Welcome to my traffic and income report for April 2021. This is the 30th month of my food blog and I’ve been writing these traffic and income reports from the very beginning.
Check out my income reports section if you want to see how things have gone before. Things this month did not go well, but I was more or less expecting it given the downturn in organic traffic across all sources, and this should hopefully be the lowest month for traffic this year. The only way is up!
Use the jumps below to get to where you need to be or keep scrolling on down to see the statistics and information from April.
This month I published five new posts and updated five older ones. This month marked a change in my posting strategy. While I started the month out initially churning out content, as traffic continued to decline I decided I needed some quick wins and turned to look at older content.
Like most bloggers, I have a ton of early posts that aren’t up to scratch and suffer from a ton of issues and are basically taking up space on my website and not bringing in any traffic.
The one problem they don’t suffer from? URL age. Those babies are ageing like fine wine and a recipe tweak here or there, some new photos and some quality SEO can reap much quicker ranking results than writing a new post.
So I took a pause and had a good long hard look at my website. I redid my most important spreadsheet for strategy (and a bit of traffic triage) and separated it into three tabs. The tabs are labelled top keywords for April, New posts to write and Underperformers.
I exported all the keywords I was ranking on into “top keywords for April” (you can use Ahrefs Webmaster Tools or Keysearch to do this, just export to CSV format and then import in Google Sheets) and sorted them by keyword positions and removed any that were ranking on the first page of Google or which were under three months old (and therefore probably needed a bit more time in order to rank).
I then sorted them by URL and have a good look to see if I’d missed anything. Those URLs then got copied over to my “Underperformers” tab. There are ten columns in this tab:
- Priority (how close is it to being on page 1? How big is the volume? How easy is the fix?)
- Post Title
- Notes (what’s wrong with the post)
- Done? (the date I took action)
- Action taken (list of what exactly I’d done)
- Starting positions (the top four keywords for that post and their ranking positions)
- 1-month check (date to re-check rankings)
- 3-month check
- 6-month check
I then sorted by priority and color-coded posts that didn’t need to be reshot versus ones that needed a reshoot. The four pages I updated are part of the list that doesn’t need to be reshot and as such are “quick wins”. I’ve actually already seen them moving up in rankings already so I highly recommend attacking high priority underperforming content. What I did for each of them was:
- Checked to see if I was targeting the correct keyword. If not, I tweaked to a better keyword, if so I made sure SEO was on point.
- Made new pins and manually pinned one, scheduled the next two through Pinterest, and sent any remaining ones out on Tailwind.
- Shared to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- Shared to subscribers via email.
- Added a quick Lumen5 video if there was no video for that post.
- Added more internal links to that post.
- Shared on Foodgawker and Finding Vegan.
- Made sure it had reviews and stars – reach out to people you know who enjoyed the recipe or commented but didn’t rate, complete a comment review thread etc.
- Set it to be recrawled in Googe Search Console.
For my “New posts to write” tab I went through my existing content plan and squeezed out anything that was easier to rank on (remember, looking for some quick wins here) and I also did more broad keyword search using Keysearch and setting the score in the filter to quite low to unearth a few unicorn keywords and other easier keywords. I also added some food-related content that wasn’t recipes and was easy to rank on.
(Check out my Keysearch review where I also outline how I use it to do my keyword research and a couple of pro tips, as well as a discount code for 20% off)
April 2021 53-ish thousand Page Views (compared to 77,203 last month and 85,461 in April 2020)
First of all, let me explain that it’s 53-ish thousand views as an estimate because if you look at the graph above, you see that big dip on April 6th and 7th? Yes that’s when I accidentally removed my Google Analytics tracking data, go me, so It’s only showing traffic from early on in the day April sixth and later on in the day April seventh.
Second of all, OUCH. Both less traffic than last month and less traffic than last year. As I discussed in last month’s report. a lot of bloggers are seeing a huge dip. More experienced bloggers who have years of data have said it’s a seasonal thing, and lasts through the end of March or April depending on when Easter fell that year, and another few factors.
Of course, I only have data from April 2019 (when my blog was just six months old and had barely begun to get traffic from Google) and April 2020 (when everyone was stuck at home cooking because of the worldwide situation). So I’m taking it on faith that this will be the worst month for traffic this year – otherwise Houston we have a problem and it’s back to the day job for me…
Having learned from past mistakes I did double-check everything on the blog to make sure there wasn’t another cause behind the drop and nope. The few webstories I published this month also brought zero traction. Let’s see what May brings.
No huge changes in my main traffic sources this month. A few from a ton of webstories and a little from Foodgawker (it ain’t what it used to be)
Social activity this month was pretty much restricted to pushing updated content and the few new articles that went out. Unfortunately I still haven’t gotten around to planning a content calendar.
Email subscribers 535 (versus 510 in March). Slowly increasing. Last month I pointed out that I’d ditched my pop up in favor of Mediavine’s new Spotlight subscribe widget, which I love, and it seems to bring in about the same number of subscribers but is much less annoying.
Facebook followers 5677 (versus 5664 in March). A much slower rate of growth. True I didn’t spend much time on Facebook this month but there was a recent algorithm change and posts are being shown to even less people now, reducing engagement and performance in groups (and hence slowing growth of followers).
