Building My Blog – May 2015



Welcome to my 11th monthly update, all about what I’ve been up to on Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen in May.

Building my blog may 2015 badge

As always I’ll share with you my experiences and hopefully pass on a few helpful tips, as well as giving you a sneaky peek at my visitor and social media numbers so you can see how I’m doing. For the first time you’ll notice that I’ve not included income numbers in this months report. As I mentioned last month, I realised that it just simply wasn’t a priority for me so it no longer made any sense to include it in this update.

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.

The birth of Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen

So the big news for the month was that I said a sad farewell to ‘My Recipe Book’ and a big welcome to ‘Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen’. I hope you like the new name. Along with moving to .com, my other aim with the name change was to choose something that was more specific to me. Obviously including my own name is fairly specific, whilst the ‘lively kitchen’ comes from the fact that with two little ones my kitchen is always busy and noisy, particularly at mealtimes, which I love.

I’m very pleased to say there were no major issues with the switchover (at least none that I’ve found so far!). The helpful people at tsohost copied across my website to the new domain, I added in the 301 redirects from my old site (which means that all my old links should still work) and switched over my social media names. The only downsides were that I have lost some of my Google momentum (more about that later) and I decided it was easier to start a new Facebook page than try to transfer my existing one across (although I’ve solved that problem now – more about that in June’s update).

At some point I’ll write a post about the key things to consider when switching to a new domain. However, I want to wait a couple of months first to see how everything pans out and to make sure that I don’t discover anything wrong a bit further down the line.

Running my first giveaway

At the start of the May I was lucky enough to work with Degustabox, which is a monthly surprise food box subscription service. They sent me a box to review and also offered an additional box to giveaway to one of my readers.

Degusta box april 2015 products

My Degustabox

To run the giveaway, I decided to use Rafflecopter. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it allows someone to enter the competition in a number of different ways, for example by commenting on the post, tweeting about it or following you on Instagram. You can specify how many entries (from one to five) a person gets for each of the different ways they enter. Another advantage is that it stores all of the details of the people entering the competition on your behalf and helps you randomly select the winner.

I definitely saw growth in my followers as a result of the giveaway, even on my Facebook page where you were only required to visit my page to enter (as requesting a page like in return for a competition entry is against Facebook rules and can result in your page being shut down – although lots of people do it grrrrr).

I’ll be completely honest and say that I half expected them to all leave me again once the giveaway had closed, but I’m happy to say that most of them stuck with me and I think I’ve even gained a few regular readers as a result which is fabulous.

In total the giveaway post had 1,332 views and over 300 comments, which was considerably more than I expected. The visits came from a number of different sources, including theprizefinder.com and moneysavingexpert.com.

Given the success of the giveaway, and the positive feedback I received, I decided to have a second one to launch my new website name, with the prize this time a box of Hotel Chocolat chocolates and I’m hoping to run more in future.

hotel chocolat summer collection

Instagram

At the end of April I bought myself a new macro lens for my camera (an AF-S VR Micro NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED if you really want the details). The purpose of the new lens is to be able to take more detailed close-up shots of my food. I therefore took the opportunity of ‘treating’ my Instagram followers with a daily photo from my new lens during the month of May (lucky them!).

Cherries and chocolate
I have to say the lens has been well worth the money. I have found it far easier to capture the detail on the shots and get really close up. I have also found it difficult to prise off Jon who has caught the photography bug. However, we make a good team and it has been enjoyable sharing my hobby together. Sadly Daniel doesn’t share our enthusiasm and keeps coming into the kitchen to ask why we’re taking photographs of food again. Apparently it’s “boring”.

Pomegranates

As well taking some close up foodie shots we’ve also been having some fun with our photographs. This sparkling water shot was so much fun to take even through the kitchen was soaked afterwards (in hindsight it might have been better to head outside for this one).

Water spray

Finding an easier way to add images to my tweets

Before I move onto letting you know about how many people stopped by to see what I’ve been writing in May, I wanted to recommend a fabulous iPhone app to you.

