Building My Blog – February 2016

Welcome to my 20th monthly blog update (and 200th post!), all about what I got up to behind the scenes of Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen in February 2016. This month I’m going to talk about Stumbling and Tumblring, finding new visitor sources and oh what’s going on with Pinterest?

building my blog feb 16 title

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!

What I got up to in February

Before I begin with what I’ve been doing, what has gone on with Pinterest??  In the past pinning recipes to the group boards brought a big boost in visitors, however at the start of February this stopped. At first I was worried that what I was sharing simply wasn’t popular and that’s why nobody was looking, but a quick view of the group boards revealed that there were very few repins for anyone. A quick bit of Googling and keeping updated with reports like these has revealed that others had also noticed a big shift in visitors too. Whilst I actually saw an uplift in visits from Pinterest this month, it has come from a random selection of recipes that I haven’t pinned for a long time rather than my newer recipes.

This served as a reminder that I am constantly at the mercy of various traffic source algorithms, so my February was taken up with looking to diversify my traffic sources further…


I love food photography, but I have mainly restricted myself to Instagram as my social media of choice for sharing photos. However I had noticed Tumblr appeared in a couple of income reports, and so thought I would take a look. It is very similar to Instagram but with a couple of significant differences:

  • You can provide a link to your post within the photo you share, so that a person can click on your photo and be taken to your site.
  • You can submit your photos to users who have large followings who, if they like what they see, will publish the photos on their photo feed (two of the bigger users are FoodFFS and Sweettoothfairy).

Both of these means Tumblr drives significantly more traffic than Instagram (I’ve had c.800 visits from Tumblr this month) and given it is easy to use I would certainly recommend taking a look and if you fancy following my Tumblr page then you can find it here.


I’ve had a StumbleUpon button on my site for a while, but I’ve never really been an active user of the site. This is silly really given I read so many food blogs and come across some great articles, so I decided to give it a proper go this month. As with many of these types of things, the more you put into it the more you get out of it. I stumbled around 300 articles in February, including about 20 of my own. StumbleUpon send you a weekly email where you can see some of the most popular articles you have stumbled with the number of views they have had. In total my own articles had c. 1,600 visits (split between stumbleupon and corp.stumbleupon – anyone know the difference?), however some posts I stumbled from other bloggers had 5,000+ views.

Butterscotch Sauce 7

My butterscotch sauce proved to be popular on Stumbleupon

I can’t really make my mind up about Stumbleupon though. For those not familiar, the way Stumbleupon works is that someone hits the Stumble button and Stumbleupon shows them a randomly selected post (well not completely random as it’s based on their interests and posts they’ve previously liked). As soon as the post appears on their screen it counts as a visit in Google Analytics. They may have no interest in what you’re saying and could hit Stumble again straight away but it still counts. In comparison with something like Facebook, if you share your recipe on Facebook someone has to physically click through to actually view it (and therefore count as a visit).

Think about how many posts appear in your Facebook feed that you just scroll past without clicking on, then you’re probably looking at a similar proportion of people being shown your post in Stumbleupon and then clicking off straight away to look at something else. In short, yes it can bring lots of visits but the majority of them won’t be “quality” visits from people that actually have any interest in what you’re saying (you’ll notice that you have a very high bounce rate ). That said, in between the many people that hit Stumble again without reading, there will be some that are genuinely happy to have discovered your site and those are definitely people I like 🙂 I think I’ll give it a bit more time and see how I feel in a month or so.

Discovering other new sites to submit my recipes to

I talked last month about the book SEO for Food Bloggers by Howie from Hurry The Food Up. One benefit I’ve seen from following the advice in the book is in finding new places to share my recipes. From an SEO perspective this should have the benefit of creating new backlinks to my blog, but simply from a blogging perspective it’s introduced my blog to new readers which always makes me happy. Regular readers of my blog will know I already try to share my posts as widely as possible (have a look at my ultimate photo sharing guide part II), but I have found some new sites which look interesting (a couple of which look like they’ll make it into my top 10 visitor sources for March):

Getting people to hang around

Another area I’ve seen a benefit as a result of reading Howie’s book is in increasing the number of pages each person views when they visit. The majority of my readers click on a specific post, read it, and then head off somewhere else on the web – they don’t hang around and look at more things.

One of the suggestions in Howie’s book is to add links to other posts in the posts you have that already do well on Google. This passes “link juice” onto the posts you’re linking to and should then help boost their position in the Google rankings. It’s a bit too early to tell whether I’m seeing the benefit of doing this from a Google perspective, but I’ve definitely seen an increase in people clicking through from one post to another (I started adding links on 17th Feb, doing just one or two posts per day –  even this small change has moved my average page views from 1.24 from 1st-16th Feb to 1.26 from 17th-29th Feb).

By simply adding a link to my buttercream into my birthday cake recipe I increased pages per session for my birthday cake from  1.28 to 1.39 and increased views on the buttercream post by 5 times





All the numbers


As per usual I worried about visitor numbers for February, especially as it was a short month, and as per usual I needn’t have worried. Discovering new places to share my recipes as well as a boost from Shrove Tuesday and Valentine’s Day led to another record month with over 70k visits and nearly 90k page views.

Don’t forget you can find all of my old reports in my monthly reports index if you want to figure out what caused any of the changes in the past.

