How I got onto the front page of BuzzFeed 6 times (and why it doesn’t matter)

How I got onto the front page of BuzzFeed 6 times

Let me explain why I started to do BuzzFeed posts, and why I stopped (even though I managed to get on the front page of BuzzFeed relatively easily).

It was November of 2015 and I was serious about growing my blog traffic. I wanted exponentially increase my traffic (I was at a measly 1K a month) and I wanted to do it fast! My answer, BuzzFeed of course! It was seemingly easy and food blog posts are perfect for BuzzFeed’s list posts – who hasn’t seem BuzzFeed’s post on the “21 Ways to Eat Pudding as a Grown-up?” I read a bunch of articles and researched the best practices to help to get featured on the BuzzFeed’s front page. After some trial an error, I was successful! I managed to get 6 of my posts, featuring my recipe of course, featured on the front page of BuzzFeed. 

At one point, I hit over 20K in visitors within 30 days! This was terribly exciting! The excitement though, did not last long. I quickly realized that the traffic coming from BuzzFeed was not MY type of traffic. I’m a healthy plant-based blogger and most of the traffic coming from BuzzFeed was not that. I got VERY few email signups (I’m talking like a maximum of from those 6 front page posts), the time spent on site was incredibly low, and the bounce rate was very high. 

This really came to light when, during my BuzzFeed craze, the Veggie Health Institute ending up sharing my post in their email newsletter and I received 50 email signups in less than 24 hours. I realized that THIS was the audience I wanted. I wanted readers that actually appreciated my stuff, and wanted to come back for more. 

BuzzFeed, though it has definitely had some positive benefits (like increasing my domain authority and increasing my traffic) has been, overall, more of a vanity metric. It sounds good to say that my post is on the front page of BuzzFeed and I got 20K traffic but if those people are not staying on my site and engaging with my content, it’s not very useful for me. At the end of the day, I just could not justify the time and energy spent into creating and promoting BuzzFeed posts. 

I am now focusing my energy in creating recipe videos. The market for recipe videos is not saturated (yet) and I’m taking full advantage of this fact. You can read more about how to create recipe videos

You can read about my blog traffic journey in my traffic reports

Questions? Comments? Suggestion? Let me know. 🙂 

Continue Reading

Food Blog Traffic & Income: Aug 2016

Food Blog Traffic & Income- Aug 2016

This month was great. I worked hard to balance both this blog and the OverHead Pro and I’m happy to say that I managed pretty well. I published 3 blog posts on my blog (the goal was 4 but that’s okay) and pushed 7 videos. The goal was to push 2 videos a week and 1 blog post a week. I was close! 

I’ve been working on slowly improving my videos, both from the filming side and from the post production side. I’ll be updating my How To Make Recipe Videos post soon. 

I also managed to send out my first newsletter. I’ve been collecting email addresses since I started my blog but have just sent out a newsletter. :S I’m happy to say though that my readers are so kind and no one unsubscribed – woohoo! My plan is to try to send out a monthly newsletter, I think that’s the most I can handle right now. 

Out of my 7 videos that I posted, 2 of them seemed to have a pretty big impact. My Indian Channa Masala got 6.5K views and 149 shares and, more impressive, my Black Bean Avocado Salad got 63K views and 2100+ shares! I finally got a big boy! 

Food Blog Traffic & Income- Aug 2016
Food Blog Traffic & Income- Aug 2016 | happygut.ca

This was the result for the big spike in traffic around Aug 22. As you can see it has helped to increase my traffic baseline! 

Aug 2016 Traffic – Doubled from last month! 

Food Blog Traffic & Income- Aug 2016
Food Blog Traffic & Income- Aug 2016 | happygut.ca

Last monthly traffic for July was 3892 and in August I got 7765, this means that I doubled my traffic in one month!  This has never happened before without BuzzFeed posts (which I have stopped doing). 

