Welcome to episode 33 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week, Bjork goes solo as he talks about the Pinch of Yum redesign.
Last week, Bjork talked with Mark Daoust from Quiet Light Brokerage about what it takes to sell a profitable website. Even if you’re not considering selling your website right now, the insight Mark gives is really great when considering how you should be positioning your blog as a business. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
Notes on the Pinch of Yum Redesign
If you frequent the Pinch of Yum website at all, you may have noticed some big (and small!) changes lately. While the general feel of the website is the same, things are certainly different.
The change is the result of a complete theme switch on Pinch of Yum, and today Bjork takes this podcast hour to talk about it. He starts off with some background info and metaphors of The Matrix (whaaaaat?), and then gets into some new things you’ll be seeing around POY. Sit down, grab a coffee and a pen, and get ready to hear some great stuff!
In this solo journey, Bjork talks about:
- What Bjork & Lindsay are hoping to do with the POY redesign (hint: you might be able to buy this!)
- Why the internet is actually a real-life version of the matrix
- How links form the backbone of the internet
- Why “committing to the long term” isn’t just a buzzphrase
- What design has looked like for Pinch of Yum over the years
- How Pinch of Yum is focusing on email marketing in 2016
- Why they implemented continuous scroll on POY
- How retina images can impact your site
- How the Shop and Recipe pages were built
Listen to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast below or check it out on iTunes:
- Information on CDNs
- Pinch of Yum
- The Phases of Pinch of Yum Podcast
- Active Campaign
- Hello Bar
- How to create retina images
- Facet WP
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Be sure to review us on iTunes!
If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.
Bjork Ostrom: Welcome to Episode Number 33 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast.
Hey, everybody. This is Bjork Ostrom and this is Episode Number 33 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. Hey, before we jump into it, I just want to say thanks for tuning in. It’s been fun to hear all the positive feedback from people whether it’s in iTunes podcast review or emails or on Twitter. I just really appreciate that. It’s fuel for our fire to keep going here with this podcast, and keep it published and keep it fresh. Thank you for that.
This week, I’m going to be interviewing none other than myself. This is the first time I’ve done this and it’ll be interesting to see how it goes. I’m sitting here in St. Paul, Minnesota, snow outside, and we are here at home today. It’s this cozy little podcast recording session with myself. The reason that I’m doing that is because I’m going to be talking about the Pinch of Yum redesign and some of the decisions that we’ve made with that. I’ll get to that in a minute, but first, what does a solo podcast look like?
Well, my plan for this is to press record and keep going unless I have a huge mistake. There’ll be little conversational hiccups and things like that, but I’m just going to keep rolling with it. If Sage, our dog, barks, then you might hear her bark in the background. The idea is if I don’t do this in one take, then I’ll keep going back and redoing it over and over and over. It’s a little bit weird to think about the fact that like whatever I say sitting here by myself is going to be something that somebody listens to in a little bit, but it’s also fun, exciting.
Second, I talked about this, but we’re going to be talking about the Pinch of Yum redesign a little bit and some of the decisions that we made with that, why we made those, some of the results that we’ve had from that. If you’ve read the most recent income report, depending on when you listened to this, but if you’re listening to this right away, the most recent income report that we published on Pinch of Yum. We talked about some of these things, but I thought it’d be good for those of you that are more audio oriented to talk about it out loud. I’ll do my best to explain exactly what we’re talking about because sometimes that stuff can be hard to talk about conversationally versus just looking at it.
The last thing that I want to talk about here before we actually jump in to the content here is this idea we’ve had for quite a while. We’re in the early stages of figuring out if people might be interested in it. I think that people will be, but we’re just gauging interest. Let me explain real quick. With this new design for Pinch of Yum, one of the things that we’re doing is we’re continually updating the site month over month instead of doing like huge redesigns every couple of years, which is what we did in the past.
The idea with this, and this is the smart way to do web design, is that you find something you want to test, you test it, and then you implement the version that had the best results. For instance, if you’re trying to increase email sign-ups, you don’t wait two years and do a redesign to increase email sign-ups. You try a new tweak or email opt-in strategy, you see which one works best and then you implement that, the one that had the most sign-ups and then you repeat that. You’re making these small incremental changes over a long period of time. It really lines up well with this idea that we talked about on the podcast every once in a while of 1% infinity. That you get a little bit better every day over a long period of time and that those small improvements add up to really big results.
If you make a really small improvement, let’s say, every week, and you implement that, whether it’s increasing page views when people come to your site or email sign-ups, those little changes over a long period of time have a huge result. The hard part, and I’m guessing this is true for most of you that are listening, is that when you’re building a blog or a website, especially if you’re just doing it on your own, you don’t really have time to test what’s working and what’s not working, let alone to continually develop and update your site to stay ahead of or on track for the changes that are happening with all things Internet each and every day.
