I had a problem in 2012. I spent so much time traveling and running around that I had very little time to focus on growth of my site and the goals I set out to achieve.
I’m going to purposely slow down this year and focus more on creating content and getting the word out.
My biggest failure in 2012 was with my email newsletter. I didn’t send out a newsletter for FIVE months! My subscribers stagnated and it is pretty easy to see why it happened.
It isn’t enough just for me to set arbitrary goals anymore, I also need a corresponding plan.
I lump these two together because they both show up in my Feedburner count, but in reality almost all the growth is in the email newsletter. In fact, in the minor site redesign I recently did I deemphasized RSS and put more emphasis on email.
I also released a new incentive ebook and the results have been pretty good. The open rate has been high (65% so far and I sent it on a holiday) and the click rate has been insane. Almost 85,000 clicks so far. How did I get far more clicks than subscribers? Simple. People sending the email to their friends so they can download the book. Also, I had links to 2 ebooks in the email, so it is still may 10’000′s of people who downloaded the new ebook alone.
My goal for 2013 is more modest than last year. In fact that goal is exactly the same: 30,000 subscribers. Breaking this number down, it is 800 per month or 27 per day. I am already getting 20 subscribers per day on most days, so it isn’t that crazy of a number.
I ended up gaining about 5,000 new subscribers in 2012, which is more subscribers than pretty much any other travel blog has in total, save for one. Despite the number, it is still only a 33% increase and far shy of my 100% goal for last year.
A 50% increase in 2013 will still represent a big improvement over 2012.
We have to promote the newsletter more across my other channels as well as just being more diligent about sending it out.
It is entirely possible that if I do a few things correctly, I could blow past this number. I’ll just have to wait and see.
I made my goal for Facebook fans. Once I hit 30,000 fans I started testing Facebook ads and we had some success. We (Amy and I) cut off ads in December but are going to start them up again soon. The goal for 2013 is to have 125,000 Facebook Fans by the end of 2013. This amounts to 6,000 new fans per month which should be easy with smart advertising and current organic rates of growth. I’m also going to be doing more live updates this year now that I’ll have access to internet in more places (unlocked GSM phone). That type of content tends to do well.
After email, Facebook is by far my top priority. I get more engagement on Facebook than all other social platforms combined. It isn’t even close. I could probably spend all day answering questions on Facebook if I wanted to.
I should also note that another important metric isn’t just raw followers, it is engagement levels. Given the nature of Facebook, only a small percentage of people will actually see what you post. I shoot for a 5% rate of engagement, which is pretty good. People aren’t just viewing content but are actively commenting and/or sharing it with their friends.
No goals at all. I annualized out my 2 month rate of growth on Twitter. Assuming current rates of organic growth I’ll wind up with around 130,00 followers at the end of 2013. That is fine. I don’t put much effort into Twitter. Since I got Twitter verified my organic growth rate has gone up a bit, which is good enough.
I have paid almost no attention to Instagram until recently. The last few weeks I did a promoted post on Facebook to let my fans know about Instagram and that netted about 2,000 new followers. I also talked to a guy on online who has a huge Instagram following and he promoted a few of my photos which netted me several hundred more fans. I’m current sitting just below 5,000 followers. I’m not sure it is worth putting that much effort into it. I have recently tied my Instagram account with my Facebook Fan Page, which I assume will help organic growth on Instagram the more I use it.
I have 7,000 followers on Google+. I have no idea how or why. I get little in the way of engagement. However, there are some photographers out there who do fantastic on Google+. I’m not going to abandon it, but I’m not sure what to do with it. Maybe do more Google Hangouts. I’m open to experimenting and will welcome it if something happens, but this isn’t goal worthy.
I think I can do a LOT here. I simply haven’t bothered to do video, but this year I want to make some changes. I am basically starting at zero (112 subscribers). I have some ideas and I think that I’ll be able to develop a style that will work well, but I’ll have to test it. I will also probably need to hire some editing help, perhaps in the form of a VA. Stay tuned.
The more I think about it and the more I research people with large YouTube followings, the more important I see YouTube being. It is possible that it could be the most important thing I have listed here (but I’m not confident enough to stay that conclusively yet).
I’m going to cut down on conferences this year significantly. I’ve already finished NMX in Las Vegas. The only other ones I’m planning to attend are ITB Berlin and TBEX in Toronto. I might go to TBEX in Dublin, but that is probably it. I didn’t get much value from World Travel Market. It just isn’t set up for media. If they do speed dating at ITB, that should be more than enough to keep me busy. Those three events (ITB, TBEX, TBEX Europe) are spread far enough apart during the year that I wont feel rushed in attending them all.
I’ve had great success with my photo ebooks. I’m going to make more. They can serve as both a monetization strategy and a way to grow my audience, and if done correctly they can do both at the same time. Bigger items tend to do better than any individual blog post.