It’s already one year since I published my first post on this blog.
One amazing year.
It passed so fast and yet, so many things happened in the meantime.
It feels so strange since I remember everything like it was yesterday.
When I first started out The Manliness Kit, I never imagined that it would grow so fast. Heck, I couldn’t even conceive the possibility that I would be writing this 1-year review.
To my pleasant surprise, it became more popular than my craziest expectations.
As the audience started increasing, I was feeling obliged to offer more actionable content, more insights. This would put an extra pressure on me and an obligation to write more than I could sometimes handle.
There’s no single doubt that this pressure was more than welcomed and made me happy to dedicate more time.
All this was only thanks to you! If it wasn’t for you, there would be no TMK, no newsletters, no content, no interactions, no personal growth for me. Nothing.
Before I start reviewing this year, I’d like to say a BIG THANK YOU. The Manliness Kit is here only thanks to its readers and this is why I want to express my gratitude towards everybody who’s been reading and following me the past year and continues doing so.
Without YOU, there would be no TMK. I greatly appreciate your trust!
Since the first post of The Manliness Kit, I published 57 articles. The one that you’re reading is the 58th. This makes up almost 1 article per week.
I consider it a success (and a failure at the same time, I’ll discuss it later on this post) due to the limited time that I had available. See, I still have a morning job and it takes a lot of time and energy from me on daily basis. I feel that one article per week is a great accomplishment, all things considered.
Wrote my first ebook
Somewhere around the second half of the year, I wrote my first ebook namely: 17 Disastrous Grooming Mistakes Most Men Make.
It was my first attempt in writing an ebook and the initial feedback was positive. I’d like to work on it in the future and enrich it with additional quality information and advices.
I feel that there’s a lot of work to be done in order to be happy with the quality and information this ebook contains. Delivering quality content is one of the main goals this blog has since the beginning and I’ll continue meeting and raising the standards that I set.
Since this is the first year of TMK, I don’t really have any comparison with previous periods but I’m very happy with the numbers.
Even though I registered the domain name around November 2014, I let it sit for a couple of months. At that time, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to start this or any other blog and hence the small delay in getting it off the ground.
The time that I finally started writing my first post was end of January 2015. This post was finally published few days later, beginning of February 2015.
The first few months after the launch, there was literally no people reading my blog which was kinda discouraging. Maybe 1 to 10 per day and sometimes reaching something like 40 visitors by accident.
To illustrate this even further, the month of April 2015, almost three months after the launch, I had 1354 total visitors out of which, half should have been from my laptop. The rest should have been friends and family…
After the 3rd month I saw the first signs of traffic increase and this is when I put more emphasis on creating more content and putting more effort in increasing my social media following (I’ll discuss about this later).
Upon that steady increase, we reached the month of January 2016 when I had a record high for TMK with almost 82,000 visitors in one month and a bit below than 130,000 page views.
I’m not sure if this is considered high enough for a men’s grooming blog but it certainly gives me high hopes for the future.
During the first few months, I didn’t pay too much attention to growing my followers, which might have been a mistake since I couldn’t realize the impact that social media can have on my blog.
Once I decided to put some effort in it, I’m now happy to say that approximately 20% of my traffic comes from Social Media with a small part coming from Google+ and Instagram. I’m not very good with photos and this is why Instagram isn’t the strongest account.
Talking about successes as of today, we’ve got the following numbers:
This is my biggest success even though it took me some time to start focusing on growing my email list.
I consider it the biggest success since it’s the only metric that shows me that people actually like what I do, appreciate the content of The Manliness Kit and reward me by subscribing.
This is something absolutely invaluable and again, I can’t thank you enough for this. It really shows that you want to stay updated with TMK.
Just like the social media accounts, in the first half of the year, I didn’t put any effort in growing my email list since I was mostly focusing in writing quality content.
Finally, with the traffic increasing from different sources, I managed to grow my subscribers to 840. I believe one reason for this increase was the e-Book that I was offering to new subscribers.
This number is a long way from the desired one but I guess I’m already paving the path towards that goal.
A “funny” fact is that until last week I had somewhere around 3500 subscribers which was awesome.
After carefully looking at my email list, I realized that thousands of them were completely spammy names and emails. The number of 840 came right after manually deleting all emails and names that didn’t look very real.
I suspect that the main -if not the only, reason is that during the first few months, I didn’t have a double opt in form.
But I corrected that.
Now a subscriber needs to manually confirm the email subscription. It might seem obvious to some but it solved a heck of a lot of problems for me. A confirmation once again that you never stop learning.
I should have thought about it when I had very few visitors and yet the email subscribers were more than my actual daily traffic.
Over the past one year, I had the chance to meet some amazing people over the internet.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to meet them in person but I had some nice chats and with some of them, we worked on a few projects. Some others, also included me in their updates and for that I’m very happy and grateful.
I’ll try to include some of the people that I had contact with. I encourage you to visit their blogs. I believe they’re all unique with awesome people in charge.
