Welcome to our 22nd food blogging and income report for August 2017.
After last month and having down time due to the renewal of our security certificate I am sure you are wondering what has gone wrong this month with the ups and downs of running a food blog.
Well we got sent to Facebook Jail.
And not once but TWICE in a week….
I know I had it coming because I know that so many of my fellow food bloggers, have experienced it a LOT and it had never actually happened to me. So it was my time to go to jail. Both times it was a 3 day jail and it makes you realise just how annoying it is and how something so automated could have such a negative effect on your business.
If you are wondering what Facebook Jail is, well its basically Facebook keeping you on your toes and limiting your access to certain features for a few days. In our case it was the groups.
We could no longer add ourselves to new groups, comment in groups, share group content, add to groups and so on.
Well when you think how much you run off Facebook Groups this is a big deal. And made me realise that I was running way too much off one account. Everything was there. Buy and sell groups locally for where I sell on free samples I get sent, local social groups, my Dads local Facebook group, groups that I promote RecipeThis to, chore threads and so much more.
I had people that had tagged me on groups asking me about my Airfryer recipes and I couldn’t get back to them and it made me look bad and brought into question the integrity of our brand.
I am also in the process of market research for a huge project that we have coming on RecipeThis.com for 2018 and of course I couldn’t interact in the groups.
You’re probably wondering whether or not I deserved to go to Facebook Jail? Well the answer is absolutely NOT. I didn’t do anything wrong.
My assistants shared my content on Facebook Groups, I replied to questions about my recipes, my assistants took part in chore threads and that was how they were run and have been run for a long time.
Facebook does this because basically they don’t like you promoting your business for free on Facebook. They want you to pay for Facebook ads instead of getting free publicity from their groups.
But the thing is you get much better results from Facebook Groups than you do from the Facebook ads and hey they are free.
So now as my virtual assistants were always in charge of certain groups, those groups are no longer in my account they are on theirs. So if they have an issue with me posting my recipes to Facebook Groups, at least the admin side of RecipeThis.com wont be affected. I have also noticed that the majority of my fellow bloggers run their Facebook promotions like this.
In the long term Facebook did me a favour as it was hard work running my Facebook account as it had too many things going on. And as they say you shouldn’t mix business with pleasure!
I was also about 5 minutes away from starting up my own Facebook Groups, but I couldn’t imagine going back in Facebook Jail and not even being able to moderate my own group, so I have decided against the idea as its not worth the risk for something that I am not in control of.
Our Food Blogging Income During August 2017:
- Sponsored Content = $5541.60
- Google Adsense = $763.59
- Free Products = $503
- Amazon Associates = $447.15
- Amazon CPM Ads = $254.85
- Kindle = $141.42
- Draft2Digital = $103.03
- Google Play = $20.61
Total Revenue = $7775.25
Our Food Blog Expenses During August 2017:
- Virtual Team = $721.68 (read here how I outsource to the Philippines)
- Facebook Ads = $60.49
- Yoast = $81.84
- Knownhost = $70.67
- Screenshot Monitor = $32.20
- Bluburry = $12.00
- Buffer = $10.00
- Blog Vault = $9.00
- Nekkra UG = $5.00
Total Expenses = $1002.88
This leads to a total income from Recipe This For August 2017 of $6772.37
You’re probably thinking….that site earned a lot from sponsored content considering their traffic. How did they do that? Well the truth is that we were selling a campaign to the brands and much of this was for orders up to early November. We don’t like to over do the sponsored content, so we are now booked up on this for some time and next time we have a campaign it will cover through to early 2018 and we would rather book up in blocks.
I also should point out that without a good team in place helping me find clients, a strong media kit and a good social media presence this wouldn’t be possible.
I also totally dismiss the idea that you must be on 100,000 page views before you can start selling sponsored content as a load of rubbish. I actually sold it from before I had even launched the site!
