One Year Of Food Blogging
To be honest, I didn’t expect to write this article today. It was actually my Google Photos account that notified me with a picture of my first upload of my food blogging journey. On July 10, 2019 I bought the domain name Cooking To Entertain and created my first post for a delicious Chocolate Lava Cake. So one year of food blogging later here’s a post that some of you may find informative.
I was never a blogger, and starting this was just supposed to be a hobby. In fact, I had never even made a website before. All this is to say, I decided to become a food blogger with zero experience with the blogging aspect. That meant learning how to buy and protect a domain, setting up a WordPress account, and working with the themes to actually build the site. Thank goodness for YouTube because I learned quite a bit from the many WordPress instructional videos.
My Food Blog Stats After 1 Year
Yesterday I uploaded my 435th post. Now, for many bloggers that is an insane number of posts in one year, not to mention someone’s first year where they are doing everything by themselves. I love cooking though, and sometimes I’ll put up three or four new recipes around the previous days meals. Does uploading all these posts drive more traffic? I would guess so but as I can’t see other food bloggers first year stats I can’t be sure.
If we look at my monthly stats over the past year you can see some huge growth in the recent months, however there are a few other spots I’d like to point out. Of course July is the lowest as that is when I just started the blog and had no followers. In October Cooking To Entertain finally made it out of the Google Sandbox and some of my recipes actually started popping up on Google (albeit none on the first page yet). This is also the month I starting posting my recipes to Yummly, a food blog recipe aggregator.
In December and January of ’19/’20 I went on an almost two month vacation with my partner Alona so she can get some content for her travel blog, Jet Set Together (couples who blog together stay together I guess). Because of this I barely posted new content so traffic was quite low.
I do want to make an observation however that while I travel I take cooking classes in every city I visit. This helps me to get some new content as well as expand my culinary skills. While traffic was down in December and January, two of the recipes I learned on my trip now rank number one on Google for their keywords.
May was my best month of the past year, and I credit this to the coronavirus outbreak. While everyone is quarantined many people resorted to cooking comfort foods rather than going out. I even wrote a few articles focused on cooking during quarantine like:
Of course here I am appealing to current event searches and these articles may not have a long life, but it was a great way to bring in some quick traffic for little effort.
What Did I Learn In One Year Of Food Blogging
Other than the previously mentioned things like setting up a website and creating blog posts, I learned plenty of important things. In no particular order:
SEO: Search Engine Optimization is key for a successful blog, and with food blogging being as competitive as it is, mastering SEO is very important. I know I haven’t mastered it yet, but in one year I went from knowing nothing to properly optimizing all my posts.
Writing: I’m not the best writer, in fact I’m not even good compared to long time bloggers. However I have learned how to write a little bit better than before. My earlier recipes were very short and not very detailed. While I don’t post (and never will) long winded introductions about my family before each recipe, I’m now better at explaining more of the information regarding the recipe.
Photography: Just like writing I was never a very good photographer. Sure I would take cell phone pictures when I traveled, but it wasn’t until I started the food blog I really made an effort to take better looking pictures. Of course, this goes into SEO as well, since better pictures are more likely to be clicked, and thus help your page to rank higher.
Resilience: Now, I worked in finance previously so I always considered myself quite resilient. However, I was always good at it. With food blogging I’ll be the first to admit…I sucked. I knew nothing and it showed. Many times in the beginning I thought about quitting…after all, if only 100 people read my recipes a month is it worth it? Well I’m glad I stuck around and continued to create recipes. I realized I enjoy the act of blogging so even if one person likes my posts then that is good enough for me.
What About Making Money?
I did not start this blog to make money. While I happen to be young, I am actually retired and I really started food blogging as a hobby to fill the day. It’s also a way for me to document all the things I make because friends are always asking me for recipes of things they eat during my parties.
Eventually I will add advertisements. I know loyal viewers may not like to hear that but I do plan on keeping them to a minimum. It would just be a waste to not profit off of all the traffic (assuming I eventually grow into a proper amount of traffic).
Other than using affiliate marketing through Amazon, what I really would like to do is build recipes around ingredients in sponsored posts. I’ll never post a recipe I don’t like, but there are so many independent producers of spices, produce, dry goods etc. that I think it would be great developing recipes around their products.
My Favorite Parts About Food Blogging
Instead of a paragraph explaining what I like and dislike about my one year of food blogging journey, here are a few key dates which mean a lot to me.
July 10: The day I took the plunge and started Cooking To Entertain. Also the day I made my first post.
August 24: This is the day I published my 100th post (a pretty important milestone, since I was trying to average 3 posts a day). The recipe was for hummus by the way.
October 19: The first day I got over 100 organic page views (okay it was 101…still counts).
November 28th: I decided to expand my content to include international food tours. I wrote an article about street hawker food in Singapore which is now on Alona’s travel website. I know it’s just cross promotion, but writing about food without it being a recipe was a challenge and something I quite enjoyed.
February 17th: I learned that one of my recipes was ranking in the number one spot on Google, which of course made me extremely pleased.
March 18th: I added a distinct cocktails section to the blog because I’ve been a big fan of cocktails and wanted to experiment with creating a few of my own. Also, they are pretty easy to write about (and fun to consume).
May 19th: My recipe for Coffee Bean Cookies was shared on Reddit where it got over 19k votes and brought my site tons of traffic. It was a recipe I worked extremely hard at so this was confirmation that many other people liked it as well.
July 1st: My Pinterest pin for Baking Powder Chicken Wings was repinned over 1000 times and brought thousands of viewers to the blog. Surprisingly it is the recipe on this site with the fewest ingredients (3).
What Is In Store For The Cooking To Entertain Food Blog?
To keep it simple…nothing new. I’m going to continue to post recipes I like to cook and hopefully the traffic follows. If not, well, I’ll probably still be posting anyways.
Oh, also I’m going to be finishing up a cookbook I’ve been writing that will be given away free (for the digital version) to anyone that wants it. It is called “Smachno: A Tasty Introduction To Ukrainian Cooking” as I’ve been living in Ukraine the past 18 months collecting recipes from all over the country.
One Year Of Food Blogging
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