Website & Garden Report – April 2015

April 2015 report-1

April is over (it seemed like it flew by) and it time for our second monthly Website & Garden Report.  We are creating these reports to track our tiny homesteads food production, our website traffic, and the financial aspects of the business.  You can read more about why we do what we do in our first report – March 2015.

A number of great things happened in April and we are excited to share them with you!

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Garden Report – April 2015

The best news of April was the snow finally melted.  There are few better feelings then finally being able to get outside in the garden after a long and difficult winter.  Indoors we have trays of Swiss Chard, Kale, Cucumbers, Corn, Zucchini, Broccoli, and Pepper seedlings growing slowly under lights.  Outside our perennial Chives, Sage, and Mint plants are coming to life.  I have established a nice 1/2 pound a week sprout growing operation. This keeps us in enough sprouts to toss into salads every few days with enough leftovers for recipes like the Sproutlette without overwhelming my little maniacs with sprouts.

This month was another full of expenses without much production but the expenses are necessary to prepare for the big harvests we will reap in the upcoming months.

EXPENSES:

  1. Seeds – $7.78
  2. Seed Starting Supplies- $27.52
  3. Garden Supplies – $22.98

Total for Month: $58.28

PRODUCTION:

  1. Sprouts – 2.00 lbs

Total for Month: 2.00 lbs

YEAR TO DATE

EXPENSES:

  1. Seeds – $43.78
  2. Seed Starting Supplies – $27.52
  3. Garden Supplies – $22.98

Total YTD Expenses: $94.28

PRODUCTION:

  1. Sprouts – 3.75 lbs

Total YTD Production: 3.75 lbs

YTD Cost per pound of food produced – $25.14

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SUMMARY:

So far I am managing to produce super expensive sprouts!   I really have no idea where the YTD cost per pound will end up.  I have never tracked my expenses and harvest weights.  My gut tells me that number will become shockingly low by the end of the year.  I still have some major expenses to outlay.  I need to buy seedlings, mulch, compost, hay, landscape fabric, and some more seeds.  I estimate I spent around $600 or so in garden last year but this year I am reusing a lot and buying not nearly as much compost.  I would like to spend under $500 on the garden this year.

I could stack the deck in my favor by doubling my zucchini and subtracting plants like pumpkins, onions, and cabbage that I will only get one harvest from but the goal is diversity over total weight.  Large portions of the garden will be dedicated to greens that will not weigh much.  Swiss Chard and Kale will be staples of the garden this year.

This month I bought a new garden hand shovel and new gloves.  I broke 3 hand shovels last year (I have a little hand shovel graveyard out back) one was 20 + years old and the other ones were cheap ones Em bought for me.  This year I needed a quality one. I also had to manly up my garden gloves situation with a nice new pair.  Hopefully I will get many years out of these purchases.

In the next few weeks I have a ton of garden projects to start (and finish).  I will be working on planting containers, tilling the garden, creating the new garden beds, purchasing seedlings, and preparing for planting.  Hopefully by the next Garden Report I will have many photos of the freshly planted garden to share!

 

apples

Website Report – April 2015

I had a lot of fun with website in April.  I didn’t get a third of the projects done that I wanted too but I managed to post every other day and creating is the fun part after all!  I fell short of my 3800 visit goal at just over 3000 but that is still a 20% month over month increase in traffic and I am very happy about that.  I also learned it apparently is not as easy to reach goals when you arbitrarily set a number for growth- who knew?  The numbers…

wesite april 2015-1

 

In April BWA had 3014 visits from 2377 different users who viewed 4283 pages.  That is a nice increase over our March visits of 2532.  Our bounce rate also went down over 2% (that is the number of visitors who only view 1 page then leave).

Here are BWA’s top ten traffic sources for April 2015…

website april 2015-2

I am supremely happy about my direct and google organic traffic.  Both sources almost doubled from the previous month.   I do not have to do anything for that traffic it comes from people directly typing in our address and people googling and clicking on one of our links.  We don’t have to send out Facebook links or Pin posts, or submit to food sharing sites to get that traffic.

We received a large bump in traffic from buzzfeed.com which included our Mustard Baked Chicken Wings in a round up of 39 Things Everyone Who Loves Mustard Needs to Eat (you can click that link to see article).  I saw the traffic and didn’t know what Buzzfeed was so I investigated and apparently I was way behind on the times because Em made me feel like an idiot for never having heard of that website.  I was quite pleased to have been included in that regardless!

