Gourmet Made Deliciously Simple

How I grew my food blog 10x in 1 year

Actionable steps to grow your food blog that you can start implementing today. This is not get-rich-fast approach. However, with persistence and hard work, you will taste the fruit of your labor in less than a year.

Actionable steps to grow your food blog that you can start implementing today. This is not get rich fast approach. However with persistence and hard work, you will taste the fruit of your labor in less than a year.

Let me guess, you’re passionate about food. You love cooking, photographing, writing. I get it you love food blogging. Me too. And like any blogger, we all want to be heard, seen and acknowledged, right? But here is what usually happens.

You finally nailed the recipe after many trials. You took photos of your delicious dish. You enthusiastically wrote a blog post and hit “Publish”. And you wait, and wait, and wait for people to show up. Instead, all you get is crickets. Believe me, I get it. I’ve been there many times myself.

In January 2014, when I decided to start blogging seriously (become a professional blogger? a full-time blogger? whatever you wanna call it), I was off to a rocky start. I say a “rocky start” because I’ve been blogging for a full year by that point, but there wasn’t much to brag about (nor did I put much effort into it). After yearlong of hard work, I was able to grow my traffic 10x. Yes, from 10K monthly page views in January to 100K+ in December. And today I want to share with you how I did it.

Pageview stats- Actionable steps to grow your food blog that you can start implementing today. This is not get rich fast approach. However with persistence and hard work, you will taste the fruit of your labor in less than a year.

Before I reached 100K page views, I had no idea what was considered a high traffic. So instead of focusing on the numbers, I just focused on continuous growth. Then I learned that some popular ad networks require minimum of 80-100K page views, from which I learned I had reached an important milestone. 

This is not, by any means, to brag or anything like that. I couldn’t have done this without many helpful blogging resources from other bloggers, and I feel like I owe it to the blogging community to contribute my findings. 

Grab a cup of coffee now, we’ll be here for a bit. 🙂

My #1 blogging goal for 2014 was to build readership and increase the traffic to my blog. That’s it. I didn’t have any particular number in mind, but all I wanted to see was an increase in numbers from one month to another. And here are the steps I took to achieve that.

Make a Posting Schedule

Prior to 2014, I was not blogging consistently. One month I’d post 4 recipes, the next month 10, or some months went by without a single post. This had to be fixed, if I wanted to grow my traffic. So I decided on Mon-Wed-Fri posting schedule. This seemed to be doable for me and I was quite comfortable with that. However, you’ll need to decide what works best for you. Don’t feel bad if you can only publish one recipe a week, because the quality is more important than quantity. You might have a full-time job, or other responsibilities, so make the schedule that works for you. Making a schedule holds you accountable, and your readers will know what to expect.

Focus on Quality Content/Photography

As I just mentioned above, quality is more important than quantity. In fact, quality content is crucial for blog growth. And that applies to both recipes and photography. Let’s be honest, we eat with our eyes first. Great photos tickle our appetite and motivate us to try the recipe. On top of that, beautiful clear photos drive lots of traffic from various social media sites. Pinterest is my #1 traffic source, and I credit that to my photography. Do put energy into improving your photography skills. This doesn’t mean you have to invest in expensive camera. Yes, DSLR camera helps, but it’s not everything. (Photography is such a huge topic. I can write a separate post about it, if you want me to. Just let me know in the comments, if you’re interested.)

Back to quality content… For every recipe I publish, I ask myself, “Is there anything new I learn from this post? What is the take away?“ Therefore, I try to include something useful in every post, even if it’s a tiny tip, small information about certain product, a cool technique, etc. I believe my step-by-step photo tutorials are also valuable part of my content. Every time I get an e-mail, or a comment that my detailed photo directions helped them to achieve a perfect result, I feel like I’ve done my job. Remember, improving quality of your work is always work in progress though. Today, I might think a certain photo is perfect, but a month later, I might find something that could have been better. As long as you’re doing your best today, you’re on the right track. Quality photos are magnet for traffic, but the quality recipes are the reason those visitors stay.

Traffic Sources- Actionable steps to grow your food blog that you can start implementing today. This is not get rich fast approach. However with persistence and hard work, you will taste the fruit of your labor in less than a year.

SEO is Important

Another major source of traffic to my site is search engine and organic search. If you’re not optimizing your blog posts, how people will find your wonderful recipes? Make it easy for Google to find your content and present it to millions of people who search for that recipe. I’m no SEO guru, but my trusted WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin helps to keep my posts optimized for search engines. If you’re not using this plugin, it’s high time to download it now. It’s FREE.

