Seven Areas on How to Conduct a Half Yearly Blog Review

Many bloggers do an end of year review. It’s a logical time to do an audit of your blog and set goals. I also think that periodically checking in on those goals and setting new ones is a good idea. This being halfway through the year it is a logical time to do just that.

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This is a good time to just stop blogging for a day or just spend a few hours and do some analysis of your blog. How have you been traveling as a blogger?

I’m going to run through one method I use to do a blog review, but I also have a second suggestion that ProBlogger Editor Stacey Roberts wrote in 2015 that a lot of readers found helpful.

I was also thinking about the best way to conduct a blog review and I came up with seven different areas to focus on. In each of these seven areas there are four questions you  need to ask.

Questions to Ask in Each of the Seven Blogging Areas

  • What were my successes?
  • What are the opportunities that come from those successes?
  • What were the failures?
  • What is my plan?

I’ve also developed a worksheet that is a bit of a matrix that you can use to find the seven areas and ask the four questions within each one.

In Today’s Episode: Seven Areas on How to Conduct a Half Yearly Blog Review

  • Content
    • What did well? Posts, categories, topics, lengths, mediums etc.
    • Did I meet deadlines?
    • Plan – set an editorial plan – CoSchedule or Spreadsheet
  • Traffic
    • Traffic spikes and why – social network, blogs, seasonal
    • Promote seasonal spikes and look for opportunities
    • Dips and ways to minimize those dips
    • Trending traffic – up, down, plateaus
    • Promotional activities – guests posts, social, SEO, how did it go?
  • Reader Engagement
    • Health of your readership
    • Are they engaging
    • Comment numbers, share numbers, bounce rate
    • Open rates on email newsletters
    • Social media engagement
    • What are you hearing from your readers?
    • Have you delivered value? Giving more than taking
    • Reader Survey – ask questions
    • Run a community project or challenge to get engagement
  • Monetization
    • How is income trending?
    • What has performed well?
    • Where is income coming from – launches or long tail sales?
    • Other monetization methods
    • Plan
      • What products to develop
      • What sponsors to approach
      • What affiliates
      • Review media kit for sponsors
      • Promotional calendar for products to launch or develop
      • Set aside time to build a product or reach out to sponsors
  • Tech
    • Servers, outages, downtime
    • Security, updates, plugins, vulnerabilities
    • Broken features, new tools or plugins
    • Design – Overhaul, review, is it dated or need tweaking
    • Mobile responsive
    • Tools – email, landing pages, do my tools still serve my needs?
    • Do I need and get value from paid tools?
  • Productivity
    • How do you use your time?
    • Workflows
    • What takes the most time?
    • Time tool like RescueTime
  • You
    • How are you traveling?
    • How are you going?
    • Do we ask ourselves this question?
    • How are you going with your blogging, but your life as well?
    • Physical, spiritual, mental, your energy levels and passion
    • Do you need a break or to change direction?
    • It’s important to ask deeper more personal questions
    • Are you filling your cup?
    • Professional development – solo entrepreneurs need to do this for themselves
    • If you are not learning and developing your blog may suffer

Further Resources on How to Conduct a Half Yearly Blog Review



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Welcome to Episode 131 of the ProBlogger podcast. Today, I want to walk you through doing a half yearly review of your blog. It’s just past the halfway point of 2016 and so it’s a great time to do a bit of a review to help you understand how you’ve been traveling as a blogger but more importantly to tweak and change the cause for the next six months to make them the most productive and useful six months that you possibly can.

You can find today’s show notes including a little download that I’ve got for you that I’ll talk about during the podcast over at problogger.com/podcast/131.

Many bloggers do an end of year review at the end of a year or at the beginning of the year. It’s a logical time to do review and set some goals. I think it’s really useful to periodically check back in on those goals that we set. If we haven’t got any goals, to set some new ones. I think as I just mentioned being halfway through the year, this is a great time to just stop your blogging maybe for an extra day or two. Don’t post anything and spend a day—even if it’s just a few hours—doing an analysis of how you’ve been traveling as a blogger.

There’s many ways to do a review like this. I’m going to run through one suggestion of it but I also do have another one for you that I linked to in today’s show notes. A review on order process that Stacy Roberts, the editor of ProBlogger wrote at the end of 2015. I’ll link to that because it gives you some really great questions to ask on a number of different areas for your blog. While I was out at my walk today, something that I do most days around mid-day to break out my day, I was thinking about how I would do a review on my blogs in the next week.

