How Has My First Year of Blogging Gone?

Today (15 May) marks a year since I wrote and uploaded my first blog article on How To Read Over 50 Books In A Year. Since then I have written nearly 150 articles, gained over 5,000 social media followers on dedicated accounts, enjoyed interacting with people online, thoroughly enjoyed blogging and so much more.

Man holding a laptop out in front of him with his blog on it. Bunting and celebration emojis surround him. It's my Blog's 1 year anniversary. www.lukeharkness.com

But how has it really gone? What does this mean when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of the numbers? Well, I thought I’d be honest and open up about all the stats I can give you on my blog from the past year. I’ve gone over to Google Analytics to get these numbers, so let’s hope they’re correct.

The big numbers

I’ve had over 24,000 views on my pages on my blog since I started it, over 10,200 new users and 12,106 sessions.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

Well, the views figure is fairly obvious – my pages have been viewed over 24,000 times. The “new users” figure refers to how many new people have come to my page. And the sessions refer to how many times people have been on my website. So essentially 10,200 people have visited my website over the past year. Those 10,200 people have been on my website 12,106 times in total (so the same people have come on more than once) and then in total, their visits have resulted in over 24,000 page views.

HOW DO I FEEL ABOUT THESE NUMBERS?

I’m happy with them. When I started my blog I set myself no expectations. I wanted to write book reviews and I knew how to use WordPress, that was it really. The figures are gradually rising and with each monthly article update, I also update you on my viewership and whether I’ve gotten more or less views that month or not.

To think over 10,000 different people have come on to my blog is a brilliant figure. It really makes me think that the many hours I spend writing, researching, creating the graphics and posting to social media make it worth it. If by this time next year, I have 20,000 new users over the next year, then it’s really staggering thought. Well, the harder I work, the more I post and the harder I research topics, the only way is up!

Which articles have done the best?

So here’s one you’re probably wondering about. “Ok, it’s great you’ve had over 24,000 views on your blog in total, but what are people actually reading?” Well, below I’ve listed my top five most-read articles since I started blogging (excluding my homepage of course which has the most with over 2,400 of the views). I wonder if any will surprise you…

MY MOST-READ ARTICLES

1. 110+ Questions For Your Question of the Day on Bookstagram (1,900+ views)

Yep, that’s right. The number one most-read article on my blog over the past year is simply a list of over 110 questions to put on your question of the day.

I’ll be honest, this is doing exactly what I wanted this article to do – I didn’t think it would initially do that well on social media as it’s not the most engaging post. However, I worked hard on the SEO (search engine optimisation) and so almost every single month since I first uploaded the article, it has been my most-read article.

2. Book review of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas (1,060+ views)

This one I find fascinating – I think the large views on this post just show how much this series has become a TikTok/Bookstagram sensation. Sarah J Maas must be making an absolute killing off of horny girls with this book. My review of it wasn’t particularly positive as it pointed out how there was very little plot and an awful lot of shallowness about the looks of the main male protagonist. However, it’s a series I’m willing to continue on with and I’m glad to see it has done so well.

Again, this is another one that has seen its view numbers shoot up once Google started putting my reviews on the front pages of Google.

3. Comparison: Goodreads vs Storygraph (860+ views)

This post has likely done well for two reasons: people are fed up with Goodreads and are looking for alternatives and the Goodreads social media channels reposted the initial posts when they came out.

It’s an article in which I break down key features of both platforms and decide, at the end, which should win based on this. Goodreads has gotten too comfortable being the king of the throne for too long. Yes, it has the backing of Amazon and subsequently Kindle behind it but Stroygraph is run by people who are not only big book nerds but also tech nerds AND they listen to what the community wants. Go have a read and see if maybe it’s time you changed platform.

4. Book review of A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (700+ views)

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure why this particular review has done well. It’s a book I rated very highly and it’s also one of the few books that I would say made me feel quite emotional.

Khaled Hosseini had an incredible ability in this book to make me properly care about everybody and wish with everything that things would work out well for them. If you’re looking for a very memorable book, I’d definitely recommend checking this one out.

5. Book review of It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover (610+ views)

Colleen Hoover is a bit of a phenomenon when it comes to Bookstagram and Book Twitter. Her books are not incredibly powerful, honest looks into actual problems but the front covers she has produced for them are so damn aesthetically pleasing!

I think Colleen Hoover has managed to find her way onto the Bookstagram/Book Twitter/BookTok craze with a lot of accounts online recommending her books. As I said, powerful stories and wonderful looking front covers make for a compelling case to make your book go viral.

Where are people coming from

So you’ve seen the number of views, users and sessions and I’ve told you how this translates into my actual articles by laying out which are the most viewed. But where are these all actually coming from?

Well, I’ll tell you now, over the past month alone, I have seen a huge increase in the amount of organic traffic my blog and articles have been seeing Organic traffic is content that comes from a natural search as opposed to a direct link. So basically if someone googles “We Begin At The End book review” they’ll see my review of We Begin At The End pop up on the Google homepage and choose to click on that and read it.

