Happy New Year to all of you – my wonderful, fabulous readers!!! Yet another amazing whirlwind blogging year has passed on Easy Peasy Foodie…let me tell you all about it in my Easy Peasy Foodie 2017 Roundup! Find out what I have been up to…did I succeed in the goals I set myself last year? What else happened? And discover what I have planned for 2018!!
My New Year’s Day roundup post is an annual tradition here on Easy Peasy Foodie. A chance for me to reflect on everything that has happened the previous year and set goals for the next. I always believe that I am much more likely to achieve my goals if I share them with you guys…nothing like a bit of public accountability!!
If you want to check out my previous roundup and goal setting posts you can find them here:
Well, 2017 was just as much of a crazy whirlwind as the previous 2 years, I continue to absolutely LOVE blogging and all its craziness and I am already super excited about all 2018. Like last year, I have been positively blown away by how my blog grew and developed in 2017 and all the unexpected surprises along the way. It’s just so much fun…and I never quite know what’s going to happen next!
So let’s take a peak behind the scenes at Easy Peasy Foodie HQ…
Easy Peasy Foodie 2017 Review
First up, here’s how I did against the goals I set myself this time last year…
Get into the Foodies Top 100
The Foodies100 chart is like Top of the Pops for bloggers. The lovely team at Foodies100 rank all the food blogs in the UK based on metrics such as monthly page views, social media activity and Google ranking. At the end of 2016 I was ranked 140 out of around 5000 UK food blogs…and so last January I set myself the aim of getting into the top 100…
Getting into the Foodies top 100 was a huge goal for me in 2017, not least because the top 100 are listed on the Foodies 100 site and so being in the top 100 leads to more opportunities to work with brands and generally become more ‘known’.
And I can report I absolutely SMASHED this goal – I am so, so happy…I first entered the top 100 back in April 2017 and have stayed there ever since, with my top rank being #39… that’s in the TOP 50!! Sadly I slipped down again since then (partly due to a change in the way the scores are calculated) and I am currently #72…but still well within the top 100!
Get better at photography
Hmm – this one is a bit ‘could do better’. After making huge strides in 2016, I have felt myself plateau a bit in 2017. I think part of the problem is that my ‘eye’ has become better, so I spot the flaws in my photography much more than I used to. I think another problem is that it is much easier to go from dismal photos to OK photos, than it is to go from OK photos to AMAZING photos!!
I think also I have come to realise that my ‘studio’ (AKA my dining table) is in just about the worst place EVER for photography – a conservatory with windows on all sides and a glass roof – I actually suffer most of the time from TOO MUCH NATURAL LIGHT – gah! All that said, I do feel I have made some improvement this year and I have taken the occasional photograph I am really proud of…my Lamb Stuffed Aubergines with Feta, Mint and Pomegranate Seeds, for example…
Get better at social media
This one is an interesting one. I worked really hard during 2017 on several different ways of driving traffic to my blog, including social media. In fact, last year I set aside a month to get better at SEO (search engine optimization – i.e. getting onto page 1 of search engine results), a month to get better at Pinterest and a month to get better at Social Media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and what I found was, as a result of those focused months, my traffic from social media broadly stayed static, my traffic from Pinterest improved a little bit and my traffic from SEO went THROUGH THE ROOF!!
So my answer to this one is a bit mixed really. Yes I did get a little better at social media in 2017, but not as much as I’d hoped, but actually along the way I learnt an important lesson that, long term, focusing on SEO may be a more profitable and healthy way to grow my blog, than focusing on social media – don’t worry…I am not about to leave Facebook/Instagram/Twitter etc., if that’s where you like to connect with me – I’ll still be there! But in terms of increasing traffic to my blog, my focus this year will be SEO.
Blog more about blogging
Well this is a big fat ZERO, but for a good reason, I think. I am conscious that the vast majority of my readers are interested in cooking, not blogging…I tentatively started writing a few posts on blogging topics last year and just felt uncomfortable talking about them on Easy Peasy Foodie, so never published them. I feel sharing the odd post which goes ‘behind the scenes’ of my blogging life and the things I get up to is fine – posts like my one about doing a food photography course at Makelight Studios or the writing workshop I attended with Karen Barnes, editor of Delicious magazine or when I ended up on a cruise ship – all in the name of blogging! But a serious post on something like search engine optimization, or content strategy, or email marketing just feels out of place here.
