Months 7, 8, and 9 are done and dusted! I can’t believe my next report will be on my one-year blogiversary already! If you’re new to this section, I do these traffic and income reports every three months for now (I’m planning to switch to monthly reports once I monetize).
Note that there is no income as of yet as I’m holding out for Mediavine numbers (25000 sessions in a 30-day period) before monetizing as:
- The law on side-hustle money is kind of a pain here in Spain and it would cost more than I’d earn to keep everything legal if I was earning a few bucks from the start.
- Ads can slow your website down and I’d rather hold out for Mediavine’s optimized well-managed ones.
- I don’t have the time to do any other money-spinners such as sponsored posts, affiliates or products anyway while working full-time.
- I’d rather just go with an advertising network straight off the bat. That way instead of wasting time trying to figure out how to insert ads on my website, I can do any one of the other 1000 things a food blogger always has going on.
The reason I do these traffic and income reports is so that people can get a reasonable idea of what to expect from the start. Food blogs are quite different to other blogs, and each niche is its own world – you can’t expect a general recipe blog to get the same traffic as a paleo baking one, for example.
While you shouldn’t fall into the comparison trap, it can be really useful to see the kind of trajectory a blog might experience from the start. I know I DEVOURED other food blog traffic and income reports when I was deciding whether to start up this blog.
My little lacto-vegetarian and vegan blog is doing well. Not AMAZINGLY well, not 100k views in six months, but reasonably well. These reports also keep me accountable, help me track and set goals, and make me feel better when the going gets tough as I can look back and see how far I have come already.
And the going will get tough. Especially if you are a parent of young kids working full-time, as I am.
You will be tired and make mistakes and burn out once every two months. But you will also accomplish more than you ever thought you could, and keep showing up. I truly believe that’s all it takes, keep showing up, figure out what gives you the most traction, rinse and repeat. Now onto the numbers!
13 posts! This is exactly the same number I got up last time. I’ve cut back to posting once a week instead of twice but was still hoping to get two out the odd week, so not exactly over the moon with this number.
May and June were not great months for me, with the stress of organizing summer childcare and sleeping really badly. July was much better, I did a vegan Whole30 which totally resolved my sleep problems and productivity, and I got seven posts up.
This posting pattern is starting to seem somewhat familiar… I get out a subpar amount for two months (because I normally flaked out for a week and decided to rest and spend more time with my family). Then an excellent amount for one month (where I invariably feel more energized and motivated after flaking out).
- May – 3 posts
- June – 3 posts
- July – 7 posts
I’m going to try to aim for 15 next quarter, 5 a month. I just bought this very cool looking blog planner because I am sick of having all my notes and ideas spread out across Colornote, Gmail, google docs, etc. So hopefully this will also help.
I have holidays in August and September, which is kind of a double-edged sword. During my days off in August, I’m planning on devoting some serious time to my blog in the mornings and kicking back with my kids in the evening.
However, during my one-week break in September, I’m going to completely switch off. I’m not even bringing my camera or allowing myself to check my analytics. I’ve been feeling super burnt out so I’m going to force myself to take a completely relaxing break, no blog, no work, no cooking.
- May: Page Views 6023
- June: Page Views 7303
- July: Page Views 8555
- Average Monthly Views: 7294
Traffic for this quarter surpassed my expectations. Average monthly views more than doubled again. If that happened every 3 months I would be ecstatic as it would mean that in six month times I would be able to qualify for Mediavine (a girl can dream)!
As you can see from the image above, traffic was also more stable than the last quarter, steadily rising, instead of the two viral peaks which carried the three months beforehand.
Traffic from Google continues to rise but no significant jumps yet. Pinterest is also on the increase and I’m confident that I’ve pretty much cornered most of what I need to know after reading the She approach to Making Pinterest Possible (and implementing most of it).
I’m going to focus my efforts on Facebook next quarter, as I’ve noticed some great results from sharing posts to groups there (and I still hate Instagram and do as little as possible with it, sorry to say). I’ll definitely be continuing what I’ve learned from Pinterest and rereading the book though.
I also had a somewhat unusual bump in traffic, as you can see from the statistics below. A blogger friend (Melanie from Skillets and Pots), who is also a talented videogame developer, produced a fun recipe app using some photos from recipe bloggers. It is quite addictive and links out to the posts featured in the pictures, try it on Android or iOS if you get a chance!
16 subscribers! I finally got in gear and used MailChimp to set up a snazzy popup box and a brighter one at the top on mobile. I have to be honest though, I only did it two weeks before the end of the quarter!
