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December Traffic and Income Report

Hi there!

Bjork here checking in for December’s “state of the blog” report. This report is actually coming out a bit later than usual, as Lindsay and I have taken most of January to step back from work related stuff in order to heal and process through the loss of our son Afton.

Be sure to check out Lindsay’s 10-part series that she published to learn more about Sweet Afton.

The last month and a half has been a cocktail of emotions, with each day being a bit different than the last. We never know what the proverbial bartender will be serving next. One day it’s grief mixed with regret. The next it’s straight sadness. Some days it’s a relatively smooth combination of peace and reflectiveness.

But regardless of what the emotional mixologist decides to serve us, we always try and mix in a little bit of our own secret ingredient: Gratitude.

It doesn’t always taste right with the other emotions, and we sometimes have trouble finding it, but if we look long and hard we can always discover a source to harvest some from.

I’d like to point out a couple of those sources of gratitude.

The first source of gratitude I want to point out is you.

The reader. Our friend. Our distant connection or our close neighbor. You, the one that emails or Instagrams or Facebooks or sends a note. We’re grateful for you and how intentional you’ve been to reach out and support us.

We feel the impact of your kindness. We talk about it with each other and we share it with our family. We print out the comments and emails so we can hold them in our hands and feel the realness of the words that you’ve shared.

We’re extremely grateful for you.

The second source of gratitude I want to point out is our team.

Some of you have been lucky enough to exchange an email or a message with one of our team members. They’re kind. They’re smart. They’re hard working. They’re generous.

Over these past 6 weeks they’ve given Lindsay and I the gift of time. Time to be with family. Time to be together. Time to plan a funeral. Time to heal. We’re extremely grateful for our team.

And I’m excited for this month’s report because we get to share some of our team’s incredibleness with you.

Here’s the deal with this month’s report:

Usually we share the traffic and income numbers for Pinch of Yum in these posts, but this month we’re taking a break from that. We’ll jump back into the normal report next month.

For this month’s report we asked our team members to share something that they’ve been excited about working on lately or something that might be helpful for you, the reader of these reports.

As a quick note, this is technically December’s report. Usually we’d publish this in January, but we’re running a few weeks behind. We’ll publish January’s report a few weeks from now.

Team, take it away!

Income Report Takeaways

Alana, Pinch of Yum Video Specialist

Here in the video department we are constantly looking for small ways to improve our videos. That means we are always trying out new shots, styles, and texts to keep things fresh and to see what performs well (or doesn’t).

A big advantage of such short form content is that it allows for experimentation and practice with relatively little risk.

Inspired by the doodle drawing tool on Instagram stories, our newest experiment is animated doodles! I’m talking simple little dancing lines that can both draw attention to certain parts of the video and are just plain fun to watch.

Here’s an example from an Instagram post we recently published in partnership with Lindt. You’ll notice the dancing heart doodle after about 15 seconds.

 

A video posted by Lindsay Ostrom (@pinchofyum) on

Our hope is that this additional element can help draw viewers through the video when they otherwise might keep scrolling through their feed. It’s a small thing, but all those little views can add up to some significant reach.

I’d like to say that this was an easy task to draw simple shapes and make them move, but in truth it was challenging and time consuming at first. It required learning Adobe Illustrator (with some help from Jenna!) and plenty of trial and error to make it work. That’s hardly to say the time spent mastering these whimsical touches wasn’t worth it. With every new or improved video element we are working towards just a few more views, likes, and shares.

Here’s the general process we use to create these doodles:

  1. In Adobe Illustrator, use the paintbrush tool to draw an image, or draw lines to outline a shape, this will be doodle 1.
  2. Export doodle 1 as a .PNG and import the image file into your editing software (i.e. iMove or Premiere or whatever you use)
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 with a drawing that is similar but not the exact same as your doodle 1. (You can loosely draw over your first drawing and then delete the original to have a second drawing that is very similar in shape and size).
  4. In your Editing Software, layer your two .PNGS over the video clips at the point in the timeline you want the doodle to appear.
  5. Resize and move the images as necessary so that they appear where you want your doodle to be in the frame.
  6. Change the duration of both drawing clips to be 2 or 3 frames long.
  7. Duplicate and arrange your two clips so that they form a long sequence (doodle 1, doodle 2, doodle 1, doodle 2, etc) until the sequence is as long as you want your doodle to be.