Where am I going at this? The idea here is this: What we’re considering or thinking about is like the Pinch of Yum playbook for people that are interested in replicating the exact setup and theme that we have, but using their own content and brand in its place. This is more of a stretch because it’s not an exact analogy, but the idea is if you get a franchise, you’re getting essentially the pre-built stuff that you know works and has been tested over a long period of time. The advantage that we have with Pinch of Yum is that we have this ability to test those things, because of the amount of traffic and the interaction that we have. That just results in us being able to implement things quickly.
Bottom line is we’re thinking about what that might be like and we’ve had some people that are interested in it. A lot of these people we’ve heard from for years and years and years where we’re just weren’t even close to having something like this. Now we finally have the bandwidth in terms of time and the ability to consider this, at least. We don’t know if we’re going to do it for sure. The idea is it would be this entire package: the theme, the plugins, and then the support to help implement all of that as well. I think maybe the most important piece would be these continued improvements to the code and design and the things that we’re learning along the way.
If you’re interested in that, I’d appreciate you signing up to let us know, so we can know if it’s something that’s worth moving forward on. two ways that you can sign up for that: FoodBloggerPro.com/PinchofYum and that’ll redirect you just to a simple sign-up page where you can put your name and email in. then if you’re not by a computer, you can do this cool thing. You can text “PinchofYum,” all one word, to 44222 and then that will walk you through the sign-up process. It’ll just ask for your email after that, so it won’t be your first name. In the emails, I won’t be able to address you by your first name, but I wanted to give you that option if you are on the go and not by a computer where you can usually sign-up, or if you just love text messaging. Then you’ll get a little message back from me which won’t actually be from me, but I looks like it is.
Now, here’s the thing. With this, none of the things we’re doing with the new design are secrets. We’re not keeping any of that closed or behind doors or anything like that. As you know, if you’re a Food Blogger Pro member, we talked about all these stuff openly and we do the once a month happening now where I walk you through the design changes that we’re making and stuff. The idea with this is just that it would be done for you so you wouldn’t have to figure out how to do it. It’d be the code and the theme and the plugins and all that stuff packaged together and available for you to easily implement.
Speaking of the design and the different elements that go into it, that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. I’m going to be walking through that after that very long explanation of some of the things that we’re thinking about doing with the theme. First, I want to do this. I want to talk to you about a movie. Yes, yes, yes. A couple years ago I wrote a blog post about this and it’s referring back to this blog post, but I think it’s a really important concept. It’s a little bit geeky and a bit abstract, but I wanted to talk about it because I think it will be … If I do a good job of communicating it … Something that you can take with you as you think about building a blog or website online.
Let’s talk about The Matrix. You know the movie The Matrix? It holds a special place in my heart because it was the actually the first Rated R movie that I ever saw and I can remember it so, so clearly. It was 1999, almost 17 years ago, and my older brother, Eric, was nice enough to let me go with him to a friend’s house. It was me and then like the “older” kids, like his cool older brother. I was 13 and his friends were like 16 or 17. They’re trying to decide what to do and then one of the guys was like, “Hey, I rented The Matrix last night. We should watch it.” He had the VHS rental, like the plastic. You can hear that sound where it’s like (crunching sound) when you open the plastic VHS rental. What a beautiful thing.
My brother, being the good guy that he is, let his friends know, “Hey, Bjork is not allowed to see Rated-R movies,” so there’s this collective groan from the group, like, “Ugh, why do we have to invite the poor little guy?” I was immediately put into my place. I was like a middle schooler amongst the group of high schoolers, which funny enough I was. In an effort to save some faces said, “Hey, wait, maybe my mom or dad will let me watch it, so just let me call them.” I picked up the old … It was probably a rotary phone … Dialed it. My dad picked up and he said, “Ostrom’s?” That’s how we answered the phone at our house.
Nervously, I asked my dad and said, “Hey dad, Eric and his friends are watching The Matrix. Would that be okay if I watch it with them?” My dad very wisely said, “Well, what is it rated?” I replied, “R.” Long silence on the other end, long silence from me, and then my dad covering the phone, you can hear him yell, “Vic,” yelling for my mom Vicky. I remember them discuss it. They’re like, “Yup, Bjork, that’s okay if you watch it, but just so you know, this is an exception to the rule.” At that moment, you can imagine me doing like silent fist pump like, “Yes!” and then being like, “Okay, thanks, dad.”
Truth be told, I don’t remember many details from when I was 13, but I do remember a bit about the movie. There’s a scene from the movie that I wanted to talk about, and I’ll get to that in a little bit. For those that haven’t seen it, the really condensed version or premise of the movie is that Neo, who’s the main character, finds himself in this alternative world where the guys, these agents, can do everything better than he can. He needs to figure out how this alternate world works, so he can defeat the agents. There’s this other character. There’s a lot of other characters, obviously, but then Morpheus is his guide in this other world that he’s trying to figure it out.
