It’s high time for the first traffic and income report of 2015! January felt slow. We only published a few recipes and I felt we didn’t advance as fast as I wanted to. But sometimes you just get that feeling I suppose, especially when you’re working on projects that are becoming bigger and where the progress isn’t quite as visible anymore.
But let’s crunch the stats – here’s how the metrics look on our dashboard.
(If you want to learn a little more about the idea behind this dashboard, check out our Metrics For Food Blogger Pirates post).
Even though we only posted 2 (!) recipes in January our traffic more than doubled in comparison to the month before. Needless to say we are quite happy with this growth.
And how did it happen? Well, let’s have a closer look at the top ten traffic sources:
Our google traffic grew from 3,908 to 11,935 visits, a threefold increase. In the last report I mentioned that we wanted to focus on better structuring our blog.
This was also partly because we were hoping for higher page rankings: the better your blog is organised the better Google can index your content. (Ever heard of virtual breadcrumbs? If not I recommend reading SEO For Food Bloggers).
Still, I think that optimisation only played a very small part in that traffic increase. What’s more probable is that Google appreciated our high activity in December (11 recipes) and because of that they pushed us more in January.
Here we’re also not entirely sure what led to an increase of 2,754 visitors in December to 8,688 visitors in January. We think if you are constantly posting interesting recipes with good photos you’ll get visits from Pinterest. Also, this boost was probably because of our efforts in December and not due to the tweaks in January.
Yep, it happened. We had our first feature in Buzzfeed, yaaaay! The Peanut Banana Bread was the star! Buzzfeed created a round-up about recipes that help to fight hangovers. Lucky us, we had just released two that fitted that category.
We had actually suggested a few recipes in December to some of the Buzzfeed writers, but they didn’t pick up any for their stories. Funnily enough, to get this one featured in the round-up we didn’t do anything. They just picked us.
In the last report I mentioned that I wanted to work on our recipe index for two different reasons:
- Happier visitors: The easier it is for our visitors to browse through the blog the more likely they are to find what they’re looking for and maybe even leave their email.
- Better SEO rankings: The better your blog is organised the better Google can index your content. (As I mentioned before – virtual breadcrumbs. I recommend reading SEO For Food Bloggers, it really helped). Also, Google appreciates it when people spend more time on your pages and will recognise your posts have higher quality.
Let’s check out reason 1: Are visitors happier? Well, looking at the total pageviews per visitor we were not able to really move the needle with our improvements from December to January. Also the email subscription rate didn’t improve that much. Let’s wait and see if there’s a change in February though.
We didn’t make any improvements in order to get people to come back more often to our website. So it’s not a big surprise that the Returning Users Rate is now on 18%. We don’t plan to actively improve this part at the moment either.
If you read our last income report you might remember that we set up a new challenge:
We wanted to increase our RPM from €1.30 to €4.30 ($1.50 to $5). Let’s see how we were doing with this in January.
We did two things to move the needle a little more towards an RPM of €4.30:
- We optimized advertising on our blog.
- We put our first affiliate links in a post.
With the help of the ebook “How To Monetize a Food Blog” we were able to improve our ad revenue significantly. (It’s really very recommendable if you want to improve your ad revenue).
First we signed up with two more ad networks in conjunction with Google Adsense: Gourmet Ads and Sovrn (Gourmet Ads’ customer support is awesome).
This allowed us to place a total of seven ad units on our blog. Six in the sidebar and one in the header. This set up is pretty similar to big blogs like ohmyveggies.com or ohsheglows.com in which I believe they have already optimised their ad revenue by looking for ideal ad placements.
Within our slots we set up an ad waterfall which goes like this: If Sovrn cannot fill an ad space, google adsense will jump in and fill that space. If Google Adsense isn’t able to fill the spot, we’ll show an ad of Tasty Food Photography.
This way we can be sure that we won’t leave any money on the table by having blank ad spaces.
If this all sounds a little too complicated, we honestly recommend checking out the book “How To Monetize a Food Blog” – it was a huge time saver for us!
Since we started our blog we’ve invested in various different ebooks and subscriptions – some have been great, others… not so much! So we decided to review them all and let our visitors know what we thought. Out came the article “5 Food Blogger Sources Reviewed.”
Honestly, this was a delicate thing to do. As you can imagine, affiliating stuff gives you the incentive to try and sell the product as well as you can; you’ll earn a lovely commission on the side. Very tempting.
On the other hand it felt wrong to praise stuff just in order to make a sale. Dave and I decided to go for the honest route (bet you’ve heard that before, lol) and to speak our minds even though this might mean earning a few bucks less.
It feels better on the heart and in the long run we’re sure credibility is much more important than a little more money in the short term.
All in all we’re happy with affiliating, since it allows you to earn a little commission on products that you would recommend anyway. And that’s pretty awesome. So we’ll continue to use them in various ways within our blog.
So, just what did these experiments do to our January’s RPM?
Total income: $48.25
Total expenses: -$20.17
Total January Earnings: $28.08
Final RPM for January: $1.17 (1.04€)
To put it in a nutshell, we missed our goal to increase the RPM from $1.50 to $5 for January quite a bit. Here’s why: By implementing the new advertisement setup I messed up quite a bit for a couple of days so that we didn’t earn any ad money at all. Also setting this up plus making the new recipe index took longer than expected; this meant there wasn’t any time for digging deeper into other kinds of monetisation strategies.
I already know more or less how February turned out and I can happily say it’s looking a little better than January 🙂
Thanks for reading,