Welcome, welcome, welcome to our second Food Blogger’s Diary post for November 2014! Here is where I share the juicy ‘behind-the-scenes’ stuff: food blog income reports, traffic stats, strategies, tips, epic win / fail blogging moments.
WHY START A FOOD BLOGGER’S DIARy
I am very new to food blogging. Like many of you, im a newborn infants in the grand kingdom of food blogging. Crazy Vegan Kitchen was started a mere few months ago.
Still, I believe that the best way to keep learning is by honestly sharing my food blogging experiences with others… both my successes and failures. In time, I hope this space will become a good learning resource for all aspiring food bloggers (or just bloggers in general!) Live and learn, as they say!
This month i’d love to share something very special with our fellow food bloggers. In November I bought an eBook by Kiersten Frase of Oh My Veggies fame called ‘How to Monetize Your Food Blog’. I read it, loved it, and have implemented many of her monetization strategies with great success!
But more on that later. First, let’s boogie with the numbers!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I earn a commission if you purchase anything through them. We only promote products we absolutely love and believe in, based on our first-hand experiences.
Traffic Report: November 2014
Crazy Vegan Kitchen continues to see a gradual weekly increase in traffic, moving up slightly from 12000 visitors a week to about 12250. Our Pinterest and Facebook accounts continue to be the main drivers of traffic.
Anyway, instead of analysing the same general stats as last month, I thought I’d try something different this time around by focusing in on one specific aspect of our traffic, namely, our organic search hits! Organic search hits are basically made up of people who manage to find our blog solely through standard search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.). These hits do not include referrals or social media traffic.
Here are my organic hit numbers from November 1st to December 1st, 2014.
At first glance, it seems that the organic search hits are kinda stagnant, always falling within 30+ to 60+ page views a day… with the exception of a sight uptrend at the end of November / start of December (which is why I included the first day of the new month!)
However, what I really find interesting are the longer-term numbers. Check out our organic search hits from October 1 to December 1, 2014.
Ah, things are looking better! “I cannn seee cleearrrlyyy nowwww theee rainnn hasss gonneee” AHEM, sorry, ignore that.
Seriously though, I am really encouraged by the slow uptrend in organic traffic we’re seeing. On a daily basis, I barely notice a difference. However, taking the ‘big picture’ view really does put things in perspective: I’ve seen a steady movement upwards from 0 (yes, ZERO!) organic search hits a day to up to 120+. It’s not much, but it’s a good start.
Why the increase? Well, first of all, I started amping up the frequency of my blog posts, putting new recipes up about twice a week. The increased output means more content, which means a higher probability of people stumbling upon the blog!
Second, and more importantly, I began to pay more attention to our blog’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Internet jargon aside, SEO basically comes down to tweaking your posts / pages in ways which help people discover your website ‘organically’ through Google and other search engines. In other words…
One has to actively make it happen through SEO.
As a WordPress user, I understand the basics, but not the nitty-gritty stuff. But what I have discovered is that there’s basically two main ways to do SEO. First, there’s the ‘old-fashioned’ hard way, which involves getting down and dirty with some really nerdy HTML coding (which may break your blog, if you ain’t careful!)
Alternatively, there’s the easier and more time-efficient way: install a WordPress plugin and let it do most of the hard stuff for you!
I currently use Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin. It’s FREE, has a high rating amongst users, and takes most of the guesswork out of doing SEO. I have tried many other SEO plugins but we find Yoast to be by far the best! There a small learning curve involved, so you may want to first check out this simple to follow tutorial here.
Long story short: SEO can be a bit of a pain, but without a doubt, it is one of the most important things you’ll have to do in order to grow your blog’s traffic, slowwwwwlyyyyy but surely.
Epic Fail of November
In November I made a boo-boo in my configuration of MailChimp (i.e. the service we use to send out newsletters). Initially, I had set our newsletter sign-up forms to be single opt-in. Single opt-ins mean that anyone who wishes to join our newsletter need only key in their email once – and that’s it.
That’s all well and good. However, I soon discovered that there was a sizable number of wrongly-entered emails appearing on our mailing list (e.g. people accidentally keying in ‘gmial.com’ instead of ‘gmail.com’). This meant a significant level of ‘bounced’ emails that were not getting to where they needed to be.
