Blog Check-Up

Hello!

I’ve often wondered how many of you, dear readers, are also bloggers or vegetarians or sent from links looking for a specific recipe and never to return. Unfortunately, WordPress stats don’t tell me those things. What they do tell me is that October is my best traffic month ever and well, that makes sense, because getting better is what blog traffic tends to do — well, at least when you’re posting!

When I’m not in the kitchen, I’m a digital marketing and sales consultant who is a total website analytic junkie. I believe in open stats and information sharing. I believe in measuring a site’s relevance by more than just page views. How long did someone stay? How many users came in from an e-mail a friend sent them? Who links here? It’s more complicated than just unique users and page views. It’s about happiness, relevance and building a community.

I’m going to assume that many of you are bloggers too and that maybe, like me, you’re operating in a bit of a vacuum on how exactly food based blogs grow. If not, no worries, tomorrow’s post is in the oven.

The fun facts:

- Whisk Flip Stir is 4 months old.

- I’ve posted 33 recipes in that time.

- Month by month page views:

  • July: 737
  • August: 3,064
  • September: 5,588
  • October: 9,300  (estimate since it’s only 1pm!)

- WordPress stats don’t count unique users. Weird, huh?

- I’ve had 252 total comments on the blog, with 126 probably coming from me since I try to answer each and every comment.

- According to Google, there are 264 incoming links to different recipes across the site.

- My search driven traffic is all over the place, most popular is “Whisk Flip Stir”, no surprise there really. Weirdest is “Recipe for once stuffed potatoes.” Isn’t that just a potato?

- I’ve made TasteSpotting 17 times.

- Tastespotting drives about 90% of all my traffic. I don’t post to other photo sites, mainly because I find the duplication amongst them to be kind of annoying and don’t want to make it worse!

- Biggest traffic day was October 4 — I made Tastespotting twice that day (General Tso Tofu and Black Bean Bowl)– total views were 925.

Summary:

I’m really happy with everything so far. I started this as a creative outlet; one that I thought would help me pay better attention to what I was cooking and encourage me to eat more intuitively and mindfully. I think it is paying off in all those areas.

The comments are my most meaningful stat. It is validating to be reminded that I am not writing into a void but instead there are real people reading my posts and in many cases making the same recipes I tested in my kitchen. I love that. It feels very small world to me.

The only ads that appear here are WordPress related. You have to pay to have them shut off and I didn’t think they were distracting enough to warrant the $13. I don’t plan on adding ads to my blog because it’s not about that, really. I have other things I do to make money and not everything I do needs to. Such as this. Or holding hands. Or going for walks. It’s nice to just do stuff for fun.

I hope this was insightful — I’d love to hear your experiences with traffic and blogs. Why do you do it? Are you happy with how it’s going?

Oh! Tomorrow’s post needs to be taken out of the oven. Perfect timing!

Cheers,
Heather

26 Comments

  1. Posted October 31, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Good for you! It’s a great blog.

  2. altrooheather
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Thanks so much! I hope it was interesting for you to get a peek. I don’t know if everyone is as interested in this stuff as I am. :)

  3. Posted October 31, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    I followed a link from Tastespotting and browsed your other recipes so started following. I have a lot of recipes “starred” to work my way through. Some I know I will be contacting you for information on, as some ingredients I can’t get here in New Zealand, don’t know what they are and therefore don’t know what to substitute instead.

    I’m fairly new to vegetarian eating, hence my heavy reliance on recipes, and I am greatly appreciative of the wealth of information and recipes that you and other bloggers are so generous about sharing. One day, hopefully, I will be able to just throw a meal together off the top of my head. In the meantime, your recipes will be getting a thorough workout in my little corner of the world :-)

  4. altrooheather
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Hi Lynne! Thanks for your kind note! I really love how all these food bloggers are making this amazing group cookbook with tons and tons of amazing photos and tips for each other and people of all cooking levels and interest. Kinda cool! Please do email me if you have questions making anything! My email is in the about me!

  5. Posted October 31, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    I think I found you through your lasagna recipe but I’m not sure how… in any case, I love this blog! I’m a recent-ish vegetarian (since this past February) and I love comfort food, so this here site is way up my alley.