Constantly improving content means constantly improving ourselves as content creators: learning new tools, taking on different perspectives and not settling on good enough!


Jenna, Pinch of Yum Office Manager

A new project Pinch of Yum is undertaking this year is updating every recipe post to ensure it’s SEO-friendly. This includes making sure image sizes are correct, meta descriptions are optimized in Yoast, keywords are in the post, and more.

Here’s a quick sample of what we’re checking for during this project:

  • Descriptive and keyword-friendly titles and alt tags
  • Correct image sizes on older posts so they’re full-width
  • Optimize meta description using Yoast
  • Link to other related posts or websites when possible
  • Make sure all sponsored or affiliate links are nofollow
  • Submitting optimized posts to Google to re-crawl and index

To start, we created an entire post log of Pinch of Yum content in a spreadsheet – recording the publish date, post title, URL, category, and whether it was sponsored or editorial. This is the starting point that we’re working from, and now, we’re implementing the checklist we created to ensure all these posts are as optimized as possible for search.

Pinch of Yum Post Log

Believe it or not, Pinch of Yum has over 750 recipes on the blog, so we’re breaking them down day-by-day, doing a little at a time until they’re all set to go. It’s going to take months to complete, but will be more than worth it going forward to keep recipes relevant and searchable on Pinch of Yum.


Alexa, Food Blogger Pro Community and Event Specialist

One thing the FBP team is tackling this year is stronger customer interactions. How many times have you gotten an answer from a company and kind of felt like you needed a bit more direction? 🙋‍

At Food Blogger Pro, we’re trying to break that mold. We use an app called Intercom to manage most of our customer interactions, and I use TextExpander to save some of my responses to common questions to save time and stay consistent. One of my responsibilities lately has been all about building out my TextExpander responses to include action items in our Intercom responses.

For example, if someone comes to FBP asking when enrollment will open again, they’ll receive my answer, and they will also get ways they can stay in the loop and take action on their blogs while they wait:

Here’s what our response looked like before:

———

Hi!

We’ll have a private enrollment period for those on our waiting list at the end of February. Otherwise, our next public enrollment will probably be sometime late spring/early summer.

Alexa

———

And here’s what our response looks like now:

———

We’ll have a private enrollment period for those on our waiting list at the end of February. Otherwise, our next public enrollment will probably be sometime late spring/early summer. You can pay for a Food Blogger Pro membership either monthly ($29/month) or yearly ($279/year).

There are a few things you can do while you wait:

  • Check out our podcast. You can download each of our podcast episodes off of iTunes and the Google Play Store, or you can listen to them directly on our blog.
  • Download our free ebook, 16 Ways to Monetize Your Food Blog,”: In this book, you’ll learn about the ways that you can make money through your food blog.
  • Hop on our waiting list to be notified of our enrollment periods at www.foodbloggerpro.com.

Let me know if you have any other questions. Have a great day!

Alexa

———

By giving these customers clear and precise action items, we’re giving them more than just one touchpoint with Food Blogger Pro content. Downloading things like ebooks also place them on certain mailing lists where they’ll receive communication about blogging and enrollment. And on top of all of that, they’re learning tips and tricks that will help them succeed. It’s a pretty great system, and we’re really excited about it!

P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about some of the ways that you can monetize a food blog, we encourage you to download that free ebook I was talking about, “16 Ways to Monetize Your Food Blog!”

a picture of the 16 Ways to Monetize Your Food Blog ebook from Food Blogger Pro and a note that says, 'free download from our friends at Food Blogger Pro'

Jasmine, Food Blogger Pro Affiliate Program Manager

I am often juggling several tasks at once. I work for Food Blogger Pro — managing the affiliate program and graphic design for the podcast and blog. In addition to this, I run a design and marketing business with my partner. All of this is piled on top of blogging and managing my social media channels. Yikes!

I’m sure many of you reading this can relate. Being a blogger means being pulled in a zillion directions. The temptation is to multitask, but multitasking doesn’t work for everyone.

I’ve stopped multitasking and started using time blocking to manage my workday. As a result, I feel more organized, more productive and more relaxed about my work days.

I use the Pomodoro technique to stay on task. This is how it works…

You set a timer for 25 minutes. While the clock is ticking, you focus only on the task at hand. If you get distracted, you have to start the clock again. After the 25 minutes is over, you take a 5 minute break. Then, you start the clock again. It is shocking how much you can get done when you keep a singular focus.