- Matt from WhyIWetShave
- Justin from DapperAndDone
- Mark from Sharpologist
- Julian from LoveLifeSolved
- Rob from OckhamRazorCompany
And many many others that I have the utmost respect for and had the chance to exchange some kind words on social media with. Even if it’s a “digital” relationship, it’s nice to have this kind of human interaction and mutual respect.
As much I want to think that everything went well, there are also a few things that didn’t go as expected.
Even though it was part of my successes during the previous year, I consider it a failure the fact that I didn’t manage to have more interactions with fellow bloggers.
I believe that just like our “physical” life, digital relationships matter the most when it comes to blogging. And I think that I failed to meet the number of people that I wanted to interact with. This is definitely something that I’d like to improve.
I’m not sure how this can be translated in actions but I guess a start would be a cooperation with more people towards quality content on different platforms while establishing a great friendly relationship.
Google+ was certainly a huge failure. But I can’t blame anyone apart from myself.
The truth is that I struggle to appreciate the value that it could add to my blog. But on the other hand, I have to admit that I don’t put too much effort in actually understanding it. Even now that I’m writing this, I’m a bit puzzled on how it could work effectively for my blog.
Apart from Google+, I think I could have invested more time on other social media on increasing my following and sharing more interesting and engaging content.
If you’re following me, you might already know that I share interesting articles from other blogs/websites that I follow. One thing that I could improve is filtering the articles from other websites in such way that my followers appreciate it more.
Email newsletter delivery
The first half of the year, people were subscribing to my blog and to my surprise, they weren’t receiving my updates.
It took me a few months to understand that I accidently disabled a setting that sends my subscribers email newsletters and this resulted in a few months of no updates.
Again, I didn’t understand what was going on soon enough and it wasn’t until I received an email from a subscriber, asking me why he doesn’t receive any updates. Fortunately, now everything is working just fine.
Even though I considered it a success, the fact that I’m publishing one post per week isn’t something that satisfies me.
I caught myself procrastinating in many cases while I could have been writing for TMK. There were cases that I felt there was so much work to do that the best thing I could think of doing was going out.
This is something that I’m trying to work on the past couple of months and I started becoming more efficient and improving my time management.
What lies ahead
There are a lot of things that I’d like to do in order to make The Manliness Kit better and offering my visitors a great experience. And this is what I’d like to focus on during my blog’s second year.
Change the Logo
I like my logo but I sometimes feel that it could have been better.
I’d like to dedicate some time brainstorming and eventually share my ideas with a designer. I want an updated logo that gives the visitor the understanding of what the blog is all about before someone starts reading the content.
Maybe adding some little objects to complement the logo could be a solution.
Polish the blog’s theme
The theme that this blog is running on, is the second that I used ever since the beginning.
The first one looked absolutely horrible mainly because I was trying too hard to customise it while lacking skills and/or knowledge in web design. I wasted so much time for nothing.
This is when I decided to go for something simpler. I think that the particular theme looked great when I first started TMK but I feel that time has come to have some bits repolished or even to have it completely redesigned.
I haven’t decided on the timeline yet, but I hope I’ll manage to make it happen in 2016.
My first ebook received some nice comments and people found value in it.
However, there’s still some work needed to reach the high standards that I’ve set for myself. Therefore, I’d like to update it with more quality information and give the reader more valuable advice.
This means a lot of things and I can summarise them as follows:
- Write more content
- Increase following on social media
- Grow email list
- Blog more on other blogs / platforms(?)
Sure this is a goal that all blogs have but I’m writing this as a personal reminder so that I will become more disciplined and work towards increasing these numbers.
You might wonder, why all this secrecy?
The past few months, I’ve been working hard on a very exciting project. What I can only say for now, is that if everything goes well, Project X will go live hopefully by end of March – beginning of April 2016.
I’m not in a hurry for this launch anyway and I try not to put too much pressure on myself. There are only 24 hours per day during which I need to sleep as well.
Make a living out of TMK
This is a very ambitious goal and I’m not sure if this can be accomplished until the end of 2016. It’s surely something on my mind.
I really enjoy working on my blog and I really hope some day I’ll be able to become a full time blogger.
The amount of money that this blog makes is certainly something encouraging but at the moment, it isn’t enough to make a living out of it. This doesn’t mean that I won’t work towards that goal.
If I manage to have a proper income generated solely from TMK for four to six consecutive months, I’ll seriously consider working fulltime on my blog. Until then, I can only hope that I’ll have the time and energy to achieve that.
Fortunately, I’m lucky to enjoy my current job and I can be patient until I make a full-time income from TMK. There’s always time for everything and there’s no need to rush.
Just as a notice, many blogs disclose the amount and breakdown of income that they make each month as a transparency tactic.
Even though I like the idea of being transparent, I’m not sure if you’d like to know this kind of information from a blog such as TMK. This is why I’ll leave it to you to decide if you want me to disclose such information.
If this is something that you’d like to see from The Manliness Kit in the future, feel free to let me know either via personal message or by commenting at the end of this post.
Writing these last few words, I’d like to take the time once again, and thank you, for your trust, for following me, for subscribing to my list, for your kind feedback, for taking the time to read my articles. All these make TMK what it is today and shapes its future together with my future.
Until next time!