Welcome to my 8th monthly food blog traffic and income report, all about what I’ve been up to on My Recipe Book in February.
As always I’ll share with you my experiences and hopefully pass on a few helpful tips, as well as the usual visitor and income numbers.
If you’ve not read one of my traffic and income reports before and want to know a bit more about why I write them, then take a look at my very first report.
If you read last month’s report you’ll know that in January I saw a huge jump in site visits, from around 1,500 in December to over 12,000. This was achieved through getting the hang of Pinterest, improving my photography and posting more regularly. However, you’ll also know that I was worried February would be tougher. In January, I had the benefit of having a lot of older recipes to post on Pinterest and Foodgawker, whilst also having a bit of luck being featured on Recipechart.
The aim for February therefore was simple, to “keep it going”, to try to build on the momentum through hard work and publishing quality posts on a regular basis.
As I have largely followed the same approach as I did in January I don’t have a huge number of new tips to share, although there are a couple of titbits. Instead, this month of “keeping it going” has given me a bit of space to think about my current challenges and what I’d like to achieve next.
My current blogging challenges
As usual I like to focus on three main challenges each month (although I sometimes add a couple of extras in on a whim!). My current challenges are…
Recipes, recipes, recipes
Let’s face it, without recipes a food blog isn’t really all that much use. Over Christmas I set myself the challenge of having 50 recipes on the website by Easter. So far I’ve published 40 as well as a number of “food fun” posts so I’m well on the way, but I’ve got to keep pushing to get up to 50 over the next month.
Being part of the blogging community
One thing that’s surprised me about blogging is how much I enjoy being part of the blogging community, and how supportive and friendly other bloggers have been. I love reading what other bloggers are up to, joining in with link-ups, chatting on social media and leaving comments. I’ve found that spending more time writing posts for the blog has meant that I have less time to do this, so I want to make a bit more time for it.
Improving my photography (again!)
I love writing my blog but at times I found the photography in particular quite stressful. North Wales is beautiful on a sunny day, unfortunately during Winter and Spring these can be few and far between with generally quite cloudy and dull weather (even the sunny days usually have clouds making the light inconsistent). The window of opportunity to use natural is therefore limited. My solution was to splash out on a specialist light (well actually I got Jon to get it for my birthday).
As well as taking away the stress of getting good light in North Wales it has the added benefit that I can take photos when the boys are in bed in the evening, which gives me more time to concentrate without them asking why I keep taking pictures of their food/asking to eat the food before I’ve finished/standing in front of the camera saying “cheese”.
However, I’ve found that I need to adjust how I set up and edit my pictures when using the artificial light. Over the coming month I’m going to be practicing, experimenting, and generally trying to get my photos up to the standard I’ve been getting with natural light but without the stress.
I also want to improve my phone photography and I’m determined to finish my #Make30Photos Instagram challenge which I started some time ago, so I will be spending a bit of time posting more there too.
I’ve also been giving some thought as to what comes next. I’ll decide what my focus for the Spring is a bit nearer the time but I’ve started noting down some ideas, things that I know are going to be interesting and challenging for me…
- Diversifying the source of my traffic, in particular researching SEO to try to bring more visits in from Google – being overly reliant on Pinterest is a worry, as they could change their business model at any time.
- Building loyal readers – I really enjoy seeing people return to the site, as it means they probably enjoyed their previous visit. In particular I love receiving their comments (hint, hint!).
- Sorting out my affiliate links – This isn’t something I have really pushed, although is an area I would like to explore more.
- Sorting out my advertising – At the moment I have three ads on my site. I started using Gourmet Ads in February for two of the ad slots and continue to use Google Adsense for the other one. I would like to spend some time thinking about how to optimise advertising without them intruding too much onto my site.
- Coding – I used to do coding as part of my job (albeit for data mining and statistical analysis rather than the web kind) and I find it very frustrating that I can’t make simple changes to my website without help.
What do you think? Is there anything you’d like to see me try so you can read about it here over the next few months?
Anyway, enough of that and on to the couple of (hopefully helpful) things I learnt in February…
Adding images to my RSS feed
Unlike last month, this hasn’t been a tip-filled post. However, I wanted to share one new plug-in that I discovered to add an image to my RSS feed.
When setting up my RSS feed, I had two options…
- Include the entire post with all images in the feed
- Include only a short excerpt
I chose to include only an excerpt. For the simple reason that I wanted people to click through to the site so I could see that they’d visited and what they were reading.
