Building My Blog – September 2015



Welcome to my 15th monthly food blog update, all about what I’ve been up to on Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen in September 2015.

Building my blog September 2015 badge

As always I’ll share with you my experiences and hopefully pass on a few helpful tips, as well as the usual visitor and follower 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.

I feel a bit bad this month. I was so pleased that I’d managed to keep blogging pretty regularly over the summer holidays that I think I took my foot off the gas in September. I posted three recipes, THREE! Admittedly they were good recipes so I don’t feel too bad, but I aim to post two new recipes a week, so three in a month is poor.

I did write my tips for better food photography post, which I’d been promising for ages, so I wasn’t completely slacking. I also had a few nights away at the River Cottage and I headed down to London to watch Strictly Come Dancing (OK, Strictly has nothing to do with blogging, I’m just excited that I went so I’m telling you all 🙂 )

My Foodies 100 Rollercoaster

I realised that after sharing my excitement at getting to no. 93 in the Foodies 100 in July, I omitted to update you on what happened next. As expected the impact of the rebrand (and losing all of the backlinks to my site) was seen and I fell to no. 250. I have to admit that whilst I’d expected to fall, it was further than I’d expected. It’s now been hovering around the 250 mark for 3 months with little sign of movement. I’ve got my fingers crossed it’ll pick up again soon – I’ve made it up there once so I’m sure I can do it again 🙂

Whilst my Foodies 100 rating isn’t where I’d really like to be, I did get an incredible opportunity through the Foodies 100 to spend a day at the River Cottage getting a taste of their cookery classes and dining experiences with around 50 other food bloggers. I completely fell in love with the River Cottage during my visit (you can read all about it here) and if you ever get the chance to go then I’d highly recommend it.

river cottage making butter

Making butter in the River Cottage Cookery School

I also got to meet some lovely food bloggers, people I’ve got to know online over the past year or so and had been looking forward to finally meeting. Fortunately they were all just as lovely in real life as they come across on their blogs (some even lovelier if you can believe it). Aside from the experience of the day I definitely recommend attending a blogging event if you get the chance (from what I’ve heard all of the Foodies/Tots ones are worth going to, but there are plenty of others about too). Blogging is (mostly) an extremely friendly community and being able to actually put faces to names helped cement some of the friendships I’ve made online. It was also a great opportunity to meet new bloggers, I sometimes feel a bit daft commenting on posts or responding to tweets from people I don’t really know, so being able to say hello for a few minutes has made me that little bit more comfortable. I’ve also found some of the bloggers I met are interacting with me more too which is fabulous 🙂

Sponsored/Review Posts

I mentioned last month that as my blog has grown I’ve started to get more people contacting me to ask me to review their products, attend their events, or develop recipes using their ingredients.

This all in all is fabulous, having people asking to work with me is a huge confidence boost. I’ve had a couple of paid sponsored posts but at the moment I’m mostly sent items for review. I know that this is something some bloggers charge for and that’s a route I may consider going down in future. However, I feel completely unjustified in asking for payment for something I’m unproven at – I need time to build a portfolio of work to show the quality I can produce, I also need to understand the best way to get results for the company paying me. I would want to know that I’m offering great value for money and the only way to figure out how to deliver that is to try it. I feel much more comfortable asking for payment for recipe development posts as this is essentially what my blog is all about. I’ve proven that I can make yummy food, take nice pictures and most importantly get people to come and read it.

I’ve said before that making money from my blog isn’t my primary aim so you may be surprised that I’ve asked for payment for recipe development posts. However, a lot of time and effort goes into it, as well as the expense of buying ingredients for a specific recipe. There’s also additional pressure when you’ve promised a post by a particular date, if I’m blogging for me and something isn’t perfect then I’ll just wait and post it when it is. If I’m blogging for someone else I’ll put in extra time and make it again and again until it’s perfect. I don’t really need that additional stress so knowing that I’m being paid makes it worthwhile.

My two sponsored posts – White Russian Cupcakes and Maltese Figolli Biscuits

All the numbers

Visitors

September saw the average number of visitors per day rise to over 900 for the first time. It was also the first time that Google (or any other traffic source) provided more than 10,000 visitors in a month. Foodyub also provided a significant increase in traffic, from 180 last month to 1,631 this month, the cause seemingly being they are receiving more traffic to their site.

I was also proud to have my recipes included on walesonline.co.uk recipes of the week. It felt nice to have a local website feature my creations, and they have already included some more of my recipes in their October weekly round-ups. I also had my roasted vegetable lasagne featured in a round up of mince-free lasagne on the Huffington Post.

Also, interestingly, in September I was only able to post three new recipes and a total of seven new posts, yet I did not suffer a hit in terms of visits. Whilst one of my goals for October is to get back to publishing two new recipes per week, it feels re-assuring to know that it is no longer a necessity to keep growing visits to my site.

