Thursday, 17 June 2010

Essential food-blog housekeeping, plus top six recipes ever on this blog

Thyme-roasted garlic chicken, with a red-wine and cranberry gravy... no, I kid. That's the way I usually start off a post on this blog, as I introduce my latest recipe (as any food blogger knows, the first paragraph of any post is hugely important: it needs to sum up the recipe and its ingredients in just a few words and, more important, entice the reader to scroll down for more).

But I have no recipe for you today, just a notice that I am going to be doing some housekeeping on this blog. I've tinkered with the CSS settings on the template for this blog so many times over the years - and I'm no expert - that the site has become a bit clunky, rather outdated and, most annoying of all,  slow to load, with all its widgets, badges and gizmos**.

Over the next few days, I'll be cleaning up the look of Scrumptious South Africa  to bring you a new, streamlined site. Please bear with me while I bash my forehead on the keyboard and gnaw off my own knuckles.

I've considered, many times, moving this blog to another, sexier platform (I long to be on Wordpress) or schlepping it, lock, stock and photograph, on a Wordpress platform, to my own registered domain (www.scrumptious.co.za).  But the truth is that I don't have time to faff around with this, and I can't afford to pay someone to do it for me.  On a technical note: exporting the text of this blog to Wordpress isn't a big deal, but the photographs are a nightmare, because they're stored all over the place.  Over the years, I've tried several different hosts for my photographs, in a quest to find a service that doesn't crunch and blur them. I have some of the originals on my internal hard drive, but many of them disappeared into the land of lost photographs when my external hard drive crashed last year.

So, for now, I'm going to stick with blogger.com, and devote two days to some arduous housekeeping, during which this site will resemble a bomb crater.

Are you wondering why there's a picture of potato wedges at the top of this post?

Over the last few days, I've been reviewing the traffic on this website since its inception (a very interesting exercise, and something I urge you to do if you're a food blogger), and here are the six recipes and/or posts that have attracted the most attention.  I find these results intriguing, not least because two out of the six top recipes (ginger beer and braaied fillet) don't feature photographs of the finished product.  It's common wisdom among food bloggers that a photograph is essential if your post is to have any authority or popularity (and I wholeheartedly agree), but these results seem to say otherwise. Is it possible that detailed, clear instructions for well-loved, oft-searched-for recipes are perhaps just as important as a mouth-watering photograph?  I'd appreciate your thoughts on this, and I'd also like to know which recipes on your food blog are perennial favourites.

Here are the top six, in no particular order:
** Gizmos: I've put several food-bloggie badges and 'partnerships' on this site, such as FoodBuzz, and none of them bring any significant traffic. Most of the traffic I get is from random Google searches and from Foodgawker.com, Facebook's Networked Blogs, Twitter, and referrals from fellow food bloggers. 
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5 comments:

Marisa said...

Good luck with the housekeeping - it is never fun.

It's amazing how the simplest (to you) recipes are often the most popular ones. For me, my post on Putu Pap has done immensely well for example - such a straightforward dish!

Nina Timm said...

Good luck Jane, I have just gone through the tedious process and already I am thinking I should have done this or that a little better!!! It is quite obvious why those recipes did so well....they all looks so damn amazing!!

Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

"Please bear with me while I bash my forehead on the keyboard and gnaw off my own knuckles" - oh yesm that accurately describes my experience of tinkerng with the back end of my blog... :o)

Agree with you that i would LOVE to be on Wordpress but 6 years down the line there is no way I am ever going to be able to haul all the pics and links across - and even if I did, I don't think I will have twice the amount of visitors - so why bother? (but this is why I said to the newbies at the SAFBC to choose your platform carefully!!)

I didn't have a proper analytics programme loaded for most of the life of my blog, so can't track the lifetime post popularity very well - but butternut soup is probably my top clicked post (and it also has no picture!).

Re pics, I think that if you are looking for a specific and hard-to-find or super-basic recipe (like a beef fillet or butternut soup) you will be willing to click on a picture-less recipe if it provides the info you need. But if you are lookign for blueberry muffins and jusut randomly searching through blogs, it is tremendously unlikely that the casual browser will choose a pictureles post. It's a bit like make-up - it does not make you an interesting person, but it might make somebody stop and take notice of you long enough to let them get to know your fabulous sense of humour ;-)

Juno said...

Thank you all for your thoughtful posts. Jeanne: you are such an inspiration.

Kuntal Ghosh said...


I love this recipe ! Reminds me of you making soap at home, Mom.
And it's fun to see photos of your house there and see
Dad in that comfy chair we sat in when we visited,
attempting to use the slow internet :)

I can't wait to hear how the soap turned out in terms
of using it. Does it smell different since it is made with
animal fat? Any other differences from vegetable-based soap?

Love you!