Inside the Blog: A look at the results from not blogging for a year

I have been blogging on a very consistent basis since 2005.  That is, until September 2016. Last year I decided to take some time off from blogging, in order to refocus on my goals and figure out how my blog was going to support those goals. What I didn't expect to do was take 12 consecutive months off.  It can be a struggle getting back on a routine when you end it for a period of time.  So after 12 months, I really found myself missing my blog, and with plenty to say, thought it would be good to get back at it.

Since starting my break from blogging in September 2016, I had not really taken a look at my Google Analytics account.  Logging in there this past week was an eye-opening experience.  On one hand, it was easy to see what not blogging for a year can do to your traffic.  From September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2017, my traffic fell over 40% year-over-year.  Below is a snapshot of the different key metrics.  Total users, new users, sessions, and pageviews were all down big time from the year previous.  What is really interesting, however, is that my past blog posts increased some key engagement metrics, despite the drop in traffic.  Number of sessions per user, pages per session, average session duration, and bounce rate all performed better during my break than the year previous when I was actively blogging.  That was very interesting, given that a lot of my content was not very evergreen.

My website analytics looking at September 2016 - August 2017, compared to the same time frame a year earlier. (Click the image to enlarge)

You can also see very clearly that as time went on through the past 12 months, the traffic really tanked around February 2017.  This really shows the power of blogging (or lack thereof) on a regular basis and it’s affect on your traffic over a long period of time.

Another interesting report to look at is the channel effect on traffic.  There is no question that organic traffic would take a hit, and in this case, that resulted in a 54.8% decrease YOY.  The only channel that increased over the 12 month period was email, which was a result of keeping my website link in my email signature block.  That drove an increase of 252%.

A look at traffic by channel from September 2016 - August 2017, compared against the previous time frame a year ago. (Click the image to enlarge)

What’s Next

So I have decided to get back to blogging regularly, primarily focused on the topics I am most versed in: digital strategy, digital marketing, project management, and a few other things mixed in.  The challenge ahead is whether or not I can get my traffic to rebound, not just compared to 2015-2016, but even to the levels I achieved in 2013-2014, when my website got record traffic.  The chart below actually was a little jarring for me to look at, showing that my website traffic has been on the decline for several years.

Users, sessions, and pageviews since 2008; time periods are from September-August. (Click the image to enlarge)

So that is the challenge ahead… to get my web traffic back on the rise. I am going to essentially start over.  My site’s historical content is gone.  I have put together a new content plan, a new promotion strategy, and some new tactics to try this year.  I have decided to blog about my blog (meta, I know) every now and then to share a little about what is working and what isn’t with those of you who might be interested.  And of course, if you have any suggestions or feedback, I would love to hear it, so just drop those in the comments below.