Up until then I only had 8 subscribers but I saw my list grow a steady 4 subscribers a week since implementing the changes. It doesn’t sound like much but if I had been getting 4 a week since the beginning I would have had at least 144 by now!
The vast majority of the new signups are coming from the popup which pretty much confirms what I had read about – that popups, while annoying, are more effective than static sign-up boxes.
For the next quarter, I really need to work on actually sending emails to subscribers, developing a lead magnet, and segment my lists. After all, some people looking to set up a food blog may wish to receive notifications from this section when I post reports, but not Whole30 posts or recipes.
Growth on Facebook continues to be steady with followers nearly doubling from 271 last quarter to 513 this one. I joined more sharing groups, but know I need to do more and should develop a strategy or do a course. I do genuinely like Facebook though and have received one or two really nice direct messages and comments that made my day.
It’s quite confusing trying to analyze your Pinterest growth. Changes to the algorithm mean your numbers can fluctuate wildly from one day to the next.
Last quarter I had 169 followers and 237.2k monthly viewers. This quarter my followers have grown to 391, yet monthly unique viewers has fluctuated wildly and are now at 145.8k?
Traffic from Pinterest has steadily risen though, so basically, my pins are getting less exposure but a higher click-through rate. So I’m pretty much just going to ignore the monthly unique viewers and rinse and repeat for the next quarter.
Over the last few weeks, I have been making a big effort to improve my photography by watching the Bite Shot YouTube channel. While I’m not where I want to be yet, there is already a definite improvement (check out this flourless cookie post and compare it with photos in earlier blog posts to see what I mean).
To be honest, I think Pinterest can’t be won with just a brilliant strategy, you also really need beautiful photos.
This quarter I have been experimenting quite a bit with Tailwind and have been scheduling 15 pins a day and manually pinning 15 in the morning (although I’m not as consistent with the manual pinning as I’d like). I definitely could not survive without Tailwind, it frees up a massive amount of my time.
I’m definitely questioning the value of my monthly power-up for five more tribes and more submissions though.
The extra tribes I’m in aren’t as active as I’d like, so I need to either find a few better tribes (which does suck a little as any content you pinned to an ex-tribe will disappear even though you used up your submissions on it) or just drop the power-up and concentrate on the strongest performers.
Instagram is still pretty poor. I now have 173 followers, up from 124 last quarter. To be perfectly honest – I’m just not a massive Instagram fan. I hate the follow-unfollow nonsense and just won’t participate.
I’ve read that to do well on Instagram you need to get really personal. Some pictures of you, post a lot and interact a lot. I’m just not that invested in it as a platform because it’s one that I genuinely don’t love. I also am not quite ready to share more of my personal life yet.
So for that reason, I will keep tapping away by uploading to it when I post. However, it’s definitely an area I’m not going to look to grow much until the 2nd year of my blog (if ever). Right now I’m focused on getting the traffic numbers to be able to apply for Mediavine. Instagram is just not even on the radar when it comes to sending traffic to most blogs.
I set some pretty big goals for this quarter in my last report, but did I achieve any of them? My goals were:
- Double my traffic (I did!)
- Finish the She Approach to Pinterest and implement everything (I finished it and implemented about 90%)
- Subscriber pop up (I did!)
- Tweak font and colors a little more on the site (nope)
- Work through my list of areas to fix from the audit (nope)
- Increase site speed even more (nope)
- Start working my way through the Bite Shot video (I did!)
I’m pretty happy with the goals I’ve achieved, although a little annoyed I didn’t achieve all of them. I’m going to set a slightly-more achievable six goals for the next quarter and aim to hit two a month.
- Double my traffic again! I have no idea if this is even achievable. From 7294 average views to 14588 is quite a jump after all. However from what I’ve read traffic is much higher in the September-December period for food bloggers, so here’s hoping!
- Focus on improving my photography. Learn more about DLSR basics, get a tripod, some more backgrounds, work more on my composition. I’ll need to watch more Bite Shot videos to improve in this area.
- Fix areas from the audit that impact site speed
- Focus on growing my Facebook page and work on my Facebook strategy.
- Develop a lead magnet to get more email subscribers
- Start sending out subscription emails (help!)
So, onwards and upwards to smash the last three months of my first year of blogging! Thank you, as always, for reading my report. Please let me know if you’d like anything added to future ones or have a question in the comments below. Happy blogging!