Food Blog Traffic & Income Report Q4 Y1

Food Blog Traffic & Income Report Q4 Y1

Hello again and welcome to the final traffic and (no) income report of my first year of blogging, covering months 10, 11 and 12 of my blog which I began in November 2018.

It’s hard to believe it has been a year already! I’d like to say that it flew by, but it didn’t, it dragged. Months of burning the candle at both ends while I worked full-time, looked after my kids and spent any spare time on the blog.

However, all things considered, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. This quarter has brung some exciting developments and I feel like I’m getting great results from the work I’ve put in.

I do these quarterly reports for several reasons, of which the main ones are:

  • I love traffic and income reports from other blogs. They were what inspired me to start my own blog! But there are very few reports out there that start from month 1, many only start later when the blog is already successful, so with my own reports I wanted to capture everything from the start and give a realistic idea of what the infant stages of a blog would entail.
  • As a way to keep myself accountable, and keep track of my progress.

For previous blog reports, you can check out my:

If you have read any of my previous reports you’ll probably know that my blog doesn’t generate any income yet. That’s because I won’t place any ads until I qualify for Mediavine, which is one of the best ad networks and requires 25,000 sessions in 30 days to apply.

Mediavine is one of the best paying networks out there and they pay attention to speed. Placing any ads on your website will slow it down and most probably slow your growth, so in my opinion, you are better off not placing ads from slower networks that just bring you pennies, and holding out for Mediavine.

Similarly, I don’t do sponsored products or affiliates because I live in Spain and the paperwork required, as well as accountant fees and social security that I would have to pay with extra income, just aren’t worth the hassle until you have a decent regular stream of ad income coming in.

Given my results this quarter, it looks like this is all about to change and I will be monetizing this coming quarter. Read on and find out how I got on.

Posts

12 posts! Not great, considering it’s one less than I got up in the previous quarters and I was actually aiming for an improvement of 15 this quarter, and that now I aim to get one new post up a week and update another one. Four of the posts were also older ones that I redid for better SEO and updated the photos on.

Having said that, between nearly three weeks of holidays with the kids and a bit of burn out, I’m OK with that number. The breakdown per month was:

  • August – 4 posts
  • September – 3 posts
  • October – 5 posts

Time to analyze my output and figure out how to increase it where it matters. New content and updating old content are pretty much the same in terms of importance to me, but new content improves the overall value of my site. I should ideally be getting out a minimum of four posts and aiming for up to eight.

Old content which isn’t doing well because of terrible SEO and photos also drags my site down though, in terms of page authority and domain authority, so we’ll see how it goes.

Traffic

  • August: Page Views 10,441
  • September: Page Views 14,798
  • October: Page Views 27,881
  • Average Monthly Views: 17,707

Traffic picked up a lot this quarter, I’m guessing between the combination of coming to the end of my blog’s first year (domain age is an important factor for Google) and traffic for food bloggers, in general, being much higher after summer and moving towards the all-important fourth quarter of the year, with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon.

Average monthly views more than doubled again and I’m feeling pretty confident that within the next few weeks (of November) I will reach enough sessions to qualify for Mediavine (25,000 sessions is roughly 30,000 pageviews).

Pinterest and Google page views increased substantially. I’ve also been working on Facebook this quarter but still have a long way to go in figuring out my strategy.

There was a big spike in October when I was featured in a Buzzfeed article, which was amazing. I still haven’t figured out exactly how they found me, but it seems to be from one of the Facebook roundup groups where I submit links for consideration in roundups and to link out to from other bloggers’ recipes.

I also changed website host, from Bluehost to Siteground (Go Geek plan) in September, and saw my page loading time decrease by two seconds pretty much immediately. I then installed WP Rocket which decreased load time by another .6 seconds, and also now use Shortpixel to compress my photos.

Is it a coincidence that I made all these changes and sped up my website in mid-late September and then saw nearly double the views in October? I think not…

Traffic sources Q4 Y1

My top sources are still the same and in the same order, Google, Pinterest, and Facebook, although numbers have obviously increased. Buzzfeed is also clearly a new (temporary) addition. Recipe sharing websites have fallen off the map as traffic from them has really decreased, also due in part to the fact that I keep forgetting to share to them!

Subscribers

122 subscribers! This is a huge increase from my numbers last quarter, which was a grand total of 16. I still haven’t designed a lead magnet for attracting subscribers, so the majority of my new subscribers are due to implementing a MailChimp pop up subscription form. 76% to be exact.

I’m still a little bit on the fence about designing a lead magnet – I can barely keep up with posting as it is, and I kinda feel like it would be hard to design one which targets all my audience, but we’ll see.

During September I finally got my head around Mailchimp campaigns and have designed an email to send out to subscribers based on my RSS feed. Campaigns are not retroactive though, so I haven’t sent one yet as I was waiting for a few more recipes to be available in my RSS feed.

