Growing a new blog in 2021: one year of slow growth

One year blogging_2021

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What did my blog growth look like after one year of blogging, and how much traffic did I receive?

The bottom line: I ended my first year blogging with 4 373 pageviews, 3 142 sessions, and 63 blog posts (yearly numbers). Google traffic (aka organic traffic) represented less than 20% of my overall traffic, with around +- 590 sessions from Google, and the rest coming from Pinterest.

I “predict” that these numbers will be significantly higher at the end of my second year of blogging. I say this because, in the first month of my 2nd year blogging, I was already at 2 100 pageviews and 1 628 sessions. In one month, I managed to get half of the page views I had in the first year.

Keep reading for the full picture!

The slow growth of a new blog started in 2021

I officially posted my first blog post in December 2020. However, I will look at my blog’s growth between January 1st and December 31st, 2021 for this blogging update.

But there is more to the story… Allow me to explain.

About my blog

I “started” my blog around Fall 2020

I bought my hosting in July 2020 and my domain in December 2021. Between July and December, I wasted A LOT of time on blog design, playing around with WordPress (and before that, Weebly), tweaking my theme, and figuring it all out.

In December 2020, I decided to cut the crap and Just. Post. Content. 

I published my first (test) article on December 18th, 2020, but the “real” first article was published on December 27th, 2020.

This is why I consider that my blog was started in 2021.

I blog about mental health

I don’t think this topic is an easy one and one that opens up possibilities for quick, “easy” traffic from Google. But mental health is what I know and that’s what I wanted to talk about.

Now, can you “succeed” when blogging about mental health (i.e., receive traffic, monetize your blog, find affiliates and make a decent income with your blog)? Or will Google tank your website and bury your articles on the 39th page of results?

I don’t have the answer to that yet. By May of 2021, and so after 5 months of blogging, I had received less than 10 clicks from Google and only 1 click to a post related to mental health.

One year later, my “Top 10 best performing posts” (that’s such a fancy way of describing posts that mostly received like 1 click! But anyway…), did not include a single mental health-related article.

Source: Of Iron and Velvet – Search Console 01/01/2021 to 31/05/2021

But these posts seem to be performing better in the second year (?), so I guess only time will tell if one can “succeed” blogging about mental health.

Still, mental health-related topics are what interest me, and it’s what I want to write about. And I seem to have been able to achieve some growth with my blog after one year.

Also, and judging by this screenshot from my analytics, my blog is growing.

Source: Of Iron and velvet Google analytics 01-01-2021 to 31/12/2021

And I like blogging even though it’s a shitload of work. So, I will continue to blog about mental health and other related topics such as: self-care, physical health, diet, relationships, mindset, self-awareness, etc.

Number of posts published on my blog after one year

By December 2020, and so after one year of blogging, I had 63 articles published to my blog.

Monetization after one year of blogging

  • I don’t monetize my blog yet and I don’t display any ads. This is not something I am focusing on right now as I’m more worried about writing good content, finding my voice and my niche, and providing value to my readers. And of course, growing my blog’s traffic.
  • I did put my first affiliate link on my blog around November-December 2021 but haven’t had any clicks (let alone sales) yet.

Blogging strategy:

I dedicated over 6 months (in 2020-2021) to planning, learning about blogging, and coming up with a blogging strategy (in terms of content, marketing, affiliate options, opt-ins, product creation, etc.).

So far, I’ve maintained my course and followed my plan. Of course, things happened 10 times more slowly than I had anticipated. (That was hard to swallow). But I’m still following my strategy, adjusting as I go and when necessary.

It still seems like a good strategy one year later so I’m sticking to it. But again, only time will tell.

How much time did I spend working on my blog in my first year?

I don’t know the exact number of hours that I spend working on my blog each week. I took notes of my hours for a while but it quickly became unmanageable. I mean, there’s such a wide array of activities involved in blogging! It’s hard to keep track.

I tried to make a quick estimation and I would say that I spent an average of 20-25 hours/week working on my blog on my first year of blogging. That’s mostly time spent writing content, creating pins for Pinterest, and pinning. This average does not take into account the absurd number of hours I spend every day doing courses, watching YouTube videos, reading and studying other blogs, doing keyword research, reading books, fine-tuning my blogging strategy, etc. (This represents way more than 20 hours per week).

What is, however, included in this 20-25h/week average is:

  • Writing blog posts and uploading them to WordPress (including images);
  • Pin creation and pin scheduling to Pinterest;
  • Learning about WordPress, Canva, building websites, figuring out how themes work, etc.
  • I launched a full Print-on-Demand shop attached to my blog with products that I entirely designed myself (but then took the whole thing down);

How much traffic did I get on my first year blogging?

This is the number of posts, sessions, and pageviews my blog received after one year of blogging.

One year blogging stats
(January 1st-December 31st 2021)
Number of posts63
Number of sessions3 142
Number of pageviews4 373

Monthly average stats:

Monthly average stats
(January 1st-December 31st 2021)
Avg. Number of posts per month5.25 posts/month*
Avg. Number of sessions per month262 sessions/month
Avg. Number of pageviews per month364 pageviews/month

*I published about 1.2 articles per week in my first year of blogging, which is not bad. The “problem” is, I published most of these articles before May 2021. So basically, I didn’t publish much during the rest of the year. I’m not happy about it, but at the same time, I’m just one human! Did I mention that blogging is a shitload of work?

