Can I make money blogging?
The answer is yes. But (and this is a big but) it's not overnight and it takes a lot of work. I know you've seen income reports and pins on Pinterest that say "How I made $15,000 my first month of blogging" - most people make a couple of thousand dollars their first year of blogging (if that), till they figure it all out.
It's the very rare blog that makes big bucks from the start.
There are several ways to monetize your blog but there's three things I want you to know before we talk about making money - because these things are the groundwork you'll need to lay before we go any further.
How to Grow Your Food Blog So You Can Actually Monetize
1. Create Lots of Excellent Content
If you haven't already launched your blog, the best piece of advice I can give you is to have 20 to 40 posts ready to go for your launch.
When you launch your site you want people to have lots to click around on. It also helps to have a few posts in the bank so you can keep a consistent posting schedule as you go along. I didn't do this when I started This Healthy Table, but I've done it on subsequent blogs and it's been very successful.
You'll really start to see some traction on your blog when you have 100 excellent posts up. This means the photos need to be high-quality, you need to have an easy to read layout, and offer great tips or interesting information in your post.
Also, give people what they want - I know this seems obvious, but really do it. People like things that are either easy and quick or have great step-by-step instructions. If you have a food blog, remember not everyone is as comfortable in the kitchen as you are - so err on the side of more instructions and tips.
- To improve your food photography - I wholeheartedly recommend the Tasty Food Photography ebook and the Food Photography School
- Read this post on How to Develop a Recipe
- Read this post on How to Write a Recipe Like a Professional
2. Build That Mailing List
Almost every blogger is going to beat you over the head with this one but it's actually true! Especially when your blog is new and not getting as many pageviews, it can be hard to make revenue off of ads.
But, if you have a decent-sized mailing list (500 to 1000 people) you can start selling them digital products or sharing affiliate links with them. If you build up their trust, they will buy from you.
- If you're just starting, use MailChimp to build your list and send newsletters
- Sumo has great sharing buttons and newsletter opt-ins
- Take Pat Flynn's course on 0 to 100 emails in 72 hours
3. Choose One Social Media Platform and Work on a Following
Brands like large social media followings because it gives you social proof. This one is the hardest for me, but I've seen real success when I actually started doing it.
I chose Pinterest as my main social platform because it drives traffic and I want a lot of traffic. I wish I was one of the cool kids with a massive Instagram following, but it's just not my priority now.
Once I learned Pinterest, I started focusing on Facebook. My main focus will likely always be Pinterest though. I've completely given up on Twitter - I hate it so why spend time on it? Do what you love + what will make you money.
- Simple Pin Podcast and Simple Pin Facebook Group (these two FREE resources have completely changed how I blog - they are invaluable. Massive props to Kate Ahl and her Simple Pin team for being an amazing resource for bloggers.)
- Moolah Marketing (this course is legit the most fun blog course I've taken - and it really works. Rachel Miller, who runs the course, is wonderful.)
- Raw Milk Podcast (for those of you who want to build Instagram, Beth Kirby is the coolest Instagrammer out there. This podcast is absolutely delightful and she gives great tips for building your Instagram presence).
Ways to Monetize Your Food Blog
It's important to have a variety of income streams for your blog - especially as more people start to use ad blockers, bloggers need to be more creative when it comes to their revenue. Here are a bunch of ways to monetize your blog.
1. Ad Networks
Ads can make good money (for proof, check out Pinch of Yum's income reports), but they require a lot of page views. Typically, people make the most money on AdThrive and Mediavine.
Think of Gourmet Ads and Google AdSense as a way to cover your costs while you grow. As soon as you hit 25k sessions a month, apply for Mediavine.
Ad companies for food bloggers (from least to most subscribers needed):
- Google AdSense - no page view requirements but the site must be active for 6 months
- Gourmet Ads - 10,000 page views a month required
- Mediavine - 25,000 sessions per month required
- AdThrive - 100,000 page views a month required
2. Sponsored Content
Sponsored content from brands can result in serious money if you have great photography and a large following. Essentially, sponsored content is a brand paying you to use their product and link to their website.
For proof of just how much income this can generate, see Pinch of Yum and Girl on Bloor's income reports. Typically you will need to pitch brands that you want to work with. When you get larger, brands may seek you out directly.
If you are interested in pitching brands, I highly suggest joining the Influencer Entrepreneurs with Jenny Melrose Facebook group. Jenny Melrose offers a paid ecourse and free 5-day pitch plan as well.
3. Affiliate Sales
Affiliate sales as a monetization strategy are on the rise. Affiliate marketing is a way for businesses to give you a small percentage of the profits off of products you promote. Lots of bloggers, not just food bloggers, use this strategy.
Root + Revel is a good example of a food blogger making great money off of affiliates - which she primarily shares in her newsletters.
For more information on how to make money with affiliate marketing, I'd recommend this podcast from Amy Porterfield.
The largest affiliate programs for bloggers are Amazon, CJ, Shareasale, Awin, and Rakuten - but there are many, many more options! Check bloggers income reports to see which affiliates are doing the best for them.
4. Selling a Product (Physical or Digital)
Selling a product is a great long-term strategy for making money on your blog. Typically, bloggers sell digital products (e-books are very common) and many have their own affiliate program to encourage other bloggers to promote for them.
If you're interested in creating a physical product, I would recommend listening to the Food Blogger Pro podcast where Ali talks about developing her spiralizer.
If you're interested in creating an e-book, I think Pat Flynn's free ebook on ebooks is a fabulous resource!
5. Creating a Course of Membership Site
Often when you see bloggers raking in major money, it's because they have created a course or an ebook. She's not a food blogger, but Michelle from Making Cents of Sense shared a recent income report where she made $136,000 in a month - 49% of it from selling her course on affiliate marketing, 37% from affiliate marketing, and only 2% from ads.
You've got two ways you can go on courses and membership sites, you can take the Pinch of Yum/Food Blogger Pro approach and create courses and membership sites for bloggers or you can create courses around your niche content.
One blogger who has done both is Scrivs of Billionaire Blog Club - he's got Keto Dash, a membership site for people following the keto diet, and Billionaire Blog Club, a group for bloggers. In a recent income report, he shared that he'd made $76,000 in a month (off of several blogs), with 75% of that being from Billionaire Blog Club memberships and 23% from Keto Dash memberships.
So, even though there's great money to be made in creating courses for bloggers, you can certainly sell a membership site or course to your food blogging niche as well!
6. Offer Coaching Services
Some bloggers do very well with coaching services - I've seen several people do incredibly well with weight loss and meal planning coaching. Lacy, from A Sweet Pea Chef, offers one-on-one nutrition and meal planning coaching. Cheryl from 40 Aprons coaches food bloggers on their photography.
Coaching is a great option for people who are nervous about being lonely while blogging (it's a real thing).
If you're a people person but still want to be your own boss, coaching could be a great income stream for you. It isn't passive income though - it is definitely exchanging time for money, so if you're looking to work from anywhere in your own time, this might not be a good option for you.
There are all sorts of ways to freelance as a food blogger. You can take photos or shoot video for brands and restaurants or you could work for other food bloggers.
Some smaller bloggers (who are very talented) will take photos for big-name bloggers who need to improve their older recipes/photos. Brita from Food with Feeling has a very successful video business for Tasty-style recipe videos.
I hope this post helps you make all the money on your food blog - hit me up with any questions you have in the comments below!