2020. We stayed home. We tinted our own eyebrows and did at-home facials. And we waxed our own bikini lines. We binged every available new TV series, we zoomed, a lot, and we read a lot. (My books page was my most highly trafficked page.) Our worlds got a lot smaller (at times a lot scarier). We laughed. We cried. And we wore tie-dye everything. We learned how to make bread. We drank too much wine. And we got into TikTok for about two weeks. We channeled our frustrations into our skincare routines. We did our at-home workouts. Some of us did our day jobs while also becoming teachers. We walked, we called home, we really missed hugs. We walked some more. Weeks stretched into months. We aren’t so sure we remember April or May. Here in New York, outdoor dining provided a bright spot. But now it’s cold again.
What a year. It certainly was an interesting one. On a personal level it’s a bit painful to go back and look at previous posts (and podcast episode) about goals and intentions for the year. On the professional side, it wasn’t so bad. As an introvert who loves skincare and reading, I guess you could say my “brand” was made for staying home.
I write this post every year, to share with you the top-performing products and blog posts from the year. I hope it’s interesting. And of course, most importantly, because I don’t say it enough: THANK YOU. For reading and commenting here, following along on Instagram, liking and commenting on my posts, and of course – hanging out in the facebook group which is my actual favorite place on the Internet these days. YOU have been the biggest bright spot in my 2020, and I am so grateful for that.
2020 in Review
2020 BY THE NUMBERS:
- 364 posts published
- 8,945 blog comments (+7% vs. last year)
- Blog traffic was up 36%!
From a numbers perspective, it was actually a very good year. The blog turned ten and my blog traffic was up 36% vs 2019. In 2019, my traffic grew 80% and was genuinely uncertain if my blog traffic could continue to grow or if I’d hit a ceiling. But it kept growing and I am so proud of that. (So again, thank youuu for coming here!)
HOW YOU FOUND ME:
- Direct (direct traffic is when someone types in your website name)
- WordPress App
- CNN (so random but they did an article about the ice roller and linked to me).
MOST POPULAR POSTS OF 2020
#10 Getting Out from a Pile of Sad
This was a more personal post that I wrote a few months into quarantine when I was really struggling. I was finally starting to feel a little more “normal” and shared some tips for how I started to feel more like myself again.
#9 Cocokind Review
It’s funny as I didn’t really love this brand but the review was SO highly requested, I think a lot of people really love it/are searching for it.
#8 Augustinus Bader Review
My holy grail face cream! I wrote this post a few years ago when I first started using it, but I share it constantly as this is the one beauty product I can’t live without.
#7 Turmeric Face Mask
You were very into the DIY skincare this year! And for good reason – this mask is inexpensive to make, with great results. Perfect since we’re spending so much more time at home!
#6 The Correct Order to Apply Your Skincare Products
This is an older post that I keep updated, but it remains one of my top posts as it’s one of the things I get asked about most. (We’ve also put this info in the beauty hub!)
#5 I Don’t Want Kids, and That’s OKAY!
This one was deeply personal. It was hard to share but I’m so glad I did. It also ended up being my most commented on post of 2020. The comments are even better than the actual blog post… I love love love reading through them and am (once again) so grateful for this community.
#4 Buying Your First Chanel Bag
This was a popular post last year, too! I updated it a little bit to keep it current, but it’s definitely an evergreen post and I’m so glad it’s helpful.
#3 My Sister’s Salad Dressing
Blogging is so strange and it cracks me up what ends up resonating. I threw this post together on a whim as I loooove my sister’s salad dressing recipe and thought it might benefit others – But I had no idea how popular it would be!
#2 Ice Roller Benefits + Tips
My ice roller is such a game changer and THE number one affordable thing you can do for your skin (besides SPF of course haha). It’s so good for minimizing inflammation and puffiness.
#1 Infrared Sauna Blanket Review
This blanket is the BEST and has definitely been a quarantine favorite (I had meant to include it in my top products for 2020 but accidentally left it out). I also think a lot of you have read this post and bought the blanket since we aren’t going to the sauna these days!!!
TOP PRODUCTS OF 2020 IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:
1. Eyebrow Tint
We were all tinting our own eyebrows in quarantine (read this post for my tutorial) and I fully plan on doing it til the end of time as it’s just so easy and inexpensive.
2. Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream
The best face cream ever. A big splurge but my holy grail, most favorite skincare product of all time.
3. Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask
The best face mask for ultra glowy skin. I haven’t written a longer review of it but it’s the best and is probably my all time favorite mask.
4. Sobel Skin Hyaluronic Moisturizer.
This is the next best thing to Dr. Bader, at a much better price. In fact, I did a full review right this way!
5. Necessaire Body Lotion
My favorite body lotion. I wrote a longer review of it.
6. Command Ledges
These are the little shelves I have up in my bathroom. They are the best (and no, they don’t fall down – I’ve had mine up for a few years now!)
7. Ice Roller
A perennial favorite and as I mentioned above, one of the best inexpensive things you can do for your skin. It’s wild how effective it is!
8. Biossance Lactic Acid Serum
Another holy grail beauty fav. In fact, I use this a few times a week to keep my skin smooth and bright!
9. Maison Louis Marie Candle
Favorite favorite candle. I always stock up during Sephora’s sale.
10. Charles River Fleece
This is just the best little pullover. The gold snaps, the slimmer fit, the longer length… it’s so PERFECT. Definitely an important part of my quarantine uniform.
11. Our Place Always Pan
I love this pan so freaking much. It makes cleanup an absolute breeze. I gave my parents one too and they love it as well. For more on this, read my full review of the Our Place Always Pan!
12. Amazon Slouchy Socks
A best buy from quarantine for sure. These are the greatest. So cozy. I’m pretty much always wearing them!
13. Vince Sneakers
I love these sneakers and have gotten my mom and my sister obsessed as well. I have (from over the years) four pairs – the tan, grey, navy, and white.
14. Eucalyptus Bunch
I got really in to keeping eucalyptus in my shower to keep it smelling amazing. I wrote more about it in this post and love how easy it is to order on Etsy.
15. Shark Sweatshirt
I bought these for my nephews and me (I wore a boys XL) and had no idea how popular they would be! My sister liked them so much that I got her one too. As a general rule, everyone went nuts for them. I also think it was only $15, too.
16. Mason Pearson Hairbrush
The best hair brush – you can read more about it here!
17. Amazon Sunglasses
My favorite sunglasses. In fact, I wear these constantly and no longer buy expensive sunglasses. It’s just not worth it.
18. Amazon Hoodie
Just a good quarantine basic, and I love the longer length!
19. AGOLDE Jeans
I love these jeans so much. The fit is so perfect and that HEM!
20. Spanx Faux Leather Leggings
The best faux leather leggings. My uniform these days (when I get dressed, HA) is these leggings and a sweater tunic.
I’m adding a revenue section to the post this year for the first time as I think there are a lot of questions about how bloggers make money. I am not comfortable sharing actual dollar amounts, but percentages are interesting. I also have shared pie charts like this before during instagram story Q&A’s so am doing it for year end, here!
One thing that happened this year is that my affiliate revenue grew quite a bit.
Sponsorships are still of course very important but for the first time ever, I earned more from affiliates than I did from sponsorships.
If you’re not familiar with the term “affiliate revenue,” that’s the links on my blog. Most (not all!) of the links on my blog are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase from something I share here I will often earn a percentage of sales. Think of it like a finders fee. It isn’t much (usually around 10%), but it adds up and is a very significant (currently the biggest) part of my income. I think the big driver here is that I used to not do really any Instagram swipe-up links (I do not personally shop from Instagram swipe-ups; I like being on a computer!) And I still don’t like to do tooooo many as I feel like I’m being annoying, but I’ve noticed a big difference in my income from adding in a few here and there.
I didn’t break sponsored content out between the blog and Instagram but it’s about 60% instagram, 40% blog. This was the first year for me that Instagram was more “important,” (at least financially) than the blog. I use quotation marks here as the blog will always be my first priority as it’s the one thing I own in full. But it’s interesting how things have changed a bit. And while the podcast isn’t a big revenue driver it’s something I enjoy doing, and I know that a lot of you found my blog and Instagram from the podcast.
I also broke down my affiliate income, which I thought was interesting to look at.
