A new year means you get a chance to look at what worked, try to figure out WHY it worked, and then adjust (or not) based on your findings. A retailer looks for their best selling pieces for instance. As a blog we look for what posts you clicked into, engaged with, loved and shared. When I’ve met with marketing/business strategists the first question they have for me is ‘what do you want people to do when they come to your site’? We don’t sell an actual product so the answer is more abstract. I just want people to read, share, engage, stay for a long time, come back, relate, comment, believe me, feel heard, share, email their friends then leave feeling inspired, empowered and a tiny bit happier. If you do any and or all of those things then I consider the post a personal success. Luckily a personal success is also good for business. Specifically, the longer you stay and the more you share the better the site does when it comes to those not-so-popular ads (which are crucial to the business as they are a source of passive income).
So I asked our wonderful IT guy to pull the analytics. This is overall traffic directly through the blog, throughout the year, but this doesn’t include some of our popular posts on google or through cross-linking or traffic from other sites (for instance – How to Hang Curtains has been our #1 post for like 4 years, which is why we keep updating it).
We are counting down from 10 to 1, mostly to be dramatic and manipulate your curiosity for as long as possible 🙂
#10 – My New Cut and Color. Help.
This was the post where I photoshopped my face onto a bunch of different hairstyles that I was considering and asked your opinion. I’m a design blogger, so the fact that this was the 10th most popular post out of 250 or so is pretty crazy. I was totally surprised it made it that high up.
So what does this tell us? I think people love seeing others take risks, and give their opinion about anything aesthetic when asked. If someone I followed was going to cut their hair for the first time in years you bet I’d give my opinion. But the fact that the traffic was so high showed that the social posts to promote the post (instagram, facebook) performed really well or maybe also that you guys shared a lot. I wasn’t surprised about the amount of comments but I was surprised by the high traffic. Interesting.
Does this mean I’ll continue to do more risk-taking beauty posts? Ooh, maybe. I have no idea what that would look like, and I won’t force anything that I wasn’t already thinking about, but I am now exploring doing a beauty post here and there. It’s easier to farm this out and have a beauty expert contribute but I think the reason you guys liked this was that I was experimenting and it felt really risky and more personal. Perhaps you’d like to vote on whether I should micro-blade my brows? Would you like to see my legs tanned via 5 different methods?? I WOULD. Any ideas on what and why you liked this post and what other posts in the beauty realm you’d like to see would be awesome. I’m HAPPY to do weird stuff that I’ve been tempted by in the name of content … (I’m actually seriously considering some new piercings but sad to say that now that I’ve bleached my hair I can’t get that beach wave perm I was going to get …)
Next – the 9th most popular post of the year ….
Our House is Officially on the Market!!!
In this post I announced that our first home was officially on the market, and wrote about my nostalgia in selling our first home – the home that housed 3 of the best years of my life where both of my kids were born (not literally) and where my career really took off (ironically, after my show was cancelled). Geez. I just cried again thinking about that house.
Why was it was so popular: I think there is an inherent voyeurism in seeing how someone you follow is staging their house to sell. Also perhaps the prospect of being able to come to the open house in person, and see how much we were asking for felt dramatic and fun. Maybe people had shared it a lot with people who weren’t followers, but who lived in LA and might have been in the market. It was also pretty personal and you guys have shown me over and over again that you value my vulnerability (thank God).
Coming in at #8 – Our Home Exterior Renovation
In this post I documented the extremely long, laborious and expensive process of renovating the exterior of our house.
Was I surprised that it was #8? YES, but so happy. This project cost so much of my time and money and I kept telling myself that not only was it going to be great for our family and for resale, but I was also hoping it would be great for content. Historically we post about interiors here, so I was so happy that you guys liked seeing this exterior renovation so much. (How funny/ugly was the broken sewer pipe that I literally didn’t notice until today).
What this says: Exteriors are people, too. But I think one of the reasons you liked it so much was because I was so transparent about money, which was not easy for me to document but I felt it was important. When you guys thank me for being transparent about process and costs, it encourages me to do it even more.
