A peek behind the curtain is a monthly post, where I share the technical side of what worked, and what didn't to grow Rhubarbarians.
Get a load of those popsicles! Didn't get much simpler than that set up for the photo. Just a large white cutting board, and a large white wooden board. A few sprinkles of herbs for color, and BLAMMO, a beautiful photo. Plus, one on the side I was munching on.
You guys, welcome to the second post in the Peek Behind the Curtain series! I am loving sharing the nerdy numbers side of growing this here blog! April officially held Rhubarbarians' 6 month bday. 6 months already! Holy cow!
A few good things that happened in April: One of my recipes was featured on BuzzFeed, which generated the most page views per month to date. My social media following grew rapidly, AND I got to go on a sweet vacation, which meant some friendly peeps helped me out by guest posting. YESSS!
A few meh things that happened in April: Affiliate sales revenue dropped, ouch. I also realized just how much marketing the blog generates page views and revenue, since I wasn't around to do it while I was on vacation.
First, let's talk about traffic.
WHOA! 12,466 page views! Oh my. I was totally bummed out by not hitting 10K in March. April knocked it out of the park though! From 9,051 in March to 12,466 in April, Rhubarbarians saw a 38% increase in page views in just one month. Awesome.
Let's talk about how that happened. Did you notice that big spike in page views around April 13th? That was because BuzzFeed featured the carrot tahini quinoa burgs in a quinoa round up on their site. This was a total surprise. I've been wondering what it takes to get your recipes out there to BuzzFeed and Huffington Post, and you know what I figured out? NADA. I still don't know the secret. My thinking here is that trendy recipes (in this case, quinoa), will get noticed and picked up for round ups.
The top 3 recipes from April were the carrot tahini quinoa burgs (duh!), the strawberry basil ricotta popsicles, and the chicken arepas with avocado and aji. I totally get the quinoa burger, and the strawberry popsicles, since Spring is in full force and everybody loves a strawberry recipe. The chicken arepas are a bit of a mystery. This is a recipe from March, that never really got any love when I posted it. My thinking is that more people are searching for taco and avocado recipes now that the weather is getting warmer. Which makes me think that creating some summer Mexican recipes may just knock it out of the park.
So, where did all those page views come from?
Well, buzzfeed, duh. Direct hits from secure https at a close second, Pinterest at #3. None of these are surprising are they? The surprising factor in this list is that Yummly number at position 4! I joined a Yummly Facebook group in April, which has really helped bump up my recipes in Yummly searches. Totally worth the time if you are into getting your recipes noticed on Yummly! Check it out.
OK, now for the REVENUE!
In April, Rhubarbarians saw an 18% increase in revenue over March, which is a pretty impressive number! My goal was to increase affiliate sales revenue, since it is such a hands off approach to generating income. However, with the Buzzfeed hit, CPM advertising revenue skyrocketed, while affiliate sales decreased. This led to a shift in the balance, and CPM revenue became my main source of income.
Sovrn: 58% of CPM advertising revenue. The top tier ad slot. High CPMs with low fill rate.
Gourmet Ads: 32% of CPM advertising revenue. The mid tier ad slot. Average CPMs with high fill rate.
Adsense: 10% of CPM advertising revenue. The bottom tier ad slot. Low CPMs with high fill rate.
Tasty Food Photography: 63% of affiliate sales revenue. High commission rate, high demand.
How to Monetize Your Food Blog: 33% of affiliate sales revenue. High commission rate, medium demand.
StudioPress Themes: 4% of affiliate sales revenue. Average commission rate, medium demand.
Although I didn't generate any revenue from it, Food Blogger Pro continues to be my most invaluable resource as a food blogger. They have just released a series of videos that teach you all about food composition and styling. SO pumped for those! Also, if you sign up before 11:59PM on May 22nd, you will get a FREE copy of How to Monetize Your Food Blog! Yippee!
I learned 2 great lessons in April. First, it pays (literally) to create trendy recipes that large sites like Buzzfeed and Huffington Post will pick up. This doesn't mean that I will start creating all my recipes based on trends, but I will pay attention to them. Second, not marketing posts (like I did at the end of the month) can really cause a huge drop in page views. Vacation was much needed, but man it sure killed that momentum I had going from the Buzzfeed article. I can't help but wonder where my stats would be if I had been around to keep up the momentum.
Thoughts for the future:
You may have already noticed, but I had a sponsored post already in May! I know this can be a touchy subject for some, and I had to really consider the pros and cons of allowing sponsored content on Rhubarbarians. I decided that if I am going to actually treat this blog as a business, I will need to accept revenue from outside sources. I will ONLY create posts for products that I use and love, and promise to not spam your feeds with sponsored content. OK? OK.
Going back to the lack of marketing while on vacation, I realized just how glued to this blog I really am. I HAVE to be okay with taking some personal time, even if that means a dip in the numbers every once in a while. In May, I have made an effort to take weekends off, and so far, the blog hasn't blown up or disappeared completely! Win.
Thanks so much for reading friends! As always, you can check out the blogging resources I use and love. I'd love to hear your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions in the comments below!