Building My Blog – April 2016



Welcome to my 22nd monthly blog update, all about what I got up to behind the scenes of Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen in April 2016.

This month I’m going to be talking about awards, sponsored posts, fixing broken links, and of course whether I managed to get 100k page views again.

Behind the scenes of Charlotte's Lively Kitchen including awards, sponsored posts and fixing broken links. Plus all the main blog statistics.

A little bit of background…

For anybody that’s new to these updates and is wondering what on earth I’m going on about, I write these posts each month as a way to keep me focussed on building my blog (fear of sitting down to write the report and finding I have nothing to say is great for ensuring I keep trying new things). It is also to try and help other bloggers (or people thinking of getting started) to learn from what I’ve tried and to copy the good bits and avoid some of my mistakes. I also share all of my blog’s key stats so you can see how it’s going and decide whether my advice is worth listening to or not!

Awards

Well my big exciting news last month was getting to 100k page views and this month it’s all about awards. Within the parent blogging world there are two big awards… the MADS (that’s short for Mum & Dads) run by the people behind the TOTS100 and the BiBs (short for Brilliance in Blogging) run by BritMums. I was so excited last month to discover that I’d been shortlisted for both of them. I’ve written a bit about each (here and here) so I won’t go repeating myself again, except to reiterate just how much being shortlisted means to me and how much I’d appreciate your votes.

BritMums Tots100

Earning a living from blogging

You may have noticed that I’ve had a few more sponsored posts on the blog in April when I was lucky enough to work with Simply Beef & Lamb, Iceland and Bertolli.

I’ve talked in the past about my view on earning money from the blog, with Josh at home all day it’s not been my main priority. However, I really enjoy the challenge of working with different brands (trying to create something new that meets their brief) and it’s lovely to earn some extra money to fund the blog (as I do spend quite a bit to keep it going). With Josh starting nursery in September, I’m going to have more free time on my hands and I’d love to have the opportunity to take on more sponsored posts (as well as looking at other options to earn money from my blog) and so my focus is going to be looking in that direction more and more over the next few months.

I’ve been lucky that I’ve been approached through my contact form for most of the opportunities I’ve had. However, I did make a discovery about a month ago which has been very valuable in finding additional opportunities. For anyone who’s a member of the Foodies100 (or any of their sister sites), they have a Facebook group where amongst other things you can put your name down for various opportunities. There’s no guarantee you’ll be accepted as they’ll have specific criteria for what they’re after and only need a limited number of people, but it was through that group I was offered the Simply Beef & Lamb sponsored post as well as the Old El Paso posts I shared a couple of days ago. If you’re a member of the Foodies100 then it’s definitely worth joining.

A couple more Facebook groups

While I’m on the subject, I thought I’d share a couple of my other favourite Facebook groups…

  • UK Bloggers – Brilliant if you’ve got a random blogging question that you need some help with and also to keep on top of what’s happening in the blogging world. Given the size of the group (there’s about 4k members) they’re quite strict with the rules so make sure you have a read when you first join.
  • CookBlogShare – A group for people joining in with the CookBlogShare linky run by Hijacked by Twins, Snap Happy Bakes & Sneaky Veg – so so so so friendly and full of some of my favourite food bloggers.
  • Fdbloggers – Another nice friendly group full of some of my other favourite food bloggers.
  • Content and Round Up Requests for UK Bloggers – Pretty self-explnatory really, useful for keeping a lookout for opportunities to get your posts featured in other places.

Fixing my broken links

Sorry, this is a really unexciting task to include but one I finally got around to last month and thought I should share. I’ve heard that Google isn’t too keen on broken links (where you’ve got a link in a post which instead of taking you somewhere useful, just takes you to an error page), they want to rank posts that they consider high quality, and having lots of links that don’t go anywhere is a sign that your content may not be all that great and therefore not worth ranking.

I used the broken link checker website to find my broken links and worked my way though them one by one (fortunately there weren’t too many). There were only a few in posts that I either removed, or fixed to link to a different page on the relevant website. The majority were in the comments, where people had made a typo in their URL when leaving a comment. I’m not sure it’s all that important to fix these as they’re usually “no follow” which means they’re ignored by Google, but for the sake of keeping my blog clean and tidy I either deleted ones that made no sense or fixed them when someone had clearly made a typo when filling in the form and I knew their correct URL.

All the numbers…

I’m sure you’re all wondering whether I managed to get to 100k page views (or even more!) in April after my success in March, and the answer is… NO.

I suspected this would be the case as both February and March were boosted by special days (Shrove Tuesday, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter) and there was nothing like that in April to bring in extra visitors. That said, I still managed 85k which is significantly higher than I had at the start of the year so I’m happy. Also, a quick glance though the My Taste chart has reassured me that others are experiencing something similar with visitor numbers.

I’ve heard that food blog visitor numbers can dip when the weather warms up. This isn’t something I experienced last summer as I was growing so much at the time (aside from my rebranding break) so it’ll be interesting to see whether I can maintain my current visitor numbers (and hopefully grow more) over the summer.

Behind the scenes of Charlotte's Lively Kitchen including awards, sponsored posts and fixing broken links. Plus all the main blog statistics.

