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Welcome to the 29th month of my blog and my traffic and income report for March 2021. Also known as, the month I gave up blogging.!
Well, not quite.
But it was a close thing. I was 100% fed up and demotivated this month with the steadily dwindling traffic and no real progress to show for the last six months of blogging.
Then I remembered that before I began this blog when I was doing a ton of research, I came across some really interesting statistics. One of those statistics backed up how most people gave up blogging either in the first year or just before the point they would have seen some serious growth.
So I calmed myself down and told myself this is my low point before some serious growth, threw out my blogging plan for the month, and got back to basics. More on that below.
Posts this month: ZERO
That’s right. ZERO posts this month. I took this month off after getting super frustrated and spent the entire month attempting to fix my core web vitals ahead of the May update, fixing anything and everything wrong on the website, and spending a ton of time learning. More on that in the review and goals section.
This is why the main image for this article has a white background for once, as I usually make a collage of photos I’ve taken for recipes I published during that month, and well this month I didn’t publish, so it’s fitting.
March 2021 77,203 Page Views (compared to 81,334 last month and 67,073 in March 2020)
Traffic this month SUCKED. It was even lower than February, despite there being three more days in the month, and you can see a clear downwards trend.
Hence my giving up on creating any amazing content this month and going back to the drawing board to study as I’m clearly getting something wrong.
Chat from food blogger groups this month was helpful at stemming my massive tantrum, as many people remarked on their dropping traffic and more seasoned bloggers said that there was usually a downwards trend until March/April when it picked up and increased until the year-end.
I’m hoping that’s true (fingers crossed) and that I haven’t just absolutely wasted a year making barely any progress – although it is also very true that I can’t really compare this March’s data to the previous year.
March 2020 was when different countries began locking down and there was a huge surge in traffic for food bloggers as everyone was trapped at home cooking for themselves.
Top traffic sources were a little surprising this month. When compared to the traffic sources from last month’s report, organic was actually very slightly up. Pinterest remained fairly steady which was interesting as I didn’t pin anything at all this month, just let my Tailwind queue play out.
Understandably, with no activity on my page, Facebook traffic was down, and with no web stories published – as I suspected – no Google API traffic, so Google recommendations, no Google Discover – man, they are pushing those web stories HARD.
A little mention in the Guardian on St. Patrick’s Day just about saved my month!
But where has my Grow.me traffic gone? A quick look reveals that it has fallen down to number 27 with just 17 users, which seems really odd.
For those not familiar with Grow.me, it’s a cute Mediavine perk, those little green hearts you can see in the right-hand corner and the strip of other recommended articles which appears sometimes at the top and throughout the content.
While this decrease is something I need to look into, it’s just a difference of a few hundred users so it’s not the root issue of my declining traffic. It seems to be a combination of seasonality and less social effort on my part.
As I mentioned, I did absolutely no new content or promotion this month, so let’s see how my social channels and Pinterest fared.
Email subscribers 510 (versus 447 in February). A slight improvement on normal numbers, the exciting thing about new subscribers this month is that I dumped my pop-up halfway through and switched to Mediavine’s handy new spotlight sign-up widget option.
It’s a handy little box that appears halfway down the page which is “spotlighted” with a darker background when scrolling over and you don’t need to find the “X” to click out of it, you can just ignore it and continue scrolling.
It’s much faster for your website and less intrusive than a popup and so far seems to have even better results, although I’ll need to test it for a full month in order to see.
Facebook followers 5664 (versus 5644 in February). A tiny increase due to spending no time on Facebook this month. I mainly pick up new followers by posting and sharing recipes in vegan and vegetarian recipe groups.
More worryingly, however, is the fact that my engagement has fallen 94%!
Engagement is really hard to increase on Facebook, and in my opinion, is the most important factor in any of the social media networks – more engagement means more people see your posts and therefore you get more traffic to your website, which is the end game.
