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This is my first, and perhaps last, blog income report!
I’ve found these to be extremely helpful and motivating from others, so I thought maybe someone might benefit from mine? And I’m hoping to paint a realistic picture of what blogging can look like and the income that you can make. And the work that it has taken me to get there.
How long have I been blogging?
I’ve been blogging (seriously) for 6 months.
I registered this domain in 2020 and wrote a few posts, they were absolute garbage, and have since been deleted, but I learned a few things from that experience.
Then I started to get more serious in 2021, but I wasn’t posting consistently and I didn’t have a Pinterest or SEO strategy, I don't count that time because many of those posts have also been removed.
The blog was going, literally, nowhere. I also tried to dabble in some niches that really weren’t a good fit for me, and obviously that strategy was a huge fail.
The reason for that, I think, is that nobody needs me to be creating ultra-healthy dinner or salad recipes when I really don’t prefer to eat or cook that way. And there are others who are passionate about that kind of thing creating killer content in that niche. So, now I write about and create what I like, and (shocker) it feels genuine.
I started getting “serious” about blogging in late July of this year (2023), and I’ve seen tremendous growth! Basically I went from 1200 sessions a month to (present) 27,000 a month! (Screenshots below)
The goal for 2024 is to grow the blog to 50,000 sessions a month (soon) and beyond. I’d be thrilled to see my traffic double by Q4 of 2024. Perhaps I’ll write another income report and we can compare 2023 vs 2024.
Google + social stats
When I started blogging (seriously) about 6 months ago, I was getting 1200 sessions a month.
Now I'm getting 28K/month (and growing)! Most of this traffic is Organic Google Search.
As for the socials...
Right now, I have an Instagram, and a Pinterest account. Technically, Pinterest is a search engine, not social media. But since most people recognize it as social media, I’m including it here.
Instagram - as a food blogger, it might be weird to say I HATE INSTAGRAM. But, there you have it, I don’t enjoy it. I’m pretty shy, in general, and not big on flashy things…so Instagram isn’t a great fit for me, and I don’t use it a lot. I don’t know if that helps or hurts me. Probably hurts in the long run, but for now focusing on Organic SEO and Pinterest works for me.
That brings me to Pinterest.
I LOVE PINTEREST, please go give me a follow over there because I’m always pinning. As of right now, I get about 2,300 clicks a month from Pinterest to my blog and I get 100k monthly impressions on my Pins.
I pin 1-3 times daily, and manually. It’s enjoyable for me, much more so than Instagram.
I’m hoping to see that number of clicks from Pinterest grow in 2024!
My blogging strategy
My blogging strategy is still in the works as I’m just now getting into a blogging grove. It’s SEO and Pinterest.
Basically I find Keywords that I can rank for, create content around it, and post it to my blog. Then I post to Pinterest.
I’ve been able to consistently post to my blog and Pinterest for the past 6 months. Most weeks, I post 2-3 new recipes or supporting content.
It seems like the Google Gods like consistency, I just have my suspicions, don’t know that for sure.
Some things that have been helpful
Keysearch - this is a simple, but efficient keyword research tool. And it’s the cheapest one, I recommend getting it. I quite enjoy keyword research and tracking my keywords, so I’ll probably upgrade to one of the “better” keyword research tools in the near future, but for now, I like keysearch and 100% recommend it for new bloggers. Not only do I recommend it, it’s essential if you want to get anywhere at all with this in terms of traffic.
RANKIQ (this is an affiliate link) - to be honest, I was skeptical about RankIQ. And frankly I haven’t used RankIQ to its fullest potential. That said, all of the posts that I’ve made with RANKIQ have been ranking! And one of the posts is responsible for (most) of my affiliate income from Amazon. Basically, it pays for itself and it works so I’m going to continue to use it to write content that supports my recipes.
Cooking with Keywords - this course, taught by Aleka of Aleka’s Get-Together, was pretty helpful in learning to “cook” with keywords and find recipe titles that will rank. If you’re a food blogger and you’re not getting much traction, and even if you are, I think this class is WELL WORTH the money!
Photography classes - Shooting for a food blog is very different from (food) portrait photography. You have to be able to tell a story, but also capture a photo that will SELL the food (on Pinterest). This often means: big, close-up hero shots captured with a macro lens (I’ll talk about my camera equipment further down the post).
I personally took Foodtography School, and I’m sorry to say that I simply don’t recommend it. It’s overhyped, overpriced, and not very helpful for FOOD BLOGGERS. If your goal is to “food blog” on social media only, I can see it being more fitting, maybe.
If you’re starting out, I would start with the free videos on YouTube from The Bite Shot and TwoLovesStudio (and I would recommend the paid classes at TwoLoves), I can’t speak to the paid courses at The Bite Shot, but I have no doubt they’re fabulous.
Ways other than ad revenue to make money as a food blogger
Photography/recipe creation - you can work for small businesses and other bloggers creating recipes (and taking the photos). Learn to pitch yourself and this can be a very lucrative side hustle while you get your blog going. You can make anywhere from $250-350 per recipe/photo package as an absolute beginner without a lot of skill.
A WORD OF CAUTION: If you’re planning to blog full time, you can get very distracted by the “easy money” that you can make doing this kind of work, and before you know it your blog will have been on the back burner not gaining traction for years. If you can, it’s best to focus all of your efforts into building your own blog if that is your end goal.
Camera gear + backgrounds
It seems like I’m always asked about my photography gear and I’m happy to share! I like cameras and camera equipment, but I don’t have anything *super* fancy.
For 80% of what you see on the blog, I’m using:
South facing window - this is kind of the trick to making food look delicious. Find a south-facing window in your house, and back your food up to it, and take the picture from the front. The backlit natural light makes everything look really nice!
The only downside is that you have to work when the light is nice, if it’s too sunny or harsh, you can use a diffuser. I use these, they’re cheap and they work great.
Nikon Mirrorless Z5 - I use this camera, it’s great. I have zero complaints. Someday, I MAY switch to Sony, but for now I’m using Nikon. I’m not a fan of Canon, which is what I started with.
NIKKOR Z MC 105 mm - I use this lens. I attribute pretty much all photo success to this little baby! Or big baby, it’s kind of heavy lol. But it’s responsible for those big, close-up food images that food blogs are famous for.
Backgrounds - I love this brand (Bessie Bakes) on Amazon, and sometimes I make my own backgrounds with wood and some spray paint.
How much I made in Q4
And finally, the reason that you’re here on this blog post isn’t to listen to me go on about my SEO and Pinterest strategy, it’s for the dollar bills.
I put ads (SheMedia) on my blog starting in November, and the amazon affiliate income is from October-December (Q4).
Ad Income: in November I made 301.43, and in December I made 354.51.
Amazon Affiliates - from October- December I made $145.33 in Amazon Affiliate Commissions. (photo below)
Hosting with BigScoots - 36$/month
Canva - 12$/month
Feast plugin - 250$/year
WPMR plugin (recipe card) - 99$/year
Is this blog profitable? Not really, not yet, but that is my goal for 2024!
Goals for 2024
- Continue to post food content consistently and grow organically.
- Get to 50k sessions a month and join Mediavine, or to get 100k pageviews a month and join Raptive, I’m not sure yet which is preferable.
- See my Pinterest growth triple.
Happy New Year! Please let me know in the comments if you found this article helpful!