Charlottes Lively Kitchen – Visitors

Behind the scenes of Charlotte's Lively Kitchen including awards, sponsored posts and fixing broken links. Plus all the main blog statistics.

Charlottes Lively Kitchen – Pageviews

If you’re looking at these graphs and wondering what caused any changes in the past you can find all my old reports in my monthly reports index.

So where did all of these visitors come from…

  1. Google – 33,445 (-7%)
  2. Direct – 15,921 (-24%)
  3. Pinterest – 6,471 (-40%)
  4. Yummly – 2,029 (same as March)
  5. Corp.StumbleUpon – 1,102 (+676%)
  6. Tumblr – 739 ( -35%)
  7. UK Pinterest – 694 (-34%)
  8. CraftGossip EdibleCrafts – 561 (+379%)
  9. Dan 330 – 465 (+31%)
  10. Foodgawker 459 (-32%)

Last month I mentioned that I wasn’t too worried about the fall in Pinterest visitors as it seemed to be offset by a similar-sized increase in direct visits (I suspected Google Analytics wasn’t picking up the source correctly rather than visits truly falling). However, this month they’ve both fallen significantly 🙁 After seeing a strange shift in Pinterest visits a few months ago I got a bit disheartened and slack at posting my own content. It’s impossible to say whether something has indeed shifted in Pinterest or whether pinning less has driven to less visitors. Either way, I’ve started making more of an effort again so hopefully it’ll start to pick up again in May (fingers crossed).

You’ll notice that Google visits also fell for the first time since rebranding. However, I had a lot of visitors to my Creme Egg Rocky Road, Easter Eggs and Maltese Figolli Biscuits in the run up to Easter which have understandably disappeared. Taking these out Google remained quite steady throughout April.

Followers

Still boring, sorry.

Behind the scenes of Charlotte's Lively Kitchen including awards, sponsored posts and fixing broken links. Plus all the main blog statistics.

Charlottes Lively Kitchen – Social Media Followers

That just leaves me to say thanks for reading. As always, if you’ve got any questions then I’m more than happy to help xx


Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

16 Comments:

  1. I’ve thanked you before, but seriously – some of this stuff is a goldmine for me. Fixed broken links I didn’t know I had, found that I’m not on MyTaste, and I’m still seeing my numbers grow since your Yummly advice a few months back! Can’t thank you enough Charlotte! 🙂

    • Charlotte Oates

      I’m just glad you find it all useful. Every few months I wonder if I should keep writing these posts and then I’ll get a lovely comment saying how useful it is and that keeps me going. I love the fact that no only does writing them challenge me to keep growing, but seeing other blogs grow off the back of following some of my tips is really brilliant too. Don’t get too excited about MyTaste, I don’t get all that many visits from there, but I love using the top blogs chart to see how I’m doing and if I see a dip or growth whether others are seeing it too.

      • Don’t ever stop doing them, Charlotte – they are brilliant! I always get excited when the new one lands in my inbox – I always know there will be something good in there! Eb x

      • Yeah it’s the single post to my inbox that I’ll always take the time to read no matter what the weather! I think I even read it while on my honeymoon earlier in the year, but don’t tell Emma that…

        Ah ok I got worried as my site isn’t on MyTaste charts at all!

  2. Fab read as always – thanks especially for the Facebook groups tips (I had no idea there was a Foodies 100 one!) and for the tip about fixing broken links – especially the broken link checker site link – super useful. Thanks! Eb x

    • Charlotte Oates

      I happened to spot the Foodies site mentioned in a post they wrote a while back, until then I had no idea it existed. If you join you won’t see too much listed in there as they delete all the old posts as soon as they’re filled to keep the group nice and neat and tidy, but there’s usually things to apply for every week or so (or at least there has been since I joined).

  3. Thanks for yet another really helpful post Charlotte. I look forward to finding out what to do next from your monthly posts so please keep them coming. I’ve now requested to join the Foodies site FB group & I’m still working through SEO.
    My broken links are generally from comments too, I use a free plugin, Broken Link Checker which works really well & notifies me of any broken links.
    Wishing you luck for your awards. x

    • Charlotte Oates

      Thanks Sarah. I’ve heard rumours that that plugin isn’t great (although I’ve no idea how true they are) apparently it can slow down your site and can miss some links that need fixing. You may want to look into an alternative way to identify and fix the links as whilst Google doesn’t like broken links, it also likes sites to be as fast as possible so it’s a good idea to get rid of anything non-essential that could be slowing it down.

  4. Great post! I’ve been actually waiting to read this one as i found your last month post. Its good to see how other bloggers are doing. Always something to learn. Definitely there will be ups and downs to grow the blog. Its really hard to keep steady traffic on site.
    Golden rule about plugins is that keep them as low as possible.
    There is also a good and simple tool from Google to check in what areas you could improve your website (make it faster) – PageSpeed Insights.

    • Charlotte Oates

      I always try that with the plugins but it’s always tempting to add more! I’ve used the page speed insights and dealt with the easier ones (my images are now much smaller than they were), but I have to admit I didn’t understand what most of it was or how to fix it! Do you know of any good guides?

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