Today is Simply Fresh Cooking’s 3 month blogiversary! Woo hoo!
Yes, those are my site stats below. Am I crazy for sharing them? I don’t know! Either way… take a gander, you know you want to!
You can click on the picture if you need to make it larger.
My desire to start this “Behind the Scenes” project really came about from wanting to know what it’s like for other people who are very new to the food blogging community. I hope the information I share will be of use to someone just starting out or thinking about starting their own food blog.
I’ve searched the web looking for other people’s stories, and to be honest, I’d really like to know what their stats are like and if they’re making any money. Aren’t you a little curious, too?
I first came across Lindsay from Pinch of Yum who has been sharing her info, and her stats are impressive to me, but she’s been at it for a couple of years… much longer than me, so I can’t really compare myself to her success at this stage in my blogging career. However, I was just super excited to find anyone sharing their information at all. I also happened upon Kristen from The Endless Meal. She has just recently started sharing her profits, and she’s doing great things with her blog as well.
I’m not saying this is all about making money for me, and I’m aware that most likely you wouldn’t be able to survive on a food blog’s income if that’s all you had. As a matter of fact, I’ve read that you shouldn’t quit your day job. I think Ree Drummond from The Pioneer Woman is the exception to that rule, as she’s got her own show on the Food Network now. But back to the point, I am looking for this to supplement my husband’s income because I’m not currently able to work outside of the home, so anything helps… but I’m mainly focused on this as a hobby and as a way to share my passion with as many people who are willing to share it with me.
Things I’ve learned:
-Learn how to use your camera and get yourself on food sharing sites!! Excellent food photos are what seem to matter most. If you’re able to get your photos accepted on Food Gawker, you’ll be well on your way to statistics heaven. Food Gawker is the site that gets the most traffic and can bring you the most traffic, so start submitting your photos there. You might see 500-2,000 views just from one submission on Food Gawker!
Here’s a list of other food sharing sites you’ll want to check out:
*When submitting your photos to the list of sites above, it can be really time-consuming, but when you’re new you need to get yourself out there as much as you can. I’ve learned that the easiest and fastest way to submit your photos is to open up every site in separate windows so that you have all 7 (or however many sites you wish to submit to) open and ready to go. Then, copy and paste your post link, post title, tags, etc… and go down the list and do them at the same time so you’re not typing everything out for each site (I hope that made sense!).
Really pay attention to the composition of your photos. I happen to like a close up shot of my food pics, but Food Gawker doesn’t seem to. Take multiple photos, and if you don’t get one accepted you can certainly try another. I’ve been known to get 2 of essentially the same photo rejected, but I kept editing and re-submitting, and the 3rd time can sometimes be a charm in this case. Not always though… sometimes I just give up after 2 rejections because I know at that point I haven’t taken enough photos and I’m pretty much out of luck.
Keep trying… because as far as I’m concerned, a post that isn’t on Food Gawker may not get the attention you want it to. I call those “filler posts”. Because although I may have worked really hard on it and think it’s just the best thing since sliced bread, it probably won’t get the amount of views you’d like it to.
Once you get accepted on Food Gawker, it’s definitely a good idea to see if you qualify to do Google Adsense. I waited too long, and I’m sure I could have earned more money last month, but I was unsure how to implement the ads on my site. So, please learn from my mistakes if you want to monetize your blog in the early stages. I’ll talk more about Google Adsense later under the WordPress plugins section.
-Be yourself in your writing and it’ll come more naturally and flow much better. Don’t stress too much about what you’re writing, and just tell the story of your food. Keep it brief, and try to make each post about 400 words. Talk about things like why you love the recipe you just made, how you prepared it, how it tastes, and give some of your personality. Also, try adding in some helpful tips. I used to really stress about my posts, but now I just tell my story, and it seems to happen pretty naturally. I don’t feel that every single post has to be the most amazing thing I’ve ever written. I just do my best, and I’m sure it’ll pay off later on down the road when I’m more comfortable with it.
-Sign up for Pinterest and start pinning your photos. There are other sites, like Stumble Upon for example, but I’m not too familiar with them yet.
-Keep an eye on your stats! Ok, so we’ve had what I would consider a little bit of success for a new food blog and we really love watching our stats go up. We are total page refreshers. I won’t even try to lie. The only thing I regret is that we didn’t actually have Google Analytics implemented on the site right away. We made the mistake of not using it until very recently, so we’re pretty bummed that we aren’t able to tell how many visitors we’ve had from the very beginning. So do that ASAP! Even if you are the type to rarely check your stats, it’s still good to know where you’re at and if your site is continuously growing.
-Add in some “You may also like” posts at the end of each post. I didn’t do this in the beginning and this is a mistake. If you don’t give them a reason to stay on your site, they won’t. If you do this you’ll see your pageview average rise immediately.