You can read more about the Pomodoro Technique here. Also, there are several free Pomodoro timer apps available for your phone or desktop computer. I use this one for Apple.

I also use a Productivity Planner to help me plan and track my work week. It is essentially a daily task journal that incorporates the Pomodoro technique. I find it helpful to see everything written down, it helps me feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

I encourage you to give time blocking a try!


Raquel, Food Blogger Pro Content Crafter & Community Champion

If you’re new to blogging, you might be wondering why you need a plugin to publish your recipes – can’t you just type them out into your post?

While you can certainly do this, it leaves a lot to be desired. Recipe plugins do a number of things to help you out, like providing a nice look to your recipe with little effort, reminding you to fill out certain types of information that your readers might be interested in, and telling Google what your recipe is all about.

Yup, you read that right! Your recipe plugin communicates with Google (and other search engines) using something called structured data to help Google understand what your recipe is – what the ingredients are, how long it takes, and what people think about it.

Having this structured data in your posts is really important for your site’s SEO – or Search Engine Optimization. A site with good SEO has a greater chance of showing up in search results (think Google, Bing, Pinterest…). The more information Google and other search engines have about your post, the better your SEO, and the better your chance for showing up in those results.

We created Tasty Recipes so that we can be sure that the bloggers who use it are able to squeeze every last bit of SEO juice out of their recipes. We also wanted to make a plugin that was really powerful, but still lightweight (read: doesn’t slow your website down). We’re really excited about it, and proud of how it has turned out! If you’re interested in using the plugin, head on over and join the waitlist – we’ll send you an email when you make it to the top of the list.

Easy Digital Downloads, GitHub, KickoffLabs & Other Tools

To get this recipe plugin built, we had to rely on a number of tools to handle the versioning, sales, and lead collection.

GitHub: GitHub is a website that helps you track changes made to your code projects. While you might not think this applies to you, think again! If you ever have a website designed for you, request to have it tracked with a version control system in something like GitHub or BitBucket. These websites allow you to see changes that occur and, more importantly, allow you to revert those changes if something goes wrong.

Easy Digital Downloads: This is the sales software we’re using on the WP Tasty site. It runs on top of WordPress and it allows you to handle the whole sales aspect from right within WordPress. It’s great for selling any type of digital product, from ebooks to stock photos to WordPress plugins.

KickoffLabs: We’re using KickoffLabs to collect emails for the waitlist. It’s a pretty nifty service that allows you to embed a popup on your site and collect those leads.

Zapier: Zapier is probably my favorite geeky-for-non-geeks tool out there. Basically, it connects actions on the internet. So if I do something over here, Zapier sees it and does something over there. We’re using it to connect KickoffLabs with our customer support solution, Intercom.

Intercom: This is how we stay in contact with our customers. It allows us to chat with people on the website, email our leads and our customers, and create support documentation. We use it for all the FBP brands – FBP, Nutrifox, and WP Tasty.

Working on this project has been all sorts of fun for me. What I’m most excited about, though, is seeing how it helps bloggers improve their websites. To learn more about Tasty Recipes, check out our super awesome website here.


Krista, Pinch of Yum Video Shoot Assistant

In addition to prepping recipe ingredients and cooking in front of the camera, I’ve also been assisting Lindsay with recipe testing for some of her older posts.

The goal is to make any needed tweaks to the recipe and strengthen the post by adding useful content. Right now, I’ve been busy baking multiple batches of the Best Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies. Since this is a really popular recipe on the blog, we’re taking our time to fine-tune ingredient amounts and instructions so readers can truly achieve the best possible cookie!

the best soft chocolate chip cookiesThen, we’re taking the process a step further, testing variations of the recipe to find out what happens if too much flour is used, for example, or if the egg is beaten for too long. Ultimately, we’ll be creating a visual guide to display the results of each cookie test to help readers understand the tweaks they could make when baking to ensure their cookies come out as intended with slightly crisp edges and a soft and gooey middle!


What questions do you have?

Bjork here again.

How ’bout a big round of applause for the POY and FBP team? 👏 Truly top notch! 💯

Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below. We’ll try our best to jump in and answer them.

Grateful for you,
Bjork


PS: We’re hiring! Food Blogger Pro is looking to add an experienced Visual Designer. If you have a deep love and appreciation for responsive web design and want to be part of an awesome team, check out the posting and apply today!