July 2016 Traffic Report

Food Blog Traffic & Income: July 2016
Food Blog Traffic & Income: July 2016 | happygut.ca

Newsletter and Facebook Stats:

New Newsletter Signups: 58

Facebook Insights (it’s for the last 28 days so not 100% accurate but good enough):

Food Blog Traffic & Income- Aug 2016
Food Blog Traffic & Income- Aug 2016 | happygut.ca

My Pinterest, Twitter and Insta have also been growing but I’m not really focusing on those right now. Right now, Facebook is the name of the game. 🙂 

My goals for next month:

Blog traffic: double my traffic 15,000 visitors

Facebook: increase Page likes to 10K (currently at 7822)

See you next month! 

Continue Reading

Food Blog Traffic & Income Report: October 2015 – June 2016

Traffic April 2016

Food Blog Traffic Report: October 2015 – June 2016

Alrighty folks, I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite a while now. Despite the fact that I am so very embarrassed to show my results, this exercise will push me to grow my traffic and share what I do know so far. 

First, a bit of context. I started this food blog back in 2012 as a way to archive my recipes. The pictures were horrible (when I even took them), the SEO was negative, the posts were incredibly irregular (I’m talking about 6 months between posts) and the spelling mistakes were rampant (who am I ridding, they still are :P). I was getting a maximum of about 50 visitors of month, all of which were my kind family and friends. 

Here we are in July of 2016 and I am serious about growing my food blog. So serious, in fact, that I put my other business on the shelf (it was making money, by the way). Why would I do this? Because I want to go meditate (but more on this in another post 😉 ). So here I am, serious about making some food blog money. I’d like to share the journey with you! It will force me/us to keep focused and motivated. 🙂 

I will have to start from October 2015 as that was when I started to get serious about my blog traffic and use Google Analytics. Rest assured, I had virtually no traffic before that (about the 50 I mentioned above). 

As for income report, I have made a grand total of  $76.71 ($34.72 from Google Ads and $41.99 from the Blendtec affiliate program). 

I believe that getting a lot of traffic is incredibly difficult and is an art. I also believe that monetizing your blog is equally hard and is also an art. I figure, I should learn one art, then learn the other. My immediate goal for my blog is to make $1k a month. I’ve done enough research from other food bloggers to see that 100K visitors a month = $1k a month in revenue. My goal is to get to 100k visitors a month. 

See below for my blog traffic journey so far. 

October 2015 

Traffic Analytics - Oct 2015
Traffic Analytics – Oct 2015 | happygut.ca

This was when I started to take my blog seriously. Though 318 users seems super small now, it was a jump from the ~50 users, so I was pumped!

This month, I also started to learn about SEO and apply it to my posts. I started using alt tags for my pics and started to post regularly (1-2x a week). 

November 2015 

Traffic - November 2015
Traffic – November 2015 | happygut.ca

That spike you see is from a curated post I did of the best vegan meatloaf recipes that was promoted by the Fat Free Vegan on their Facebook Page (which has about 188K followers). I got over 400 visitors from that Facebook share alone. 

Note: Curation posts are great to get traffic! You can ask those you feature to promote to their (social) networks and sometimes you hit big, like what happened with me above. Thank you, Fat Free Vegan

December 2015 

Traffic - December 2015
Traffic – December 2015 | happygut.ca

My traffic blew up this month! The reason: BuzzFeed. I started doing BuzzFeed articles and it paid off. I tried a few articles before my post was picked up by an editor and I was granted “Cat Power.” (“Cat Power” is when an editor promotes your post so that someone other than you can see it. :P). Once it gets promoted, there’s no telling of how much love it will get. This post got to the front page of of the community section, and then made it to BuzzFeed’s homepage. Check out my prized emails below. 

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 4.11.04 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 4.11.25 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 4.11.35 PM

This was a very happy day for me. 🙂

January 2016

Traffic Jan 2016
Traffic Jan 2016 | happygut.ca

The blog keeps on a’ growin’! BuzzFeed for the win! I got 2 posts that were featured again on the BuzzFeed community front page, and then were both promoted to the BuzzFeed homepage. 

