Flight Chic has turned three which is a great age for this writer.

It’s always good to feel like a toddler, bouncing around, finding your footing, falling on your butt, getting up again.

It keeps you alert. It demands patience. It involves a lot of learning. I consider all of these to be the ingredients of eternal youth.

Despite the reputation second years have earned, Flight Chic’s twos were definitely not terrible.

The site’s update received many compliments from readers.

I found a new work flow which has led to publishing more stories and new formats including the week’s Hot Aviation Happenings which has performed well.

Producing content for Flight Chic, while managing my freelancing and travel schedule, is a process of continuous improvement and discipline. I don’t think I always get it right, but I hope to get better at it during the coming year.

I’ve written over 440 posts so far in 2016. That’s a lot of work, frankly, but I’m very happy to do it. And it’s paying off. Views have more than doubled, and visitors have increased by nearly 25%, with five times more ‘Likes’ than in 2015.

Readers top six favourite stories so far this year were:

1. Emirates Makes Flying Fun For Kids and Families (This story is from 2014 and was the top story in 2014 and 2015 which I believe reveals a lot about the importance travellers place on their children being treated like VIPs.)

2. Ryanair’s CMO Explains Why the Airline Will NOT Buy Long-Range 737 MAX

3. First Class is Dead, Long Live First-uh-Business-um-First Class! (This story is also from 2014 and has had legs long enough to walk any runway ever since I wrote it. I’ve even seen the story launch a number of related takes on other outlets. I think the class label really matters to travellers. They want to understand where the industry is headed with these. I think the industry wants to understand this too. My best guess now is that First will be boutique, Business will be what first was, Premium Economy will fill the business niche, Economy+ will stick around as an alternative upgrade, and Economy Less..Well, heck, a deal is a deal.)

4. SAS Crew Get Cool New Uniforms 

5. They’re baaa-aaack! As the Forward/Aft Facing Triple Seats Come Back to Haunt Us We Ask: Good Heavens Why? (Again, a 2014 story which springs eternal. No surprise, wacky seat stories always do well.)

6. The Light Fantastic: Inside the New Finnair A350 (Written at the end of 2015, Finnair should be pleased this one has proven so popular. I really give them all the credit since they have captured the imagination with this aircraft as their brand signature. Though I wrote this after a brief launch flight, I recently enjoyed the aircraft on my trip to/from APEX EXPO, and I owe the Finnair A350 a refresher. It was a wonderful way to fly.)

Do I mind that 4/6 top stories were from previous years? Heck no! Plenty of this year’s stories did well in their own right, but I also find it inspiring that what I write on Flight Chic has lasting relevance to readers.

Flight Chic’s growth is 100% natural and organic (the way your grandma made) with nothing behind the curtain pumping dodgy clicks. I see this improved performance as welcome and proportional to time spent, though I’d like to do much better in 2017.

I design and manage the site myself, and SEO optimisation is something I’m studying very closely. I’ve discovered a number of issues with this over the past year, and I’ve been tweaking them here and there. You may not see a transition to an optimised site soon (hopefully it will be so seamless that it will go undetected) but it’s already in the works.

That’s a Wrap

This past year saw the launch of the Flight Chic Weekly News Wrap, which I had been planning for a while. I wanted to get it just right: not too long, not too short, a little humorous but not frivolous, and never boring.

I’m pleased to say that readers have approached me to say they enjoy the Weekly News Wrap very much and look forward to reading it. That’s what matters most, but here are some quick stats on its performance so far.

Since the Wrap launched in February, subscribers have increased nearly six-fold. The majority of readers work in or around the airline industry including airlines, airports, industry suppliers, travel editors and analysts.

That the Weekly News Wrap appeals to this targeted audience is very satisfying, but so are the open and click rate statistics, which have been steadily rising.

Since February, the News Wrap has enjoyed a 24.71% average open rate and a click rate on opens of 38.31%. Over the last 30 days, those have improved to an average 27.9% open rate and 47.91% click rate on opens.

MailChimp reports the industry average open rate as 17.59% and click rate as 4.67% for Media and Publishing.

Subscriber retention has been good. Though there have been 34 unsubscribes since the launch, most were personal or anonymous email accounts. Still, I’ll admit that every unsubscribe stings a bit and I always question what I could have done better to retain those readers.

Do send me your suggestions because I’m all ears!

Auntie Social

I had a goal to reach 3,000 followers on Twitter this year, only because that would have been numerically pleasing: 3 for 3. I don’t think I’ll quite make it, though.

I’ve been encouraged that I broke 2000 followers by this summer and suddenly have over 2,650 followers. Keep in mind that I jointed Twitter at the end of 2013, so the first 2,000 took a good long while.

Maybe I’ll reach 2,800 followers by the end of December.

If I do, great. If not, then it will come when the time is right. Overall, I’m happy with the impressions, engagements, and link clicks on my Tweets. That’s what I track most closely. I think my job is to improve my interactions with the online community in a way that is beneficial to that community, not to rush towards a critical mass of anonymous followers. I don’t kid myself, I’m not Beyoncé or Stephen Fry. 

Again, there are no ‘fillers’ on Twitter, just lovely engaged people who care about aviation and make my day-to-day more fun. When you work alone, as I do, it’s nice to have a virtual water cooler like Twitter to turn to where you can learn what’s happening with colleagues around the world.

Facebook is a bit of a mystery. I experiment with different ways to share news, but performance is very meh. I need to do improve my Instagram account, and the YouTube channel launch this year could have been better. That’s all down to me. I don’t invest enough time on these platforms. 2017 Goals, right?

A Footnote in Time

There were some bumps in the road during 2016. These are inevitable. But I’m looking forward to what 2017 will bring.

The next phase for Flight Chic is adding Premium Content. For this, I need your help.

There are many ways to monetise exclusive reporting and analysis, but I’d like to find the way which is would work best for readers.

I’ve put together a little survey. I’d really appreciate it if you took a minute or two to share your thoughts.

I would never have gotten this far without all of the wonderful people along the way who have given me encouragement and kept me busy exploring and learning. That includes you, dear readers.

I’m eternally grateful for all of you and look forward to sharing the year ahead!

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