How I Got My Food Blog to 100K Monthly Pageviews
I spell out the four main things I focused on to grow my food blog to 100,000 pageviews a month.
For most bloggers, getting to 100,000 monthly pageviews is a BIG deal, and it was for me.
I celebrated the new year by getting to 103,985 pageviews in the month of December 2018!
I started my blog in 2012 and it’s been mostly a fun side project, but about a year ago I made an effort to take it seriously and see if I could actually make REAL money from the blog.
Blogs Make Money? Like Real Money?
Oh, yeah. Successful blogs make enough to replace traditional full-time jobs.
I would say small-tier blogs that get less than 100K pageviews are mostly hobby sites that make anywhere from $0 – $500 a month.
Middle-tier blogs between 100K pageviews to 500K pagviews a month make anywhere from $2,000 – $10,000 a month.
Upper-tier blogs that get over 500K pageviews a month make crazy money. How crazy? I’ve heard anywhere from $10,000 – $100,000 a month. YES, $100K a MONTH. I KNOW! INSANE.
What Does 100K Monthly Pageviews Mean for Me?
When I hit 100K monthly pageviews, I made $2,000 that month.
That’s about the average income for a blog that size. I make that money through ads, affiliate links, and occasionally sponsored posts.
By the Numbers
I started this blog in May 2012 and here are the monthly pageviews and income from each December.
Income: $36 (Amazon affiliate program and Google Adsense)
Income: $41 (Amazon affiliate program, Google Adsense, Martha Stewart’s Ad Network)
Income: $60 (Amazon affiliate program, Google Adsense, Martha Stewart’s Ad Network)
Income: $66 (Amazon affiliate program, Martha Stewart’s Ad Network)
Income: $178 (Amazon affiliate program, Martha Stewart’s Ad Network, sponsored posts)
Income: $2,000 (Amazon affiliate program, Mediavine ad network, sponsored posts)
I made a little traction upwards each year but 2018 was the year I really made a huge jump in both pageviews and income.
You need 25,000 sessions, which was about 40,000 pageviews to apply. So, make that your first goal if you’re not already at 40,000 pageviews!
This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.
How I Got to 100,000 Monthly Pageviews
Oh, How Civilized is essentially a food blog so all the strategies I used are mostly specific to growing a food blog, although some items can be applied to any type of blog.
Here are the four main things that I focused on to get to 100K pageviews.
#1: I HAD A BLOG STRATEGY
I also have a master’s degree in Design Strategy so I know how to design solutions and come up with a actionable plan.
How did I apply my professional experience to my blog?
FIGURE OUT YOUR NICHE
First thing I did was is to figure out what my blog was about. The goal is to have more expertise on something, so you could be a resource for that topic.
I like to say when you’re an expert in everything, you’re an expert in nothing. With that in mind, pick something specific instead of just saying your blog is about food and recipes.
I want to be the go-to source when anyone is looking for anything related to those three categories.
I got certified as a Tea Sommelier so I can provide even more value to my blog.
Think about what you and your blog can be an expert in. Is it making bento boxes? How about Indian food? Or is it vegan baking?
It’s best to have a niche when you’re first starting out since it’ll be easier to focus your content. When you’re bigger and have exhausted your post ideas, you can start expanding beyond your niche but for starting out, have laser sharp focus so you can reach your audience.
Another thing I like to do is to set goals. Every three months, focus on ONE thing. When I first got started I was so overwhelmed and didn’t even know where to start so I was trying to learn everything at once.
It’s too much. Instead, I laid out a roadmap with goals and 1-3 strategies on how to meet those goals.
For example, in March 2018, my goal was to increase pageviews to 50K. The two strategies I had were to learn SEO and apply what I learned to 10 blog posts.
PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE
A mistake I used to make was not spending enough time promoting the blog posts.
Pick ONE social platform you want to grow to bring traffic to your blog.
In the beginning I tried to grow followers on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest at the same time. That didn’t work at all.
What I did instead in 2018 was to focus on only one social platform, Pinterest.
Now I spend 50% of my time putting together the post and 50% promoting it on Pinterest.
#2: I MADE THE BLOG USER FRIENDLY
With my background in UX (User Experience), I was able to apply what I learned from years of working on huge sites to my little blog.
When working on any UX project I make sure to ask the following basic questions:
Is the site consistent?
Are things easy to find?
Is the site easy to read?
IS THE SITE CONSISTENT?
Consistency makes sites easier to use, because visitors don’t have to learn new tricks as they move around. Keep the same consistency throughout your blog, whether it’s design, layout, or writing style.
