Building My Blog – November 2015



Welcome to my 17th monthly blog update, all about what I got up to behind the scenes of Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen in November 2015.

This month I’m going to talk about making social media a bit easier, getting some VERY honest feedback on my site, and tidying up my Google+ page and You Tube channel.

BMB title nov 2015

A little bit of background…

For anybody that’s new to these updates and is wondering what on earth I’m going on about, I write these posts each month as a way to keep me focussed on building my blog (fear of sitting down to write the report and finding I have nothing to say is great for ensuring I keep trying new things), and also to try and help other bloggers (or people thinking of getting started) to learn from what I’ve tried and to copy the good bits and avoid some of my mistakes. I also share all of my blog’s key stats so you can see how it’s going and decide whether my advice is worth listening to or not!

What I got up to in November

Making sharing to social media that bit easier

After hearing some really positive things about Buffer from other bloggers I decided to give it a try. It’s essentially a social media tool that allows you to schedule posts to Facebook and Twitter (there are other social networks included too but not in the free version so I haven’t tried those). I have mixed feelings about auto posting to social media, I prefer to have a more personal approach. However there are a few times when being able to schedule tweets and Facebook posts has a huge advantage…

  1. Running my Link Up – For every post that’s shared on my Food Year Linkup I like to leave a comment, pin the post and share it on Twitter. I find that on some days I get quite a few posts linked up and I’ll go and read them all at once. Rather than filling my twitter feed by sharing all of the posts in one go, I schedule to share them every few hours. It also means that if someone links up a post relating to an event on a particular day I can schedule the post to share then.
  2. Promoting new posts on Twitter – I’m pretty good at sharing my new posts on social media when I first publish them. However, for Twitter it’s worth sharing them a few times as people’s feeds get so full it can be easily missed if only posted once. Now when I first publish a post I’ll schedule it to post three times rather than just making one initial tweet.
  3. Sharing new posts on Facebook – I tend to publish new posts as soon as they’re ready regardless of what time of day it is. However, I’ve found that with Facebook it tends to be best if I share my posts in the early evening when most of my followers are online. If I’ve published in the morning or late at night, I’ll simply use buffer to schedule the post ready to go live the next evening when it’s more likely it’ll actually be seen.

I’ve tried Hootsuite to schedule tweets and Facebook posts in the past but I didn’t really get along with it as it felt like a lot of effort to set each post up. For buffer, I’ve added a button to my browser (I use Safari but I think there are buttons available for other browsers too). When I’m in a post I want to share I simply click on the button, tweak the auto-generated massage, select a picture (if I’ve got enough characters left) and hit the schedule button.

buffer screen shot

This box pops up when you hit the Buffer browser button (at the top next to the website URL). From here you can select whether to share to Facebook, Twitter or both, manually write your update, add images from the post and schedule when it will share on your selected network(s).

Getting some VERY honest feedback on my site

A couple of months ago I came across Peek user testing and decided to give it a go. In a nutshell, you type in you URL and a random person looks at your site and answers a number of generic questions giving a completely honest opinion about what they see. The idea behind it is that you pay for impartial targeted feedback on your site and can therefore make it better. To promote their services they offer three free reviews a month so you can see how it works. Seeing as it was free I decided to give it a try.

A few hours after you enter the URL you get sent an email containing a video of the reviewer looking at your site. It can be a touch brutal, if the person doesn’t like something they’ll say it without any sugar coating. However, if it’s something the reviewer is thinking then it may well be something your other readers are thinking too, and along with the criticism it was also lovely to hear some genuine praise for my site too.

Through my reviews I learnt that I need to think a bit about how some of my content comes across to non bloggers. They weren’t really sure what my #FoodYearLinkup was all about or why I was writing these reports. These are both things I want to carry on with as it’s my blog and I enjoy writing them, but I’m going to give some thought as to how I can introduce them better.

I did discover that they found my site well laid out and easy to navigate which is a huge positive. It’s something I’ve put a lot of thought into but I’m so close to it that I know where everything is so wouldn’t have a clue if anyone else might struggle to find what they’re looking for.

Tidying up my Google+ and You Tube

When I rebranded in June I discovered that you cannot rebrand Google+ pages (really annoying!) so I decided to use my personal Google+ page for my blog instead. I left my You Tube channel alone so it was still under the My Recipe Book name. I decided that this was all getting a little messy so I’ve now created a new Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen Google+ page and switched my You Tube channel to be linked to this new page.

I’m still unconvinced about Google+, I haven’t fallen in love with it as a social network at all. However, I’d like to start vlogging more and having a You Tube channel name that matches my blog and other social networks seemed like a sensible thing to do.

Seeing as I’ve had to set up a new page from scratch I’d love it if you head over and give my page or channel a follow.

All the numbers

Visitors

Each month I like to set myself a little target, my target for November was to hit 40,000 page views in one month and I’m happy to say that I achieved it 🙂

Site Visits - Charlottes Lively Kitchen Charlottes Lively Kitchen – Visitors

Pageviews - Charlottes Lively Kitchen

Charlottes Lively Kitchen – Pageviews

I’d also like to give a quick mention to Yahoo! News who featured my cheese stuffed burgers in a round up post. Google Analytics (GA) showed Yahoo! as providing 91 visits to my site, but the visits to the post they featured were much higher at 734. I usually have some visits for this recipe each month but nowhere near that level so I believe the extra visits were predominantly driven by the Yahoo! post, but were being picked up by GA as direct rather than the actual source.