I don’t know. What do you think? Would you want to read that kind of content on Easy Peasy Foodie?
The thing is, I really, really want to share what I’ve learnt…I am a natural born teacher (I used to teach English as a foreign language before starting this blog) and when I know how to do a thing, and I see others struggling with it, I want to help. But increasingly I am feeling that Easy Peasy Foodie is the wrong place for it…so this year I am seriously considering starting a second blog…see my goals section below to find out more!
Do more roundups
This one I DID do! Not quite as many as I would have liked to, but I did at least make a start! In 2017 I shared roundups of easy peasy ideas for leftover lamb and recipe ideas for leftover turkey, a roundup of easy Christmas dinner recipes and one of this year’s most popular posts – the roundup of 45 easy peasy back to school dinners I did back in September. I have enjoyed doing these so much and they seem to have been really well received, so I definitely intend to continue them in 2017. Let me know if there’s a round up post you’d really like me to do!
Redesign my blog
Big tick for this one! I did a massive redesign in January/February 2017. I completely changed my blog theme (basically the design template for the blog). Moving from a rather basic free one, to an all singing, all dancing premium theme, by the fabulous Restored 316 design company. As I hoped, it really has made my blog look fresher and more professional. It is also much nicer to look at, and easier to navigate, on mobiles and tablets (something that is going to become even more important in 2018, as Google has announced it will penalise sites which are not mobile responsive this year). And my redesign has made my site so much more user friendly too, with features such as a gorgeous Recipe Index, subscription boxes, more attractive recipe cards and a landing page facility.
I am also super proud of myself that I managed to upgrade my blog theme all by myself…at first I thought I was going to have to pay someone to do it, but Restored 316’s rather helpful step-by-step videos convinced me I could manage it by myself…and I did!
If you own a blog and are considering buying a premium theme, I really can’t recommend Restored 316 more highly. They are awesome…the theme I use is the Divine Theme, but they have heaps of other lovely themes which are fully customisable – do take a look! If getting your hands dirty and doing it yourself is not something you feel comfortable with, they provide various levels of installation service too.
(Full disclosure…I am a Restored 316 affiliate and I get a small commission if you you use any of my Restored 316 links and then go on to buy a theme or installation package from them. Thank you in advance!)
Get my logo redesigned
Haha – this is yes and no. I did get a new logo…but I designed it myself! I designed my logo in about 10 minutes on Canva as a sort of temporary stopgap logo to use just while I was setting up my new theme. Then, the original plan was I was going to get a designer to design me a proper logo when my new theme was all set up….except, in the mean time, I kept getting all these lovely comments about my new logo, and people asking WHO MY DESIGNER WAS!!! So I decided to keep it and save myself some pennies. It’s probably not the BEST logo ever (understatement of the year!), but it’s clean, professional and does the job…so I think I’ll probably keep it this year, but maybe look to change it in 2019…
Create a newsletter
Sort of. Actually I have done loads in this area…this year I have set up a proper subscription service using MailChimp. My new theme has allowed me to create lots more subscription boxes (under the old system I only had one and it was kinda hard to find!) And then I also signed up for OptinMonster at the back end of 2017 which allowed me to create these lovely boxes…
…as well as a landing page and an exit intent popup. If you go to click away from my site, the box pops up and gives you an opportunity to subscribe….I’ve set it so it doesn’t do it EVERY TIME though (I’d love to know your thoughts on this, though – does it pop up too often? Or just about OK?)
The other BIG thing I did this year was create my Easy Dinners Meal Plan – a free 4 week meal plan which you get in exchange for signing up to my mailing list. Bloggerly wisdom is that you are far more likely to get people to sign up to your mailing list if you offer them a freebie, than if you just say ‘sign up for my mailing list’…the general advice it to just do something simple like a check list or a cheat sheet, but me, being me, wanted to give you guys something of real value, so hence my Easy Dinners Meal Plan!
However the thing I DIDN’T do was create a monthly newsletter, as I had planned to do back in my 2016 roundup post. And the reason is that I discovered I could create an RSS campaign in MailChimp. Basically this means every time I publish a new recipe, I have MailChimp set up to send out an email automatically with the title of the new recipe in the subject line, a nice big picture and a bit of blurb about the recipe. I kind of think that way you can just see at a glance if you are interested in the recipe or not and then delete or open as you wish. I also think the name of a delicious recipe in the subject line is far more compelling than a generic ‘My Monthly Newsletter’ – I know from my own experience that I am far more likely to open an intriguing sounding recipe than an email with ‘Monthly Newsletter’ as the title!