-Blogging is a lonely world when you’re a newbie… as you sit and type away at your computer all by your lonesome. I can see that people are on my site, but are they reading my blog posts? Who knows? I know they’re not commenting much. I’m assuming that’s something that will just take some time. Meanwhile, let’s just keep on keepin’ on!
How I learned about food photography:
Photography is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I have a new respect for beautiful photos of any kind. Whether it’s food, people, or scenery.
I’m such a perfectionist in general, and have become very frustrated when I couldn’t get the shot I wanted. However, it has become much easier over the past couple of weeks. My skills improved literally overnight thanks to Pinch of Yum’s Tasty Food Photography eBook.
Here’s what happened: I got the eBook one day, read it, and then the next day I tested out what I had learned. I was thinking, okay I think I’ve finally figured out how to take “Food Gawker worthy” photos, and guess what happened??
The 5 recipes I made that week all got accepted on Food Gawker, and I can guarantee that would NOT have happened without Pinch of Yum’s eBook. I saw a major elevation in my stats and had my busiest week thus far. It was very hard to get photos accepted before this, and I had to put a lot more effort into taking pictures, too.
I’ll keep you updated on my progress with learning photography, but for the time being I wish I could go back and re-cook everything I made before I bought this eBook and do this poor delicious food some justice.
The before pics kinda make me cringe….
I’m embarrassed and proud of myself at the same time!
It’s still going to take a lot of practice to develop an eye for it, but I’m definitely moving in the right direction.
Want to purchase Tasty Food Photography eBook and improve your photos overnight like I did? Do it here…
The week before I purchased Tasty Food Photography eBook…
The week after…
Not too bad, eh? The proof is in the puddin’ people!
Useful WordPress plugins:
My blog is powered by WordPress, and the plugins are what I use to build my website, make it run better, and be more interactive for the reader. I’m not very computer literate, but I got the best advice from my web host in the beginning which was, “whatever you need there’s probably a plugin for it”. This has been very true. While it’s all been a lot of trial and error, I believe that if I can do it, you can do it, too. It’s been a lot of hard work and research, but I feel like I can probably figure out most things on my own now, and I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with doing things. I certainly can’t write code… yet. Who knows what could happen in the future though.
Akismet- Protects your blog from comment and trackback spam, even while you’re catching your zzz’s… which is a very good thing!
All in one SEO Pack- Really important and helpful for getting picked up by Google. I don’t want to take the time to learn search engine optimization, so I let plugins like this do the work for me.
Easy Recipe- If you look at one of my recipes you’ll see that it’s in a box. That’s because of this plugin. What’s great about it is it’s formatted just how Google likes it! Also, If you’ve ever wondered how people get their pictures by their recipes in Google… well, this will do it for you. It’s not guaranteed, but it’s been happening more often than not for me.
Awesome Ads- This one makes it easy to show Google Adsense ads in your posts if you can’t figure out how to implement the code.
Google Analytics for WordPress- This is all you need to get Google Analytics up and running so you can sit back and watch the people flock to your site (hopefully).
nrelate Most Popular- This is what I use to show off my most popular recipes. You should see it on the right sidebar. I’m also earning a little money for advertising.
After the Deadline- Spell check! I still like to run everything through a Word document to double check everything. I save all my posts in there anyway… just in case!
Fast Secure Contact Form- This gives your readers an easy way to contact you. Look at my “contact us” page.
Font- I waited too long to get this one. WordPress doesn’t automatically come with different font types, which is absurd to me, but then I found this plugin and was happy again!
Subscribe to Comments Reloaded- When people comment on your posts, this gives them the option to subscribe when anyone comments on that post. Or they can choose to get updates only for replies on their comment.
Social Sharing Toolkit- This one may be the most important because you want people to be able to share your content on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Therefore, helping your site grow.
If you’re like me, the idea of plugins sound great, but you do still have to configure each and every one of them. It can be a bit of a learning process in the beginning, but it’s worth it when you see your progress and start gaining confidence in your abilities.
How much $$ I’ve earned so far:
I’ll give you the numbers from my March 9th start date through the end of May. I’m holding back my June numbers for now until I have the results for the whole month, but I’m pleased so far with how things are going.
Google Adsense- $3.84
Amazon Affiliates- $3.53
WOW, right?! It’s pathetic, I know. But I’m pretty giddy about it anyway! It’ll be good to see how Google Adsense does for a full month. I have also just become a publisher with Foodie Blogroll, and looking forward to seeing what kind of opportunities they have to offer.
My favorite search term so far:
Dear person that typed this into Google and found me,
If you’re reading this, you really made me LOL!
—> You can’t make this stuff up!
If you’re still with me, I appreciate you being here and reading the first edition of “Behind the Scenes of a New Food Blogger”. I hope I’ve answered some questions about what it’s like to be a new blogger.
Please feel free to ask me anything or just let me know what you think… I’m lonely!