One Year Reflection on Full Time Food Blogging
There was a fella the other day that posted his one-year reflection and I thought I would share mine, as I am there. My first post was on March 25, <year>, and I spent April as sort of a soft rollout with my first public announcement in May.
So, April 1 of last year was my last day of my full time job. I decided to take a plunge and do a combination of freelance development and blogging. My hope was that between the two, I could keep myself busy and profitable. Well, I have been able to keep myself busy and not make very much money in the process! LOL. I did better in <year> than I expected on the freelance side, but my expectations were not very high and it (along with my supportive spouse and some other side income) sustained us. On the blogging side, I really didn't expect anything and that is what I got, but that has to change soon.
About the Blog
I run Ramshackle Pantry
https://ramshacklepantry.com/. We spend anywhere between 3-5 weeks covering a topic… generally a classic cocktail or dish. So, the last completed topic was hotdish and a previous one was an Old Fashioned cocktail
https://ramshacklepantry.com/category/old-fashioned/, as an example. Yes, I post recipe blogs like other food bloggers, but I also write history posts and try to really dive deep into the ingredients. I immerse myself in the thing to try and find the spirit of the dish and understand it in a way that most don't, but then relay my findings to my readers.
Right away, I knew that my 'thing' would be the history stuff. Not only did I think it would help me stand out a bit, but I felt like these deep dives would help my brand become an authority on these topics.
I firmly believe that life is too short not try and do the shit you want to do. Ramshackle pantry covers a good chunk of the stuff I really love spending time doing. I love cooking, technology, writing, and researching. So, it is sort of a culmination of many of the things I enjoy in life.
Six years ago I self-published a novelty book called Fifty Shades of Bacon
https://www.amazon.com/Fifty-Shades-Bacon-Benjamin-Myhre/dp/1479129836 with a partner. It did reasonably well and was really my first foray into the media side of cooking. I literally went from having ZERO knowledge of publishing to making a book within just a few months. Actually, a part of the equation of inspiration for the book was THIS IAMA on Reddit from <year>… a dude self-published a semen cookbook
https://www.Reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/149ybm/iama_a_bestselling_author_of_a_semen_cookbook_ask/. I mean, if this dude can do it… why can't I? The success of Fifty Shades really sort of has inspired the cooking part of my life and that it is possible to make something cool. Also, if I die from a heart attack today, I don't want that book to be my opus/punchline. Additionally, my partner was a hobbyist food blogger who has persistently published for many years and now does this full time. She is a bit of an inspiration on the blog front.
The Numbers through March
Total number of published posts: 135
Total page views: 33,922
Peak Month: Jan
Link to Analytics Screenshot
Link to Search Console 90 day Screen Shot
Things I Think I Have Done Well
• Regularly putting content out. I have been judicial about this. When I was doing some contract work, I was down to 2 posts a week, but also had several I was at *I try to stay at an average of 3 posts per week.
• Goal Setting. I have a master goal plan (make a livable income from Ramshackle Pantry) I have goals for <year> (hit 100k pv in one month). I have monthly goals(ie 7000pv). I have weekly goals (tactics to hit that 7000pv). I have daily goals(make pizza). The things in parenthesis are examples from my actual to do lists, but are not the complete lists. I do these lists for everything.
• Targeting keywords from the get go. Part of what I felt my edge was compared to many starting bloggers is that I have a reasonable grasp of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and technology. I think I have dramatically improved on the SEO front, but still moving forward.
• Getting my wife to do the photography! :) She is 10,000 times better at that than me and it really has turned into a fun experience we get to share together (except the times we fight about stuff… lol).
• Working to get better every day. This is a marathon. Every day I am working to get a little better at something.
• Finding inspiration.
Things I Think I Have NOT Done Well
• Well, getting traffic for one. Kind of an important thing in the world of blogging. Of course, I had hopes that I would end up being one of those 1m pv people in a year sort of folks. I knew that was a pipe dream. While I think my traffic has been acceptable, I am disappointed on where I am with this. On my estimated growth that I would need to get 100k in <year>, I would have needed 11k pv in March. I was only at about 35% of that.
