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First 6 Months of Blogging – Swoodson Says Introspection

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After I shared why I create, I started thinking more about why I blog. It’s probably worth its own post, but in short; blogging fuels my creativity! The creative blogging community is full of welcoming, interesting, friendly folks and I’m so glad I joined in the fun instead of lurking and surfing around like I had for the past few years. Participating in group efforts, having deadlines, and bouncing ideas off other bloggers all result in more creativity and more making (and less Pinning!). Are you a creative blogger yourself? You might want to check out my resource page of over 100 links for monetization, publication, and networking opportunities.

I’m sharing details below, looking at money, traffic, subscribers, and my goals. All statistics taken from the Jetpack plugin, which is notorious for not weeding out as many spammers as Google Analytics (but it’s much more user friendly!), so take the numbers with a grain of salt.

Want the short & sweet overview? My most viewed post & my least viewed post. I spent $948.92 and earned $267.77, and made a $86 mistake. My average daily views went from 63 to 352 and I gained over 100 subscribers between Bloglovin & direct email. I started a Facebook page that’s grown to over 300 likes and a blog Instagram account with over 150 followers; my Pinterest & Twitter were started pre-blog and I didn’t track their growth.

I really enjoy reading posts like this – Deanna at Sew McCool and Abby at While She Naps both publish them and I fully admit I stole the idea from them. I’d love to know what you think of my spin on it- if it’s too much information, not enough, or missing important details. I plan on doing the next two quarterly, mostly because that is how the statistics are tracked in Jetpack!

 

Income & Expense

I decided from the outset to treat Swoodson Says like a ‘real’ business and make decisions accordingly. Online expenses include web hosting*, a PicMonkey * subscription,& my domain name. Tech equipment includes a DSLR camera*, chromebook*, and other camera accessories. Project supplies are when I purchase something specifically and only for a blog post, as well as remember to put it as an expense/save the receipt. Miscellaneous? A stack of business cards. I’m not sure why these were so important to me to feel legitimate but.. they were. I regret buying them!

Ads. I am really embarrassed to share this, because it was a $86.92 mistake. I am not typically prone to money mistakes, but this is a big one. I received a flyer in the mail talking about $100 in free Google Adwords (Google’s advertising program where your link is showcased in the ‘sponsored’ section of the search results) and I kept putting it on my list to look into. One day, in a frenzy of energy, I signed up and clicked away and went on my merry way. The catch? That the $100 was a credit, after you spend $100. I thought my credit card was simply a safeguard if you went over $100 (because you play per click) but it was in fact, being charged for the active campaign. I went on and on trying to convince Google to refund me instead of credit me, with zero luck. I’m hoping to use my credit with Adwords at the end of this year, now that I have more projects and posts to showcase.

Money coming in! This number is sadly, much smaller than the expenses. Pattern affiliates are individual designers who have an affiliate program – Peek-A-Boo Patterns is far and above my highest seller, with Greenstyle Creations as the second. Amazon affiliate is self explanatory; Shareasale is the program that pays me for Creativebug & Craftsy sign-ups. Post payment was from my Greenstyle Blog Tour post, the designer kindly sent an Etsy gift card.

Wondering where my Adsense money is? Their “pay-out” minimum is $100 and I’m sitting pretty at $50. Hoping to cash out by the end of the year! I also have $35 languishing over at Shareasale, where the cash-out minimum is $50.

Ingoing & Outgoing Traffic

I’m proud of the blog’s growth over the last few months. I’ve tried to be more strategic about where I’m sharing my posts – I love the idea of link parties but all but one or two simply aren’t worth the effort for me.

Top 5 Outgoing Clicks

1. Facebook –to my own profile

2. Pinterest –to my own profile & the user pinning posts

3. Etsy — I love to link to handmade businesses in my Friday Favorites posts, as well as when I sew a pattern sold on Etsy. #1 Etsy click? This fun pattern!

4. Crazy Little Projects –I shared 8 Free Sewing Wall Decor Printables, and apparently folks love their printable that I linked!

5. Amazon –affiliate links! Top 3 were these handy doo-dads*, this adorable book*, and my very first paper pattern success*

Top 5 Incoming Clicks (Referrals)

1. Pinterest — everyone loves Pinterest! My #1 pinned project sends me the most incoming traffic, and it was one of my very first, with a terrible, non-Pinterest worthy photo. A close second was this incredibly bad photo of my first nursery/baby sewing project.

2. All Free Sewing — this site was introduced to me in my creative blogger group on Facebook and wow, they send a lot of traffic over! Over 2k clicks from this project, which is linked on their site and sent out in some of their free newsletters.

3. Facebook– I not only share links on my blog page, I also share links in a few different sewing Facebook groups. Sometimes another blogger or website will share my site as well, like this post, which brings over new eyes!

4. Search engines– no surprise there! Google dominated this category, also not a surprise. 1 lonely person came over from duckduckgo.com (never heard of that!)