Fifteen years after watching the movie, I’ve decided it’s officially time to validate my parent’s decision to let me watch it. It was actually probably 17 years ago, if I crunched the numbers right. I need to validate the decision and I’m going to use some concepts in the movie here and apply them to a common question that Lindsay and I get about blogging. I think all of these ties back to design as well and how a site is structured, which is what I’ll get to in a little bit, but this basic idea of how do I get more traffic to my blog. It’s a really, really big question. We hear it all the time. I think it’s more of a symptom, it’s a result of something a little bit deeper which we’re going to get to.
My goal for this post or my goal for this podcast isn’t to form any tips or tricks that will help you increase your blog’s traffic. I think those are important, but that’s not what this podcast is going to be about. My goal, simply put, is to give you a new way to view how the Internet works and then to tie that into some of the design updates and design decisions that we’ve made with the new Pinch of Yum site.
All right, I’m actually going to play … I’m going to pull some stuff up here on my computer. I think this will work if I play this just to give some context around each of these little clips here. This one is a scene where Neo, who is the one, the chosen one, he’s trying to jump across buildings and it doesn’t go very well. I’m going to play this little clip here and then we’re going to talk about it.
Bjork Ostrom: Neo’s on top of the building here, just about to jump. “Free my mind,” he says, and then he just free falls. Hits the cement, bounces off it, oh, and lands really hard. All amongst really terrible CGI. This scene where Neo is trying to jump across a building, doesn’t quite make it, and lands on the concrete. I think it’s a pretty good example of how it feels when you first start blogging. You start by watching somebody else do it, which Neo does. Morpheus jumps across the building and it’s like super easy, so you observe, you take notes. You’re like, “All right, I feel pretty good about this.” Take a few steps back, get it running, start, and then you fall straight to the concrete, and you hit it super hard. It’s like, “Oh, man, what’s going on?”
Then what happens is you go back into research mode. You’re like, “Well, what am I doing wrong? How do I get traction? How do I make that jump? How do I get getting traffic to my blog? How do I start getting engagement?” People tell you stuff like, “Hey, you need to commit to the long-term and create high quality content. Share your content. Take good pictures. Be personable and relatable. Be consistent or engage in social media. Practice good SEO.” There’s running list of all these things that you can do to build traffic and that’s a good list. Realistically, all those are really, really good things to do, but I think the issue with this is that a lot of times we do these things blindly, in that we don’t really know why we should be doing them and we don’t how they really impact our blog’s traffic.
I think in order to shift the way we think about a blog or a website or building a business online, you need to start seeing the Internet and start seeing websites and start seeing blog post in a new way. There’s a scene at the end of The Matrix where Neo, he’s come a long way since his jumping and falling on a concrete ways, and he realizes that The Matrix is actually just like really advanced computer program. I’m going to try and explain it.
The scene is … It goes like this. He is trying to get these agents and they’re shooting bullets at him. The bullets come at him and then he holds up his hand and the bullets all stopped. When the bullets stopped, suddenly, all round him, he’s able to see that everything is just like computer code. Then he plucks one of the bullets out of the air and then everything eventually turns into green code. It’s super geeky but it’s really awesome, especially when you can’t watch Rated-R movies and you’re 13 years old. This is that clip from that movie just so you can get an idea of what’s going on.
Bjork Ostrom: Raincoat. Ah, it’s so cool. If nothing else, I really enjoyed that. You probably didn’t because you’re just listening to it, but you should really watch the movie or pull it up on YouTube or something. That’s the scene. He figures out everything is computer code and he’s able to understand it in a way that he wasn’t able to before. Now, he can jump over buildings and get rid of the bad guys, the agents, and stuff like that.
Here’s the thing: The Internet, websites, blogs, it’s a lot like that where we go to a website or we go to a blog post and we see it for what it is. We see the colors. We see the images. We see the videos. We see the menu up above. What we’re not seeing is The Matrix version. The Matrix version is really important to understand not exactly how it works, but it’s important to understand that it’s there. One of the easiest ways that you can see this Matrix version is by looking at what’s called the source code.
Essentially, what the source code is, is it’s the code that makes up the page that you’re looking at. If you were to go to a page and I’m using the Chrome … There’s all different types of browsers. There’s Chrome, Safari, Firefox. I’m using Chrome. I’m going to a page and I’m going to right-click and then I’m going to say, “View Page Source Code.” Let me pull that up real quick just to make sure I’m using the right language for that. What happens is, when you do that, when you view the source code for that page, you’re able to see the page as a browser would see it. It’s “View page source” is what it is in Chrome. It’s going to be different for Safari or Firefox or anything like that.
