Well hello hello, it’s my food blog traffic and income report for the 24th month of my blog, in other words, my blog’s second birthday!
I launched my blog at the start of November 2018 “officially”, but uploaded my first few posts at the end of October. I have had traffic and income reports since the beginning so do check that section out if you’re interested.
This report on traffic and income for October 2020 will be as direct as possible as I’m sitting here recovering from some strange bug that knocked me out for a week with a high fever and bad headache (and yes, I got tested, and no, it wasn’t corona, thank goodness).
Changes going forward
There will be a few changes in the structure of these reports from now on. I’ll be combining subscribers, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. into a “Social” section, and also including my expenses in my income section to increase transparency.
Previously, I had separate sections for Pinterest, subscribers, push subscribers, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, so why have I lumped them into the same section now?
Simple, because they’re not giving the same return on investment (of my time) as getting new content out is, and they’re getting in the way of getting the work done. So I’m not just narrowing all the information from those segments into one section, I’m also pulling back my efforts and focusing on content creation more.
I realized that even though I’m now working full-time on the blog, I’m not really getting much more content done than before (partly because school hours here are now much shorter with the current situation in Spain) and that I needed to narrow my focus more towards what is bringing in the biggest gains (Google).
Technically Pinterest is more of a visual search engine, and email subscribers are not a social media channel per se, but I’m just going to lump them into the Social section anyway, for brevity.
While Pinterest still brings in decent traffic it has become a nightmare where only old pins seem to get any notice and huge amounts of effort bring negligible results. Which is a pity because I love Pinterest, but I’ll be scaling back my Pinterest efforts.
My email list is kind of abandoned and needs a pop up and giveaway to grow and the real worth of a subscriber list is only realised when you have a product to sell, in my opinion. This doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t fix it, but it’s not a key area for me right now.
Facebook is less than 3% of inbound traffic no matter what I do and I’ve heard really successful blogger friends there lately get really small returns considering the amount of time and attention they devote to it.
Instagram has never brought me traffic although it’s true that it can bring it in once you get over ten thousand followers. However, I’m a long way off that, and as a blogger who lives outside the US I also can’t really benefit from sponsorship opportunities.
Ideally, when I have enough income I’ll be able to outsource the management of these areas (hopefully), as although Google is my biggest friend now, it’s never wise to have all your eggs in one basket.
Anyway, long explanation over, use the jumps below to get to the section you want to hear about, or scroll on down to read the whole report.
Posts this month: 6
I was happy with the amount of posts I got out this month, but definitely think I need to streamline the process more and devote more time to cooking and photography.
Two of these were complete rewrites and reshoots of older recipes (my chunky salsa below for example), and I think that’s totally worthwhile and is easier to do than coming up with a newer recipe.
I still have some shots for one or two more recipes to update so I’m gonna get them out early November and then head straight back into the kitchen and taking photos and batch as much as I can together, and then see how that works out.
It’s just more logical for me to batch photography and cooking as my photography area is my son’s room the rest of the time and I have to take everything out and put it away again and move furniture etc. if I’m just doing one recipe at a time. So we’ll see how that works out.
October 2020 87,618 Page Views (compared to 60,922 last month and 27,881 in October 2019)
This month, it was such a relief to pull my blog traffic out of the slump that had hit the website after the robots.txt fiasco (read about it in September’s traffic and income report).
I was happy with the traffic increase from 60k to around 87k, although I have to be honest that I was really hoping for 90k!
This blog has just hit two years of age and I had a low goal of 10,000 pageviews a month for the end of my first year (which I overshot and qualified to get into Mediavine just three weeks after the blog turned a year old), and a randomly high one of 100k a month for my second year, which I obviously didn’t hit.
I am however hoping to hit 100k soon but we’ll see, the Christmas season wasn’t an especially exciting one for the blog last year and traffic stayed rather static.
This month traffic source percentages were similar to the norm with the exception of a drop in Pinterest traffic (more on that later in the Social section below) and an increase in direct traffic.
The direct traffic bump was when my five-minute masala sandwich (which reallyyy needs a reshoot) was featured in an article on Well and Good, which was in turn then featured by MSN!
Welcome to my new “Social” section where I combine information on growth and tactics used across my social media channels.
Email subscribers 349 (versus 327 in September). Interestingly, I got rid of the Mailchimp top bar for email sign-ups and it made zero difference to my sign-ups (which will continue to be low until I reintroduce a decent exit pop-up).
Facebook followers 5072 (versus 4663 in September). I finally passed 5000 followers! I was hoping this would be a bit of a magic number as friends have seen great things happen to their reach after 5k but nope.
Pinterest followers 2400 (versus 2300 in September). My Pinterest followers seem to increase slowly but steadily, the amount isn’t a hugely important metric as long as they are quality followers who enjoy and interact with your content.
What was interesting this month is that I finally started my rich pins on/off experiment. I’ve had my rich pins turned off for months and then turned them on the last three weeks to see what would happen. Turns out my pageviews from Pinterest dropped by 24.87% and the bounce rate slightly increased 0.21% (not as much as I thought it would).
