Hi there friends. Bjork here, checking in for my monthly traffic and income report.
Every month I put together a report that includes a behind-the-scenes look at Pinch of Yum. This is our 26th traffic and income report. You can browse through all of the previous reports in the Making Money from a Food Blog archive section.
I focus on two things with these reports (1) the income and expenses and (2) the traffic. I also include any tips or tricks that we’re learning as we continue to find ways to grow the blog. Creating an income from a blog or website isn’t something that happens over night (or even after a few months). It’s entirely possible, but it takes a lot of time, hard work, and focus. We can’t do the hard work and focus for you, but we can certainly help cut down on the time part!
Let’s take a look at the numbers for October.
- BlogHer (now SheKnows) – $7,345.31
- Tasty Food Photography – $2,291.50
- Bluehost – $2,015.00
- Sponsored Content – $1,750.00
- Lijit – Federated Media – $1,656.08
- Swoop (BlogHer) – $1,425.00
- The Creamy Cauliflower Sauce eCookbook – $1,114.65
- Genesis Theme – $337.51
- Ziplist Recipe Box – $216.92
- Thesis Theme – $216.15
- Food Blogger Pro – $135.00
- Elegant Themes – $103.00
- Google AdSense – $89.37
- MediaTemple – $80.00
- CPM Only – $40.17
Total Income:: $18,815.66
- Travel Expenses – $976.26
- Media Temple (Hosting) – $749.99
- eBook Affiliates – $403.65
- Amazon S3 and Cloudfront – $347.75
- Support Staff – $340.28
- Food Expenses- $243.33
- SSD Hard Drive – $192.98
- PayPal Transaction Percentage – $166.13
- eBook Designer – $150.00
- Adobe Creative Cloud – $53.55
- PayPal Website Payments Pro – $30.00
- ViralTag – $28.00
- QuickBooks – $26.95
- Time Doctor – $19.98
- VaultPress – $15.00
- E-Junkie – $15.00
- Rafflecopter – $7.99
Total Expenses: $3,766.84
Net Profit: $15,048.82
Thoughts on Income
Embedded Recipe Ads
In the August traffic and income report I shared about Swoop, the in-recipe ads that we’re running through BlogHer. The first month’s income from Swoop was only $586.20, which was a bit of a let down considering the fact that the ads are somewhat invasive for the reader. It was nice to see that number jump to $1,425.00 in October.
The challenge with traditional visual advertising (for example, a 300×250 ad in the sidebar) is the fact that readers are starting to become “banner blind.” Think about how often you actual click on a banner that you see on a website. Probably not that often, right? Advertisers also have to consider the fact that more and more sites are becoming mobile responsive, which means the website looks different on mobile devices, like iPhones and iPads. Mobile responsive websites will often times push the sidebar all the way to the bottom of the page. For instance, if you’re reading this in portrait mode on an iPad or an iPhone then you won’t even see a sidebar. It’ll just be the post content. This is why marketers have to come up with creative ways to get their ads in front of readers.
One way they’re doing this with food blogs is “in-recipe” ads.
As advertising continues to become more and more integrated into the actual content, bloggers are forced to make a tough decision: user experience vs. income generation. As many of you know, it’s not an easy decision to make.
We’ll need to get through the fourth quarter (traditionally the most lucrative time in advertising) to really get a read on whether these types of ads are worth it or not for Pinch of Yum. The plan for now is to keep them.
The Creamy Cauliflower Sauce eCookbook Discount Code
On October 16th we offered a discount code for the Creamy Cauliflower Sauce eCookbook. At the time Lindsay and I were in Montana vacationing with some good friends. Lindsay put the post together on the car ride there, and I got up early the day the post was going out to setup the discount code and make sure it worked. Apparently I got up too early, because I setup the discount code like this:
Note: Max. use count = 1.
I tested the discount code that morning, it worked fine, and then Lindsay and I left with our friends for the day. It wasn’t until 5PM that night that we realized the coupon hadn’t been working for the entire day.
