July 2016 Traffic & Income Report

Hi there!  Welcome to the monthly traffic & income report for House of Nash Eats!  This is where I plan on sharing some information about the nitty gritty of blogging, starting and growing a food blog, and attempts to monetize a food blog.  If the behind-the-scenes side of blogging doesn’t interest you, I get it.  You’re probably here for the recipes, right?  Something delicious is coming this way soon.  But if you are a nerd like me and want to know about what goes into food blogging, read on!  

These posts are intended to encourage myself by having a way to look back on the progress of this blog and to see how it grows.  Also, I hope to support other bloggers or would-be-bloggers as they grow their own traffic.  It’s certainly helped me to see what works or doesn’t work for other people and how they’re growing traffic. And even if you are not a blogger, you might just find a behind-the-scenes look at blogging interesting as well and feel inspired to start your own blog.

So, without further ado, here’s what has been going on behind the scenes in July.

July 2016 was my first full month blogging!  I posted 13 recipes in July, with the aim of posting new content 3 days a week, typically on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I met my goals for the month, including improving my food photography (hard to judge this but I feel more confident and I’m getting better at ideas for styling and lighting), creating 6 posts in the queue to give myself a buffer so I can stay on top of a 3x/week posting schedule, growing each of my social media accounts, and creating my first Buzzfeed post (it didn’t really go anywhere, which is too bad, but I am planning to try again this month).  I whittled away at my to-do list as well, learning about and implementing some basic SEO principles (still have a long way to go on this), learning how to make “long pins” for Pinterest, getting approved as an affiliate for America’s Test Kitchen, participating in weekly food blogger social sharing groups, developing connections with other bloggers, and pinning to Pinterest on a daily basis (thanks to Board Booster, which has made Pinterest so much more manageable for me!).  I also continued submitting images to a few food photo submission websites, which has been helpful in driving at least some traffic to the blog.

Numbers

FOLLOWERS AS OF JULY 31, 2016

  • Pinterest – 360 (+140)
  • Instagram – 167 (+71)
  • Facebook – 135 (+60)
  • Email Subscribers – 15 (+8)
  • Twitter – 40 (+20)

THINGS I TRIED

  • Foodgawker
  • Social sharing groups through FB (particularly a weekly Yummly group)
  • Consistent pinning and more frequent FB page updates

I’m super happy with the increase in Pinterest followers.  Many bloggers report that Pinterest is one of their number one sources of traffic, so I spent the month of July doing things to tweak my Pinterest and setting up Board Booster to populate each of my boards with 1-2 pins per day.  I spent about an hour at the gym walking on the treadmill, filling up my Board Booster boards with pins that it would then draw from all month long.  I also installed a little pop-up in the lower right-hand corner or the blog to invite blog readers to follow me on Pinterest or Facebook and I think that between those two changes, my Pinterest growth really started to gain some momentum.  Hopefully it continues in the coming months as I continue adding more long pins and blog content so that Pinterest can become a better driver of traffic for me.

Instagram growth has been funny.  I have only posted one photo with each new post, so I haven’t been prolific on there.  And it seems like a lot of IG users will bait you with a follow so you follow them back, only to unfollow you a day or two later.  It feels shady and I don’t love that about what I have seen on IG so far.  And frankly, I’m not super happy with IG’s algorithm changes that are messing with my feed (both blog and personal).  But I’ll keep plugging away at IG and seeing how it goes.  I also found out about a free app called Crowdfire that tells you who your recent unfollowers are, which has been pretty interesting because I can now see who the people are who take the approach of follow until you follow them back only to unfollow a day or two later.

I’m more happy with the Facebook page growth as I find that I enjoy the engagement on FB better than other social media platforms (even though I don’t LOVE-love FB – but it IS nice for blogging purposes).  I plan to spend more energy on developing my understanding of Facebook and food blogging over the month of August.  As for Twitter, I am still totally in the dark about that platform and other than a few automatic tweets when new blog content is posted or the occasional retweet, I haven’t spent much time on there trying to figure it out yet.

Traffic

TRAFFIC TOTALS

Here are some screenshots from Google Analytics for the month of July.

Audience Overview Analytics July 2016

 

TRAFFIC OVERVIEW

Total traffic for the month of July, including how many users, page views, and sessions was much better than I expected it would be.  And it had a ton to do with one event – that big spike you can see in the graph, which happened on July 11th when Stumbleupon sent a bunch of people my way thanks to my post about S’mores Bars and I ended up with 1,804 page views in that one day.  Stumbleupon is yet another one of those things that I totally don’t understand but should invest some time trying to figure out since it apparently has the potential to be such a good referral source, even if it is an inconsistent one.

