Hello 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.
- Blogher– $61.09
- Google Adsense– $10.71
- Lijit– $21.57
- Swoop– $39.50
- Tout– $50
- Contributor Work– $200
- Bluehost– $130
- Tasty Food Photography– $9.95
- How to Monetize Your Food Blog eBook– $7.50
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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
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 .
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.
Whewww. Did you get through all of that? I think my fingers are going to fall off from all of that typing . 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!