Building My Blog – November 2014

Welcome to my 5th monthly update, all about what I’ve been up to on My Recipe Book in November.

Food blog traffic and income reportIn this month’s report, I’ll be talking about improving my photography, finding new ways to monetise my blog and launching my first blogger linkup, as well as the usual income and visitor numbers and my plans for December.

If you’re new to my website, or just these posts and want to know more about why I write them, then have a look at my very first report where you’ll find out more.

Make sure you don’t miss next month’s update by signing up to my mailing list here…

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What I’ve been up to in November

If you read the October report then I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear that I’m feeling a lot more positive about the blog this month (and if you didn’t then you can take a look here). I’ve found that sticking to focussing on the three objectives I outlined in last month’s report has really helped keep me on track, and I feel that I’ve made some great progress this month.

So what have I been up to…

Launching my first blogger linkup

I said last month that I wanted to do more with the Food Blogger’s Calendar. In November I’ve tweeted about several of the events and posted my Sausage and Mushrooms in Mustard and Cider for British Sausage Week. However, the biggest thing I did in November was to launch my own blogger linkup. It runs monthly and the idea is that other bloggers come and link up any foodie posts they have written, old or new, which relate to any of the days in the Food Blogger’s Calendar over the coming month.

You can find out more, come and take part, or just have a look at all of the fabulous posts others have linked here.

Link up

If you’re a blogger and you’ve not joined in with a linkup before, I’d really recommend giving it a go (starting with mine). Aby at You Baby, Me Mummy has put together a guide to linkups which explains more about how they work and the advantages of taking part. If you’re new to linkups it’s worth having a read. She also has a list of all the parenting linkups (including several food specific ones) which is updated monthly so you know where to find them all.

Improving my photography

Another of my aims for November was to improve my photography. I’ve been re-reading Tasty Food Photography by Lindsay at Pinch of Yum. I read it when I first started but being completely new to photography there was too much to take in all at once. I think it’s slowly starting to sink in, I just need lots and lots more practice (not easy with my two boys pretending the camera is a telescope or asking me to take their picture!!). The practice is starting to pay off as I finally had my first recipe featured on TasteSpotting this month. Here it is… Mustard Beans on Tastespotting Unfortunately my next effort was declined and I’m not having any luck with FoodGawker, but this little victory has given me the boost I need to keep going.

I mentioned last month that I’m also taking part in #Make30Photos on Instagram. I’m still going – but slowly (I want to make sure my pictures are as good as I can make them rather than taking something quickly just to post each day).

Joining Amazon Affiliates

My third aim last month was to find new ways to monetise my blog. I appreciate that it’s unlikely I’ll make any significant income at the moment as I’m just starting out, but I wanted to have a few different things in place to learn more about them so that I’m more prepared in future. I thought that joining Amazon Affiliates would be a good fit for the blog.  The advantage of Amazon is that they have such a wide range of products and they are a very familiar brand. Their affiliate program is also really easy to use. I have been using it when recommending equipment that people may find useful when making one of my recipes. I’ve been quite bold in how prominent they are in my latest recipe for Korma Paste. I want to find a balance between making them prominent enough that they are noticed and people are encouraged to click, but I worry that if I overdo it they might be off-putting to readers. I’d love it if you could take a look and let me know what you think.

Using the WordPress iPhone app

This month I started using the WordPress app for iphone. The main reason (well actually only reason) I downloaded it was to enable me to moderate and reply to comments much more quickly.

The app does a lot more than just comments but I haven’t had time to explore all of the functions yet (I can’t imagine myself ever writing a post on my phone for example).

It isn’t perfect, for example you can’t review spam (worth a quick look every now and again as real comments do occasionally end up there) and there were a few days last month where I lost access to my site. However, it’s free to download and so I’d recommend giving it a try.

Blog income and visitor numbers

So what difference has this made to the numbers this month.

Visitor statistics

November has been a brilliant month with visits increasing from 330 to 582, and pageviews almost doubling from 579 to 1133.

