Writing a food blog is a tough business, and it can be an investment for the blogger. Here’s how much it costs The Hangry Woman to run her blog, and how she thinks readers can support their favorite bloggers.
The cost of food blogging is crazy, y’all.
I did a survey the other day on Instagram about the cost of being a food blogger, and you guys wanted to know how much I spent sustaining Hangry Woman.
SPOILER ALERT, it is a lot. Read on for the grand total.
Remember when Biggie said, “‘mo money, ‘mo problems?” He was absolutely right.
But serious blogging is a business, and running it like one requires a lot of resources and investment.
How this blog makes money
The blog makes money with the help of sponsored content, advertising, your social shares, and my affiliate shop.
I’ve finally gotten to a point where it pays for itself, but that didn’t use to be the case – I used to pay for most, if not all of this, out of pocket without any extra income for doing it.
So, what are some of my food blogging expenses? This probably isn’t even everything. as I wrote this I went back to think of more and more expenses.
Tipping at restaurants & eating out
When food bloggers say they’re going out to get free food, it’s wrong to me.
There is always a cost of eating out, and for me, that’s a tip at the restaurant that invited me out or *gasp* paying for my meal because I wanted to eat somewhere that I wasn’t invited.
That’s right, I don’t get invited to every single food event in Houston, and I’m okay with that.
You guys are curious about a lot of the places I’m curious about, so I do my best to cover those places. Sometimes, that comes out of pocket for me. It’s not always #sponsored, and it shouldn’t be.
Other times, if I’m invited, I tip.
The restaurant gave me their time, their staff, their attention, and an invite to try their food. The very least I can do is tip on my non-existent bill. It’s much less than I would be paying for dinner, usually.
Running my website
Whew, baby. Let me tell you about this. This is probably the biggest price to pay when it comes to food blogging.
Hangry Woman got big enough to hacked, taken down, destroyed, and I’ve had to rebuild it.
I will never do that again, or go through the heartbreak of lost content, so I invest like crazy to keep this site running.
There are a lot of considerations about how I choose to do that. I recently had a fight with my host when my website recently went MIA for 24 hours.
Even though I had a lot of anxiety over that (and I was mad and complained on Instagram), I knew that I was in good hands because my site had daily backups, and I didn’t have to worry about losing much (although some backups failed so I lost three blogs. So sad).
Some of these things could be obtained for free, I know that. But, the convenience of being able to call someone when you’re not sure what your doing is the best security for me.
I know a tiny bit of web development, but I mostly know how to write and run a blog.
Hosting – $639 per year to rent my little slice of the internet. There are much cheaper hosts than Godaddy – for sure.
I’ve been with them for 10 years, with a few mishaps and I’m a creature of habit, so it’s really scary when I think about changing my host.
My hosting costs so much because of my traffic and content, and desire for lightning-fast site speed. Pretty images, and more than 20,000 sessions per month = big money.
Pro tip – if you have any of the business plans, there is 0 discount for paying for more months at a time, so don’t do it.
They also do not refund any hosting you don’t use after 2 days. So if you buy multiple months and then want to switch, you’re out that money if you decide to leave.
Domain Names – I have 4 of them. One for my consulting business, variations of my URL, and a short URL to use for branded linking. They cost $10-$15/year depending on the URL.
Automatic Website Backups – This is super important to me, and most free services do not work as I’d like them to. I use Go Daddy’s Backup service and literally if something goes wrong, I can go back to a previous backup in 1 click. I pay $50/year. I also love this because I never have to rely on my own storage. Cloud storage starts out cheap but gets up there pretty fast.
Website Security – I purchase this annually to get a massive discount. $178.99 a year. Website security blocks hacking attempts on my website files and database (I get more than 2,000 attempts A DAY). It also ensures that if my website goes down for hacking or malware, my host cleans it up and makes everything right with the world again.
SSL – this one makes me mad, but I understand it. Search engines want to be sure they’re sending you to a safe location because it’s in their best interest.
All websites are required to have an SSL (Secure Site Lock), or risk being ranked lower or taken out of ranks altogether.
My issue is that I have some subdomains so I have to buy an expensive wildcard SSL instead of a standard one (which is still hella expensive if your host doesn’t provide it).