So in retrospect, a little more time spent sharing on Facebook and engaging would have been time well spent as it’s going to be difficult to increase engagement now.
Pinterest followers 2925 (versus 2805 in February). Again, the usual hundred followers a month increase, give or take a little. This despite not creating any new pins or live-pinning at all this month.
What does this tell me? Not a whole lot I’m afraid, as Pinterest strategy changes can take 3-4 months to bare fruit.
Instagram followers 676 (versus 661 in February). True to form I posted just once on not-my-cup-of-tea-agram. Meh.
- March Gross Income: $1,449.72 (compared to $1,235.08 in February and $888.08 in March 2020)
- March Expenses: $149.97
- March Profit: $1,299.75 (before tax and social security)
(I get paid in American dollars so for the sake of coherency even though I live in Europe, all amounts on this page are in USD)
- $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.
- $13.60 Keysearch. A solid affordable SEO tool, crucial for content planning.
- $14.99 Tailwind Plus.
- $40.92 – Props and backgrounds.
- $1 – Food Blogger Pro.
As usual, expenses were kept to a minimum. The only extras this month were for props and backgrounds, and Food Blogger Pro.
Props and backgrounds, I bought some muslin cloths for babies from Amazon as I wanted some muslin/linen teatowel/napkin props and could not find the texture I was looking for anywhere else (I live in Spain and it is NOT fun hunting down props here!).
I also bought some more vinyl backgrounds. I live in an apartment and space is at a bit of a premium, plus living in mainland Europe makes it a little harder – and pricier – for me to get some proper photography backgrounds so I love these double-sided backgrounds that only cost about five dollars each.
The quality is pretty good, if not as amazing as the super expensive ones. The photo below was taken on one of them, for example.
The Food Blogger Pro dollar was possibly the best value for money I have ever gotten, I’ll discuss it more in the Review and Goals section below.
My session RPM this month with Mediavine, my ad management company, was $23.54, up from $19.13 in February, and a big improvement on my RPM for the same period last year (March 2020) of $16.29.
I’m expecting my session RPM to dip down again next month (April 2021) as we enter a new financial quarter, so let’s see what happens.
Review & Goals
So, my goals for March were:
- Fix core web vitals so I can relax before the giant Google core web update in May.
- VIDEO. For the love of all that’s good, get ANY video done.
- Get some more web stories out.
While I greatly improved my core web vitals, I did not completely fix my CLS issue, due to the fact that I just CANNOT find on the page where the shift is happening, as it’s not happening in the first view.
I should be offered Trellis soon and I’m hoping that moving to it will fix it because I spent a good ten days chasing down every issue with my core web vitals and I’m not touching that stuff again even if my website goes up in flames in May during the core web vitals update.
I did no videos and no web stories as I spent the month digging down into my website and investigating the slight traffic drop. A good friend, in my hour of need, then dropped me a mail with the awesome news that I could try out a month of Food Blogger Pro for just a dollar!
I had considered joining before but thought that it might be more aimed at absolute beginner bloggers – I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I spent the rest of the month entirely dedicated to going through the courses available and let me tell you it has been an absolute gamechanger (enrollment is open if you’re interested!).
I hugely improved my photography, have started developing more of my own style, have a much clearer idea of how to handle social media and a good social media strategy, can see how to be more organized and focused in general, I’ve decided to start writing my own cookbooks this summer…I could go on and on. but I’ll leave it for now as I’m going to do a full-review tomorrow.
So, my goals for April are going to be a little different than usual as I’m going to be implementing mainly things I learned this March, but mainly:
- Redo my content plan to focus on lower competition stuff – guys, I need a morale-boosting win soon!
- Decide on a tool to help me manage my Instagram, Twitter (yes I finally joined this month), 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.
So there you have it – not a very successful month but a month that I feel has better set me up for success!
As usual, if you have any queries or want to see something else included in these reports, just holler down at me below!