July Income Report- $530.32

 

July Income ReportHello all! I’m back with my second blogging income report to share numbers and what I’ve learned this past month. If you want to read my first one, feel free to check it out here!

Let’s jump right to it! Here are the numbers for July.

Income

Total: $530.32

Breakdown

Ad Networks: 

If you look on my sidebar and header, you’ll see a few ads running. These are great because I can just fix em’ and forget em’. They bring in a passive income without me having to do much at all. 

Adsense: $10.71

Overall, this was a pretty disappointing month for for ad-related income for me. Halfway through the month, I realized that Adsense was just not cutting it and I installed Liijit and used Adsense as a backfill for it if the CPM of Lijiit ads went lower than $0.50. Lijiit pays based on the number of views an ad gets rather than the number of people who actually click them, so it works better and is more reliable for AOME because most people who come to my site are here for the recipes and not to purchase anything.

Lijit: $21.47

Lijit is another ad network I’m trying out. I found the ad network through a list of possible options that Kiersten lists in her How to Monetize Your Food Blog eBook. They’re relatively easy to get into and gave me twice as much income in half the time as Adsense. 

 

Blogher: $44.47

Blogher was also a little disappointing, since I’ve heard that their usual CPM is around $2-5. If that had held true for July, I would have made $120-310. I’m going to shoot an email to the Blogher team sometime this week to see what’s going on. I just checked my account for the month of August so far, though, and things look much more promising in terms of the CPM I’ve been getting! *Edit: this month is looking good! Woo!

Swoop: $39.50

Swoop also gave me significantly less than July’s income, partly because my traffic was much lower since I had recipes featured on The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed last month, which sent over a good amount of pageviews. Less people saw my Swoop ads, thus the lower income received.

Affiliate Links:

Bluehost: $130

A big chunk of this month’s income comes from people signing up to self-host their site on Bluehost and following my affiliate link to do so. You guys, thank you so much if you did! It helps me pay for my grocery bill (food blogging gets expensive with all the vanilla extract and chocolate chips I buy) and I truly appreciate it :) . The way it works is that, if you go through my link to become self-hosted at Bluehost, I receive a commission from the sale (at no extra expense to you, of course). The fancy internet machine is able to track where a link comes from through cookies (and no, not the kind you eat. I wish) and gives me credit for the referral. You can read more about The Benefits of Self-Hosting Your Site here, along with me mentioning it on my first income report!

Tasty Food Photography: $9.95

Still my #1 must have if you have/are in the process of making a food blog. I seriously want Lindsay to be my bffl and I adore her and Bjork’s blog, Pinch of Yum. I learned everything I know about food photography from her eBook and she does a wonderful job at explaining everything in basic, easy-to-understand terms so that you’re not feeling lost and hopeless and drown yourself in a jar of nut butter to dull the pain of learning how to use a camera and editing photos. Am I being dramatic? Nah.

Tasty Food Photography eBook

Other:

Blogher Tout: $50

No, not that kind of tout. I don’t get paid to fart, sadly :( . Touts are Blogher’s name for advertisements on social media. One of the benefits of being in the Blogher network is that occasionally I’ll be hired to sponsor ads. In July I got a job to post a few ads on my Facebook page.

Contributor Work: $200

One awesome thing about having a food blog is that it lends itself to be a pretty kick-butt resume to getting other food-related jobs. I really enjoy working as a food blogger and must admit, getting paid to do work in my pajamas and practice my photography/eat is preeeeeettty fabulous. I did a post about Tips on Getting Freelance Jobs and I’ve heard that many of you have had success with it! Awesome!

Orange Bar

Overview

As far as the sheer number of recipes go, I only posted 6 recipes total. It’s weird, but for some reason the extra time I have now that my college is out for the summer doesn’t really correlate to me spending more time on the blog. That’s totally okay, though! I blog because I genuinely enjoy cooking, photographing, and writing as a creative process and don’t want to push it if the blogging mojo isn’t flowing. I think once you start forcing yourself to do something, it becomes less of a hobby and more of a chore. Interestingly, even though I had significantly less traffic than I had in June (a whopping 36% less), I made more income thanks to you guys going through my Bluehost affiliate links. Seeing an increase in the diversity of my income streams makes this girl reaaal happy since I’m not depending on just one main source. That way, when one stream runs dry, I’m not left like a fish out of water (omg the puns here… I die). 

