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Welcome to my traffic and income report for May 2021, the 31st month of my blog. This month was certainly better than last month and turned up some very interesting facts and tidbits.
If this is your first time seeing one of my income reports, be sure to check out my income reports section which has all of my reports from the very beginning of my food blog.
As usual, I’ve written this report as I myself highly valued income reports when I was looking into becoming a blogger but was dismayed with the amount I found that only began reports once their blog was already successful, normally years down the line. I wanted to see the nitty-gritty painful tiny amounts from the very beginning, so I’d have a rough idea of what to expect, and so these reports were born!
Use the jumps below to get where you want to be or scroll down to read the whole report.
This month, as I mentioned last month, I buckled down and had a goal of mainly redoing old non-performing posts with the odd new post, to the tune of posts a week. Did I hit sixteen posts? Well, no. But I did hit a record-breaking amount for me of fourteen posts.
(Pats self on the back)
Only four posts were new ones, with my focus being on reshooting, rewriting, and where needed, retargeting older posts that were dragging down my site. Surprisingly even within a month I’ve seen improvements in those posts. I knew from my old day job as a content writer that when you first make some drastic changes to a post, it drops rankings for a few weeks, then springs back up and (if you’ve done your job right) starts climbing the rankings and that’s what I’ve seen.
Some posts I’d marked high priority, I also had to let go of the idea of reshooting or rewriting them. Why? My lemon coconut rice recipe is a good example. It’s not a good target for lemon rice, which normally refers to the lovely Indian recipe (chitranna) or coconut rice, and it’s already ranking highly for what it CAN rank for, albeit on some very low volume keywords.
Would pivoting the recipe to take advantage of the aged URL bring about any gains? Very doubtful. Does it bring any traffic? Yes, even if it’s just a little. Does it have any links? Yes, so not worth deleting either. I’ve moved it to my low priority reshoots, as it could be something that does well on Pinterest with gorgeous photos, but right now, as a terrible prospect for traffic, it’s not worth spending time on it when I could be updating a post with high traffic potential.
May 2021 74,544 page views (compared to approximately 53k page views last month and 88,474 in March 2020)
Sigh. Sigh again. So, traffic recovered quite a bit from the absolute nadir of last month, yet still fell short of what I got for the same month last year. Not a good trend. Why is traffic less at the moment? I’m guessing for two reasons – one, that traffic in May 2020 was still artificially high as a lot of people were still stuck at home, and two – this is a big one – because Pinterest has TANKED.
Yes, I said it. Pinterest has been disappointing bloggers ever since it floated on the stock market and started overfilling it’s mobile display with irrelevant and badly targeted ads, as well as confusing features. I had noticied traffic from it was down in April but only a post I spotted by chance in a blogging forum clued me in – the vast majority of bloggers had seen a massive drop – we’re talking traffic cut by 50 to 70 percent here – since April this year.
Off I ran to my custom Pinterest traffic report and sure enough, it looked like a wild board had come in and trampled on and eaten half my Pinterest traffic (which was over a third of my overall traffic). Look at the graph below comparing March to June 2021 with last year.
Everything was going along smoothly and had increased and then BAM around the 21st Pinterest hit me with an algorithm change. At least I think it was an algorithm change – weirdly, normally when any of the search engines shake things up there are winners and losers, and I haven’t really heard of any winners from this one.
So, fairly annoyed with Pinterest – nothing has been making any waves there for a while, no matter what you do it seems to be mainly old pins that bring any traffic, then the ridiculous “idea pins”, and now this. I’m sticking with just manually pinning one new pin per post, and holding on to my pinning-temper right now, and we’ll see how it goes but nothing about the direction Pinterest has been taking tells me anything good is to come.
Supposedly, the theory a lot of bloggers are saying is that Pinterest wants to become “the new Facebook”, or more of a social media than a search platform, and therefore keep users onsite rather than sending them to external websites.
Moving on, a huge part of the reason why my traffic recovered so much this month was actually that a new post was featured in Google Discover only two-three days after being published. From May, most bloggers have said traffic tends to rise but we’ll see – with the huge Core Web Vitals update coming next month, I’m just battening down the hatches and hoping here.
Not a huge change in traffic sources this month – direct traffic has very noticeably doubled when compared to last month, but that’s because my Google Discover feature came quite late in the month (it started trending upwards around the 26th/27th) and for some reason it takes Google Analytics a while to identify Discover traffic, so it just puts it in with direct traffic initially.