It’s all good now though. I’ve since changed to a double opt-in sign-up process where new subscribers have to check their emails to confirm their subscriptions. The bad part about double opt-in is the lower sign-up rates (e.g. a person may subscribe but forget to check his/her email to confirm). However, the good part is… no more wrong emails = low to zero ‘failure to send’ rates!
Lesson Learnt: If you have a newsletter service, stick with double opt-in. Single opt-ins may produce higher sign-up rates, but also increases your ‘bounce’ rate, which is bad.
November 2014 Blog Income Report: $27x.xx (US dollars)
Here’s the income breakdown for November 2014!
Gourmet Ads: $92.12
Sponsored Posts: $100
*Glam / Mode Media: $1X.XX
(* = One week of implementation from running two ads. I haven’t checked if Glam is okay with us disclosing our exact income, hence the X’s for now! I will edit the exact numbers in if/when I get the go-ahead.)
Crazy Vegan Kitchen enjoyed a considerable increase in income over the last month: a jump from $48.87 in October to $27x.xx in November! This is really a small amount compared to some of the true blogging-monetizing champions out there. But we’re really thankful and happy with our income jump (children, off to the vet we go!) It’s gotten us really excited about the possibilities of blogging full-time in the long future (just maybe? Hopefully? *crosses fingers*)
Glam / Mode Media
Some of you may ask: how does Glam / Mode Media compare with BlogHer? Honestly, I don’t know, since it’s basically an ‘either/or’ scenario with these two rival companies (i.e. due to exclusivity contracts, you can only sign up with one of these networks at a time, not both).
I’ve only been with Glam for a week – not long enough to give a detailed review of their services. So far, however, my experiences have been really positive. I find the best part of Glam is the HUGE variety of ad formats they offer publishers (top banners, side banners, expandable ads, mobile, video, content-post, partial pop-ups, skins, etc.) Some ad formats pay better than others (depending on their obtrusiveness) and publishers are free to opt in and out of any ad format. For now, I have decided to stick to just displaying two standard-sized Glam ads, just to keep things simple.
Are you with BlogHer or Glam? We’d love to hear your personal experiences with these companies!
How I Increased Our Blog Income
One reason for the increased blog income was simply due to more traffic, which increases the chances of people seeing and/or clicking the blog’s ads.
However, the biggest reason for the income jump comes from our decision to follow the mega-expert advice of Kiersten Frase. Kiersten is the founder of the ever-popular Oh My Veggies food blog. She is a full-time blogger who earns her living from producing some of the very best vegan/vegetarian recipes and photos you can find online. More importantly, Kiersten knows the art of food blog monetization, having single-handedly grown her blog’s RPM from $1.55 to more than $19 in under two years! By ANY blogging standard, that is INCREDIBLE!
I recently purchased a copy of Kiersten’s eBook called ‘How to Monetize Your Food Blog’. I read it and loved it!
Kiersten’s book is especially awesome for a number of reasons:
- Her writing style is welcoming and easy to read (she’s funny too!) You’ll be able to read her content-packed book from (digital) cover to cover in no time!
- Kiersten does not hold back in detailing her most successful food blog monetizing strategies. She covers everything from how to set up ad networks to applying for suitable affiliate programs and landing well-paying sponsored post gigs. An excellent learning resource for noobs like us!
- Her simple-to-implement ‘waterfall’ ad network strategy is genius! Basically, this strategy involves optimizing ad ‘backfills’ in clever ways which greatly improve your ad income returns. We implemented this strategy for Crazy Vegan Kitchen in November and can report first-hand that it works like a charm. Thank you, Kiersten!
- Even the Appendix is packed with excellent content! We found her ad network review section (BlogHer, Glam, Cox, AdSense, etc.) to be especially useful in helping us decide which ad network to join. This section is most suitable for food bloggers looking to get a good overview of key ad network players relevant to the industry.
If you’re interested in grabbing a copy of her eBook, simply click here or on the banner below. Trust me when i say that this eBook will pay for itself in no time.
Got additional tips to share? Please feel free to leave us your comments below! We’d love to hear from you.
I want to end things off by saying a great big epic mega THANK YOU to everyone visiting the blog. THANK YOU to ALL OF YOU for making this food blogging journey such an immense source of joy for me. Without you, none of this would be possible. We <3 you and promise to keep working hard to produce only the best recipes that you can share with your loved ones!
Till the next blog income / traffic stat report, stay happy, keep eating till you explode.