TOP TEN TRAFFIC SOURCES

All Traffic Analytics July 2016

 

Facebook and Yummly are my two next biggest sources of traffic after Stumbleupon, so I’m going to continue doing the weekly “yumming” social groups I have found on FB where food bloggers “yum” each other’s recipes to give them a little boost so that they get some momentum on Yummly.  Facebook works similarly, in that each time someone “engages” with a post by liking it or commenting on it, Facebook gives it bonus points in its algorithm so that more people have the opportunity to see it.  I’m glad to see Pinterest showing up in the Top 10 traffic sources for July at least since it wasn’t there at all in June.  Hopefully it will continue to climb in the next couple of months and become a more reliable source of traffic.

SUBMISSION SITES

I had intentions to submit more photos since Foodgawker had been a helpful traffic source in June, but it just didn’t end up happening.  I still submitted to Foodgawker each time I posted a new recipe and most of my photos were accepted, even if a few were rejected for low exposure (something I’m working to improve on!).  I just felt so busy working on other areas that food submission sites didn’t seem like a priority so I let them slide.  I plan to keep submitting to Foodgawker and doing a bit more additional submitting to other sites (Yum Goggle, Dishfolio, Eat 365, Fridgg) in August and see if it is worth continued effort or if I should spend my limited blog-related time on building social media followings, etc.

Income & Expenses

INCOME

Success!  I made a little something from the blog!  Not enough to cover expenses and nothing I will get paid for until I accrue enough to make it work Google AdSense cutting me a check (which won’t happen for quite some time if I continue at the same level since their threshold is $100).  But still, it’s something, and frankly, it’s more than I thought I would earn in my second month of blogging!  Once I reach 10,000 page views/month I can apply for different ad programs that supposedly provide a better return, so I think I am going to work towards that for now.

  • Google Adsense – $7.57
  • Amazon Affiliates Program – $1.17

Total Income:  $8.74

EXPENSES

  • Vaultpress – $5.00
  • Google Apps – $5.00
  • Bluehost hosting – $3.49

Total Expenses: $13.49

Profit: -$4.75

Takeaways

TAKEAWAYS

Consistent posting, creating quality content, and doing back-end stuff like social sharing groups appear to be moving my blog in the direction I want it to go.  I keep saying that this is just a hobby and it is something I would be doing regardless of whether I had the opportunity to monetize it or not, but the full disclosure is that if I can earn a nice little income from it, I would be very happy.  I’m looking at it as a fun way to combine my passions for photography, writing, and food into an outlet that lets me create, which I think is such a valuable experience to have, even for someone like myself who doesn’t necessarily feel all that creative at times.

Another thing I have been loving about this food blogging hobby of mine is how it has given me an opportunity to set goals and meet interesting new people.  I mentioned earlier that I was accepted into a “mastermind & accountability group” which is a really recent thing, but I love the concept behind a small group of people who are working on similar projects and sharing their experiences about what does and doesn’t work for them so that we can all benefit.  I have been a part of some photography groups like that and have loved them, so it feels really natural to join a food blogging group of like-minded individuals at various stages of blogging.  I’m currently the youngest in terms of how long my blog has been going, which makes me feel like I am getting more from the group than I can possibly contribute to it, but I’m finding that the social aspect of a small group like that is hugely motivating as I wanted so badly to be able to report that I completed my week’s goals in our weekly accountability post.

GOALS FOR AUGUST

  1. Improve the quality of my food photography by using by natural and artificial lighting better.
  2. Grow each of my social media followings, but particularly focusing on Facebook for August.
  3. Create a short video to go with at least 1 recipe post (because everything I am reading on food blogging forums is that videos are doing crazy things for traffic right now, especially on Facebook).
  4. Research how to use Tailwind and Buffer (both blogging tools for scheduling social media posts to Pinterest/Twitter/FB, etc.).

LONGER TERM GOALS

  1. Develop relationships with other food bloggers.
  2. Create an e-book with either recipes or photography or travel tips and make it free for download when someone joins the mailing list.  Still brainstorming ideas for this.
  3. Increase my monthly traffic to 30,000+ page views/month.
  4. Become profitable so that I cover all my blogging costs with income from the blog and start making a little extra for something fun!

TO DO LIST

  • Participate in weekly Facebook food blogger social sharing groups that I am a part of.
  • Post 1 non-food related post to keep the blog more personal.
  • Create at least 1 new buzzfeed post.
  • Look into a logo or header design for the blog.
  • Stick to and further fill in the editorial calendar I have been working on.
  • Optimize the blog for SEO.  I don’t even know what this means entirely, but I know it needs to be done and I think I know where to go to figure out how to do it.

I’m still having so much fun and finding a lot of satisfaction in creating in this format!  And I’ve received so many nice comments from friends who have already tried a recipe I’ve posted and told me they enjoyed it, which is just the encouragement I need to keep going with this blog.  I hope that the people who enjoy the recipes I have posted keep coming back because I have so many more favorites I want to share and lots of ideas for new recipes I’ve been wanting to try!

And there you have it! Thanks for reading this traffic & income report!  I really enjoyed looking back on the last month of growth and seeing the progress that I have made as a food blogger and these reports are a great way to do that.  I’m already looking forward to the changes that August will bring!