The big four platforms that I use for affiliate revenue are Shopstyle, Rewardstyle, Rakuten, and Share-a-Sale. Shopstyle is my primary network but not every brand uses them so I use the other platforms too. But I also work with some smaller platforms and like to monitor those separately. And of course, Amazon and Equilibria.
Earlier in the year you may remember that I pivoted from Amazon to Bookshop.org for all of my book recs. This was a decision that was not great for business and revenue but something I feel good about personally: independent booksellers are struggling more than ever and I really like Bookshop’s mission of supporting them. To date, they’ve raised over $10mm for independent book stores! So anyway, books are a big part of my content but not something I make much money from. A whopping .3% of affiliate revenue, ha! The other Amazon bit is from non-book things: my Amazon roundups, affiliate revenue from The Drop, etc.!
That about sums this year’s review up! I’d love for you to share what you’d like to see more of in 2021, if you have any content requests!
Grace, thank you for creating such wonderful content! I make the salad dressing recipe twice a week. It’s become a mainstay in my home!
Aw YAY that makes me so happy! Will tell my sister.
Thank you for a wonderful year and keeping us sane during lockdown! I especially love/appreciate the revenue breakdowns (finance nerd in me?) and would love to hear more about this and your process in 2021. It def shows how WE can support you best for producing the great content you do!
Thank you Lauren! I will try! It’s always a fine line to walk as I like sharing this stuff but then sometimes a) people ask for specifics I’m not comfortable with or b) people think I’m begging for likes/clicks, and I never want to do that either! I will think more on better ways I can talk more about this!
Fascinating as always! Thanks for another great year of content, I’m about to listen to the podcast on my morning walk!
Aw I’m so glad!!!! Thanks for your support, Maggie!
Loved reading this recap and revisiting some of your most popular posts!!! I didn’t originally read the salad dressing one but now I feel like I have to make it today, haha.
I know that this is a big ask because these posts probably require the most effort but yield the least (monetary) result but I LOVE all of your personal posts (living alone/being single 10 months into this pandemic is really hitting now and is just one thing that I thought, “I want to read Grace’s thoughts on this!”)
Thanks for being a bright light and a kind space on the internet in 2020 and cheers to a much, much better 2021!
Hi Molly, Thank you! YES – more personal posts is definitely a goal for the year. I have been feeling so blah about the single/living alone thing, it’s almost like I have given up!!!! It’s been really tough! But noted overall and have a goal of at least one more personal post / life updatey type of thing per month!
Thank you for all your great content and for your authenticity! I went on the same YFBP trip to Cuba last March (right before the world shut down) after reading your review and it was AMAZING. I’m also seconding the request for more personal posts (as another 30 something who is single and lives alone) but will continue to support anything and everything you put out into the world. Loved the podcast episode today! 🙂
Oh my gosh, no way! The BEST retreat…. god I had such an amazing time in Cuba! Happy you were able to go before the world shut down! Xo
Thanks for sharing! I love a good year end wrap up and appreciate seeing your revenue split because it helps me see how I can best support you. I’m surprised to see Sephora isn’t an affiliate driver for you! Hopefully it’s represented in some other category. I rely on your skincare recs and love your book recs, but appreciate your recs across the board (the ice roller changed my life!). I look forward to seeing what 2021 brings! Thanks again!
Oh Sephora is a big part! It’s included in the Shopstyle # 🙂
Love your transparency about your work and revenue. It is also just so interesting because it is so different from my field (education). I go back to in person school in 2 weeks, and I have a feeling spanx faux leather leggings and tunic sweaters will be my go to!
It’s honestly the best uniform. A littttle sleeker than a sweatsuit but just as comfy!
Kudos to you for sharing a bit into the business side of blogging! Been following your blog forever and it’s great to see your success (organic success, may I add) 🙂
hahahahaha yes to organic success. 😉 Thanks, Rachel!!!
The pie charts are so interesting!! Love following along, Grace! HAPPY New Year!!
I am so happy to hear that it was interesting to you! Thanks for following, and happy happy New Year!
Grace, THANK YOU for all of your fabulous content. Your blog is a perfect blend of joy, transparency, and personal life. I became a reader in early 2020 and am so grateful to have found your blog during the weirdest of years (have been especially reliant on your monthly book posts!).
Aw, thanks Heidi! Really appreciate it!