Pinterest followers 3005 (versus 2925 in March). Slightly less than usual, which I attribute to my Tailwind queue playing out. I did refill it a little this month and will see how we do next month, but if the dip in traffic is really seasonal then it stands to reason there are fewer people online, and you gain fewer followers.
Instagram followers 693 (versus 676 in Instagram). This number seems to increase by the same amount each month whether I post or not.
- April Gross Income: $966.61 (compared to $1,449.72 in March 2021 and $743.42 in April 2020)
- April Expenses: $376.46
- April Profit: $590.15 (before tax and social security)
- $34.52 Accountant (based in Madrid, Spain). This is a monthly set fee I pay.
- $9.99 Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan (Lightroom and Photoshop).
- $34.95 BigScoots WPO Starter plan. Quality hosting makes all the difference. I’ve been with Big Scoots for years now and love them. The managed WordPress option is worth its weight in gold, they solve a lot of issues for me.
- $13.60 Keysearch. A solid affordable SEO tool, crucial for content planning. Check out the Keysearch review I did and how I use it exactly.
- $14.99 Tailwind Plus.
- $40.34 – The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. I wanted the Flavor Bible for ages to help with recipe creation and was super excited to find that the Vegetarian Flavor one was cheaper (and more relevant to my recipe work obviously). The actual book only cost $24.19 but I couldn’t get it in Europe and had to import it from the US and pay import fees, shipping and handling.
- $9.87 – Perfect Picture Food: Master the Art of Food Photography with 52 Bite-Sized Tutorials. I was on the waiting list for this for ages. It’s written by Joanie Simon, the genius behind The Bite Shot Youtube channel. I haven’t finished it yet but I already love it.
- $218.20 – Trellis – Framework, child theme, and site speed audit. More on that below.
So I was finally offered Trellis – Mediavine’s framework and theme. I was in two minds about switching and wasn’t sure I would see any benefit. My site was on GeneratePress and was already getting 99 and 100 in GPSI on desktop and mobile, but I had a niggling CLS problem I couldn’t solve. I’d also heard a lot of people had seen increased RPMs and other benefits.
So I figured I’d try it out. There is a 30-day moneyback guarantee. Out of the box, it was good and fast, very little needed to be changed, just a few aesthetic points. That’s where I hit the first snag as I found it very difficult to customize and had to depend on the Facebook group for it.
With GeneratePress you could search the forums or ask a question and they would 100% solve the issue for you and give you whatever code you needed. Of course, Trellis is still in beta so they haven’t built up that kind of knowledge bank yet, but it definitely resulted in a lot of frustration trying to get it to look the way I wanted.
The second snag was that even with the speed audit, it was still slower and didn’t perform as well as my website on GeneratePress Premium, which is also much much cheaper. That’s an issue for me. Of course, to complicate things even more my Google Search Console CLS issue disappeared after two days on it – but CLS fixes take 28 days to validate!
So for now, I’m unsure. I haven’t seen any speed gains or RPM gains. I’m going to give it another week and then assess but I’m considering moving back. I think if your site isn’t well-optimized and you’re not a technically-gifted person and you’re happy with the look of the child themes, then it’s a great choice.
But if you’re running GeneratePress, have just a handful of plugins that are totally necessary and your site is quick and has no major issues, then there is nothing to gain by switching.
If I move back I’ll thank my lucky stars I’m with BigScoots. I already spoke to them asking about how I could NOT lose changes I had made and new articles and they explained I can put my site into staging, install my pre-Trellis backup on the live site, and they will copy everything over to the live site for me.
Review and Goals
So, my goals for April were:
- Redo my content plan to focus on lower competition stuff
- Decide on a tool to help me manage my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook strategy and plan out my social media content for the month in just one or two days.
- Put out a few new recipes and redo some older ones in a 50:50 ratio with a huge focus on photography.
- Go through all my notes from the course and organize and streamline everything much more.
Let’s see what I did achieve – I did redo my content plan, I did put out a few new recipes and redo some older ones – my photography was also HUGELY improved after I implemented everything I learned through Food Blogger Pro. I also went through all my notes from FBP and condensed and implemented them.
I looked into a tool for my social media strategy and made some notes but ultimately didn’t follow up on them. That’s something I’m going to have to do this month. I’m also doing a mini content challenge with a friend (Emese from the always amazing My Pure Plants) where we do four pieces of content a week (although rewrites accepted).
I’m going to try to get through my list of first priority older posts this month, and do some other food and recipe-related content (but no new recipes right now as I will be hugely focussing on the reshoots of the older content).
So for May my goals are very short and simple:
- Decide on a social media tool and plan out at least a month of content.
- Get out four posts every week where at least two are redoing high-priority underperforming content.
- Go through an awesome new course I just got about Shopify (I know nothing about it).
- Assess whether I should roll back from Trellis to GeneratePress.
So there you have it, a worse month than last month in terms of both traffic and income but weirdly, I actually feel more hopeful (I guess having a plan of attack helps).
If you’d like to see anything else in these reports or have any questions, leave a comment below or get in touch via email. You can also request to have your email added to a private list for just my blogging articles (mainly the income ones) by dropping me a line at deirdre @ thefieryvegetarian .com (remove the spaces).
May the fourth be with you!