ARE THINGS EASY TO FIND?
Users of your blog will want to get the information they need as easily as possible, otherwise they’ll leave your blog to find what they’re looking for elsewhere.
Always have things like navigation, search, and social links in the same spot so your readers know where to find them.
Your navigation (the links at the top of the page) on the desktop should be shown, not hidden under a menu since it increases the user’s search time which is not user-friendly.
Have clear, descriptive navigation/menu items.
IS THE SITE EASY TO READ?
Sorry to break it to you, but most users will scan your site instead of reading every single word. You want to make it easy for them to do that.
This applies to text font, size, color contrast, image, and spacing. Readable text can be scanned quickly.
#3: I LEARNED SEO
It took me about two months of really digging in and learning SEO (Search Engine Optimization) to feel like I knew what I was doing.
There is a definite learning curve when it comes to SEO, but it’s what clearly separates the smaller blogs from the bigger ones.
If you focus on ONE THING to grow your blog, it should be SEO.
BECOME CLOSE FRIENDS WITH SEMRUSH
Psst, come close, I’ll tell you a secret. Want to know how to find out how well a certain blog is doing?
There’s a site to help with SEO research called SEMrush. (Use the link to get a 7-day free trial and go through their free online courses.)
I spent like three days looking up blogs to see how big they were in comparison to others.
Once you learn how to use SEMrush, you’ll use it EVERY SINGLE DAY.
TAKE AN SEO COURSE
I learned SEO through Hashtag Jeff’s course and applying what I learned.
I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend it. It was a definite game changer for me.
If you spend a single penny on your blog, make it this course.
A big part of Hashtag Jeff SEO course, is learning how to use SEMrush. He walks you through how to use that site to improve your blog.
Why take Hashtag Jeff’s course if you can get free information through SEMrush? It’s because Jeff’s main audience is food bloggers, so he tailors a lot of the information just for us, which I find invaluable.
There are other SEO tools out there that are free like Keyword Everywhere, but you have to know the basics of finding keywords to use it effectively.
Check out these links with great free SEO info:
#4: I CREATED 15 PINS PER BLOG POST FOR PINTEREST
Let’s talk about Pinterest.
After you spend three months learning SEO, spend the next month learning Pinterest.
Besides SEO, Pinterest is where I spend the most time learning and tweaking to grow my blog. It’s not just about throwing your photos up and hoping for traffic. There’s a real strategy involved.
If you see a top food blogger, they’ll most likely have big Pinterest numbers since it drives a lot of traffic to their blog. And if you see a top Pinterest user, they’ll most likely have big blogs. Pinterest and blogging go more hand-in-hand than any other platform.
TAKE VERTICAL PHOTOS
Once I started getting into Pinterest, I started taking only vertical photos for the blog.
Why vertical? It’s because Pinterest likes vertical photos and Pinterest can bring a lot of traffic to your blog.
TAKE A PINTEREST COURSE
I learned Pinterest through a course.
One I would recommend is Pinning Perfect. I didn’t personally take this course but a ton of bloggers I know love it.
A Pinterest course will help you come up with your Pinterest strategy and teach you how to set up your Pinterest account correctly to maximize traffic to your blog.
CREATE A TON OF PINS FOR EACH BLOG POST
I create 15 pins per blog post. Yup. 15.
Pinterest loves new pins. So make Pinterest happy by giving it what it wants.
I have an extensive design background but creating so many new pins was not easy. I spent hours going through Pinterest researching how to create the best food pins.
I also looked into buying Pinterest templates but all the ones I saw were for lifestyle blogs and none of them showcased the food.
After a lot of trial and error, I found out which pin layouts and designs worked the best and got the most link clicks. I turned those successful pin designs into templates that I could use over and over.
These Pinterest templates changed my blogging game and I think they will for you too!
My Pinterest Secret:
To wrap it up, here are the four top things I focused on to get to 100,000 monthly pageviews.
#1: I had a blog strategy
Figure out your niche and stick to it.
#2: I made the blog user friendly
Applying UX (User Experience) basics, I made the blog really easy to use and navigate for visitors.
#3: I learned SEO
Once I had the blog strategy and optimized with UX, I spent a lot of time learning SEO and applying everything I learned to my blog.
Recommended: Hashtag Jeff
#4: I created 15 pins per blog post for Pinterest
Aside from SEO, Pinterest is a big part of how I grew my blog. Using my Pinterest templates, I was able to pump out a ton of pins quickly and easily.
Recommended: Pinterest templates