Happy new year + happy new DECADE! The blog also turns ten this month (January 20th is its exact “birthday”), which is pretty exciting. I kind of can’t believe I’ve been at this for ten years, that I am able to do it full time, and probably most importantly, that I still enjoy doing it so much.
Year ten was a big year for the blog – it was my best year both for the blog’s traffic (site visits) and also for revenue. I’m really proud of that. I am not someone who is great at stopping and celebrating (it’s always onto the next thing and wondering what can I fix and improve upon!) but I’m really, really proud of this year and wanted to say that.
A lot of things contributed to this but I think the biggest thing was deciding to step away from more traditional outfit posts (I still do a few here and there!) in favor of sharing more beauty + book posts, real life stuff, and the weekly outfit roundup. I’ve always loved fashion and style of course and those things will always be a big part of the blog, but beauty and books are the things I’m most passionate about and where my expertise lies. Also, I stopped being afraid to share negative thoughts. I think there’s a way to do it gracefully and I never want to hurt someone’s feelings but at the same time, I think honesty is the most important thing.
I have always been strict with who I bring on as a sponsor but became even more discerning this year. When I add up everything I turned down for the blog and instagram, it’s probably over $80-90k in revenue. I know that sounds INSANE but a lot of partnerships came my way this year that were just not a fit and would make me feel a little yucky to post. At the end of the day, your trust is the most important thing to me and I am only going to work with brands that make me say HELL YES. Brands I’d spend my own money on.
The funny thing was that as I turned things down, I had a lot of “hell yes” partnerships come my way. We talk more about this in today’s episode of the podcast but I turned a big long term partnership down with a retailer that wasn’t just a fit. A week later, I got chosen for the Sephora Squad. I really do think that saying no paves the way for more yes opportunities.
2019 In Review
2019 by the Numbers:
- 304 posts published (-22% vs. last year)
- 8,343 blog comments (-13% vs. last year)
- Blog traffic was up 80%!
I was actually shocked to see that 80% number. I had to run the numbers over and over again. Last year I was really excited to see that my traffic was up 36%, so 80% is a dream!
How You Found Me:
- Direct (direct traffic is when someone types in your website name)
- Email Newsletter
- Mackenzie Horan
- Go Fug Yourself
(A big thank you to Mackenzie + Heather and Jessica at Go Fug Yourself! And Buzzfeed, too!)
Most Popular Posts of 2019
#10 The 10 Best Beach Reads of All Time. // Loved writing this post, there’s nothing better than lounging on the beach with a great book!
#9 Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse Recipe. // This one got picked up on search. Such an incredibly effective easy DIY beauty recipe!
#8 Ice Roller Benefits. I love my ice roller SO MUCH. I use it almost every morning to depuff and calm my skin.
#7 Activated Charcoal Deodorant: Everything You Should Know! I was surprised to see how well this post did; but it was really popular.
#6 The Most Uplifting Podcasts. This was a really popular one. I listen to a lot of political/news podcasts, but this is the list of podcasts I truly enjoy listening to!
#5 How to Deep Clean your Scalp. Seems like everyone is really obsessed with a clean scalp (the ACV rinse also ranked!) but this is an important one especially at the end of summer!
#4 Everything I learned about CBD Oil. CBD was a new (and important!) addition to my routine this year. It’s really helped a lot with sleep and also cramps (both period and muscular).
#3 Buying your first Chanel Bag. I wrote this post on a whim and am so glad I did because everyone keeps telling me how helpful it is!
#2 Sephora VIB picks. Always a favorite. Every time Sephora has a big sale I update this post with my Sephora favorites (there are so many!!!)
#1 My favorite affordable retinol. This was a sponsored post with Olay so I was both surprised and excited to see how well it performed! I love these products – am still using both the serum and the eye cream.
TOP PRODUCTS OF 2019 IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:
- Night Pillow // Always a favorite. You can use our podcast code (BOP20) to get 20% off. I could not sleep without this!
- Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream // Two years later, it’s still my favorite moisturizer. You can read more in this post.
- Cable Stitch Sweater // A really easy, affordable sweater. I have it in brown and cream and it’s one of my go-to’s.
- Ice Roller // Just the best. Read the post I linked above for the full scoop.
- Maison Louis Marie No.4 Candle // my go-to candle. Smells like Le Labo Santal 26 for a much nicer price.
- Sunday Riley Retinol Serum // One of my favorite retinol treatments. I use retinol 2-3x a week. I switched to the Olay one when I did that post, but when I run out I will likely go back to Sunday Riley.
- REN Clean Skincare AHA Body Serum // The best body serum. It exfoliates and hydrates and smells a little bit like a creamsicle!
- Free People Knit Tunic // My fav sweater! I bought this last year and am so happy that they brought it back.
