6 million views on a $70 blog

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I’m generating almost 6 million monthly views on a $70 blog.

Stop spending money on your website.

Foodie theme website traffic October 2017

Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 9.03.51 PM

My website is “basic”.

I’m embarrassed about my logo.

I hate it more than words can describe. It’s a hangover from a past project I dabbled in that never went anywhere.

I’m not tied to it. I could change it anytime, it’s been long enough.

Why the heck haven’t I done it?

BECAUSE IT DOESN’T MATTER

Well, it matters. But not enough.

Not enough to stop my little food blog that’s 3.5 year old, with the ugly logo and basic website design, from growing over 50% in the last 9 months, to 5.7 million monthly views.

Website designers everywhere will hate me for this post.

But gosh, every time I speak to a blogger and I hear the words “I’ll get my designer to change that”, I want to scream.

Scream with frustration that there’s this twisted notion out there that a fancy designed website is going to somehow bring more people to your blog, to grow your traffic, to increase your earnings.

STOP SPENDING MONEY ON YOUR WEBSITE

I know there are flaws with my website design. I know it’s hurting me a bit on traffic – probably…. maybe….

But how the heck have I grown my blog to 5.7 million monthly views in 3 1/2 years with a $70 out-of-the-box website?

Fundamentally it comes down to this – quality of content and knowing your readers.

I hate the term – “Content is King”. When I first started out, I understood what it meant on the surface but didn’t “really” know what it meant in reality, from a food blog perspective. Is it just about taking great photos and making great videos? Heck no. Great photos for questionable recipes = FAIL.

Great photos and great videos might bring flushes of traffic but fundamentally, the traffic and readership will be volatile if the substance isn’t there. No matter how likeable YOU are as a person.

My strategy has always been about the long game. The game where readers come once and come again and again and again….

That’s how to grow a food blog. That’s how I grew mine.

WHERE THE HECK IS YOUR BOOK?

OK, so confession time. Time is my greatest constraint, and my food blog growth book is way beyond its due date. It’s not because I’m deliberately sitting on it. It’s because blogging advice is a side passion, after my own blog, after my own business growth projects. and after….well, enjoying my life. Living my life.

Because that is, after all, the reason I left my corporate life in pursuit on freedom.

Food blogging advice is a side thingy for me. It’s not a primary business and frankly, from a monetising perspective, it’s not even a primary goal. It’s not that I don’t want to help. I just have to be realistic – it’s not where my focus is, unlike others who have made it their business strategy to monetise blogging advice.

I feel guilty all the time about not helping you guys enough. I can’t tell you how much it nags me – constantly – that I don’t put enough time into helping you guys grow your blogs.

Please understand my primary business is not about providing blog advice.

And I refuse to put out any sub-par.

I will never mislead you with a half-assed job. It’s not in my DNA.

When I release the book, it will have 100% of me in it. Right now, I’m not capable of that. Truth. I know you’re frustrated. But I can’t do a half-assed job.

Sorry.

SNIPPET

But this post is a snippet of one of the things I’m going to be covering in the book. Stop stressing about website design. As long as your website is clean, functional and mobile friendly that’s all you need. Surely I am proof of that. Some people may argue that my website traffic may be even higher if I had a fancier website.

To those people I say – I’ve grown my blog to almost 6 million monthly views in 3 1/2 years using a $70 out-of-the-box website design that I have never spent a cent on getting customised.

Living proof.

Stop spending money on your website.

Concentrate on quality of content and your readers instead.

More on how to actually to do that will be in the book…

And I will be speaking about it first hand at the Everything Food Conference in Utah in May 2018. First food blogging conference I have agreed to speak at, first conference I agreed to fly 15 hours to appear at.

There is a reason for that. Because I truly believe that conference will be beneficial to attendees.

Everything Food Conference

WHY HAVE YOU BEEN SO FRUGAL ABOUT YOUR WEBSITE DESIGN??

AHHH. Intersting topic my web designer friend constantly hounds me over. 😉

It’s not that I’ve consciously decided to not spend money on my website. It’s that the design I chose does the job just fine and is compatible with all the plug ins I need to do the job I want to encourage increased page views, so why would I go through the pain of getting a web redesign at this stage when I have other priority projects?

I use the original Foodie theme by Shay Bocks, and that theme has now been upgraded to the Foodie Pro theme.

Foodie Pro

Shay Bocks did an incredible job with that website design. Sure, it might not be as snazzy as the latest ones out there, or even the latest themes she herself has released. But it’s still modern and clean, and it’s clearly appealing to enough of my readers.