When I share posts on twitter (both mine and other peoples) I love to add a photograph as I think this makes them stand out more in people’s timelines. Previously I was going to the post, saving the image to my photo roll and then uploading it to twitter. A bit of a hassle and slightly annoying when I forget to delete them from my phone and they end up mixed in with pictures of my family on my home computer. I then discovered this fabulous little app. You write a tweet as normal adding a link to the page and it goes and selects all of the images from the post. You can then scroll through and select the one you want to add to the tweet. Its really simple to use and I love it.

It could be improved a little bit by offering options for @ and # based on the first few characters you type (as twitter does). Fortunately I’ve got a pretty good memory for these so I don’t have to go and look them up too often, but it is annoying if I do.

All the numbers

So what difference has all this hard work made to my visitors and followers?

Visitors

May was an interesting month as I didn’t publish any new recipes or promote my existing ones (that’s right, not one pin!). I did run the Degustabox giveaway, publish my monthly report and run my monthly linkup.

To be completely honest I was pretty stunned with how I did. Over 13,000 visits and nearly 17,000 page views!

charlotteslivelykitchen visitor stats

Charlottes Lively Kitchen – May 2015 Visitors

charlotteslivelykitchen pageviews

Charlottes Lively Kitchen – May 2015 Pageviews

So I didn’t pin, I didn’t tweet, I didn’t share my recipes on Facebook, so where on earth did these 13,000 visits come from…

  • Direct – 3,311
  • Google – 3,227
  • Pinterest – 2,546
  • Yummly – 1,453
  • The Prize Finder – 347 – for the giveaway
  • Tastespotting – 280
  • Money Saving Expert – 225 – for the giveaway
  • Foodgawker – 204
  • Foodyub – 170
  • Twitter – 152

Google! If you’ve read these reports before you’ll know that part of the reason I chose to rebrand was to change to .com in the hope of widening my audience through Google. However, just as I decided to switch over my visits from Google more than doubled – typical!

This was in part due to the fact the Google decided to move a couple of my posts up the search rankings and they also finally started adding pictures when these posts appeared, increasing the likelihood that people will click.

Pinterest was also great. The life of a pin is generally much longer than a Facebook status update or tweet and so in May I saw the benefits of the effort I’ve put into Pinterest in the past (along with some new pins from others).

Yummly – I love Yummy. It’s been slowly growing month-on-month and it takes so little effort to add your recipes, everyone should do it.

The Prize Finder, Money Saving Expert and most of Twitter were down to the giveaway.

I did OK from Tastespotting as they’re slower to publish recipes than some of the other sites so some of my April recipes were featured.

charlotteslivelykitchen comparison

Followers

Twitter is still the most popular place to follow me but Instagram is now hot on it’s heals leaping past Pinterest. Both have benefitted from the giveaway, but the majority of Instagram growth is due to a huge effort I made in May to post daily, follow other inspirational photographers and taking time to like and comment on other’s pictures.

Not only has my Instagram following grown, I’ve also seen a lot more interaction on my pictures, going from about 20 likes on a post to regularly getting over 300.

I don’t however think that I’m getting a lot of visits from Instagram. It’s difficult to tell as they seem to show up as direct on Google Analytics, but I’m really enjoying my photography and so Instagram is the perfect platform for me to share some of my pictures and photography experiments.

charlotteslivelykitchen social media followers

Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen – Social Media Followers

You’ll notice that a couple of networks (Facebook and Google+) have fallen. This is due to having to set up a new page on both after changing my blog name.

Bloglovin is still pathetically low. If anyone has any great tips for growing my following then I’d love to hear them.

Plans for June

Before I go, as always I’m going to share a few plans for June (although I’m a bit late with this report this month so there’s not much time to do them!).