- Sarah Flint Perfect Pump // The best heels, EVER! Use code GRACE50 to take $50 off your first pair.
- Amazon Sunglasses // I now have at least 5 pairs of these $10 sunnies. They are the best and would pass for Celine.
- Old Navy Leopard Print Coat // LOVE this coat. It looks designer and is such a great price!
- Leopard Midi Skirt // such a fun, affordable skirt. Just go up a size or two. I got the US L / Asia XL.
- Vince Slip-Ons // Fav sneakers for years. I started with grey 3 or 4 years ago, then I got the navy suede and this year I got white!
- WAYF Lace Top // One of my fav purchases this year. I have in cream and navy and am thinking about green.
- Wander Beauty Gold Eye Masks // The prettiest eye masks. I love them and they do a great job calming a puffy undereye area!
- SPANX Faux Leather Leggings // the best leggings! I love them so much. They’re a nice way to look a little dressed up when you want to be in sweats.
What you can expect to see more of in 2020:
More of the same.
That may sound boring but I really like everything that’s happening now. I switched things up a lot this year and am happy with the new direction so you can expect more of the same stuff… weekend reading, weekly outfit diaries… and in between, books, beauty, and fun shopping finds!
A continued focus on core channels
The blog is always going to be my first priority. Instagram and the podcast are a close second, followed by our secret Facebook group! In the past I’ve tried to experiment with other things (like Youtube for example) but I’ve realized I’d rather be really good at a few things rather than trying to spread myself around.
An updated reading list
I hear you loud and clear. The reading list page isn’t great as it stands. There are so many books and while you can filter by genre, you can’t filter by rating! I am working with my developers to give this page a face lift! It’s going to look VERY pretty.
A new beauty hub
My developers and I are putting together a beautiful new beauty page to launch a little later this year. It will be kind of your one stop shop for everything if you are looking for advice or have a question. I’m really excited about this. It’s going to be beautiful!
Longer term partnerships with brands
I am really excited to have renewed my partnership with Sephora. I am focusing on doing more long term partnerships and less one off things. Of course the main thing when accepting a sponsor is that it has to be something I will like and use so I’ll take a one off if it’s someone like Dunkin, but we’re working hard to partner in a more meaningful way with brands this year!
That’s about it! But what I really want to know is, what do you want to see!? I’d love to hear it in the comments. I listen… it is so helpful to me to hear what content resonates most with you and why you come here! We touched a lot of this in this post but keep the feedback coming. If this is my “annual report,” you guys are all my customers and I want every visit to The Stripe to be a good one!
PS – 2018 in review, 2017 in review and 2016 in review!
You’ve achieved you much, Grace – amazing stats! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
I’ve been following you for years and just wanted to say I LOVED your shifts in content this year – the shift away from outfit posts has made me come back more often since I enjoy your voice/long-form content! Congratulations on an amazing year – we can all tell how hard you work and you deserve it! Happy new year.
Grace, congrats on 10 years! What an accomplishment!! Very excited to see the new beauty page and books page! One thing I’d love to be able to do is search your books by author.
Happy New Year Grace! Really enjoyed this read. Your blog is one of my favorites as I found it’s a one stop shop for everything I’m interested in and I always say that you put a great deal of effort into your work and it shows. So happy for your success. Looking forward to exciting stuff in 2020!
Congrats on an amazing 2019, Grace! So so happy for you!
Hi Grace! I applaud you for mixing up your content this year. I read here daily and I’ve really enjoyed the shift away from the staged outfit shots toward a weekly roundup with a little peek at what you’re up to.
Your reading lists are always my favorite. As soon as they go up, I reserve everything you gave an A at the library. Then my fellow reader friends and I start texting about what we’re going to read next from your recs. “Well Grace says…” 🙂
I really enjoy your blog/instagram – I started following at the beginning of this year and have been interested all of your content. It feels kind of rare to find someone my age (mid 30s) who isn’t blogging about either unattainable shopping, mommy stuff, or insane home renovations. None of which are my life right now! Also as a former bookseller/library studies student, I can’t get enough of the book posts.
Happy 2020! I wish you continued success this year.
Same same!! Mid 30s, no kids, I read a lot, don’t have the money to buy new clothes every week – Graces blog is my ideal! Love your content so much – thank you!
Hi Grace! Just wanted to pop in and say that I while I visited sporadically over the past few years, in 2019, The Stripe became one of my favorite daily reads (so I guess I helped contribute to that growth in traffic!). I loved the transition away from outfit posts to more books/beauty content and truly value/trust your recommendations. Thank you for your honesty and transparency!
Happy New Year! I really love your travel posts. I’ve gotten a few great museum suggestions from you for NYC. I’d love to see more of that (although I don’t live on the East Coast anymore…).