I just wanted something simple, easy for non-tech-geek me to set up. Something that did the job, something that wouldn’t conflict with plug ins that I wanted to use, something that was stylish enough (despite dated logo) to make it a pleasant place for my regular readers to be.

PERSONALLY….

IF I HAD $10,000 FOR A WEBSITE REDESIGN…

I would have spent it on Facebook page promotions. I think that would have brought me far more value than the redesign, in terms of traffic.

I would get private lessons from a real-deal professional food photographer, in my home, in my lighting.   

I would have hunted down a videographer, I would have invested in a studio.

All of this, ahead of website redesign.

And I say again – because the Foodie theme I use does the job just fine. It may look dated to you, to those who are immersed in the food blog world. But you’re not my readership.

My readership likes my website design just fine.

5.7 million views a month just fine.

STOP SPENDING MONEY ON YOUR WEBSITE.

If you have thousands to spare on a website redesign, be smarter about where else you can spend it – that will actually increase your food blog traffic / monetisation and your skills.

All you need is a simple, clean, easy to navigate website design that is mobile friendly ( <– Important point here). Fancy features and pretty designs will not bring you more traffic. (Proof – Smitten Kitchen, probably the world’s largest privately-owned-food blog, no fancy-pants features on her website, she is all about quality of content. Her recipes actually really work, she is a very skilled cook and damn she has good taste.)

– Nagi x

PS Next post, I’ll show you how I have my blog set up, what plug ins etc I use on my homepage, recipe index, side bars etc.

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The Food Photography Book by Nagi from RecipeTin Eats

Comments

  1. says

    Nagi, I can’t agree with you more about EVERYTHING in this post. I’ve paid a designer to redesign my blog a few years back, only to find myself now wanting another redesign. I feel like I would never be content with the way my blog looks, so why spend thousands of dollars on it when the readers don’t even really care! Honestly, no one goes to my blog because of the way the website looks, it’s the recipes!

    (Side note, I am thinking of rebranding my website slightly, so I will need to redesign the logo, but I’m definitely not paying $$$$ for it. I can buy 2 new cameras with that money, shoot better videos, and hopefully generate more freelance video income.)

  2. sugarsaltmagic says

    Nagi, firstly, great post and very timely as I’ve just been thinking about whether I should put money into customising my site. No! Got it!

    Secondly, that “past project” that you dabbled in – I still use it to this day :)

  3. says

    I feel so relieved. I was thinking of changing my theme (food blog pro), now I won’t. I will concentrate on my content which is what gives me joy. Thanks so much for your help.

  4. says

    Hi Nagi,

    That hit me right in the head! It makes sense that the design will not look high tech or modern to a person who is immersed in the food blogging world. But for the readers, for those who don’t blog, it’s not the web design that makes them come back but for the quality of the recipes and posts.

    I am a new blogger, my website is still under construction for months now. I keep hesitating on writing a post because I am not sure if I would make sense. Haha! And because I feel like I need all the bells and whistles for my website for it to have readership. I have recipe tested, my recipes are ready, photos were taken, but I know now that what matters is to just write and hit publish, then refine as I go. Nothing will be gained by procrastinating and waiting for my website to be “perfect”. What’s important is that I start and not worry about design, and people will come if I write from what I know and love.

    Thanks again Nagi! Thank you for sharing with us your wisdom :)

    Your forever fan,
    Chato

  5. Ron says

    Nagi – You hit the nail on the head with this one. I totally agree. My blog is a hobby and will always be a hobby, so keeping down cost is important. Foodie Pro is a great out of the box theme. I started with it a year ago and can’t find any reason to change.
    Don’t change what your doing. There’s a reason your site visits are increasing. I love your videos, simple and concise.

  6. says

    Thank you, Nagi! And I’m truly sorry! I’ve been one of those little harpies that’s been nagging you about a book. I would love to go to the conference — unfortunately we’re already committed for May 2018. But you’re right. I love your blog and I read every word of it. Why?? Because I feel as if you’re talking to me and we’re friends. I want to listen. I want to hear what Dozer is up to. Someone just yesterday said to leave the personal stuff out of it. Why, I asked? They can print out my recipes without becoming a loyal reader. Why should they sign up as a reader, invite me into their inbox if all they wanted was a recipe? You are such a wonderful person — truly giving of your time and talent. Thank you. I look forward to your next snippet of advice. Sending huge hugs to you and a scratch on the ear for Dozer.

