Building My Blog – September 2014


Welcome to my 3rd monthly blog update. All about what I’ve been up to this month on My Recipe Book.

Food blog traffic and income report

What I’ve been up to this month

Writing more posts

After a pretty terrible month for posting in August, I’ve done much better in September. I  posted my second monthly report, three new recipes, and wrote a tutorial about how to exclude your own visits from your site’s Google Analytics data.

I was in two minds about whether to write the tutorial, after all it doesn’t really fit particularly well in a recipe website, does it?

So why write it?

Each month I write these monthly reports with the hope of making them as useful as possible. When I’ve tried something new on the website I’ll try to include details about how you could do the same, or links to somewhere that could describe it better than me. When I decided to exclude my own visits from my Google Analytics data I couldn’t find a single tutorial that simply described the process step-by-step. That meant I had nothing to link to in my monthly report.

I didn’t want to describe the full process in my monthly report so I decided the only solution was to write the tutorial myself.

I’ve had a comment to say that at least one person has used it, so to me that’s made it worthwhile.

Enhancing the website

I’m always looking for ways to improve the look and functionality of the website to make it as appealing and user friendly as possible.

I’ve made quite a few small changes, but the main one is the redesign of my recipe index. Previously, every time I posted a new recipe I had to remember to go and manually add it to the index. It was also just a list without any images. Thanks to a useful little plugin it’s now all automated.

I used the Visual Recipe Index wordpress plugin (with a little tweak to the CSS code to make the format better fit with my website – thanks to Howie at Hurry the Food Up for letting me pinch their code).

I’ve also used the same plugin for my skills index and my new reports index, where you’ll find older versions of this report if you’ve missed any!

Whilst the plugin is described as a recipe index, it could be used for pretty much any type of post. The only requirement to make it work is that each post includes a featured image.

The other change I wanted to mention was that I’ve increased the number of options available for sharing each post. You can now share this post in all these places (why not click a few just to test them out!)…

 

 

The reason I did this was because I recently wanted to pin an image from someone else’s blog onto Pinterest but they didn’t have a “pin it” button, so I didn’t bother (sorry). I then realised that the sharing options shouldn’t be limited to where I would tend to share posts, but should include as many as possible so that everyone can share in their preferred place. I’ve included pretty much everything that’s available on my sharing plugin, but I’ve noticed that some other blogs have a lot more options so I might look into changing at some point in the future. Fellow bloggers – are there any you’d recommend?

Adding Advertising

This month I thought I’d try adding a few adverts on the website.

I’ve read a number of different opinions about when you should add adverts to blogs in terms of visitors numbers. The general view seemed to be that there’s little point in adding advertising until you get at least 1000 page views a day. I don’t even get that in a month at the moment, but I decided to add them anyway, for two reasons…

  1. I wanted to see how they worked
  2. I read a post (although unfortunately I can’t remember where to add a link), that suggested that if you’re thinking of adding advertising to your blog you should add it early on. You won’t make much money from it, but if it’s there from the start your readers will be used to seeing it there. If you suddenly add it once you’ve built up your visitor numbers it may be more obvious and off-putting to some.

I decided to go with Google Adsense. This was for two reasons…

  1. With Google Adsense your are paid per click, whereas many other advertising networks pay per 1000 views. Whilst pay-per-click could result in no income, given the number of pageviews I’m currently getting I probably wouldn’t get any anyway.
  2. Many advertising networks that pay per view require a minimum level of page views per month in order to consider allowing you to join their network. My current page view numbers are nowhere near what they would require.

I’ve only added a couple of adverts at the moment, one in the sidebar and one at the bottom of my homepage. I need to think more about where it would be best to place them. I’m not particularly happy with the one on the homepage, it’s a slightly unusually sized box which means that sometimes the adverts that appear don’t fit properly, making the page look a little messy. Also, if someone’s viewing the site on a mobile device the advert can get cut off, which also looks pretty rubbish.

Social Networking

One of my aims for September was to get involved in more social networks. I think I’ve more than met my aim on this one.

You can now follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook or Google+ (or all of them if you like).

I also set up a mailing list so that you can be notified whenever I publish a new post. You can sign up on the home page (above recent posts), in the right side bar, or there’s a tick box if you leave a comment on any post. However, to save you the effort of heading off to any of those places, here’s the sign up form 🙂

 

I also joined Foodies 100 and the Mumsnet Bloggers Network.

I’ve already started seeing the benefits of being part of both of these networks. Through Foodies 100 I learned about the Betta Living build a better cupcake competition, which I entered with my Queen of Puddings Cupcakes. Sadly I didn’t win, but you’ll see in the data a bit later that it was my most popular post and I think being part of the competition really helped with that. Then, in the last week of September I was selected as the Mumsnet Bloggers featured food blog of the week, where they shared a different recipe each day on twitter.

