Thursday, January 19, 2017

2016: the Year in Review + Reader Survey!


Nine months, two notebooks, and waaay too many pens later, I've got 35 blog posts, over 1,300 Instagram followers, and over 120,000 pageviews.

All I can say is thank you. I've had blogs before, but this is by far the most successful one. I've learned so much in this past year in terms of writing blog posts, photography, social media promotion, etc. And of course, I've picked up two awesome hobbies with absolutely amazing online communities: calligraphy and bullet journaling! Seriously though - all of you guys are great people, and I'm so thankful to have discovered these two groups.

Anyway, in this post, I'm going to be doing a breakdown of this year's milestones.

PS: If you don't want to read all of this stuff, you can just scroll down to the bottom of the post for the reader survey. Thank you if you take the time to fill it out!


Blog

First of all, let's talk about the blog Our Journey in Journals itself.

March

I don't like the vast majority of my old blog pictures, but this one actually looks quite nice // OurJourneyinJournals.blogspot.com

I believe it was created a day or two before March 27, 2016, which was the day that I published the very first post. In March, I also published the setup post of my very first bullet journal ever (which doubled as the setup for April). In the entirety of that month, I got 46 pageviews, though the blog had only existed for about a week (or maybe for even a shorter period of time).

April

Gosh, it's so cringey looking at this failure that is my old digital calligraphy. Please look at my Instagram for a representation of my current abilities // OurJourneyinJournals.blogspot.com

In April, I only published one post: Calligraphers and Hand-Letterers on Instagram. It was also published at the end of the month (4/28) because I was like, "Oh, crap - I haven't published any posts this month yet!!" The post itself is not very good since I only included 6 different accounts, so later, I added "Some of My Favorite" to the beginning of the post's title. My inexperience with calligraphy also shines through the post's title picture/thumbnail thing (it kind of sort of really sucks). In that month, I got 95 pageviews.

May

This is an iconic picture for my blog, which is good since I'm pretty proud of it // OurJourneyinJournals.blogspot.com

In May, I published 4 different posts, published (mostly) evenly with one post published each week (mostly):
This was the month with the most growth. I attribute this mainly to 3 different factors:
  1. I discovered the Facebook group Bullet Journal Junkies, and to this day, this is where I get the majority of my traffic from.
  2. I published a roundup post of 60 things to track in a tracker, and this is by far my most popular post; it has more than 5 times as many pageviews as my second most viewed post. It also has thousands of re-pins on Pinterest, so I feel like many people discover my blog through this post.
  3. For some reason, the Kara Kit post got a lot of traffic. I guess a lot of people just really wanted to know what it was? I personally did not foresee that post being that popular.
In total, I got 13,861 pageviews in May. This is about 146 times as many as in April, and I think this was the month where I started to take this blog a little more seriously.

June

[June bujo setup] starting from this month, I think I started getting better at using Photoshop to make photos look better. Previously, the only pictures that had good brightness/color balance were ones where the natural lighting happened to be especially good // OurJourneyinJournals.blogspot.com

In June, I started to actually have a posting schedule (publishing a new post every week on Thursday). I published 5 different posts:
That month, I actually got significantly fewer pageviews than in May - 7,204. I think this was because I didn't post anything amazing like in May, and I have also heard that all blogs in general get less traffic during the summer months. This was kind of disappointing since I spend more time on the blog (due to summer break).

July

[post] the white background that I started using at the end of June made my photos look cleaner but kind of boring // OurJourneyinJournals.blogspot.com

In July, I was gone on vacation for the majority of the month, so I wasn't really able to work on anything blog-related. It didn't help that I was in China, where Instagram, Facebook, and all Google products (e.g. Blogger, the blogging platform I use) are blocked, so I was completely unable to work on posts nor even promote on social media. I only posted 2 times:
The lack of activity on my part plus the summer slump meant that I only got 5,046 pageviews in July. However, my 60 things to track post got featured on an Italian bullet journal website on July 28, which has brought me 1,000+ pageviews in future months.


August

I started making my photos more interesting by adding in more elements, like I did for this post // OurJourneyinJournals.blogspot.com

In August, my posting schedule was pretty consistent. I posted every Thursday except for the August setup post, which I posted on the first day of the month (which was a Monday). Anyway, these were the 5 posts that I published that month:
In August, the pageview count was 13,631. This was significantly more than July, but still not as many as May. This is due to the publication of two posts that did very well (the bujo/school post and the faux calligraphy tutorial) going against the summer slump.

September

This was a month of experimentation with my photography, as I tried different ways to make them look interesting and not so boring, such as using a blanket in this post // OurJourneyinJournals.blogspot.com

In September, I published 5 different posts, and it was on a completely normal posting schedule (every Thursday). After blogging for about half a year (and the fact that I had gotten settled into my second bullet journal), I really felt like I kind of knew what I was doing that month.
September was a good month for my blog. The scheduling tasks post did really well (as expected), and for some reason, my September bujo setup was quite popular, though I have no idea why. In total, I got 16,734 pageviews in the month of September.

October

This was the first post picture where I started using this pretty piece of scrapbook paper as a way to add some interest to the background, and I'm still really proud of how nice this photograph turned out // OurJourneyinJournals.blogspot.com

I posted on OJIJ 4 times in October. Overall, my posts did somewhat well - just not as well as September. These were the things I published in that month:
Overall, I got 14,471 pageviews in October, and this is still a good amount, it was less than in September. I think it's because I didn't publish anything that was super popular like I did with task scheduling post in September.