Does this mean I’ll do more exterior posts? Hmm. Not sure. I could see myself doing some content about exterior architecture, I still am uncomfortable showing the exterior/front of our house for totally paranoid reasons. But does it mean that I’ll continue to do long-winded documentary style, transparent makeover posts? You betcha.
Coming in at #7 – Design Mistakes: Generic Art
In 2016 when we debuted the design mistakes series it became our most highly trafficked series and we immediately re-thought the content we were creating. Why was I spending thousands of dollars producing and shooting ‘1 credenza, 4 ways‘ posts when these posts which yes, are highly researched billing a lot of hours, are what you really want and still cost so much less. While some of the defenders of these mistakes cried offense, for the most part we all feel strongly that telling you the mistakes we think you can avoid, with roundups of resources to help, was a good thing and part of our job.
The tricky part of this is that there aren’t that many UNIVERSAL mistakes. We brainstorm on this all the time and I really don’t want to be sensationalists and make broad statements that aren’t necessarily always accurate. It’s also tricky because we don’t want to ever have it be about money or snobbery, so we have to be able to offer an affordable solution and not just ‘don’t buy ugly cheap generic furniture’. It’s also really hard to find photos of the mistakes without seriously offended whoever originally designed the room, but visually showing the mistake is important to making our case.
We will definitely continue this series and if you have any suggestions for universal design mistakes, please tell us. PLEASE. We will turn it into a post for you.
#6 – My Summer Wardrobe
My summer capsule collection hit at just the right time, when people (like me) were looking for a wardrobe refresh. I’m assuming that it was so highly trafficked because we promoted it a lot on social doing an insta-story for each outfit… and maybe because it was approachable fashion? But it’s strange because the winter fashion post didn’t do nearly as well but I think that’s because I had done too many fashion posts around that time and you guys were a little exhausted by me modeling clothes.
I should clarify one thing because my cousins thought that I was getting paid for these posts: what I wear is rarely gifted and even less frequently do I get paid to wear anything. Last year I had a couple fashion campaigns (eBay, Nordstroms, Urban Outfitters, Lou and Gray and an Old Navy insta-story – which were literally all around the same time) but these outfit posts or the outfit insta-stories are all stuff that I bought for myself because I liked them. Sometimes I model them and take them back because I simply don’t need them but want to recommend them. I do make money (anywhere between 1% and 5%) if you guys use the link to purchase. And yes, this can add up – thus the motivation to set aside time/money to shop and shoot. But rest assured that I actually buy all of it myself, too and really do love it. I will try to make it really clear on insta-stories that my clothes aren’t sponsored.
Will I continue doing fashion posts? Sure. Probably every other month. I like that it shakes things up and as a reader I really like when people I follow show me what they are actually purchasing and putting on their body. So as long as you guys continue to like them I don’t see why I wouldn’t do a few a year.
Coming in at #5 – our Backyard Makeover:
Oh thank god. I needed some validation for working so hard on that backyard and pouring so much money into it. In this post I documented (like my exterior) the process and cost of landscaping our backyard. Boy do I love that backyard, but my goodness was it a big old thing.
I think I even wrote four posts about it because it was such a thing, but the last one was the real reveal and clearly the most popular.
Coming in at #4 – Meet Our New Mountain Fixer Upper
In this post we announced our new mountain cabin and you guys were almost as excited as we were. I outlined what we were going to do and you all had so many great ideas (some of which permanently changed the architecture so THANK YOU). As I wrote in this post one of the reasons we took this risk was for content – to be able to create design content for you without limitations from a client. The engagement and traffic were so high which made me incredibly happy because hopefully it means the engagement will be that high for the whole renovation series.
What’s the hold up? Well, we want to something more interesting with this project and it’s taken a while to get all the moving pieces lined up – both in IT and partnerships. We are close, folks. SO CLOSE, I promise. Hopefully within the next couple weeks we’ll be revealing the plan, of which you are a big part. THANK YOU for making this post one of the most popular of the year, giving me permission to dump even more time and resources into this house makeover and the motivation to make even better content.
