most effective way for me to get more facebook likes is an auto direct message when people follow me in twitter. I want more facebook likes so I have continued to gain followers on twitter.
I have also started purging the people I follow (who also follow me back). I removed a few thousand and plan to remove more. Not many have unfollowed me back.
I am up to over 1500 likes. I am continuing to work on growing my facebook interaction and have a weekly schedule of posts for my page.
I am continuing to grow my followers here and am close to 1000. It does not make much of a difference to my website hits.
I am continuing to follow the process I started last month. I currently have nearly 1500 followers.
I am still not doing a good job of using this social media effectively, but I have gained a lot of followers in the last month by continuing to participate in sharing circles.
I have finally made it under the 100,000 mark
My domain authority went up by one point to 32. I have been reading a lot about ways to increase this, but I have not done anything in the last month apart from a couple of collaborative posts.
This has been a fabulous month for me on the income side.
I finally started being proactive about finding income opportunities and I made US$820, with another US$370 of work lined up.
This is primarily through advertising. I have been fortunate to have a more experienced blogger start coaching me and she helped me with this as well as some people I met at a travel event here in Melbourne. I hope this will continue.
My blog costs are very low at the moment, but there are lots of other ways I want to try to make money online, all of which require a bit of start up money, so that is what I will use this money for.
We also spent a weekend away on Phillip Island with sponsored accommodation, meals and activities.
Digital Nomad Wannabe
For the moment, I have no definite plans for this site. I enjoy writing this update as I find it a good way to analyse what I am working on, what is working, what isn’t. I hope someone out there is also finding it useful.
I am slowly working on improving the SEO of my posts from the beginning of last year. I am hoping this will help see a raise in sessions from google search next month.
I have changed my mind about creating other blogs – at least for the moment. Anything that relies on me writing for it is a lot of work and I don’t think it’s the most effective use of my time. I have lots of other ideas, including some ideas for online tools that my husband has started working on. I am also thinking about starting other sites with the express purpose of earning affiliate income.
However, for the moment, I want to spend the next month concentrating on building up Where’s Sharon, earning some more income, planning some press trips for the next couple of months and clearing out my back log of jobs that I have written down. I am going to have a more experienced blogger as a coach for the next month so I am excited about that and want to maximise this opportunity. The following month, I want to get serious about starting work on other income streams.
9/7/2014 June Progress Report
June has been another great month as I start to work on other income streams. I am making good progress, but I have also suffered some burn out when it comes to my travel blog. I had been working extra hard to get things to the best possible position for me to be able to pitch successfully for press trips which led to some major burn out.
Wheres Sharon family travel blog
I have had some great successes with improving my DA, Klout and organising press trips this month. This is mostly thanks to some coaching I am getting from Nicole at Suitcase Media. I highly recommend this if you want to take your blog and press trips to the next level.
I am back to my 20,000 page view per month goal. Pinterest continues to be a big source for me, along with google search. I was happy to have my domain authority rise by two points.
I have stopped following people in an attempt to gain followers and I did a massive purge of the people I am following on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, removing many thousands. Not many people unfollowed me back, so that was a relief.
I am now concentrating on my interaction and klout score and have been very happy to raise this to 70 just by asking more questions. I have also stopped using a tweet old posts plugin and manually schedule all tweets using a big spreadsheet and hoot suite. It was a lot more work to set up, a little bit more work ongoing, but is giving me far more interaction with followers and stops my feed looking so spammy.
I have been working hard on improving my pitch and media kit and organising sponsored travel for my upcoming Tasmania trip and Singapore/Johor Bahru. I have managed to organise everything I wanted for our week long Tasmania trip next week, so I am very happy. Hopefully, I will have similar success for Singapore/Johor Bahru in the coming weeks.
I made $670 from advertising this month. I already have about this again lined up for next month.
I have been working on forming relationships with other publications this month. Some I am writing for free, some are for money. This helped give my domain authority a boost, and I hope it will also help me secure sponsored travel going forward. The downside of this is that I have been writing a lot which I think is the main reason that I am having problems with feeling burned out.
I made $160 from travel writing.
Both J and I have been working hard on learning everything we can about building successful affiliate sites. We have used my blogging income for this month to buy tools to help with this, a couple of expired domains and I have completed a course about building a private blog network. My first site in my blog network is up and running and I have part of my first affiliate marketing site online.
I will write more about this as I gain more experience and knowledge.
This is a product that J works on with some other business partners.
It made $200 this month. It is not earning much at the moment as they reinvest some of the earnings. The company also supplied J with $1550 towards his new laptop (which he would have bought regardless), so this was also a gain.
Earnings total $930 + a week of travel + a laptop
Our next milestone is to have another income stream which we hope will be an affiliate site. For the moment, I do not plan on working directly on growing Where’s Sharon further, just on keeping it where it is. I think it will be easier to make money other ways.
Once we can gain another income stream, we are going to commit to moving to Asia at the end of the year (most probably Kuala Lumpur) where we can live far more cheaply than our current home base in Australia and basically buy ourselves some time to work on all the online income ideas that we have. It is very hard to work as solidly as we would like when J is working full time and I have the kids to look after. There is only so much we can get done in our limited evenings and the limited time I have when the kids are in child care.
I also need to work on putting less pressure on myself. I put so much pressure on myself that working on all of this can get quite stressful and it is taking over my life more than I would like. I need to remember that my main goal is to have a better quality of life – not to work harder!