Hello! I’m Jessica’s husband Jason. I make an appearance once a month to share our traffic and income report with you. If you’re a new email subscriber or just stumbled upon this page, then I’ll give you a brief background of what this is all about. For over two years we have been creating these income reports to show our progress with monetizing Jessica’s food blog.
The information we share holds us publicly accountable, and plus it’s fun to see how far we’ve come. From the early years of making less than $100 a month to grossing our largest amount ever – this month. We’re firm believers that hard work pays off, and we continue to do it. We hope that sharing our income reports motivates others to start a new thing or to keep grinding it out with their current projects.
We also use these reports to share tasks and projects that we’ve been working on. Every month we try to learn a new thing in hopes of improving or adding value to Jessica’s food blog. If you have any questions, or ideas on how to make these monthly reports better, please let us know. We always appreciate hearing your feedback in the comments section below.
Ready to browse the numbers?…
Please note we do make a small commission from each affiliate link listed here, but we want you to know that we stand behind the products we recommend.
- Grateful – $2,431.78
- Sponsorships – $1,820
- BlueHost – $80.00 –> (from our 3-step guide on how to start a food blog)
- Amazon – $134.23
- Etsy – $1.80
- Swoop – $1.14
- YouTube – $1.09
Total Income: $4,411.57 (+89%) — last month: $2,335.49
- Macbook Air – $1,345.68
- Video Equipment – $677.60
- Everything Food Conference – $570.00
- Food – $356.64
- Facebook Ads – $105.24
- WP Ultimate Recipe – $74.99
- Synthesis – $47.00
- MailChimp – $45.00
- OptinMonster – $29.00
- Food Blogger Pro – $25.00
- Amazon S3 and CloudFront – $21.98
- SurveyMonkey – $19.00
- Grammarly – $11.66
- QuickBooks – $10.36
- TailWindApp – $9.99
- Adobe Creative Cloud – $9.99
Total Expenses: $3,359.13
= NET PROFIT: $1,052.44
Top Traffic Sources:
We show this stat every month. RPM is revenue per thousand impressions. This is a helpful metric to determine what the income is per 1,000 pageviews. It is calculated like this: RPM = (Revenue / Pageviews) x 1,000.
Here are the number of fans, followers, and subscribers for the various outreach efforts we have. Our goal is not only to increase pageviews on our blog but to also grow our digital tribe.
- Facebook – 17,776 (+5,597)
- Pinterest – 9,470 (+1,172)
- Google+ – 4,930 (+2)
- Newsletter – 3,149 (+433)
- Instagram – 3,116 (+93)
- Twitter – 761 (+70)
- YouTube – 571 (+7)
- StumbleUpon – 134 (+22)
- Bloglovin’ – 81 (+16)
- Tumblr – 5 (+2)
Total: 39,993 (+22.8%) – last month: 32,579
OVERVIEW ON INCOME & TRAFFIC
In the blog world, the summer months are notoriously known for lower traffic numbers and dismal ad rates. However, we were fortunate to mitigate this in two ways. First, we transitioned to the Grateful Ad Network to handle the management of all the display ads on Jessica’s site. In doing so, they were able to provide a boost in ad rates that we typically wouldn’t have seen with our previous configuration. Second, Jessica took on several sponsorship opportunities that helped us achieve record levels of income.
The sponsorship route is interesting, though, it’s more one-time fast cash than building consistent passive revenue that we can count on. Jessica has to seek opportunities actively each month and apply for them. Then she has to adhere to the guidelines and publish the posts on specific days. Although one of the unexpected benefits of sponsorship work is that on some occasions, the client will pay for Facebook Ads to boost the visibility of Jessica’s post. You can see a couple of the FB ads listed on our traffic referrals list on the graphic above. This is nice because while we get paid a set amount to create the sponsorship post, the free traffic they send makes us additional money by having more eyeballs on our Grateful ads. The icing on the cake is that we’re able to convert some of that boosted traffic into new email subscribers and Facebook fans.
Video, Video, Video!
It’s been nearly three years since we last created a recipe video. Do you want to see it? Click here. Time flew by! So much for trying to stay consistent with that effort. Creating video takes a tremendous amount of time to shoot and edit. Our previous videos had Jessica in front of the camera or talking over the video as I followed her around the kitchen. The lighting was terrible, and we couldn’t get the quality level where we wanted, so we scrapped the idea and focussed more on trying to improve our photography quality. I think it was a good call at the time.
Have you noticed recently that your Facebook NewsFeed has been taken over by videos? How many scrolling finger flicks before you see a static photo? It’s the real deal, and it’s happening now! Fast-motion recipe videos especially have taken off like crazy! The recent push of bloggers creating 1-minute clips and seeing the mind-boggling number of views they’re getting has caught our attention.
After our long hiatus, we decided to give video another try. This time, we wanted to create a fast motion video in a single location where we could control the lighting. We decided if we were going to make another video that we were going to go all in, and that meant purchasing some expensive equipment.
It took us approximately four hours to make, but we learned a ton along the way. With more practice, we know we’ll become more efficient and reduce the number of awkward angle shots. Our goal is to create one video per month and see how that goes before we decide to increase the frequency.
