First day of 2016, is it there any better way for a Back to the Past edition than reviewing the whole past year of 2015? This article is the follow up of the last article regarding the 2015’s goals and the new goals for 2016, where I’ll analyze the stats, blog progress and all the background work that I have been doing to make this blog survive another year.
Articles published in 2015
Having in mind that I should focus on my followers, I decided to install a plug-in to split the articles by language, Portuguese and English, feeding the RSS aggregators with content directed to those that only read in English or Portuguese. All of the articles published in English during 2015, with one exception, are all translations of articles that were previously published in Portuguese.
In average, I published 4 articles a month, February was the article with less published articles, only two went public, and November the one with more, 7 published. It doesn’t make much sense to list all the articles here, therefore I’ll highlight just a few of my favorite ones.
Even though it’s a short article, it is one of my favorites just because it’s all about one road route I love. It’s a route I intend to explore in depth, and to write a few more articles related to it. There is so much to explore in Ireland and a lot of it can be visited while traveling through this route, one will get to visit some of Ireland’s most iconic places following the Wild Atlantic Way.
This was the first list-article I wrote, I was a bit annoyed by of what people think of Portugal so I decided to write my own list of places that are well-known (or maybe not) by locals, but easily overlooked by those who visit Portugal. Since I had so many places to add to this list, I decided to choose only those that mean something to me. Since I would have to filter the list anyway, the best criteria is being absolutely parcial and write based on my own memories. With so much to see, a list of places is just another list, therefore I decided to make it personal.
I wrote this article after talking with a few friends and realizing that each person has its own method, some too organized, while some just throw all their stuff inside the bag. After each trip I do a review of how my “packing” went, and I noticed that there are a few things that I always have to have ready to be packed, almost a “Not To Forget List”.
I wrote more articles that I like, obviously, but these three were the ones that I had more fun writing. It wasn’t just reporting an experience, but they required research and talk with several people so that I could gather some facts. Those articles aren’t (yet) my most popular ones, but without any doubt they are part of a never-ending learning process. One of the things I refuse to do, is writing an article with stats in mind. Of course it is nice to see an article becoming viral (it didn’t happen yet), or to see that my articles reach a lot of people, but my main goal is to write because I like and to those that want to read it. Quality first.
However, and as I noticed in the past (article in Portuguese), it’s also important to look at stats. But more important than that, it is to ask for opinions (thank you all who gave me any kind of feedback).
Totalizing 52 published articles, written in 2 languages, I published more than the double comparing to 2014. Looking at this stats is quite rewarding, realizing that goals were overachieved. Regarding views in 2015, I had a non-defined goal of having more views per month than last December, which was achieved as well! In another words, 2015 was an excelente year.
Social Networks’ stats
Right now I am managing my social networks in two very different ways, in real time and/or with automatization. As one would expect, the social networks where I invest more time are the ones that bring more visitors to the blog, the other ones don’t send me much traffic and I only keep them for a few other reasons, or some I just gave up. Everything explained in detail below.
Oddly, I don’t have many visitors coming from Twitter, however it is my favorite network to find new materials. One quite important thing I learnt during this year is how important it is to share 3rd party articles. So that my followers keep interested in following my accounts, I should share for them and not (just) for myself, sharing what I think they would like to see. I don’t follow any specific metrics in a rigorous way, what I simply do is scheduling some of my articles and then I add to the queue articles I really like as well, always in mind that it is important to keep sharing articles with good quality. My Twitter activity can be resumed in three parts, scheduled posts to Buffer, manage the list of people I follow, and real time activity.
Facebook is my main source of views and visitors. On Facebook I use several different strategies, my personal page, the blog’s page, several groups where I share my latest articles, and paid ads. Honestly, I still didn’t figure out what’s the best way to manage a facebook page, at first I was using it as if it was Twitter, sharing several articles, and recently I decided to share less but focusing more on my blog’s articles, plus a few 3rd party articles that I find interesting to share with the community. The groups are my best strategy, it’s from them that most of my views come from and since I want to keep people interested, I only share one article a week, to avoid spamming and creating a bad reputation.
Regarding my personal account, where I also share my newest articles, unfortunately I notice few visits coming from there, and considering that I have a few hundreds of contacts…, well, I hope things change there as well.
My ugly ducking, with which I don’t spend any time with, but why do I still share there? Because it is a way to index on Google, and because Google gives authorship to my articles. Even though the traffic coming from Google+ is really tiny, adding my articles directly to Google’s database ends up being crucial. If Google knows everything about ourselves, more people will get to find us as well. I hope.
