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!
I’ll share with you what I learned and how I got my blog to 100K monthly 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
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 millions of pageviews A DAY.
I also have a master’s degree in Design Strategy so I know how to design solutions and come up with a master 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 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.
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.
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.
#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 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:
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.
#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.
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.
(These are my personal results, but Tailwind also publishes the Typical Results of Tailwind for Pinterest Members every year, so you can see exactly what the average growth rate looks like for their members.)
Aside from scheduling pins, I manually pin about 3 – 5 pins of my own pins a day on top of that.
UPDATED 7/19: I share my secret on how I use Pinterest templates and got to 200K pageviews. Read the blog post on how I got from 100K to 200K pageviews in 3 months!
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 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: Photoshop Pin Templates, Tailwind and Pinning Perfect