We are down to the last days of 2016. It’s the perfect time to take a moment and reflect on the past year. What did we do well? What could we have done better? Reflection is critical if we want to keep improving, so why not take this week to reflect?
I see so many people being cynical about this time of reflection and setting goals or resolutions for the New Year. I don’t really get it. Yes, many New Year’s resolutions are forgotten about by February. But sometimes, they can be just the catalyst we need to make postive changes in our lives. How can that be a bad thing?
I’d like to share my reflections and goals for Happy Healthy Mama. (I did this last year, too. You can read those here if you are interested.)Although I’ve been blogging since 2010, it wasn’t until the fall of 2014 that I decided I would shift my focus from hobby blog to making it a viable business. Although I don’t do it often, I love letting you in on the business side of things and sharing some of the goals and aspirations I have for Happy Healthy Mama.
Last year I published my goals for Happy Healthy Mama in 2016. Let’s take a look at each goal and see how I did.
2016 Goal #1: Refine my brand.
I spent a lot of time thinking about how niche-specific I wanted Happy Healthy Mama to be. In the end, I decided that my overall umbrella theme is healthy living, and I am happy to share ideas and inspirations beyond just recipes. It feels right to describe Happy Healthy Mama as a healthy living lifestyle blog. Yes, recipes is probably my main focus, but I like having the creative flexibility to allow my content to go beyond that boundary. Having a definite answer to what I wanted my brand to be was my goal, and I feel like I met that.
2016 Goal #2: Diversify traffic sources and revenue streams.
In 2015, Pinterest was 48% of my traffic. In 2016, it was 50% of my traffic. Ouch. If you look at just that, I didn’t diversify enough.
There were some bright areas, though. Direct traffic (people who type my blog address into their address bar and go directly to my site) remained my #2 source, but google traffic was a much closer third than in 2015. I focused on increasing my search engine traffic and as a result, my google search traffic increased 70% in 2016. That’s significant! I need it to grow even more so that if something happens to Pinterest, I have a sustainable amount of traffic from search. Other traffic sources grew in 2016 also, such as Yummly and a some big websites who sent referral traffic my way. While I improved slightly, I’d like to see this area get even better. If Pinterest goes away, I will lose half of my traffic and that’s scary.
In 2015, my revenue was 95% from display ads on my site. I focused on adding different streams of income and it worked. In 2016, display ads counted for 65% of my income, sponsored posts were 25%, and affiate sales were around 10%. Affiliate income increased 250% simply because I branched out and found more products I thought you would love. I also did a lot more sponsored posts. I tried to make sponsored posts a win-win situation for myself and my readers. I focused on working with solid brands that I felt great about promoting while creating useful and relevant content for you. At this point, I haven’t had to pitch brands; they come to me. I say no to as many opportunities that I say yes to. Overall, my income more than doubled from 2015 to 2016 so I am happy with the effort I put in this area and the results.
2016 Goal #3: Create a product.
Well, I did create a product in 2016. I just didn’t launch a product in 2016. I’m very close to launching my first product and am beyond excited to share it with you! It should be ready by the end of February (maaaybe earlier if I really hustle!) Yes, I wish I would have completed the whole project and launched it this year, but I’m okay with the progress I made in this area.
2016 Goal #4: Continue to grow.
2015 was such a big growth year for Happy Healthy Mama. In 2015, my pageviews increased 500% from the previous year. That’s a very tough act to follow and quite frankly not a normal rate of growth for most blogs. Even so, I naively expected and hoped for the same big growth in 2016.
Happy Healthy Mama did experience growth in 2016. In fact, my pageviews increased 30% from 2015. That’s a good thing. Yet, it felt like a let down at times. I set a goal to reach the milestone of 1,000,000 pageviews a month in 2016. Although I came close a few times, I didn’t reach that goal. There’s really nothing worse than the feeling of not hitting a goal, even though in my heart I know how hard and extremely rare it is to get to a million pageviews in one month.
I also experienced growth across all social media channels. Here’s a look at my numbers since 2014. Even though I’m happy that I did grow my presence in 2016, I know I could have done better. One mistake I made was thinking that doing the same things that brought me the growth in 2015 would bring me the same rate of growth in 2016. Here’s the thing. The things I did to grow in 2015 are things I should have been doing since day one. That’s why I experienced such explosive growth that year.
