Here we are: 18 months from the start of 2021, which was the year I got a wild hare and started so. many. websites. (No claps, just facepalms!) As these sites have passed their one-year marks and continue to mature, I’m beginning to make bigger strategy decisions about each one – including one of my beloved projects, London On My Mind.
London On My Mind is one of the niche sites I spun out of my “general” travel blog, Valerie & Valise, during the pandemic. As I decided to focus V&V (almost) exclusively on destinations in the American West, I knew there were some posts I wanted to save – and through research, I quickly realized there was a lot of potential for a London-specific site. Best of all, London is my favorite destination in the world, so having an extra reason to visit (gotta keep up on the research, ya know!) gave me hope for the future during a dark time.
Now, LOMM is 18 months old, and has become a proper site in its own right. I jokingly call my sites “my children” and LOMM has officially become a teenager, pretty independent, pretty self-sufficient, and with a good chance of success in the long term. I can now step back from being a helicopter parent ensuring it doesn’t run off the rails and let it continue to mature.
One last point I want to make before diving in: I have always worked hard to ensure that LOMM is a site for travelers, not locals. This is really hard to do, as there are lots of great keywords that would appeal to locals, like “best restaurants in [neighborhood]” and “cool cafes in [area]” – but having run Discover Sausalito, I’ve learned to spot the difference in the user intent (what’s that and why does it matter?) and try to stay far away from them.
Okay, enough preamble. Let’s jump into the meat of this report!
Fast Facts about London On My Mind
Here’s a quick glance at the stats for London On My Mind at its first anniversary:
|Date First Published||January 1, 2021|
|Articles Live (as of 7/1/22)||132|
|Monthly Pageviews (last 30 days)||50,735|
|Maximum Pageviews (in last year)||50,735 (June 2022)|
|Average Pageviews per Post||384|
|Google Traffic (last 12 months)||86%|
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.
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History & Status of London On My Mind
With the exception of my Eat Like Bourdain site, which has surpassed the “growth power” of this site only in the past two months, LOMM has been one of the best sites I’ve ever created. Despite the pandemic, it has shown a strong trajectory for traffic, even when I haven’t been publishing aggressively all the time.
Since I launched LOMM in January 2021, it has now grown to receive 50,000+ pageviews per month, and is earning almost $1,500 per month. Rather than feeling limited by these numbers given it’s taken 18 months to reach them (again, pandemic!), I’m excited to see where the site can go in the future.
As I mentioned, LOMM had a basic content strategy to begin with, but now has a large number of categories it covers:
- Beyond London
- London Food & Drink (Restaurants/Pubs + Recipes)
- Getting Around
- Goods & Treats (Souvenirs)
- Packing Lists
- Seasonal (Both Season and Monthly)
- Things to Do
- Travel Tips
- Where to Stay
They’re all pretty self explanatory, right? In short, my goal is to be come the most comprehensive resource on London travel for Americans who want to visit – and that means covering it all… without wandering down the lanes of content that end up attracting local readers too.
Specifically, as mentioned in my intro, I’m avoiding the “best [restaurants/bars/etc] in London” style of content as well as neighborhood guides I see many of my competitors do. These types of content have a tendency to attract as many – if not more – locals than visitors. I might do these kinds of posts in the future, but for now, I’m always focused on traveler resources.
Here are two graphs to show you how many posts I’ve written in each category (left) and how much traffic each category is bringing (right), for the past six months:
To help make sense of this data, here are the charts from my 12-month/1-year report:
I find it most helpful to look vertically, comparing the percentage of content or traffic in each category at 12 months vs 18 months.
In particular, traffic has become a bit more diversified and less reliant on my “Flavors” category – one specific post in particular. This obviously isn’t the case due to that article getting less traffic, but rather because other articles are getting more traffic.
Additionally, I’ve added a few new categories to the site, including “Getting Around” and “London History.” In most cases, the posts in these categories came from other categories (“Things to Do” and “Travel Tips”), so I’ve just recategorized them into more specific categories.
