Welcome to my 11th monthly update, all about what I’ve been up to on Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen in May.
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.
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.
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!).
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”.
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).
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?
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!
Charlottes Lively Kitchen – May 2015 Visitors
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.
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.
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.