Traffic

Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 5.52.10 PMScreen Shot 2014-08-09 at 5.53.11 PMScreen Shot 2014-08-09 at 5.52.32 PMThis Month's Tip Food Composition and Styling

My tip for this month is to concentrate on your staging for your food photography. July was a month for working on my photos (quality over quantity) and I discovered that little things can make a big difference. I spent a few bucks at my local craft store ($21.37 to be exact) and was able to pick up a few garnishes to make my photos more fun and stylish.

Things I’ve discovered: 

  • Use small plates. I don’t know about you, but when I see pictures of food, the ones that really draw me in and start to make me drool involve big, in-your-face, glutinous-looking, recipes. When you use a big plate, you have to use massive piles of food to get the same effect and they don’t fit nicely into the frame of the photos. 
  • Elevate your food. When I take pictures of baked goods/sweet treats especially, I like to elevate them to give them more depth. This month, I found a piece of broken wood at TJ Maxx on clearence for 25 cents that I’ve used to get that effect.

Elevate Your Food

  • Swirl, take bites, make it messy! I usually start off snapping a few pictures as soon as I plate the food without much movement. Those photos are necessary to give me an idea on how to angle my camera, but in the end they always turn out a little stiff and cold. Bring life to your photos by creating movement! 

Strawberry-and-Cream-Oats

  • Use small props to bring color to your photos. I like using linen towels, paper straws (my new obsession), some twine, and small bowls to hold a glimpse of what ingredients are in the recipe I made. I picked up the mini bowls in the photo below from the clearance section from my craft store for just $1.25 for the whole set. SCORE.

Food Photography Tips

  • LIGHTING. Lightning is EVERYTHING. I learned how to position my recipes and use light to make my photos pop with Lindsay’s Tasty Food Photography eBook. Honestly, if you don’t use good lighting, your photos will turn out crappy. Simple as that. 

Questions from You

I got a small amount of feedback from fellow bloggers with a few requests on topics to cover.

1. “How did you start building traffic to your blog?” 
Honestly, the biggest thing I can think of is simply improving my food photography. I’m really bad at promoting my recipes via social media (I only just got an Instagram), so the only thing I really do is submit to FoodGawker and TasteSpotting. I know you must think I’m hiding some sort of secret, but I promise I’m not. When you get exposure on those food sharing sites, people notice and oftentimes, pin them to Pinterest or link to your recipes on their own sites. Not every recipe I create is a success in terms of generating traffic to AOME, but occasionally one will get shared by BuzzFeed/The Huffington Post/etc and brings in a buttload of page views. Success isn’t gained overnight, but eventually those page views from various sources build up. I promise, it’ll happen. Maybe not quite as fast as you’d like, but it will! 

2. “How much traffic did you have when you started monetizing?”

Hmm, it’s hard to remember exactly, but probably around 8,000-10,000 pageviews a month. If I were to start blogging all over again, I would start monetizing and placing ads on my site as soon as possible. There really isn’t a downside to it, and even with 8k page views a month, I easily made enough to cover the cost of self-hosting my site, which also lets me have much more control of my blog, host giveaways, etc. Totally worth it. If you’re on the fence about it, I’d say go for it!

3. “I think it’d be interesting to learn more about the expenses portion of monetizing a blog, for example, how much time do you spend on the blog, how much do you spend on hosting the site, buying groceries, food photography props, etc.”

Gosh, I have a hard enough time even keeping track of my income, let alone my expenses. It’s hard to really get an exact number because my expenses for the food for recipes for the blog overlap with my actual grocery bill since I eat what I make. I’ll do the best I can to give an accurate estimate!

  • Time spent on the blog: Gah, it varies SO much. Each recipe takes me 2-5 hours to create, photograph, edit, and type up the post for it. So total hands on time for July with my six recipes was probably around 12-30 hours. I would estimate 20 hours. I also spend time interacting with other bloggers, responding to comments, etc which make an exact amount of time impossible to calculate. All of this time is well-spent, though, since I LOVE blogging. I love everything about it. 
  • How much I spend on hosting: I got the one year package since, at the time, I was iffy about commiting to a longer term plan. I pay $9.99 a month, which my ads can easily cover. I wish I would have gone with the longer plan, since I think they go for as little as $4.99 a month!
  • Groceries: I honestly have no idea. Too much haha. 
  • Food photography props: Probably around $5-$20 a month max. Some months I don’t buy any new props, and others I can’t seem to stop :shock: .

4. “What camera do you use?”

I use a Nikon D5200 with a Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lens. I LOVE my camera and lens (the lens gives my photos that coveted dreamy blur in the background), You can read more about them on my Resources for Food Bloggers page

5. “What ad networks do you use?”