I’ll be sending my first mail out to subscribers in November and keeping a close eye on my list to keep it pruned. Mailchimp’s free plan includes up to 2,000 subscribers and while I’m a long way off that yet, it’s still best to keep it updated by removing subscribers who never open your emails before the list gets bigger and harder to handle.

I’m actually expecting a decrease in subscribers over November, as some people have been signed up for months and have yet to receive an email from me, and may forget they signed up and think it’s spam. You live – you learn.

I also need to figure out how to segment my lists properly and add different subscription options, so that people who are only interested in Whole 30 just see those recipes, bloggers just see income reports, etc.

Facebook

Facebook followers have increased from 513 by the end of Q3, to 889 by the end of Q4. This is an area I have been paying more attention to, but I still have a long way to go.

I need to get more of a strategy, share other bloggers items more, and post more regularly. To that end, I’m going to be looking into a good scheduler in November and will report my findings in the next report.

My Facebook audience tends to be pretty engaged and I see very decent traffic from there with little effort, certainly a lot less effort than Pinterest. So, this is definitely an area I want to grow in.

I also heard from some blogger friends that their reach and traffic really increased after 2000 followers, they received a message from facebook saying their page had been marked as one with significant growth potential. So Facebook is definitely going to be a focus over my next quarter.

Pinterest

I finished up my 3rd quarter of blogging with 391 followers, and monthly views of 145.8k. Q4 saw me reaching 683 followers and monthly views of 1.3 million. While views aren’t a very important factor, as it just means your pin was in someone’s feed, I think it’s safe to say my reach has grown.

This quarter I kept my Tailwind queue full, with 15 pins a day, of which at least 75% were mine. I also went into my website on most days (hey, nobody’s perfect…) and manually pinned five pins, as well as pinning between 5-10 pins from my feed and group boards.

Pinterest is not as long a game as Google and SEO, but it still takes more time to take effect than SEO, so, unfortunately, I don’t really have the data yet to see what is bringing me the most traffic. I’m planning on trying out Carly’s Pinterest course soon and hope to report back on how effective it was in the next quarter.

Instagram

While hate is a strong word, I definitely feel you could apply it to my relationship with Instagram. I have made pretty much zero effort and just post to it when I post a new recipe (if I even remember).

This is definitely something I’m going to need help from a virtual assistant with later, but for now, I’m not that bothered as I’m focusing on Pinterest and Facebook to bring my blog what it most needs right now, which is traffic.

I finished out my last quarter with 173 followers, and this quarter I have managed a pretty unimpressive jump to 215.

What’s next

Well, hopefully, monetization is next! For the blog itself, I’m pretty happy with site speed right now, so that is certainly a load off my mind. However, I have been hearing whispers about how slow my current theme is so I may have to consider moving to one of the recommended fast themes, Genesis, when I monetize. We’ll have to wait and see…

At the end of quarter three I set six goals for this quarter, but did I achieve them?

  1. Double my traffic – achieved!
  2. Focus on improving my photography, learn more about my DLSR, get a tripod, more backgrounds, etc. – achieved! Although I still need to keep working on my photography and I definitely need more plates and just a few more backgrounds. Holler at me if you live in Spain and know of some affordable unglazed crockery…
  3. Fix areas from the audit that impact site speed – achieved!
  4. Focus on growing my Facebook page and work on my Facebook strategy – not really, only about a quarter achieved.
  5. Develop a lead magnet to get more email subscribers – Nope, and it’s not going to be a focus for me for a while.
  6. Start sending out subscription emails – nearly achieved! The first one is ready to go out next week!

I’m fairly happy with everything I achieved this quarter, and as usual, have a better idea about where I want to be focusing my attention this coming quarter, the first of my second year of blogging. So my (flexible) goals for the next quarter are:

  1. Monetize my website. If everything goes according to plan, I should be applying to Mediavine in November. It then takes up to a month to be accepted, plus they then need to go in and place the ads on your website, so we’re looking at January being my first monetized month.
  2. Try out different schedulers (Buffer, Later, etc.) and research Facebook a lot more and implement a strategy.
  3. I’m fairly happy with my Pinterest game but I think I could still improve. I’m planning on taking Carly’s Pinterest strategy course and implementing everything from it.
  4. Continue working on my photography and get a few more props and backgrounds.
  5. Double my traffic again – this means I will need to hit around 55,000 views by the end of January for the previous 30-day period. Is this even possible? Who knows? But fortune favors the bold so I’m told…
  6. Plan my time better to get out more posts – I have not started using this awesome blogger planning diary I bought in quarter 3, so time to dust it off and get to it.

So that’s my first year of blogging done and dusted. I’m proud I stuck it out and am hoping for great things from my second year. Thanks for reading my report and let me know in the comments if you have any questions, or suggestions on things you’d like to see included in future reports. Onwards and upwards!



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