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How to Assess Your Blog Midyear 2017

Assess Blog Before the June 30 Deadline

There are still a few days before I assess my blogging activities mid-year. So if I’ve missed a goal, I can backward map and see how much I can get done in the time left before the deadline. Additionally, I can rank and pick which goals are achievable and worth doing.



Good thing I did not set a specific goal for this! I found out I can monetize both blogs. Unfortunately, I can’t report a tremendous success rate for making money with either one, but not for lack of trying. Since this was the goal at which I expended the most time, I listed it first again for this quarter. There are three ways to monetize a blog: affiliate links, selling products and selling services. Here are the things I tried.

Affiliate Links

Assess Amazon

assess blog

First I fixed all my links for Amazon on both blogs. I had opened an account a couple of years ago and never sold anything, so Amazon closed it. Then I opened a new account, and all the old links kept posting. I changed each one of them by hand just like Jason R. instructed me to do.  They have a new plug-in now. In fairness to Amazon, when I called them for support, Jason advised me to Tweet and FB my affiliate link to several items. I only did that a few times but saw no results, so I quit.

In fairness to Amazon, when I called them for support, Jason advised me to Tweet and FB my affiliate link to several items. I only did that a few times but saw no results, so I quit.

He also advised me to create a store, and send me instructions. If you are interested message me on FB and I’ll send them to you.

I started to follow the instructions, and it took me hours making decisions about what to sell. Loading each item individually and formatting the page took even longer.

My web designer said it would be better to put it on my website, but I didn’t do that either because it still takes so much time. Since April 1st when I talked to Jason at Amazon, I’ve had one order from my friend Maria Perez, but Amazon doesn’t pay unless you make $100. I haven’t done that yet. There are no other orders from any of the links or banner ads.

Assess SiteGroundassess blog

I change my affiliated hosting to SiteGround rather than Blue Host. First I wrote an article. I paid $90 for the use of their statistics and infographics. I’ve had zero orders so far. I’m happy with the hosting services. My blog is 100% faster, and I’ve had no issues with them. I have had problems with people not being able to comment on my blog but according to my web designer, the problem is not with my SiteGround.

Assess Grammarlyassess blog

Last year I affiliated Always Write with Grammarly at their suggestion because I had written several posts about using the service to improve and tweak my writing. They recommend purchasing banner ads and statistics as well. However, I chose not do this. As you can see, nothing happened with my account for seven days. I assure you that it goes back to the beginning of my time. It says I earned $20, but that never came in.

Product Sales

assess blogThe Transformational Blogging Journal became a reality this quarter as both a printable and a linkable product. After almost a year of testing, the journal I created  worked well for me. With some help from my high school virtual assistants, we brought it to life. Eight people took advantage of the free version of the journal. I did follow-up articles and revised the page on April 27. Write to Done just posted an article about Transformational Blogging and how important it is to journal along with blogging.

assess blogThe deluxe version of the journal offered for sale has not sold. I have not pushed it very hard, nor have I completed all the terms and agreements that go along with offering items for sale.


you blog

Transform your blog today!

Assess Services

The third way bloggers make money from their blogs is to provide services.

  • Copywriting At this point, I haven’t advertised any services, but I did receive a contract to write four articles for another blog. So I earned $160. That was cool.
  • Social Media Marketing I created a costly proposal for my services for the local school district that did not get approved. Another unwritten proposal I made to a non-profit I work with went unapproved as well. However, I am now the website and social media chair as well as the new secretary of that organization.

In the meantime, I started training two high school students to serve as virtual assistants. The plan was to make my life easier. I spent a lot of time developing curriculum and teaching them. They spent about 20 hours with me from May to June, and we made good progress. However, that was not enough time to develop much in the way of products and services. I did get a request for them to develop a Canva Facebook post, but we ran out of time. (They only get credit for 20 hours per school year for this program.)

Services still may be the most lucrative form of monetizing for me. However, I realized that my heart is not into monetization. It takes a lot of time and focus. If I continue to work with the kids training them to become virtual assistants, and they can help me monetize, then the profits I earn through my blogging will go to fund scholarships.  If I had a goal for volunteering, I would be off the charts successful


That goal bombed 100%. I did not devote one minute to achieving it.


Six out of 12 campaigns have gone out. I learned how to segment my list and target my audience. My open rates went from the low 20% range to the high 30% range. I cleaned up my email list then manually added to my Mail Chimp list from my email list and doubled the number of recipients. As of June 17, I have 258 on my email list. None of my call to action opt-ins on my blog has added many subscribers to my list, however.

I feel more comfortable using Mail Chimp now, and I have another new volunteer job creating the newsletter for the church every month. I wanted to complete a  lesson PDF & video or podcast for my Virtual Assistant training, but I did not get that done.


assess blogThat was my goal in January. I have been back from visiting my two blogging friends, Carol and Leanne, in Australia six months on June 26th. In the last twelve weeks, I have posted only two articles about Australia. To meet my goal, I would have to write nearly one post a day. I could do that by following Photo Challenge themes and posting no more than 500-word posts. It was a trip of a lifetime, and I owe an unrepayable debt to Carol and Leanne.

I set new specific goals in April.

  • One longer post on Australia every two weeks. My posts on the Fairy Tree in Melbourne and the Botanical Gardens in Ballarat fulfills two of the six requirements here.
  • One quick Australia post a week Fun Fotos or Odd Ball Fotos or flowers – not done


In twelve weeks I’ve published ten articles which pertain to blogging or writing. So I need two more after this one.


assess blogIn twelve weeks I have eleven posts published, and one more read waiting to write. I have reached out to more indie writers and responded to more authors who have emailed me. One-third of the articles are guest posts.