I currently am using Blogher, Adsense, Lijit, and Swoop. Kiersten does a really great job of breaking down different ad companies and explain their pros and cons and ranks them based on her experiences with them. She has a ton more that I haven’t explored yet, but I’m planning on spending a day at Starbucks with her eBook and figuring out the best combination of ad networks to use for AOME. 

10313-dogs-tired-dog

Whewww. Did you get through all of that? I think my fingers are going to fall off from all of that typing :shock: . I hope you guys found this report to be useful! I want to reiterate that I do not blog with the sole purpose of making money. It just is a fabulous perk that comes with what I love to do and I am happy to share my experiences with monetizing with the rest of ya’ll so that we can all grow together. Who know, maybe one day I’ll be doing this for a living and I can flush that biology degree down the drain ;) (just kidding, mom and dad).

Questions, comments, concerns? I’d love to hear them! 

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links to products I love!

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Comments

    • says

      You’re so welcome! I hope Lijit works out well for you. I think I prefer them to Adsense. You might want to try setting a CPM limit and backfilling with Adsense since I’ve heard from others that works best! Thanks so much for your kind words, Kim! I’m working hard at improving my photography and it’s awesome how discovering a few small things can make a big difference :).
    • says

      Gah- you have no idea how happy it makes me to hear that they’re helpful! They take me between 6-8 hours to fully write/get together, so it’s nice to know that people are getting something out of them!

      Thanks for sticking with me from the start <3!

  1. says

    I love reading these reports! They are super helpful and I believe you are earning every single cent that you bring in :)
    I nominated you for the Inspiring Blogger Award, by the way :D
    Quick question: after you have earned the money from your blog, how do you receive it? (I.e., bank account, credit card, etc) I’m just wondering because I don’t have, need, or want a credit card/account and was curious if I need one in order to self host.
    • says

      Yay! So glad you like them!

      There are a number of different options on how you can receive the money you earn. I choose to have a direct deposit into my bank account/Paypal since I move a lot (college life has me switching addresses every year), but you can also choose to have checks mailed to you :).

      Thank you SO much for the nomination! You’re so sweet :)!

  2. says

    I ALWAYS bookmark these income posts (even though you haven’t done many). They are so incredibly helpful. Thank you, thank you, thank you for spending so much time on these! I know they must take FOREVER, but I seriously love these posts. I love seeing you make money doing something you love! You deserve it for running one of my fav blogs :) xx
  3. says

    I love these posts! They are so helpful and informative for some of us who have no idea how advertising works. And also, love that you include the contributor work, too! I do a lot of freelance work and never remember that it counts! :)
    Kim (Feed Me, Seymour) recently posted…Grilled Fruit SangriaMy Profile
  4. says

    Hi Christine! – We know each other from FBP. I’ve always been so impressed with your blogging knowledge and how far you have come in just a short while! You have far surpassed me and I’ve been at this for awhile! I’m learning so much from you! Thank you for sharing…truly enjoy your recipes, commentary and photos as well!
    Take care,
    Kathi
    • says

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Kathi! I’m happy to share what I’ve learned since we can all use a little help sometimes and the blog world can be utterly confusing. Best to pass around all the info we can get :)!

      Have a wonderful day!

  5. says

    Hi Christine, thank you for sharing. These posts are really helpful and inspiring! I just started my blog 2 months ago, I’m definitely learning a lot on the blogging front and photography. It’s so much fun though! I would love to be able to monetize some day to help with the grocery bills for sure… and the gym bill… :-P
    Trang recently posted…Friday Food Facts: Natural vs. Dutch-process Cocoa PowderMy Profile
    • says

      Isn’t it a blast?! I have such a great time with it that I can hardly call it “working” hahah ;). Yup, the gym is necessary with all the taste-testing that must be done in the name of the blog haha! I’m sitting next to a biiiggg plate of white chocolate macadamia nut cookies right now and I see a trip to the gym tonight in my future haha.
  6. says

    Ahh, look at you!! I am so proud of you for figuring this whole monetizing your blog thing out and being so proactive about it. I make most of my money from product reviews and other miscellaneous bloggy things but I really need to get more into ads and affiliate links!! You are inspiring me to take that leap!! Thanks for all the tips, you rock as always. Xox
    • says

      I really need to get in on more sponsored product reviews, but I’m just not sure where to find the companies! I’ve had a couple approach me, but not as many as I would like ;). If you have any tups, I’m all ears! Love ya, girlie!! <3
  7. says

    Thanks for sharing, lady! I self host thru Blue Host but never knew you could make money. Checking out the link you shared now!
  8. says

    Thanks so much for sharing, Christine! You were one of the new-ish bloggers who inspired me to start my own blog. While Pinch of Yum makes me dream, you showed the beginning side of the bloggy business, and it was just the push I needed to get started. Love the photography & staging tips this month as improving my photography is next on my list.
    • says

      You’re so welcome, Lori!