Finally. A design makeover post!! I know you guys love them and me, too, but it is crazy how not that many of these made it in the top 10. Does this make me want to do less actual design? Not really. Just because they weren’t in the top 10 doesn’t mean they weren’t well liked or super valuable nor does it mean that they didn’t drive traffic and grow the brand in ways that a personal post never would. Many people are better at talking about their feelings and there are many better interior designers out there. I have to think it’s the combo that makes this blog work. Besides, that patio does deserve a lot of attention – it’s pretty much my favorite ‘room’ ever (and everything you see there is from Target, except the tile – which is pretty amazing).
Coming in at #2 – Ch Ch Ch Changes!! A Few Big Announcements
This was the post where I told you that I was shutting down the residential design client portion of the company and the flea because I simply didn’t have the bandwidth to do everything I was doing, so something had to go (which meant that Ginny and Mel would leave – but as you probably know they are both doing AMAZINGLY on their own – YAY!). Familiar story, I know. I’m pretty surprised that traffic was so high because this is one of those posts you don’t just land on – you have to be a regular reader to really care about this and click through. It showed me that you guys like reading about the challenges of running a business and like to get insight into what has worked or hasn’t worked for me. While my particular job is unique I think there are a lot of you out there who run creative businesses or aspire to, so I’m guessing hearing the inside scoop from someone who doesn’t just tell you what she’s doing, but the long ass story on ‘why’ gives extra insight.
These posts are always a bit tricky because I get wary about my partners knowing the vulnerabilities of a business ran by a very imperfect human being who doesn’t really know what she is doing. I feel like all of my friends look WAY more polished in the business aspect of blogging. Every time I write about what is working and what isn’t and how we are shifting due to success/failures I’m sure I turn off someone somewhere who was looking for a potential partner. I know that a lot of people read my Christmas post and thought to themselves ‘is she worried that her partners will think she’s too tired to do a good job?’ Yes. I’m aware of that risk, but what I remind myself every day is that you guys are my real client and if I stop being honest and transparent then I lose my audience and NO sponsor is interested in a blog without an engaged audience. So I write what I think you would like to read, and hope that the sponsors see the value in its relatability and know that these posts are why a lot of you come.
And the #1 post of the year is …..
Design Mistakes: Not Have a Plan
Another Design Mistake proving that the series is EXTREMELY popular. Fine. Got it. We are on it, happily.
This is the one where I went through the design mistakes that I personally have made by not having a plan and gave advice on how to avoid them. That was the key to this post’s success – personal stories with a real takeaway for how to avoid what I didn’t.
This was also one of the last posts where I allowed hateful comments. After spending days pulling this post together, slightly stressed that showing my vulnerabilities as a designer could be dangerous, but taking the risk anyway knowing that it was compelling content, the first comment just ruined my day. But then we stopped negative comments (which was by the way the #11 most popular post – so yay for that).
But back to design mistakes. I’m going to spend more time brainstorming on how we all mess up 🙂 I know that you think there are a million ways, and there are, but so many of them are specific to the space, are too abstract or could make people feel bad … it’s TRICKY. It’s almost like I need to tour more houses to help trigger the ideas ….
These four below came SO very close to making it into the top 10.
I learned a lot from this and honestly, it makes me so happy. The most popular posts really had a lot of heart and so much hard work went into those posts. The only real shocking one was the haircut and makes me think ‘Geez, that’s all I have to do to get a ton of traffic???? Threaten to cut my hair?’ I get it, but it is pretty funny. That post was pulled together in one afternoon, with no original photography and took me 3 hours to write (which is short for me). Good to know …
Thanks for all your support this year, seriously. You guys really do motivate us to be creative, try new things and take risks – and very often the blog posts stem from YOUR ideas. We ask, you answer, we research then publish. It’s a pretty good deal.
So while we are at it …. anything on your mind for content this year? I’m once again debating about taking on contributing editors, not to ‘help’ but to really write well-researched design articles in a REALLY compelling voice. Think ManRepeller or Cup of Jo. The problem is finding the right voice. It’s SO HARD. So yes, we are taking submissions for this job because I’m mostly interested in getting the right people than getting local folks.
Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org if you think you can write about design in a way that fits here (and who thinks we should bring Orlando back???? Well, you are probably happy if you raised your hand…
Thanks for another great year. We are all so excited to create even better content in 2018, and are always open to requests for you guys. xx