I have however added extras to my ‘newsletter’ so it’s not JUST my latest post I have links on there to my Easy Dinners Meal Plan and my Recipe Index and my most popular recipes and some of my categories. If you subscribe to my emails, I’d love to know what you think of them. And if you don’t yet subscribe…I’d love it if you did 😀
(Full disclosure…the above section contains affiliate links for MailChimp and OptinMonster. If you click on my links and subsequently go on to make a purchase, I will get a small commission – thank you in advance!)
Collaborate more with brands
This I have definitely done a lot more of in 2017! My increased page views and my higher place up the Foodies 100 chart have meant I have had a lot more opportunities to work with brands and I have done some amazing collaborations…I have worked with brands such as Breville, Crock-Pot, Arla, the Co-op, Yeo Valley and Clearspring. Better still I have had two brand ambassadorships this year, working both with the ‘LAMB. Tasty Easy Fun’ campaign as a ‘Lambassador’ creating lots of delicious lamb recipes each month, and also with Froothie as an ambassador for their fabulous blenders. It has been a total pleasure to work with such fabulous brands and I hope to do lots more in 2018!
Get 150,000 page views per month by the end of this year
By the end of 2016 I had reached 15,000 page views per month and, as I observed back then, this was 10 times what I was getting at the end of 2015 – so why not aim for 150,000 by the end of 2017?
Well I gave it a good shot!! But sadly didn’t quite make it. With my month end figures just in, I can reveal I got just over 100,000 page views in December – which is still an increase of 600% year on year. (These are Google Analytics figures by the way…my host figures are waaay higher – but I tend to ignore them, as Google Analytics is the industry standard.) I think my figures would have been higher by the year end, if I had figured out SEO a bit earlier on in the year (my SEO focus month was June), but since June I have seen a fairly steady 30-35% month on month growth, which all bodes well for 2018 – and who knows what might happen in 2018 if I get to spend some more focused time on SEO and update my old photos and blog posts.
Having said all that, I think this year I might set myself a slightly more modest target – 500,000 page views per month by the end of 2018 feels about right. Fingers crossed!!
My goals for Easy Peasy Foodie in 2018
Well now, it’s time to set some goals for 2018, isn’t it? So, here goes…
Get into the Foodies Top 50
Hmm – I ummed and aaahed about exactly what goal to set myself here. Top 50? Top 25? Top 10? Obviously I’d love to be as high as possible. But I think Top 50 is realistic right now. If I could get back into the top 50 and stay there this year I would be very happy indeed. As I said last year, the further up the chart you climb, the harder it becomes to climb any higher. And I’d rather set myself a reasonable goal and smash it, than set a really tough goal and be disappointed that I didn’t make it.
Get better at photography
I have a feeling that this goal will be on my list every single year to come…I am sure I will never feel 100% satisfied with my photographs! Specifically this year I want to work on shooting in RAW and getting a better editing package (Lightroom, probably). I also want to look into trying out better locations in my house for food photography (the conservatory is convenient, but mostly terrible for getting good shots!) and I want to get some more props and backgrounds…which will hopefully add some more interest to my photographs.
Get better at SEO
I mentioned above that actually, I have found SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to be a much more reliable way of driving traffic to my blog, rather than social media. Social media is rather fickle at best…you can get a huge spike when something does well, but I find most of the time I get a tiny dribble. And when the great social media overlords decide to do an algorithm change, you can find your traffic suddenly dries up to nothing.
Search engines on the other hand, seem to drive a much more steady and constant stream of traffic to my blog, which grows steadily over time, rather than huge troughs and peaks. It also feels much more logical – I like the fact that when I work hard on SEO, I genuinely see results.
The other thing I like about SEO is it’s much more reader friendly…and you must know by now how much I care about you guys! A huge part of SEO is seeing what does well on my site and producing more of that kind of content…which is exactly what my readers want to see…whereas sometimes I feel social media is just about playing silly tricks and jumping through random hoops and it is such a TIME SUCK! It keeps me away from creating really great new recipes, which is what I really want to be doing!