I purchased 5 of your top 11 items, I think it’s safe to say you’ve influenced me! I love your transparency and this was a really interesting post. Thank you for your honesty, and I’m so happy for you that your business was so successful in 2020.
OMG I love that!!! Thanks, Katelyn!
I love your blog, definitely my favorite. Book recommendations, life shares, pets, decorating, cooking honesty and this transparency on how it all works behind the scenes. I know you have to incorporate a sales element of course and you have a very subtle way of doing it which feels genuine on your part and not like your site is one big ad like so many others. Always interesting, thanks for the great content!!
Thank you so much!
This is so interesting! I appreciate you sharing, especially the revenue piece. I think it’s great to see what decisions you’re making and how you’re balancing your morals with financial decisions. As a note on swipe ups, I’m not a huge buyer, but I’ve found myself driven to purchase items from swipe ups! I appreciate how easy it is to use. I agree they can feel overused but honestly I really like them. So keep it up if it helps you grow your revenue!
Haha, maybe I will start this year! But yeah, they can be a lot so I try to only do a couple a day, if that!!!!!
Thank you, Grace! This is so interesting. I love and appreciate your content 🙂
Really appreciate the revenue breakdowns – I’m totally a nerd about that kind of thing and I appreciate how transparent you are!
So glad it’s interesting to you! xo
I loved reading your posts this year – and watching you grow and adapt to the crazy situation we’re all in! 🙂
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
Thanks Charmaine! 🙂
Reading all of your posts and joining the Facebook group were some of my 2020 highlights! Thank you for bringing such authenticity and honesty to everything you do!
Aw I am so happy to hear that – THANK YOU!
Love these types of posts as I’m an engineer and a nerd for the data analytics 🙂 everyone got ice rollers in their stockings from me and slouchy socks LOL! 100% seeing and feeling a difference with dr bader’s, have sent your skincare routine which is post it’d on my mirror to so many girlfriends who’ve asked what I’m doing – I’m following Grace, that’s all! Happy 2021 🙂
Oh this all makes me so happy! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
I have to let you know that I bought the ice roller for my skin but it is a game changer for migraines! Rolling it over base of neck and temples helps so, so much. You kind of changed my life with that lollll
OMG yay! That makes me so happy!!!!!!
This is SO interesting! I love seeing good data. I discovered your blog this year through GGE and then BOP, so I am happy to be a part of that 36%!
Happy New Year, Grace!
Aw I love Ashley and Rayna! And soooo glad you found the pod + my blog, etc!
Congrats on an amazing year for your business, Grace! I know you definitely have helped a lot of people when it came to the misery of 2020 – so thank you!!! Cheers to another successful year! xx
Dana | It’s Casual Blog
Thank you so much Dana!
Thank you for your posts this year!! I had read a couple of your posts last year I think but revisited this year and now I’m an avid reader 🙂 Listening to Bad on Paper was my routine this summer going on walks after work (it’s very hot here in TX in the summer but listening to the pod got me through it, ha). Looking forward to 2021.
I am so glad we were a part of your walks!!!! Happy new year!
Really interesting, thank you for sharing! Just a note for you: it says “top products of 2019”, I’m not sure if that was intentional.
I definitely bought some of these products and really appreciate your reviews! Thanks for all your kind words this year.
Ooops – updated, was certainly not intentional!
Thank you for so much good information and recommendations! I have purchased and LOVED Augustine Bader rich cream this whole pandemic. It’s kinda felt like my “Self-care”splurge during these times. But mostly, I have used your Book Recommendations and Lists as my go-to for escaping this reality we have been living. Since March, I have read 25 books. Thirteen of them were from your recommendations! Keep up the good content!
Aw wow, I am so glad to hear that! Thank you for sharing.
Thanks for a great year of content and sharing yourself, Grace. Yes, I’m grateful for all the new products that have come into my life with your review and suggestion, but I think this year I was most impressed by how quick you were to reflect and reevaluate your stance on social issues and companies/people you support based on new information. I really admire that.