Continue learning

There are so many blogging resources online on various topics of blogging. I encourage you to set aside half an hour to an hour every day to read and learn from other bloggers (this is a great place to start), from books on blogging, and/or from various blogger forums. I’ve read countless articles about blogging and photography over the year, but things change rather quickly (social media algorithm changes, Google updates, etc), so keep your eyes and ears open for these new information. To keep up with news, join various Facebook groups of food bloggers. (Simply type in “food bloggers” in Facebook search field and request to join the appropriate groups.)

It’s important to learn fundamentals though. I want to mention two books that helped me tremendously when I decided to become a full-time blogger. I highly recommend for you to read these books.

  1. Food Blogging for Dummies by Kelly Senyei. Kelly is a blogger at Just a Taste. Her brilliant book is full of helpful information about all aspects of blogging, from finding your niche to marketing to monetization, and everything in between. I think it’s one of the most comprehensive food blogging books out there. 
  2. Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob. Truth to be told, writing is my least favorite part of blogging. I genuinely believed I’m not meant to be a writer, but just like everything else in life, it can be learned. This book has seriously amazing tips on how to write about food. I continue working on my writing skills with the help of this book.

Another great resource, I want to share, is CreativeLive. Last year, I watched “Story on a Plate: Food Photography & Styling” course with Todd Porter and Diane Cu, a talented duo from White On Rice Couple. I’ve learned so much about lighting, composition, styling from this course. It was invaluable experience. If you catch the live classes on CreativeLive, it’s free. But you can also purchase the course to watch at your own time. They offer so many fun and informative courses all the time, so definitely check it out.

Again, in this information-loaded era, it’s important to stay current. Always be curious and willing to learn.

Network

One thing I learned over the last year is that food blogging community is full of talented, creative, open-minded people. It’s a great pleasure to be a part of such community. To get to know other bloggers, go out and explore other food blogs. Make a list of your favorite blogs (about 10 at a time), follow them on social media, read their blog posts, comment and share the love. Through this process, you’ll get a chance to learn more about the blogger and build a friendship. (I say, 10 at a time, only because more than that might be hard to keep up.)

Another way to network is to join various groups and forums for food bloggers (like FB groups I mentioned above), where you can ask questions, advice and recommendations. Last year, I joined FoodBloggerPro community, ran by Bjork and Lindsay from Pinch of Yum. It’s actually more than a community. They have a huge library of videos on all aspects of food blogging (photography, food styling, google analytics, webmaster, SEO, you name it). And the best part is the community, where bloggers of all levels share information, answer questions, lend advice and simply offer support to each other. The best investment I’ve made to date!  Start and grow your food blog with Food Blogger Pro (affiliate link).

There are also many FB groups where you cross-promote each other’s content, which is very beneficial to get the word out about your new content. Again, do a search on Facebook to find the group you like.

Attend Conferences

This is sort of an extension to my previous advice. Did you know there are ton of food blogging conferences held throughout the year? I certainly didn’t know that. Unfortunately, not everyone has time and/or resources to attend blogging conferences in person. But lucky for us, there is one amazing blogging conference held online, Online BlogCon. I was fortunate enough to attend it last year in September, which really helped me to reach that 100K page views a month. Without Online BlogCon, I don’t think I’d be where I am now. I’m not even exaggerating, you guys. Not only did I learn ton of new things about blogging, but I also connected with fellow bloggers, we stayed in touch even after the conference to exchange information and learn from each other. I’m excited to let you know that the tickets for this year’s conference are available now. You can get your ticket here.

I’m also excited to attend couple of other conferences this year and network in person. 🙂

Contribute to Another Blog

Through Online BlogCon, I’ve been introduced to Julie from White Lights on Wednesday, who is also managing editor for Real Housemoms. Late last year, she asked me if I wanted to be a contributor to Real Housemoms blog. I had never considered such a thing, nor did I know anything about it, but I agreed to do it and had a huge success. This is another major reason I was able to increase my traffic 10x last year. See how powerful networking is? You never know who you gonna meet, and what opportunities are waiting for you around the corner. Again, be open-minded and willing to try new things.

Whew, are you still with me? We’re almost done here.

Last but not least, be patient. Don’t focus too much on numbers, instead focus on quality of your content, continuously learn and develop your skills, network and be open-minded. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t check my Google Analytics stats every 2 minutes. In fact, I still compulsively check my stats couple times a day. I simply can’t help it, but I don’t let my numbers dictate my mood. I never get discouraged if I see low numbers. Instead I put a little more effort in sharing my posts on social media. Stay positive and be grateful for those people who DID visit your site.