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51 Comments

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Natasha

    Great income report, as always! You guys always pack so much useful into into these that I always learn something new. I’ve read this blog for years now, but I’ve been think about you guys a lot lately (as I’m sure many, many others have been too!). Your grace and attitude of gratitude is truly remarkable, and I wish you nothing but the best. XO

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Hi Bjork and Lindsay! I guess I had no idea P.O.Y. is able to employ so many! That’s amazing. You really built your business out of the dust and have done something more of us can only dream about. Still thinking and praying for the both of you and for healing. My two closest friends (they don’t even know each other) both suffered from an incompetent cervix at 24 weeks, one is an OBYGN herself. Truly, I had no words for either of them, just love and time. Time is such a gift, glad the two of you are taking all you need. It’s taken me 37 years to learn that His plans are always good, not painless, but good.

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Rohit

    Thanks for your income report. I have started using Pomodoro technique and it has helped me tremendously.

    I lost my dad to cancer just 3 months back and it really hurts but the memories are always with you. It is good that you are taking time to heal.

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo
    patricia

    Reread natasha’s post (2/13/2017 @1:55pm). She said, beautifully and simply, exactly what I wanted to tell you. Thank you to her and bravo to you, Lindsay and your team.

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Brianna

    Thank you for putting all of this information, tips and tricks into one email! Your whole company is cutting edge in the blogging industry and it’s so great that you share all of that information with us all. It truly does take a whole team to build an empire. Thank you for the inspiration and education!

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This was great! Way to go P.O.Y . Team! I can relate with the SEO updates for old posts. I don’t have nearly that many recipes, and the whole process takes a lot of time.

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Nancy Nicholls

    So nice to see and hear from your team and to know that each day becomes a little brighter. I watched the movie Genius on Nexflick the other night, regarding Thomas Wolfe the author, and the mention of the song “Sweet Afton” several times and then played the song in the movie and it reassured me once more than we live in the hearts of our parents and those who love us forever.

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Mary Ann

    Very interesting report. Thanks for all the insights. Massive job reviewing every single recipe post for SEO. So my question is for Jenna – you said you’re going to be submitting optimized posts to Google to re-crawl and index. Are we supposed to be submitting our posts to Google somehow or are you doing this just for the re-write?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Great question Mary Ann! The most important thing is to make sure you have Google Search Console set up and connected to your blog and then submit your blog’s sitemap. The request to re-crawl isn’t super important, as Google would (probably) get around to re-crawling the site eventually. It’s just a little nudge to Google to say “hey, we updated our page!”

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        Doesn’t Yoast do this? Would we be doubling the effort to manually nudge Google? I’ve been doing this same thing, going back through all old posts but never thought to have Google re-crawl because I thought Yoast takes care of all that. And I don’t want to do anything to anger the Google gods!

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Carol

    Thank you for sharing what everyone is doing and what role that they play for POY and FBP. Looking forward to a 2017 of growth and accomplishment.

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I can’t fathom what you and Lindsay must have gone through last month losing Afton. Truly sorry to hear. You guys surrounded yourself with a great team. They did a top notch job while you were away.

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo
    whit

    Keeping a Post Log Spreadsheet is a wonderful idea! Some of your column titles were cut off in your screenshot – Could you list them out? I’m kind of a spreadsheet geek **looks sheepish**

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Hi Whit! Of course. Here are all the columns that we’re checking for:

      Correct image sizes?
      Optimized image titles & alt tags?
      Keyword in image file names?
      Keyword in post?
      Includes keyword-friendly video header?
      Run it through Google’s structured data tool?
      Optimized meta description?
      Link to other posts/websites?
      Good featured image?
      Spacing issues fixed?
      Indexable through Quix SEO?
      Keyword in URL?
      Submitted to Google for crawl?

      Hope that helps! 🙂

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        Is it possible to share this spreadsheet template? I’ve been doing the same thing but without the checklist, kind of just a “Oh this one need updating…” So a little more order to my process would be great.

      2. Pinch of Yum Logo

        This is super helpful, thank you for sharing and bravo on this spreadsheet; that’s a ton of work! My question is whether precaution needs to be taken when changing a post URL? As you make these adjustments to old posts, do you setup redirects or take other steps to avoid creating broken links and 404 errors? Thank you!!