Homemade Stuffed Cheese Burgers 4

My cheese stuffed burgers were featured on Yahoo! News

An unexpected but very pleasing shift in Google visits

Regular readers of this post will know that one of the reasons I rebranded earlier in the year was because I hoped that by shifting from a .co.uk web address to .com I would be able to attract more non-UK visits through Google. I’ve written several times that after rebranding I’d seen continued growth in Google visits but a stubborn lack of movement from anywhere else in the world… until November. You can see from the graph that all of a sudden there’s been growth in non-UK Google visits, in particular from the US and Canada.

I’d started to accept that despite being .com Google saw me as UK so this shift was unexpected and quite exciting. It’s early days and this may be a temporary turn of events but I’m very interested to watch this over the next few months and see what happens. Charlottes Lively Kitchen - Google visits Followers

I ran a giveaway during November which has boosted my social media following as I added twitter and instagram follows as additional entry options, as well as visiting my Facebook page (which also results in additional page likes). Followers - Charlottes Lively Kitchen

Charlottes Lively Kitchen – Social Media Followers

Plans for December

Before I go, I’d just like to let you know about a couple of areas I’ll be focussing on (oh OK, have focussed on) in December…

  • Post more regularly on social media
  • Vlog more
  • Enjoy Christmas and New Year 🙂

That once again leaves me to say thanks for taking the time to read this post, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and look forward to sharing more with you next year. Happy New Year everyone xx


Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

10 Comments:

  1. A lotreally interesting read Charlotte the honest feedback sounds as though it was really useful. as you say its difficult to be so objective regarding your own blog which you obviously know so well. i don’t know if id be brave enough to ask them to review my blog….though i have a lot of work in progress on the site at the moment. 😉

    • It was, although it wasn’t always easy to watch. The hardest thing is to pick through is what’s personal opinion and what’s useful feedback. One reviewer said right at the start he wasn’t interested in food so sounded thoroughly bored all the way through. I had to remind myself he’s not the person my blog is aimed at and filter through the bored comments to get the the useful bits. Another reviewer was clearly much more interested in what I was writing about and that was much easier to watch 🙂

  2. As I’m still a newbie in the blog world, these posts are so hugely helpful. Can’t thank you enough! Especially as they’re totally blog related so fairly niche for us guys. I keep them pinned for days after you’ve published them until I’ve picked everything you’ve spoke about!

    Everyone is still lovely and friendly about my blog, so I’m actually looking forward to some harsh criticism from Peek. It should give me a kick up the behind to do some work on some of the things I’ve been ignoring so far..! Thanks for the recommendation.

    • Thanks Martin, I’m so glad you find them useful. I read reports like this from other bloggers whenever I can as I find there’s always little bits and pieces to pick up, so I like to think that by sharing mine others might find it useful too.

      Have you seen my Pinterest board for reports like this? I add any new and interesting ones on whenever I find them.

      I hope the peek user testing wasn’t too bad!

  3. Thanks Charlotte, on the Pinterest now! Pinterest is another skill I’m seriously lacking…

    They were ok to me and weren’t too mean! Just loading times taking too long, plus one person who had never heard of a blog before so thought I was a farmer selling jam!

  4. Fascinating reading, as always, Charlotte. I find your reports so useful. I found your comments about Hootsuite very interesting. I use Hootsuite in pretty much the same way as you use Buffer, it seems – basically for scheduling tweets (they also have a little button for your browser). I was recommended it by a friend who said it was amazing – I am less convinced…I think it is useful for scheduling multiple Twitter posts, but not much else (though I keep worrying I am missing a trick!) I have also read that FB doesn’t like programmes like Hootsuite and Buffer and will penalise you for using it…I have no idea if that is true, but tend to schedule FB posts inside FB if I need to, rather than use Hootsuite. Well done for hitting your 40, 000 page views target!! Amazing figures – hope it keeps going up and up!! Looking forward to December’s report 🙂 Eb x

    • I’ve heard that about Facebook too but I’ve not seen it in my Facebook page. I think the problem people have is that Facebook don’t seem to like you sharing the same thing I over and over again so if people are using buffer that way then that might be why it doesn’t seem as good. That said I’ve read lots about what does or doesn’t do well on Facebook and everything on my page seems to be the opposite!

  5. I love reading your posts Charlotte, congratulations on your 40 000 views target. I’m terrible at being organised with my blog but this year I’m going to set some targets. I really need to sort out my Pinterest boards so I’ll be popping back to your blog for inspiration and advice x

    • Thanks Sarah. I really need to sort out my Pinterest boards too as they’re a touch on the messy side. I’m not all that great at my own Pinterest but do very well on some big group boards that I contribute to. They’re a great way to get a much larger audience for your pins.

      If there’s ever anything you’d like to know more about then please feel free to ask.

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