Site Visits - Charlottes Lively Kitchen

Charlottes Lively Kitchen – Visitor Stats 

Pageviews - Charlottes Lively Kitchen

Charlottes Lively Kitchen – Pageviews

  • Google – 11,141
  • Direct – 5,574
  • Pinterest – 5,195
  • Foodyub – 1,631
  • Yummly – 1,019
  • Foodgawker – 344
  • Walesonline – 205
  • Tastespotting – 163
  • Thesereads – 114
  • Facebook – 101

Charlottes Lively Kitchen - Traffic Sources

Monthly Comparison of Visitor Sources

Followers

Nothing much new to report here, everything is on a similar trend to last month. One aspect I would like to grow more is Facebook, as it is lagging behind the other main social media groups. In October I will have a look at sponsored posts on Facebook to see how effective they are.

Followers - Charlottes Lively Kitchen

Charlottes Lively Kitchen – Social Media Followers

Plans for October

My three objectives for October are:

  • Get back into a routine of posting two new recipes per week.
  • Get back to posting regularly on social media (especially Facebook and Instagram).
  • Look at whether sponsored posts on Facebook work.

That once again leaves me to say thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope to see you here again next month xx


Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

18 Comments:

  1. Hi Charlotte,

    It’s interesting reading this, thanks for sharing the information and congratulations on building such a great following so quickly!

    All the best,

    Gavin

    • Thanks Gavin. It’s been a lot of hard work to build up the blog but it’s starting to pay off now as I find that I can take a day or two off every now and again and still get plenty of visitors.

  2. You’ve done well, you’ve got a good site, that’s for sure 🙂

  3. Very inspirational post. As a relatively new blogger (6 months tomorrow) it’s great to see how others have done, and to have something to aspire to. #brilliantblogposts

    Nadia – ScandiMummy x

    • Thanks Nadia. That comment has really made my day, I love the idea of having something that others aspire to 🙂

      If you look back at my first 6 months you’ll see that things were a lot different. It’s simply been a case of trying new things, seeing what works and working hard.

  4. You’ve made great progress with your blog. So interesting to see the difference in the social media stats. I only have time for Twitter and Facebook at the moment as I work gets in the way of finding time to develop things but I think so much traffic comes from other places, it is worth thinking about. First time I’ve seen your blog. Nice to ‘meet’ you x

    • Thanks Lucy. Nice to “meet” you too. Personally my favourite social networks are Pinterest (as it’s a great way to promote posts and get new visitors to the blog) and Instagram as everyone is really friendly over there, I find it a lot more interactive that either Facebook or Twitter.

  5. Thanks Charlotte. Such an interesting and helpful read, as always. I’m looking forward to finding out how you get on with sponsored Facebook posts. It will be very interesting to know whether they are worthwhile. Eb x

    • Thanks Eb. I’m really excited about writing the Facebook post, I’d been wondering for ages whether it was worth it (especially as I saw quite a few bloggers popping up in my newsfeed as sponsored posts) and it was an interesting test (I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you the results now). I’ve had a hectic few days but hope to get the post published soon.

  6. Hi Charlotte, your blog is growing in leaps and bounds. I like your attitude towards reviewing items, once you feel confident about doing reviews then why not ask for payment? And it is only right that you get paid fairly for your time when developing a recipe.

    Good luck for the future and I’m sure it won’t be too long ’til your blog rises back up through the ranks again.

    • Thanks Debbie. I’m quite torn about asking money for reviews. Right now it’s not an issue as I still believe I need to know I can show that I’m offering good value for money. However, in future it feels fair to ask for payment to cover the time and effort put into writing and promoting the review, but I wonder if readers will feel confident that it’s a fair and accurate review if I’ve been paid to write it (that and the fact I’d feel pretty awful taking money from a company to write a review and then completely slating them!).

      Fingers crossed for the Foodies ranking this month – I’ve got a good feeling that I’ll go up 🙂

      • I can see where you’re coming from. Money for a slating,. But if they want your honest opinion they can’t complain and should take note.

        Fingers crossed for you.

        xx

  7. I’m only catching up on this now. Great work with the 900 visitors per day. I’m lucky to get 9 sometimes 🙁

    • Thanks James. It’s far easier to promote a food blog than a fitness blog so you can’t really compare. Plus, I may have more visitor but I’m sure you can run further!

  8. Hi Charlotte

    I’ve just subscribed to your newsletter I’ve your receipts very interesting, I love baking this year I made my first Christmas cake which went down like a storm, I learning to bake different cakes, I’ve read up on some of your receipes going to try and bake the birthday cake and the apple pops, your doing a great job I keep on coming back and having a look any tips you can give me thanks

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