I came up with seven different areas that I want to do some analysis on for my own blogs in the coming weeks. The seven areas that I think any successful blogger needs to be kicking some goals in, they need to be achieving in these seven areas if they want to build a profitable blog. If profit’s not for you, there’s six of the areas because one of them is monetization. Whatever your goals are, these are areas that I think you need to be asking the questions in.

For each of these areas, I’m going to suggest that you ask yourself four questions. We’ve got seven different areas of your blog and then we’re going to ask four questions about each one. The four questions that you’re going to ask about each one, I’ve summarized in a little download that I’ve got for you over at problogger.com/podcast/131. It’s a worksheet that I’ve developed that’s got the seven areas and the four questions sort of set out in a matrix that you can print off and then use to answer the questions.

Let me tell you the four questions and then I’ll tell you the seven areas. The four questions are pretty simple, really. They are: “What were my successes? What did I achieve over the last six months of my blog?” “What are the opportunities that come from those successes?” And then we want to look at the flip side, “What were the failures over the last six months? Where were the weaknesses, where were the things that I didn’t quite achieve what I was hoping to.” Lastly, “What’s my plan for the next six months?” Successes, opportunities, failures, and plans. If you want an acronym, it’s SOFP.

As I’ve said, to help you visualize these four questions with the seven different areas that I want you to do some analysis in, I do have this worksheet that you can go and download right now at problogger.com/podcast/131. You don’t have to give your email address, it’s just a simple PDF that you can download. Very simple, I just whipped it up in five minutes. Don’t go expecting too much in terms of design.

There are the four questions that you’re going to ask and I want you to ask those four questions about seven different areas of your blog. It might sound like a lot but you can whip through this fairly quickly if you’d like to or you can spend more time on each one as well.

Let me present to you the seven different areas that I think are really seven areas that any blogger should be working on at any point in time on their blog.

Area number one is content, pretty obvious. Without content, you don’t have a blog.

Area number two is traffic. The eyeballs, the amount of people seeing your content which is something that as bloggers we hopefully are all fairly interested in.

Number three is reader engagement. It’s the health of your readers whether they’re engaging with you, connecting with you, the feeling of community, the reader’s sentiment. I guess we’re not just looking at the numbers which is traffic but we’re actually trying to understand who is reading, how are they feeling towards you and your blog, and how they’re engaging with it.

Area number four is monetization. Are you making money? Are you sustaining your blog? This is probably the optional one, I know some of you are not interested in monetizing. That’s totally fine, you might want to skip this particular one.

Area number five is the tech, your blog running, service, tools, some of those types of things.

Area number six is productivity, how are you using your time, what are your workflows like, what are your systems like, what tools are you using?

The last area is one that I’ve thrown in there because I think it really is important. It’s you, how are you going? You as a blogger, your health of you is going to impact the health of your blog. I’ve got some things for you to think about in that as well.

There are the seven areas; content, traffic, reader engagement, monetization, tech, productivity, and you. You may choose to stop this podcast now, go download that worksheet problogger.com/podcast/131, and then just do it. You can totally do that, there’s four questions there for each of those seven different areas. If you would like a little bit more, what I’m going to do next is just go through each of those seven areas again and just ask you a few other questions that you might want to ask to help you unpack that particular area.

This overlaps a little bit with that post I mentioned earlier that Stacy wrote but there’s a few other questions that I want to share with you as well. All of this is in the transcript of this podcast which is over on the show notes as well. We’ve had transcripts on our podcast now for the last three episodes, so if you have been waiting for that, they’re now there over on the show notes.

Let’s dig into each of these areas. You should be asking successes, opportunities, failures, and your plan but here are some extra things that you might want to ask and consider to help you work through these seven areas.

Firstly, we’re talking about content. What type of posts did well for you over the last six months, that’s one of the questions I’m asking. By types of posts, I’m talking about the topic, the category of posts, but also the format of post. Was it a list type post, was it essay type post, was it rant, were they opinion pieces, were they interviews. What types of posts did well? You might also as part of that ask yourself what type of mediums worked well. Were you experimenting with video, live streaming, audio, podcasts, or was it all text, were there infographics, what type of mediums did well for you? Was it curated or was it original content as well.

You might also want to look at the length of posts. Did you notice any trends as you look at the most popular posts over the last six months in terms of the length? I just did this recently, looked at my Google Analytics and realized that some of our longer posts did really well over the last six months for us. Again, that informs the plan that I’m going to make going forward, some of that longer form content is doing really well for us. Did the length of post seem to have any impact on traffic, comments, engagements, shares, those types of things.

The last thing I would encourage you to think about was the frequency of your posting. What frequency were you aiming for? Did you meet the deadlines that you set yourself? Did you exceed them? How did your readers seem to respond whether you did a lot of posts or not many as well. These are some of the areas I’d be thinking about in terms of content.