Unfortunately the way my site is set up, if you choose to publish an excerpt, no image appears in the RSS feed. I don’t know about you, but personally I’m much more likely to click on a post in my feed if there’s an image attached, especially for recipes where you need to see just how yummy the food looks.
Here’s what my RSS feed looked like before in Bloglovin…
I now use the RSS image feed plugin so that an image will appear.
I hope you’ll agree that they now look a lot more tempting.
Making my emails less spammy
As you know from my previous reports (and the fact that if you’ve got this far down the page you’ve probably seen it!) I have a popup that encourages people to sign up to my mailing list. Since introducing the popup in January I’ve seen an increase in my subscribers (yay!). However, when I looked at my Mail Poet stats I was also finding that for each new subscriber there was another person that had given their email address but then not clicked on the confirmation email.
In essence I was getting people to sign up but then failing to convert them into actual subscribers.
I decided that there were two possible causes…
- People got the email but didn’t get around to clicking the link
- People weren’t getting the email (most likely it was going into their spam folder)
Whilst I’m sure there are instances where (1) happens, I’d be very surprised that it would be as high as 50%. So I decided to investigate whether my email was being seen as spam and what I could do about it.
I had a look at the Mail Poet website and it recommended trying this mail tester. You send an email to the address supplied and a couple of minutes later you can access a report on the mail you sent. In my case I entered the email address into my subscription box to see what happened.
The report came back and I got a score of about 5 out of 10 (I can’t remember exactly) which was pretty poor. It suggested that there would be a number of mail systems that would see my emails as spam. The great thing is that it then came up with a list of things that could be fixed.
I then fixed as many as I could (I won’t bore you with the technical details but let me know if you’re interested) and increased my score to 8.4. Almost immediately the ratio of new subscribers to unconfirmed subscribers dropped 🙂 .
It only takes a few minutes to check and I’d thoroughly recommend giving it a go as there’s no point in going to all the trouble to convince people to subscribe only to find that they’re not getting your emails.
Blog Income and Visitor Numbers
Despite being a shorter month, February has seen a 13% increase in the number of site visitors, with on average 500 people visiting each day.
My Recipe Book – Number of Visits
My Recipe Book – Total Pageviews
The top ten visitor sources were…
- Pinterest – 5,342 visits
- Direct – 2,763 visits
- Foodgawker – 1,530 visits
- Google – 1,110 visits
- Tastespotting – 712 visits
- Foodgawker (iPhone) – 493 visits
- Yummly.com – 424 visits
- Foodgawker (iPad) – 141 visits
- Facebook (mobile) – 138 visits
- Twitter – 128 visits
My Recipe Book – Monthly Comparison
Comparing to last month, you can see that I have had growth in Pinterest, Direct and Google. Tastespotting and Yummly have largely stayed the same, whilst I have seen a reduction in Foodgawker (no recipe on the top row this time round 🙁 ) and Other (due to being featured on Recipechart in January).
One aspect I am going to read up on in March is search engine optimisation. I have seen some growth in Google, but it accounts for less than 10% of my overall traffic which, when I compare myself to other bloggers, is a significantly lower proportion than they achieve. Possibly I just need to be patient, but I would like to check I’m not doing anything wrong. Does anyone have any tips?
February saw another increase in followers on Twitter and Pinterest. The email subscription pop-up box introduced at the start of January has also been beneficial, with an additional 62 subscribers this month.
My total income in February was £21.30.
- Gourmet Ads – £16.79 ($25.06)
- Google Adsense – £4.51
As I said before, I treated myself to a new photography light which cost £141.60. Technically the light was a birthday present so wasn’t really “my” expense, but I want to give you as clear a picture as I can of the costs involved in running my blog so I decided to include it here.
This one-off expense meant that I made a loss of £120.30.
I should probably be disappointed that I’ve gone from a profit to a loss but I’m not because…
- My income has almost doubled from £11.13 in January
- I really wanted that light!
Plan for Next Month
I know I’ve talked about this before, but just to remind you. My three main aims for March are…
- Publish a total of 50 recipes on the site.
- Spend more time engaging with other bloggers, reading the blogs I enjoy, taking the time to comment, and chatting more on social media.
- Learn how to use my new light
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, and hope to see you back here next month to read March’s food blog traffic and income report.