What are my goals for my blog in 2022?

  • Increase traffic to my blog and continue growing my blog.
  • Create at least one opt-in and start building a connection with readers through email + validate/clarify my niche.
  • Regarding traffic, my more specific goal is to grow my blog traffic from 4 300 to 45 000 pageviews (yearly number) at the end of 2022. This represents a goal of 3 750 pageviews per month on average. I’m already at 2 100+ pageviews for the month of January 2022 alone so this doesn’t seem like an unreasonable goal.

How do I plan on reaching these goals?

By writing more content

I had the possibility to work full-time on my blog in 2021, but I didn’t.

Of course, my focus was my mental health, so I don’t blame myself. But if I only published 63 articles when I had virtually no (or only part-time) jobs, how will I ever be able to maintain this cadence with a full-time job?

And so, my goal is to take advantage of the “free time” I’ll have in the first few months of 2022 to put as much content out as possible.

Also, I want to frontload as much content as I can in the early months of the year to increase my chances of growing “faster” by the end of 2022.  

By publishing consistently

I want to be consistent in my publishing output.

In 2020 I didn’t publish at all during summer and it probably hurt my “growth”. In 2022 I want to publish AT LEAST once a week/4 times per month, during the whole year.

By continuing to focus on Pinterest for traffic

Pinterest is responsible for 80% of my traffic.

For some reason though, half of this traffic shows as “direct traffic” in my Google analytics. But these visitors clearly came from Pinterest. Organic traffic only accounted for less than 20% of my total traffic.

I still want to make SEO my priority, but SEO is a long-term game and it takes time to get good at it. So, in the meantime, I will still dedicate a good chunk of my time to Pinterest.

By adjusting (in part) my content strategy to what performs well on Pinterest and Google

By this I mean, I can see which posts perform well on Google (organic traffic) and which ones perform well on Pinterest.

And so, I could write random posts about whatever I feel like writing about (which I kind of do and will continue doing), or I could write more of what works. I plan on writing more of what works because, thankfully, it also coincides with what interests me.

Related post: 8 Reasons why you can never achieve your goals

Can you still grow a blog in 2021 and how long does it take to grow a blog?

I have no idea what to expect with this blog in terms of growth or if I will ever reach my goal of 30 000 monthly pageviews. (50k sessions would be nice though; that’s what it takes now to get into Mediavine).

Now, how long it takes to grow a blog depends on many different factors. But if I were to make projections about my blog, I’d say that it would take at least 3 years of consistent efforts to grow it to 30 000 pageviews per month.

And we only just finished year one! (Sigh).

I think it’s safe to say that my blog growth is a slow one. Still, I’m growing, and every month is consistently better than the previous one. And I still love it, every day, even if I work so, so hard at it.

Therefore, in my book, I’m on the “right” track.

Final thoughts

Blogging is definitely not an overnight/get-rich-quick thing.

Blog growth can certainly be attained faster than what I am experiencing. That is if you are willing to:

  1. Blog about more niche, less competitive topics that show “easier” growth potential;
  2. Publish way more than 52 articles per year. More like 52 articles per month (!);
  3. Be on certain/many social platforms at once, constantly promoting your blog, and/or
  4. Perform specific tasks for the sole purpose of growing your blog’s reach and authority, like guest posting, backlinking, etc.

All things I have absolutely no interest in doing for now, “for the sole purpose of growing my traffic”.

Right now, what I want to do is write. And build an audience. So, I do just that. Slowly.

This is why slow growth is okay with me when it comes to this blog because I try to build it around what I am passionate about and what is good for my well-being. Even if I never become “successful” as a blogger, I do enjoy it. Besides, I built my blog around what I like to do and what serves my mental and emotional well-being: writing and helping people struggling in life.

As long as I can do that, I’m fine.

Now, your turn: have you started a new blog recently? Are your numbers similar to mine? Or perhaps you have had 10x more growth than I did with my blog? Whatever your situation, please don’t hesitate to share your feedback, impressions, wins, or frustrations! Email, or leave me a comment below 😊

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2 thoughts on “Growing a new blog in 2021: one year of slow growth

  1. First of all I want too sayy great blog! I had
    a quick qestion in wbich I’d like to ask iff yoou don’t mind.

    I was interezted to know hoow you center yourslf and clear your mknd begore
    writing. I have had a hard tjme clearing myy thyoughts in gettingg mmy thoughts out there.
    I truly do enjoy writing however itt ust serems like the fitst 10 tto 15
    minutes are usualoly waste simoly just trting tto figure out hoow too begin.
    Any ideas oor tips?Kudos!

    1. Hi Clarence,
      Thank you for leaving a comment! Honestly, I enjoy writing but it’s not enough to get me to write. I had to make writing a habit. I write because I decided I’m going to write; pleasure comes after the first 10-20 mn in.

      In order to write, I usually have to do it first thing in the morning, right after I wake up. NO distractions what so ever. No phones beeping, no emails flashing, all electronics are out of view. And I MUST have a clear desk. My writing space has to be ready (since the night before), that way, I wake up, I stretch, drink water, sit at my desk and write. Only once I’m done writing I do everything else (food, emails, shower, etc.).

      If anything gets in the way, or if I write in the afternoon, honestly it becomes a pain and I’m ZERO productive.
      Hope this helps 🙂

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