So my goal for this year is to spend another month really focusing in on SEO – especially optimizing old posts for search engines – which brings me to my next goal…
Retake photos for old posts
I actually started doing this in 2017. I updated the photos on few of my older recipes – ones that performed well despite having TERRIBLE PHOTOS…I had a hunch that if I improved the photos on these posts I would see even greater traffic on them…and I was right. Very right. I not only improved the photos, but I also improved the blurb (on some of my old posts it was very short and badly written) AND in some cases made the recipes clearer too (though I never substantially change the recipes, as I am conscious it may be someone’s favourite recipe that they make every week, and they would not thank me for suddenly randomly changing it on a whim!! Besides the recipes are all fine…I never let a recipe onto my site I’m not 100% happy with). If you want to see some examples of old posts I have updated, see my Roast Chicken Leftovers Curry and my Leftover Roast Beef Chilli…both of which have seen significant increases in search engine traffic as a result of me improving the photos.
So my goal for this year is to do more of the same. This year I plan to pretty much clear a whole month and work on updating and improving old posts and photos…not just for SEO purposes (although I am obviously hoping that it will help), but also to make them more attractive and user friendly.
Redesign my blog (AGAIN!!)
I have come to realise that I will probably be updating the look and feel of my blog EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Blogging is a fast moving industry and keeping the same old colours/layout/design year in year out simply won’t cut it. I need to refresh!
This year I don’t plan to do a major redesign…I’m really happy with my theme and the general layout of my site, but I do plan to do some tweaks round the edges…perhaps improve my home page a bit to make it more user friendly and certainly improve my side bar which is looking a bit tired – especially things like the recipe collections. I also want to update my About Me and Work With Me pages, which are also looking a bit dated.
I’m thinking I might also change my brand colours…I have never been 100% happy with them – green and grey is not exactly exciting. Going to have a think about what I might change them to, though – any suggestions?
Start doing video
This is a big one I really can’t keep avoiding. I really must start doing video this year…something I find scary and exciting in equal measure! It definitely feels as if the whole world is moving towards video, and I certainly don’t want to get left behind!! I also really want to put some of my recipes and meal planning content in video format. Recipes because I really want to get across just how easy my recipes are, and meal planning because I really think I could explain it all so much better on video. So watch this space (or rather my YouTube channel!!) and fingers crossed I actually get round to video in 2018!!
Get more organised
This might sound a funny one from me – I am generally known as being the super organised blogger. And I am. But I really want to get MORE organised in 2018. In particular in relation to social media. I spend a RIDICULOUS amount of time each day scheduling social media posts to share my older recipes, so they don’t get forgotten about…and I KNOW there are ways of automating that more to free up more time to work on more interesting things. Like…
Start a whole new blog…
OK so this is the BIG ONE! (Inset drum-roll here). My big dream for 2018 is to start a brand new website…to share all the things I have learnt about blogging over the last few years and help other bloggers – either those who are new to blogging or those who are struggling with things like growing their page views and earning money from their blogs.
I’m still not 100% sure about this….I mean I would LOVE to do it and have ideas and posts galore in my head, that would come tumbling out if I gave them a chance….BUT it is a big commitment and would definitely mean doing a little less on Easy Peasy Foodie. Not cutting back massively, but a little less for sure. My hope/plan/dream is to do all the things listed above in the first half of 2018 and then to focus on creating my new blog in the second half of 2018.
The alternative is that I could just create more blogging type content and put it on Easy Peasy Foodie, but as I’ve said above I am feeling less and less comfortable about doing that. I personally think it would be better to keep Easy Peasy Foodie for recipes and foodie things and create a whole new blog for blogging content…but that does definitely mean more work. It’s exciting though!
I’d love to hear your thoughts about all this…if you are a blogger, would you be interested in that kind of content from me? And if so, what kind of subjects would you like to read about? If you are not a blogger would it bother you having posts about blogging on Easy Peasy Foodie? Or would you prefer I kept blogging and cooking entirely separate?
Hmm, I said this last year…but it really does feel like I have my work cut out for me! I’d better get cracking hadn’t I?
I just want to end by saying a great big thank you to all of you my wonderful, amazing readers, subscribers and supporters – I couldn’t have done any of this without your encouragement and support. You really are fabulous people. Thank you so much for all your comments, shares, likes, emails…and especially when you make my recipes and take the time to tell me how much you loved them – that really does mean the world to me!
I do love hearing from you, always, so do please drop me a line if you make one of my recipes, have a question or an idea, or just want to say ‘Hi’. Contact me either by leaving a comment on an appropriate blog post or via Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. And of course don’t forget to subscribe 😉
I truly hope your 2018 is full of fabulousness!!