OH HI! ITS SCARY POST TIME.
I think this might be the most nervous I’ve ever been to write a post. but also excited? but really really nervous.
today…. we’re gonna put it all out there. we’re gonna take a trip down memory lane and go through the various transitions/changes this blog has had. I’m gonna let you know just how much I’ve spent on this little blog of mine. if I’ve made ANY money at all. what the traffic has been like for the last year or so. annnnddddd what the plans are for the future.
to me, this post is just laying it all out there – just fair warning, it’ll probably be pretty lengthy because we’re really going to go through EVERYTHING. so then we can move on. and see how things change as I use different tools/strategies/directions. which means i’ll be doing monthly traffic and income reports.
in case you’re wondering “why?” – there are a few reasons. 1) it’ll keep me accountable. you guys will know where I’ve been and what my goals are. 2) I find these types of posts from other blogs SUPER helpful in terms of various strategies to try out and 3) I sort of think it’ll be fun!
let’s do this….
I started the Pike Place Kitchen in 2012 a few months after I moved across the country to Seattle. I was really lonely and read food blogs all the time and knew I liked to cook so I thought “why not. I could do that!” I cycled through a few different blogging platforms. the first official post to the blog was on BlogSpot on September 30, 2012. I only posted on that platform twice before deciding (just two days later) to switch from my VERY pink blog to WordPress.com to have a little more autonomy.
I stayed on wordpress.com for about nine months before deciding to take the leap into self-hosting. if I could do one thing over again – I’d just start out self hosting. I bought the domain for thepikeplacekitchen.com and a 3 year hosting contract with bluehost (which is the hosting service I currently use & recommend) in June of 2013 and prepared to migrate the wordpress.com archives through wordpress.org so I’d keep all my old posts.
FYI – I’m pretty tech savvy but I had NO CLUE what I was doing when it came to switching to self-hosting. I figured it all out through googling and honestly I watched a youtube tutorial. I didn’t want to pay for the service to transition it over because I’m annoyingly cheap. I REALLY recommend self-hosting from the start so you don’t have to worry about all that crap. But if you end up switching to self-hosting later – here’s an article on how to do it with bluehost.
when I originally switched to wordpress.org I kept pretty much everything the same. same theme, same structure, same strategy (which was really… no strategy at all). I can do a whole post on the plugins I rely on if you’re interested in that aspect, but the biggest change (and probably the primary reason I switched to self-hosting) was that I started using RecipeCard to organize/insert recipes into posts (which I no longer use – I use easyrecipe now!).
After I switched to self hosting… I posted NINE, count em, NINE recipes from july 2013 to the end of December 2013. and I called myself a food blogger. oy. I was really just treading along, trying to keep my head above water. I posted a whole bunch of what I ate Wednesday posts and “things” but only nine recipes. I look back at that and cringe. I wasn’t working on my photography (although I DID buy a DSLR camera in November 2012 that I was using on automatic.)
in 2014 my life was in shambles. I was confused and stressed and I took steps back away from blogging. I made the decision to move to New York and spent the second half of that year trying to make it happen. over the whole year I only posted 10 recipes. T.E.N. So really, there isn’t much to say about 2014.
after I made the decision to move back to NY I also made some decisions regarding the future of the blog. I talked a lot about that in this post and came up with a “posting schedule.” I gave myself deadlines and started to treat this blog more like a job than a hobby, which it had always been before. I worked really hard on my photography (let me know if you want to know more about how I learned to shoot manual!) and getting organized and generating content (I aimed to post one recipe a week and if I remember correctly, I only missed ONE week!)
I also gave the blog a major design overhaul in July/August of 2015. For the first time, I paid for a theme & custom aspects. (I can also get into these details in another post if you want, just let me know – but I HIGHLY recommend working with the ladies at blogzillastudio.)
I also worked on creating a visual recipe index (which I did myself – want more info? are you guys seeing a theme here? I’m willing to tell you ALL my secrets, but you gotta tell me what you want to know!) which was really important to me because after redesigning the blog and spending so much time on the nitty gritty stuff, I realized that it really needed to be FUNCTIONAL. duh.
all in all, 2015 was a really good year for me in terms of figuring out who I wanted to be in the blog world.
fast forward to 2016 && here we are, 6 months in. you might have noticed a whole bunch of changes this year because I bit the bullet and joined foodbloggerpro in February! I’m planning on writing a whole post on why I think foodbloggerpro is SO important and worth the money it costs. but, for now, heres a quick overview of the positive changes that I’ve taken away:
- I’m more comfortable with the plugins I have/use
- I’m ACTUALLY using and understanding google analytics info/data (I signed up for google analytics at the end of March 2015)
- I’ve paid more attention to social media, more specifically pinterest and instagram
- I’ve been focused on growing a following
- I’ve been linking to more of my own content
- SEO!! SEO SEO SEO.
- and I’ve been using an editorial calendar!
Like I said, that’s VERY low level & just the major takeaways off the top of my head, i’ll be writing more about it in the future.
I think the theme of this year so far has been growth. facilitating it and trying to learn from it. which is really the point of this – telling you guys what the stats are and what I learned from them.
so NOW after all that. let’s take a look at the stats, shall we?
