Despite what the cookie-cutter course creators might have you believe when trying to sell you during their latest launch, every website is unique, and after you learn the basics – which you have probably mastered if you’re reading this – you’re very much on your own learning what works for your blog, your business, and your audience.
That’s certainly something I’ve learned in the last two years as I’ve launched a number of sites (and retired some). Like any business, every blog is on its own journey, and it’s up to you to find the right path that works for you and achieves the goals you have set.
Among my many sites started in 2021, Great Plains Travel Guide is definitely on its own journey. As we cross the 18-month mark, I’ve begun to find a sustainable way to keep the site going and growing, and hopefully this recap helps give you permission to take your blog on whatever path you need it to follow.
What are these Case Studies?
As a reminder, I do case studies for almost every site I’ve created, at the 6-month, 9-month, and 12-month marks. Then I switch to every six months for the next year; you can expect reports at 18 months and 24 months. If a site reaches its two-year mark and I plan to continue writing, I’ll switch to annual reports. Here are the ages of each site and its current status:
- Valerie & Valise – 8 years – annual
- Space Tourism Guide – 4 years – annual
- Discover Sausalito – 2 years – annual
- Follow the Butterflies – 2 years – annual
- London on My Mind – 20 months – semi-annual
- Great Plains Travel Guide – 18 months (this post!) – semi-annual
- Soup Whoop – 14 months – quarterly
- Jordan Traveler – 16 months – quarterly
- Eat Like Bourdain – 15 months – quarterly
(Links will take you to the full list of reports about that site!)
Here’s a quick glance at the stats for Great Plains Travel Guide at its first anniversary:
|Date First Published||March 1, 2021|
|Articles Live (as of 9/30/22)||76|
|Publishing Cadence||Currently on winter break|
|Monthly Pageviews (last 30 days)||16,786|
|Maximum Pageviews (in last year)||22,145 (July 2022)|
|Average Pageviews per Post||221|
In the rest of this post, I’ll dive more into the history of the site and where I hope it goes in the year to come.
History & Content Strategy
I started GPTG a year and a half ago – at the beginning of March 2021 – with my standard 10/10/10 launch plan. I followed weekly posts for the first six months, then fell to an inconsistent pace for another two months. I then decided to take a few months off as traffic was stagnating in the off-season.
Based on the idea that the Great Plains are a highly seasonal summer destination, I then began publishing aggressively in April 2022, and posted/updated 1-2x per week throughout the summer. Then, as we entered September and the beginning of the slow half of the year, I’ve announced that the site is on Winter Break. I’ll then use data from January through March of the coming year to decide on a strategy for 2023.
This means that GPTG is one of the most strategic sites, in terms of a sustainable strategy: I publish 1-2x per week for six months in the summer (April through September) and then take six months off to focus on other projects when traffic to the site is naturally lower and the site is more dormant.
Here’s a breakdown of how many articles I’ve published in each silo (Count Breakdown) and how much each silo contributes to overall traffic (Pageview Breakdown):
Takeaway #1: The Great Plains are Drive-Through Country
Many people call it “flyover country,” but the Great Plains are equally compelling as a “drive through” region… My new category for “roadside attractions” has hands down been the best silo of content on my site, which also suggests I need to continue focusing on the driving-oriented topics next year (like routes between two places and lists of roadside attractions). This is a specific extension of the “Follow the ‘Rainmakers'” strategy I set six months ago.
Takeaway #2: Taking Breaks is Key for Success
I’ve long been a work-a-holic, as I’m sure anyone reading is not surprised to read. Having a project like GPTG that isn’t a constant, perpetual to-do list is really satisfying and good for my mental health. Even though I plan to continue publishing next year, it’s nice to have a long, dedicated break where I can focus on other things and then re-prioritize in the spring.
It’s interesting to write this recap right now, when I’m on break and literally not publishing any new content for the next six months between this update and the next one. However, I have one main goal for the next six months, and that’s to not think about this site for a while. I’ll still be doing my monthly exports in line with the BOSS system just to keep an eye on it, but other than that, I have new and exciting projects I want to focus on for the next several months.
As a reminder, these case studies are now occuring every six months for the next year, so my next GPTG case study will be published at the two-year mark in March 2023, as I decide on my strategy for the summer season. Do you have any other questions about this recap for Great Plains Travel Guide? Let me know in the comments – I’m happy to share anything that I forgot to include!