You got me to buy the amazon roller and it really is the best. I wish I could travel with it because my face gets SO puffy when I’m overseas, but there’s never a freezer. I usually end up putting cold water bottles on my face. So not the same. Congrats on a great 2019!
My Style Vita
I think I have been visiting your blog since almost the very beginning. It has grown so much and you should be so incredibly proud of what you have built. You are my one-stop shop for everything beauty and book-related and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
Hi Grace! I’m one of your new 2019 followers (part of the 80% I guess!) and just want to say hello and thanks for your content! It’s like having a friend in Brooklyn. I still love traditional blogs and am happy to follow you here and on Insta. Happy New Year!
Congratulations on your success. You deserve it! Also proud of you for sticking to brands that reflect your personal taste and style. I know in 2019 I lost respect for many who choose to work with brands like Walmart. I can’t take your seriously if you rock a Chanel bag and promoting Walmart clothing sorry.
This is a great accomplishment
your blog is the only one I read anymore. There is SO much noise on the internet, and way too much of it is sponsored garbage, and your authenticity, fun voice, well-written posts, and honesty is just the daily break from the real world that I need. you’re so talented at what you do – cheers to a great 2020!
So exciting, 80% is huge! I’ve loved following along for the last year and seeing your growth. The podcast is my favorite 🙂
I was one of the new readers in 2019, very glad I found you and the podcast!
My favorites on the blog, just fyi: the weekend reading, always so fun, all book content and beauty recs. I also want ALL THE CASHMERE but will wait because December = broke.
Have a great 2020!
Congrats Grace! As someone who has been with you since almost the start I am so happy for you. You listened to your heart and the blog shift was a wonderful success! It was a pleasure meeting you and Becca in SF at the live blog show. I can’t wait to see wait the new year/decade brings. Happy New Year! Thank you for being my coffee, cat companion every morning. 🙂
Happy New Year! I’m a newish reader, in the last couple of years, and I really enjoyed 2019. I related to the content, the fashion you shared, the travel, retreats, and the beauty so overall the diversity of the content. Like another reader commented I really appreciate that you are deliberate with your brand partnerships and what you share is authentic to what you have created here. Also if you didn’t like it or it didn’t work you say so, respectfully, but honestly. Thank you for the community you have created! Looking forward to 2020 🙂
So proud of you for 10 years, Grace! I have been here for maybe 6 or 7 of those years. I really love your “what I wore this week” posts, they are my favorite! Can’t wait to continue reading in 2020.
I love your beauty reviews. I find that they are really helpful in deciding what to buy. Definitely keep those up 🙂 I’d love some more hair product reviews if that works with your schedule and partnerships. I found you after your interview on Ali on the Run, and am so happy I did!! Between the blog and BOP I have taken up reading again in a major way!
Hey Grace – have been following you for a few years but became such a huge fan this year. Love your mix of content and the more casual, less fancy outfit posts + all the books and beauty content! Also the podcast has gotten so good this year, you guys should be so proud Thank you for your influence, never stop! 🙂 🙂
Congrats on the growth!! You clearly work so hard, you deserve it. I love your more personal/essay type posts.
Way to go! I found you by accident and love your blog. Love the realism, love that you aren’t trying to get me to buy stuff just for the sake of buying. Every January I go through Instagram and purge! You made the cut. And your cat. Absolutely the best! Nice job!!!
Guest post by Becca — a Romance novel round up, stuff junkies haven’t already read. Just more book content overall ! Congrats on your success !
I really love your Target roundups and would love to see one from time to time this year! I’ve grabbed some great items for my home from what you highlight.
I’m a relatively new reader but your blog has become a daily read for me! I love your opinion/recommendation posts. They often guide me when I am looking for a new product. Latest example: the Night pillow. Amazing.
I love the way you write—It’s so genuine and honest. Congratulations on your success in 2019!
Congratulations on an amazing year!! I can’t wait to keep reading The Stripe first thing in the morning when I’m supposed to be clearing my inbox 😉
Congrats Grace! I live in Phoenix and I am one of your new subscribers as of last year. I really enjoy your posts as you talk about so many things that I am interested in – traveling, beauty, fashion and reading. I just turned 40 and feel that I may be “too old” for some blogs or they focus on being a Mom, which I am not. Your blog seems very relatable to a diverse group of women. Thanks for the smiles, connection and bringing a great group of women together every day!
Hi Grace, Congrats on a great year! My New Years Resolution is to read more classic literature (e.g. Dostoevsky, Austen, Dickens). I would love to see you add an occasional “classic” into the mix! Warm wishes 🙂
I’m also hoping to read more classics this year, so I second this comment! I also enjoy your outfit roundups, book coverage, and your longer essay type posts. thanks and congrats!
I have purchased SO many things per your recommendation, Grace! Also a huge fan of the pod. Thanks for working so hard for your followers!