CharlottesLivelyKitchen - Site Visits Feb16

Charlottes Lively Kitchen – Visitors

CharlottesLivelyKitchen - Pageviews Feb16

Charlottes Lively Kitchen – Pageviews

And they came from…

  1. Google – 28,790 (+21%)
  2. Pinterest – 15,689 (+11%)
  3. Direct – 15,448 (+31%)
  4. Yummly – 2,220 (+71%)
  5. UK Pinterest – 1,246 (+118%)
  6. Foodgawker – 1,122 (+94%)
  7. Stumbleupon 930 (no visits in January)
  8. Tumblr – 755 ( +>999%)
  9. Corp.Stumbleupon – 705 (no visits in January)
  10. Recipeshubs – 330 (+36%)


Some steady growth all round (at least in the areas I’ve been making some sort of effort) once again helped by my regular The Juice Premium giveaway. There was a definitely boost in Pinterest followers in February (which isn’t included in the giveaway entry options so nothing to do with that). I can only think that it’s something to do with whatever Pinterest are up to at the moment so I’ll just have to keep an eye on it.

CharlottesLivelyKitchen - Followers Feb16

Charlottes Lively Kitchen – Social Media Followers

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

Brilliant blog posts on


  1. Great report, Charlotte – as always. I always really enjoy reading these. Very impressed at how hard you work to promote your posts – I read somewhere recently that you should spend 20% of your time writing posts and 80% of your time promoting them. I definitely don’t get that right! But you seem to get closer to the mark. You have inspired me to find more channels to promote my posts on, rather than relying on the same few. Thanks for sharing! Eb x

    • Charlotte Oates

      I do cheat quite a bit as Jon really helps me out. He’ll sit and submit things to various sites while watching TV in the evening, while I write up posts and do the more social side of promoting (Twitter, FB, insta, etc…). We make a good team 🙂

      • Wow – you have a great husband there, Charlotte! Not sure mine would be too keen on submitting stuff, though he is a good proof reader when I need one 🙂 Eb x

        • Charlotte Oates

          He does my proofreading too (and some of my photo editing while he’s on the train to work). I’m very lucky

  2. Awesome post! I love tracking my own blog and seeing what others are doing for marketing and promotion 🙂 I’ll keep on following these posts to keep updated!

    • Thanks Rami. I think I’m quite addicted to google analytics and looking at other bloggers for inspiration.

  3. I dolike reading these posts, I don’t spend as much time on the blog as I could do but work gets in the way at the moment – lots of paperwork to do at home! I find Facebook quite hardwork and don’t really use it a lot anymore. Mite have to go have a look at Tumblr though!

    • I find Facebook very tricky too, it’s quite difficult to get your posts seen due to their algorithm. I’m finally starting to get some visits from there but mostly from when bigger pages share my recipes rather than sharing them on my page.

  4. I need to recruit Emma to do some of this for me! I saw a big spike of traffic when someone stumbled one of my recipes as well, but exactly as you said – no one seemed to hang around. Boo.

    I’m planning on a dedicated month of really going mad on promoting the blog on all these sites, so thanks again for such great info on all of them 🙂

    • I’m lucky that Jon seems to enjoy helping. I know my blog wouldn’t be doing nearly as well without his help as it’s all very time consuming. Good luck with trying out those sites, I hope they bring you some new visitors.

  5. I also love these posts and am very impressed with how well you’re doing. I wish I had more time for promoting my blog but I feel I have different people fighting for my attention all the time!

    • Charlotte Oates

      Thanks Corina. I’m very lucky that I get a lot of help from Jon. I wouldn’t be able to promote my posts nearly as much without him.

  6. Great post Charlotte, I always find your monthly round-up posts so helpful 🙂 I too can’t decide about Stumbleupon, but like Martin said above I saw a massive spike in my numbers when a particular post was stumbled – but as you say those stats can be somewhat misleading it people then quickly click onto something else if they don’t like what they see. I’m certainly going to have a look at some of the other photo sharing sites that you mentioned.
    Angela x

    • Charlotte Oates

      I’m erring on the side of liking StumbleUpon, I know that most of the visits are from people that’ll head off again very quickly but it’s always nice to have a little flurry of visits – it makes me happy. Plus it doesn’t happen if someone stumbles your recipe and noone clicks “like” so if you get more than a handful it means that someone somewhere is liking what you’re writing – all happy things 🙂

  7. Great work Charlotte, looks like your dedication has paid off as you came up number 1 in Google when I searched for food days uk 2016. Great idea to do the #FoodYearLinkUp.

    I’m just learning about the world of online sharing for my Greeting card business so thanks for sharing all this wonderful detail 🙂

    • Charlotte Oates

      Ooh I was no.2 last time I looked 🙂

      I hope you find the reports useful, please let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.

  8. WOW YOU ARE SUPER DEDICATED!! I’ve only been blogging since January but am still getting to grips with Tumblr, Stumbleupon etc etc. Good work #brilliantblogposts

    • Charlotte Oates

      Part of the enjoyment of blogging for me is the challenge of growing my blog, I really enjoy finding new places to share my posts and seeing what works and what doesn’t. Plus, my husband gives me a lot of help with that side of things that which is a huge help, I don’t think I’d have the time for everything by myself.

  9. Great info.! Thanks very much. I just brought the SEO for Food Bloggers book but I haven’t delved into it . Glad to hear it contains helpful tips. Must get reading it soon. Thanks again!

    • Charlotte Oates

      Thanks Mona, I’ve definitely found it useful. It’s still too early to see if it’s benefitted me from a Google perspective but I’ve definitely seen other benefits.

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