A Look Back at 2012 and Lessons Learned for JoCooks.com

Happy 2013 everyone! I thought it’d be appropriate to write this article about the lessons learned during 2012 for jocooks.com and some statistics.

2012 was indeed a good year for jocooks.com. It was its 2nd year and the blog blossomed and brought in a decent income. The traffic was amazing, mostly due to Pinterest and to my sex in a pan recipe which went viral beyond belief. Here’s a comparison of jocooks.com for year 2011 vs 2012.

Traffic

  • In 2011, 254,987 pageviews 180,505  total visits
  • In 2012, 2,471,099 pageviews 2,004,714 total visits

As you can see that is an amazing and unbelievable increase in traffic from one year to another. That’s almost 10 times more pageviews in 2012 over 2011. Here’s a look at the top 15 referrals for 2012.

2012referrals

I was a bit shocked to see that the number 1 source is direct traffic, shocked but pleased. As I mentioned before, our aim should be to get lots of traffic from google, google is #4 for me, which is good, but would really want to see google a bit higher. Sources like pinterest, or food porn sites can come and go, but I have more faith in google sticking around and generating lots of traffic for me. Pinterest is #2 on my list and foodgawker #3. These rank so high because of sex in a pan recipe, which as I mentioned before went viral.

The one that I am most proud of is #11 and was very happy to see that foodepix was #11 for a source of referrals considering foodepix is only a year old. I hope that in 2013 that number increases quite a bit. I’d also like to improve on facebook and feedburner referrals.

Top Keywords

This is actually quite interesting. You will notice that a couple of the top keywords are the same in 2011 and 2012. Here are the top 10 keywords for jocooks in 2011.

2011topkeywords

Here are the top 10 keywords for jocooks in 2012.

2012topkeywords

As you can see pulled pork, chicken stir fry and vegetarian stuffed mushrooms are there for both years, which is really good.

Income

In 2011 income was very low on jocooks, probably a couple hundred dollars. However in 2011 I did not focus on monetizing my blog too much. I believe the only form of advertising I was doing then was google adsense. In 2012 however I experimented a bit more. Joining ifood.tv for publishing was one of the best things I probably did in 2012, the income from them is close if not equal to google adsense income. Foodieblogroll was a bust for me, I’m still with them because they have a new campaign now with Glam Media which is supposed to be $2 per ad and you can have up to 3 ads above the fold. So far I don’t know how these ads are performing because Foodieblogroll hasn’t yet published estimated earnings for this and this campaign has been in place since the beginning of November.

The biggest lesson learned for me from 2012 is not going with BlogHer publishing network. In the beginning of the year I got accepted to join BlogHer but I changed my mind and did not join them. At the time I was not ready to commit to their strict rules. However I have come to realize that their rules are not so bad and you can still have other ads on your website like google adsense. I have since re-applied and am now on a waiting list with BlogHer publishing network.

VPS

300x250-dreamhostOne major change we did for jocooks in 2012 is move it to a VPS or virtual private server. This was by far the best thing we did in 2012. Jocooks.com is hosted with dreamhost, so it was really easy to switch to their VPS service because they actually offer it, unlike BlueHost. As you can see in 2011 I had no need for VPS, the traffic was steady but nowhere near the traffic in 2012. When jocooks started getting a lot of traffic, the shared server would crash a lot, therefore taking down my blog. Once I switched to VPS, the site never crashed again and all was wonderful. The plans vary, but the lowest price for VPS is $15 a month which I say  is totally worth it. You can read more about hosting here.

Theme Change

StudioPress Theme of the MonthThe other great thing we did for jocooks in 2012 is change the theme to StudioPress Themes for WordPress, aka Genesis. This was a great decision, it was $350 well spent. We decided to go with the full package because I get bored with my themes on my blog and I like to change it around. This way, I have tens of themes to choose from and great support as well. The genesis themes are tremendously easy to use. You can read more about themes here.

What’s to come in 2013?

This is a great question which I’m not sure I have the answer for yet. I know I want to work on increasing the income on jocooks and I think joining BlogHer will accomplish that. Of course I want to work on improving traffic, but traffic will increase naturally as well, as more and more recipes are added to jocooks.

I would like to take jocooks to a healthier style blog and focus on healthier recipes. I know that this might kill traffic because healthier recipes always get less traffic, but I think I’m willing to take that risk.

I would love to hear from other food bloggers on what their lessons learned were in 2012.

Happy Blogging!

Comments

  1. Wow! That is quite a staggering growth! Impressive. Amazing how a NAME of a recipe can bring so much brand awareness.

    Here is to 2013! Hoping for you more blogging success.