      It honestly made my day to hear that I helped motivate you to start blogging. Blogging is such a wonderful creative release and it’s exciting to see others taking the plunge and starting their own blogs! Let me know if you have any questions or need help with anything :).

  9. says

    Thanks for sharing this with us Christine! I wish I could figure out how to get ads to work on my blog. Can’t seem to figure it out for some reason :/ The sad part is that it is probably easy to do!
    Brittany @ DulceVie recently posted…Tea Talk TuesdayMy Profile
  10. says

    This truly is helpful! While I adore Pinch of Yum, their numbers seem so far out there and really most food bloggers aren’t THAT successful. These numbers seem more attainable. And that’s a compliment! I know they will get bigger for you, but for now it’s nice to see the “beginning.”

    I do think you should do a rough estimate of expenses like on Pinch of Yum. Even an estimate will help bloggers realize there are costs associated with blogging. :)

    Something I’ve been working on is affiliate links, but I find it so awkward to state in each post that there are affiliate links….I think FTC regulations says you have to state it in the beginning of each post. Do you do that? Or how do you deal with disclaimers?
    Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nut recently posted…CamelBak Relay Pitcher GiveawayMy Profile

  11. says

    Ahh I know I fell off the blogging earth, but I’ve still be reading your blog :) So happy to see how far you’ve come. And now you’re able to make money doing what you love? WHATTTT! Dream come true :) Keep going in this direction my friend… Your passion exudes through everyone’s computer screen ;)
    Julie recently posted…Type of BloggerMy Profile
  12. says

    I love how facinated people are with how to make money blogging. Probably the #1 question I get asked! I also get asked where to start and I couldn’t agree more with starting with food photography. Make things beautiful and people will flock!

    I almost switched to BH but at the last minute heard their CPM was tanking so I’m glad I stuck with Glam. If you’re able to break your contract with BH see if you can get into Glam! Their CPM is awesome right now! Also increase your freelance rates!!!!!!!! <–can you tell how I feel about this? You're super talented so don't undercharge for your awesome services! Email me and we can chat rates ;)

    Keep killin it girlfriend! You're doing awesome!
    Davida @ The Healthy Maven recently posted…{End-Of-Summer E-Book Sale} Fit Foodie Finds + THM’s 2-For-1 eCookbook Deal!My Profile

  13. says

    Hey Christine! I follow Pinch of Yum too and love their monthly income reports – it gives me hope that one day I can make a substantial income from doing what I best love – writing, photographing & cooking.

    Thanks for sharing your tips/and being transparent about your income!

    Perhaps one day I will take your lead and publish my own income reports too – right now I think the amount I’m earning from blog monetization isn’t that much to justify publishing any reports – but I’ve realized that since making blog design changes exactly a month, both page views and eCPM from Lijit have gone up for me.

    So nice to meet you, btw!
    Felicia
    felicia | Dish by Dish recently posted…Italy’s southern treasure – the Amalfi CoastMy Profile

    • says

      So glad you found some helpful info from these! It’s great that your blog design changes has helped your CPM go up- that’s awesome!

      Wonderful to meet you too :)!

    • says

      Hi Kathleen! I’m sorry I’m replying to this so late- it got lost in my comments and I’m only just now seeing it! Have you emailed Lijit to activate the ads you put on? I think they have to manually do that :)
  14. says

    Hey Christine,
    I will definitely follow up this post to see how your website is growing. I earn a passive income and it’s the best thing that any blogger would achieve “Sleeping while your blog is working for you 24/7” lol
    I have several websites and every week I check my accounts and a big smile on my face;-)
    Let’s face it, it’s hard for new starters but as soon as you start getting traffic, and some $$$, I’m sure you will get so excited.
    I remember the first time I got my cheque from Adsense like 5 years ago from Google :-)
    Keep up the great work Food Bloggers and your hard work will be rewarded!
    Cheers
    Azedine recently posted…Interview with a Food Blogger Lauren MacLeodMy Profile
    • says

      I love that my blog earns me some money while I’m asleep! It’s awesome waking up knowing that you’re earning passively :). Thanks so much for your encouraging words!

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