Building My Blog – December 2016



Welcome to my 30th monthly blog update, all about what I got up to behind the scenes of Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen in December 2016.

I’ve decided that this is going to be my final monthly report, so this month I’m going to be talking about why I’m stopping, the 2016 Pinterest UK food awards and my recipe video set-up, as well as sharing all of the usual numbers.

Monthly food blog report for Charlotte's Lively Kitchen. Including the Pinterest UK awards and my recipe video set-up.

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!

Saying goodbye to my blog reports

At the end of December I made the decision to end two of my regular features here on Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen. The first was my #TheFoodCalendar linky, and the second was these reports. Sadly there are only so many hours in the day and I reached a point where I was spreading myself very thin and things needed to change. I realised that I wanted to focus more on sharing recipes and as much as I love these reports (and my linky) they both take quite a lot of time to produce and it’s meant that I can’t share as many recipes as I’d like so sadly they’ve had to go.

I’ve had some lovely feedback over the past couple of years about how useful you’ve found them. All the old ones can be found here and if you ever have any questions about how or why I do something then please get in touch and I’d be more than happy to help.

Being shortlisted at the Pinterest UK Food Awards

One extremely exciting piece of news I received in December was that I’ve been shortlisted in four categories at the 2016 Pinterest UK Food Awards.

If you take a look at the shortlisted recipes, I’m up against some amazing competition from the likes of Jamie Oliver, Nigella, Good Food and Vogue as well as some of my fabulous blogging friends – Grace at Eats Amazing, Emily at A Mummy Too, Ciara at My Fussy Eater, Nicky at Kitchen Sanctuary and Hannah at Domestic Gothess.

The awards are on Thursday 2nd February and I’m really looking forward to it (although I have absolutely no idea what to wear!).

My recipe video set-up

A couple of months ago I was asked to share my food video set-up. To be honest if I was planning on continuing these reports I probably would have saved this for another couple of months whilst I worked out how to use some new equipment, but I didn’t want to finish the reports up without tying up any loose ends.

Over the last month or so I’ve invested in some new equipment and I’m still learning how to get the best from it, so hopefully you’ll see the standard of my videos improving over the next few months. I’m planning to make a new video each week (although this will be split between top down and presented videos) so I should be getting lots of practice.

If you’ve got any great food video tips to share then let me know in the comments.

So here’s my set-up. Apologies for the grainy pictures, I had to take it quickly on my phone as my main cameras were in use for making the video.

recipe-video-setup

Cameras

I try and set up using two cameras, one for top-down shots and one for side-on. Using two means you can add a bit of variety to videos and sometimes one angle will capture something better than another.

My top down camera is a Panasonic LX100. I originally bought it as a lightweight out-and-about camera so I could snap more things for Instagram on the go, but I’ve found that it’s great for making videos too. It doesn’t have a flip screen so I think a lot of people would rule it out for vlogging. However, it has an iPhone app which means you can control it remotely. I have the phone next to me and I can hit record, zoom in/out and focus quickly as I’m filming.

My side-on camera is my main food photography camera, a Nikon D7100 with a f1.4 50mm lens. It does the job but it’s not really ideal for videos as it’s slow to focus and the focus is extremely noisy (if you have the sound on the video you can hear it whirring away trying to focus). I tend to focus the camera before I start, but that means I can’t move about too much.

The side-on camera is on a old tripod which I bought when I first started out (I can’t remember what it’s called) and the top down camera is on my Manfrotto 055 tripod which is also the one I use for my food photography. It’s got an arm that can be extended out allowing you to take the top down shots.

Lights

I’ve got two Manfrotto Bi-Colour LED Lights with soft boxes. I set one up at the side and one above. It’s especially useful to have one above if you’re using a deep bowl or pan as lighting only from the side will result in big shadows.

The side light is on a Manfrotto Nano Stand and the top down light is on a Manfrotto Boom Stand. The Manfrotto boom stand is a bit of a monster. I suspect you could easily use something smaller to get the light into roughly the same position.

Boards

I decided it would be fun to have the boards matching my main blog colours so I simply painted some planks from B&Q with some fence paint. I’m thinking of getting some white ones too to add a bit of variety to my videos.

Hob

You can’t see it here (because it’s brand new and I’ve not published a video with it yet) but I’ve invested in a Tefal induction hob so that I can set it up on my kitchen table for top-down videos. The cooker hood on my normal hob gets in the way of trying to film so I needed an alternative.

I’ve added Amazon links for all of these so you can see what they are, but I actually bought most of it in my local independent camera shops. If you have one near you then I’d really recommend giving them a try as I’ve found (in a few different shops) that they’re really knowledgable about the equipment and let you have a play with it to see if it’s right for what you need.

If you’d like to see a video using this set-up take a look at this…

If you fancy keeping an eye on my progress with recipe videos then subscribe to my You Tube channel and follow my Facebook page.

All the numbers…

A big boost from Christmas led to my best month yet for both visitors and page views.

Interestingly when I breakdown the visitors by country it seems that much of the Christmas boost is driven by an increase in visitors from America. I suspect that also links strongly to the fact that I saw a big growth in Pinterest over the month, with Google growth (where the majority of visitors are from the UK) much smaller.

