Building My Blog – July 2015



Welcome to my 13th monthly food blog update, all about what I’ve been up to on Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen in July 2015. This month I’ve been celebrating my 1st blog anniversary, achieving one of my secret blogging ambitions and getting organised on Pinterest.

Building my blog July 2015 badge

As always I’ll share with you my experiences and hopefully pass on a few helpful tips, as well as the usual visitor and follower numbers. If you’ve not read one of my reports before and want to know a bit more about why I write them, then take a look at my very first report.

Celebrating my 1st Anniversary

In mid-July I celebrated the 1st anniversary of Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen (well I’ve included My Recipe Book as well as starting again from the launch of CLK in June felt like cheating!). I really can’t believe I’ve been at this for a whole year, I still feel like such a newbie and that there’s so much to learn. However, that’s what I enjoy about it all so long may my learning curve continue.

Breaking into the Foodies 100

As you know if you read these reports quite often, I’m pretty open about this blog, what I’m trying to achieve each month and the things I’m doing to try and achieve those objectives. However, I also have a few secret ambitions, things I’d love to achieve but I know they’re going to be hard, involve a fair amount of luck and ultimately may not be possible. I’m so happy to say that this month I achieved my first secret ambition… to make it into the top 100 of the Foodies 100 (I’m number 93).

For those unfamiliar with the Foodies 100, it is a network for UK food and drink bloggers and has around 5,000 members. Each month they rank all the food blogs registered with them based on popularity, engagement and influence.

From an article on the Tots 100 site (a sister site to Foodies 100 which uses the same criteria), they take into account the number of visits your site gets each month, average number of page views, Instagram followers, Klout score (which is a ranking of your social media influence) and metrics around the number of back-links to your site.

Whilst breaking into the Foodies 100 has been one of my secret ambitions it’s never really dictated what I do as a blogger. However, knowing the criteria is a helpful reminder of some of the things that are important to grow a blog. There’s obviously lots of other things too and, as they mention in the Tots 100 article, the most important thing is enjoying what you’re doing. Whilst it’s useful to know the Foodies 100 ranking criteria, if there’s something I don’t enjoy or that just doesn’t feel genuine to me then I don’t do it. I think this approach actually contributes to the success of a blog in the long run, as I’d imagine that readers quickly see through you if you’re not being genuine.

I suspect that some of the numbers for July were taken from my old site (My Recipe Book) as some of these things take a while to update so I’m expecting to fall back out of the top 100 in August, but hopefully if I’ve made it in there once then I’ll be able to make it in again.

If you’re a food blogger and you like looking at rankings, another site that may be of interest to you is MyTaste. It ranks registered UK based food sites (they have other sites for other countries) based on weekly visitor numbers.

So what’s the point of being in the Foodies 100?

This is something I’ve questioned since I set my secret ambition. I wanted to be in the Foodies 100 because it’s a nice place to be, but I didn’t actually know what I could get out of it.

So what have I discovered so far?

I’ve only been in there a couple of weeks. However, in that short space of time I’ve noticed a significant increase in the number of emails I get from companies asking me to review their products or inviting me to events… All very exciting! I guess the reason for this is two-fold…

  1. Companies want to work with top rated/popular bloggers and being in the Foodies 100 suggests that you’re one of those.
  2. You’re much easier to find. The Foodies 100 provides direct links to the top 100.

Other benefits? I’m not sure yet but I’m looking forward to finding out.

The return of the RSS image quality issues

Last month I proudly announced that I’d fixed the poor image quality in my RSS feed with a quick and easy settings change. Sadly as soon as I published the article the images reverted back to their previous fuzziness. I checked the settings and they’ve not changed so I’ve no idea what’s happened or how to fix it. I’m on the case, I just wanted to mention it in case you’d popped the fix on your to-do list – it doesn’t work!

