December 4, 2017

KetoHub: Month 2 report

Context: The KetoHub debut post

KetoHub is an aggregator for keto recipes. I launched it on IH almost two months ago, so here are some updates since then.

What's changed

  • Added a search feature

  • Added support for five new recipe sites (seven total)

  • Polished the UI based on user feedback

  • Hired a web development expert to help answer my questions about frontend development

Visitor stats

  • October: 72 unique visitors

  • December: 171 unique visitors

I've been off to a slow start. My original goal was to have 100 unique visitors per day in November, but it's roughly what I'm getting per month.

What's worked

  • User phone calls

    • After I first launched, I arranged phone calls with friends I knew who followed the keto diet. I found that to be the biggest bang for my buck in terms of feature requests. It's much easier for people to just speak their thoughts aloud, so they tend to provide much more feedback on the phone than they do in person.
  • Facebook

    • I haven't had much success using it to promote my site. I find the pace too frenetic to the point where even if I share content people like, it quickly fades away. BUT because it's essentially just a stream of thoughts, it gives me good insight into what my potential users want (see "Next steps").
  • Twitter

    • I've started promoting more heavily on Twitter. It doesn't bring in much traffic, but I think seeing other blogs engage with me on Twitter provides a bit of "social proof" when I approach new blogs about integrating.

What hasn't worked

  • Direct engagement with bloggers

    • I tried reaching out to bloggers to ask their permission to index their sites. I don't think I technically need to, but I want to make it clear to them that I want to have a symbiotic relationship.

    • Of eight I reached out to, five said yes, one said no, two didn't respond. I was hoping they'd be more actively engaged and give me more feedback about what they wanted out of the site or mention me on their blog, but once I link to them, they stop responding to my emails.

  • Mailing list

    • I currently only have three subscribers: my mom, my girlfriend, and dhruv.

Challenges

  • Frontend development is hard

    • I'm mainly a backend guy, so it's been a challenge to learn frontend development. It's frustrating because there are features that I suspect would take an experienced web developer 2 hours and ~30 lines to implement, but they'll take me weeks because I'm still trying to understand the fundamentals.

Next steps

  • "Share collection" feature

    • A really common post in keto facebook groups is, "Can someone show me recipes that use X ingredient," or, "Can someone recommend me good recipes for breakfast on the go?" I can find those recipes really easily with KetoHub, but I don't have a good way of sharing the results with people. I'd like to implement a feature where I can use KetoHub to select some recipes, generate a KetoHub URL for that set, and share the URL on Facebook.
  • Blog post

    • I'm almost done with a blog post about the process of building the MVP for KetoHub. If the post is successful, it will drive people to KetoHub and increase its organic SEO rankings. I'll be cross-posting it to IH, so stay tuned.

    • Unfortunately, the audience for a post about building a web app MVP isn't necessarily the same audience that's interested in keto recipes, but I think there will be at least a bit of overlap.


  1. 6

    One place that might like this is /r/keto on reddit - it's a huge keto community and they enjoy these sorts of sites as long as the content is good.

    1. 4

      I think the approach that I've seen that generally works well for introducing an app to subreddits is to make sure that you mention that:

      1. This is a topic that you are personally interested in and passionate about

      2. You're looking to build a tool that solves a pain point for you and feel would benefit the community, so...

      3. You're looking for input on what features the community would like and are open to feedback

      Does /r/keto currently doesn't look like it has a lot of links in their sidebar so if you got on there I think you'll be flying!

      1. 2

        Forgot to say, congrats on launching 2 months ago and pursuing your side project!!

      2. 1

        Yeah, agree. I'm definitely conscious of entering these kinds of community as someone who wants to engage and contribute rather than just feed off of them for clicks. The items on your list are good things for me to keep in mind.

        1. 2

          I've found that you can get traffic from /r/ketorecipes with fairly low effort by posting links to recipes. Essential part is to make sure an enticing thumbnail appears on the reddit link (the page needs to have an og:image meta tag - http://ogp.me/) , otherwise you will be forfeiting most of your upvotes.

          /r/keto seems to be bigger on personal stories (weight loss success, anecdotes about people who discredit keto, etc.), I never figured out what to post there.

          (BTW I just now remembered that you emailed me @ketocargo a while ago and I completely forgot to reply - sorry!)

          1. 1

            Ah, I hadn't realised my own advice is not so useful as all your recipes link elsewhere so trafic from reddit wouldn't go to you.

            Is it worth having some on KetoHub directly? I invented some on the KetoCargo page, most of which were just small twists on other recipes. Feel free to use any of these recipes BTW: http://www.ketocargo.com/blog. No need to link back to Keto Cargo.

            1. 1

              Thanks for offering the recipes! That's really nice of you.

