Welcome to my very first end-of-year evaluation for my blog and business (2015 edition).
I am not writing this because I want you to see how “great” I am. In fact, I am pretty sure some of you reading this will scoff at the numbers I have reported below and click out as quickly as you clicked through to read this.
If that is the case, you are not who I am writing for and that is OKAY, friend !
I wrote this for anyone who is where I was last year : I had started a blog but was not sure which form it was going to take or even if I would make any money because of it.
I wrote this because I would like to show you, if you are that person, that everyone DOES start from zero.
I wrote this because it will keep me accountable for the goals I set for myself in this post.
I’ll chat about how much money I made, the mistakes I made, lessons learned and the goals I am setting for myself starting TODAY (why wait till January 1st anyway ? It’s not like anything magical happens on January 1st).
So without further ado, let’s get into it shall we ?
How This Blog Came To Be
When I bought the domain “MyOnlineBizJourney.com” in July of 2014, I had this very vague idea of what I wanted it to be.
Initially, I thought it would be a platform for which I would sell my Udemy courses and Kindle eBooks from.
Then I wanted to help busy moms rock it at business being a busy mom myself.
Then I wanted it to be a place where I would mentor “femmepreneurs” who were less tech-savvy than I was.
Then I was truly confused as to exactly what I wanted the blog to be.
All said, it took roughly a year for me to finally hone in on who I wanted to serve and what I wanted this blog to be – a place where solopreneurs like myself could come to learn how to build an online presence via social media & blogging.
That has been my sweet spot and I am excited about it.
Lesson learned from here :
How My Blog Grew in 2015
I started January 2015 with less than 20 e-mail subscribers. In fact I remember sending an e-mail out to a mastermind group I was joining at the time and telling them about my 18 subscribers.
I am proud to say my list has grown very steadily since then and while my growth is not headline worthy, to finish out the year at almost 200 subscribers with an average e-mail open rate around 30% is exciting to me.
I would have closed the year out with my list around 260 or 270 but I deleted half my e-mail list in July. More on that below.
“But Gee, 200 is nothing.”
I agree with you, my friend. I could have hosted more webinars. Done more Facebook ads. Written for bigger blogs and done all the things the huge names in online business do.
Here is the thing though :
I did not have the proper know-how for Facebook ads. I am not using this as an excuse. I am just stating the facts. I have since gotten MUCH better at FB ads and plan to promote content through Facebook in the new year (actually, I started already & loving the results so far. More on that later.)
I could have guest-posted more. I didn’t though. No excuse here either.
I did some webinar/live classes but that took so much energy from me that I am completely rethinking whether it should be an integral part of my marketing strategy. I admire people who are able to host webinars every week but if there is one thing I learned, it is that webinars are harsh on me.
Bottomline : my e-mail list did not balloon because I did not put myself “out there” enough. I was forgettable and a “me too” blog. That has changed.
So no. I did not go from 18 people to 1000 people on my list nevertheless I am happy with how I grew because it gave me a LOT of room to find my unique voice and spot in the market. That changed things for me & I know it will propel my growth faster in 2016.
Why I deleted half my list in July
Simple : they were not engaging. So I went ahead and deleted individuals who had not opened up the last 10 e-mails I had sent.
I think of it as pruning the branches for more quality growth.
GOAL FOR 2016 : 2000 e-mail subscribers
My blog traffic at the beginning of the year was explosive.
It started with me sharing a post on StumbleUpon and then overnight gaining close to 3000 visitors to my blog in ONE DAY !
Prior to that, that most traffic I had gotten was maybe 20 page views.
Traffic to my blog slowed down after that but it was no longer at the levels it used to be prior to my StumbleUpon “fame”.
I closed out the year averaging 3000 page views per month.
GOAL FOR 2016 : 10,000 page views per month.
Social Media Followings
Social media accounted for almost 40% of my overall traffic this year.
Towards the end of this year, I began to see an uptick in my search engine traffic which I am really excited because who doesn’t want the kind of traffic that happens whether or not you’re actively promoting your blog ?
In any case, my social media followings grew as such (As of Dec 28 2015) :
Twitter : 1450 followers
Facebook : 1224 likes (I used FB ads for boosting etc)
Pinterest : 531 followers
Periscope : 469 followers
Youtube : 34 subscribers
I don’t use Youtube as much for promotion of content. I mostly have my live classes which I do using Google Hangouts and so therefore automatically get uploaded to Youtube + a few tutorials. I should do better there.
GOAL FOR 2016 : 5x growth across all channels.
A blog is a marketing tool for your business. It is a platform from which you build authority. To think of it any other way is a big mistake and I found that out during the course of this year.
I had to define what my business was.
That was not easy in the least bit !
I got it down though and I am so grateful I did.
Nonterah Digital Media LLC scored our first social media management client in November. And while it is not “passive income”, it is job-free income and a step in the direction I would like to take my small but growing company.
My total income this year :
Social Media Management + Content Creation (started actively in Nov 2015) : $1289
Online Courses (Udemy + Gumroad) : $350
Affiliate Income :
Amazon.com : $1.96
Google Adsense : $8.23
Fatcow.com Hosting : $50.00
I made some money from selling stuff on eBay as well but I was bad at keeping those records and so I don’t have those records (BAD GERTRUDE).
I kept my expenses as low as possible.
Major expenses were :
Hootsuite social media management – $15/month
Ontrapages (an alternative for Leadpages if that is too pricey for you) – $15/month
Income Lessons + Goals
I need to promote my courses more.
I really lacked here and I have to say that I am kind of bad at promoting myself but I know I am a great teacher who has a lot to offer. So no more selling myself short.
More clients & better systems for Nonterah Digital Media
I have a few clients I need to on-board in the new year. I need to come up with a better system for on-boarding clients (in terms of contracts etc since it is social media after all and in some cases I have to sign into their social accounts).
I also need to get better at optimizing how much time I spend working on each client’s project while still delivering top-notch value.
Throwing E- commerce in the mix
This homegirl has been on the e-commerce wagon since 2005. I sold stuff on eBay for extra cash in college but never thought of it as a viable business model.
I actually dipped my foot into e-commerce again in 2010 and set up a shop on eBay called “The Divine Look” where I was selling ladies’ purses and clutches. I however was not great at calculating what things were worth and did not factor in shipping and handling costs in the beginning and so I abandoned that business for a while.
I tried my hands at it again in 2013 and once again got discouraged.
Looking back I see that I was simply on well-educated in the process. I heard of Steve Chou earlier this year and took his free 6-day e-commerce course and it truly has done wonders for me.
I am now heading into the e-commerce territory again albeit with better education on how to be profitable with an e-commerce business.
I am excited for 2016 has to offer me in terms of these goals !
So that is how it went for me this year.
I skipped the parts where I cried, bombed a webinar, lost money on FB ads , suffered Impostor Syndrome, lay awake at night and thought I was not cut out for solopreneurship and making money outside of my regular job.
I am not repeating a tired cliche here. I’ve lived it and I am telling you : just do it.
What are YOUR goals starting today ? Let’s hear it in the comments.