Dec
31

2020 Wrap Up: What Worked and What Didn’t

I want to start a new tradition of writing one of these wrap up posts every year because dang it, I’ve come a long way in 2020! I think we all get a little wrapped up in striving toward the next big goal that sometimes we forget about how far we’ve come and how much we’ve progressed along the way.

So, this post might just be a way for me to remind myself of everything I’ve accomplished this year, but I hope it’s helpful for you, too. Feel free to learn from my mistakes and use what worked for me in your own blog!

Major Accomplishments

Blog Traffic

I started the year off by getting 100-200 pageviews each month and I’m ending it by getting 800-1500 pageviews each month which is progress in my eyes! I certainly have a long way to go, but seeing this progress is motivating me to keep going. I think the biggest reason for this growth is the fact that I started blogging consistently in the middle of the year. I made it a point to publish a post once a week and when I started doing that, I saw my blog traffic grow tremendously!

–> Read more: How to Blog Consistently + What Happened When I Did <–

I started my first few brand collaborations

This is the first year I’ve collaborated with brands! This is something that has been a huge goal of mine for a while now because it’s part of my monetization plan for my blog. One of the most prominent companies that I collaborated with was Jumprope, a startup social media company aimed at teaching users new things in small snippets.

Here are a few of my travel Jumpropes that did really well on the platform:

10 Tips for Visiting Yellowstone

Alaska Bucket List

One of my Jumpropes was even included in the Best of 2020! They are always looking to add new travel creators to the platform, so shoot me a DM over on Instagram if you’re interested in working with them (yes, they pay you!).

The second brand I collaborated with this year was Moon Guides. I was gifted two travel guides – one for Montana/Wyoming and one for USA National Parks. I loved the content and I also loved that they were written by experts that live in the area or have studied the region(s) their entire lives. So, I included them in my 2020 Holiday Gift Guide.

I created my first digital product

I wrote and published my first ebook in the summer of 2020! I am very passionate about strategically using travel credit cards to earn free travel and wrote a beginner’s guide to using them called Free Travel Formula. My goal is to help people understand that “traveling for free” isn’t a scam and they can do it themselves without changing their spending habits! The best way I know how to do this is explain how everything works. In the ebook, I talk about why credit card companies give out free travel and how they can actually afford to do that. I also give away a LOT of my strategies and include my guide to choosing the travel credit card that’s right for you.

–>Here’s more information on the ebook if you’re interested!<–

I think the part about this that I’m most proud of is that I wrote and published this book in just ONE MONTH! Yes, one month. I set some hard deadlines, got used to writing every single day, and published on time. A big reason I was able to do this is The She Approach’s Ebook Bestseller Bootcamp course. This is the perfect guide to take you through the process of writing, designing, and self-publishing your ebook.

I love that course so much, I became an affiliate for it! You can use my link here along with the code EBB20OFF for $20 off if you’re looking for a step-by-step guide to writing your first ebook.

What worked in 2020

Blogging consistently

I’m sure a lot of things lead to my blog traffic increasing this year, but I believe this was the most impactful. In the first half of the year, I was blogging only when I had the urge to write or I just got back from a big trip. However, toward the middle of 2020, I made a commitment to myself and to my Instagram followers that I would publish a new blog post every single Tuesday.

And I did! Except for maybe a couple weeks.

This helped my audience trust me more, they knew when to expect a new article from me, and they now know they can always find fresh content on my site.

–> Read more: How to Blog Consistently + What Happened When I Did <–

Engaging in FB groups

This is probably the second biggest contributor to my blog growth. I started engaging in Facebook groups full of people who also blog about travel. There are weekly threads where we pin eachother’s content to Pinterest and vist eachother’s blogs to help boost traffic. Of course, I don’t want people only visiting because a Facebook thread told them they have to. However, I’ve gained a few loyal readers from those groups and a few blogging friends as well.

A couple of the groups I’ve been loving:

Wandering Women Travel Bloggers

Female Travel Bloggers

Leaning on my blogger friends for support

I have a very close group of friends who are also bloggers and we talk to each other nearly every day. We push each other, we celebrate each other, and we encourage each other when we need it. People like this are hard to come by – we all met on a blogger retreat in Italy and they have been some of my best friends ever since. They definitely help motivate me to keep going every day.

–> Read more: I went on a blogger retreat to Italy as a non-blogger and here’s what happened <–

Guest posting

I landed my DREAM guest post this year which was a Local’s Guide to Yellowstone National Park on The Blonde Abroad! This helped get my name out there, it increased my DA relatively significantly, and it brought some traffic to my site. This is definitely something I want to do more of in 2021. I also want to start having people guest post on She Travels, so if you’re interested, send me a DM on Instagram!

Leaning into SEO

I started taking SEO seriously this year and by that, I mean I downloaded the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin and did whatever it told me to do. And guess what?!

IT WORKED!

Pairing keyword research with SEO has helped a few of my posts rank really well on Google and I now get consistent traffic from some of them. I actually wrote one post about a group trip I took with Trovatrip and that might be my most visited post all year simply because when someone types in “Trovatrip Review” on Google, my post comes up.