Something I know I need to look at this year is making my recipes more accessible to the US/Canadian audience. I’ve had quite a few requests to share recipes using cup measurements rather than grams. I’ve always resisted as I prefer the accuracy of weighing everything and because I don’t tend to use cups, I’d be reliant on online converters being accurate. However, it feels as though being stubborn about this is a bit of cutting off my nose to spite my face so I’m aiming to embrace cup measurements this year and hopefully make my recipes more accessible internationally by doing so.

visitors-dec-16

Charlottes Lively Kitchen – Visitors

pageviews-dec-16 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 – 69,813 (+20%)
  2. Pinterest / Referral – 41,625 (+82%)
  3. Direct – 15,849 (+34%)
  4. Pinterest UK – 2,130 (+44%)
  5. Email – 1,121 (+17%)
  6. Buzzfeed – 1,097 (+3,818%)
  7. Facebook Mobile – 728 (+58%)
  8. Bing – 719 (+32%)
  9. The Prize Finder – 613 (-3%)
  10. Loquax – 581 (34%)

It’s always lovely to see Buzzfeed popping up in the list, this month they featured my Festive Snowball Cocktail.

warninks-snowball-2

Followers

Once again, Instagram and Twitter have been boosted by a couple of giveaways in December.

followers-dec-16

Charlottes Lively Kitchen – Social Media Followers

  • Twitter – 4,628 (+6.8%)
  • Instagram – 5,076 (+3.2%)
  • Pinterest – 6,876 (+3.7%)
  • Facebook – 1,537 (+7.6%)
  • Google+ – 37 (+60.9%)
  • Email Subscription – 2,991 (+7.9%)
  • Bloglovin – 94 (-9.8%)
  • YouTube – 71 (+36.5%)
  • Tumblr – 62 (+8.8%)

So that’s it, we’ve reached the end of my last monthly report. As always if you have any questions or if there’s anything you’d like to know more about then please let me know in the comments.

Whilst I’m no longer writing these each month, I’m always more that happy to help you all with any questions or advice so please, please, please don’t hesitate to get in touch if there’s ever anything you need.

Charlotte x

12 Comments:

  1. I’ll see you at the Pinterest awards! 🙂 I don’t know what to wear either…I might have to go shopping this weekend… This is really helpful, I’m about to start making videos but the process is a bit daunting! I’ve just ordered a tripod with a boom arm (waiting impatiently for it to arrive!), I didn’t think to try setting up two cameras, I might not have enough space but it’s a good idea and I definitely need to get some lights, do you use them for photography as well?

    • Yay! See you there x

      I do use the lights for photography if my kitchen’s too dark (which at this time of year it usually is!). The Manfrotto lamps are good because they have a dimmer switch which means you can add a little light if that’s all you need. Those ones also have the ability to adjust the colour to help get a good white balance (although if you’ve got decent white balance settings on your camera you should be OK anyway).

  2. I’ll be missing those! I always find it fascinating to see how much you’ve grown your blog. Those posts are inspiring. Great video set up and I love your quick Amaretti biscuits video x

  3. What a helpful and interesting post Charlotte. As I mentioned to you on FB I’ve found these posts so helpful and will certainly still be popping in to recap on all of those great hints and tips. You clearly put a lot of effort and time into the posts, so I can understand as your blog develops changes need to be made rather than spreading yourself too thinly.
    I loved seeing your video set up – very interesting and helpful to a newby video maker like me. I’m guessing with this set up you position yourself just a step or two infront of where the picture was taken (ie facing your patio doors). Can I ask too, which video eding suite do you use – I’ve been using Wondershare Filmora (I love the clock timer you use to indicate the bake length.)
    I too am contemplating using cup measurements, but like you I much prefer the accuracy of grams.
    Good luck too with the Pinterest UK Food Awards (& finding a lovely outfit 🙂 ), I’m sure you’ll rock it given how gorgeous your images are.
    Angela x

    • Thanks Angela. I’m usually stood beneath the tripod in the middle. I have to be careful not to knock into it when I’m cooking. Until now I’ve been using Final Cut Pro (by Apple) but today I switched to Adobe Premier. The clock (and the animated logo at the end) was made in Adobe After Effects. The Adobe products are expensive but they look like they’re going to be extremely good when I get the hang of them. I feel like I’ve still got an awful lot to learn about video.

  4. Thank you once again for these reports.so useful to a relative newbie like myself. Im going to miss them.
    Really interesting to read what you say about cups. I have started adding them and imperial measurements (which I can do without thinking) because of the traffic i get from the states. I have quite a high bounce rate so was thinking maybe that was putting them off. I was also just wondering if I was right or not to do them as i think they make the ingredient list look cluttered. Also like you i am at the mercy of converters (i use Kitchen pro App on my phone which is fast) and the lack of accuracy when baking.
    Now having read this report I am thinking perhaps I should keep them after all. Ive yet to take the plunge with video (have got as far as booking myself on a one day course which i am hoping will give me enough info to take the plunge) so your set up report is interesting reading. would love to see the occasional how to video from you.
    Good luck going forward. Not that you need it your skill and professionalism is clearly working 🙂

    • Thanks so much Jacqui. At the moment I feel like I’m muddling through without really knowing what I’m doing with video. I’d definitely love to share some how-to videos when I’ve built up my confidence.

      I don’t really like how cluttered my ingredients lists look with different measurements (as I’ve had requests for both oz and cups). I’ve not quite decided how it’s going to work yet but I think people will need to click through to a new page to get alternative measurements rather than having them all in the main ingredients list.

      Can you send me a link to the app you use, it sounds useful.

  5. Interesting post. It’s unusual to see someone who is sharing their secrets, as it were.

  6. Hi Charlotte,
    Your monthly posts have been monumental and so inspiring through such honesty. I love reading them at any time. Keep up the fab work with all of your posts and recipes.
    Wish you all the best at the Pinterest awards and am sure you will do well.

  7. Hard luck charlotte…Maybe next year.

    I’m really going to miss your monthly reports and all the great tips. Its been great watching how you’ve grown your blog over the past couple of years.

    Cool vdo by the way!

    • Thanks Colm. I’m not writing the reports any more but if you ever have any questions I’m always happy to try and help.

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