New Pinterest Boards

As mentioned last month I have set up three new boards which if you’re a food blogger may be of interest to you. The first is Inspiring Food Photography, which shows a collection of the best food photos I have found around the internet. It has inspired me to try a couple of different photo styles:

  • Food Preparation shots – Taking more photos during the making of the recipes. It makes the whole process a little longer, but adds a bit more interest to the post. I find this quite tricky when I’m by myself (hold the spoon in the right place whilst focussing the camera) so I’ll often save this type of shot for the weekend when Jon’s home to help.

Summer Fruits and  Custard Tarts

 

Buttercream piping

  • Darker photos with increased props and greater emphasis on photo styling. I realised a lot of the photos I liked were quite dark, with lighting used to place emphasis on the food. I’ve found Lightroom invaluable in creating this type of look.

cherry pie long

 Soy and Sesame Salmon with Noodles 3

The second board is Tips for Food Photography, which is a collection of articles I have found useful in trying to improve my food photography. The third board is Food Blog Reports, a collection of reports similar to this one which again provides useful insights into how to grow your site.

And now on to all the numbers…

Visitors

It would be fair to say that the visitor numbers are now showing a trend. Take out May when I re-branded, and between March to July I have seen a slow but steady increase. However, if you take a look at the traffic sources you can see that I have seen a large increase in Google since March (over 6k), whilst Pinterest has fallen (by almost 3k). I discussed Google in last month’s report as to what I believe caused the increase. Pinterest is I believe down to not really having a strategy, just pinning a random recipe to various Group boards each day. I am going to try a more targeted strategy this month, looking at the sort of recipes that do well on each Group board I pin to. I’ll let you know how I get on next month.

Charlottes Lively Kitchen - Visitors

Charlottes Lively Kitchen – Visitor Stats

Charlottes Lively Kitchen - Pageviews

Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen – Pageviews

  • Google – 7,588
  • Pinterest – 5,019
  • Direct – 4,079
  • Yummly – 1,739
  • Foodgawker – 739
  • Tastyglutenfreemeals.com – 225
  • iPhone Foodgawker – 176
  • Tastespotting – 171
  • Recipechart – 154
  • Twitter – 123

The new entry this month is Tasty Gluten Free Meals who featured my Hasselback Potatoes. This was a one off so I expect them to disappear again next month.

Charlottes Lively Kitchen - Traffic Sources

Monthly Comparison of Visitor Sources

Followers

Nothing dramatic this month. Instagram continues to increase at about 600 per month without me really doing anything except post a photo most days. Twitter has slowed recently, despite me posting and engaging at a similar rate.

Charlottes Lively Kitchen - Social Media Followers

Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen – Social Media Followers

Plans for August

It’s the school summer holiday so I’ve got the boys at home with me all the time (and I’m loving it!). That does however mean that blogging time (and more specifically cooking and photography) time is limited. My main objective is to keep blogging away through the holidays whilst still making the most of the summer with my boys.

I’m also going to be testing out the targeted Pinterest strategy I mentioned before to see if I can get Pinterest visitors to pick up again.

My last objective is to finally publish the photography post I’ve been talking about for the past two months.

 

As always, thanks for reading. I hope to see you here again next month xx


Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

24 Comments:

  1. As always fascinating read. You’re definitely going to stay in the top 100 of Foodies, no doubt about that! I’m looking forward to your post about food photography: you rock, lady! Can’t wait to finally meet you next month x

    • Looking forward to meeting you too!

      I’m suffering from a touch of writers block when it comes to the photography post (I think it’s because it’s quite different from anything I’ve written before). I’ve started writing it several times but I can’t settle on how I want to word it. I’m hoping I’ll sit down one day and start typing and find it perfectly written an hour later – fingers crossed.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this Charlotte – it’s really helpful to see how other bloggers are doing and learn useful tips.

  3. Hi Charlotte – thanks for posting this – it’s really useful information and very generous of you to share. Can I ask please what you think caused your two large increases in traffic from Dec 14 to Jan 15 and Feb 15 to March 15? Thank you – love your site. Beautiful photos. x

    • Thanks Dawn.