Twitter followers rose from 852 on Dec. 31, to 1,625 on March 31 to 2,289 on June 23,


assess blogFacebook offered me what I thought was a free boost. It turned out that it cost $50.00, but I increased”Likes” to 380 from 281. So in seven days I still need 20 more Facebook fans. Want to help me get there?


Instagram is at 221. I am following 517 and have 362 posts.


Google + hovers at 257. It has increased by four followers since I checked at the end of first quarter.


On June 23. Traveling & Blogging Near and Far stands at  3,036 Seventy-two new fans have registered through WP Reader since April My five-year-old blog hosts 761 published posts and has had over 80,000 views. Its most views ever was almost one year ago on July 20 when I published an article about a famous place to eat in Woodlake, CA called Woodlake Drive-In.

I set more ambitious goals on April 1 for articles I wanted to publish on this site. I did not write the two articles I intended to write about Sedona, but I wrote two different articles. Celebrate Spring in Sedona with a Layer of Cottonwood “Snow” and Resort Walk Reveals 15 Top Things to Love

  • Sedona Courthouse & Bell Rock Walk
  • Chapel of the Holy Cross Walk
  • Businesses in Woodlake My posts Cruz-ta-Welding about Yosemite with Art By Linda fulfills this less specific goal.
  • The best way to increase followers for a hobby blog is to visit bloggers. So I set a goal to visit 182 by June 30 (57 at May 24).


assess blogThis statistic measures the number of members who register on Reader. It has grown much slower. Eleven new WP readers have enrolled in three months. However, I haven’t asked people to sign up through the WP reader at all. Would you if I asked?  Always Write registered 3,192 views on WP since April 1st.

Google Analytic (GA) also measures statistics.

Traveling and Blogging Near and Far does not have this option. It comes with the business plan which includes the option to use Google Analytics.

Google Analytics offers interesting statistics. For example, over 87% of visitors to Always Write are new. A high percentage of new visitors might mean that either, the site doesn’t offer what people think it is going to offer or it offers it, they get it and they leave. That is what I do when I research. GA measures Bounce Rate, which has improved 40% in Spain! Thanks, Ralph! Thirty-six percent of visitors type in the URL or bookmarked the URL for Always Write. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me if only thirteen percent of visitors are return visitors. Fifty-seven percent of viewers come from YOUR referrals. Thank you! Google Analytics does not tell me who sends them or I would thank you in person.

That said, over 65% of views come from Facebook and 22% come from Twitter. I work hard at publicizing through Facebook, so that must have paid off. On my Facebook Page, I share many of my posts with different blogging groups.

If you would LIKE or FOLLOW my Facebook Page, I’ll send you a free copy of all the groups where I publicize that accept blog posts. Janice Wald of Mostly Blogging recommended about half of the groups I’ve joined.

I also set additional somewhat measurable goals for this site in April.

  • Fix comment section –  can’t do according to Daniel
  • Host a link party – didn’t try to do this
  • Visit and feature Networking Bloggers & new contacts – featured about 15 of the 84 members before I quit doing this.
  • Divi – didn’t get to this


  • assess blogHire two students to update Amazon, alt tags, in Traveling & Blogging – NOT DONE We have started training, though.
  • Assign other duties as needed, for example, Photoshop resizing and filing pictures for posts – STARTED
  • Create beautiful cards, calendars, etc. – FINISHED THE TRANSFORMATIONAL BLOGGING JOURNAL
  • Resize Canva pictures was a low priority unless I go on Pinterest – ISAIAH LEARNED, THIS, DAVID DID NOT
  • Keep Buffer full – not meeting often enough THEY KNOW HOW TO DO THIS.


What I did not finish did not surprise me. It astounded me that I wrote as many posts as I did. My biggest joy this quarter was training David and Isaiah, two reticent students who whispered about an assignment due in Chemistry like it was a big secret. While it helped get a bit of work done, it created hours of work. However, now I have more training products I can use as giveaways or sell.

Now I realize how large and unmeasurable my biggest goal #1 was. If I am serious about monetizing, I think I need help or training to do it.

Next quarter I will set different goals to measure my blogs using Google Analytics for Always Write.

There must be a better way to increase newsletter sign ups. After launching several campaigns, I enjoy them now, but I HATE pop-up ads, and if that is the only way to get people to sign up, then I need to figure out something else.

Blogging is still my love but it sure has changed! I spend much more time refining my articles, marketing and training my virtual assistants than spontaneously writing articles about my life and visiting other bloggers.

The focus on others rather than merely spitting out what I’m doing adds a rewarding and fulfilling dimension to blogging, and I think it’s improved my writing.

11 replies »

  1. Hi Marsha,
    I clicked on your link in a Facebook group. To my delight, I saw my link here. Thank you!!
    Do you mind if I put in my two cents? If what you’re offering to sign up isn’t working, add additional incentives.
    As far as affiliates, I agree it’s not worth the time investment. Selling services has been the most lucrative for me.


  2. OMG, Marsha, you are one busy chica!! I already dream about blogging, sometimes getting good ideas at 3am. But you must spend all DAY in front of your computer! I had to scale everything back just to get this book going.


    • Actually, no, but I’m not teaching. It is too much time to call it a hobby, though! By the time I add in the time I spend for all my nonprofits, it’s a lot of hours. I’ve been revamping So You Think You Can Blog for the past week, to get one book ready to actually publish for sale. Would you like to read it before I actually publish it? It’s 12,000 words, so pretty short.





Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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