Average time on-page did increase by 25.4% which is good news and shows that Rich Pins really do bring more qualified traffic. It also means the longer people are on-page the more ad impressions they see and the higher your income should be per visitor.
However….my Pinterest traffic already spent quite a bit of time on-page before (4 minutes 20 seconds) compared to the new average time of 5 minutes 26 seconds, so I’m not convinced that a whole lot of extra revenue got added to the pot.
If Pinners never see my page they don’t see my Facebook groups or Instagram handle or push invites or mailing list sign-ups… the list goes on. Basically, they never get introduced to my site.
I calculated a loss of about €56.61 for having Rich Pins turned on over a 15 day period. So I’ve decided to turn them back off for another three weeks and track how traffic does, as well as reach out to Mediavine and see if I can get the skinny on whether more visitors or more time on page is better when it comes to earnings. I’ll tell all next month!
Instagram followers 550 (versus 531 in September). Such a pretty platform. Still don’t care to spend time on it (sorry bae you don’t send me traffic). However, I will say that I really like that readers can reach out to me really quickly with a question and I do my best to answer it as fast as possible.
Push notifications – discontinued… Aha. Another experiment. I had been using OneSignal to collect subscriptions to Push notifications and had been moaning that I couldn’t tell how much traffic was actually coming from it.
Luckily one of my blogger friends pointed out to me that you could actually see how many people clicked on the link by looking at the delivery part of the dashboard in your OneSignal account. I then saw that with 2000 subscribers I was actually only getting around 10-15 clicks with each push. As I only sent out push notifications with new or updated recipes, that just meant around 90 visitors in October.
OneSignal is supposed to be very script-intensive and heavy to run on your website, so I decided to deactivate it. I did not see any speed gains, however, this might be because scripts had already been optimized on my website beforehand while OneSignal was running.
I did notice however that after removing the plugin, I could still send push notifications from my account and experimented with sending three for new posts using a CTA (Call To Action) instead of the usual post title that went out and clicks doubled.
I think it could be a useful tool if some thought was put into the push notifications, if they weren’t just used for new and updated posts and if you could figure out how to properly segment them, but for the moment I’m saying nope.
- October Gross Income: $1753.58 (compared to $1049.21 in September)
- October Expenses: $108.05
- October Profit: $1645.53 (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)
Oh thank goodness this section, along with traffic is looking up. Income had tanked for the last two months, along with traffic, over the robots.txt fiasco so seeing the numbers move in the right direction is definitely helping me breathe a sigh of relief over here.
I currently earn all of my income through ads and Mediavine is my ad publisher (they are AMAZING). The numbers improved as traffic improved, helped along by some big increases in RPM (Revenue Per Mille) as we enter the fabled Q4 of the blogging year when RPMs tend to be at their highest.
My average RPM for October was $24.44 per session ($20.30 per pageview) compared to $21.15 per session/$17.51 per page view in September.
Below I’ll list my monthly expenses. I left the day job a few months back to work as a blogger fullltime, so I’m careful to keep my expenses as pared down as possible and only pay for things I consider absolutely necessary.
I don’t include my groceries as they are not a deductible expense where I live (and I plan my menu around the blog so my family and I eat all the food I make) or my taxes and social security as they are variable and quarterly and I don’t even understand them that much myself…
- $34.52 – Accountant (based in Madrid, Spain). This is a monthly set fee I pay and they file and organize all my taxes and make payments on my behalf and remind me when I need to send things. Well worth it.
- $9.99 – Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan. Lightroom and Photoshop are 100% necessary for editing my photos and making process photo collages and Pinterest images.
- $34.95 – BigScoots WPO Starter plan. Quality hosting makes all the difference.
- $13.60 – Keysearch. A solid affordable SEO tool is crucial to any blog looking to get attention from Google.
- $14.99 – Tailwind Plus. I’m planning on scaling down the amount of pins I make but Tailwind still allows me to save hours of time as I can schedule a months worth of pins in half an hour. Totally worth it.
Review & Goals
So, last month my tentative goals for October were:
- Reshoot time-sensitive recipes (my vegan barmbrack, vegan stuffing, vegan Christmas cake, etc.)
- Get out one or two more pumpkin-related recipes
- Keep slogging away at Pinterest and creating a ton of new pins
- Do/try one new thing (affiliates would be good!)
I did reshoot most of the recipes I needed to and have also updated them, there are just two left I need to slot the photos into. I got out two more pumpkin recipes (my pumpkin cookies and pumpkin pancakes), and created lots of new Pinterest pins. I did fail at trying something new though.
So for November, my aims are:
- Create a basic checklist for minimal “social” work necessary to free up time for content creation, e.g. 4 pins instead of 20 for each post.
- Start Amazon and other affiliates.
- Focus on recipe creation and photography (must be more than this month).
- Improve photography skills (particularly setting up and planning photos)
That’s all from this side, for now, folks, thanks for reading, and a belated Happy Halloween!
I hope you found this report useful, if you have any questions or would like to see other items included in the next report, holler at me down below in the comments. Or just drop a line to let me know you stopped by!
Heads down to power on through the last two months of Q4!