Income Analysis: January

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Hi!

Sorry for the delay with this income report, we’ve been working on at few big things outside of FirstTimeFoods that has kept me busy. One is really big, and the other is EVEN BIGGER.

We’ve also been busy working on a few new things here at FTF, namely Our First Giveaway! It’s a chance to win $25 to the iTunes Store, so you can rent a few movies, or rock out in the kitchen while you cook!

Analysis

Here’s the snapshot of the traffic health of the site for January 2014:

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 12.55.24 PM

This month we made $9.74. A 17.35% improvement, which is great! We also served a ton more visitors over last month.

You’ll notice we had another single big day, the 24th of January. This was due to a great post, Banana Bread Breakfast Bars, being accepted to FoodGawker, as well as making a great appearance on Pinterest.

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Because of that post, we got a chance to experience a “big day on the site” first hand. Using the Google Analytics Real Time feature, we were able to watch people “come in” to the site, and more importantly know that they were all there using it at the exact same time. It was a great feeling! When you think about how far this technology has come in the last 5-10 years, being able to do this is really quite amazing.

Screen Shot 2014-02-02 at 6.16.13 PMAt one point, there were 17 people on the site at the exact same time!

To use the Real Time feature, sign into your Google Analytics account, and select Real Time > Overview on the left-hand side. Then, simply watch as the “Right Now” value changes as people navigate to and from your site. There are also divisions for location, and traffic source, among other metrics.

Takeaways

With all the work it takes to maintain a site like ours, it can often feel like you’re taking two steps forward, and one step back in order to improve it. But, if you think of the effort that you put in as laying the groundwork for future improvements, it’s really more like “Two Steps Forward, One Step Sideways.”

Know that if you consistently add good-quality content to your site, and don’t expect any one-minute-miracles, time will be on your side, and the results will come.

The side-steps we’ve taken in the past few weeks have been to add a few ads to the sidebar and at the bottom of the posts. We feel as though they are not too intrusive, and give the comments section some structure. Let us know what you think of their positioning if you like! We’d love to know.

This month we also added Sovrn Network ads, that are now backed up by our Google Ads. Sovrn is an ad service, an online marketplace really, that allows you to feed in ads to your site much the way Google does. We’re experimenting with them to see how their cost per mile (CPM) and impression rates differ from Google. If you’d like to know more about how I set this up just let me know!

Trim The Fat

As part of the “One Step Sideways” mentality, it’s good to address the things that aren’t working for you. If there are steps in your workflow process that are not helping you, consider removing them.

First, evaluate how important (or unimportant) they are, based on how much you think they produce results for you vs. how much time you spend on them. Then, if those steps don’t seem worth it, consciously take them out of your workflow. Even if this doesn’t help you to produce direct winning results, at least you know you’re no longer wasting time with something that’s not working.

The above advice is broad, so here’s a concrete example which I used this month. It occurred to me that we spend quite a bit of time submitting to food submission sites. Overall, this can be very important for a food blog, as documented in Income Analysis: December. I wondered though, are each of the sites we are submitting to converting to traffic on our blog?

That’s a good driving question, but how to answer it? Once again, Google Analytics to the rescue. I gathered the urls of the websites we submit to, and then went to the Acquisition > All Referrals page in GA. I used the search field on the right to find each url and noted it’s performance against the others. Sure enough, one site: refrigeratorsoup.com, was producing no referrals and therefore no traffic to the site over the past two months.

Since it takes just as long to submit to refrigeratorsoup.com as it does to any of the other sites that do bring in traffic, I removed it from our submission workflow. In this way, I trimmed down a bit of the time it’ll take to submit our photos, and more importantly, dropped a referral avenue that wasn’t really helping us.

Goals

Last month, we set a goal of getting more than 2,000 visits in one month. We easily accomplished this, nabbing 3,328 in January! Our bounce rate however headed in the wrong direction, 85.67% in the first month of the year. It seems that this is a basic trade-off of getting more visitors. More of them are coming from visually-heavy food sites like FoodGawker, and aren’t necessarily invested in what the rest of the site has to offer.

What do you think? If you’ve got a site of your own: what do you do, if anything, to keep visitors clicking on more than just one page of your site? If you don’t have a site of your own: what is the most attention-grabbing feature of this site? Think about other another cooking blog you spend “way too much” time on, what do you think keeps you there the longest? Video perhaps, or simply the overall content?

The videos we have made here are a lot of fun. I do think they help keep one’s attention longer, so let’s set that as a goal for next month: add more video.

Going forward, I’d like to expand our outreach and have planned to start a Facebook Fan page for FTF in the next few months, to go along with our Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram profiles.

Thanks

Thanks again for being awesome. I really mean that. It’s great to have you here a part of our cooking adventures! 🙂

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