This is it! The first post in our food blog traffic building experiment. A food blog traffic and income report with a bit of a twist! How far can we go? Will we hit our target? Follow along and find out!
This is a brand new thing I'm doing here on Salted Mint. And this is bar none the scariest post I've ever written! What is this traffic report you ask? Well, It's kind of like the income reports that you seen on other blogs, but with a bit of a twist.
This is a traffic building experiment. It will have a beginning and an end. From January to December of 2018. Essentially all of this year. And the goal is to reach 500k page views a month by December. Aim high, right?!
Why a food blog traffic building report?
Great question! There's a few reasons.
- I need external accountability for my goals. After taking an online quiz (I'm obsessed!) It came out that my personality is classed as an "obliger". Meaning I'm more than willing to dump my own goals to help someone else pursue theirs. Not always a bad thing, but it can often mean that I'm stuck in the same place for a long time. If you'd like to take the quiz and see what kind of personality you are, you can take the quiz here.
- In all honesty, I love reading other blog income reports and have wanted to do one for a long time. I've learned so much from other income reports and will be eternally grateful to the people who produce them.
- But there were a couple of sticking points. The first was that there was no income to track! And not a lot of traffic. The second was that I was worried about what other people would think about me doing this. *hint: Worrying about someone else's opinion is never a good reason to not do something you really want to do!
- We've all got that voice in our heads that says "who are you to be doing this?" And this is the year that whenever I hear that voice, I'm gonna do the exact thing that it tells me I shouldn't be doing. And, you too, have permission to silence that voice and do anything you want.
A little back story
As I mentioned above we've all got that voice that says "who do you think you are?" Some of us learn that it's okay to silence that voice and carry on and do the thing. Some of us... not so much. I fall into the "not so much" category. I've mentioned on Instagram stories ( are we friends on IG? We should be!) that I can suffer from debilitating anxiety and have been working really hard over the past year or so to overcome it.
Would it surprise you if I told you that Salted Mint is my third food blog and that I've been blogging for 4 years?
Yep. That's true. And I've seen other bloggers sail right past me on their way to dream opportunities that always seemed out of the question for me. But it wasn't until the last year that I realised that maybe there was more at work than just some regular run of the mill self doubt.
You see, I'm a survivor of child abuse. Physical, emotional and verbal. So when I get big ideas and big dreams, the voice that wants to keep me safe and hidden is LOUD and CLEAR. And it stops me dead in my tracks and makes me doubt myself obsessively. And it has been stopping me dead in my tracks for years.
So, this year, I'm pushing myself as far outside of my comfort zone as I possibly can. Hence this experiment. This may turn out to be a super fun expirement, or I may fall on my face. My thinking is that it will fall somewhere in the middle. But however this ends up, I'll be doing the scary things. And that is worth everything.
Well, why not?! I know that there are bloggers out there who have gone from zero to over a million a month in a year, or less. But for me, a million just seemed a little too far out there. So, half a million feels like a HUGE stretch, but one that gets me excited and scared. The best kinds of goals are the ones that make you feel a mix of fear and excitement. And I need a lot of practice goals.
Why a traffic goal and not an income goal?
For some reason, it resonates with me more. I've been socially awkward my whole life and the idea that there might be 500k page views of Salted Mint makes me more excited than I can really even convey. It would be like the virtual equivalent of hosting a cocktail party. And I'm totally up for that.
Will we keep track of income too?
Sure. I think if you're going to try and be helpful and be transparent then we should be all the way helpful and transparent.
In this vain, I think it's also only fair to talk about where I'm starting from. I decided early in December, that I'm not doing this year like I've done the last few years. Things have got to change. So that meant I needed to change the way I did things. Or maybe rather I need to start changing the way I DO things.
Where we're starting from
Page views & Sessions
In the grand scheme of food blogs these numbers seem pretty small, but when I look at them, I realise that all those page views and sessions represent people. That may seem obvious, but what would you do if you had 22,860 people knock on your door in January looking for a recipe or other valuable information? That is A LOT of people. So although the number may seem small, when you think about what it represents, it seems HUGE!
I think a big part of growth for "small" bloggers is to really appreciate where you are and not get hung up on where you're not.
Top Sources of Traffic
As you can see from the sources, Trimmed and Toned is a top traffic source. It's for the one pan chicken and asparagus post that was posted in the summer. This post got a huge boost thanks to Trimmed and Toned when they first shared it in July, but has gotten a new lease of life for the January slim down period.
Google Organic: Not too much going on there, as you can tell. I know that growing Google organic search is one of the best ways to grow Salted Mint. So, how am I going to do that?
I've enlisted the help of every food bloggers favourite SEO Guru Casey Markee from Media Wyse.
Yes. It's a big investment. But I'm done with chasing bread crumbs around the internet trying to figure out SEO. Yes there are some truly awesome resources like Moz, but I decided I was ready to invest to get ahead a bit (hopefully a lot) quicker.
I'm the kind of person who can work a lot harder when I know that I'm moving in the right direction. Before, I was walking around in circles in the dark.
Working with Casey was like buying a flashlight and a compass.
Areas I'm focusing on this month
There's only two areas I'm focusing on this month. It's so important for people to play to their strengths rather than try and change a weakness. I've realised that I'm a very linear thinker and that when I try to multi task, I fall apart and accomplish nothing.
There's a saying "where focus goes, energy flows", and when most of us focus on more than one or two things at once, the energy flowing to everything is watered down and doesn't give you as much bang for your attention buck.
- Finding my people and where I belong in the grand scheme of the food blogging world. I've been told a thousand different times in a thousand different ways "if you're talking to everyone, you're talking to no one".
- Working on blog and post promotion. Rather than a "here I am" approach, I'll be taking a "there you are" approach. So, that means finding where my people are and getting in front of them and being helpful. Really, really helpful.
- Fixing all the things that Casey has laid out in my site audit. There are some bigger things that I can fix right away and there are some other things that I'm planning to fix on an ongoing basis. Like updating and publishing older content.
- Instead of creating recipes for every category, I'll be focusing on creating lots of recipes for a few categories. This is an amazing tip I took from Nagi's post about how she went from 0 to 1 million page views in 8 months.
- Going back over previous content that fell flat and looking at how I can do it better. Improve photos, recipes and maxise SEO wording. Create more value in the post with notes and quick tips.
- Becoming really useful, to me, means creating evergreen content and useful guides that people can refer to over and over. Creating rich content and recipes that dovetail together and give people a good reason to come and hangout on Salted Mint and join my virtual cocktail party.
- Promoting content better means finding new and fresh ways of promotion. Doing the Food Gawker and Facebook thing, but also trying some new things and seeing how they go. I'm not sure exactly what that's going to look like yet, but I'll keep you posted.
My main focus of January was to get my sessions up to meet the Mediavine criteria for inclusion. Which I did! So I'm taking that as a HUGE win.
During the month of January I was still with Gourmet Ads and not making much money at all. In hindsight I would have sacrificed income (not very much either) for page speed and only joined an ad network when I qualified for Mediavine.
Next month I'll actually be listing my income numbers from Mediavine and letting you in on how it went, so stay tuned!
Do you love income reports?
Check out some other income reports from other bloggers who are crushing it!
Cheryl Malik from 40 Aprons
Kristen from The Endless Meal
Ashleigh from Sewrella