It think it might be kind of difficult currently, but a dream post I’d love to see is a guided shopping guide for the Whole Foods beauty aisle. SO specific, I know, but there’s so much good clean beauty and skincare stuff there that is more in my budget than Sephora, and they always have a big 25% off beauty sale in March… man, it would be great 🙂
Thanks for the feedback! And I will take that under consideration. I don’t personally shop at Whole Foods for beauty so feel like it may be a bit of a stretch content wise but maybe I can do a guest post or something 🙂
I love this post and the transparency! Interesting that traffic is up but comments are down.
oops, that’s actually a typo, copied over from last year’s post. Comments were up 7%! Thanks for flagging.
This is so cool to see. Thank you for sharing and being so transparent!
you’re welcome! happy you liked the post!
Thank you for this transparency, and thank you for switching to bookshop.org!
Love this annual post, I find the business of blogging/influencing super interesting! Thanks for the taking the time and sharing so many details, and best of luck in 2021 Grace!
I am so glad to hear that. Thanks Kendall, and happy 2021!!!
Thank you for sharing, this was very interesting! Yours is one of the only blogs I still read and i love seeing it in my inbox every day! For the record, I don’t find Instagram swipe-ups annoying at all. I like how easy they are! It I’m not interested in the item I just flip right past. But much easier than clicking through to someone’s feed and searching for a like to know it link or whatever that thing is.
That is great to know, thank you!
Thank you for transparency and sharing- it’s so interesting, especially since most of us likely work in a very different fields.
I’m so glad it was interesting!
Hi Grace! I was wondering if you would be doing a Charleston roundup (COVID friendly, if possible) during your time down there? I’m thinking of working from home down there for a bit, and would love your suggestions! Even if it’s just a few 🙂
Hi Lauren, maybe! I don’t have a lot to say – I really did not do much while I was down there, I only went to a few restaurants and mostly hung out with my family. I’ve noted this on stories a few times but Melfi’s, Basic Kitchen, and Post House Inn do a good job with indoor dining.
Thank you so much for sharing such thoughtful content, Grace! You’ve influenced me SO much this year and I love it all—Brightland olive oils, Theragun, books I want to read, the list goes on! And as a blogger myself, I love seeing where other bloggers’ income comes from, so thank you for including that, too. Excited to follow along in 2021! 🙂
Thanks Kimi!!!! Happy new year!
Great post, Grace! Can you tell me/us why you tend to use Shopstyle more than RewardStyle when linking to products? Is that because you can earn $ off of just the clicks, even if someone doesn’t purchase the item? I’ve always wondered about the real difference between those two. Thank you!
They’re pretty much exactly the same (CPA vs CPC model) so it’s more a matter of personal preference and relationships. Also RewardStyle puts a big emphasis on LiketoKnowIt which is not something I’m interested in using.
I love that you chose to switch to Bookshop links instead of Amazon, even though you could’ve made more money with Amazon! This is why I trust you!
That’s so nice, thank you!
I always look forward to these posts of yours!!! I still technically have my blog and sometimes get discouraged that not many people read it any more (though I also don’t write as much as I used to, so that’s on me, too!), but it’s always heartening to see in your numbers that people *are* still reading blogs.
Don’t!!!!! People are definitely still reading blogs 🙂
Happy new year Theodora, I hope you have a great 2021!! xx
This is really amazing to read! Thank you for sharing your resources and being so transparent xx
lenne | lennezulkiflly.com
I’m so glad you liked the post! x
I also enjoy getting to see more of a breakdown on how things work (and will have to try making the salad dressing sometime!)
In terms of content ideas for 2021, I tend to be most interested in the personal posts, books, things you’ve learned over your time blogging (also what’s changed/stayed the same), and also this is specific–I have two cats and it may be that Tyrion is better behaved, but I’d be interested in any suggestions on that front–your place looks great and it seems like you have a number of fragile things and plants–mine tend to get into everything!
Thanks for the suggestions! I can’t in good faith say I will do many cat posts, Tyrion is just suuuuper docile and I’ve never had to worry about him or discipline him, he’s just a big fluff. I think talking to your vet is probably a better plan!
Thank you for transitioning to bookshop.org. Long live independent bookstores!
Thank you for this post!!! I find this stuff so fascinating! Thank you the most for creating such amazing and unique content constantly (i know it can’t be easy!)
I’m so glad to hear that!
I echo the other commenters in expressing thanks for being so transparent with everything. It’s so refreshing!