Breaking through to the next level is a whole different ball game. I’m learning.
One struggle for me in 2016 was time management and over committing to other things. I taught part time two days a week. When I committed to it, it didn’t seem like it would be too much. It ultimately took away from time I needed to keep working towards my goals here, though.
I also struggled in the summer. Having the kids home with me all day made it really difficult for me to get my blog work done. I struggled to find a work-life balance. It’s tough trying to be a stay-at-home mom who has a full-time blogging job “on the side.” When I was working I felt guilty for not engaging with the kids. When I was doing things with the kids, I was thinking about what work I needed to get done. It was not a winning situation.
These may sound like excuses, but they aren’t. I’m just reflecting on things that may have contributed to me falling short of some of my goals. I set goals that required time. When other commitments got in the way, I didn’t stop working on my goals, but the rate of growth was bound to be affected.
Goals for 2017
During 2016 I really shifted my mindset from that of a blogger to a business owner. If I want to serve you and do great things with Happy Healthy Mama, I have to treat it like a business. It’s with that mindset that I set my 2017 goals. Ultimately, I want to create the most useful blog I can for YOU. If I entertain you along the way, that’s great, but first and foremost I want to serve you by giving you content that can be supremely helpful. Whether it’s a recipe that gets your kids to eat a new healthy food, nutritional information, or a tip about natural living, I want everything I write to be useful and helpful for my readers. I want to connect with you and figure out what makes you tick. The question I ask myself everyday when I’m planning content is: What do my readers NEED from me? (Pssstt…it’s really helpful when you tell me! I’m working on the whole mind-reading thing, but, you know, the most direct way is a simple email or comment on a post. ;-)) With these things in mind, I created my goals for 2017.
Okay, goal time!
2017 Goal #1: Successfully launch my product
What is successful? I guess that’s relative. I want this product to reach as many people as it can, but it’s about so much more than the revenue. If you haven’t read about it, my product is a system that will help you conquer dinner time. It’ll help you get healthy dinners on the table fast, even the busiest of families. I know that product can be a blessing for so many families, so my goal is to get it into as many hands as possible. That means this Elementary Education major has to put on her marketing hat and do this right. It will be my first launch so I’m not even putting numbers out there into the universe because I’m not sure what to expect.
2017 Goal #2: Conquer Time Management
I spent a lot of time working on the wrong things in 2016. In 2017, my goal is to have laser-focus, use my time more efficiently, and focus on what’s most important for my business. The rest of it? Outsource. Anyone looking to be a virtual assistant? I’m hiring.
2017 Goal #3 Focus on 1-2 Core Affiliates
I would like to find 1-2 core affiliates that are a perfect fit for my readers. I increased my affiliate income a lot in 2016, but I feel like I barely got through the tip of the iceberg. I want to show you other people’s products that you need and love and, circling back to my ultimate goal, are super helpful!
Goal #4 Break Through to the Next Level (income and/or traffic)
The last half of the year I felt like Happy Healthy Mama plateaued. I need to figure out how to break through the plateau in order to continue to grow. I could totally stay where I’m at and that wouldn’t be terrible. Many blogs don’t ever reach the level I’m at and I’m grateful to be here. My personality, however, is one that requires me to continually improve. I want to challenge myself to break through to the next level.
Notice I put a and/or in between the income and traffic. I’ve recently learned that up to a certain point more traffic=more income. But it’s also important to optimize the traffic you’re already getting. If I can keep my traffic the same, but increase my income, that would be great. I’ve read plenty of blogging income reports where bloggers have similar traffic to me but are making much more.
It’s not all about chasing traffic. Even so, last year I set a goal of reaching one million pageviews in a month. That goal will remain until I hit it! I can’t just drop a goal because I didn’t get it.
There you have it! My long-winded look at the last year and what I’m focused on for 2017. I hope you enjoy this small peek into the other side of Happy Healthy Mama. I’m still loving this blogging thing and will be here as long as you keep on reading. I don’t tell you this enough, but THANK YOU. Without you, I couldn’t possibly keep this thing going.
Cheers to a happy and healthy 2017!