I’m going to be completely honest: I can’t believe that it’s only been three months since I launched Letters From Sunshine. Letters From Sunshine has already become such a huge part of my life and the journey has been an absolute whirlwind. There are so many amazing people in the blogging community and in my life who have helped and supported me on this journey, and I would love to share my progress with them in my March and April 2017 blog report.
Before I Begin…
Before I started my own blog, I loved reading blog reports because they were a way to see the amount of work that goes into blogs and the many progressions it takes to reach various goals. For that reason, when I started my blog, I decided to do my own blog reports in a series called “Adventures in Blogging”, which was intended to be a monthly series that tracked my blog’s growth, what I did each month, and any changes that I made. The first blog report was published on March 1st and covered my first month* of college blogging (it was actually a six week period), which was between mid-January to the end of February; if you’d like, you can check out that blog report by clicking here. I meant for the series to occur monthly, so that it would be easier to track the changes as my blog grew. Obviously, that didn’t happen in the month of March.
March was a busy month for me. Between mid-terms, spring break, and being sick for an entire week, I hardly even had time to do my regular blog posts, much less work on expanding my blog as much as I wanted to. Consequently, my pageviews–which had been going up by quite a bit–began to fall back down. I attribute this downfall due to being disconnected from the blogging world for about a week and a half as I was trying to recover from being sick. Because there was little-to-no change in the month of March, I decided to combine it with my April 2017 blog report.
Without further ado…my March and April 2017 blog report!
Adventure One: Blog Posts
In March, I had four blog posts, which averaged out to about one each week. Those blog posts were:
- Adventures in Blogging: My First Month as a College Blogger
- This was the first post of the “Adventures in Blogging” series and was published on March; this was so that I could include my blog stats from the entire month of February. Overall, I am really happy with this post because it will allow me (and other bloggers and readers) to reflect on the growth of this blog.
- How to Organize Your Scholarship Binder (plus free printables)
- I was super excited about this post, especially since I got to include my first ever freebies with it. I now have a total of 3 posts about scholarships, and this is by far my favorite one.
- The Benefits of Not Having a Job Your First Semester of College
- Since high school seniors will be moving into college in a few months and might be starting to look for a job, I felt like I should address the benefits of waiting a semester to start working. I know that I definitely would have been too overwhelmed to try working while also adjusting to college and balancing my schoolwork, and I felt that this was a topic that needed to be addressed.
- How I Earned a 30 on the ACT (and what I would have done differently)
- This was my second college-bound blog post of March, and is one that I thought would be interesting since it was the same time of year that high school juniors are taking their college admissions tests. Although I did earn a 30 on the ACT, which by all means is an amazing score, whenever I reflect back on it there are some changes that I would have made in my preparation for it that possibly could have earned me a better score. I wanted to share those with other students in hopes of helping them.
Now that I have covered all of March’s blog posts, let’s move on to April, which had 3 blog posts and one updated post:
- What is the National Student Exchange Program?
- Ever want to (temporarily) study at an out-of-state college for the in-state price? If yes, then this is the program to do it! My first post of in April was about the National Student Exchange program, which is like study abroad, but instead of taking classes abroad you take classes in another state! This post was meant to introduce a new opportunity to students who had most likely never heard of before, and possibly give them something to consider participating in while in college.
- How to Set Up the Perfect Class Schedule
- Since it is scheduling time for a lot of students, whether they are incoming freshmen or continuing students, I felt as if it would be a great time to post my tips on creating the best class schedule. This post is one of my favorites on my blog so far (that and Ten Factors to Consider Before Choosing Your Dorm), so I’m not surprised that it’s been one of my best-performing blog posts for the month of April. If you haven’t given it a read, then you should definitely go check it out.
- Life without a Roommate: What Happened When My Roommate Never Showed Up
- This post was a little different than my normal posts because it followed more of a personal story, but I am very happy with how it turned out. This post addressed a topic that most students never hear about or have to deal with in college: what to do if your roommate doesn’t show up during move-in. In the post, I discussed my experience with having a no-show roommate, along with what other college students might expect if the same thing happens to them.
