Building My Blog – August 2016



Welcome to my 26th monthly blog update, all about what I got up to behind the scenes of Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen in August 2016.

This month I’m going to be talking about whether switching to an Instagram business account is a good idea and finding a blog planner that really works.

Behind the scenes of Charlotte's Lively Kitchen including Instagram business accounts, blog planners and all of the key blog stats.

A little bit of background (skip this if you’re a regular reader, I say the same thing every month!)

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!

What I got up to in August…

I told you last month that I wasn’t focussing too much on building my blog as I was far too busy enjoying the holidays with my family so there’s not too much to report this month.

Changing my Instagram to a business account

Recently Instagram started offering you the ability to change to a business account. As far as I can tell this change gives you two things…

  1. A little contact button on your profile – I’ve added my email address to mine so people can contact me directly from Insta (although I don’t think anyone has yet).
  2. Analytics – This tells you the impressions (number of times a post has been seen) and reach (number of people that have seen a post) for each new post. There’s also a little bit of information about the demographics of your followers (gender, age, location and the time of day they’re online).

Should you switch your Instagram to a business account

At the moment I don’t think upgrading has really made a difference, my likes are at a pretty similar level to before I switched. I know a few people have concerns that switching to a business account will mean that Instagram will reduce your visibility in feeds in the hope of encouraging you towards paying to promote posts. I share the same concern and I guess only time will tell whether it makes a difference (fingers firmly crossed that they don’t take that approach). Right now, unless you’re really excited about finding your reach (which really isn’t all that much to get excited about) then I’d wait a few months and see what the feedback is from people that are using it.

If you can’t resist the temptation and want to switch then go to Settings and select Switch to Business Account. I think you can only do it on the mobile app (I haven’t spotted the option on my mac) and it seems as though you can only view insights on the mobile version too which is a bit of a shame. One you’ve switched there is an option to switch back (although I haven’t actually clicked it to see what would happen).

An example of some of my Instagram analytics

Finding a blog planner that really works

I’ve tried all sorts of planning systems for blogs that haven’t worked out for me, I’ve spent ages setting them up and then within a week I’ve realised that I’ve not kept things updated and they’ve fallen by the way side – a complete waste of time. I’m happy to say that over the summer I finally found a system that works for me, it’s sadly the least cool, low-tech solution ever, but at least that means it’s cheap 🙂 .

I simply use a printed A4 calendar from the internet. I write each post idea on a mini post-it and stick it on the date I want to post on, that way I can quickly take a look at see what’s coming up and therefore what I need to be working on. Using post-its means I can move posts around if I need to (which I do very regularly) and I use different colours for different post types (my recipes, sponsored posts, random non-recipe posts like this) so I can try and ensure there’s a good mix. I also write in any sponsored post deadlines so I can see at a glance what’s coming up and ensure that I don’t accidentally reschedule something to after its due date.

These calendar sheets live in a big A4 folder where I write down my to-do lists. These are split between urgent (stuff that should probably have been done already) and needs to be done at some point in the future (more of an ideas list) and then all my notes on new recipes too.

As I said, very low-tech but so far it’s working really well.

What do you use for your planning?

Planning for September

Talking of planning…

The trouble with taking a month or two off from trying to make my blog better is that I’ve ended up with quite an immense to-do list of things I’d like to have a go at (and it’s still growing by the day!). Josh started Nursery this week giving me 5 mornings to get as much done as possible without interruptions so now it’s all about figuring out the best way to make the most of that time.

Rather than scattily picking things from the list at random (which is always my preferred approach but not the most productive) I’ve picked four to concentrate on…

Publishing at least 2 new recipes a week

With the boys at home I’ve struggled to find the time to photograph more than one new recipe each week, my free mornings should give me plenty of time to perfect and publish at least two 🙂

Making at least one new video a week

I’ve recently started collaborating with Oven Pride, making quick recipe videos to share on their social media. I’ve got a few more in the pipeline that I’ll be making for them over the next couple of months but I want to start making more of my own to share too. I’m going to primarily focus on the quick Facebook-style videos (shot mostly from above with lots of speeding up and brief instructions) as this is a style I feel comfortable with while I’m still learning about it all.

The Pepperoni Pizza Burgers video I was recently commissioned to make for Oven Pride

Building My Pinterest

I keep reading great things about Board Booster in terms of building a Pinterest following and getting pins seen more so I’ve decided it’s about time I give it a try. I’ll report back how I found it next month.

Sorting out the mess that is my email infrastructure 

I mentioned last month that I’ve reached 2k email subscribers which is absolutely fantastic. However, I’ve realised that I don’t really have the infrastructure in place to support sending that many emails whenever I write a new post. At the moment I send my emails through my cloud server and I’m limited to only sending a certain number every hour. This means that it can take 2-3 days for each email to send (and if I post on two consecutive days the emails then queue so it can take even longer!). I want to ensure that my subscribers are finding out about new posts as quickly as possible so I need to figure out how to get this process moving more speedily.