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 4.16.05 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 4.15.57 PMScreen Shot 2016-07-18 at 4.16.23 PM   

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 4.16.14 PM

February 2016

Traffic Feb 2016
Traffic Feb 2016 | happygut.ca

This was an insightful month. I got a few more BuzzFeed posts (3 posts were promoted to the community homepage and 2 of those ended up on BuzzFeed’s homepage). More importantly,  I got 50+ email signups around February 10 — not to mention about 3000 visits. Where did this traffic come from? At first, I had no idea. I hadn’t done any BuzzFeed posts yet, and so when I woke up in the morning and saw all of the emails from MailChimp notifying me of all these signups, I was confused. Delighted, but confused. I ended up emailing someone who had subscribed, and asked where she heard of happygut, and how/why they signed up. The reader told me that they’d received an email from the Vegetarian Health Institute, who had promoted my post on the the best Vegan Winter Salads. This was an important insight. I realized that this was my type of audience. Though I’d gotten significant traffic from BuzzFeed to-date, I realized that I’d gotten very few signups from these users. I needed to find users who liked MY content specifically (the vegan, gluten-free eaters of the world). You may be thinking “that’s obvious“, but it wasn’t so easy to see. I had been caught up in the BuzzFeed spike hype,  and hadn’t been paying enough attention into finding my unique user base. This made think more deeply about my marketing focus. 

March 2016

Traffic - March 2016
Traffic – March 2016 | happygut.ca

Two BuzzFeed articles were added to BuzzFeed’s community section, and one of them made it to the homepage. At this time, I  decided to work on my blog full-time, and spend some time wrapping up my other business commitments. Though it is a pain to figure out, I also started to do overhead recipe videos with my smartphone. I was very pleased with the results. My video got over 6K views and 100+ shares on FB.

Chickpea Video Stats
Chickpea Video Stats | happygut.ca

April 2016

Traffic April 2016
Traffic April 2016 | happygut.ca

In April, one BuzzFeed post made it to the community section. I also went on a cruise with my Mom, so I didn’t work on the food blog for half of the month. When I came back, I made a video for my Chocolate Avocado Pudding and it did very well on Facebook: almost 10K likes and 200+ shares. This caused that lovely spike in traffic.

Facebook Video Stats
Facebook Video Stats | happygut.ca

May 2016

Traffic May 2016
Traffic May 2016 | happygut.ca

I had to wrap up my other business, and didn’t have time to work on the blog. I only did 2 posts the entire month. The interesting thing is that my base traffic increased. With zero BuzzFeed posts and no pushing of content, I still earned about 3500 visits, and my daily traffic hovered around 100-200.

Also, because the entrepreneurial spirit is strong in me, I started working on another idea related to the Food Blog. 

As I mentioned, I’d started to produce overhead recipe videos. A few blogger friends ask me how they could do the same, and I got an idea.  Since it wasn’t easy to figure out how to obtain a tripod rig to shoot my overhead videos,  I worked with a manufacturer to create tripods built especially for overhead-style food video bloggers. You can see my website at getoverhreadpro.com and my post on how to make overhead recipe videos

June 2016 2015 

Traffic June 2016
Traffic June 2016 | happygut.ca

In June, I did not work on my food blog. OverHead Pro took off, and I was scrambling to keep up. I also added a video editing service component to the business. I figure, there could be food bloggers like me, who don’t have the time or desire to edit their own videos. I also noticed that blog posts that have corresponding videos for them receive more traffic than those that don’t. Videos rock.