CONGRATS ON 10!!! Thank you for ALL the entertainment, recommendations and fun content this year. I have definitely read many amazing books, purchased some loved fashion/beauty products and enjoyed a lot of podcasts thanks to you, The Stripe, Bad on Paper and Becca. Looking forward to your success in 2020 and all the fun things we will see from you! (Cannot wait to see the Amazon Drop collab, more fun from Sephora and all else you discussed in the year end wrap up pod ep!)
I’ve been following your blog for several years, and love how it has evolved! I really trust your reviews, and have told friends about things you’ve recommended (even if I haven’t tried it myself…that is trust!) For my own sanity I stopped using Facebook, so I’d love if you posted a roundup of products/links/etc from the podcast from time to time. Congratulations on 10 years!
Grace, I have been following your blog for about a year and like all your posts, but especially your book posts! I regularly place holds on books at the library that you have recommended. 🙂 One thing that would be helpful to see on the blog this year is clothing brands (other than Everlane) that are more sustainable. It’s hard to find brands that really are what they claim to be!
Thank you for being real- doing your own style that is genuine and not costume-y, for posting honest (no one likes every product as some influencers would have us believe) reviews and not selling out to Wal Mart like so many others. Yours is the only blog I still read and follow on social media.
Congrats on such a good year Grace! I love your voice in all of your writing, and have enjoyed so many of your recommendations. Would love more of your takes on homebody/introvert/cocooning, as I very much relate to that side of you! I’ve also loved learning about your business experience and would enjoy more in that vein as well.
There was one area of disappointment for me. I really like your skincare/beauty products recommendation because I appreciate you share your real experiences and appropriately caveat your recommendations based on your personal skin type and limits on knowledge. However, some of your language on so-called “clean” beauty has started verging on pseudo-science, particularly with the Sephora partnership and reliance on the EWG. Both sources have documented problems with the scientific validity of their categorization of substances as “toxic” or “clean.” I think everyone is free to use whatever products they want for whatever reason they want, but as someone with influence, I would like to see some more care given to including the underlying research used by brands (or yourself) on why they are demonizing certain ingredients.
In a time when there is so much disinformation and fear-mongering on the internet about our daily lives, and brands are in an epic green-washing mode, I think it’s important to elevate the cosmetic scientists, chemists, toxicologists, researchers, experts, and the rigorous studies that contribute so much knowledge about the safety and efficacy of what we can put in and on our bodies. I know this is more than is asked of a typical consumer, but I would like to see you model a greater degree of care when talking about this subject, particularly with sponsored posts.
And if people are looking for some informative but fun science-based social media accounts, I’ve learned a lot from Lab Muffin Beauty Science, Dr. Ginza, and The Eco Well.
Thank you for all of the hard work you put into your blog Grace – I’ve loved it for years and this was my favorite year!
I totally agree with this! I tend towards “clean” skincare in that my skin prefers fewer ingredients and tends to react badly to thinks like fragrance, but I hope 2020 is the year that we can start to recognize how marketing is co-opting and distorting eco/environmentally friendly products and using those terms as catchalls to mean “good” (like for the love of god, everything is a chemical!! And synthetic does not equal evil/ “natural” does not mean anything / definitely does not mean it’s inherently good for your face…).
This is not necessarily directed at you Grace, I just loved the comment above! Also, to add to the above science accounts, I LOVE science.sam on instagram for some great real-ness about beauty and trends and what is / isn’t supported by actual research (ahem, looking @ you ‘stem cell treatments’).
Anyway, love your blog Grace, congrats on all of your hard work & accomplishments!!
I LOVE these posts and have been waiting for yours! SO fun to see a look into everything.
Holy moly 80% is insane, you better be celebrating for real!
Just wanted to share that your blog has quickly become my favorite to read! I truly trust your recommendations!
As an OG reader – happy 10 years! Very proud of you and all you have achieved. I still think of you as a friend and am so impressed by the quality and originality of the posts you continue to put out!
What a year, Grace! Congrats on the great traffic and celebrating 10 years. I’ve been a reader for at least 6 years if not longer and I truly loved your content this year. I’ve always loved your posts, but this year it felt as if you were really coming into your own and sharing the things that were most meaningful to you, which I’m sure is more exciting to write and definitely exciting to read! Can’t wait to see what 2020 brings for The Stripe & BOP! Nicole
What a fun way to recap your year! I love your more “real-life” content and can’t wait to see the updated reading list page!
Hi Grace! Love your blog — you’re my go-to for reading recs! Any plans to start sending your email newsletter again? It’s the main way that I follow blogs/read articles. I forget about them if they’re not landing in my inbox.
Hi Sarah! I will try! Things have been a bit chaotic with the blog and the pod and personal things but it’s on my list to get it going again 🙂
You can also sign up for the daily post reminders!