For our video shoot we used the following items:
- FloLight Fluorescent Video Light
- FloLight Light Stand
- Lilliput 10″ Field Monitor
- HDMI to Mini HDMI cables
- Manfrotto Tripod
- Manfrotto 502 Video Head
- Canon 5D MkIII Camera
- Canon EF 24-70mm
- Final Cut Pro Software
Switching from EasyRecipe to WP Ultimate Recipe (WPUR)
For over two years we’ve been utilizing the EasyRecipe Plus plugin for Jessica’s site and before that we were using the ZipList Recipe Plugin. Although when developers stop supporting their plugins with new updates, then problems begin to arise. That’s what made us move from ZipList to EasyRecipe.
Well, it seems the cycle is happening again. The EasyRecipe plugin hasn’t been updated in nearly a year, and product support has been non-existent for just as long. We were experiencing bugs in the program such as cooking times that would disappear after you saved a post. This is frustrating, and we knew we had to make the move to a new recipe plugin before things got worse.
After some research and recommendations on Food Blogger Pro, we decided on WP Ultimate Recipe because they are the first to start using the JSON-LD syntax. This is important because Google introduced rich cards that use JSON-LD to show search results in a more engaging and visual format for mobile users.
If you log into Google Webmaster Tools and navigate to ‘Search Appearance > Rich Cards’ you will see that Google is now keeping track of your Enhanceable and Fully Enhanced cards. To achieve green Enhanced status, you need all your recipe properties filled out. Since converting to WP Ultimate Recipe and filling out all the required properties, you can see that Google has started to designate some of our recipes as Fully Enhanced. We’re hoping to see a slight boost in traffic since Google is now favoring these new rich cards.
This was our migration strategy for converting 300+ recipes. I’m not going to lie. It was a grueling process.
- Grammarly articles for spelling mistakes & punctuation (lots of old recipes that needed it)
- Update featured photos to square format (mobile carousel not showing correct without it)
- Filled in missing recipe info (cuisine, course, times, description)
- During the conversion process, updated ingredient terms for consistency
- Add nutrition labels and removed older graphic based labels
The primary reason for choosing WP Ultimate Recipe plugin was for distinguishing ourselves in Google’s new mobile carousel. However, we noticed our older posts with portrait-sized featured images were not displaying well. You can see below the difference between how Google displays rich cards with portrait and square featured photos:
Here’s our quick WP Ultimate Recipe review:
- Users can change serving size and convert units to metric.
- Nutrition Label is text based, not an image (don’t need to upload).
- During the conversion process, it’s nice to be able to start and stop and pick up where you left off.
- The recipe template editor is visually customizable (drag n drop).
- The plugin developer, Brecht was reachable via email support during our transition.
- There are a bunch of video tutorials on the plugin website which helped.
- Within the post editor you can add the recipe and nutrition label using shortcodes.
- Very overwhelming at first, there’re so many settings and features.
- Recipes posts are an entirely new post type, different than non-recipe posts.
- Most input fields for ingredients and notes are separate fields, slightly more time consuming to add ingredients and directions.
- More input fields make using Grammarly more time consuming because you have to click within each area to see if edits need to be made.
- The recipe template editor doesn’t have explanations of each item available.
- The recipe template editor could be polished more, hard to see what fields you’re controlling.
- During the conversion process, the plugin doesn’t recognize fractional units. It would incorrectly place the number in the ingredient field.
- During the conversion process, you can only see the ingredients list. Not the directions or recipe notes fields. There were a few instances where Jessica had listed ingredients that were optional, and it would have been nice to move those ingredients to the Recipe Notes on the same screen. Instead, after the recipe converted we had to take several steps to find that recipe and edit the information afterward.
- Currently, there’s a bug when both WP Ultimate Recipe and EasyRecipe are installed and activated, the Cuisine and Courses options don’t show up when adding new recipes until you deactivate EasyRecipe.
Despite some drawbacks, WP Ultimate Recipe plugin is working out nicely for us. We’re glad we made the transition. There’s certainly an intimidation factor when you use it for the first time, but that eventually fades away once you’ve got your bearings. The saving grace was the developers’ communication. We must have emailed Brecht 10+ times, and he got back to us within a few hours. I don’t think the guy sleeps, lol.
Note: A recent announcement by the WPUR developer is the launch of a free (lite version) called WP Recipe Maker. This doesn’t have all the functionality to make Fully Enhanced rich cards, but supposedly it’s very similar to the EasyRecipe plugin.
There were 15 blog posts for the month of August which was one more than July. This was an incredibly busy month for us, but thankfully it was monetarily rewarding. On top of our usual blog schedule of posting three times a week, we took on two large projects, video, and converting all our recipes to WPUR. One of the benefits of revisiting older recipes was that it helped put our quality efforts in perspective. When we first got going, we thought our food photos were good enough, and we wondered why we didn’t see an increase in traffic. Well, looking back, there were so many terrible photo shoots. There were even recipe instructions completely missing cooking times and directions.
Forcing ourselves to look at each recipe individually allowed us to start a list of recipe reshoots that we want to do over. We rarely go back and update recipes with new photos, but moving forward we are going to incorporate this strategy into our blog posting schedule.
We had an intense few days of family blogging to update all the recipes to the new plugin, but we did it together!
As always, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read our report. I look forward to updating you again next month.