It’s just a case of offering your clients what they want. Then rinse and repeat.
Recipe This Blog Traffic August 2017
We actually went over the quarter of a million page views level for August. Now that feels good to type out and share. In just 22 months we have gone from absolutely nothing to over 250,000 page views.
When you buy or start a business you are often told to give it 2 years before you expect to see a return in your investment and we made enough to live on with ours in the first 90 days and now look at the traffic ? ?
Though sadly what comes with that is a fair share of haters. The green eyed monster and plenty of jealousy means that we will often come across bitchiness and to be honest, it doesn’t bother me.
This is for 2 reasons:
- We are growing enough and are successful enough to actually have fans and haters.
- Best of all if they are focusing their attention on us, then they are not focusing on their own business.
Of course there is also some amazing people that we have had the pleasure to meet and engage with. We have made tonnes of friends and they are wonderful as are the fans that read and follow our recipes.
So if you do have a hater, or even someone that has copied your ideas or content, then remember not to let it get you down and enjoy the business that you are building up.
Here is our traffic for August 2017:
Even with 2 stints in Facebook Jail we still smashed our best ever month to go above the 250,000 page views mark.
Here are our top 10 traffic sources for RecipeThis.com during August:
You’re probably wondering why we have 13 results? Well this is because we find that Google Analytics repeats itself. For example in the top 13 results we have Pinterest twice and Facebook 3 times, so if you remove the duplicates you will see just 10.
As usual our top 4 traffic sources are Google (can I say that I adore Google), Pinterest and Facebook, followed by direct traffic. We love this as it shows our hard work pays off. The work we put into our SEO, the work we put into promoting ourselves on social media and best of all the hard graft that we put into our Podcast and brand profile.
Here is our SEO traffic from Google Webmaster Tools account:
I love looking at Google Webmaster tools and its always a fantastic insight into what our site is doing in Google.com and what keywords are just ranking that we have recently targeted.
I also found myself looking at what we did the August the year before and we had grown by 750%. I mean 750% in my mind is HUGE. Plus we have a lot of rankings for keywords that I would associate with comfort food and in August is really out of season, so we are looking forward to what the next few months have to offer.
Here is something to reflect on and shows that your search engine optimisation does pay off. The screenshot below is our SEO coming together over time and growing from nothing to something that we are proud of.
We don’t over stuff keywords (like Yoast tells us to and like many bloggers do) and instead we have a steady flow of keywords. We have nearly 1000 keywords on the front page of Google and we have become authorities in our niche in the eyes of Google.
If you are dismissing Google then think Google traffic converts much better, is likely to be long term rather than a quick Facebook viral day and has a much lower bounce rate.
Recipe Sharing Sites
I feel like I am getting to the end of the road as far as recipe sharing sites are concerned and I will tell you why.
But first I must say that they are perfect when you first start your food blog on your way to achieving your first 100,000 page views month.
We submit to about 8 of them a month. Some having a greater respect among food bloggers than others. But some of them that were great in 2013 for bringing me a lot of traffic don’t bring me even 10% of that traffic in 2017. And you have to say to yourself where you want to be and where you want to spend your money.
The 20 food sharing sites that I started with in 2015 (at the start of this blog) is now down to about 8. So I think by the end of 2017 I will have completely phased them out.
From a traffic to the site point of view (now that RecipeThis.com is growing more and more) we don’t have any recipe sharing sites in our top 10 traffic sources and have none that brings us 500+ sessions per month.
Instead our top traffic sources are filled with social media. Search engines and being featured in other peoples round ups. You see the longer you are blogging then the more often that people will feature you on their site.
Everyday someone else is emailing us asking our permission to be featured, along with many others who featured us thanks to us being on their blanket list. So this side of our blog is growing rapidly.
If you are considering where you want to focus your attention, then do what I do. Look at your top 100 traffic sources for the last 30 days and see where you want to spend your money/time.
Facebook Ads Vs Facebook Groups
There is always some online guru that is telling me that I MUST invest in Facebook Ads and that they are important in my social media campaign. Then on the other hand, Dominic is complaining to me that Facebook traffic is rubbish in comparison to Google search. He will tell me that the bounce rate is higher, that they buy less and make us less money. Which he has a point, but advertisers are obsessed with Facebook, so you are left in a catch22 situation when they are your highest earners.
But Facebook is like an addiction and you can’t resist coming back for more and as long as Google is my number 1 traffic source, then it’s all a bit of fun.
Facebook in fact is my number #3 traffic source and this is mainly down to the groups and this is how they compare:
We ran a popular Facebook Ad for a client for his custard cream cake campaign. We boosted it for just $12 and got an extra 3310 views to the campaign. It was a very good idea to do it for this recipe as it was a very specific audience and we felt that a regular Facebook Group share would not do it justice.
- Reach = 3,310
- Cost = $12
My virtual assistant shared our peach cobbler recipe to all relevant Facebook Groups that we were members of at the time. This was about 18 of them and they were a mix of dessert, general food and slow cooker groups.
- Reach = 17,810
- Cost = $2.00
This gave us a reach of 17,810 people and worked out at just $2 when you take into account the time taken to do it and checking the stats and making sure it is running properly.
Then there is the unexpected natural boost. When you just post something to your Facebook page and expect it to do, just as your other posts do. Then it goes wild. No sharing on groups, no ads, just mad sharing in less than 24 hours.
The difference you can make with sharing to Facebook Groups or running ads compared to doing nothing is the amount of people that will see your ad. If I was to do nothing (based on a following of about 9000) then I would get a reach of about 300-500. If I use Facebook Groups then it is more likely to be around 5000+ and with the ads about 3000+.
This is because Facebook chooses how many people see your content from your page, so it’s your way to get your page noticed more.
As you can see the Facebook Groups can give you so much more in terms of reach and results. It just depends what you have posted on your page and what you’re looking for. Facebook likes really don’t matter to me, reach does, as a lot of people don’t see your content anyway, so this is what you want to work on.
Should you run Facebook Ads?
You’re probably wondering if I plan to do more Facebook Ads well the truth is yes. I am not totally anti them. They are fantastic for offering to clients as an extra service when they pay for a sponsored recipe, as well as this if you are selling an ebook, a course or want to build up your mailing list, then it is the perfect starting point.
But at the same time you have to appreciate that Facebook Groups are free and even if you hired a big team of virtual assistants to manage it for you, then you would still get better results than if you paid for ads.
I just have one final thought for Facebook Ads that you should consider. If you learn the Facebook Ads and what kind of recipes will do well on them, then just target those. That might be 1 in 10 it might be 1 in 30. Just learn to get your monies worth like I do.
If you are in the early stages of running a food blog then I thoroughly recommend that you put some effort into Facebook. I am not talking about the Facebook Page as I don’t particularly care for this, you see its Facebooks property, where as if you are promoting a link to your blog, then you are driving traffic through to you and that is what I do.
Let’s say for example you’re a vegan blogger. Then join every vegan and plant based community you can find on Facebook. Aim to start off with at least 25 relevant groups, then each time you have a new post, then share it on there too. Then ditch any of the groups that give you a small return and then stick with those. So if you have a new post 3 times a week you could be sharing it to 10 for each.
Then on top of this, when people ask questions, answer them, get involved and it is the quickest way to build up your presence.
We have a big project coming on the blog in 2018 (sorry top secret for now) and therefore we are working hard on completing the content calendar for 2017, before we can start the content for 2018. At the same time as this we are aggressively researching for 2018.
So you could say it is a little crazy at the moment at RecipeThis.com, but so much fun too.
We would love to share with you our plans now, but the sad thing is that our ideas are constantly stolen. It’s a shame people can’t think for themselves in this day and age, but it seems that they can’t.