        1. Pinch of Yum Logo

          Great question, Sara! For us in WordPress, it will create a redirect automatically. We also are making an annotation in Google Analytics to keep track. We haven’t had any posts that needed it yet, and would really only change it if it’s absolutely necessary, but we’re not expecting there to be many (if any). 🙂

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Kathleen

    Thank you again for wonderful content! While I enjoy the recipe posts (I love to eat), on the days when I’m wearing my food blogger hat (www.piebirdcook.com), I thrive when I can connect w other bloggers! TU!

  13. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Hey Bjork & Lindsay –

    Awesome income report! I’m a FBP member and long-time follower and just wanted to say how I really admire how you guys always make a strong effort to keep content fresh and interesting for the readers. I always learn so much and and am grateful to have found this community! My thoughts are with you both during this time.

    Xx
    Lauren

  14. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Kathleen

    Love your site. Love the recipes. Love the writing style and dedication. I do not love the auto-play videos and/or ads that forcibly move the screen up when I’m halfway through the heart-wrenching stories in the 10 part series. I enjoyed the writing and stories in the series so much that I forced myself through it. I am not willing to deal with this regularly so please adjust the auto-play nature and/or the requirement to orient the pay to focus on that rather than your content.

    I’m on Chrome on a Mac, btw (it’s my preferred browser).

    Thanks.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Hi Kathleen – thanks so much for letting us know, and apologies for the trouble with it. We’re working on the issue with the player and are hoping to have it resolved soon!

  15. Pinch of Yum Logo

    HI Lindsay and Bjork,

    Thank you so much for ALL the love you pour into the world, both seen and unseen.

    While I immensely appreciate reading your newsletters, this message is solely to express my deepest condolences for your loss. Your entire family by name are now included in my ritual of sending healing (violet) energy everyday.

    Please know that you are loved always and your giving presence tremendously touches us in the most positive light!

    Looking forward to growing with you all.

    From my heart to yours, I’m sending a ginormous wave of loving energy right now. Hope you can feel it!!!

    My warmest gratitude,
    Jonathan (Largy)

  16. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Bjork and Lindsay, I continue to think of you both every single day. The grace with which you’ve handled your loss is such an inspiration. ❤️

    A blog-related question semi-related to the SEO updates that Jenna is working on… how do you handle old posts that you really don’t want visible anymore? Maybe you don’t have any of these, but in 10+ years I definitely have old, old posts that really aren’t worth updating SEO, photos, etc. – the recipe isn’t that great and/or I’ve posted newer, better versions. Would love to know how you handle those.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Oh, we definitely have those type of posts! 🙂 While they don’t fit with our current standard and are outdated, our main goal is for site-wide organization when it comes to SEO. It’s also just really just a matter of preference and time available, but our thought is that it’s easier to see issues if all of the problems are removed, including older posts.

      Hope that helps!

  17. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Tesei

    You have an amazing team and a great blog. It’s natural because your are amazing people with a great heart. We are also grateful for your time, your work and your thoughts!

  18. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Robert

    Hi Bjork and Lindsay, I really like your site, recipes and the short videos are great. I have been a regular follower of your site for about a year now and wanted to say that I am really sorry to hear of your loss. You both are a real inspiration in so many ways. Best wishes for the future.

  19. Pinch of Yum Logo
    CGinAZ

    I don’t ŕeally care about the report. I just love you guys and miss you and want you back soon.

  20. Pinch of Yum Logo

    What a great post, it is so incredibly helpful to have all the insights of POY team. Jenna, how did you export the list of posts and publish dates to excel? I can’t imagine 750 posts were done manually :-/ eep!

    I’ve been thinking and praying for you guys Bjork and Lindsay whilst you are experiencing all your challenges, it’s incredible to witness such courage and faith. You guys really are special. Wishing you all the best.
    Love Sasha x

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Hey Sasha! You’re actually correct – we did them all manually over a period of time. 😬 We didn’t know of a great way to export the posts and get the information we needed. Hope that helps!

  21. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I’ve followed Lindsay’s stories on Instagram, and never been more moved by her writing. It feels as if we know you personally after following the blog and FBP all these years. So our hearts hurt with you. I have kept you in my prayers and thoughts and will continue to do so. Thank you for all that you do and for allowing a glimpse into this private pain—I think others who experience something similar will find comfort here.

  22. Pinch of Yum Logo

    “Submitting optimized posts to Google to re-crawl and index”

    How do you do this? I know how to submit my whole sitemap but I am not aware on how to submit a single post. Thank you.