One last thing. I noticed the more my blog grows, the faster it grows. It’s called a snowball effect, a truly fascinating thing! Don’t give up and keep improving your content. Soon your traffic will double, triple and grow beyond your imagination. And don’t forget to have fun!

I hope this post was helpful. If you have any questions, or want me to elaborate on any of these steps, feel free to leave a comment. Thank you for reading!

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61 comments

  1. Wow this was an incredibly useful post Shinee! My biggest thing I need to work on in my blog is consistency. Consistency, consistency! I have to repeat that to myself everyday! Congratulations on your success!

  2. Great advice I need to learn from this a lot. Imgoing to start by buying one the books you recommend. My blog is not only about food, it`s more or less DIY. Im curious and I will like to find out what does you usually do with the food you cook  or the blog? Thanks

    • We have a big family at the ranch, so all the food is enjoyed by family. 🙂 Even the failures don’t get wasted, and enjoyed by chickens. Thank you for reading. I’m glad you found my post helpful, Fabiola.

  3. You are definitely an inspiration and I think it’s lovely that you shared so many resources here! I’m going to check out some of these too! 

  4. This post is so inspiring! I am now in my 6th month of blogging, and can only dream of hitting 100K per month. I’ve been trying some of the tips you mention and man, it is SUCH a slow up hill battle. I’m loving it though, and will keep plugging away. Gonna check out that online conference!

    • It does seem like a uphill battle at the beginning, but as I mentioned, more you grow, the faster it grows. Online Conference is the great resource! Hope you will join.

  5. Great post, Shinee! Having a baby set my posting schedule all out of whack but I agree, being consistent is critical. You’re one of my favorite food photographers =) 

  6. Great tips! When I started getting serious about my blog this past January I also knew nothing about what a “good amount of traffic” actually was. So, I set my goal to just increase by 10% each month and had a number in mind for the end of the year. As of this month I’ve already passed that end of the year number by doing exactly the things you mention. Networking with other bloggers is key and having good photos are crucial. I also agree about sticking to a schedule. Before January I had maybe 1-2 posts a month and now I’m posting 4-5 days a week. 

  7. Great advice. I am really trying to focus on growing my blog right now as well and these tips help tremendously 🙂 

  8. Shinee – Thanks for these great tips! I am a {new} Fitness blogger but these tips still help with my blog too. Great post! 

  9. Great post, Shinee.  I am an avid reader of all things related to blog improvement and getting more views.  This post gave me some new ideas I can’t wait to try.  Thanks for sharing your insight.  I’d be interested in a post about improving photography skills too. 

  10. I think it also helps that everything you make looks amazing! I recently started blogging, so I’m around 10k/month. I didn’t have a goal for myself before, but now I will have a goal of 100k/month in a year like you! 🙂

  11. Such great tips! Thank you so much for sharing. I don’t have a food blog, but I do feature recipes and other things like garden tips. This is very useful for that too! Stopping over from Totally Terrific Tuesday 🙂

  12. Even though I don’t have a food blog, these tips are really helpful! And I always love your photos, so a post about photography would be awesome 🙂

  13. WOW! Look at you go! I’m always so happy to see others grow and share theor success. Thanks so much for including Online Blog Con! It means a lot that you valued it so much! Really appreciate the shout out!

  14. Congratulations on your success!! And thank you for your insight and tips!

  15. Hi.  I am not a food blogger but do enjoy blogging.  Thanks so much for the tips.  i am 7 months into blogging and so hoping I grow like you did.  I am doing most of these things and am seeing growth but you are right…  I need to be patient.

    • Michelle, so glad to hear you’re already implementing these steps. Over time, your site will be stronger on Google search. Keep up your great work and enjoy blogging. The numbers will follow. 🙂

  16. Hi, Shinee ~ I’m visiting from the Share Your Creativity Link Party. Thanks for sharing this information! Sometimes I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle with trying to grow traffic and engagement. But I picked up a few new ideas after reading your post. :0) I love your idea of taking 30 minutes to an hour each day to read and learn. I also loved seeing you Acquisition graph! Thanks for sharing and best of luck with continuing to grow!

  17. Oh, the crickets! Sometimes I think they’re my largest audience. =p

    My blog traffic is more than your “before,” but definitly less than your “after.” Thanks for sharing the link to Online Blog Con! I’ve checked it out and think I will sign up. I have a fantastically supportive Etsy team, but I really need more social involvement with the other bloggers! 

    • Natashalh, yeah, I think networking with other bloggers is the most valuable thing. Not only for the growth, but also for the sense of community/ team. 🙂

  18. Hi Shinee- I am a new reader and I gotta say thanks so so very much for this wealth of info! I just checked out online blog con and I am gonna have to sign up for some of their sessions – I dont make it to as many conferences I would like to and this is perfect as I can “attend” from home!