Joining in with recipe linkups

This month, I joined in with recipe link ups on A Mummy Too and Honest Mum and had my Healthy Fried Egg chosen as one of the featured recipes for #recipeoftheweek on A Mummy Too (Thanks Emily if you’re reading).  This led to A Mummy Too being one of my top visitor sources this month.

One of the great things about being part of recipe linkups is that it has encouraged me to comment more on other people’s blog posts and to share them more on various social networks. It’s something I’ve not been great at doing in the past, but I’ve realised that I can’t really expect people to take the time to comment on my posts if I’m not prepared to do the same for other food bloggers. I’ve also realised how much it means to me when people take the time to comment and I like the idea that I can help others to feel like that.

Sharing my food photographs

Reading reports like these on other food blogs it’s clear that good photography is a key source of visitors.

This month I’ve been trying to improve my photography. I think I’ve made progress but I’ve still got a long way to go (confirmed by Food Gawker and Tastespotting who rejected all of the pictures I submitted).

This month I did share pictures on Food Foto Gallery and Healthy Aperture and I was lucky enough that Food Foto Gallery selected my Queen of Puddings Cupcakes to share with their 100k+ twitter followers. The great thing about Food Foto Gallery for beginners like me is that unlike a lot of similar sites, they don’t have strict criteria for photograph quality. It’s also really quick to share so really worth doing when you’re just starting out.

All the statistics

So what difference has this all of this made to my food blog traffic numbers this month.

Visitor statistics

I was worried that all of my Google Analytics statistics would appear worse this month after excluding my own visits and automated visits from bots and spiders. However, I’ve been really pleased to see that despite these changes everything has gone up!

Total visits have more than doubled from 94 to 260…

Visits Sep14

Google Analytics – Total visits

… and total page views have increased nearly 30% from 501 to 646.

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 22.20.25

Google Analytics – Total Pageviews

Another thing I’m really pleased about is the progress I’ve made during September. The month started pretty poorly (nobody came on the 2nd 🙁 ) but you can clearly see that they have picked up a lot through the month. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to carry this trend on into October.

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 22.33.31

Google Analytics – Visits per day in September

So where did these visits come from? The top five visitor sources were…

You’ll notice that Google doesn’t make it into my top 5. I guess this is largely because the site is so new, but I also discovered part way though the month that there seems to be a problem with my posts site map, meaning that none of my posts are being indexed by Google. I’ve been manually submitting them through Google Webmaster Tools, but I haven’t managed to solve the problem yet. If anyone has any advice it would be much appreciated.

In terms of most popular pages/posts, the top 10 (excluding the homepage) are…

Followers

I’ve seen a nice increase in my followers this month with total followers increasing from 52 to 173 (although I assume there’s quite a lot of duplication across different networks).

Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 08.45.50

Follower numbers

Twitter has remained by far the most popular, increasing from 52 to 112. This isn’t surprising as it’s where I’m most active and where I tend to follow others.

My Facebook page was new this month and has seen a good start with 40 page likes. This is basically due to the fact I started telling more of my friends and family about the site this month and they’ve come to support me. This also boosted my visits and page views in September.

Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ are all hovering around the bottom of the chart. I’d not used them before starting Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen and as a result I’ve not made much effort as I don’t know much about how they work. I’ll definitely have to look into it more this month.

Income

Yes that’s right, I have income!!

I made a grand total of… £2.41

All of this came from Google Adsense. Whilst this might seem small, I’m actually quite pleased with it. I’ve mentioned before that I read quite a few reports like this on other food blogs and there are several that even though they have many more visitors than me, earned a similar amount.

I guess if I was trying to make this my income then £2.41 would be disappointing. However, for me this is very much a hobby and an opportunity to learn new things. Adding advertising to the site was just another new thing to try.

There were no expenses on the website this month as I pay for my site hosting annually.

 

So that’s it for this month’s round up. I hope you found it useful/interesting.

Thanks for reading,

 

Charlotte

4 Comments:

  1. Congratulations on your profit.

    I can see you’ve worked hard in September and it’s paying off. Great post for anyone starting up and I know these sorts of posts can take a long time to out together. I’m struggling to do my posts at the moment still trying to shake off the longest cold in history!

    • I find these posts easier to put together than recipes! It’s difficult to find the time to cook, make the food look nice, and try to take half decent photos whilst trying to keep the children under control.

      I thought your blog had been a bit quiet recently. I hope you’re feeling better soon.

      Thanks for sharing on Twitter too.

  2. I really loved your income report Charlotte. I am very curious on seeing your future results – as a new blogger – and hiw you will grow your income. Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks Pavlos. I’m finding it slow progress but some of that is because this isn’t something I do full time. What’s important to me is continuing to make progress (whether with income, visitor numbers, or simply growing my skills) and all the time I feel I’m doing that I’ll be happy.

      Good luck with your blog (I tried to have a look but the link you gave wasn’t working). Are you planning on including this type of report for yours?

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