I’ve been at my Cooking Chat blog for over five years and nearly 500 posts, so when my blog traffic doubled over the past few months, I thought it would be worth a look under the hood to see what was behind the growth. Blogging at Cooking Chat has been a fun project related to my interests in cooking and finding good wines to pair with our food. I put enough time and effort into this blog that I’ve been interested in finding ways to increase readership for Cooking Chat. For quite awhile the blog had been getting under 5,000 views per month. Early in 2014, the traffic was around 3,500, then it climbed to 4,456 in April. For June, traffic had grown to 9,609.
My posting consistency didn’t change much during this period–I continue to post once or twice per week. I turned to my blog stats provided by the Blogger dashboard to try to get some insight as to what was driving my growth. Google was easily my top referring site and referring URL. I suspect continuing to be active on Google+ helps here. Yet I’ve been active on G+ at various levels of frequency since the service was made available, so this wouldn’t seem to explain my recent growth. Considering my site stats along with what I had done differently this spring and early summer led me to conclude there are two primary factors driving the traffic growth:
1) Connecting with a community of bloggers: I’ve always tried to connect with my fellow food and wine bloggers through post comments and engaging on social media. The new ingredient this spring was starting to participate more regularly this spring with the #SundaySupper bloggers. Founded by Isabel Laessig, a.k.a. “Family Foodie”, in 2012, this is a network of food bloggers that does weekly posts on a Sunday Supper theme, along with a live Twitter chat each Sunday at 7 p.m. ET. They have a good setup of a Facebook Group, Pinterest boards, Facebook group and more to create a sense of community among the fellow bloggers.
I’m pretty sure it’s no coincidence that my traffic growth mirrors the period of time I started participating in Sunday Supper, doing at least one #SundaySupper post per month and generally connecting with the community. The posts I’ve done tied into #SundaySupper events have gotten good traffic, and generate much more commenting activity than I typically get. In addition, several Sunday Supper bloggers are among my top referring sites now. Twitter is close to Pinterest for my 2nd best referral source, and I suspect all the shares from my #SundaySupper friends has helped with Twitter link growth.
The lesson here seems to be that connecting with a community of bloggers with similar interests can be a big boost to your blog. I’ve recently been working on a new blogging community, Wine Pairing Weekend, focused on food and wine pairings. The early returns there have been good, with my initial #winePW post topping my June traffic report.
2) Strategic Use of Pinterest: ”Food & Drink” is one of the most popular topics on Pinterest, so it’s no surprise that many of my fellow bloggers report it’s one of their best referral sources. I’ve used Pinterest for a couple years with this in mind, but during the past few months, I’ve gotten more strategic about the photos I add to my blog posts and my pinning frequency. This seems to be paying off, as I’ve seen Pinterest climb in prominence on my blog referral list. I plan to share more in a future post on how I’ve been organizing my Pinterest activity. Meanwhile, here’s a link to my Pinterest profile if you’d like to connect there!
Are you a blogger? What have you found helps boost readership of your blog? Would love to hear your ideas!