With the re-name complete I am back publishing recipes. I have a lot in the pipeline, but will probably limit myself to two recipe posts per week to give me time to write a few other types of food and blogging posts…

  • A beginners guide to food photography: It is fair to say that this site has given me a real passion for photography, which I am loving at the moment. It is something I am very enthusiastic about and therefore would really like to share my experiences and learning to others. I’m nowhere near the level I would like to be at, but have built up enough knowledge that I think it would be worth sharing.
  • The ultimate guide to food photo-sharing sites part II: To complement the above post Jon’s going to update an earlier post he wrote a few months ago. I have tried a lot of photo-sharing websites, so we thought it would be worth sharing our observations so far.

At the end of May I signed up for a free trial of Lightroom to edit my photographs (I’d previously used iPhoto on my mac). During June I plan to experiment some more and make the decision whether to splash out.

I’ll also be remaining very active on Instagram, so please pop over and take a look. I’m a lovely follow-back sort of person and I generally follow anyone with food related photos and of course any names I recognise from the general blogging world (although if I’m not following you it’s nothing personal. I get a lot of notifications in my timeline and Instagram only shows you the last 200 so I might have accidentally missed it – let me know and I’ll fix it right away 🙂 ).

Well that just leaves me to thank you for taking the time to read this post and hopefully you’ll be back by again soon. If anyone has anything they would like me to write about in the future please just let me know.

 

 

18 Comments:

  1. Wow, you’ve certainly had great growth. Seems a lot of people want recipes and food bloggers. Shows what work you’ve put in.

    I love those macro shots. A macro lens is my next purchase – at the moment my phone does better versions an my compact system camera!

    • Charlotte Oates

      I find that my phone is still just as good for some shots. I’ll often use it for pictures from above.

      I love my macro lens. It’s taken a bit of getting used to as I find you need different camera settings and I’m having to get the tripod out more as you need a steadier hand but I think I’ll end up with better pictures in the long run by using it.

  2. I’m really looking forward to your new photo-sharing guide. In fact, I won’t do anything until your post come up (no pressure). You’re my photo sharing mentor!

    Looking forward to your post about photography, too!

    You’ve really grown your blog incredibly quickly. It’s amazing that you still got so many visitors despite the fact you didn’t post any recipes. xx

    • Charlotte Oates

      I was really amazed to get so many visits without any effort, although I was lucky with Google increasing. I’d also imagine that there’s only so long Pinterest would keep going before it tailed off. Probably best that I’m back posting again this month

      Jon’s writing the photo-sharing guide so I’ll tell him to get a move on!

  3. Arabella Bazley

    I don’t blog but your post is very interesting. I have a Pinterest account but find it so confusing to navigate that I wonder if users are a certain type of person, like crafters or writers, who have the patience to create beautiful boards. That may explain why it has not only lasted, but grown despite my continued scepticism.

    Bloglovin is great once you are signed up to lots of sites to follow but when I made an account, which must be a few years ago now, the sign up process asked me for the name of my blog. I just filled in my own name and carried on regardless as I do enter competitions. I had no idea what it was for but I needed to join to get a little +1 on Rafflecopters! It wouldn’t surprise me if Joe Public still thinks it is only a Blogger resource rather a Reader’s resource.

    Instagram I really love, I’m getting into it slowly and don’ t post pictures yet but seeing photos of fab food or what bloggers children are up to makes it a “nice news” feed. I think there are some issues in that (I may be wrong) it is very hard to regram on a PC and when you are on a smartphone the links are so small they are hard to isolate and click through. The only function that seems easy is liking a post and I have just cracked regramming (I’m slow) so I can now post on things I have really enjoyed seeing.

    It’s fun trying out lots of new ways to interact but I do wonder from a reader’s perspective if I feel excluded because I don’t understand Pinterest, or I’m not signed up to Yummly or the seemingly hundreds of different apps. Do you think once bloggers have reached a good number of followers they may need to drop some of the routes and focus on ease of access?

    The Blog is looking fabulous and the photos make me want to find out more, so well done.

    • Charlotte Oates

      I suspect you’re right about Pinterest, In fact I know of some bloggers that pay someone to sort it out for them as it takes so much time.