• Bright shiny objects distract me. Thank goodness for my lists.
• Doing new things. Like, I feel that I should be more aggressive about reaching out to do new things. Video, Podcast, Vlog, building an app, writing a book, Twitter, FB, Emails…. The list goes on and on. I have some FOMO on these items while I try and work the skill sets, strategies, and tactics that I currently have. Making money from the blog, but I am not even going to consider monetizing it further until I hit 10k pv in a month. I still may not do anything until 60k. I don't know.
• Building an email list. Yeah, I had a form on my homepage and mailchimp set up to send on new posts. Only recently have I decided to really focus in on this and try and build a good relationship with my subscribers.
• Social Media. I have goals for Pinterest and Instagram and I am actually hitting them, but I feel like I should have 10 Kabillijillion Instagram followers by now.
• SEO on my recipes. I was marginal on it before, but getting better. This is actively changing.
• Balancing real life with trying to get things done. I need more hours in the day and to become more efficient. At the same time, I feel that working out is VERY important and getting good sleep is VERY important. So, I think I am pretty good with the sleeping and working out, but time really starts to slip away when you do those things and keep an active schedule of 10 hours/day, 6 days/week.
Things That Have Surprised Me
• The sheer number of skill sets that are needed to run a food blog. Photography, Video, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Writing, Recipe writing, instructions writing, Public Relations (PR), Technology, All Of the Social Medias, Posting schedule, Emails, and the list goes on and on and on. You want to be an Instagram pro, it takes time, effort, and work. And yeah, it is important to hire out experts when appropriate, but I am running this lean. I really need to pick and choose where I spend my money.
• The money needed to stay going. Not that I spend a lot of money, but there are tools that are necessities and there are services that are important for food bloggers. Social Warfare, WP-rocket, Tailwind, Image Optimization, Food Blogger Pro, a Recipe Plugin, Adobe. It all adds up, yo.
• How important photography is. I guess I went into this thinking that the RECIPES and the writing were the most important. Nope. A good photo and getting accepted to all the food image places. A good pin. A good insta. I assume the same for video, but I have only dabbled in this.
• There is a large number of people that HATE food blogging sites. And to honest, I kinda get it. I don't really like scrolling down and seeing 100 comments saying 'Ooooooh, this is to DIE FOR and I might make this', but then rate it with 5 stars! 6,000 process shots. Email Pop Ups. ugh. The thing is, I feel, is that the powers that be promote this activity. Long content, ratings, and lots of process shot are all encouraged by Google or results.
• How much I really like whiskey.
I hope this is helpful to some of you. Feel free to ask any questions and I am always open for critique.
Question: "is your plan on reaching it? Also, have you done any linkbuilding during your first year?"
I submit to a plethora of food/recipe sites that all link back to me. I answer questions on Quora. I am now writing for a local paper that links back to me.
On top of stuff like this which is more meant to provide value/discussion, but probably also builds link.
I am always interested in new ways to legit do this.
Hey, I sort of glossed over part of this question.
Your goal of 100k pv in a month is ambitious!
Yes it is. The way I look at it is that as soon as I quit my job in the hopes of making money by blogging, I became a professional blogger. As the boss, I need to set professional standards and professional goals. If I am not hitting these goals on either the blogging side or the freelance side, I am one step closer to not succeeding at this.
I have a runway, but it is only so long and as time goes on, it gets shorter. I set high goals because I am going to be ruthless in making this work.
What is your plan on reaching it?
The following is a modified list from my <year> Goal list
I have monthly traffic metrics to hit
Growing Pinterest (also metrics)
Publish 3 quality posts/week
Investigate blog awards and nominations. Throw hat in the ring where applicable.
Implement better schedules.
Then, I make monthly goals and tactics that narrow in on these items. I must have actionable items every month for each of these list items. I then make weekly lists and dailies that get very tactic oriented.