This is my new hobby. I am still exploring its potential, however I haven’t invested enough time with this network yet, but it is something I intend to do much more next year. To be honest, at first I couldn’t see how Pinterest could be useful or even interesting, but nowadays I even use it for personal use. My strategy for this social network is to widen my followers network, sharing pins travel related (with a few of my own in between). If they get to be shared, hopefully they’ll get to reach more people.
This is another network I don’t understand. A lot of bloggers say that Instagram is a great way to drive traffic to their blogs, I can’t understand how though. Then, there is all this concept behind Instagram that a lot of people seem to ignore, editing photos and sharing them weeks or months after taking them, which is totally the opposite of the concept of “instantaneous”. I still don’t have any strategy for this network, but it seems that it is one of the areas I need to invest time with, after all, if a lot of people say that it is great to drive traffic to their blogs…
Another ugly ducking, but this one I actually ended up abandoning. I didn’t find any interest in keeping sharing to Tumblr, it is another blogging platform and what I was doing was basically duplicating all my content in an automatized way. I didn’t even got any visitors coming from there, and I would have to invest way more time than I was willing to. I didn’t have any work with it, but the fact that I was just duplicating content was annoying me, therefore I disconnected the link between my blog and this network. Maybe I’ll reactivate it again in future…
I keep sharing on LinkedIn just to show another side of myself as a professional. We never know when one can invite us to work as a travel blogger, so I keep the automated sharing on.
Even though a Newsletter can’t be seen as a social network, I used it to share my work and ask for feedback in a personalized way next to those that were receiving it. It kinda of worked, but after a few editions I noticed that the workload was way too big for what I was actually offering. Almost all I shared in the newsletter or was uninteresting information for those that were receiving it, or not much relevant for what people were expecting. That said, I decided to suspend the Newsletter until I can have time to dedicate to it, I indeed to reactivate it in a few months though.
Like the saying, time is money, and to save some money it is important to know how to use time properly. Writing is just about 20% of the work one has to do to keep a blog, the other 80% is used to research and to advertise the blog. To research, I use a few tools like Quora that help me find information based in opinions, but it is still some work that has to be done manually. How to save time with the rest? With processes’ automatization.
There are out there several tools that make repetitive tasks much easier to handle, my favorite one is Buffer where I simply add to a queue the articles I want to share on my Social Networks, and at the set time those articles should be published. Basically, what I do is adding those articles to a queue and for one or two weeks I don’t need to worry too much about what is being shared. Not only I save a few hours, but also a few days!
But not everything is connected, even though I am not an active Instagram user, when I travel I share photos (directly from my iPhone) and I like to have them shared to other social networks, like Twitter. But how to add that to Buffer? Simple, I use IFTT. After a few hours those photos will also be shared to other social networks (I still need to tweak a few settings there)
This might be the most interesting part, with so many tasks and no income, why so much work? Mostly because I have learnt so much about a field that isn’t mine, because I’ve been reading a lot about Marketing, Advertising, Writing and Personal Organization. Simply, because I am constantly learning, and learning something that I actually have pleasure doing.
The first step to fail is by setting unrealistic goals. I failed in the past by dreaming too high, and this time I did things differently. I learnt that giving up is not a synonym of failing. The newsletter is a good example, I gave up without having failed. And in order to stay focused and organized with so many tasks, I have a few other tools to help me to stay on track.
- Spreadsheet with tasks and deadlines – Yes, I set deadlines to have my articles published on time. And the spreadsheet has all the information I need, how many days I still have to finish an article, review it, add photos to it and handle the SEO behind it.
- Calendar – But, why a calendar when the spreadsheet already has the deadlines? Not really, the calendar will give me a visual overview of how realistic my schedule in reality is. Scheduling two articles for the same day requires twice as much work to be done, so it is important to have a visual representation of how many articles I need to have ready on time (like this one, that has a portuguese version as well).
- Evernote / Notebook – I use Evernote to add notes while on the road, as I also use a paper notebook. The more details the merrier, which will help me writing more accurate articles afterwards.
- Feedly – Having a News Aggregator is really important, where to store all the articles I want to read later from other bloggers, and having all the useful information I want to share with my community I take it as a priority. Instead of spending hours browsing for good articles, it’s way easier and better to make them come to me. Then, I just need to select what I want to share and that’s it.
This article is way longer than normal, a lot of details of how I work is being shared here. I hope next year I have more interesting stats to share. But 2015 was a great year!