- Updated post: Why You Should Job Shadow Before Senior Year
- When I say that this post was “updated”, I mean completely re-written. This was one of the first posts on my blog, and even though it’s only been three months since I launched it, I can already tell that there has been an improvement in my writing. The “Why you should job shadow…” post was a bit lackluster in comparison to my other posts (as it was just a story and a list of reasons for why you should job shadow), so I quickly began to realize that it would need an update.
- Another big reason why I updated this post was because I noticed that a lot of people were pinning it onto college-related Pinterest boards. Although I was glad that it was having re-pins, I was a little concerned that it wasn’t meeting it’s target audience, which was high schoolers. However, that began to make me think about how beneficial job shadows could be for college students as well, rather than just high schoolers This meant that when I updated it, I discussed how it would benefit both groups of students.
Those were all of the blog posts for the month of March and April, so now let’s move on to social media.
Adventure Two: Social Media
- I ended the April with 55 followers on Twitter, which I think is pretty good considering that I had never even had a Twitter account before starting this blog in January. Even then, I don’t post a lot on Twitter, which I’m looking to change in the coming months.
- In April, I also ran my first Twitter poll, in which I asked people what was the best way for a college student to spend the summer. Over half of the people who responded said interning was the best, and a third of people said that travelling was the best.
- Instagram is quickly becoming one of my favorite social media platforms just because of how much I can connect with my readers and other bloggers. One major change I made to my Instagram this month is that I began creating a theme (even though I said in my previous blog report that I didn’t think I was going to try to do that for a while) and cleared out some pictures that didn’t match my brand; I just wasn’t happy with the look of it.
- Luckily, the theme colors that I chose (light yellows, blues, and pinks) can encompass a lot of different things, plus it matches the color theme of my blog.
- I began posting on Instagram more often in the months of March and April, and that has definitely paid off. On March 21 I reached the 50 followers milestone, but as I began posting more often, I was able to receive 77 followers by the end of April.
- Facebook growth is really slow for me, since most millennials focus on Instagram and Twitter as their social media platforms. By the end of April, a total of 10 people liked the Letters From Sunshine page and 11 people followed it. However, the only consistent posts on it are from when I am releasing a new blog, which is approximately once a week.
- I also began to join Facebook groups in March and April! I am currently in the Blogging College group, the AsLifeGrows College Collective, the ST Student Success Club, the Bloguettes Bulletin Board, and the Graced College Girl Bloggers. I’ve loved being able to connect with other bloggers and students through these groups, ask/answer questions, and just see what other people are posting.
Adventure Three: Pinterest
Just like last time, Pinterest gets its own category just because of how important the platform is for growing my blog; even more, there is so much to talk about concerning Pinterest for the months of March and April because I began putting a lot more effort into Pinterest, since that is where the majority of my traffic is coming from.
In case you didn’t read my first blog report, I mentioned that Pinterest provided me with over 80% of my blog’s traffic; in March (and especially April), I began trying some different methods to grow my Pinterest and the traffic I gain from it, and it totally paid off. Between the two collective months, the amount of traffic I receive from Pinterest skyrocketed to 98%! That is such a huge jump and is absolutely amazing! (However, it does mean that I’m not directing traffic to my blog very well from other platforms, so I guess you can look at it either way.)
So now it’s time to discuss what I did to achieve this jump, which is actually due to several different things: Tailwind, BoardBooster, and Group Boards.
(Just as a quick disclaimer, I am not an affiliate of Tailwind and all opinions are my own.)
In the past few months, I’ve been reading a lot of blog posts on how to increase traffic (especially Pinterest traffic) and just about every single one raved about how Tailwind helped them grow their blog; in case you don’t know what Tailwind is, it’s a tool that is mainly known for scheduling Pinterest pins. For a while, the price of $15 a month made me hesitant to try it out, but after reading so much positive feedback about it, I decided to give in and try out the free trial, which included 100 pins, and join a Tailwind Tribe to see if it was worth it.
And was it worth it? Of course!
Between the trial, the Tailwind Tribe, and my now-upgraded Tailwind Plus plan, I have seen how much it has helped grow my blog’s traffic (I’ll go over the entire traffic site stats in the next post), my only regret is that I didn’t join it sooner. Since joining it, my pageviews have skyrocketed and my pins and blog content are being viewed by more people, all because Tailwind schedules my pins at the times that they will have the most engagement and views.