    • Hi, Shashi! I’m so glad you landed here. 🙂 Yes, Online BlogCon is one of valuable investments I’ve made this far. And it’s not very expensive too! I hope to see you at Online BlogCon. 🙂 Happy blogging!

  19. Thank you soooooo much for sharing! Blogging can get a little overwhelming sometimes. This is so comforting! 🙂

  20. Shinee, thanks for letting us know about Online Blog Con! I’ve never heard about it before but am eager to check it out this year. Great tips here, and Congrats!!

    • Thank you, Lisa! Yeah, I can’t stress how fantastic Online BlogCon is! I can’t wait for it to start. Hope you’ll join it this year. It’s a small, yet invaluable investment. 🙂

  21. I love articles like these. Thank you for sharing Shinee and congratulations!!! 

  22. I haven’t heard of some of these tools. Thanks for bringing them to my attention. I’m rather new to blogging (going on 4 months now) and am excited to get numbers like you. 🙂 

  23. Thanks so much for sharing- You’ve collated some great tips, and ones which I’ve adopted to help my own blog grow! Here’s to more success for you 🙂

  24. I enjoyed reading your story Shinee, so helpful and inspiring! Thanks for the helpful links! I’ve heard positive things about the BlogCon from other bloggers, so I’ll definitely addend it this year! Congrats on your success, keep up the great work!

    • Thank you, Mira! Yeah, I’m such a huge fan of Online BlogCon, you get so much for a very little investment. I’m glad to hear you’ll be joining!

  25. Shinee… many thanks for your thoughtful post!! It’s always fun to see someone passionate and excited… and successful. I used to stress about numbers constantly, but I found myself missing out on my family. Hence, I’ve taken a step back after a medical issue with my husband, and I’ve seen the numbers follow. It really bothered me at first, but one day I just sort of let go and it’s all OK. I know when I have the time (kids will both be in college in about 2 years… I’m savoring every day I have left) it will all work out.

    Congratulations to you!

    • Totally agree, Kim. Numbers are not that important. And when you’re ready to blog again, most of your readers will be right back. Hope your husband is better now. Thanks for stopping by.

  26. Hi Shinee,

    Congratulations on 100k traffic in one year! And thank you so much for sharing all these tips. I have just recently decided to join the blogging world, and even though I am not a food blogger, there are so many things I could take away from your article. The online blog conference is one example. I will certainly join the conference at one point of growing my blog. Thanks again and have a great weekend!

    Veronika | Tickled Pink Confetti 

    • Hi Veronika! Welcome to blogging. So glad you decided to join. It’s incredibly fun and joyful adventure for me. And I’m sure you’ll love every minute of it. Online BlogCon had helped me so much. I know many of the bloggers in Online BlogCon are DYI/Lifestyle bloggers. You’ll learn so much if you join it. 🙂 Have fun!

  27. This is a great post Shinee! It’s great to know the Online BlogCon. I will definitely get a ticket and start some networking from now. Congratulations on growing your blog successfully only within 2 years! 🙂

  28. Congratulations on all of your success!  I really enjoy all of your pretty pictures and recipes.  The most important thing above all though, is to make sure you having fun doing it! 

  29. You’re so right, you can’t be a successful food blogger without delicious photography and pinterest. 😉 Food styling is still a challenge for me, so I would love for you to write a post about that!! Great job Shinee, keep up the good work.

  30. What a great post, Shinee! I agree with everything you’ve said. And thanks for the link to CreativeLive, I’m going to check that out. I think photography and networking have been the biggest traffic drivers for me…I’ve noticed that as I’ve bettered my photography skills and increased my time networking with other bloggers, it’s helped grown my site traffic tremendously.

    Love your blog and enjoy seeing all of the delicious things you make! 🙂 XO

    • Thank you so much, Beeta! CreativeLive is awesome, I’ve watched many of their courses. And so happy to have you on this blogging journey! 🙂

  31. Shinee, I love this post! Congratulations on growing your blog so fast and so big! You are an inspiration! 🙂 I love all the invaluable information you share. Thank you for all the wonderful links you included! I have never heard of Online BlogCon, hopefully I will be able to attend. I just checked it out and it looks like it’s during the day, 2pm. Do you know if they the sessions can be downloaded so I can watch them in the evenings, after work? Thanks, girl! And keep up the good work!!

    • You’re welcome, Neli. I’m glad you found this post helpful. Yes, last year, all the sessions on Online BlogCon were held through Google Hangouts and recorded. We had a full access to the videos whenever we needed. It’s very flexible. And thank you for your kind words, Neli! 🙂

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