As you’re thinking about your plan, I really would encourage you to take this opportunity as you’re doing this analysis to set yourself a bit of an editorial plan going forwards. You may actually want to get a tool like coschedule.com which is what we use over at ProBlogger. I’ll link to that in today’s show notes. Or, you may choose to just get a spreadsheet and plug in the post that you want to be publishing, the types of posts maybe, the frequency of those posts. You may even want to set yourself some topics ahead of time to keep yourself on track with some of the things that you want to achieve. That’s content.

I’ve got some further reading again in the show notes as well, you can check out our creating content portal on the ProBlogger blog. We’ve got a portal pretty much for each of the seven areas that I’m talking about today and I’ll also include some further reading for you in the show notes on content if that’s an area that you need to do some more work in.

Now, we’re talking about traffic, area number two. Some of the questions that I ask myself as I look back on the last six months are things like did I have any spikes in traffic over that six months? Why did I have those spikes? Was it a rush of traffic from social network? Was it another blog? Was it a seasonal thing, for example in the last couple of days we just had a big spike in traffic on my photography blog all going to How to Photograph Fireworks being 4th of July in America. Sometimes, it’s a seasonal explanation.

Why did those spikes happen and are there opportunities around those things? I actually noticed many years ago now, the 4th of July was a big spike in traffic for us on Digital Photography School. As a result, we now promote those posts that do really well very heavily around 4th of July, also around New Year’s Eve when people are photographing fireworks. We also have written some more content on that. When you notice spikes, you need to look for opportunities to increase the size of those spikes but also see if there are other opportunities around that.

On the flip side of looking at the spikes, were there any troughs in traffic? Have you noticed that there’s been any dips, maybe weekends, maybe it’s a seasonal thing. We noticed after 4th of July, the day after, we see a bit of a lull because everyone’s having a bit of a day off after having celebrated. There again could be some seasonal explanations there and there may be some ways that you can minimize those troughs in traffic as well.

Another question to ask, how is your traffic trending? Is it going up? Is it up on the last month, up on last year, or is it on the way down, or is it plateau in some way? That’s useful to understand and again to do some analysis on that. You may actually find that there are some things you can do to change those trends if they’re negative trends or to leverage them further. One of the things we noticed a couple of years ago now was that we were slowly trending down on our mobile traffic on both of my blogs.

That was a bit of a signal and a wake up call for us that we needed to really do something about our mobile optimized design and get a responsive design on our blog as well and to do some work on getting our bounce rate up as well because we noticed that people were still coming to our site on mobile but they weren’t viewing more pages. How is your traffic training? Is it up? Is it down? Did you do any promotional activities over the first six months of this year? Did you do some guest posts? Did you change the frequency of your updating on social media? Did you do some increased focus on shareable content? Did you create an opt-in for your site? Did you do some SEO, some search engine optimization.

Those types of things, how do they go for you over the last six months? What was a good use of your time, what was a poor use of your time? On the flip side, what could you be doing in the next six months in those areas as well? You might want to check out Episode 113 where I talk about four different things that you can do to promote your blog and get more eyeballs on your blog. That may actually help you to form a bit of a plan for the next six months.

Some of the questions I would encourage you to ask about traffic, again there would be some further readings in today’s show notes and Episode 113 is probably a good one to go and listen to after this one if that’s an area you need to work on more.

Area number three was reader engagement, how’s the health of your readership? How are your readers feeling about your blog? Are they engaging with you. There’s some pretty obvious things here to look at. Comment numbers, have they gone up or down? Are you seeing people sharing your content? Are you getting emails from readers? Are you seeing your bounce rate on your site go up or down? That can be a bit of a sign of when the people are open to getting more content from you when they first arrive and their feelings towards you as well.

How’s your open rates on your email? If you send out newsletters, what type of engagements are you getting on social media? What’s the most frequent complaint of praise that you hear from your readers? If you hear the same thing from your readers a number of times, whether it’s a good or bad thing, that gives you a bit of a hint as to the sentiment of your readers towards you.

I noticed that occasionally I would get an email from a reader saying you’ve been promoting too much to us. You’ve been trying to sell too much to use. If I hear that from one reader, I kind of pay a little bit of attention to that. But if I hear three times in three days that same piece of feedback from three different people, that’s a bit of a signal that maybe I’ve got my balance out of way in terms of how much content I’m giving away for free and how much I’m charging for. Those types of things will be things that I’ll be asking myself when it comes to understanding my reader engagement, health of my readers.