The advantage with doing this is you realize something about the Internet, and that is that the Internet is made up entirely, or at least, the backbone of the Internet, is links. When you look at the source code, you see that what compiles a page is like text, the things that we write and maybe instructions to the web browser that’s coming to look at the page, but then it’s links. It’s lots and lots of links. They’re everywhere. As a matter of fact, everything on the Internet is some way created from a link. The image in your post, that’s actually a link. The YouTube video you just watched or listened to is a link. Scrolling through Pinterest, that’s a link. If you clicked on a bookmark in your web browser, that’s a link.
How about that Google search result? That’s a link. All of these different things are links. Once we start to understand that the Internet is made up of links, we can have a better understanding of how to grow traffic to a blog because we’re thinking first about links, not traffic. I want to say this real quick as a side note. If you’ve ever read about SEO or listened to any of our podcast on SEO, then you know that link building, it’s an important step in increasing your blog’s rank in Google. This isn’t necessarily the type of link building that I’m referring to. This is just on a broader scale. It’s not just in terms of SEO. It’s just like links in general.
Let’s do this. Let’s take a look at some of those tips that we had before on how to build your traffic and see how they’re actually about links. For instance, committing to the long-term, why is that important? Well, everyone knows that it takes a long time for a blog to start getting traffic. Why is that? It’s because it takes a long time for a blog to build up links. Let’s say that you have 150 posts after doing one year on your blog, after publishing for one year. Then you have a 150 different URLs that somebody could be linked to. That’s pretty awesome. Think about this. After 10 years of posting at the same frequency, that 1,500 post which, obviously, needless to say, is a lot more. If you’re just starting your blog and you have 10 posts or 20 or 50 or 100, the reality is you probably don’t have enough content, and by content, I mean enough links, to get decent traffic to your blog, which is why it’s important to commit to the long-term.
Let’s look at another one real quickly just an example. Creating high quality content. You hear that all the time. Content is king or create awesome content. Write up a content. It’s said a lot because it’s true. With our new understanding though, we can understand it on a deeper level on why that’s so important. High-quality content multiplies all types of linking because people are likely to, let’s say, save your blog’s URL in their bookmark bar which is a link, maybe share your post on social media, which is a link; or sign-up for your email list which will send them links back to your blog.
When one of those things happens, just like let’s say when somebody saves a bookmark in your blog and your traffic grows a little bit. If a lot of those things happen, then it’s a pretty big multiplier. Those are two examples of how understanding the importance of links helps to fill out the picture of these traffic tips that you often hear from people. That’s so important to have a bigger, greater, understanding of how the Internet works. It’s like this Matrix where it all comes back to links and linking to other places around the web.
That’s super geeky, in-depth dive into the second tier of why it’s important to understand how links work and what it really means to build traffic to your site. I wanted to start with that as this ground level understanding of how things work on the Internet. Bottom line is that it all comes back to links. Everything that we’re going to be talking about here with the redesign for Pinch of Yum in some way, shape or form comes back to links. It might be something as simple as how you are linking to other posts on a page, but it could also be something as complicated as the way that the site itself is built.
When you have, let’s say, an image on your blog, if you are linking to an image on your website … This is going to be a complicated concept … If you are linking to an image on your website’s service, that’s going to be different than linking to an image that is served by what’s called a CDN, content distribution network. With the content distribution network, that image, it means that … This would be a good Google term to search and understand … That means that that image is located on multiple servers throughout the world which means that as people load your website, it loads a lot faster because it’s not just the image located on one server, the image is located on multiple servers because it’s on a CDN. That’s just one basic understanding or one basic example of why links are so important no matter what way we’re talking about them, whether images or actual links or things like that.
Deep breath. Bottom line is this. Whenever we’re talking about websites or blogs or really anything online, we need to understand that the very basic structure of the Internet is links. Facebook is links. Pinterest is links. Twitter is links. Websites are links. Links are the lines that are drawn when we give something attention. Does that make sense? I’m going to say it one more time. Links are the lines that are drawn when we give something attention. We say, “I want to give this attention.” You draw a line from you to whatever it is that you’re giving attention to and when we’re talking about traffic or building a website or building a blog, we need to step back through what that actually means.
Traffic boils down to attention, which boils down to links. How you think about links, both links from other places going to your blog and links on your blog greatly impacts the success for your site. I want to use that as, number one, just an important concept to communicate, but number two, for you to have that in the back of your mind moving forward, but also as we talked about some of the important updates and design decisions that we’ve made with Pinch of Yum. Some of it will apply directly and it will be really easy to understand as I talk about some of these updates that we’ve made. Other places it might not apply exactly, but you get the point.