I’m hoping to also tick off a few extra little bits and pieces from my immense to-do list but these are my main ones and I’ll be pretty disappointed if I don’t get through them all.

Do you have any blog plans for September? What are they?

All the numbers…

Another bit of growth again this month, annoying close to reaching 100k pageviews for the 2nd time.

visitors aug16

Charlottes Lively Kitchen – Visitors

pageviews aug16

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 – 46,064 (+13%)
  2. Pinterest / Referral – 11,800 (+1%)
  3. Direct – 11,015 (-4%)
  4. Buzzfeed – 557 (+136%)
  5. Yummly – 510 (-22%)
  6. Bing – 491 (-1%)
  7. Pinterest UK – 470 (-10%)
  8. Tumblr – 452 (+2%)
  9. Pinterest / Social – 421 (+3,727%)
  10. Craftgossip – 365 (+660%)

The growth this month is mainly driven by Google, which I’m pretty confident is the result of the effort we put into SEO after reading Howie’s book earlier in the year. I’ve got several recipes that have jumped onto page 1 in the UK over the past few months and I’ve found that can make a huge difference to visits (even better if they can get up into the top 3 search results).

You’ll notice that Pinterest is in the top 10 three times this month. A new type of Pinterest appeared in my analytics Pinterest/Social (previously I’d only had Pinterest/Referral and UK Pinterest/Referral). I’ve no idea what this new type is, whether it’s something new or something old that’s been recategorised. I’m trying to find out and I’ll let you know if I do.

My White Russian Cupcakes were featured on Buzzfeed and my Chicken & Vegetable Pasties on Craftgossip

Followers

Pinterest has continued it’s strong growth again this month. I’m planning on testing out Board Booster throughout September which I’ve read from others can result in a noticeable growth in Followers so hopefully we’ll see even more improvement next month.

social aug16

Charlottes Lively Kitchen – Social Media Followers


Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

11 Comments:

  1. Well done on getting so close to 100k views!
    I know what you mean about enjoying the Summer and trying to ease off the blog work a bit. That to-do list really does grow doesn’t it.
    My kids went back to school yesterday, and I’m still flitting around trying to make the best use of my time – rather than properly concentrating on one thing!
    I’m interested to hear your results using board booster. I’m using Tailwind right now and I really like it, but I’m always on the look out for a good new tool.

    • Thanks Nicky. I tried the Tailwind trial but it only lets you have about 100 free pins which wasn’t enough to figure out if it was worth investing for me. When I tried it I didn’t find it saved me all that much time but I suspect I just hadn’t figured out how to use it properly. I haven’t started Board Booster yet, I’m hoping to get it set up and running over the weekend. Fingers crossed for some good results.

  2. Wow, you’re blog is doing really well. I need to get more organized. I’m off to read some more of your advice … I need it. Thanks for the posts.
    #brillblogposts

    • Thanks Suz. I hope you find the posts useful, let me know if you have any questions or if there’s anything you’d like a bit more detail on.

  3. Oooh, very interesting stuff Charlotte – I love your low-tech blog planning solution 🙂 Mine is only a tiny little bit higher-tech (now that’s just not a word is it!) I use a very basic excel spreadsheet, with my posts in a very simple table format and lots of colour coding so I can see at a glance what stage I’m at with everything and obviously it’s very easy to move stuff around. I keep a tab for each year and separate tabs for different kind of ideas (recipes/reviews/blogging/christmas etc.) so any time an idea pops into my head I can just type it into my spreadsheet and it’s there for when I need ideas. Still pretty low-tech, but it works well for me 🙂

    Really interested to hear how you get on with board booster – I still don’t really feel I’m doing Pinterest ‘right’, so I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say about it.

    And finally, how is Josh doing at nursery? Hope he has settled in well 🙂 And hope you are enjoying a little bit more time to blog 🙂 Eb x

    • I never feel I have Pinterest quite right either and every time I thinkI might have made progress they go and change something 🙂

      Josh is doing brilliantly at Nursery – he absolutely loves it. Yesterday he called me Miss Edwards and had to correct himself to Mum! I’m loving having more time to blog but as I’m sure you’d expect I still have 100 more things to do in a day that I have time for!

  4. This is really interesting and makes me think that I need to take a much more professional approach to my blog if I want to see it grow. Thanks for the ideas Charlotte. 🙂

  5. Hi Charlotte! Discovered your blog a couple of weeks ago and have been reading through all your blog reports. Very inspirational. I started blogging last year but haven’t got very far due to full time job etc. But really hoping to put some real time and effort into it now. Thanks for all the great info in your posts!!

    • Thanks Debbie. I had no idea how time consuming food blogging was until I started, it’s pretty much a full time job for me now. I’m glad you’ve found the reports useful, if there’s ever anything you need help with/want to know more about then let me know.

      • Yes I’ve started to realise how time consuming it is. Especially if it’s stuff behind the scenes which takes all day and then doesn’t always do what you want it to do. I’ve scrapped so many things that have taken me hours. Thanks so much…..there’s always plenty I need help with so it would be great if I could get in touch.

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