Building My Blog – July 2014


Welcome to my first ever monthly food blog report, a summary of what I’ve been up to this month on the website. I’m completely new to blogging and I only started myrecipebook.co.uk a few weeks ago so I’m learning as I go at the moment.

Food blog reportWhy I started myrecipebook.co.uk

I love trying new recipes and adapting them to be exactly how I want them to be. The problem I always have is that once they’re just right I forget what changes I’ve made, so I needed a place to keep them all. I decided that a website would be a great way of storing all of my recipes so that they’re there when I need them, with the added bonus of being able to share them with all of you in the hope that you try them and enjoy them too.

The other reason that I decided to start a website rather than just writing them in a book at home is that I wanted a new challenge. A year ago I decided to leave my job to stay at home full time with my two boys. This was a great decision as I love being with them all the time, but I have found that my brain is going a bit fluffy through lack of use. There’s so many new skills to learn in setting up a website (building the website, learning to take beautiful photographs, how to write engaging posts, how to get people to actually want to look at it, the list goes on and on) I thought this would be the perfect way to get my brain working again.

The great thing is that even if only a few people come and look, I’ve got my cook book just how I want it.

Why I’m writing this post

I’ve not really decided what I want this website to grow into, I guess it depends how much time I can actually spend on it, as well as lots of luck. It would be nice if I could build it into something that other people want to visit, but the most important thing to me is that it’s something I can be proud of every time I look at it.

So why am I writing this post? There’s a couple of main reasons:

  1. I wanted a way to keep myself on track. I have a bit of a tendency to come up with ideas and then not do anything with them for ages, or to get sidetracked, focussing on unimportant but probably more interesting things at the expense of what I really should be doing. By writing down everything I’ve done each month, it going to become very clear very quickly if I’ve been focussing or wasting time.
  2. When I first started thinking about setting up a website I started reading income and traffic reports on other food blogs and found them full of interesting and useful ideas. The problem I had was that it seems that people only start writing these reports once they’ve built up some traffic and want to start generating an income. Whilst the posts are interesting, I’m sat at my computer with my 100 page views a month thinking how on earth did you get 50,000. By starting this right at the beginning you’ll (hopefully) be able to see what I’ve tried each month and what’s working to build from the handful of visitors I have.

I welcome any feedback you have on this post, is there anything you’d like to know more about, or anything where I droned on for far too long! Please use the comments form below to let me know. Also if you’ve got any suggestion for things I should be doing then they’d be much appreciated.

What I’ve been up to this month

Buying a domain and hosting

Firstly I bought myself a domain from lcn.com and set up hosting with tsohost (cheeky little affiliate link just to learn how they work!).

You might be wondering why I bought a domain with one company and set up hosting elsewhere. It’s basically because I jumped in without really thinking about it. Once I’d decided to set up the website I went and bought a domain from a company I’d heard of before, and then thought about web hosting. I looked at hosting with a few different companies and was most attracted to Tsohost, I liked the fact that it’s UK based and the price of the hosting packages seemed reasonable for what was on offer. So far it’s been great, and when I had a problem setting up my email I was able to solve the problem quickly and easily with their support.

Choosing web design software and a theme for my site

I decided to build my website using wordpress as I know other people who have used it, the next step was to choose a theme. There are many premium themes out there to buy, but given I was just starting out I decided on the Tempera theme which can be downloaded for free from wordpress.org.

I love the flexibility of the Tempera theme, there are many different colour and layout options so you can make your site look original and unique without having to do any coding. I have needed to ask a few questions on the forum to help get things set up the way I want it, but I’ve found that it’s not always easy to get questions answered. However, when I have had a reply it’s been very useful.

You can buy premium support for $25 which I think I’ll do soon (I just wanted to give it a few weeks to make sure I don’t change my mind and decide to use a different theme). To be honest, even if I don’t have any more support questions to ask, I think it’s right to make a donation to the theme developers. They’ve put a lot of time into building the theme and running the support forum so it’s nice to give them something in return. I’ll also make a donation to the free plug-ins once I’ve finished the site and doubled checked that they are working the way I want them to.

