I am almost as much of a numbers geek as I am a food geek. I love sitting down and going through my finances, planning my budget, paying bills and planning for my financial future. I know, I am not normal. Whatever, triggers that obsession in my head also has me addicted to monitoring my food blog growth in terms of traffic and income.
I pour over my site stats daily, I like seeing where my traffic is coming from and what, if any, trends are developing. And though I don’t have any expectation of ever making a lucrative payday from this blog, my entrepreneurial side enjoys the challenge of monetizing the blog. Mainly, I guess I like learning things. I have always been one to relentlessly research any endeavor that I am interested in. Whether it is making a purchase, perfecting a recipe, or achieving a goal, I invest hours of my time studying to ensure I get the results I want.
Have you ever wondered what happens to blog traffic when the blog is inactive? Blogs keep bringing in readers even while you are away, however without anyone to re-stoke the flames eventually that traffic dies down.
I took a break from blogging for about a year due to time constraints that abound when starting a new family. When I stopped blogging last August Fox Valley Foodie was bringing in about 11,000 views a month. As you can see in the graph it held steady for a few months and then started a noticeable decline. The last month without any blogging only had about 5400 page views, more than a 50% drop-off from when I was previously active. However, after restarting my blog in November it climbed back to 6794 views. This was a 20% jump from the previous month; though it is still down considerably from my all time high of 12,205.
The income my blog earns is a similar story.
Last month my blog earned $12.77. Yeah, I know you’re jealous.
Google Adsense accounted for $11.73
Amazon Affiliate links accounted for $1.04
At its peak in December of 2013, Google Adsense brought me $28.92 for the month. It is not surprising that it dropped off at a similar rate as my page views while my site was inactive. However, it has bounced back at a greater rate than my page views, yielding about 32% more revenue in November than October.
You will notice over the coming months a number of tweaks to the website. I want to play around with a few different ad strategies to test their potential, but I hope to do so without affecting the end user experience. I never want to earn a shady dollar from the blog or attempt to take advantage of my readers in any manner. My goal is to create a fun, unique blog that combines a love of food with a generous dose of humor and I don’t want anything to interfere with that. I can’t run a blog without my readers and I always want to have their best interest in mind.
But before I do any of that, my current focus is to rebuild my traffic stream. I am trying to take my blog more seriously this time around to help it reach its potential. I am utilizing social media more, taking full advantage of Pinterest (it is surprising how much traffic that site generates), and reestablishing myself in Google search rankings.
One of my major focuses to achieve this is to improve the quality of my photos. Admittedly I posted some pretty bad photos on my blog previously. They were often an afterthought, as photography certainly is not my strong suit. However, I am diving into it deeper hoping to become more of an expert in food photography and you should start seeing my photo quality slowly improve over the coming months. I believe anything worth doing takes time.
It is amazing how much traffic a good photo can generate. For example, this photo of my hash browns has helped my hash brown recipe get repined over 2000 times on Pinterest!
When I started this blog I assumed content was king. I was wrong - to an extent. People eat with their eyes. Quality photos drive people to a food blog, but quality and unique content keeps them there.
In conjunction with higher quality photographs I am adding recipe cards to some of my posts. This will help my readers easily print off recipes they would like to try at home and make the blog more search engine friendly.
I'll try to do more traffic and income reports to keep my readers informed about where this site is going and how I hope to get there. It is a journey, and it will be a lot of work, but as long as I get to talk about food it should be a lot of fun!
Don't hesitate to contact me with with feedback, tips or suggestions for the blog!