Welcome to my 9th monthly food blog update, all about what I’ve been up to on My Recipe Book in March.
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 reports before and want to know a bit more about why I write them, then take a look at my very first report.
My .com dilemma
Before I get on with talking about what I’ve been up to this month I’d really like your opinion on something.
When I first decided to start a food blog I was keen to have a .com domain name. However, I was tempted into getting a .co.uk domain instead as I liked myrecipebook and the .com was already taken.
Since I started blogging I’ve read various pieces of advice about naming blogs and it seems I’ve broken two pretty fundamental rules…
Have a domain name that’s distinct – a clear brand that people will hear and know they’re referring to your site.
My Recipe Book very clearly defines what my site is about, someone clicking on it knows they’re going to find a recipe which is what I want. However it’s not something that would generally be associated with me. Anyone with a recipe book will refer to “my recipe book” and they won’t be talking about me, and you just need to google “my recipe book” to see that I’m not at the top.
Go for .com unless what you’re writing is very country specific.
Recipes are international, and I have a large number of readers from outside the UK. Having a .co.uk domain name means I’m more likely to rank in google in the UK but much less so in other countries (84% of my google visits are from the UK).
Having a .com domain would theoretically increase my potential search engine audience massively. I love the idea of people popping over to take a look at my recipes so the more the merrier I’d say! However, I can’t simply switch to myrecipebook.com as it’s already taken (I even asked if they’d sell it to me as it’s not really being used at the moment but they said “no”).
So now you can see my dilemma. Should I stick with what I’ve got, try and make the My Recipe Book brand mine, and live with the fact that people around the world will be worse off for not being able to find me delicious recipes on Google?! Or should I bite the bullet and change with all the work and risk involved (it’ll take quite a lot of effort to change and may not make any difference)?
What do you think? Please help me make up my mind as I really can’t decide what to do for the best.
Is your website mobile friendly?
While I’m on the subject of google I wanted to quickly mention something that’s been floating around the blogging world for the past month. At the end of February Google wrote a post explaining that whether your site is mobile friendly will be becoming more important in their search algorithm from 21st April.
Fortunately for me I chose a responsive wordpress theme which means my pages adapt to the screen size it’s being shown on (this means it’ll look different on a mobile, tablet or desktop).
It’s really easy to check whether Google sees your website as mobile friendly. Simply type your URL into this page and they’ll tell you. You can see a screen shot of my results below…
If it finds that your site is not mobile friendly then you’ll get something a bit like the screen below (I’ve used Delia online as an example as I knew it wasn’t mobile friendly).
Regardless of whether you’re bothered about ranking on Google or not, I believe that it’s really important to have a mobile friendly site as it makes a much better experience for your readers.
If you’re on wordpress the Jetpack plugin has a feature to create a mobile friendly version of your site. I’ve not tried it so I can’t vouch for how well it works, but it’s probably worth a look.
That’s enough of my little Google related asides, on with what I’ve been up to over the last month…
In my February report I mentioned I wanted to end March with fifty recipes on my blog. I’m pleased to say that I achieved this with just under two hours to spare! My tasty barbecue chicken and bacon pizza was published at just after 10pm on 31st March.
Over the last three months I have more than tripled the number of recipes on the site, as well as adding a number of food fun articles (such as cake decorating tips, pancake art and making my own Easter eggs). It has been hard work, but extremely satisfying, and I think it provides a strong basis to grow my site in future.
I mentioned last month that I’d splashed out on a Lowel Ego lamp for my food photograpy.
So how am I finding it?
Short answer… I love it.
It’s honestly made my life so much easier. Before I had it there were times where I’d spend hours trying to get photographs that were bright enough and sharp enough. Not only that, but once I’d taken the pictures I then spent ages editing them to get them to look their best.
Since getting the lamp, the pictures that took me several hours to take and edit now take about half-an hour with very little editing required. It’s also meant that I don’t have to worry about making food for when the light will be best, as I can take them at any time of day.
