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.

How to get to 100,000 pageviews

100,000 Pageviews!

For most bloggers, getting to 100,000 monthly pageviews is a BIG deal, and it was for me.

how to grow a food blog

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.

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By the Numbers

blog income report

I started this blog in May 2012 and here are the monthly pageviews and income from each December.

DECEMBER 2012
Pageviews: 3,240
Income: $0

DECEMBER 2013
Pageviews: 12,852
Income: $36 (Amazon affiliate program and Google Adsense)

DECEMBER 2014 
Pageviews: 19,619
Income: $41 (Amazon affiliate program, Google Adsense, Martha Stewart’s Ad Network)

DECEMBER 2015  
Pageviews: 32,665
Income: $60 (Amazon affiliate program, Google Adsense, Martha Stewart’s Ad Network)

DECEMBER 2016 
Pageviews: 38,323
Income: $66 (Amazon affiliate program, Martha Stewart’s Ad Network)

DECEMBER 2017 
Pageviews: 43,836
Income: $178 (Amazon affiliate program, Martha Stewart’s Ad Network, sponsored posts)

DECEMBER 2018
Pageviews: 103,985
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.

One HUGE milestone was getting into the Mediavine ad network. A blogger friend (correction: BEST blogger friend) told me about them and once I got in, it made a big impact on my 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!

I’ll share with you what I learned and how I got my blog to 100K monthly pageviews. 

This post contains affiliate links.

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

My background is in Art Direction and UX (User Experience) Design and I’ve worked for huge brands like People.com, Instyle.com, and MyRecipes.com and it wasn’t crazy to get 4 million pageviews A DAY.

I also have a masters degree in Design Strategy so I know how to set up a business, or in my case, a blog, correctly.

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 would 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.

My focus and niche is tea. I blog about afternoon tea, tea-based recipes, and matcha green tea. I blog about those three categories the most and very rarely do I go outside of those topics.

I want to be the go-to source when anyone is looking for anything related to those three categories.

This year, I got certified as a Tea Sommelier so I can bring even more information to the content I’m writing about.

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.

SET GOALS
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. BIG MISTAKE! BIG. HUGE!

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 5 blog posts.

PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE
A mistake I used to make was not spending enough time promoting the blog posts I was writing. 

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.

Not sure how to improve your food blog? Do you want a UX professional to review your blog and give concrete recommendations?

I’m now offering a limited number of UX audits per month.
This is a service I offer to my corporate clients and I can provide an easy-to-understand expert UX review tailored just for you.
 
If you’re interested, email me for more info!

#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 give the site 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 and how to properly use SEMrush through Hashtag Jeff’s course and applying what I learned is how I got to 100K pageviews.

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:

Mediavine Guide to SEO Best Practices
Google’s own SEO guide
The Beginner’s Guide to SEO from Moz.com

WILL PEOPLE SEARCH FOR YOUR POST?
I don’t write a blog post anymore without checking to see if people are actually searching Google for it, OR if I know the photos will be really eye-catching and will do really well on Pinterest. 

So, before I plan or write a post, I always check first to see if it’ll be searched for or if it’ll do well on Pinterest. If it doesn’t pass that either/or test, I don’t write that post.

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#4: I LEARNED HOW TO MAXIMIZE 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 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. (Can you tell I’m a course addict?) 

One I would recommend is Pinning Perfect. I didn’t personally take this course but a ton of bloggers I know love it. Plus, it’s about half the price of other Pinterest courses out there.

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.

SCHEDULE YOUR PINS
A part of my personal Pinterest strategy is to schedule and manually pin images.

I use a Pinterest tool called Tailwind to schedule about 20-30 pins a day. When you’re starting out, pin about 30% of your pins and 70% of others.

As you get bigger and you have more content, you can up the ratio to 50% yours and 50% theirs. I’m now pinning 70% my content and 30% others and will probably stay at this ratio.

Before Tailwind I would spend a ton of hours a week on Pinterest so it’s saved me a lot of time.

MANUALLY PIN
Aside from scheduling pins, I manually pin about 3 – 5 pins of my own pins a day on top of that.

CREATE MULTIPLE PINS WITH TEXT
I create at least 5 pins with text on them for each blog post I’ve written and pin them on Pinterest. Here’s an example of one.

Pinterest LOVES it when you add more pins. If you check your Pinterest analytics, they’ll even tell you the tip: Add more of your Pins to Pinterest to increase impressions and reach more people.

The more pins you can create, the more Pinterest impressions you’ll get so make 5, 10, 20, 30 pins for each blog post. I personally find the pins with text gets the best clickthrough to my blog. 

The best for bloggers to create Pinterest pins is with Photoshop (Get the $9.99 monthly plan that includes Lightroom) or Canva (this one is free) to create those text and photo images.

Key Takeaways

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: SEMrush and Hashtag Jeff

#4: I learned how to use Pinterest
Aside from SEO, Pinterest is a big part of how I grew my blog. It’s not just putting up photos and wishing for the best—there is a real strategy involved. After taking a course and tweaking and testing, over time, I was able to figure out what works best for me.
Recommended: Tailwind and Pinning Perfect

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11 Comments

  • 2 weeks ago

    Love this post and how actionable it is!! I have mastered Pinterest and now I am putting all my effort into SEO as my new goal!

    • Oh, How Civilized
      2 weeks ago

      Hi Lauren, thank you! There’s a definite learning curve with SEO but totally worth the effort!

  • 2 weeks ago

    Hey Jee! We’re so glad that you’re happy with your switch to Mediavine! We know we’re pretty darn happy to have you. Congratulations on an awesome year, and we’re looking forward to an amazing 2019 with you!
    — Susannah at Mediavine

    • Oh, How Civilized
      2 weeks ago

      Thanks so much Susannah!! I’m SOOO happy with Mediavine!

  • That’s so awesome! I’m working on my SEO and I started using the free tools on SEM Rush. I’m currently at about 30k sessions per month. I’d like to increase it to increase my Mediavine earnings. I didn’t even realize they had an SEO article. lol Thanks for the resources!

  • Love that your guide skips the fluff and focuses on the 4 main steps you took. So many guides out there include too much info that’s left me overwhelmed and not knowing where to start 🙂 Thank you for sharing this!

    • Oh, How Civilized
      1 week ago

      Hi Alina, thanks for reading! Good luck with your blog!

  • Gee
    2 weeks ago

    Your time and financial investment paid off in many ways! Your how-to here is concise AND clear. I’ll apply a couple of the gems you’ve provided.

    • Oh, How Civilized
      1 week ago

      Hi Gee, thanks for reading this post! I hope my tips helps your blog to grow a ton this year!

  • 5 days ago

    I am grateful to have found this post. How incredibly helpful for bloggers like me who are feeling the urge to rededicate themselves to their blog but are at a loss on how to begin. I took a few months off from blogging this year because of a family crisis and saw my numbers dip (they weren’t so great in the first place TBH) now I feel the urge to rededicate myself to pushing my blog to the next level. This article is incredibly helpful and insightful. If you are looking for future post ideas I would love a post that breaks down exactly how you portion out your days between writing, creating, Pinterest, FB etc. Thank you again!!!!

    • Oh, How Civilized
      8 hours ago

      Hi Hanne, it took me a while to learn what I did but once I got myself on track, it was a lot easier to grow and I think any blogger can do the same. Glad you found this post helpful! I’ll think about how I can expand on this in the future!

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