November

In November and December, I didn't take as many pictures and used sock photos when possible (like the above picture) because the sun started to set really early (meaning I had to use artificial lighting, which always makes the pictures look oddly dull and red - and it's really hard to fix) // OurJourneyinJournals.blogspot.com

In November, my monthly pageview count went up a lot. However, my posting was kind of jank; I posted weekly, but on weird days (not always on Thursday like I generally intend to). In total, I published 4 posts.
In general, Pinterest and blogs get a lot of traffic during the holiday season, since there are so many things to do relating to Christmas - looking for presents, learning how to host holiday parties, etc. This meant that Our Journey in Journals got 22,142 pageviews in November.

December

You see what I mean by the artificial lighting making it look weird? Because of that, I'm not really a big fan of the pictures in this post // OurJourneyinJournals.blogspot.com

In December, my posting schedule got SUPER jank. This is because I had orchestra concerts at the beginning of the month, then the stress of upcoming finals, then finals themselves, and then winter break didn't actually leave me with much free time since I was working so much. Thus, I only published 3 posts:
  • December Bullet Journal Setup - 12/09/2016 (this was published a week and a day later than I had originally intended it to, and since it was published so late into the month, this post didn't get that many pageviews)
  • DIY Christmas Calligraphy Gifts - 12/23/2016 (this was published 2 weeks after the previous post, i.e. after finals)
  • Tips for Bullet Journal Trackers - 12/26/2016 (I had actually outlined this post out during the summer, but I saved it for now, when it would be most relevant [because of New Year's]; this was a good idea since this post got a lot more pageviews - probably much more than if I had published it back in the summer)
In December, my blog's pageview count went up a lot (so much that I won't even be able to match it in January). A combination of Christmas traffic plus the popular tips for trackers post overtook my erratic posting schedule, meaning that OJIJ got 34,270 pageviews in the month of December.

In total, in the year of 2016, Our Journey in Journals got exactly 127,500 pageviews (well, if I didn't mess up the calculations, that is). My number one source of traffic is from Facebook, which is not surprising due to the vast amount of people in the Bullet Journal Junkies group, and Pinterest. I'm not entirely sure, but I think that my posts have several thousand pins on Pinterest.
I'm really happy with how many pageviews I got. When I first started blogging years ago, and when I started this blog in March, I don't think I even imagined that I could one day have that popular of a blog (though of course, my blog is nothing compared to a lot of blogs out there). The only thing I wish happened was that I had more comments.

Instagram

A photo posted by Mae-Mae Han (@ourjourneyinjournals) on

Since I don't have much data recorded for my statistics on Instagram, this section is going to be much shorter. Anyway, the Our Journey in Journals IG account was initially made so I could do the #RockYourHandwriting challenge on Instagram. Here are a couple of milestones:

Photography

Overall, for both my Instagram pictures and my blog pictures, my photography skills have gotten so much better. I feel like this is something that is notable enough to mention in this 2016 review post. Seriously, it's kind of ridiculous how bad the pictures I posted were back in the day, but I'm also glad that this is something that I've highly improved on.


This was one of the very first pictures that I posted on Instagram. Looking back at it now, I cringe SO hard! I can't believe I thought this was acceptable to publish onto the internet!! Also, it's actually kind of amazing how much better my calligraphy has gotten, since this was made only a few days after I started learning.


For the first couple of months, this was what the photo quality was generally like. The main struggles I had were lighting/editing, photo backgrounds, and camera quality since I was mainly using my phone at first (though I switched to my digital camera later, which is what I still use to this day).


This is what my pictures looked like for a while - plain, white background, pretty good lighting/editing, and little to no background objects. Back in June, I got these blank white art boards, and I decided to use theme for the backgrounds of my pictures (since I didn't really like how things looked on the textured carpet). I was still figuring out how to do composition and put little things around the main thing (stuff for decoration), so the pictures were honestly kind of boring (though they were much higher quality than before).


Nowadays, I pretty much exclusively use my real camera for pictures instead of my phone's camera quality is generally not as good as I would like it. I am also better at the composition of my pictures; I still use an art board as the main background, but I also incorporate a pretty piece of scrapbook paper and "props" such as pens. Additionally, my Photoshop skills have gotten better, so now I can make the brightness and such look better.

Something I'm kind of sad about though is that for the past few months, I've had to use artificial lighting instead of natural lighting like I have done previously, since nowadays, the sun sets at really early. I don't enjoy using artificial lighting because it makes the color balance of the picture all wonky, and the end result (even after I Photoshop it) is never as good as it could've been if I could've used natural lighting (you can tell just by looking at some of my recent posts).

Reader Survey!

Finally, here is my reader survey; thank you soooo much if you take the time to fill it out! It's 17 questions, but about only half of them are required (just answer as many as you have the time to do). I hope that with the results of this survey, I'll be able to make Our Journey in Journals as good as possible. (If the Google Form embedded below is not showing up for you, then click on this link).



Anyway, I hope you found this review of 2016 as interesting as I did. I'm excited to see where 2017 takes us!

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