Here are a few other takeaways I’ve noticed:
Takeaway #1: Travel is Back, Baby!
When I wrote my one-year recap six months ago, LOMM was coming off a very tough December; the U.K. had a huge wave of infections and my traffic tanked as people stopped researching travel there. (This is the big dip you can see in the line chart above.)
However, in the past six months, people have stopped caring about public health (I should say, they care even less than they used to…) and are researching travel in earnest. The biggest indicator of this is my “Itineraries” category, as well as “Beyond London,” which have both become meaningfully larger bigger pieces of the pie (chart).
Takeaway #2: Affiliate Tracking is (Still) Hard – and Annoying
As mentioned in my 12-month report, affiliate tracking has been tricky – though I’ve been focusing on it in the past six months and have started to reap the rewards. Affiliate income is now 15-25% of my monthly income; there’s obviously still room to improve there, but at least it’s starting to be significant and consistent.
Takeaway #3: Seasonal Content is a GOOD Strategy
Six months ago, I said “seasonal content is an interesting strategy;” now I’m all in saying seasonal content is a good strategy and you should absolutely be focusing on it for your site.
No, it’s not evergreen. Yes, it requires regular updates (usually annually). But it’s worth it. Seasonal content is a solid part of my content strategy and brings in traffic I would otherwise have completely missed out on (7% of 50k pageviews last month, so 3,500 pageviews!) if I just stuck to evergreen content.
As always, I like to set a few areas of focus for the time frame until my next check-in (which will be at the 2-year mark). Most of these look very similar to my last one with a few adjustments.
As mentioned, London On My Mind is now starting to feel more like a mature site to me – it has almost 150 articles, and gets solid (still growing!) traffic every month.
While I said six months ago that I wanted to focus on content sprints, I’m now (down) shifting to focus on consistent content. Week in, week out, I want Google (and my readers/email subscribers) to see that this is a reliable domain with high-quality content. We don’t need to publish 25-30 articles in a month to prove that anymore – now we can just do good work and make LOMM a sustainable part of my website portfolio.
Email Email Email
In the past six months, the LOMM email list has grown from 10 to 423 – with virtually no effort or strategy on my part. (Wildly, almost 2,000 people have signed up but only 20% have confirmed, so that’s the number I’m legally allowed to email…)
All I did was set up an email slide-in and do a little bit of message testing; since then, subscribers sign up a few each day, and I email them 2-3 times per month with updates about new content and soliciting replies to help build engagement.
I can’t pretend that this email system is A) as sophisticated or B) as effective as my system over on Valerie & Valise, but that’s partly due to a lack of time to focus on it.
Also, I’m not quite ready to pull the trigger and upgrade on ConvertKit, which will be the big step where I set up funnels and other such stuff. I have a feeling that will happen in the next six months, so this will be a different priority as we enter Year 3.
Social Following & Community Building
Guys, I’mma be honest: I have sucked at building a presence on social media since, well, forever. It is a real bummer.
While my Facebook community, London Travel Tips, has grown to 174 members, that’s a very passive process and may take a while to reap benefits; I have set some tasks to help it get better engagement though!
Regarding my Instagram, @london_my_mind, this is what I said six months ago: I started an Instagram, with the eventual goal of doing reels and other content like that… but I’m admittedly a bit short on video assets currently thanks to the pandemic, so this is a back-burner project for later in Year 2. So I’m not gonna feel too bad that I haven’t had time to prioritize it, as I literally knew I wasn’t going to have time. 😂
I’m leaving this as a focus for this site because I’m planning a trip to London in September which will give me lots of social assets, and I know that’s an important part of being able to use the site for sponsorships and partnerships in the future.
Do you have any other questions about this recap for London On My Mind? Let me know in the comments; I’m happy to share anything that I forgot to include!
(P.S. By the next update, I’ll have NEW PHOTOS FROM LONDON!! I haven’t been back since before I started this site and am SO READY.)