We’re all caught up. Thank you for reading this far. I look forward to posting regular monthly traffic reports. Hope you look forward to reading them! 🙂

Continue Reading

How To Make Recipe Videos

How To Make Recipe Videos | happygut.ca

Why You Should Be Doing Recipe Videos 

I’ve been meaning to do a post on how to make recipe videos for quite some time now. I’ve recently started doing “Tasty“-style overhead recipe videos for my Facebook Page and have seen a pretty significant boost in Page Likes and traffic. I’ve had over 10K Facebook views on my videos which has significantly increased my post engagement and likes. Not to mention, my most popular blog pages are those with my overhead recipe videos. There is a reason for this: Facebook really wants to grow their video content (over Youtube) and so heavily rewards video posts over any other type of posts.

Check out the charts below:  

3 Unusual Lessons We Learned by Studying Over 16 million Posts (And 100,000 Brands) on Social Media | bufferapp.com
3 Unusual Lessons We Learned by Studying Over 16 million Posts (And 100,000 Brands) on Social Media | bufferapp.com
How To Make Recipe Videos | happygut.ca
How To Make Recipe Videos | happygut.ca
How To Make Recipe Videos | happygut.ca
How To Make Recipe Videos | happygut.ca

Are you convinced that you should be doing recipe videos? Good, let’s move on. 🙂

How To Make Recipe Videos 

  1. Setup your filming equipment 
    • You have 2 options to shoot: your DSLR or your smartphone. My DSLR doesn’t have video and so I shoot with my smartphone. I was toying with the idea of upgrading my DSLR with video to film recipe videos but after doing research I saw that most newer iPhones have the same quality as DSLR videos. Making pro videos with your cellphone just got easier. 😛 (You can check out this article and this one these comparing smartphones with DSLR cameras. 
    • Once you know what camera you’ll shoot with, you’ll need to decide the angle(s) to shoot. You can shoot in the same angle you shoot your photos (with the camera pointing at a 30-45 degree angle towards the food) in which case, go for it! For me, I wanted to mimic the overhead angle that Tasty uses (I think they look best and seem to be most popular) and so I shoot overhead. If you want to shoot overhead recipe videos with your smartphone, here are your options:
      • If you already have a tripod, you will need to purchase a monopod + cell phone clip / selfie stick that can attach to your tripod. 
      • If you don’t have a tripod you can either purchase a tripod + (monopod + cell phone clip / selfie stick) or a magic arm to mount on a cabinet. I haven’t used a magic arm so can’t speak about how well they work. 
      • Note: When I went about trying to figure out how to make overhead recipe videos with my smartphone, I quickly learned that it wasn’t very easy to figure out. There wasn’t much on the internet on how to get started other than DIY stuff (which I don’t have the patience for :P) and when I went to specialty stores, they said they didn’t carry such a product (I said I was looking for a tripod that I can use to film overhead recipe videos with my smartphone). Eventually I ended up figuring out how to do it myself, with the help of my techy partner. A few blogger friends asked me to get overhead tripods for them as well and so I eventually decided to start producing them myself! Fast forward a number of months working and I am happy to say that we have launched our website for the OverHead Pro! Here is the website: getoverheadpro.com 
    • If you are wanting to shoot overhead with your DSLR you will need an arm that attaches to your DSLR and tripod. You will need to ensure that it is strong enough to carry the weight of your DSLR to ensure that it doesn’t tip forward. 
    • Make sure that your camera is level or else you’re videos won’t come out awesome. Trust me, I learned this the hard way. The first few videos I did were hard on the eyes because they weren’t level. I had to run out to the hardware store and get a level to place on my smartphone. This made a huge difference in the quality of video! I found a small round bulls eye level to be best. (Note that if you purchase the OverHead Pro a level is included 🙂 ). 
    • Make sure you have enough space on your camera/phone to film. Being half way through filming your recipe just to have the camera stop recording because there is not enough space sucks. I know because I have done this. Make sure you have plenty of space. I make sure I have at least 5GB free on my iPhone. You can transfer/erase photos, videos and apps etc. to free up space. 