I guess ultimately we’re trying to ask ourselves here have you delivered value over the last six months? Are people positive towards you or are they feeling like you’ve been taking more than you’ve been giving. One thing that you might want to do as part of your plan going forward if you struggle to do analysis in this area is maybe you want to do a survey of your readers. Halfway through the year might be a really good time to understand how your readers are feeling towards your site, ask them some questions about that.

Another thing you might want to do in the second half of the year is to run some kind of a community project or some sort of a challenge that is all about trying to get engagement from your readers rather than selling, selling, selling to them or promoting things all the time, affiliate promotions, sponsorship type activations. Maybe you need this next six months to really focus on getting engagements with your readers.

You can go over to I think it’s Episode 61 where I talk about how to build community with your readers if this is an area that you want to grow in. Also, we’ve got the community portal over on problogger.net/build-community-portal. That will take you through some further reading on building community on your blog as well.

Now, let’s talk about monetization. Look up your successes, opportunities, failures, and come up with a plan. Some other questions you might want to ask in terms of monetizing your blog, how is it trending? Is income up, is it down, is it plateaued? That’s one thing you probably want to monitor a little bit more often than every six months but it could be a good time to really dig into some of the different income streams of your blog as well.

This is something I did in the last couple of days in preparation for a post that’s going live on ProBlogger in the next few days where I really did some analysis of the different income streams on my blogs. What’s been performing well for you? Most bloggers who are full time have multiple streams of income in their blog. They might be running advertising but they might also do some affiliate promotions, selling their own products, selling their own services, there’s a whole heap of different ways that you can monetize a blog.

How have you been monetizing and how have those different income streams been performing, are they up, are they down, are they plateaued? You might want to do some comparison to this time last year on those types of things as well.

If you’re monetizing by selling a product or your services, one question that sometimes is quite insightful to ask is is most of your income coming from launches or is it coming from long tail sales? One of the traps that some bloggers do fall into is that they become launch dependent. They only make money when they launch a new product. And then the product sits there in their shop and no one ever buys it until they then discount it and do another launch or do another promotion.

That might be a good question to ask, where is your income coming from? Is it coming in a massive spike when you launch something and then nothing, or is there a way that you can increase the long tail sales of that product or that service? Maybe you want to use an autoresponder so that when people sign up to your newsletter, they get an email a month or so later with an offer. That’s one way that you can get a longer tail sale on your blog and maybe looking at the design of your blog. Are people actually seeing that you’ve got products? Is there a way that you can use your design to get people into your store?

If you don’t monetize with products and you monetize with sponsors, there’s good questions to be asking about that as well. Should you be approaching some new sponsors, are there new potential partners in your niche that are advertising on other blogs at the moment that you need to be building a relationship with in some way? This should all factor into the plan that you have. Maybe you need to do a bit of a review of your media kit as well if you’re doing more sponsorship type activations as well.

One thing you might also want to do as you develop your plan is to do in a similar way what we did before with our editorial calendar. You might want to come up with a promotional calendar as well. Particularly if you’re launching products, you might want to plan the next six months of what products you need to develop and then launch. Slot in some time so that you can be working towards the creation and the launches of that products. In a similar way if you’re working with sponsors, you might want to plug into your editorial calendar when you want to do sponsored posts or other types of campaigns as well.

Monetization is something that many bloggers want to do but they don’t set aside time to do it. I really would encourage you to set aside time in the next six months to build a product, to reach out to other affiliate partners or sponsors, to put time aside every day if you can to work on the monetization of your blog. It does pay off when you do that.

Area number five was the tech of your blog, you want to be asking questions here about your servers. Have they had outages, downtime, are they still serving your needs, no pun intended. Is your blog secure? Do you need to update WordPress, do you need to update some plugins? If you have out of date plugins or an out of date version of WordPress, unfortunately you’re probably vulnerable to being hacked. That would be a really important thing to be updating as part of your plan going forwards.

Are there features on your blog, perhaps plugins that are broken that you need to find a new plugin or a new tool for? How’s your design? Is it still working? Are there things that you could do to improve that? Sometimes it’s good to just give your design a bit of an overhaul or just look at it in the eyes of a new reader and ask yourself if there’s things that you need to tweak? Is it becoming day to day? Are there things that just aren’t working anymore, that are confusing readers? It’s very easy for a blog design to just not keep up with the times and not keep up with the things that you want to achieve with your blog. Is it mobile responsive would be another one here.

Another question to ask on tech is about the tools and services that you’re using. Most bloggers today have tools that they’re using to send emails, you might be using AWeber, Convert Kid, or Mail Chimp or one of those. Landing pages, lead pages, and some of those types of things. Tools like Coshare Jewel, Sumo Me, which we’ve been talked about many times before on the podcast. Many of us subscribe to these tools and it’s good every now and again just to ask the question are they still serving my needs? Am I even still using them?

