If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to run a book blog, take a behind-the-scenes look at Booklist Queen. Hang on tight as I dive into the numbers and share what I’ve learned over the last year.
Ring out the old. Ring in the new.
I love that it starts with “ring out the old,” for you can’t appreciate where you are going if you don’t first stop and see where you’ve been.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane and take a quick look at all that’s happened in the last year with my blog. Learn from my successes and failures. Find out what I did and what I learned in 2019.
Plus, take a peek into the breakdown of my 2019 reading. If you’re curious about what’s ahead, check out my list of 2020 blogging goals.
A Year in Review
What a difference a year makes. This time last year, I would never have imagined that my blog Pingel Sisters would be no more.
Early in 2019, I realized that blogging with my sister wasn’t working. At first, I thought it was just because she was pregnant. Yet, as time moved on, I knew it was more than that. Blogging wasn’t her passion; it was mine.
Obviously, the biggest change of 2019 was the launch of Booklist Queen. A new name, new website, new theme, new branding.
Looking at my 2019 blogging goals, I missed most of them. I did start a book club, which then failed because I didn’t give it enough attention. I didn’t hit 100K page views in a month or get 3 months ahead of schedule.
However, my year was still successful. I increased my page views enough to drop Google Adsense and switch to Mediavine ads. Now my ads pay me more in a day than I used to make in a month.
I also began receiving advance review copies of books from publishers. A trickle at first has started to turn into a steady stream.
My 2019 Reading Challenge was a huge success. I was so impressed with how much everyone enjoyed it, and I’m excited to do it all again in 2020.
Enough chit-chat. Let’s look at the numbers.
2019 Blogging Statistics
Monthly Page Views
Website Traffic Sources
Type of Visitor
Starting last December, my monthly took off, going from 7K in November 2018 to 30K in December 2019. That’s when I knew I was finally on to something.
Yet, my year was plagued by my blogging inconsistency. I spiked in January at 50K, then stopped posting and slashed my views in half in February. It took me two months to recover, and then I tanked my stats again by not posting.
By July I had increased to my highest month at 60K page views, only to ignore the blog for almost three months straight.
Finally, I relaunched Booklist Queen in mid-November and have since my numbers spike ever since.
Talk about lacking balance!
Imagine what my page views would be like if I had put in the consistent effort. If I had truly blogged for more than 7 months out of the 12, instead of my seesawing efforts throughout the year.
If you want to increase your page views it comes down to a few key factors:
- Consistency – Putting in the work every day, week after week, will always beat out a feast and famine schedule.
- Content – Content is always the top priority. Deliver quality content that people want to read. When you write, remember it’s not about what you’ve read, it’s about what your reader should or should not read.
- SEO – Make sure every post is optimized for search engines. Before you write the first word, figure out your keyword so you can include it as naturally as possible. Put in the effort to chose the right keywords, and you’ll see those organic results increase.
- Pinterest – Once you have quality in-demand content, promote it strategically with quality images on Pinterest and you’ll see your page views go through the roof.
When I started blogging, I convinced my sister to help me with a lifestyle blog. Work, Family, Travel, and Books. We planned to cover all the facets of millennial mom life.
With the switch to a book blog and the departure of my sister, the blog’s focus had changed so dramatically that a new name was in order. You can’t really have Pingel Sisters with just one sister.
Rebranding to Booklist Queen was a necessary move, but it was not easy. I honestly don’t suggest changing your domain name unless you have to. When combined with a total theme overhaul and a new design, the relaunch took much longer than I originally anticipated.
If you find yourself in need of a rebrand, let me share some tips.
- Don’t mark your site as noindex. You’ll tank your SEO results and make it impossible for anyone to search for your site in search engines.
- Don’t enter your Google Analytics twice. You’ll accidentally double count page views. If your bounce rate plummets to near zero, you’ve probably entered your Google Analytics code twice. This will double count your page views, ruining this metric for you.
- Quadruple check everything. Don’t accidentally forget to put your new email subscribers into your welcome email series. Or use contact forms that end up going to your spam folder.
- Take the Google Analytics code from your old site and place it onto your new site. This will preserve all your statistics.
