I think of my blog as a semi-hobby and semi-job, so I often find myself separating plans and goals into things for strictly creative purposes and strictly business purposes, so I wrote two different posts! You can see my “creative side” post here, but I’ll start by saying the exact same thing in this one. As I review everything that I’ve done this year, both creatively and business-wise, I have to repeat something over and over. “I HAD A BABY!” She is now 10 months old, starting to walk and talk, but adding a second kid into the mix and recovering from birth impacted our lives. Even though I didn’t “take a maternity leave” (as detailed in this post), the time in which I have to work has been incredibly shortened between juggling two kid’s schedules and needs instead of just one. So, I keep reminding myself when I fall into thinking “why didn’t I finish X” or “how did I not get around to doing more of Y”, that our world was (mildly) rocked this year.
Growth & 2015 Numbers
2015 was a fun year! I finally felt like I “got it” and have an audience listening to what I share and say.
I stole a few screenshots from the “year in review” that WordPress sent me – how crazy that people have visited my site from 193 different countries!
Just under 150 posts, with one every single Monday. That is a lot of Swoodson Says.
You can see my growth from the very very start in December 2013, up until now. These stats are from WordPress Jetpack; I find them to align quite closely with my Google Analytics.
All of the money I made in 2015 – it seems like it should be much more! It would be way too tedious, but I wish I had tracked hours for each type of post too. Ads are obviously passive income, and patterns are once they are done. Sponsored posts and freelance work take the most effort by far. I like how many different streams there are though!
Unshockingly, the places I enjoy spending the most time (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest) represent my highest growth. Just in the past month, my Facebook has bumped up over 1,000 likes and my newsletter subscribers are over 1500. The only platform I have a specific plan for in 2016 is Pinterest, so hopefully that number will continue to climb!
- I am pleased with my sponsored posts! I joined several agencies, writing posts through Clever Girls, Social Fabric, and Blueprint Social. I solicited two independent posts with Upcraft Club and Mabel Madison and am so happy with how all of them turned out.
- I took risks! Sharing postpartum pictures of myself and talking about how sewing related to body image felt very vulnerable, but the reactions I received were overwhelmingly positive. I feel good about the very long, dense post sharing my reaction to the book Overdressed and fast fashion, even if it doesn’t generate any traffic.
- I made a few raglans last Fall, one of which had the Pout Pout Fish’s saying, “Blub blub blub” – I tweeted about it and somehow the author saw it and responded! Pretty cool.
- I ran a blog tour! People signed up! People sewed my stuff! Other people bought my patterns! It was a lot of fun. If you want to see what folks sewed, start on day 1 and keep clicking.
- TSNEM (Try Something New Every Month) was fun – I stuck with it the whole year and worked with Rebecca to make it better and more accessible for this year, join us.
- I really enjoy the brainstorming part of blogging and coming up with something that I think is new and fresh (yes, I know, nothing is actually new). Sometimes that pays off and I love the result and so does the Internet (see: giant ‘1’ birthday decoration) and sometimes that does not pay off, I love the result but no one else does (see: giant book pillow), and sometimes I don’t know what to think and no one cares (see: frisbee cover). So, that is a bummer when that happens.
- I shared a negative review of a pattern, and it caused a lot of drama for a few days. I had been warned ahead of time that it would, but foolishly posted it when I was pretty freshly postpartum and sensitive. I don’t regret posting it, but don’t generally care for controversy or burning bridges.
- I applied to two design teams/contributor positions and never heard back (which is obviously a No), which stung a little – Darice & Go To Sew. It never feels good to get rejected! But, that’s life.
- While it isn’t just about the money, it is a little… demoralizing to think back on all the time and effort I put into this year and know that I only came away with $2,000 (pre-tax). I don’t know how to be less blunt about that!
Goals in 2016
I set some pretty specific goals for 2015 and tracked progress in my quarterly reports; you can see how I ended up on those in my q4 report. This year, I am setting broader ones. I also have a long list of specific “to-do” action items, but it is way too long to include. I know you’re supposed to make goals “SMART” ( specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time- bound) but I am basically doing the exact opposite. I never know when I will spend two weeks with sick kids, or a new sponsored post will pop up, so I’m going to try it this way and re-evaluate midyear.
- This was a 2015 goal, that I think I somewhat achieved. You can see a picture from a January post and a similar picture from a future post (but taken in December); I have learned more about angling and composition. I’m at a point now where I know enough to know what looks good and what doesn’t, now I just need to give myself more time so I can take pictures when the light is good and be more thoughtful about “staging” with accessories and etc.
Work smarter, not harder.
- In 2015, I published my post and then published it to Facebook, shared it to FB groups — pinned on Pinterest and repinned to group boards — shared on g+ and shared in g+ communities — tweeted — shared in my weekly newsletter — submitted to Craft Gossip and/or any other relevant aggregator sites (I have a list here!). This year, I plan on automating publishing to G+ and not taking the time to share in communities, it just hasn’t paid off. I’m also using Tailwind, so repinning to other boards doesn’t take nearly as long – you can see a week’s growth in the picture above after using it and having regularly scheduled pins.
- For a long time, I uploaded all my pictures to Flickr and hosted from there to save money on bandwith and have a backup, but this year I’m going to upload directly into WordPress to save time.
- I posted at least twice a week every week in 2015. While setting that goal and getting a ton of content “out there” felt really good, I am scaling it back and simply planning on posting every Monday for sure, and sending my Friday newsletter. Anything over that is great, but not “required”.
Promote old content better
- This is connected to ‘work smarter not harder’ but I have done an awful job of promoting my posts after that initial circuit I detailed above. I often try to link them in new posts, but that is it! I’m working on a list of all my posts that are promote-worthy, assigning them to months (or in a few instances, quarterly if I want to share them more often), and scheduling out re-sharing them in my newsletter, on Facebook, and repinning them. I can then continue to build on this schedule for next year!
Work smarter on freelance posts
- Writing posts for other sites is tricky. At first, I was all “yay! money!” but after exploring a few different opportunities I am a little more critical. While there is SEO “juice” to be had by having your site linked elsewhere, in my experience, very few folks click over, even with strategic links. I have had the best luck writing round-ups for other sites and including some of my own tutorials, which I will continue to do, or writing tutorials for other sites that I can repost on my own blog. When I do write tutorials for other sites, I now try to make sure they are relatively simple and that I have most of the materials on hand, so I don’t eat up my ‘fee’ in production costs/time.
So, that’s a wrap! I’m finally done reflecting and typing between my q4 report & 2015 creative reflections/2016 planning. These posts are so long, it’s hard to imagine anyone reading them all, but writing them has helped me focus! Do you have any 2016 goals set? Are you planning on changing anything after looking back at 2015?