  2. Hi! My name is Christina and my motivation to start blogging was the articles you have posted about foodbloggers. I followed your advice step by step. They were so very helpful and I thank you for that! I wish you success in all your future projects, health and high incomes for 2013.

    • Hi Christina,
      Thank you so much, your comment really means a lot to me, to know that I’ve actually helped someone with their blog. It’s a wonderful feeling. Beautiful blog by the way, keep up the great work. :)

  3. Jo, Thanks! You’re like, the Tim Ferriss of the cooking blogosphere!! Best wishes for continued success in 2013. I’ll be following you closely. Meaning, “walking in your Croc-steps” :-)

    • Lol, not sure if I’m like Tim Ferriss, but I really appreciate the comment. There are always ways to improve your blog which I’m working on constantly. Thanks, hopefully we can learn together in these blogging adventures. :)

  4. Excellent post and thanks so much for sharing all your insights! Do you have any thoughts on what drove such fantastic growth in 1 year? Do you think it was something specific you “did” or was it just the culmination of lots of great work/content?

    Also I noticed you don’t have an email signup (or I didn’t find it and if so my apologies!) yet you have fantastic direct traffic. Would you consider creating an email list to further engage with those hoards of fans you have?

    I ask as I’m considering the same thing but with over 2,000 email subscribers mailchimp and aweber so $$$ I’m reluctant, thus curious to see what others are doing about this.
    Thanks again!

    • Hi Alexis,
      I wish I’d have an easy answer for you, and be able to tell you this is the exact formula so just follow this and this will happen. It was and is a lot of work, that’s correct. I try and post a recipe every other day. That seems to work for me as I do have a full time job that can be pretty stressful, so I try and do all the cooking and photography on the weekends and the posting during the week. I know others post every day and I wish I could, but for now every other day works for me.

      I really think pinterest was the key in my blog’s growth in 2012. Prior to posting “sex in a pan” I didn’t have a pinterest account, but when I noticed what pinterest did for my blog I created the account and my followers grew at a steady pace. I don’t have email subscribers, you’re right. Some blog experts say that’s an important thing you should do for your blog to grow your audience. I don’t disagree. For now I have many other ways for people to follow me and I think that’s enough for now. That’s not to say that I’m never going to do email subscriptions. I always say, on my next vacation I’m going to do this and that. There is always something you can do to improve your blog. We just need time and money. :)

      With time, Alexis, you will have followers and you will see that direct traffic increase, just remember the most important thing is great content. That’s something we could all improve at. Many times I wish I was like Pioneer Woman living on a ranch and being able to write cool stories of what happens on a ranch, but the truth of the matter is, I don’t live on a ranch, I live in a big city, I have an office job, though not boring, not really worth writing about. So we stick to what we know and love. :)

      I hope this helped.

  5. This was one of the best posts I’ve read on the business side of food blogging and growth. I know what you mean to some extent about a viral recipe. It is so strange the ones that seem to take off. Your inside info about which alliances you’ve made that have worked for you are really helpful! I am so glad you shared it! Thank you.

  6. Such an amazing article. Really an inspiration for new bloggers like me to keep it going. Thanks so much.

  7. Thank you for this interesting and informative post. This is very useful for new bloggers like me, who are still struggling to build content and enhance traffic. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Hi Jo,

    I just found your website. I was doing Google search for a food blog income articles and came across this post. Excellent stuff!
    I’m also on a waiting list with Blogher and can’t wait to see what revenue it will bring once I’m in.
    One suggestion I could make for you is to make links open in a new window. I find it really increases your pageviews as visitors do not leave the original landing page and do not have to go back and look for it.
    Yeah, viral recipes are awesome. That photo is great!!! I wish we could know upfront which recipe will go viral LOL.
    And yes, being an author of a healthy food blog, I can tell you it doesn’t get as many clicks as the desserts blog.:) But this is who I am and that’s what I believe in.:)

  9. hi jo,
    I really want to appreciate about your job and of course to your site, I was doing Google search for a food blog and i get stuck on your site and your blog was helpful to me in my work, once again thanks buddy.

  10. Good traffic you got but i am still trying for this….very sad……

  11. Great post.jo good fot this it is very helpful.thanks for this post..

  12. Thanks for this post- it’s very interesting to see the kind of traffic one needs to achieve on their blog to actually start making some income. I’m still on a wordpress-hosted blog so can’t incorporate advertising, but it is something I’d like to do in the future. Anyway, it has certainly inspired me to get blogging again after a rather quiet year and build up my readership. Love you blog!

  13. I’m new to blogging and I absolutely love your site! I appreciate all the information and help you are providing.

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