    • Control your camera with your computer. Constantly pressing the the “record” and “stop record” button on your camera makes for shaky footage and wastes time (as you may have to re-arrange your camera to make sure the shoot looks good and is level). I use AirBeam to control my iPhone from my Mac. If you have an Android phone, you can check out Camera Remote. If you are using your DSLR you can use a cable a to connect your DSLR to your computer or phone and control the recoding from there. 
    • Make sure your camera/phone is completely charged. This makes sense -filming videos uses up a lot of battery. I usually have my phone plugged in and charging while I’m filming.  
  2. Try to Film in Natural Light 
    • Like taking photos, filming in natural light is best. Avoid filming in direct light to reduce the appearance of shadows. You can always use a white sheet to cover your windows. This will allow you to shoot in a bright room without getting any shadows. 
  3. Pick a recipe
    • You are going to need to decide on which recipe to make a video for. I would recommend using a tried, tested and true recipe of yours / one that is already popular on your blog. It’s more likely that this type of recipe will become popular very quickly! You can start with a brand new recipe that you are experimenting with, but you run the risk of not having a polished video. (It’s best to know the exact amount of each ingredient before you begin to film but more on this later).
  4. Get Your Kitchen Ready
    • You want to ensure that you have a clean work station to shoot from. A nice solid colour / wood counter with a large cutting board seems to be a safe bet. Be creative though and don’t feel shy to put your own spin on it! Using fun and nice cutlery is a also a good idea! 
  5. Get Your Ingredients Ready
    • Having all your ingredients with the proper measurements ready to go will save you time in filming and space on your camera. Imagine trying to make cookies and having to get every single ingredient from your pantry while shooting. This will either result in a super long video with more edits and taking a lot of space in your camera or you having to click “stop” and “record” in between getting ingredients which is tedious and annoying. Having your ingredients prepped and ready to go will make the process go so much quicker! 
  6. Action
    • Now that you have your (overhead) tripod setup + camera balanced and ready to go, you have picked your recipe, prepared your kitchen and prepped your ingredients you are ready to shoot! Go get her!
  7. Getting Ready to Edit 
    • If you plan on editing the video directly on your smartphone, you can skip to the next step. If you are planning on editing on your Mac or PC, you will first need to get the videos from your camera/phone on to your Mac or PC. I use iOS devices so I typically use AirDrop. You can also use a cable to connect your camera to your editing device. 
  8. Editing & Post-Production
    • Once you have your recipe videos where you want to edit them, you can start editing! There are many ways to edit your video depending on what you used to film and how many edits you’d like to make. I use Adobe Premiere and it works great for me. It has plenty of features but the ones I mostly use are the speed (I make my videos increase by 400x), brightness & contrast (to enhance the look, especially if I shot in the evening), cut and edit individual clips (I like to have my videos under 60 seconds), add text overlay (for my title, ingredients, etc.) and music (there is plenty of free and royalty free music available on YouTube). You can probably use iMovie as well if you don’t want to pay for Premier and have a Mac. Other video editing software options include:  
    • Avidemux (Mac and Windows)
    • Blender (Mac and Windows)
    • Z24 Video Editor (Mac and Windows)
    • HyperEngine (Mac)
    • If you like you can also edit directly from your iPhone using apps like iMovie or Pinnacle Studio, of if you’d like to edit directly from your Android phone you can use apps like PowerDirector & KineMaster. There are plenty of editing software options depending on where you want to edit from (phone or computer) and what elements you’d like to edit. For a full list of Mac video editing software you can click here. For a list of Windows video editing software you can click here
    • Note that I haven’t personally used any editing software other than iMovie and Adobe Premiere so I can’t speak of how well they will work for editing recipe videos. 
  9. Adding (Free) Music
  10. Exporting Your Video
    • Exporting to Facebook in HD: 
      • H.264 video with AAC audio in MOV or MP4 format
      • An aspect ratio no larger than 1280px wide and divisible by 16px
      • A frame rate at, or below, 30fps
      • Stereo audio with a sample rate of 44,100hz
      • Note: If you are using Premier, there is a an Facebook exporting option which makes it really easy.
    • Exporting to YouTube
      • I export for YouTube in HD 720P 29.97. You can see here for more more YouTube exporting details.  