  7. says

    I really can’t wait for this Nagi. I’ve been running my food blog for nearly 4 years and must have been on every blogging course, SEO course and done everything I’ve been advised to do to increase my page views, which still never change from their average 30,000 per month! So looking forward to changing that with your help!

  8. says

    I couldn’t agree with you more Nagi! Many bloggers obsess over the design of their blogs instead of really focusing on the quality of their recipes! Thanks for your honest advice and looking forward to your next post! :)

  9. says

    Great advice Nagi, thank you for this information, this is very timely for me! Its been at the back of my mind lately that I need to redo my website. Reading this post has helped me prioritise my focus back to where it should be – on creating content and recipes.

  10. maria says

    Thanks so much for sharing Nagi… perfect timing. There are so many rabbit holes, it really is so easy to lose focus. Thanks for your honesty. Will wait patiently for the book :)

  11. says

    Yes! I needed to read this today. It’s all about focusing on the fundamentals. The vanity stuff can come after. Great post and looking forward to the follow-up!

  12. says

    “Fundamentally it comes down to this – quality of content and knowing your readers.”

    Best advice ever. Thank you! I will stop tweaking now. I’ve found I tend to do that as a way of procrastinating writing.

  13. says

    You have no idea how badly I needed to hear this! I’m on the Foodie Pro theme and have felt so inadequate based on what I’ve heard from other bloggers. To know you’ve seen this amount of success using the same theme I’m on gives me so much hope. THANK YOU! I can’t wait for your next post!

  14. says

    I could give you a super big hug and kiss but I think Dozer does his job. I’ve decided I’m not going to fret about how everyone is now going to the stark modern style and mind is not. I have colors on my header. Sorry – but when I post everyone will know who it is. *sigh* nothing like the familiar. I’m looking forward to your advice because I trust you. You are a no frills person who is so generous in advice. Super big hugs!!

  15. Ked Yamakanond says

    Thank you Nagi for your inspiring words!! I’ve been struggling with how to write and launch my Blog. So it’s still in it’s infancy. I’m a bit shy about launching. You’ve given me a courage to go ahead x

  16. says

    Thanks so much for posting this, Nagi! I love how honest and to the point you are. All of your advice and recommendations really help us out, so thank you! And congratulations on growing your blog so much and for doing so well over the past 3.5 years! :)

  17. says

    Love this. I’ve been holding off on any fancy redesign as well with the same logic in mind. I like to keep my site clean and clutter free. I use Foodie Pro and made some tweaks by myself when I first set the site up 2 years ago with my limited knowledge. I’m glad that your advice isn’t to go fancy. Don’t need to keep up with the Jones’s on this one. :)

  18. says

    I needed to hear this. I have spent so much time moving sidebars, logos and such looking for the holy grail of traffic. Content. Right…back to it. Thanks Nagi.

  19. says

    You are too kind Nagi. I am waiting earnestly and patiently for your book. Thanks fir buttressing the fact that content is key. Just like saying beauty and no brains is a no no.

  20. acommunaltable says

    Absolutely “spot on” advice Nagi and as for helping other bloggers… you my dear have done far more than any other blogger I can think of and you’ve done it free of charge. I continually go back to the pieces you’ve written (especially on finding your niche!!) and the info remains a constant source of help and encouragement. Whenever your book comes out, it will be amazing and you should not feel badly AT ALL – you are a true gift to this community!!!!!! I am beyond excited you’ll be speaking at Everything Food since I’m going – woo hoo!!!!

  21. says

    I love hearing this, Nagi! I have the same theme (the orginal Foodie), but more importantly, I’m a stickler for quality recipes that work. I won’t publish unless the recipe is fabulous. By the way, I sometimes plan our dinners for the week using a particular blog.This week, it’s yours. I already did the shopping and everything and am excited to try some of your recipes!

  22. says

    Just what I needed to hear!!! I keep thinking.. gosh when my website looks perfect, I’ll go viral… but you are so right. Content is key. No matter how pretty your website, if it doesn’t have good content, then there’s no point!

    • Nagi says

      You nailed it “I keep thinking.. gosh when my website looks perfect, I’ll go viral… but you are so right. Content is key.” Where were you when I was writing this post? 😂

  23. Amanda says

    Thankyou Nagi, such great advice as I’m in the middle of designing my website myself and tossing up if I outsource it to a professional. I am going to keep persevering and designing myself after this post. I will see how I do!
    Thankyou for your generosity in information
    Amanda Cordony

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