    Keep up the great work! :)

  6. altrooheather
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the kind comment! Welcome to being a vegetarian! I’ve been one for a very very long time — if you need any encouragement or tips, just ask!

  7. Posted October 31, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    Hi! I discovered you through your General Tso’s Tofu post linked from Tastespotting. I’ve been a vegetarian my whole life! I love your witty sense of humor and simple recipes! I too am a fan of analytics (Have you tried blogger? Apparently they use Google Analytics which might provide you with more site stats… but I, too, am wed to wordpress…)

    Anyway, Keep posting!!!

  8. Posted October 31, 2010 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Your blog is a good blog. I will watch for more on your free SEO systems as I too believe in sharing freely.

  9. altrooheather
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the note and the compliments, Jamie! I used blogger way back when but switched over to WP for this. Their analytics are kinda simple, cough couch. I plan on adding Goggle Analytics once I change hosting and get access to the html! That’ll be a good day!

    Your whole life? Your parents were vegetarians? That’s awesome!

  10. altrooheather
    Posted October 31, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    I will do a check-up every 3 months! Thanks for the comment!

  11. Posted November 1, 2010 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    Hi Heather,
    I too have had that same feeling … anyone there? anyone? Ferris? but then a comment will come through and I know they’re out there. I only have 14 followers but I know there are many more who subscribe via RSS and I personally don’t have the technical ability to add the html code to get it. I did a search on it once and there are ways but they’re more involved than I have the time for.

    My blog posts aren’t really recipe driven but more review and experiential. I do post pics of my home cooked meals so maybe I’ll throw something up on Tastespotter and see what happens. My averages are about 15-20 hits a day and I think that is heavily dependent on traffic from Yelp and Urban Spoon although Yelp made me take down all references to my blog in my restaurant reviews so traffic has definitely fallen off by a few a day.

    I personally blog probably for the same reason you do. To justify the cost of a new digital camera.
    I want vegans to know that sometimes things require a large effort and sometimes they are just easy from the get go. I want eating out experiences, both culinarily and service, to be “out there.” I eat out because I’m forced to and know that to others it’s a treat. I’m also in a situation where most of the time I’m not able to go to a vegan restaurant, probably like others of our ilk, and why not put up info about which places really go out of their way to cater to our needs and palates?

    Just a quick question. You had your blog post in the oven? Do you think they’re more readable if you warm them up before posting them?

    Keep up the good work, it’s appreciated.

    BTW, I would put up a few more links so that people can subscribe more easily than having to get all the way to the bottom check box.

    Marty
    Marty’s Flying Vegan Review
    http://www.martysnycveggiereview.blogspot.com
    @veganpilotmarty
    vegan tees at http://www.cafepress.com/veganpilotmarty

  12. altrooheather
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Hey Marty,

    Weird about Yelp, I had no idea they cared about things like that. I can see how that would effect your traffic!

    It’s so interesting to hear from other bloggers on their experiences and reasons — thank you for sharing!

    Yes! Blog posts are best served warm!

  13. Posted November 1, 2010 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    yup! parents, grandparents. all of them.

  14. altrooheather
    Posted November 1, 2010 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    That’s SO COOL! I love that all your kid comfort foods are already vegetarian!

  15. Ali
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I ended up here after checking out all of the links on VeggieNumNum’s blogroll. Glad I did :)

    I have since added you to my Google Reader list (does viewing your blog from the Reader count towards your hits?), but I still have go to your actual blog every time you update because for some reason your photos aren’t showing up on the Reader (which I gladly do, no problem! Just thought I’d let you know!).

    I’ve kept coming back because I think your writing style is engaging and fun, and of course because of the recipes – I think we have the same taste. I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 10 years now but I’m always looking for new ideas, and I like yours. So, yeah. I’m glad to see your blog if doing well, you deserve it :)

  16. altrooheather
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Hi Ali,

    Thank you so much for the note. I adore Trudy’s blog, too. Her photos and recipes are aaaaamazing. She’s so very talented!