      Personally I like to have as many ways to interact with readers as possible. I know that I like to follow blogs through bloglovin but I know others that prefer email, twitter, pinterest or even occasionally Google+. I’d hate to think that someone felt excluded from my blog because I didn’t offer their preferred option to follow it. I think it’s definitely something I should think about for giveaways though. I use Rafflecopter and having all the follow/tweet/visit/subscribe options may be a little off-putting/confusing for non-bloggers/compers.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. It’s actually pretty rare that I get comments from non-bloggers (except for my mum!) so it can be easy to forget to see things from their perspective.

  4. Really enjoyed reading this post Charlotte. I’ve not come across a post like this before and it’s really interesting to read about people’s food blogging experiences, what works for them and stats.
    Really looking forward to reading your planned post of food photography for beginners – I’m most definitely in the start of the learning curve!
    Thanks for sharing
    Angela x

    • Charlotte Oates

      I’ve found quite a few (although mostly American) which is what inspired me to write it in the first place. I thought that if I’d found theirs useful then some people may feel the same about mine. If you’re interested in reading more then I can send you a few links, just let me know.

  5. I find these updates fascinating Charlotte, and I think you’re very generous to share them. I’m so pleased that you still got as many visitors as you did, just goes to show you have a loyal fan base. Your photography has become stunning, you should be so proud of yourself! Can’t wait for the next installment 🙂

    • Charlotte Oates

      Ooh I love the idea of a loyal fan base 🙂 actually 80% were new visitors (although hopefully I’ve managed to tempt a few to come back again in future).

  6. Hi Charlotte! I’m glad it worked out so well with google traffic!
    I hope you’ll be seeing even more visitors coming from there soon 😀
    Also super impressive how you are doing with twitter. I’m honest, for some reason we’re a little to stupid to figure out how it works, lol.

    • Charlotte Oates

      I honestly don’t think I’m all that great at Twitter so you must be terrible 🙂 Twitter had a boost this month from the giveaway (one of the entry options was to tweet about the giveaway. A couple of hundred people did it which helped spread the word).

      Sadly I messed Google up a bit with the rebrand (although not nearly as much as I thought I was going to). but I’m hoping to get it back to where it was in May over the next few months.

  7. Charlotte!!! So very proud of you!! From that convo in the kitchen when we were getting ready to go out to this! Woohoo!

    Blogging is hard work, but if you have your niche and you work hard at it, it just shows that you can achieve results. Keep it up!

    • Charlotte Oates

      Awww thanks Claire. I definitely wouldn’t have imagined 20k people would turn up to read my blog each month back then either – it must have been your tip about the white plates 🙂

      Thanks for all you help and support over the past (nearly) year. I can’t believe it’s been that long, it’s flown by.

  8. Hi Charlotte, nicely presented report as always.

    Charlotte can I ask why you decided against publishing you income figures?

    The reason I ask is that I will be publishing a mega post on this topic featuring some inspiring bloggers including ‘A’ listers too who all speak about the massive engagement and traffic their income posts have achieved in the past.

    My post is approaching this topic from a motivational and inspirational angle with the intention to give hope to folks who want to be able to earn a REAL living online as well as to create further exposure for all who will be featured in it. I was hoping that your blog would be one of them.

    I really hope you reconsider and if you do please let me know so I can get you featured Charlotte.

    Raj

    • Charlotte Oates

      Thanks for you interest in my post Raj. Earning an income from my blog just isn’t a priority for me and I’m putting no effort into it so to me it makes no sense to publish it. I doubt very much my £2 affiliate income would be inspiring to any of your readers 🙂

  9. Hi – have you looked to the Dec14/Jan15 change and what made such beautiful skyrocket the results?

    • Charlotte Oates

      Hi Pawel, Have you looked at the January report? I go into more detail there.

      The main reason was figuring out Pinterest – partly making huge improvements to my photography so people actually want to share/click on them, and also joining a number of group boards which increased the exposure of what I was pinning massively. I also had a lot more visits from photosharing sites such as Foodgawker and tastespotting, again due to improving my photography. There’s a guide to all the photosharing sites in my blogging section if you want to take a look.

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