Other than this, I rely on my growing social media presence to gain views on my blog. If you want to follow me to be kept up to date, you can do so here:

These stats are going to be tracking the sessions that people are having on my blog. So this means below are the percentage and figures (rounded) of where people consistently come from to find my blog (as opposed to just where new people find me from):

WHAT DO THESE MEAN?

So as you can see, nearly 60% of my traffic on my website comes from organic searches. This is fantastic news as it means that the SEO I’m using on my blog is working well. It also means that my blog is bringing in more passive traffic – so essentially it’s bringing in views even when I’m not constantly posting to social media.

As you can see, over 21%% of my traffic comes from social media. This is a good thing as with your pages being on social media, it does eventually make them have more influence on Google’s search algorithm too. I’ve had a look and it looks like Direct means Google can’t trace where the traffic is coming from. I would take this to mean it either comes from my newsletter or maybe other places I may have posted it (my Telegram group I ran for a while for example.)

How much money have I made from blogging so far?

When I started my blog, I was keen that at some point it could could be a viable form of a second income. I wanted to be able to regularly post to my blog, whilst enjoying doing so and at the same time making enough from it that it could start to pay for holidays and bulk out my savings a bit. You see, working in the NHS isn’t the best for saving a lot!

In my first year, I’ve not quite got to the level where it’s making me enough to consider it a viable income, but it is growing and hopefully by this time next year will be something I can consider a proper business.

HOW DO YOU MAKE MONEY?

The two main ways I make an income from my blog are ads and Amazon affiliate links – well these are the two main ways I TRY to make an income via my blog – one slightly more successfully than the other.

Amazon affiliates is all of those links I add into my book reviews and articles that link off to a product or book on Amazon that you can buy. Legally I have to state that these make me a commission at no extra cost to you. I’ll be honest, this hasn’t done particularly well so far.

The other way I make money IS via Google Ads. Now this method has been a little more successful. Google Adsense is the platform I use to produce ads on my website. For those of you that don’t know, if anybody clicks on any of the ads on my website, I get a tiny bit of money as a thank you essentially. The ads don’t pay much and it isn’t a 100% viable method for a huge income. Eventually, there are larger companies that offer you signicianltty more money for more bespoke ads.

SO HOW MUCH HAVE YOU MADE?

Since I started posting my affiliate links, I have made a total of £3.36 with Amazon affiliate. Yes, this is tiny. The links I have put into my blog, on my social media accounts and in my newsletter have accumulated to 786 clicks. Of these 786 clicks, 48 orders have then gone on to be made. The total revenue from these products has been £81.44. This works out to about a 4.1% conversion rate.

Amazon affiliates is a difficult due to me being a book blogger – simply put, books don’t sell for a lot of money. Often I’m often affiliate links to 99p books which will be making me tuppence. Also, the reviews I’m writing – if they’re not positive – won’t entice people to go and buy the book.

On Google Adsense, as I mentioned above, I’ve had a little more success. So at the time of writing this, on the morning on 15 May, I have made £50.02. This has been steadily increasing over the past few months monthly as more and more people flood to my blog to read my amazing articles!

For example, last month (April) I had 2,443 views which resulted in £7.88. The month before I had 1,285 views which resulted £4.59. I’ve had other months where I saw surprise success such as October 2021 where I just seemed to have a much higher RPM which is the amount of money I get given per page views (I got £5.55 for only 990 page views).

Final thoughts on blogging

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed blogging over the past year – as I say often, I absolutely love writing and I absolutely love reading books so it would only make sense that I start a blog.

Quite a few times when I was younger, I tried to set up side-businesses using the internet. When I was in my late-teens I had a YouTube channel dedicated to vlogging. Then when that didn’t take off, I had a channel dedicated to Football Manager videos. I stuck to both of these for a few months but nothing ever came of them. Who knows, I may set up a YouTube channel for my blog? People do often mention it and YouTube works well with Google Adsense!

I’ve enjoyed getting to know and speak to people online who share my passion for blogging or for books. Despite never likely meeting them, it’s great to have people who ask questions or give their opinions on topics that I’m passionate about.

THANK YOU

I just want to say a massive than you to every single one of you 10,000+ who have come to look at my blog over the past year. If you’ve read an article, clicked on a link, bought from my shop (yes I have a shop don’t you know?), shared one of my social media posts, commented on a social media post, entered one of my giveaways, share one of my articles to social media or in any way supported this blog, thank you!

As I mentioned in my money section, I really want this, in the future, to become a viable second income as currently I’m putting a lot more hours per penny than I do with my full-time job(!)

Here’s to the next year – more views, more refined book reviews, more interesting articles and on to becoming one of the best places to find book reviews.

ONE LAST PLUG

I may as well give one last plug of everything I can. If you’re not yet part of my Newsletter following, you can do so by Subscribing here (it’s free of course and you get a digital book planner included!). If you’ve not yet had a chance to check out my digital bookmarks (buy once, print as many times as you like), you can do so by visiting my shop. Finally, if you want to check my out on any social media platforms where I post plenty, you can do so via the links I provided bullet-pointed above or by the icons below this post.

Thanks for reading. I’ll see you in my next book review or feature article.

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