              I'll hold off for now because I want to keep the site focused on being a portal to other recipe sites. I feel like if I start hosting my own recipes, it confuses that a little bit.

    2. 1

      Yeah, I'm a little worried that they're too big. I feel like if I post there and they think it's terrible, it's hard to post again.

      It's definitely on my roadmap to share there, but I'm planning to do one more round of feature additions based on the blog post traffic before I post there.

      1. 1

        Potentially, I visit /r/keto quite a bit and I think it's a really handy tool that the sub could use... No harm in trying!

  2. 3

    Nice update, and the site looks super useful. To me, it looks like it might be time to focus on growth and retention.

    Are the people who are visiting coming back? There needs to be something that reminds them to go to the site when they're looking for recipes. I guess you'd be trying to break their Google habit. The book Hooked could help give you ideas for this (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hooked-Guide-Building-Habit-Forming-Products/dp/1494277530).

    What's your growth channel going to be? Guest blogging? SEO? Promotion on other people's newsletters? That's what I'd be thinking about now, but wouldn't necessarily act on it until retention was solved. Good luck!

    1. 1

      Are the people who are visiting coming back?

      That's a good idea. I hadn't looked into that at all. Here's the retention in Google Analytics: https://imgur.com/ELaIFWC

      It looks like they're not coming back, but it also feels like such a small sample size that it's hard to draw conclusions.

      The book Hooked could help give you ideas for this

      Thanks! I'll check this out. I heard him on the IH podcast and have been meaning to read the book.

      What's your growth channel going to be? Guest blogging? SEO? Promotion on other people's newsletters? That's what I'd be thinking about now, but wouldn't necessarily act on it until retention was solved. Good luck!

      To start, I plan to do small things, like watch for people asking for recipes on Facebook and point them to my site via the "collections" feature (when that's implemented). I'm also considering buying advertising in dhruv's keto newsletter. I get ~1,000 visitors per day to my tech blog, so I think if I occasionally write about the process of building it from the technical end, I can attract some new users that way, though they won't necessarily be keto dieters.

  3. 2

    Awesome site, ivr subbed! <3 me some food

    1. 1

      Thanks for reading!

  4. 2

    Just read your post on r/startups. And then I was going through old emails from IH and saw this. Coincidence?

  5. 2

    hey, just wanted to provide quick design feedback:

    • align the title with the content of the body

    • add whitespace everywhere! (especially on the descriptions of each recipe) and between recipes (bottom margin). Other than that the design is pretty minimal and nice!

    1. 2

      Thanks for the tips! I don't have a great eye for design, so it's helpful to get that feedback. I'm currently reading @limedaring's new book, so hopefully that will help too.

      I think those are all good ideas. It's going to take me a bit of an embarrassing amount of time to apply them because my current rating as a Bootstrap developer is: terrible. But I've added them to my work queue, so they're happening!

      Love awesome-indie, btw.

  6. 2

    Some random points:

    • what is a keto diet ? There is no explanation on your website

    • who are you? there is no about page

    • UI is really barebone, with gray buttons and a black/dark gray, as you already said, you should working on that

    • some receipts gives also nutritional information, you should index them too and display as overlay to your website users

    • make one step back as new user. I don't know nothing about your website, there is no explanation or help. Your website should be explain itself, with a catching phrase or a call to action, like "search

    all keto recipes here" or something like that

    • for the newsletter: anyone don't like spam. So why I should register to your newsletter (that is on the bottom of your website? why on the bottom? You could place it on top if is important to keep you growing), how many email you will send to me? One for day? One for week? One for month?

    • what about terms of use or privacy? How do you will use my email or my searching terms?

    • if you are a backend developer, store and analyze searching terms, publish some blog post about it and use this data, for example arrange your presentation in order to show more searched recipes on top

    • don't add too much features if you are not a frontend developer, optimize users flow, explain better, focus on growth. So far this is a good mvp, do you have a blog other than here? Do you analyze your data ? How do you engage new users ?

    • technical side: what if I want to share from your website a recipe ? there is no social button for that..

  7. 2

    I think you should offer a collaborative recipe design feature. So you can invite people to a group and then plan your meals for the week. And then with one click you should also be able to generate a grocery shopping list.

    1. 1

      I think you should offer a collaborative recipe design feature. So you can invite people to a group and then plan your meals for the week.

      Oh that's a good idea. I'd thought about some way to use it for meal planning, but I was coming at it from the angle of freelance nutritionist putting together plans. I didn't think about user-generated or collaborative plans. That would be cool.

      And then with one click you should also be able to generate a grocery shopping list.

      Shopping list is something I'd really like to do. Especially because I could monetize it through Amazon Fresh or something.