BWA’s most popular posts for April were…

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1. Mustard Baked Chicken Wings – 619 views

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2. Lemon Sponge Pie – 333 Views

Daffodil-4

3. Daffodil Cake – 252 Views

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4. Hawaiian Pasta Casserole – 177 Views

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5. Coffee Pancakes – 148 Views

I am pretty excited Daffodil Cake is still going strong since it was published in February.  It was also the recipe that took me the longest to come out right!

REVENUE FOR APRIL:

1.  Google Adsense – $3.88

Total = $3.88

EXPENSES FOR APRIL:

1. Bluehost – $6.95

2. Food Blogger Pro – $29

Total = $35.95

NET FOR APRIL 2015: -$32.07

It was a disappointing month revenue wise.  We received zero income from our affiliate links that were added in March.  Although my Adsense revenue almost doubled with only a 20% increase in traffic the revenue is still small.  I signed up again for Food Blogger Pro subscription so I could work on more technical aspects of the website.  That service was instrumental to me being able to start BWA since I have little knowledge of building a website.  Now I need it to help find ways to increase traffic and make my website better.   They have amazing video tutorials and a great community of bloggers who are very active in forums.

WORKING ON:

Increasing Revenue – Our affiliate links were a bust for April but I won’t give up after one month.  In the end our traffic is still small so increasing revenue and traffic go hand in hand.  In March I said a priority was updating our How We Started Our Food Blog page which is a page designed to earn revenue from affiliate links.  I didn’t get around to that project and again it only received 4 page views in April.  That project is still on the To Do List.

Our focus will be to continue creating recipe and garden posts to build our viewership.  In doing so it should allow us more opportunities to create revenue.

Pinterest –  Pinterest was a bit of a disappointment to me in April.  I spent more time on photography to create better images to pin.  I spent way more time on Pinterest in April then ever before both pinning my own posts and posts I liked by others.  I also joined 3 group boards and started contributing to them.  From that work I did not see in increase in traffic but I did double my following from 20 to 41.

My plan for Pinterest is to keep plugging away.  You can follow us on Pinterest at blogwithapples.

SEO & Site Speed – I worked to update some of my older posts.  I had realized in March I was uploading image files that were way to big and it was slowing the site down.  Slow sites are negatively ranked by google so I believe fixing some of these has help increase my google organic traffic.  I also downloaded a SEO plugin called SEO by Yoast. That plug in allows me to create my own meta description that will be visible in google search results.  This is an example of how this post would look in google search results now before using it…

website april 2015-3

As you can see it pulls text from the first paragraph as the description.  Now here is what it will look like once I enter the custom meta description…

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Not sure why I capitalized the M in monthly but I can fix that later.  As you can see the custom description gives a better overall about what the page will provide and the hope is it increases our click through rate.

So onto the project list goes updating custom meta descriptions of older posts to improve SEO.

Photography – This was a big issue for me last month and I believe I am slowly improving.  I saw a much higher rate of photos accepted to food sharing sites on the first try in April.

I will be looking to cheaply acquire more props for food photography – for some reason I only have green place mats. Other then that I will continue to take my time on the photography and enlist the help of my wonderful wife.

apples in toolbox

May

For the month of May I will continue to shoot for growth through content creation.  I am really excited about a Mother ‘s Day recipe for French Toast (Em’s favorite) and I am planning a large American BBQ post to celebrate Memorial Day towards the end of month.

Disaster stuck last week when my 30 year old wall oven quit working.  My mom immediately told me to go to the store she had bought it at.  I believe she might have thought it was still under warranty from 1985.  After some googling and youtube tutorials I learned the issue was a burnt out baking element.  I ordered a $24 replacement and despite everyone I know refusing to believe I could fix it I installed the new one. My favorite kitchen appliance is as good as new!

I would like to thank everyone for their support and we look forward to another great month on BWA!

(please note some of the links above are affiliate links and we will earn a small commission if you click on them and then purchase something!)

 

 

 

Jeff McIntosh

About Jeff McIntosh

Jeff's family lives in his childhood home on a 1/4 acre in town lot. Despite the small space to work with, they have challenged ourselves to produce as much of our own food as possible — and cook it! They document their journey at Blogging with Apples.