5. StumbleUpon– I am not particularly StumbleUpon savvy and didn’t use it before I started blogging, but am trying to learn more about it. For whatever reason, this project was really popular via Stumbleupon.

Search Engine Keywords

Apparently some privacy standards change, so you (or maybe just I) don’t usually see what brought someone to my blog- over 90% say “unknown search terms”. Of those that they do tell me, the top one was ‘Swoodson Says’ or ‘Swoodsonsays.com’. From the very start I’ve put my blog name on my pictures and I’m guessing this is where those are coming from.

Here are a few other gems! I literally have no idea how these directed anyone to my blog.

  • who are people who sew in mn” (hint: not me!)
  • find patterns to make pollen/pollution filtration masks” (I’m not even sure what this is, otherwise I might attempt to make one!)
  • kangaroo sewing cabinets” (again, say what?)
  • hot housemife kitchen pics” (no hot housemifes here!)

Subscribers & Social Media

I used Pinterest & Twitter for a long time before starting this blog; the Facebook, Instagram, and Google+ accounts were all created solely for a Swoodson Says presence. I still use Pinterest as my own pin board instead of trading pins, etc. and sometimes debate if I should create a separate board in order to use it as a better business tool. I’ll be honest, I don’t really like Google+. I should invest a little more time in playing with it again, it just doesn’t seem to offer me anything that Facebook doesn’t (except enhanced SEO).

Blog Subscribers (‘follow by email’ box to the left of this post)

January 2014: 1 (shout out to my friend Renae!)

June 2014: 43

Bloglovin Subscribers

January 2014: 0

June 2014: 68

For posterity’s sake, these are my statistics as of July 1, 2014:

Twitter (447) Facebook (309) Instagram (157) Google+ (140) Pinterest (1327)

Goals

Wow! I thought this would be a simple, easy post but I enjoyed digging around and analyzing it. Back in January when I bought my domain and started down this path, I had two goals for the year:  1. post every single Monday & Friday (Monday- creative post Friday- link roundup post). 2. Make at least $100. So far, so good!  I’ve enjoyed the process of blogging and thinking about how to be a better blogger more than I would’ve guessed and I’m setting a few new goals for the second half of 2014!

1. Get to 500 average visits per day

2. Digitize & release my first sewing pattern! I have had a great response to the toys I’ve been making for my toddler son and after some encouragement from others, am pursuing learning how to digitize and set up pattern shop. This is a little  frightening to put myself out there, and I want to do a good job from the start, but I’m excited about the prospect.

3. Set up a newsletter. Newsletters are a direct line to someone’s inbox and they seem to be very popular, and also overwhelmingly boring/redundant. I promise not to send out a regular rehashing of my blog content!

4. Figure out at least 2 sponsored post pitches, and send them out. I really struggle with putting a price on a project/post, mostly because I often spend many, many more hours than I anticipated. And what’s a fair hourly rate? I need to think more on these issues.

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shelly

Sunday 13th of July 2014

its nice to hear the ins and outs of blogging. I still have getting make any money off my blog (I started out to help my fabric shop and then fell in love with the creativity side of it) but it is fun nonetheless.

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Monday 14th of July 2014

Fun is the important part, right :) Thanks Shelly!

Stacey... from a box

Saturday 12th of July 2014

you are such an inspiration! your blog has done very well this year. your Friday posts are the best - I look forward to them! thanks for sharing so much and cant wait to see all your progress the rest of the year.

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Sunday 13th of July 2014

Stacey, that is seriously the nicest comment ever, thank you so much! I really appreciate you saying that. AND I'm so glad I've heard a few people say they like Friday Favorites. I love doing them even though they're not pinnable, etc. etc. so it makes me happy to hear that others like them too!

Lisa Burger

Friday 11th of July 2014

I've considered blogging and wonder about the business side, so thank you for the input. I found u thru Flickr, a pic you posted in a group I follow- then I looked for your blog :)

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Saturday 12th of July 2014

Hey Lisa! Thanks for tracking me down; I ought to take the time and go put links in the comments of my Flickr posts so it's not that hard :) I'm glad you enjoyed the post - let me know if I can ever be of any help!

Miriam Schulman ( SchulmanArt)

Friday 11th of July 2014

exellent blog post which I actually read through and through... I guess bloggers like to compare themselves! I also pinned your how to monetize your creative blog... will definitely be doing that later today... you can see it pinned on http://www.pinterest.com/pin/110127153363054125/

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Friday 11th of July 2014

Thanks for reading & pinning Miriam! Hope you can find some useful links in the monetization post :)

Alicia @ Felt With Love Designs

Thursday 10th of July 2014

Congrats on all the achievements! I like reading posts like these too. It's fascinating to see another person's perspective. I agree with Deanna, totally start a group called Hot Housemifes. I just laughed so hard at your search terms! Google is my top referrer but I don't get nearly the entertaining terms you do!

Stephanie - Swoodson Says

Thursday 10th of July 2014

Thanks Alicia! Hoping I continue to get zany Google keywords for the months to come ;)

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