      I feel like it's pretty hard to get right though because customers will expect it to be close to 100% accurate. The penalty for sending them to the store with an incorrect shopping list is too high.

      I'm not sure how I'd solve the problem of parsing all the differently formatted recipes and combining them into one shopping list. I guess a really simple way would be to not parse at all and just concat everything together, but it could get ugly combining repeated ingredients from different recipes, like:

      • 8oz cream cheese

      • 4 oz Philadelphia Cream Cheese (I use the whole fat variety)

      • 100g Organic Valley cream cheese

      1. 1

        Here's some links that might be helpful for parsing:

        https://open.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/04/09/extracting-structured-data-from-recipes-using-conditional-random-fields/

        https://open.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/04/27/structured-ingredients-data-tagging/

        An ingredient parser I wrote for scraping recipes from allrecipes.co.uk: https://gist.github.com/EmilePW/8645ba2390a897f189d5415459569b4e

        (there's a keto section on allrecipes which you might be able to adapt my above code to with varying success, although the code is not brilliant in all honesty)

        1. 1

          Whoaaaa! That's really useful, thanks!

          I was just doing it quick 'n dirty with regexes, but it wasn't going to scale. I should have thought to look for an existing ingredient parser. This will be way cleaner. Well, assuming I can get their code to work. It looks like it's pretty wonky and they stopped maintaining it after publication.

      2. 1

        Collaborative is good for roommates/partners who eat together.

        1. Parse weight/amount & normalize it in measurement weight

        2. Parse the rest of the thing and assign it to one of the ~200? most common grocery foods. Some NLP would be helpful here for matching. Or crowd sourced labeling, a la mturk or your own hand rolled solution.

        3. Auto generate the list, and send it to your queue for human review before forwarding it to the user

  8. 2

    This looks really useful. Thanks for building it. I love how simple it is. Most of these sites are immediately very overwhelming.

    FWIW, your low newsletter count could be caused by not being able to sign up. I tried signing up for it and nothing's happening. Cheers!

    1. 2

      FWIW, your low newsletter count could be caused by not being able to sign up. I tried signing up for it and nothing's happening. Cheers!

      Whoops! Thanks for letting me know. Looks like it died when I upgraded to Angular2 and I never re-tested it. I just fixed it, so it's working now.

  9. 2

    I'm on a keto diet for about a year or so. I've recently signed up to feedspot as they did a top 30 keto blogs to follow. It's easy to keep track of new recipes there and also I can search multiple blogs at once, which is quite useful to me. I think I've signed up for the $10-20/year plan just for this feature.

    One thing that I would love would be the option to search the recipes by ingredients and calories. However a lot of websites don't offer nutritional information. I think it would be a useful feature that I would use.

    I tried to sign up for the newsletter, but I don't think the form below the page works. At least, it didn't for me.

    This site would appeal (a little bit) to someone who's on a keto diet, but how about someone who doesn't know what diet to choose?

    For the moment, there's no content other than links to other websites. I can't see that play well with SEO.

    1. 1

      I've recently signed up to feedspot as they did a top 30 keto blogs to follow. It's easy to keep track of new recipes there and also I can search multiple blogs at once, which is quite useful to me. I think I've signed up for the $10-20/year plan just for this feature.

      Oh cool, I hadn't heard of feedspot. Between feedspot and KetoHub, are there features you feel feedspot has that KetoHub is missing?

      One thing that I would love would be the option to search the recipes by ingredients and calories. However a lot of websites don't offer nutritional information. I think it would be a useful feature that I would use.

      Cool, good feedback. Currently, when you search KetoHub, it does include ingredients. There's no way to search based on calories right now, but that may be doable in the future. Yeah, only certain sites list the nutritional information, but if enough of them do, I can still offer useful searching with that.

      I tried to sign up for the newsletter, but I don't think the form below the page works. At least, it didn't for me.

      Ay! It was broken. I apparently broke it two weeks ago when I upgraded to Angular 2 and never tested it. It's fixed now. Thanks for the heads up.

      This site would appeal (a little bit) to someone who's on a keto diet, but how about someone who doesn't know what diet to choose?

      For the moment, there's no content other than links to other websites. I can't see that play well with SEO.

      That's a good point. I could add some more original content. It's surprisingly common to see people post in those keto facebook groups, but have no idea what keto is. I could write an intro in my own words and link to it and introduce people to my site that way.

  10. 1

    keep update! looking forward to know month 3,4,5,6 and 1 year

    1. 2

      Thanks! Me too.

  11. 1

    The idea looks interesting and useful but... I counted 6 annoying ads on your recipe page. And closed it.

    1. 1

      Can you share a screenshot? The site has no ads whatsoever.

      1. 1

        Ah, I see what's going on. Your site is just an aggregator and has links to other resources, filled up with ads.