Visits Nov-14

Google Analytics – Total Visits

Pageviews Nov-14

Google Analytics – Total Pageviews

A big driver of this increase was my inclusion in Matthew Woodward’s income report roundup. However, even without this I would have seen growth which is great. You’ll also notice TasteSpotting in my top ten visitor sources. Fingers crossed I’ll see it there again this month 🙂

The top ten visitor sources were…

  • Direct – 144 visits
  • – 140 visits – inclusion in Matt’s monthly income report roundup
  • Twitter – 40 visits
  • TasteSpotting – 37 visits
  • Google – 36 visits
  • Facebook – 29 visits
  • – 25 visits – #tastytuesdays linkup
  • A Mummy Too – 21 visits – #recipeoftheweek linkup
  • Food Foto Gallery – 16 visits
  • Le Coin De Mel – 14 visits – Mel very kindly recommended my calendar in her British Sausage Week post

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

At the start of the month if you’d asked me what I thought my most popular recipe would be, I’d not have chosen the mustard beans (it’s not that they’re not nice, they are, they’re just not the most exciting). It just goes to show the benefit of being included on sites like TasteSpotting.

I mentioned last month that I was disappointed that my Peppercorn Sauce… with a Healthy Makeover hadn’t appeared in the top ten posts so I was really pleased to see it sneaking in at number 10. I guess the bit of extra promotion I did in November paid off.


I had another fantastic increase in followers this month from 257 to 364.

Once again the the biggest increase has been seen in twitter followers which increased by 53 to 243. However, I’ve seen growth pretty much across the board as I’ve made more effort to be active. My second biggest increase was in Facebook followers, this was mostly driven by a recommendation from Helen at Pipsqueak Personalised Gifts to her facebook followers (check out her page, it’s full of so many lovely things).

Followers Nov-14


I had another small profit this month, again all from Google Adsense, of £2.79.

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

The plan for next month

Before I go I wanted to share my three main aims for December…

  • Continue to develop my photography
  • Promote #FoodYearLinkup
  • Tidy up my blog – it’s got a bit messy and it’s not always easy to find old posts.


Thanks for reading,  see you again next month.


Brilliant blog posts on


  1. Charlotte, you are doing great! It’s so fun to watch the stats!

    I have had good luck with foodgawker, but tastespotting always gives me a hard time. To be honest, I barely ever submit to those sites any more. Pinterest gives me so much more traffic with much less hassle. Also, I’m impatient and I hate waiting for approval.

    Blogging is a long game, it really pays to keep at it!

    • I’m not sure if watching the stats is always fun, but it’s certainly addictive!!

      This month I’m finally starting to get the hang of everything and it feels great!

      I know how you feel about being impatient on the photo submission sites, Tastespotting in particular can be very slow.

      Right now I’m trying lots of different things to see what works and what doesn’t. I’m definitely seeing the potential of pinterest but it would be good to get visitors from as many sources as possible. I’m looking forward to your pinterest post to pick up a few more tips.

      Happy New Year and all the best for 2015!

  2. Hi there! I am visiting from Briliant blogpost at HonestMum. You are doing pretty well in increasing your profile and traffic! All good ideas! How long have you been blogging?
    I have been blogging almost 10 years now and whilst I have a pretty small readership (I don’t do any other socialmedia) with only about 3500 page-views a month , I have a really loyal core and people who comment frequently and this is the part I love best- the interaction! I always try to be a loyal blog commenter to people, even if I don’t have time to say much on some occasions and I think that helps! Nice to meet you!x

    • Thanks Kezzie.

      I’ve only been blogging since June so I’m very new to everything but I’m keen to learn and try new things.

      I completely agree with you about comments, whilst I track the number of visitors to each post to see whats popular, I tend to feel more pleased with posts that get lots of comments even if they haven’t had the most visitors, I love knowing what people think (although maybe that’s because I’ve only had nice comments so far, I might not be so pleased if people started being mean!!).

      I’m starting to realise how much I enjoy the interaction too, that’s why I try and take part in linkups. It’s a great way to “meet” other bloggers and find new blogs to follow.

  3. Well done lady, keep pushing! Love this analytical approach, something I do running my blogs as businesses. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts x

  4. Sorry, I made a mistake, i found you through the comments of Honest Mum’s #TheList post. 🙂

  5. Hello Charlotte, I came across your blog on the Brilliant Blog’s comments. Very different layout compared to what I’ve seen around so far but really lovely. Love your ‘matter of factly’ and ‘open hands’ approah; thanks for all your shared. I’m good enough with making food to be blog about food yet but I definitely feel a draw towards it after reading your post.

    All the very best with your goals for December; i like the idea of blog goals, i might try it :-). By the way, check out skimlinks for your monetising; i learnt about them at Blogfest and I’m planning on using them. Just to say this is an unsponsored promotion of skimlinks 🙂

    See you around the blogosphere 🙂

    • Thank you for your lovely comment.

      I get very easily distracted so I need the goals to keep focused otherwise I end up spending the month achieving very little!