Let’s talk about the Pinch of Yum redesign that we did. Before we do that, I wanted to talk really quickly about the process that we’ve gone through for updating the site through the years. I’ll say this, that with the Pinch of Yum through the past probably 6 years, if you want the really in-depth phases analysis, you can listen to a podcast that we did just a couple episodes ago where Lindsay and I sat down at our kitchen table and we talked about the phases of Pinch of Yum. We go into detail about how much time we spent on the blog and talk a little bit about some of the design stuff, but we talked about four distinct phases. We mentioned some of the stuff in that but I want to review some of those things specific around design, just so you have an understanding of where we’ve come from.
When we first got started, Pinch of Yum was on Tumbler which is it’s a blogging or micro-blogging platform. That was in 2010. Then our first official design decisions came probably 5 or 6 months after that where we updated, we started using a purple color that Lindsay still uses today. We stayed on Tumbler. All of these was free. Setting up the site was free. All the theme that we used is free. We didn’t pay for anything in terms of design until 2011, the fall of 2011, and we paid $100. That was for a theme called the Thesis Theme. I’m going to pause right here real quick for those that aren’t familiar and just explain something real quick.
WordPress is the content management system and WordPress can be viewed as the engine. That’s like what keeps your website going. It’s the core of it. Then you can also, with WordPress, have themes. That’s like the body of the car. WordPress is the engine but if it was just WordPress, it wouldn’t look very good and it wouldn’t go anywhere. You need a body of the car and that would be the theme. That would be the thing that you wrap around the engine. Then to take it one step further, a lot of themes, not all themes, but a lot of themes, allow you to have what’s called a child theme which is like the paint on the body of the car.
There’s WordPress as the engine; there is the body of the car, which would be the main theme; and then you have the child theme which would be like adding paint to it. The advantage with themes is that if you have a really solid them that’s well-maintained, it can help your SEO, it can help your speed. It can be more reliable in terms of the code not breaking and things like that.
In fall 2011, we used the theme called Thesis theme. In the fall of 2012, we did some of our own design updates and kept that on the Thesis theme. In the spring of 2013, we switched on a theme called Genesis, which is made by a company called StudioPress and it’s a really, really solid theme, or they call it a framework. There’s WordPress, there’s Genesis, and then we had a custom designed child theme that we paid, I think at the time it was maybe around $1,500 or $2,000 for somebody to do. Then we waited a long time, almost three years. We used that theme and that’s what we built Pinch of Yum on until we did this most recent update and that was just at the beginning of January.
We’d been doing it for a while, but we stayed with Genesis, so it was WordPress as the engine, Genesis as the theme, and then we have a custom child theme that we had developed. For this one, we really went all in. We knew that we want it to be done really well. We spent probably … It was $10,000-plus. I think it was probably between $10,000 to $12,000 for the complete redesign and development. That’s the theme that I’m going to be talking about today.
As an aside, another important note here is that our plan moving forward is to not have these huge incremental updates. Our plan is to continually evolve and update that 1% infinity as it applies to design or as it applies to the business strategy for a blog because a lot of times design reflects the business decisions you’re making.
If you’re interested in that, I would encourage you to follow along with Pinch of Yum as you see that tweaking certain things and update, as we learn new things about the site, but for right now what I’m going to do is I’m going to talk to you about the big changes we made, why we made those, and the result that those are having. This reflects, like I said before, some of the points that I made on the income report from December 2015. If you’re just listening to this podcast, it’s the most recent one that we’ve done.
What we’re learning from the redesign. Number one, one of the things that we’re really focusing on in 2016 is email marketing, and you hear a lot about email marketing. Truth be told, we haven’t done a great job of it with Pinch of Yum over the past few years and we’re really starting to place a stronger emphasis on it. We’re using a service called ActiveCampaign as our email marketing. If you’re interested in checking that out, this is our affiliate link for that. It’s pinchofyum.com/activecampaign. The idea with the ActiveCampaign is that it allows you to have a really good understanding of your users by building out segments. You build segments based on website behavior and based on email behavior. All of that, again, to reference to the earlier point, ties back to this idea of links and how people interact with links.
An example would be when you go to Pinchofyum.com, there’s an opt-in at the top and it says, at this point, it says “Subscribe to get a free e-cookbook with our top 25 recipes.” When people sign up for this, they’re delivered an email and it says, “Hey, Bjork,” in this case, I’ll use myself, “So thankful that you signed up for the email list.” The first thing we do is we give them the free PDF e-cookbook with the top 25 recipes from Pinch of Yum.
Now as an aside, if you’ve ever gotten that or you checked that out, one of the things that we do is at the end of that ebook, we have some promos for the different products we have; Tasty Food Photography, Pinch of Yum, things like that. Once people get that, they’ll be entered into what’s called an automation. The automation will send people an email, the next email they get is an email that says, “Hey, I’m just curious, sometimes we send out blogging related emails. Are you interested in blogging?” One says “Yes, I am. I haven’t started a blog.” Yes, I am. I have started a blog and I want to learn more.“ Or it says, ”No, just send me food and recipe content.” When they click one of those links, ActiveCampaign then records that as a segment.