    I see Google Reader links coming in so I think they get counted! Thank you for doing that, so neat!

    And, of course, thanks for the compliments. I didn’t know this post would gather such lovely comments but how cool. It’s perpetually making my day! I was expecting a buncha nerd talk on page views and stuff!

    Thanks so much! I appreciate your note!

    Heather

  17. Emily
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    I came here today from a link on The Kitchn. I’ve been meaning to start my own food blog – I cook all the time and love writing about my experiences (generally in long emails to my poor mother). But I can never seem to find enough time. And yet, I somehow find time to read a bunch of food blogs. Funny how life always works that way. The sad part is that mom has shown me up and started her own food blog already after so many months of me claiming I would start my own.

    I just read a few of your posts and I’ve added you to my RSS feed – it’s always nice finding good vegetarian blogs with nice writing.

  18. altrooheather
    Posted November 2, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Your mom is awesome! I don’t know if how I started this will help at all, but I did it in stealth mode for 10 posts to see if I liked it. Once I decided I could commit to this for a while, I took them all down, designed the site and relaunched it, just posting two recipes at a time. So I had 5 weeks of posts ready to go and I kept cooking (still have two that I haven’t posted!). It helped to have a cushion and do it in private for a while while I figured it out.

    One last thing that’s helped me, I took this from Smitten Kitchen and 101 Cookbooks — I shoot all my final shots on the same cutting board. I know some people go to much greater lengths to create scenes and their photos are amazing because of it, but because of time and to keep up two posts a week, I just picked one thing so I can just worry about cooking and writing. So far I’m happy with that decision.

    I hope you give it a go, I love this giant cookbook we are all writing together!

    Heather

  19. Posted November 3, 2010 at 3:40 am | Permalink

    Hello! I just found your blog, funnily enough, it was through ‘the kitchn’, not through ‘tastespotting’. It was the Amelie Plum cake that bought me here, your photo of that cake was amazing by the way.
    I can’t believe you’ve had so many pageviews in such a short time! Good on you! I started my blog about the same time as you. I guess tastespotting really does the trick!
    I’ll definately be back though, it’s lovely here.

  20. altrooheather
    Posted November 3, 2010 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Hi Ursula, thanks for the note! Your blog is great, too! Love the music! Really nice touch. Tastespotting is a big big traffic driver for sure. Without it I’d probably be at 1K page views? Maybe 2K? I’m sure FoodGawker drives similar traffic, too. Kinda fun to see who comes from where. Thanks for stopping by!

  21. Posted November 3, 2010 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    Hi Heather, Whisk Flip Stir is doing super well, you certainly deserve it! I’m a bit of a stats junkie too and spent the first 6 months on Veggie num num trying to tweak things like layout and keywords etc to see what made a difference. Tastespotting and foodgawker really kick started everything for me too… and once I had places for people to follow like RSS / email subscription, twitter and facebook it just kept lots of people coming back each time I posted. Your blog is like awesome!! and I’m sure it’s your wonderful fun and happy writing and delicious recipes that keep the visitors rolling in. It really does make it feel like a small world when you can have conversations and make friends with people from all over the globe!! Yay for Veggie Food Blogging :)

  22. altrooheather
    Posted November 3, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Hey Trudy! Thanks for the kind words as always! I love your work so your thumbs up makes me giddy!

    I’m so curious about FoodGawker vs. Tastespotting. Who drives more traffic to you, if you don’t mind sharing?

    I’m also really curious how baked good do vs. savory stuff (I’ve had both do well and both do ho-hum.) I’m curious how vegan or vegetarian effects clicks, but I may never know the answer to that one since I won’t ever have a meaty post! OH to see Tastespotting’s stats! It has to be insane!

    Ah, the webbernets!

  23. Posted November 11, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    I followed your HTML site link and found this. You should tweet about it more… looks like good stuff ;0

  24. altrooheather
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Thanks CGuy! Nice of you to stop by!

  25. Michelle
    Posted January 3, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Will we be hearing more about this cookbook soon?

  26. Posted January 22, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Eagerly waiting for your “tomorrow’s post is in the oven”as soon as possible.

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