Ah social, you’re not exactly my favorite place to be at the moment and it shows. With reach cut a while ago on Facebook, Pinterest tanked, and Instagram (sorry Instagram) a bit useless for traffic, I’ve actually been loving my email subscribers this month.
Email subscribers 604 (versus 535 in April) – Yay! Definitely growing in bigger and bigger increments here. I’m getting into the groove of sending out emails with new recipes, and responding to some of the lovely replies I’ve had (they’re so nice!). Mediavine spotlight subscribe is definitely a very effective way to increase subscribers, with a low impact on user experience.
Facebook followers 5715 (versus 5677 in April). – Definitely a lot less than the days of yore but not really surprising with such little reach. I really hate the changes Facebook has made, I used to see all my notifications in one place and now I don’t see my page notifications unless I go into a certain spot on my page, ditto with messages.
Pinterest followers 3082 (versus 3005 in April). Bah humbug. I used to regularly get around a hundred subscribers a month so this is a bit less, but who cares? (Can you tell I’m still annoyed with Pinterest?)
Instagram followers 719 (versus 693 in April). Ok. (Shrugs shoulders). Still enjoy Insta for chatting to people who need help with recipes or seeing the lovely photos they take of the finished recipe.
- May Gross Income: $1544.46 (compared to $966.61 in April 2021 and $903.20 in May 2020)
- May Expenses: $155.05
- May Profit: $1389.41 (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 was dithering and changing back and forth between Trellis and GeneratePress themes this month and BigScoots were very patient and transferred over new posts written since backing up prior to switching themes. I highly recommend them.
- $13.60 Keysearch. A solid affordable SEO tool, crucial for content planning. Check out the Keysearch review I did and see how I use it exactly.
- $14.99 Tailwind Plus – this is completely pointless now and I’ll be cancelling as soon as I can.
- $47 Printables academy course – I haven’t gone through this so I can’t comment on it yet, but it looked very intriguing and came highly recommended. Terrible receipt though, can’t be used as an invoice, which means that I can’t deduct it from my blogging expenses for tax purposes so I’m definitely not feeling it or recommending it right now.
Last month I was unsure of whether to stick with Trellis or GeneratePress. I switched back to GeneratePress but ran into some issues that had been there before, but hadn’t noticed, and with the Google core update looming, I just gave up and switched back to Trellis to resolve everything. In the future I may still switch back but only when I can pay someone to fix everything up for me, because my tolerance for messing around with themes is just about used up.
They’re both excellent themes – I do highly recommend GeneratePress though if you’re on a budget as it’s very cheap for such a fast theme and the forums and support are second to none. Trellis is more hands-off – but also more difficult to customize – and it’s not out of beta testing yet.
Last but not least, RPM (Revenue Per Mille) – I was really surprised with RPMs this month as they basically stayed the same as last month’s until the final few days (when my Google Discover post, which had a much higher RPM, bumped up the average a bit). My average RPM for sessions this month was $26.42, and for page views $21.56. Last month (April) was $22.67 for sessions and $19.01 for page views.
I’m hoping RPMs increase even more in June with the end of the quarter looming, so fingers crossed!
Review and Goals
For May I has some pretty simple goals:
- 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.
With everything social kinda sucking, I ignored the social media tool goal. That was kind of short-sighted of me as I will be going on holidays in late June and could really use a tool to queue posts up to keep some social traffic coming in. Sigh.
I got out four posts a week for the first two, and three a week for the last two and I’m perfectly fine with that. I really need more time now to focus on photography and ticking all the boxes with new posts especially – my black bean curry that brought in masses of Discover traffic was a post that was very complete when I published it – it had a video, shared to social media and food websites straight away, sent out to email subscribers, push notifications etc. so I’d like to do the same with new posts.
The course I mentioned about Printables is the Shopify one – I think? Have to double-check that. Going to put it down for some holiday reading.
I did figure out the Trellis/GeneratePress issue, as I mentioned above, and am sticking with Trellis for now.
For next month, as I’ll be going on holiday:
- I’d like to aim for around three new posts a week, to give me more time to make sure the photography is on point and that the posts and their promotion is as complete as possible, with just one a redo of an old post with potential.
- Go through the Shopify course.
- Sort out a social media scheduling tool.
So that’s all for now – onwards and upwards and keep blogging, things are getting better but I’m not out of the scary-traffic-woods yet! Fingers crossed for everyone else during the Core Web Vital updates (Google, please be kind!).