Another advantage has been taking a quick picture of the food I’m making to pop on Instagram. I’d been reluctant to do it before as the poor lighting in my kitchen meant they didn’t look particularly appealing. Now I take them next to the lamp and I’m proud to show them off.
If you’re struggling for light for your food photography, I’d really recommend you consider buying a specialist lamp.
My third objective for March was to be a greater part of the blogging community. Participating more on social networks, reading and commenting on more blogs, and participating more in linkups.
I’m less happy with how I’ve done with this. I’m definitely doing more, especially on Instagram and joining linkups. However, focusing on my 50 recipes didn’t leave as much time as I would have liked to be sociable. I love reading everyone’s blogs and getting to know other bloggers so this is definitely an ongoing objective.
Blog Income and Visitor Numbers
March saw a 39% increase in visitor numbers from February, with the average number of daily visitors increasing from 500 per day to 625.
Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen – Visitor Stats
Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen – Pageviews
The top ten visitor sources were…
- Pinterest – 7,903
- Direct – 4,314
- Google – 1,370
- Foodgawker – 1,369
- Tastespotting – 815
- Yummly.com – 679
- Foodyub – 457
- Foodgawker (iPhone) – 379
- Facebook (mobile) – 188
- Matthew Woodward – 155
Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen – Monthly Traffic Source Comparison
The eagled-eyed among you will notice a new entrant into the top ten. Foodyub is a photo-sharing site I came across mid-way through the month, which drives a considerable amount of traffic. The site has a very simple submission process, and they tweet, pin your recipes onto their Pinterest boards, and share them on their Facebook page. Certainly one I would recommend.
I (well Jon actually) has also been trying other photo-sharing sites not mentioned in our ultimate guide, namely Recipesgawker, Eat365 (thanks to Hurrythefoodup for the recommendation), Mytaste and the re-launched Yumgoggle. Expect a follow up ultimate guide article in the second quarter of this year.
March saw increases across most of the social medias. I have been trying to remember to post photos to Instagram, particularly as I am keen to complete my #Make30Photos photography challenge.
My total income for March was £29.34 which is a 38% increase compared to February.
* Assumes an exchange rate of $1 = £0.67.
It’s exciting to see my first affiliate income this month from Skimlinks. Yes, it’s only 6p so I won’t be retiring anytime soon, but we’ve all got to start somewhere.
Before you worry about the appalling commission rate, the order value was for just £1.66 so it was actually 5.26% which isn’t too bad. I only added Skimlinks to the website on 27th March so it’ll be interested to see how it goes when it’s running for a full month.
Each month I like to set myself three challenges. This helps keep me focus and gives you an idea of what might be coming up in next month’s report.
If you’re a regular reader of my reports then you’ll probably have gathered that I love experimenting with the website, trying different things and seeing what happens. With all my focus on getting to 50 recipes by the end of March I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to experiment. I’m still going to be mainly focus on writing new recipes, but I’m also making time for some “fun” too.
The three things I’m aiming to play around with in April are…
- Advertising – I had three adverts on my sidebar, two from gourmet ads and one from Adsense. You may have noticed that I’ve added a banner ad above each post and an extra ad in the sidebar. I’m interested to see the difference in income I get from having these two extra ads and whether the bold banner ad performs better than the others (to be completely honest I’m not entirely sure I like having such a bold advert, but I was sucked into it by my interest in learning about the benefits).
- Affiliate Links – I’m a member of a few affiliate programs but I’ve not really taken it seriously. Towards the end of March I joined Skimlinks and I’m going to use that to experiment with affiliate links in my posts.
- A wider variety of posts – I’ve been really focussed on writing recipes (and the occasional food fun post) that I’ve not had much time to experiment with other types of posts.
Hopefully this month of experiments should mean that I’ve got some interesting insights for you in next month’s reports.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, I hope to see you back here next month to see how I got on.