It’s amazing how many services bloggers are subscribed to but they’re not actually using. They might be paying a monthly fee for it, and so this might be a good time of year just to do a bit of an analysis of what you’re paying for and whether you’re using it and getting value out of it. Do you need to stop those services or do you just need to start using them to get value out of them in some way? I’ve got some further reading on tools and services and the tech of your blog in today’s show notes.

Second last area that I want to talk about is productivity. Again, really the questions here really about relate to how you’re using your time or the workflows that you have. Simply asking yourself how do I use my time over the last six months? What’s taken most of my time? You might know that just by having noticed that you spent a lot of time on a particular thing or maybe you don’t and maybe a tool like Rescue Time might be useful to install to really show you how you use the time on your computer. It’s a pretty confronting tool to use but it’s one that’s helped me a lot to realize where I was wasting time, even wasting time on things that kind of feel a little bit productive but aren’t really.

Ask yourself those questions, ask yourself those sorts of tough questions. How could you use your time better going forward? Again, there’s lots of further reading that you can do over in the productivity portal on ProBlogger but there’s also a few episodes of the podcast, Episode 40, 65, and 82 all talk about productivity and productivity tips from my perspective.

The last area that I really would encourage you to ask yourself some questions on is about you. How are you traveling? How are you going? It’s a question that we ask each other a lot. Here in Australia, it’s a greeting. How are you? We ask it all the time but do we ask ourselves this question. How are you? How are you traveling? How are you going with your blogging but just in your life as well.

As I mentioned right at the start, the health of your blog is partly dependent upon the health of you. I’m talking here about your physical health, your mental health, spiritual health, the health of your relationships, but also the health of your relationship with your blog. How is your energy level feels blog? How is your passion for your topic going? Are there things there that are lacking that maybe you need to spend some time finding and working on? Maybe if the passion or the energy for your blog is missing, maybe that’s a signal that you need to take a break. Maybe you need a holiday, maybe you need to get some help, maybe you need to change the direction of your blog in some way. I think it’s really important to ask these deeper, more personal questions about how we’re traveling to help us understand how to improve our blogs as well.

Another related question that you might want to ask here is are you filling your cup? In a lot of businesses, they tell their employees to go away and do professional development. They send them off to conferences, they send them away to seminars, they buy them courses and they allow them to do training. Most of us are solo entrepreneurs and we don’t have a boss to tell us to do professional development. Is that something that you need to do moving forward?

Do you need to buy a book on the topic that you blog about? Do you need to go enroll at university or do a course in some way? Do you need to go to an event for bloggers in your particular niche or maybe a general blogging conference or online event as well? Are there things that you need to do to fill your cup? What goes in comes out. If you are lacking in this area, if you are not learning, if you are not developing in the areas that you’re blogging about and learning about blogging itself, then maybe your blog will suffer as a result of that.

There’s some further listening on this whole area over on the 38th episode of this podcast. It’s actually the most personal episode that I’ve ever done because I talk about my own wake up call and how I realize I needed to get my act together not only in terms of filling my cup but also to do with my health, my mental health, my workflow’s health using my time. There’s a whole heap of different areas there that I realize I’ve been lacking in and it was having an impact upon my blogging, that’s episode 38 of this podcast.

The seven areas that I really would encourage you to at least spend five minutes each on, you can do that in 35 minutes if you want. You could probably spend days on it as well if that’s where you’re at but I really would encourage you to ask some of those questions. How are you going in the areas of traffic? How are you going in the area of content? How are you going in the area of reader engagement? How are you going with monetization? How are you going with the text side of your blog? How is your productivity, your workflows? Lastly, how are you going?

I really believe you ask some of those questions and you come up with even if it’s just one action item for each of those areas. Hopefully by the end of this year, end of 2016, your blog will be in a better position than it is today. I really would love to hear from you on this particular episode. What did you do? What did you find? What did you decide? What did you plan? What’s the one thing that you’re going to do as a result of this particular blog review. Maybe it’s seven things, I don’t know. You can tell me over at problogger.com/podcast/131 where there will also be the download of the worksheets and a turn of extra reading and listening that you can do in these seven different areas of your blog.

I really wish you well with this particular challenge and I’d love to hear back from you on how it went for you. Thanks for listening, I’ll chat with you in a couple of days time in Episode 132.

How did you go with today’s episode?

Spend at least 5 minutes on each one of these areas and ask yourself how is it going? I would love to hear the one thing that you are going to do as a result of this podcast.

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