What didn’t work so well

Advertising for my ebook

Remember that ebook I mentioned I wrote before? Well…I wrote it and talked about it for a while…and then stopped. Even if you follow me on Instagram, I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t even know I have an ebook for sale!

I blame this on two things:

  1. Me not having a solid advertising strategy
  2. The pandemic really put a damper on travel and I just felt weird talking about travel for a while

Both of these things will change in 2021.

Pinterest strategy

Pinterest seemed to be all over the place this year, and so was my Pinterest strategy. There was one point where almost all travel bloggers were experiencing abnormally low Pinterest numbers, so I kind of gave up on figuring out the perfect strategy. Now, I just create 4-5 pins, throw them into Tailwind, and hope something works.

I’m hoping to get a handle on my Pinterest strategy in 2021. I plan to re-read The She Approaches newest version of her Pinterest Ebook to nail down a strategy that will boost my blog traffic even more.

This may even be something I hire out eventually, but I’d like to figure it out for myself first.

Email list building

This has unfortunately been on the backburner, too. I have a few freebies here and there, but I just haven’t prioritized getting people on my email list like I should be. I think in this new year, I need to actually follow a list building strategy instead of just throwing out freebies whenever a new idea comes to mind.

While we’re at it, if you want to join my list, receive my weekly newsletter, AND get a list of all my favorite blogging resources, you can do so below!

Too many online courses

2020 was the year of too many online courses for me! I am such a big believer in using online courses to further your education and grow your blog. However, I think I went a bit overboard this year.

That’s good news for you, though, because I was able to write an entire blog post with reviews of all the online courses I took and whether or not I’d recommend them!

–> Read more: Online course reviews of B-School, Ebook Bestsellers Bootcamp, The Instagram Lab, and more <–

What I’ll be working on in 2021

Posting twice a week

Since I’ve been posting consistently for a while, I want to increase the number of blog posts I publish each week to two posts. I’m hoping this will have a direct impact on my blog traffic and help increase my monthly pageviews/sessions. My ultimate goal is to sign with an add agency like Mediavine or She Media which require at least 30,000 pageviews per month. I’ve got a long way to go, but this is a first step!

Building up content on my second blog

You may not actually know this, but I have a second blog called The Ambitious Home. It’s more of a home/DIY/thrift flipping blog. I wanted to create this blog down the line because Austin and I plan to build a house after he graduates college and I’d like to document the process. However, it takes a while for Google to start trusting a blog and for people to start reading it, so I thought I’d start now!

Until we start the house build, I’ll be posting a lot of content about thrift store shopping, thrift flipping, and DIY projects.

I’d like to post to this blog once per week for now just to add some consistency.

Proactively reaching out to more brands

Working with brands this year has got me really excited to keep doing it in years to come! It’s been a great way to start monetizing my blog while also getting a chance to work with and promote companies I love. A huge goal for 2021 is to work with more brand including hotels and potentially even tourism boards.

Getting organized with a content calendar

Publishing 3 blog posts per week between my two blogs is going to take some major organization! I have used Trello off and on to brainstorm blog post and Instagram post topics. However, now, I’m going to be religiously using the calendar feature within Trello to make sure I have content planned out for both blogs on a quarterly basis. The most daunting thing about starting a new blog post is not knowing what to write about, so taking the guess work out of it is going to be a game changer.

Leaning in to freelance work

The last thing I want to work on in 2021 is leaning into freelance work, whether that’s freelance writing or blog services for other bloggers. I have one freelance writing client lined up to start in January and I think this will be an awesome way to start monotizing my writing skills even more!

If you’re looking for a freelance writer or ghost writer for your blog, let me know! I have a list of services I offer on my Work With Us page.

2020 was the weirdest, most unpredictable year ever – especially for travel bloggers. WE GOT THROUGH IT!! I have no doubt that 2021 will be so much better.

Let me know what you’ll be working toward in 2021 in the comments!

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The Comments

  • Heather
    December 31, 2020

    Posting twice a week?! You are so motivated! I find it hard to post once. And so happy to see that our blogging group made it into this post. It has been AMAZING having you girls and I’m excited to see what good things 2021 brings us!

  • Megan
    January 1, 2021

    I loved reading this! I struggle with traffic, but this post gives me hope and some great tips! That is really cool that you’ve already worked with some brands!

  • Nancy Hann
    January 1, 2021

    Great recap! I’ve dealt with a few of the same things. I set a goal for 1 post a week as well and hoping to increase that in 2021. Best of luck on all your goals. It looks like you’re on the right track.

  • Sharyn McCullum
    January 2, 2021

    This is a very honest post and makes me think about what successes and failures I had in 2020 and what strategies I plan to implement in 2021. Thanks for the honesty and inspiration.

  • Laurel
    January 5, 2021

    I definitely feel you on the year of too many courses! At least they are good forever and we can dive back into them whenever we are able!

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