If you’re somebody that has signed up for the email list and you say, “Hey yeah, I’m interested in blogging and I want to learn more,” then you’re tagged in our system as being interested in blogging and also signed up for the Pinch of Yum emails. It’s a really effective way for us to start to understand people more that are signed up for the email list, but the place that we start with that is you need to get people in first, so that’s why we have this opt-in area, and you can see that pretty obviously on Pinch of Yum. There’s a couple different areas where that shows up. The first is right above the fold that’s at the very top. It’s a purple bar, but it also shuts up as you scroll down, so as you scroll down to the bottom of the post or the page, there’s usually an opt-in down below. Then we have something called continuous scroll, which I’m going to talk about in a little bit, which also has the opt-in in it.
A few things about the opt-in. It’s designed really well. It’s one of the things that we like. It looks really good in terms of being integrated into the site well. One of the disadvantages with it is that we can’t customize it very well. Customize it and it’ll be a little bit harder to AB test it. If you are interested in trying this on your site but not wanting to do any big design updates, I’d encourage you to check out a tool called Hello Bar. What Hello Bar does is it adds that bar to the top of your website but it doesn’t have to be designed in. They use a script that they put on your site. That script, they can do that through a plugin if you use WordPress. That script will populate your Hello Bar. The cool thing with that is you can do an AB test or you can say, “Only show this on certain pages,” and that will allow you to start to experiment with the opt-in.
One more point about the opt-in, I’d really encourage you to think about potentially creating opt-ins that match the post or page content. The opt-in that we have right now is probably not a great example because it’s a generic free e-cookbook. If we were able to start to develop some really specific opt-ins that matched some of the most popular posts on our site, then our opt-in rate would really go up, meaning more people would subscribe to be part of the list. Example would be if you went to a chocolate chip cookie recipe and there was 10 tips for even better chocolate chip cookies, that would make a lot more sense than this free e-cookbook, which is a little bit more generic and it doesn’t match quite as much. That’s the email opt-in, a little bit about email.
The static homepage, what does that mean? Well, if you’re to do a side by side comparison of before and after Pinch of Yum, before it would have been essentially a list of all the different blog posts. Now it’s more of … I’m saying this in air quotes … a static homepage, which means that, when you first land on it, it’s not a list of all the most recent blog posts. It’s different images and links to the past posts, so it’s not necessarily the most recent one.
The reason why this is so great because it really ties in to the advantage that people in the food space have and that is that recipes, for the most part, unless you’re in some weird niche, recipes for the most part don’t go out of style. Something that was good 10 years ago can still be good today. We really wanted to place an emphasis on this with the new site and call attention back to older posts instead of just the newest content, so we created a static homepage. When you go there, the first thing you see at this point, it says, “Make this for dinner,” and there’s three really big, prevalent links to content that was previously published.
Another thing about this that’s worth mentioning, if you listen to last week’s podcast with Mark from Quiet Light Brokerage, if you’re looking to transition, and this isn’t us looking to do this, but it’s just an aside, if you’re looking to transition your site into more of less of a blog and more of like a recipe and food website, this is a great way to start to make that transition. Again, we’re not trying to do that like if you scroll down, you can see eventually the blog roll list, or it’s not like we’re trying to make all of Pinch of Yum static.
We’re just trying to play a little bit on this idea of calling back to old content. If you’re at a point where you say, “Hey, you know what, I have a ton of recipes, I’ve built this up, and I feel like I need to start pulling back and removing my personality from it,” one of the ways that you can do that is to start to transition the blogginess of your website, meaning make it feel less like, “Here’s a new blog post, here’s a new blog post, here’s a new blog post,” and make it feel more like, “Here’s the awesome content we have on our site.” You can remove dates on the content or at least when it’s shown right up above and you can give it more that static feel.
Now, I say static in air quotes because realistically we’re able to go in and update that content and we do and that’s one of the great things about it. Let’s say for the Super Bowl coming up, you can go in and create, maybe it’s a different dips that you want to showcase that would work really well for the Super Bowl. Those are some examples of things that you can use with the static homepage. We’re going to continue testing that and experiment with that.
Continuous scroll, I mentioned this, number three. What does continuous scroll mean? Well, if you’ve ever been to, let’s say, BuzzFeed, you could pull up BuzzFeed and scroll, you know that. You could just keep scrolling forever. Facebook is another example. There isn’t necessarily like a bottom of the page. The reason is because they know that if you continue scrolling, you’ll continue to get exposure to other content and you’ll stick around longer. As we know, attention is really important. We’re experimenting with continuous scroll on the post pages for Pinch of Yum.
What’s worked well for this is that we have it, so that’s a good thing, but the disadvantage right now, two things. Number one, it takes a while for the continuous scroll to load. As websites go, we expect things to be really, really quick. With continuous scroll, the same should be true where you scroll and you get to a point and it keeps going. As it is right now, with Pinch of Yum, you scroll, you hit a point, and then it takes a little bit to load and then you can keep scrolling. Not ideal, but that’s just the way it is right now and we’re working on tweaking that and figuring that out.
The second thing, and this is, I guess, more of an advantage than something that’s not working well, is that eventually we get to the point where we can do ad injection, meaning that you can put ads in the different spaces as people continuously scroll. A great example of a site that does this is Mashable.com. Mashable will get more ad impressions because people continue to scroll through their site. What that does, obviously, is it increases the amount of ad impressions you have, which increases your total income as a blog because there’s more ad impressions. That’s something we haven’t done yet. We’re excited to start experimenting with that and we’ll keep you updated as it happens.
All right, number four, multiple sidebars. What do I mean by this? Well, sidebars realistically are becoming a little bit less important as we shift to mobile. As you know, when you look at a mobile site, it usually doesn’t have a sidebar. As we make the shift to mobile, there’s still a decent chunk of people that visit on desktop, and for Pinch of Yum it’s anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of people will visit on a desktop computer. The advantage with multiple sidebars is that you can start to customize the experience for people depending on the type of content they’re viewing.
This ties in a little bit to the opt-in strategy that I talked about before, but with multiple sidebars and as an aside … See what I did there? Aside, a side bar. As an aside, we’re using Genesis Simple Sidebars to accomplish this. With multiple sidebars, we’ll be able to start to craft sidebars for each specific post. Let’s say somebody came and they were reading a post; I’ll use this example again about chocolate chip cookies. We can have that be more of a dessert-oriented sidebar versus if somebody comes and they’re looking at, let’s say, a salad, we can have that be themed in a way, that sidebar, can be themed in a way where it presents more healthy options.
All of this comes back to making it a better user experience for the person that is coming to the site and encouraging them to stay around longer … Attention, right? … And click on other things, which would be links. We want to present the type of links that appeal to the people that are on that certain page. We’re really excited about starting this play with an experiment with multiple sidebars. We’re not quite there yet but we’re going to get there.
Number five, retina images. Now retina, it’s actually a marketing term from Apple, but the basic idea here with retina is that it’s like super, super crisp, and if you have an iPhone, if it’s a more recent iPhone, almost all of them now, or an iPad, or a more recent Macbook computer, it will have a retina screen. Retina just means like super, super crisp. Now the thing is, this is across the board so it’s Mac, it’s PC; lots and lots of different screens are getting to this point of high resolution. People just use the term retina because it’s so common, but it’s across the board, PCs, Macs, Android, iPhone. It’s similar to the evolution of TV’s going from 720 to 1080p to now 4k. You have this 4k TVs which can show super crisp. They can show super crisp movies or sports or things like that.
The same is true for websites where if you have the right type of screen, you can present or you can see images in a super crisp way. If you’ve ever had a computer or a phone that has a retina screen and you’ve seen an image that isn’t retina, you really quickly get used to what that high quality image looks like, and then you look at one that’s not and it’s like, “Oh, that’s kind of pixelized. That looks really flat or dull.” The reason is because that wasn’t a retina image or it wasn’t built in a way that allows you, or the website or the blog wasn’t built like in a way that allows you to present that as a retina image.
Now, a few things about retina images. Number one, there’s ways that you can do this just by how you input the image into your blog post. I won’t explain it here. What we can do is we can link to a tutorial in the blog show notes or in the podcast show notes, but essentially what you have to do is you have to have an image that’s twice the size of what it will show up as and then you shrink it down, so you smash it down so there’s enough pixels to make it really high resolution. Somebody who really understands it is probably going to be like, “Ah, that’s weird. You didn’t explain it right,” but that’s the basic idea with it.
The nice thing with this new redesign that we did, and this is actually a feature in WordPress 4.4, so the most recent version of WordPress, is that they’re now to the point where they can do this automatically. It can also apply to, like on Pinch of Yum, we have the recipes page. All of those featured images on that page are going to be retina as well. Now again, you won’t be able to see this unless you have a retina screen but chances are, 1 year, 2 years, 3 years down the line, the majority of screens are going to be moving towards these high resolution screens, similar to the fact that like it’d be just about impossible to go in and buy a TV that’s not HD, the same will be true with these screens as time goes on, like the retina quality or the high resolution quality screens will be a given as time goes on. It’ll just become more affordable, more people will use it, and you’ll see these more and more, so you want to make sure your images have this high quality or that your blog post have these high quality images.