I implemented google analytics tracking data at the tail end of March 2015, and I REALLY recommend using that asap as well. I’ve always regretted not having more info to analyze and never regretted having too much.
regardless – if you look at the overall trend it’s clearly been on the upward swing. its also easy to see that growth has been significant since starting with foodbloggerpro. in February (we can focus more on this in a post specific to that resource)
looking at April Year-over-Year the improvement is crazy. Key takeaways:
- in 2016 I breached 14,000 pageviews – in 2015 my pageviews were significantly less, at just under 2,000 – that’s almost 700% growth in a year!
- the bounce rate is much higher – meaning more people are coming to the site and only looking at ONE page. this is likely referral traffic from pinterest that is just clicking through – but that’s why I started linking to my own content more throughout the posts to try and attack the bounce rate from another angle.
- the % of “loyal readers” (as measured by returning visitors) remained relatively stable as a percent of total visitors!
- over half of the visitors are viewing the blog on their mobile devices versus desktop or tablet!
I think a lot of the growth is attributed to developing a niche in whole30. but I’m also sure it’s got a ton to do with my social media presence, in particular my traffic from pinterest.
okay, SO. I know we’ve had a ton of discussion so far. now we’re transitioning into the money section! I never was good at keeping track of expenses for the blog, so to get to this point I had to do a LOT of digging through credit card statements and accounts etc. It’s likely not complete and all that jazz, but it’s as complete as it was going to get.
- amazon affiliates: $31.62 (this includes income of $16.32 for April, which will be paid out in June)
- Bluehost – $172.18
- Tasty Food Photography – $29.00
- Blogzilla – $180.00
- Photography Props – $221.25
- Kitchen Supplies/Appliances – $212.94
- Food Blogger Pro – $46.50
- Vaultpress – $4.58
- Google Work – $6.77
- EasyRecipe – $24.95
- Giveaways – $30.78
- Computer & Software – $86.01
total income: $31.62
total expenses: $1,014.96
net loss: $(983.34)
for the sake of full disclosure – I do earn a decent number of referral coupons from various referral links I post, but if they’re not a predetermined dollar value, I haven’t considered them in the income analysis. also, i get a decent number of discounts from being a food blogger pro member, but that would be too confusing to try and calculate at this point. also, I’ve never kept track of grocery bills or the cost of most of the food props i buy, but that’s something I’m planning on accounting for in the future – i just have to get more organized from that aspect.
HOOKAY. so this was the scary part – announcing how much I’ve actually spent on the blog. it’s weird and uncomfortable ESPECIALLY because I clearly haven’t made really any money on it. I consider pretty much all of the expenses up through April hobby costs. I’ve already spent them and I spent them with the knowledge that I would “probably” just have to eat them myself.
However, my GOAL is to begin earning income off of the blog through affiliates, potentially ads and sponsored content if there’s a market for it. realistically, I’d love to earn enough from it to keep it running without any more of myyyyyy disposable income. but that remains to be determined. All I know for sure is that in almost four years of blogging, I’ve spent around $1000, which comes out to $250/year. Which I’m okay with because a lot of other people have hobbies that cost a LOT more and don’t have potential to make any money at all.
I’m sure you’re wondering, how can you help me make “project breakeven” a success?! I’m wildly appreciative that you’d even ask (and if you didn’t ask this will sound like I’m begging so please just scroll down and ignore the following bullets)! here are a few simple things that you can do that help make this blog worth my time and effort!
- MAKE THE RECIPES!! (and tag them on instagram #thepikeplacekitchen)
- shareeeeee the blog and/or posts from the blog! I always REALLY appreciate any social media love that I get from you guys. no matter how many times I share content myself or design a new strategy to get content noticed, nothing goes quite as far as a recommendation from someone who didn’t write it! but also, if you share something on facebook – that puts it in front of a whole audience that I don’t know and can’t reach myself.
- pin. pin. pin! same concepts as sharing the blog, but if you pin one of my recipes you make it easier for that recipe to spread like wildfire AND you make me more credible on pinterest as a whole!
- comment, like, or even shoot me a text/email to let me know you enjoyed stopping by. sometimes this feels like a REALLY lonely world because the food blogger community is so saturated right now and we’re alllllll trying to get a piece of the market (aka you guys reading this!)
- sign up for the email updates! I won’t spam you I swear, but if you sign up you’ll get an email every time I post (generally 2-3 times a week)
- TELL ME WHAT WORKS – or more importantly what DOESN’T work – FOR YOU! do you hate the sprinkles posts but love restaurant reviews? would you like me to bring back what I ate Wednesday? how about whole30, do you want more of that? Do you miss my monthly running updates? the bottomline is: I can’t tell what you guys like to hear about if you don’t let me know. and I really REALLY want to know.
oh.kay. well that was a whole lotta talking, but hopefully you guys got something interesting out of that! From here on out i’ll be doing monthly Traffic & Income Reports. they’ll be retroactive, aka getting April in July, but that’s because things need time to shake out and i’ll need time to go through the stats. But I’m really excited for this new series and also “behind the blog posts.” (aka – how I do what I do.)
if you have any lingering questions PLEASE let me know. I’m happy to answer and/or give the best advice I can! xoxo
* this post may contain affiliate amazon links and/or other affiliate/referral links. I earn a SMALL commission on purchases you make through amazon, at NO ADDITIONAL cost to you. you use amazon exactly as you used to and are still entitled to the same deals you would get through a non-affiliate link. I only endorse products I actually use in my own kitchen and likely have paid for on my own – if i’m recommending it, it means I truly believe in the quality of the product. thank you for supporting the Pike Place Kitchen and helping to keep the blog up and running.