      I suggest you take a look at the January and March reports for all the details, you can find all of my old reports in my blogging menu. There were two main drivers of the growth…

      1) Improving my photography so I started getting accepted on sites such as Foodgawker and Tastespotting
      2) Learning about Pinterest and joining some group boards to share my recipes (this was also helped by the fact that I was taking better photos so more people wanted to click through to look at them).

      • Hi Charlotte, yes after I posted the comment(s) I realised I could have a look at your other reports. Such useful. thorough information, thank you. Congrats on the Foodies Top 100. x

  4. Love this ‘behind the scenes’ post, putting your heart and statistics out there all at once… GO FOR IT!
    You’ve inspired me 🙂

  5. Wow, you have done brilliantly! And congratulations on your first blogiversary 🙂 My blog turned one as well last weekend (but defo can’t boast similar stats) 🙂 keep up the good work, this was a fascinating read. #brilliantblogposts

    • Thanks Sanna. I think that it’s easier to find places to share your posts for food blogs than mummy blogs as food blogs are so visual so it doesn’t really make sense to compare. I’m sure you’re doing brilliantly xx

  6. A great post. Can I ask how/why your stats blossomed in january? (Well done by the way)
    #brilliantblogposts

    • Thanks Tracey. All the detail about January is in the January report (you’ll find it in the “blogging” menu). The main difference was improving my photography so I was accepted into more photo sharing sites such as foodgawker and also leaning about Pinterest group boards.

  7. Those are some great stats you should be really pleased. I love how you have a strategy – I need to do the same in September when I am looking at blogging full time.

    • Thanks Ali. I can’t resist having some sort of plan, it replaces that side of things from when I worked. All the best with your full time blogging x

  8. I find it so easy to get caught up in rankings but it’s important to have fun too. I love your photos and congratulations for achieving your secret goal.

    • Getting caught up in the rankings is part of the fun for me. I know that people blog for lots of different reasons but one of my main reasons is to replace that sense of achievement I used to get from working. It’s quite easy to lose your identity as a stay at home mum and to forget all the things I was good at when I worked. Every time I achieve something new, be it learning a new photography technique, perfecting a new recipe, trying some new code or finding a way to attract new readers to my blog or social media it reminds me of what I’m capable of. Whilst I know the rankings aren’t all that important in the scheme of things, I’m fully expecting to drop back out of the top 100 this month and that’s fine. However, being there is another little piece to add to the things I achieved so when I’m up there it does make me happy.

  9. Congrats on making it into the top 100. That’s a really great accomplishment and worth celebrating. Your stats seem to be making a steady increase and you really seem to be enjoying it. #BrilliantBlogPosts

  10. Thanks so much for sharing, maybe one day, when I get a bit of momentum I’ll share too, but I gotta figure it out first! LOL I am impressed with your growth and hope that you continue to grow while enjoying your holiday!

    • Thanks Nikki. I decided to share this right from the word go when I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing and had about 100 views in a month. It gave me a kick to make sure I figured things out so I’d have something to share each month. Knowing I’ve got the report coming up each month is a great motivator to try something new.

  11. Hi Charlotte, I just wanted to say thank you so much for writing these round-up posts. They are so interesting and so inspiring for a newbie blogger like me! I have read them all now and taken copious notes on all the things I would like to do on my blog. I can’t quite get over how much you have managed to achieve in just over a year! Have you found the secret to getting more than 24 hours out of your day?!?

    • Thanks, Eb. I enjoy writing these posts and I love it when people say they find them helpful. If you like this sort of thing then head over to my Pinterest boards, I’ve got a board dedicated to other food blogs that write similar reports. Some of them are well established and hugely successful so you should be able to get some great tips from them.

      P.S. The secret to getting more than 24 hours out of my day is to get my husband to do some of the less exciting jobs like submitting my recipes to photosharing sites 🙂 He’s a very helpful person to have around.

  12. Thanks Charlotte. They really are very helpful. I am looking forward to the next one. I will also go and take a look at your Pinterest board.

    Clever tip. I will have to ask my husband…!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *