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!