Okay fellow Food Bloggers, there you have her! I hope this how to make recipe videos guide was helpful and you feel ready to get started! Do let me know if you have any questions at all and I’ll be happy to answer them! Also do hop over to GetOverHeadPro.com to check it out. I’d love to hear any feedback you have! 

Continue Reading

What is Yummly (and why you should use it!)

What is Yummly

Since taking the plunge and working on my blog full-time since October 2015, I have been serious about increasing my traffic. That is when I discovered Yummly. 🙂 

I like to think of Yummly as a “smarter” Pinterest specifically for food. That is, like Pinterest, you can “Yum” (like “Pin”) all your favourite recipes you find on the web and organize them into specific categories (or “collections” as Yummly calls them). It’s “smarter” than Pinterest because once you Create an Account, you can set your Taste Preferences to your unique allergy requirements. 

Honestly, I was only interested in using Yummly to increase traffic to my blog and wasn’t really concerned about using it for myself (that’s what I used Pinterest for) but after “Yumming” recipes a few recipes that I found, I can firmly say I am a believer. 

What is Yummly? Yummly For Foodies 

Yummly is awesome. It is awesome, in my opinion, for 2 main reasons. Number one is that it is incredibly beautiful to look at. I love the layout! I have all of my recipes organized by my desired categories nicely laid out evenly. I love Pinterest (which food blogger doesn’t?!) but my only issue is that it isn’t incredibly easy to navigate. I use my boards on Pinterest (and now my collections on Yummly) to quickly check out recipes on food blogger sites and then navigate back to Pinterest. Since Pinterest doesn’t evenly lay out it’s Pins, I don’t find it incredibly easy to keep track of which Pin I’m on in Pinterest. Yummly, on the other hand, is beautifully laid out, making it’s navigation super user-friendly. 

See my Pinterest Board

What is Yummly
What is Yummly | happygut.ca

Compared to my Yummly Collection

What is Yummly
What is Yummly | happygut.ca

Reason number two of why Yummly is awesome is because of it’s smart taste preferences feature. Because I have dietary restrictions myself (vegan & gluten-free) and often cook for friends and family with further restrictions (nut free, paleo, etc.) this feature is incredibly useful!

What is Yummly
What is Yummly |happygut.ca

I am now able to quickly search for dishes based on the dietary restrictions I am cooking with! 

Once you sign up, you can add the Yum extension to “Yum” any recipes you come across on the web. When you “Yum” a recipe it automatically gets saved in your recipe box like so:

What is Yummly
What is Yummly | happygut.ca

After your recipe is saved to your Recipe Box, you can log into Yummly and organize all your recipe into collections as you like! 

What is Yummly? Yummly For Food Bloggers 

Now if you are a Food Blogger, this is the good stuff. I am happy to announce that since using Yummly, I have been getting traffic from Yummly! Woohoo! How did I do this? Two way. First I “Yummed” my own recipes and categorized them into my recipe collections accordingly. This way, Yummly knows I exisit!  

Second, I added the Yum button to my blog. This way I make it super easy for my readers to add my recipes to their recipe box directly from my site. 

To add the Yum button to your blog you can add it directly, via the Yummly recipe plugin, or via social sharing plugins like AddToAny, Shareaholic, or Simple Share buttons.

There’s also an opportunity to get featured on Yummly. Check out this post for more info. 

Check out my Yummly Publisher Page to see all that I Yum across the web. Also, if you like any of my recipes on my site, please Yum them and spread the love. 🙂 Let me know if you too are a food blogger, and I’d be happy to Yum your yummy recipes as well!

Questions about Yummly? Let me know and I’ll try my best to answer them! 🙂 

Continue Reading