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.
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…
- Companies want to work with top rated/popular bloggers and being in the Foodies 100 suggests that you’re one of those.
- 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.
- 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.
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…
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 – Visitor Stats
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.
Monthly Comparison of Visitor Sources
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.
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