In my early morning stupor I was assuming that max. use count meant max use per individual. Nope. It means TOTAL max use. As in, only one person can use the code and then no one else can use it. #fail
As I mentioned in the July report, offering a discount code on your own product is a great way to boost sales, but only if more than one person can use it!
I corrected my mistake and there were 90-some people that used the discount code, but I’m sure that we missed some potential sales from people that tried to use the discount code and were denied. Hopefully this saves someone from making the same mistake that I did.
Below are some screenshots from Google Analytics. You can click on these screenshots to view a larger image.
Top Ten Traffic Sources
Mobile vs. Desktop Traffic
Thoughts on Traffic
Pinterest and Facebook
In last month’s report I brought up the issue of having a large portion of traffic coming from one area. For Pinch of Yum, and many other food blogs, the majority of traffic comes from Pinterest. This isn’t a bad thing…unless Pinterest changes something and traffic suddenly drops. Changes like this happen all the time, especially online.
Remember Myspace? How about Digg? If you’re interested in SEO then you probably know about “Panda,” the Google update that dried up the income of many niche sites that had previously ranked high on Google.
I might be a bit paranoid, but I’m a big fan of the phrase “better safe than sorry.”
We’re starting by focusing on building the Pinch of Yum Facebook page. The first thing we’re doing to help build momentum with Facebook is offering a free product to those that “like” Pinch of Yum on Facebook. This type of incentive is called a fangate. You must become a fan in order to walk through the gate and access the product. The product is an eCookbook called Pinch of Yum’s Top 25 Recipes of 2012. It’s a collection of the most popular recipes from last year. You can check out what it looks like by visiting the fangate page on Pinch of Yum’s Facebook page.
Here’s how we did it, from start to finish:
- Paid a designer $150 to create an eBook template.
- Used Google Analytics to find the most popular Pinch of Yum posts from last year.
- Copy and pasted the recipe content from the top 25 posts into the template.
- Exported the document as a PDF.
- Uploaded the PDF (just like you would an image) so we had a link where people could download it.
- Installed Static HTML: iframe tabs on Pinch of Yum’s Facebook page.
- Filled out the Fangate information (what people will see before they like the page).
- Filled out the Content tab (what people will see after they like the page) and made sure to include a link to the product that was promised.
- Uploaded a custom 111 x 74 pixel image for the tab on the Facebook home page.
We released the free eCookbook on October 21st and put an image link in the sidebar of Pinch of Yum to direct people to the page. The image link hasn’t driven much traffic yet, but the book has been mentioned by other websites, including a post on Money Saving Mom, which caused the boost at the end of the graph below.
The fangate doesn’t work on tablets or mobile devices, which is a huge bummer. We’ve also had some issues with people not being able to see the content after liking the page, which I’ll have to spend some time troubleshooting. If you try and download the book I’d appreciate hearing your feedback on how hard (or easy) the process was.
The next step will be building a “sales” page so we can direct people to that page and explain what the free eCookbook is all about. This page would look very similar to a real sales page, the only difference being that people don’t have to purchase anything, just “like” Pinch of Yum on Facebook.
Because of You
Without you, this thing we call Pinch of Yum wouldn’t exist. Lindsay and I can’t express enough how much we appreciate you following along, commenting, tweeting, and emailing to say hi.
For example, this week some people reached out and connected with us to see how the staff and kids at the Children’s Shelter of Cebu (learn about our time at CSC here) were doing during the awful typhoon that recently hit the Philippines. It was an incredibly kind act that made us feel like you guys really know us, not just as bloggers but as friends. Just so you know, everyone at the orphanage is okay. There was some damage to the buildings, and many people we know in Cebu are still without water or power, but no one from the shelter was injured. Please continue to keep the Philippines in your thoughts and prayers as many people have lost their homes and loved ones.
We’re using a portion of this month’s income from Pinch of Yum to support a special project at CSC – purchasing brand new playground equipment for the kids! After spending a year at the shelter we saw first hand how often the playground equipment was used, so we’re excited to help purchase some new elbow pads, knee pads, playground balls, and kites for the kids to use. If you’re interested in seeing some of the other specific donation needs at CSC, you can check out the special projects page on their website.
Thanks again for reading, and hopefully talk to you soon!