Want to start a food blog (or any blog really)? Here’s some insight into how I made almost $40,000 in one year of blogging.
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This year, I’m doing something a little different: income reports.
Why? Because you asked.
Many of you know that running this blog full-time with a full-time job is a little crazy.
But, there are a few things I love about the idea of blogging forever.
- Who doesn’t want to work for themselves?
- It will give me an opportunity to manage my diabetes without so many hurdles.
- Flexibility to sleep in, take travel opportunities that come my way without worrying about vacay time, and spending more time with my family.
- Creating content that I love and serving the diabetes community with well-researched and positive information.
- The potential to take on more projects that excite and challenge me.
- Working at home in my pajamas. I mean, let’s be real.
- Paying less money in tolls to drive to and from work.
- NO COMMUTE!
- Freedom. Most definitely freedom.
I’m not naive about what this means. It means hard work, grit, and not losing sight of why I do this in the first place. It also means really tough times, and doing this alone.
It also means some burn-out and stress. That’s tough to swallow.
Why am I writing these traffic and income reports each month?
Fellow food blogging friends often want to learn what I’m learning, and I’m of the opinion that you should give more to the community than you take. The video above explains some of my biggest learnings of the last 10 years.
I also get so many questions, and it’s tough to answer them all.
Some of you have asked me directly to share what it takes to do this blogging thing.
Others lurk and engage indirectly. Either way, there’s been a bit of an unexpected demand for this kind of content.
On the flip side though, I made a promise to myself to be intentional about goal tracking and the transparency that comes with running this blog. There is very little transparency in the blogging world.
Even with my close blogger friends, we don’t discuss what we make, or how much we charge for partnerships. We still tip-toe around it. It might be trust. It also might just be that the numbers feel arbitrary. Sometimes though, you don’t want to play all of the cards in your hand, and that’s OK.
This is a perfect way to explain what I do, and how I do it, while being open and honest.
I don’t really have anything to hide when it comes to blogging. My traffic, my numbers, and my income from blogging are all fair game. If I’m calling out the transparency game, I have to be willing to share. And I am.
I think people will glean what they want from this.
You may even make judgments about me based on what you read in my income reports. But overall, the goal of this is to show you that blogging is hard work, and you get in what you put out.
Growth also takes investments and I want people to see that this doesn’t come easy.
Here’s what you can expect from my food blogger income report
You may be wondering what to expect from this income report.
- My monthly incoming & outgoing income from the blog.
- My monthly traffic numbers and goals.
- Anecdotes about blogging experiences.
- Takeaways and what you can learn from my experiences that month.
Here’s what you won’t get
- An exact amount I’m paid for a collaboration.
- An itemized list of what I’m earning and spending.
- Anything private or confidential.
So, here we go. I’m going to sum up all of 2019 in this first report.
The breakdown: 2019 traffic
My traffic in 2019 was…interesting.
I started off the year slow with roughly 10,000 pageviews a month. I had a goal to get to 20,000 pageviews per month by December (goal crushed).
I switched the approach to my blog with my content. Since I’m practicing a keto/low carb diet to reduce the need for as much insulin as I take (12 units basal daily) and oral medication (metformin), I wanted that reflected in my day to day life.
I began writing recipes, but one went viral – the chaffle.
So began my descent into madness as y’all crashed my website, I had to switch hosts, and I had to change basically my entire process to blogging and rebuild my infrastructure, so it wouldn’t come tumbling down again.
Those couple of months were the scariest I’ve ever had. Migrating my whole site away from my host of 9 years, and being afraid of losing all of my progress was in the back of my mind forever.
It all turned out OK and I’m equipped for more traffic when it comes. Phew – thanks to BigScoots for having my back.
Going viral (a second time) was an amazing experience, which led me to meet the goal to apply for Mediavine and increase my ad earnings almost 10 fold. Thanks to chaffles for changing my blog income.
After the chaffle boom kind of wore off, I was left with increased traffic, but not nearly the 100,000 monthly pageviews I was achieving. I hope I create a viral recipe in 2020 that brings as much success!
Here’s a snapshot of my traffic numbers compared this year to last.
As you can see – going viral pushed me over the edge, but it also gave me some residual readers (hi guys, thank you!). I also started amping up my content to capitalize on that traffic.
The thing that everyone is here for: my income.
In 2019, I made $34,745.56. I spent $12,037.51 (this is detailed in my cost of being a food blogger post). I netted $20,845. This doesn’t count anything that comes in today or tomorrow (which, won’t make a significant impact).
This year, website ads were not a huge moneymaker for me since I didn’t start getting paid for them until November. In 2020, that will change drastically.
You might ask why I spent so much? There are general food blogging expenses – website hosting, insurance, social media schedulers themes, subscriptions, widgets, buying food to develop recipes with, props etc. But, this year, I also invested a whole lot into ads. I had the money, so I thought “hey, let’s try this out.”
I spent roughly ~$5,000 on advertising on Instagram and Pinterest after my content went viral. Was it worth it? Not really.
What I learned was that you need a large budget to make any dent. Advertising didn’t hurt me, but it didn’t increase my viewership drastically as it had in the past.
I also invested in something crucial – an SEO course.
I wanted to take my content to the next level and learn how to write perfect blogs so that you guys could discover my site from search engines. That was probably my best investment of the year.
It helped me to structure things this year. I’m also writing stronger, and more helpful articles.
OK and one more thing – a brand manager.
In just a month, she’s helped me streamline, take on calls, and organize my brand deals. I don’t know how I lived without her.
Actually, I almost went insane before we started working together.
I think another important thing to note here is how much time I spent on the blog.
I typically spent 2 hours each evening catching up, plus 6-8 hours each weekend creating posts, optimizing seasonal content and shooting content. Sometimes much more depending on deadlines, or posts to cover.
My biggest takeaways from 2019
- Invest in the right things. That includes both money and time.
- Be open to feedback and criticism. Ask other bloggers for their insight, and again, give more than you take from the community.
- Do your research. Are you writing what people want?
- Believe in yourself.
- Write down your goals, I began 2019 by writing down everything I wanted to achieve with my blog. I met and CRUSHED 90% of what I set out to do. There’s power in putting it on paper.
- Your time is valuable, and your audience is your largest asset.
My biggest goals for 2020
- I want to average 80,000 pageviews a month on the site. It’s a big goal, and it requires a lot of work, but I’m ready.
- I’m doing much more with email marketing this year, and being intentional about mailing my audience.
- I’m diving into youtube with some fun and educational video content.
- My bestie Katie and I are podcasting!
- The end goal for this year is to save more money than I spend. This was a building year to get established, find the right tools for my business and run. Next year, we’re saving those checks, and cutting expenses, boo!
- To create content we all love, and that serves the purpose of educating people with pre-diabetes, diabetes, and people who want to be conscious of their overall health. We’re doing that together.
- Lastly, to stay transparent and authentic.
I really appreciate you reading all of the insight into this year. If you loved the post, be sure to save it as a pin for later!