      I’m always on the look out for new ideas to develop my blog so I’ll definitely have a look at skimlinks, thanks for the recommendation.

  6. Yeeyy, you have a gravatar now, cool! 😉
    Congratz to this steady increase in visitors and your first successful submissions on those foodsharing websites. We’ll check out the foodlinkup idea! Thanks for the effort.
    The only thing I’d like to point out is that you don’t have pinterest visitors. I know it’s tricky to keep up with all these different channels, but I really think it makes sense to squeeze in pinterest.

    Will have to write our november post now as well!

    • Yes, finally got my gravatar. It’s been on my todo list since you suggested it months ago.

      I’d love it if you’d join the linkup. It’s difficult to get these things going so the more people that join in to get the ball rolling the better 🙂

      I know I need pinterest I’m just clueless about how. I had some advice from Mel in my last comment which I’m going to try but any more tips you can give would be appreciated.

  7. Oki Doki, that’s worth looking into. I haven’t got anything like that on my blog yet but I heard about AdSense twice in the past couple of days now. I am just quite wary of weird dating / weight loss ads. Do the ads sort of match your content? Will add that to my list of 3,783 things to do (maybe a bit of an exaggeration)

    • To be completely honest I’m not exactly sure how relevant the ads are as I tend to look at my site on my iPad and the sidebar is below the content. I did spot one weight loss one that I wasn’t keen on but it soon disappeared. I think there are settings where you can specify more about ads you don’t want appearing but I’ve not used it so I’m not sure how it works.

      I think your to do list is about the same length as mine!!

  8. How about google ads? What’s that? Is it the AdSense banner you have on the right? Do you just earn a bit of cash for having that there? How does that work?

    • Yes, that’s the adsense banner in the sidebar. I could have three Google ads on each page but can’t decide where to put the others.

      Adsense is pay per click so you only get money if someone clicks on the ad. The amount can vary a lot. Quite often it’s just 1p but I’ve had some over £1. There are a lot of ad networks that pay based in the number of views but they tend to have minimum visitor numbers and I wouldn’t qualify. Blogher seems to be quite popular although from what I’ve read the payments can vary quite a lot each month.

  9. A brilliant post, lovely. I am amazed at your organisation. I still haven’t looked at google analytics and I have been blogging for a year! I am sure it is the same as WordPress data thingy (please don’t tell me it’s different!). I had never heard of Tastespotting or Foodgawker but I will have definitely a look (I never seem to have any time!). I thought your Korma paste was great in promoting what you’d bought without pushing it too much… I almost bought the grinder on impulse, even though I didn’t need one so you did a good job. Do you recommend Amazon affiliates? I don’t see an Amazon widget on your sidebar, how come? Gosh I feel so clueless… I’m glad you got 14 visits through my little blog. xxx

    • I think that’s the longest comment I’ve ever had. I’ll try and work my way through it all!!

      I don’t use the wordpress data thingy (do you get it through jet pack?) so I don’t know.

      Tastespotting and FoodGawker are great for generating traffic if you get get most of your recipes in there so you should definitely take a look. Submitting is just as quick and simple as joining up with a linkup.

      You should have bought the spice grinder, it’s really useful 🙂

      I haven’t made my mind up about Amazon affiliates yet. The advantages are that it’s easy to use and has a great range of products available. However, the time that someone has to buy something is short so if someone goes away and has a think before buying you don’t get the commission, also the commission rates aren’t particularly high. I think you could potentially make more from being more selective about the affiliate schemes you join but then you have to balance that against the convenience of having all the products in one place like you have at Amazon.

      They have a widget available which I could add but I didn’t want to overdo it, I might try adding it later to see whether I get any benefit from it being there.

      Thanks for sending the 14 over.

      Hope that helps, off to reply to your next comment now!

    • You’re not clueless, you just know different things to me. I could do with some tips on growing pinterest followers if you’ve got any.

      • Just pin, pin, pin and follow lots of big accounts! I have just tried to find you on Pinterest but can’t find you as Charlotte Oates or My Recipe Book. Ok, I see. I clicked on your ‘P’ shortcut from the blog and found it. MyRecipeBook might be difficult to find as you would have to type it as one word to find it. If you had the three words (My Recipe Book), you would come up whenever people search for My, Recipe or Book. You would have a lot more chances of getting found. Another good way to get new followers is to have the widget on your sidebar. If people see what you are pinning and they like it, they will check your account.
        I will stop now or I’ll get carried away. Pinterest is my first love. It is what got me into blogging and I will be writing about it during the holidays.

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