This month marks a year of The Cook’s Digest. It’s been a lot of fun, and an interesting learning experience. In this post I share some of the important events and aspects of the year.
And also eat some chocolate cake to celebrate. 🙂
In The Beginning …
In the first year, if I had to pick the most important thing I learned, it’s this:
What Did Visitors Read?
By complete surprise, the most popular post by a mile was how to Spring clean a Big Green Egg. At the time of writing it accounts for 12% of total hits to the blog since it’s launch.
Why was this so popular? This might have had something to do with the spike in traffic:
Outside of this, the five most popular recipes were:
- Reverse seared rib-eye steak
- Easy home-baked bloomer loaf
- Pho Ga – Vietnamese chicken noodle soup
- Rustic pub scotch eggs
- Tiger bread
So that’s what was read. Question is, though, …
Did I Accomplish What I Set Out To Do?
Yes and no. Some things worked out, others didn’t. What worked I kept doing, what didn’t work (once I realised it), I looked to make a positive change.
The primary aim of this blog was, and will continue to be, sharing what I do in the kitchen and with our Big Green Eggs, with the aspiration that readers make some of the recipes. The Egg recipes have a more limited audience, so where possible I have transposed them for kitchen creations.
I am therefore happy that some readers made meals and other stuff with the recipes in the blog. A couple are pictured below:
So What Didn’t Work Out?
I had a vision of how I wanted the blog to look. I spent time during the first weeks creating a custom look and feel that I thought readers would like (in hindsight, it was what I liked). I also poured over blog posts, continually reviewing and tweaking the words to make them “perfect”.
I judged that this hadn’t work when I didn’t get that many visitors, so changed the template, with yet more customisation. No improvement. Huh?
After reviewing this with my wife (who is pretty much always right), we/she concluded that I was treating the blog as a technical piece of work rather than focusing sharing recipes. So I changed the look for a third time to pretty much what you see now. I’m happy with it, feedback has been positive. And I spend time writing new recipes and other blog articles, as opposed to constantly tweaking the technology and existing words.
Did I Change My Outlook?
Yes, most certainly. Initially I wanted to get loads of followers and have lots of comments on blog posts. Other blogs that I looked at had this, so surely mine could too.
This didn’t happen. I did paid adverts on Facebook to try to get more followers. It felt “wrong”, almost like paying to get new friends. And it also didn’t work. I began to view the blog as a failure.
But … what was/is the blog’s aim (it’s a few paragraphs above this one)? If a small number of people make a couple of the recipes, that’s a win, at least to me. It’s a start at least. And that did happen.
I almost forgot this picture, possibly my favourite reader submission from the year:
And Carmen’s comment on the Facebook page was lovely:
That leads me to comments. I view comments as actively continuing the discussion of what is in the blog post. I’ve had some good, insightful and educational conversations with fellow bloggers, notably Eli at La Cusine d’Eli and Krešo on his blog Recipes by Chefkreso. This is what adds real value to the blog post for other readers. And the few comments I’ve had are along these lines, so that’s great.
Continue doing what I’m doing now, and make small improvements as I go. Or put another way …