To customise my wordpress site just the way I want it I’ve also added a few plug-ins:

  • Akismet – protects the site from comment and trackback spam
  • Contact form 7 – To add a form to my contact page
  • Simple share buttons adder – To add social network share buttons to each of my recipes.
  • WordPress SEO – I wanted to add twitter cards for when people share content from my site (more about this later) and this plug-in helps you set them up. It also does much more including creating a sitemap to help search engines list your site, and helping you to ensure that if your site is listed on a search engine it looks as appealing as possible so lots of people want to click on the link. I haven’t fully explored all of it’s functions yet but will do when I’ve got more time.

Using these, the site is starting to take shape but it’s not quite how I want it just yet so that’s going to be my focus next month.

Content

In addition to setting up the structure of my site, I added an about me page, five new recipes and a guide to the perfect poached egg.

I also set everything up to be able to calculate nutritional information and cost per serving for each of my recipes.

All the stats

Traffic

When I read these posts on other people’s site, I tend to skip down to traffic and income to see how the blog’s doing and then go back through all of the detail to understand what’s been done to generate it. In future I’ll probably put these further up the page, but given I only set up the site a few weeks ago, there’s not much to say at the moment.

According to Google Analytics (there’s another thing I set up this month), in July I had a grand total of 108 visits with 465 page views. The majority of these were direct with a handful coming from google search (search term not provided for all of them) and twitter.

One thing that’s puzzling me is that I have 68 unique visitors but only 22 new visitors. On a brand new website I would have expected these to be the same, if anyone knows why they’re not I’d be interest to know – I started to look it up and after reading a few explanations that didn’t actually explain it, I decided it wasn’t a good use of my time. The one piece of important information from Google Analytics is that my site didn’t get much traffic and it would be nice to have more. Whether these two numbers make sense or not doesn’t change that fact.

In future updates I’ll give more information about which pages have been most popular, but I expect that quite a lot of the page views have come from me looking at my own site (as I use the recipes to cook at home) so the data will be distorted until I get more traffic.

Income

I’ve not set up any ways to generate income on the website yet so total income is £0. However, I thought I’d include it in the update as I have had a couple of costs.

  • Domain name purchase – £5.40
  • Hosting (1 year) – £14.99
  • TOTAL COSTS – £20.39

Social Networking

I haven’t fully entered into the social networking world with this website yet as I thought it was best to get it all set up first. However, I did set up a twitter account just to get started and to ensure that anyone visiting the site had a way to follow updates if they want. If you’d like to follow me on twitter then click here.

In the last month I managed to get 33 twitter followers – thank you all.

I decided to set up twitter cards, which are supposed to make your tweets look prettier and more appealing to the audience when others share your posts (if you’re not familiar with what they look like then here’s an example.) To be honest I’m not sure it was worth the effort, as they could be so much better. When I’m looking for new recipes on twitter I’m 10x more likely to click on one if there’s an image attached. With twitter cards you only see the image if you click on the tweet. I’ve seen several people requesting this is changed on the forums so hopefully they’ll upgrade it soon.

 

Well that’s my round up of the month. I realised that I’ve lacked a bit of focus (a bit of set up, a few posts, a bit of social networking) and that I need to focus more next month, so August will be all about finishing the website set up.

 

Thanks for reading and please share 🙂

Charlotte

 

 

 

 

5 Comments:

  1. Hi Charlotte!
    Looks like we are more or less at the same stage of our blog 😀
    So far it looks that we followed similar steps. 2 things that you could do is set up a “gravatar” – so you’ll have a photo on every of your comments on pretty much every blog. That’s quite nice, since its a little more personal 🙂

    Also, there is a plugin called “Visual Recipe Index.” That allows you to automatically index your recipes with a nice photo. You can also customize it a little, if you have someone at hand, who knows a little bit of css 🙂

    Best!

  2. Hi Charlotte! Me again

    Thanks a lot for your tip about the comments! Looked into it and found a plugin that should do exactly this. It’s called “Subscribe to Comments Reloaded”
    Try it out for the next comment on our page 😀

    Best,
    Howie

  3. Hi Charlotte,
    Thank you for writing this. I have just started to blog for the same reason a while back and is now wanting to take it to the next step. I am so happy to have come across your blog. I have only read this post and so far it is inspiring, you made me feels like I can do this. I will spend the evening reading the rest of your blog for more ideas on what I should be doing 🙂
    Any advice you want to give this newbie is most welcome.
    Thank you

    Jackie

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