Building My Blog – March 2015


Welcome to my 9th monthly food blog update, all about what I’ve been up to on My Recipe Book in March.

Food blog traffic and income report

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…

Google mobile friendly results

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).

Example of a not mobile friendly result

 

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.

Fifty Recipes

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.

BBQ chicken and bacon pizza

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.

Lighting

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.

Blogging Community

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.

March 2015 food blog traffic stats

Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen – Visitor Stats 

March 2015 food blog page view stats

Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen – Pageviews

The top ten visitor sources were…

Food blog traffic comparison

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.

Followers

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.

Social Media Food blog followers
Income

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.

March 2015 Food Blog Income

Blog income

 

April Challenges

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.


Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com


 

27 Comments:

  1. Sounds like things are doing well 🙂

    • Thanks Renee. I’m really pleased with how it’s been going so far and I’m really looking forward to seeing the results of my experiments over this month.

  2. The dot.com dilemma is a tough one to call. If you are going to change it, now might be the right time, as doing it in 6 months time when the site is doing even better could be a massive headache…

    • Charlotte Oates

      You’re so right, although it’ll be quite a headache now too!

      • I would suggest getting in touch with whoever hosts your site, and see how easy or difficult it would be to transfer the website over. Maybe send this next few weeks finding out as much as you can about moving it or not, and ease off on the recipes until you have decided what to do?

  3. It’s always fascinating to read about how well other bloggers are doing on their sites and to see the number of visitors they get etc. It looks like you are doing really well and the site has been really taking off in the last few months. Well done!

    • Charlotte Oates

      Thanks Corinna. It really started doing well when I improved my photographs and figured out pinterest. They’ve both made a huge difference.

  4. Yep, the .com is a real tough one alright. My gut instinct would be to change now, while it’s not too late. A pain in the butt to be sure, but for the long run….

  5. Hi Charlotte!
    Your grow is really impressive! Great to see that the effort your are putting in is getting recognized!
    Regarding you .com dilemma – It really depends what your plans are with this blog. If you want to keep growing and might think this is a problem, you need to talk asap with a professional who can tell you exactly what kind of impact this issue has. The longer you wait the bigger gets the problem.

    • To be 100% honest Howie I have no idea what I want the blog to turn into, I just take each day as it comes and I’m always a little amazed at what happens. However, I know that I don’t want to find that whatever I decide to do in future is limited by my choice of domain name (although who’s to say whatever I choose will be any better!).

      If I do it it’s definitely going to be sooner rather than later, I know that the longer I leave it the bigger headache it’ll be when I go for it.

  6. I think you are totally awesome and you should keep the name you have. Don’t change anything you are clearly doing incredibly well! If I had your growth figures I would be so so pleased, and I do my blog as a part time job…and have no where near your figures. Stick at it. You are brilliant and I need your skills!! Developing recipes and promoting them is so time consuming…I don’t know how you do it all!

    • Charlotte Oates

      Thanks Vicki. I don’t get called awesome very often (or ever!) so that comment made my day! You’re so right about it being time consuming, I think it could take over my life if I let it! I’m fortunate that Jon (my husband) helps out with some of the promotion things like submissions to all the photo-sharing sites which really helps. I don’t think I’d be doing nearly as well without him.

  7. I think you are awesome too! I must admit I like ‘My recipe book’ and you would lose that if you went dot.com but it could be interesting to explore the dot.com possibilities..

    • So you should, you’re my Mum!

      I’m quite attached to “My Recipe Book” so if I go for it I’ll be sad to see it go.

  8. Hi Charlotte, just read this after popping over from IG to check out the yummy looking pizza recipe. If you want to build a brand, in the long run it would be less painful to change now. With regard to your domain names I would buy both .co.uk and .com. You can have one hosting your blog and the other directed towards it. That way when people are looking for the name of your blog it won’t matter which ending they input and you won’t miss out on potential visitors to your site.

    • Charlotte Oates

      Thanks Michelle. So glad you liked the look of my pizza!

      I was planning on buying both the .com and .co.uk for just the reason you’ve suggested.

  9. Have you considered the Amazon affiliate program? I would have clicked on a Lowel Ego lamp link had it been linked. Just a thought. Keep up the good work.

    • I’m a member of amazon affiliates. Sadly you can’t buy the lamp from Amazon in the UK. There’s only one seller I can find (the one I used – prokit.com) and they don’t have a affiliate program.

  10. I’ve never done that with my blog when it was growing, wish I had now, it’s fascinating!

    • Charlotte Oates

      Thanks Karen. Every month I wonder if I should carry on writing these reports but then I get lovely comments about them and it keeps me going. It is great to look back at the old ones and see how far I’ve come.

  11. Such a brilliant post. I find it fascinating to follow you as you are growing your blog. The amount of detail you include in this monthly post amazes me.

    • Charlotte Oates

      Thanks Mel. I’m always looking at the numbers (an ex-analyst habit) so I might as well share them. I just hope that a few people find it useful.

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