A few things to know about using these high quality retina-like images or retina images is that it’s going to impact your speed and it’s going to impact the cost, or at least it does for us. Speed, what do I mean by that? Well, anything that’s a bigger image is going to take longer to download, so if you have these really big images, they’re going to look really good, but the disadvantage is that it’s going to take a little bit longer for those to download. That has the potential to have a negative impact on your blog’s SEO, so there’s this give and take, right?
You’re saying, “I’m going to present these higher quality images which is going to slow down my site, which makes my site look better but then it’s going to potentially have a negative impact on the speed, which has a negative impact on the search engine optimization, the SEO of my blog.” Those are things that you can weigh and consider. I don’t have the right answer for you but that’s a challenge that you’ll be presented with, is that it’s going to be a little bit slower to load.
The second thing is the cost. I mentioned before, we use this thing called the CDN, which means that our images load in multiple places throughout the world, so the site can load faster, but because these images are larger, it’s going to cost more. For example, after we launched the new site, the day before we had a total cost of $20 and the day after we had total cost of $50 and it peaked at $70, and that’s per day. Again, it goes back to that give and take. Do you want to present these higher images knowing that it’s going to cost a little bit more if you use a CDN? For us we said, “Yup, we want to do that,” but there’s a give and take with all of that.
All right, a few more things here that we’re going to touch on into and then we’re going to wrap up. This is actually the last thing. It’s a two for one. It’s the recipes page and the shop page. For both of these, we are using a plugin called FacetWP and if you want to check that out, you can use our affiliate link. It’s PinchofYum.com/facet and that will take you to the FacetWP page. Essentially, what this does is it’s like sorting plugin. It allows us to really easily present recipes on the recipe page, so if you go to PinchofYum.com/recipes, you can see what that looks like.
Then we also have this shop. It’s an Amazon shop, technically, where we … Well, it’s not just Amazon but it’s mostly Amazon, where we present different products and things like that. People can search through those and pull those up on different affiliate spots or on Amazon. It’s a really sleek plugin that allows users to really easily sort through all the different content on Pinch of Yum.
Our goal with that was to make it as easy as possible for people to find the recipe that they’re looking for. Before what it was is these were links to different category pages, so it was really hard for people to click on a link or to search an entire page of different recipe links and to find one they’re looking for. Right now, they can go in, they can say gluten free then they can say salad and it’ll pull up all the gluten-free salads, so they can really easily find the content they’re looking for. We don’t have any ads on this page. We’re not trying to make money out of it. We’re just trying to really have a good user experience for people on this page. That’s true for the shop as well. A little bit different in that it’s like kitchen tools and things like that. You can check that out by going to PinchofYum.com/shop.
Deep breath. That’s the overview of some of the big changes we’ve made with Pinch of Yum, with the recent redesign. A little bit of background about why we made those changes and the impact it’s made or the impact we hope that it will make. As I mentioned at the beginning of this podcast, one of the things that we’re most excited about is continuing to evolve and applying that concept of 1% infinity, getting a little bit better each and every day to Pinch of Yum. It comes at a cost. We have to have a developer and potentially a designer that’s going to continue to help us develop this and move towards to totally optimal in terms of what the theme looks like, but I think long term it’ll really be worth it.
How about that for some geeky web chat? You made it through. If you made it this far, I’m really proud of you. If we’re sitting next to each other, I’ll give you a high five, and did the solo podcast. I didn’t stop ever once, so everything that you heard was all in one take, even the mess ups and doodads and dingdongs. That’s probably the worst part. If there’s anything that I wanted to remove from this entire podcast, it’s that last sentence that I said.
Hey, one more quick reminder. If you’re interested in applying some of these design and structure and development, that playbook that we talked about before that we have with Pinch of Yum to your website, again, we’re just trying to gauge interest on this, if people are interested in it or not. You can go to FoodBloggerPro.com/PinchofYum. That will redirect you to a page where you can put in your name and email address to follow along, or you can do this fancy thing. You can text “Pinch of Yum” to 44222.
Again, we don’t know if it’s something we’re going to do for sure but we’re just trying to gauge interest. Like I said before, it’s not like we’re holding any of this stuff tucked away deep in the closet, not telling any about it. We’re open to discussing it and sharing it. As always, if you’re a Food Blogger Pro member, stay tuned to those monthly happening now videos. I’ll continue to recap and let you know the different stuff that’s working and things that we’re changing. That’s a wrap for today’s podcast. I really appreciate you, guys, and thanks so much for tuning in. I hope that you were able to take some things away from it. If nothing else, just the fact that you really need to go back and watch The Matrix again if you haven’t seen it for a while, especially if you’ve never seen it before. Thanks for tuning in guys. Make it a great week. Peace.