Hello again! I’m back for the third edition of the Tomato Boots Growth Report. Three months might not seem like much but as an extreme hobbyist, making it past the 90-day mark is meaningful to me.
Quick intro: my name is Chet and I’m Lindsay’s husband. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial drive, and so when Lindsay came to me and told me she wanted to start taking this whole blogging thing seriously, I leapt at the opportunity to help. (Seriously, I actually leapt.) So with that, every month for the past three months now and hopefully for many more to come, I share all of our lessons learned and growth analytics. (Thanks to blogs like Pinch of Yum and Apple of My Eye for being pioneers of these little reports.) Now you’re up to speed!
What Happened in August
I said this last month and hopefully I’ll be saying it again next month: August was incredible for Tomato Boots. You’ll see our traffic, (which nearly tripled this month), later on in this post, but more than anything else this was the first month where both Lindsay and I felt like Tomato Boots has a shot at being a real-deal income-earning blog. Don’t get me wrong, we have a long, long way to go, but we’re starting to feel a rhythm that we didn’t expect to find so early on. For all of you other early-stage bloggers reading, here’s what our rhythm looks like as of now:
- Rinse and repeat
This list is uber-simple, (and borderline comical), but that’s okay. I find myself constantly over-complicating things. First you’re watching a YouTube video on “X number of ways to grow a blog,” and then you’re clicking on each strategy set forth by the author, and then you’re signing up for account after account, and by the time you’re ready to actually work on generating traffic you’re wiped. So my lesson for this month:
90/10 Rule: 90% of our time will be spent on the things that work, and 10% will be devoted to adding new things to the “things that work” bucket.
That’s it. Blogging, at it’s core, can and should be simple. You write something that will interest a specific audience and then you share to that specific audience in places they hang out. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t constantly test new things, but only give yourself a little bit of time per week to do so. There are formula’s that work, (so far this one seems to be treating us pretty well), and all you have to do is devote the time and energy needed and your blog will grow.
Expenses – $25.00
$25.00 – Food Blogger Pro – This is currently the only money that we’re spending on Tomato Boots besides general food expenses, and I’m more than certain it’s worth every penny. If you blog primarily about food and aren’t already a member of the Food Blogger Pro community, I highly recommend you look at signing up. I also wanted to give a special shout-out here to FBP member Anna from Happy Cooking, Healthy Living, who has been a pretty amazing resource to Tomato Boots. Thanks Anna!
Income – $0.00
As I’ve said in each growth report, Lindsay and I have been adamant about focusing all of our attention on growth before adding any more layers to the blog. With that, we’re still not doing anything that would generate income. Thanks to lots of conversations with other conversations, (looking at you Marc from Smell My Kitchen), we’re definitely becoming more and more open to the idea, but haven’t made any decisions yet. For now, we’re still not ready for any other distractions.
August Traffic/Stats Compared to July
1,690 individuals came to Tomato Boots in the month of August. In June, we had 300 and in July we had 684. And now, 1,690. If you read the income reports of other bloggers, this number might seem trivial. But to Lindsay and I, this number is something worth celebrating. You see all the green in the compared stats? That means growth. And growth is good. Ipso facto, we did good!
Keeping things in check as always, we really are still eons away from having an audience large enough to make blogging a serious, potentially even full-time gig. But, as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Tomato Boots won’t be either. It’s our job, (our meaning early-stage bloggers), to celebrate the little accomplishments.
Our little accomplishment for August: 1,690 individuals from around the world visited our site. They didn’t stay for as long as we would have liked, and they didn’t click around all that much either, but they saw a snippet of Lindsay’s content from somewhere on the web, found it interesting enough to click on, and then without even knowing it became an important part of this post.
Where’s everyone coming from?
Pinterest, Pinterest, Pinterest. Last month, Pinterest wasn’t in our top ten. It wasn’t in our top ten because there were only three people who found us via Pinterest. And now only a month later 872 people, (or 66% of our traffic), came from the holy grail of a social networking site that is Pinterest. Two words: group boards. Group boards, for those of you that don’t know, are boards that multiple people contribute to. There are tons of them and many of them have large followings. (100,000+ depending on the group.) After following correct protocols we’ve received invites to a bunch of boards, and the difference in traffic has been absurd. I could write lots more here, and might even put out a separate post specifically regarding Pinterest for food bloggers, but I’ll leave it at that for now.
Our goal we set for August was 10 posts but we only hit 8. For September our goal is a full 12 posts, or ~3/week. No excuses at this point, so we’re going for it!
Food photo sharing sites
Because of how long and arduous this process is, we’ve done a relatively poor job at submitting photos to any of the sharing sites. (FoodGawker, TasteSpotting, etc.) As this is a part of the formula I outlined earlier, and as we’ve seen it work to an extent, we realize it’s something we need to put more time into. So, our goal will be to submit to at least two food sharing sites per post.
Side note: I’m currently working on a tool to streamline the process of submitting to all the different food sharing sites. (Pinterest, FoodGawker, TasteSpotting, etc.) If you’d be interested in a tool to help with this, let me know in the comments or email me directly at ckittleson11 (at) gmail (dot) com.
This is a piece I hope to begin working on in September. Guest posting is good for a number of reasons, and is something we haven’t done at all. We’re more than up for swapping content with other bloggers, assuming content is relatable and quality, so if you’re interested in exchanging an original post of yours for one of ours let us know! We already have one awesome blogger we’re planning on working with, so specific goal here will be to have at least one guest post out by the end of the month.
I set a high goal for August and we didn’t come close. We’re now at 44 subscribers, when my goal was 100. We didn’t do too much to optimize other than adding the optin forms presented in last weeks post and seen above in this post. It seems like creating e-books that people can get by entering emails is a good way to go here, but I don’t know if Lindsay will have the capacity to do this in September, so for now I’m not exactly sure where to set our goal and what strategy to use. I did change the color of the “subscribe” button on the left sidebar to make it stand out more, so we’ll see if that helps. In addition, we’re now adding opt-in forms to all posts. Beyond that, do you have any suggestions? Do share.
As corny as it sounds, thanks for reading this and other posts on Lindsay’s blog. Seeing traffic over double for the last couple of months has been incredible. Who knows how long we’ll be able to keep this up, but for now we’re having a blast and are hooked. So thanks!