(Just as a quick disclaimer, I am not an affiliate of BoardBooster and all opinions are my own.)
There is a way to loop pins with Tailwind, but I find it much easier to do so with BoardBooster because it is automatic; all I had to do is tell it to loop X amount of pins each day from Board 1, Y amount of pins per day from Board 2, etc. This helps keep my pins in a constant loop so that whenever I get new followers, they will be able to see my older pins “looping” and showing up in their feed.
3) Group Boards
If you are also a blogger, then you know how important group boards are for sharing your content, as well as sharing other member’s content (because the blogging community is very supportive of each other). Group boards are especially important to me because they allow my content to be seen and shared by a large number of people, even though my specific profile doesn’t have a large number of followers (as of April 30th it was at 72 followers). This month I joined several group boards and have also put in requests to join a few others.
Adventure Four: Site Stats
I am going to be completely honest: I am freaking out about my blog stats! They have absolutely skyrocketed this past month, which I attribute to my growth on Pinterest (re: Tailwind and BoardBooster).
However, March wasn’t really the best month in terms of my blog stats. Like previously stated, I had mid-terms, spring break, and an illness that made me disconnected from the blogging world for awhile; this resulted in a negative impact on my blogs growth and my stats began to fall.
March had a total of 1,299 pageviews and 9.5% of people had visited my site before; I feel as if this is pretty good since Letters From Sunshine is still a newer blog. This is especially good when you compare it to my first six weeks of blogging, when I had a total of 550 pageviews. The stats were a little bit all over the place, as you can see by the picture, but I never quite reached that 100 pageviews per day mark.
Now let’s take a look at the month of April…
In April I had over 2,600 pageviews! That completely doubled from March! Plus, I not only hit the mark where I was receiving over 100 pageviews a day, but also 200 pageviews a day! I cannot tell you how happy I was when this happened, as well as how thankful I am towards the people who read my blog.
In April, 13.5% of my readers were people who had visited my blog before. I was really happy about this because it means that people are enjoying my blog. This was especially important to me because I currently do not have an email list to notify readers whenever there is a new blog post up (although I do hope to have an email list soon).
I am hoping to keep these blog stats up, but since it’s going to be finals week soon and I’m going to have to focus more on my schoolwork, I wouldn’t be surprised if they do start to fall down a bit until I began to catch back up during the summer.
Adventure Five: Changes in the Months of March and April
I have already discussed two of the major changes that I made in the months of March and April, which was joining Tailwind and BoardBooster.
However, another change that I made to my blog was the Contact form. In the month of April, there were some days when I would notice that I was having people visit my Contact page, but I would never receive anything. I finally tested it out, and to my horror I realized that it wasn’t working, and that anytime someone tried to use it an error message would be displayed. This meant that it hadn’t been working for months! I was a bit upset that I hadn’t thought to test the page when I first launched my blog, and even more so that it had taken me this long to realize the error in my site. Luckily, I was able to contact the provider of my theme and they had it fixed within hours.
Goals for May
I am super-excited for May, not only because it’s the end of the semester, but also because I will have so much more time to blog! I already have tons of post ideas curated and ready to start writing, especially since I won’t have to worry about homework deadlines and upcoming tests.
Besides writing more posts, I’m also hoping to promote my blog more on social media. This means joining more group boards on Pinterest, tweeting more, posting daily or every other day on Instagram (when I go home I’ll finally have props to use!), and growing my Facebook following.
A goal for the summer (not specifically May) would be to create another freebie for the blog. I loved making the printables for the scholarship binder for you all, and would love to do something similar again.
Whew! This was definitely a long blog report (almost 3000 words), but I guess that’s what happens when I skip a blog report for a month; I end up having a lot more to write about. If you have any additional questions over what I did in the months of March or April, or have any comments or suggestions of what I could do in the future, please let me know!
P.S. Do you have any questions, comments, or feedback? Write me a letter back (in the comments) or email me at email@example.com. I would love to hear from you!