My SSL is $314 per year, but it covers all of my subdomains like mila.hangrywoman.com and special projects I’m working on.
Plugins also cost too! In order to give you perfect printable and pinnable recipes, I spend $75 per year.
Buying appliances, food or tools for blog posts.
I buy lots of things – plates, glasses, trinkets, backdrops whatever makes my photos look the best.
People won’t even look at your recipes if the photos aren’t appealing to them.
I usually reserve $1000 each year to spend on those items. I pay for every recipe I make, even the fails, so that also comes at a cost.
Some transactions are subject to banking fees, and when you open a business checking account, you sometimes have to meet a spending threshold so you don’t get charged a monthly fee. I always try to meet it because I hate paying bank fees.
With the algorithms all crazy, I’m still trying to figure out where my money is best spent, but I decided to give myself a small monthly budget for digital ads. $100 each month. I try to use it on different networks to see what will end up being the best investment for me, and it helps me find new readers!
My biggest subscriptions are Subscribers ($19), Google biz email + drive storage ($6) and WPMUDEV, which has great apps that help me run my site easily like hustle, snapshot, defender, and image smush. That’s $49 per month. I also pay for Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop and Lightroom) $11 and Canva Premium $10. These are all monthly costs.
I did my trademark myself (thank God it actually went through). For all of the stress, I would recommend hiring an attorney to do yours, but the whole process was less than $300. I had to pay the filing fees and wait and wait and wait. At 6 years, I have to refile and pay another set of fees to retain my mark.
Contracts and billing software
And.Co is an amazing resource, and I use it for all of my invoicing, contracts and proposals. It keeps me organized and connects to my bank account so it’s easy to file my expenses, and I’m not stressing out at tax time. $100/year.
Social Media Scheduling Service – Loomly
I use this in my consulting too, but it’s honestly a helpful tool for me.
It costs $15/month for this service, and I mostly use it to schedule posts on Facebook and Twitter.
I also use a service called Tailwind to help me get my best reach through Pinterest. That’s $119/year.
Remember how I quoted Biggie earlier? Yeah. If you make money, you gonna be paying taxes. For my entire life, I never owed taxes on my personal return. Last year was the first time I had to pay. Not sure if that’s due to the new tax law, or my elevated income from blogging. But yikes. $$$!
The grand total
So, with everything I listed here (not even including gear purchases, the actual cost of food and more, I spend about $4,500 running this blog every year. Honestly, it’s probably more because I’m sure I forgot some stuff.
I spend $4,500 writing FREE content that anyone can subscribe to, or get at any time.
This is why food bloggers ask you to support them by engaging.
Bloggers may ask you to click an ad or two, or comment on my posts on social media, or here on the blog.
We may urge you to share the things you like as a part of “my social tip jar” for providing free, useful content.
I love food blogging. It certainly brings me joy to do it.
This blog is hard work, and as you can see, it’s a personal investment.
To be clear, I wouldn’t spend that kind of money on my blog if I didn’t make it back and then some. Or maybe I would, I’m not sure. It’s my hobby, but it’s an expensive one!
Do I need all of the tools that I have? No, and I’ve blogged without them before, but you didn’t get the same quality of posts then.
You didn’t get well-researched articles, beautiful photos, and informative content.
You got what I could push out myself because I didn’t have help and tools to help organize this thing.
This is also why I don’t really stress about blogging. These tools help me create posts quickly. It honestly makes this one-woman job much easier.
So, when bloggers ask you to actively engage, it’s not us trying to be pushy.
Your clicks, shares and actions equate to support. The way that this community engages with me is why brands so often love working with this site.
It’s my approach, but it’s also how much you guys follow and engage and talk about how much you love what I’m sharing.
If there’s a blogger you love, use their affiliate link to make your purchase, click on the ads on their site, comment on their posts on social media when you come across them, and be an active participant.
I have almost 500 posts on this website. Roughly 90% of them were written for free.
When you come to HangryWoman.com, I may ask for your email address, or for you to subscribe to post notifications.
Those are the easiest ways you can share your support, and help keep this blog running.
The cost of food blogging is not cheap, y’all.
Support your faves.