- You can easily change your Facebook handle and url, but don’t try to change the page name. You have to do it in increments. My page current is named Booklist Queen by Pingel Sisters until Facebook lets me drop “Pingel Sisters.”
Social Media Following
Social Media Followers 2018 vs 2019
Looking at the numbers, my focus last year was on Pinterest. With my winning Pinterest strategy and Tailwind scheduling, I quickly grew my Pinterest presence over the year. This was critical because Pinterest is the single biggest referrer to my website.
On the flip side, I realized I was just spinning my wheels with Instagram and Twitter. Combined, the two platforms account for 0.2% of my annual sessions, meaning they don’t do a whole lot for the blog.
Thus, I have considerably pulled back the time I spend on them. I no longer care about how many followers I have. Instead, I use them because I enjoy them.
Social media is a blessing and a curse. It can help you reach new audiences but can also be a gigantic waste of time. Quickly, I learned I was doing much more of the latter than the former.
Early on, I read the advice to only grow one social media channel at a time. Then, I promptly ignored it.
Why should I be constrained by such things as reality? I was here to conquer the blogging world, including social media.
Now that I’m a much wiser blogger, I am going to echo the advice. Concentrate your efforts on one social media channel at a time.
If you are finding yourself caught up in social media, stop to think about what value social media is bringing to you. Make sure your social media channels are serving you, and not the other way around.
Top 5 Posts
1.19 Gripping Books You Can’t Put Down Once You Begin – Who doesn’t love reading a book you can’t put down? Check out this list of gripping tales that will keep you up way past your bedtime. SEO made this post originally published in 2018 my most viewed one of the year.
2. Best Books 2019: The Best of the Year – Originally published in July, my best of the year post has been riding a wave of popularity on Pinterest since its update in November.
3. Read This Not That 2019: Our List of Overrated Books – My annual Read This Not That list is extremely popular. Both 2019’s list and the original made the top 5!
4. Reading Challenge 2019: A Book A Week with Me – My 2019 Reading Challenge went viral on Pinterest, with over 1 million impressions. I loved hearing what everyone chose, and am excited to do it all again in 2020.
5. Don’t Buy the Hype: Read This Not That – My list of which bestsellers were worth the hype, and which weren’t, has had lasting powers. Published in my first month of blogging, it still gets hundreds of views every month.
2019 Reading Statistics
Books Read By Month
Books Read by Genre
Books Read by Publication Date
Books Read by Type
Apparently, winter is my favorite reading time. Which makes sense since I’m stuck indoors most of the time.
Looking through my 2019 Reading List, I’m first struck by how many new releases I read last year. Almost half my reading was new releases – both Advance Review Copies (ARCs) and ones I had purchased or checked out from the library.
The other big change compared to my 2018 Reading List is my genre split. In 2018, I split my reading equally between adult fiction, nonfiction, and YA/Children’s.
This year, I read almost the same number of YA/Children’s books, but they made up a much smaller percentage. Instead, my reading shifted much heavier to adult fiction while my nonfiction reading still consisted of about a third of my total list.
If you receive ARCs from publishers or through NetGalley, only request ones you really want to read. A few times, I got a bit lax researching titles and ended up overwhelmed with books.
Try audiobooks if you haven’t already. They can completely change your reading. If you’ve tried them before but didn’t love them, try mixing it up a bit. I’ve found that I struggle with fiction audiobooks, but I love nonfiction ones. Try listening to different genres and listening in different situations until you find that sweet spot.
You should DNF more. I gave up on more books this year than I ever have, and I couldn’t be happier. Sometimes a book just isn’t for you and sometimes the timing is just not right.
In a similar vein, don’t let reading be a chore. I loved how many people took my 2019 Reading Challenge and adapted it to fit their reading. Make reading fun, and you’ll love to read.
I have so much to say about my 2020 blogging goals that I’m going to cover them in a whole other post. But if I can sum it up for you, my mantra for next year is Consistency.
I’m thrilled with the progress my blog has made this year, but I am acutely aware that it could have been so much more if I had been more consistent.
If I can stay consistent working on the blog every single day, I know that I will reach great heights in 2020. I hope you join me for the journey!
What future changes would you suggest for Booklist Queen?