Many food bloggers would like to “go pro” and turn their blog into a full-time income. It’s possible, but it takes a lot of hard work, dedication, luck, and diversification. That last one, diversification, is a concept that people don’t often think about when they consider creating a full-time income from their blog.
People often use the phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” when referring to diversification, but that phrase doesn’t really work for what I’m trying to communicate in this post. I like this phrase better:
Fill your empty egg carton.
Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not as catchy, but the visual of the egg carton helps to communicate the point that I’m hoping to make, which is this:
If you have a blog, chances are that your egg carton is pretty close to empty. In other words, there are income streams (openings in the egg carton) that are not being filled (with eggs).
It’s really hard to create a full-income from just one income source (i.e. one egg), but when you fill all of the possible income sources (i.e. openings in the egg carton), it becomes much easier to create a full-time income from your blog.
Let’s use some realistic numbers. The median household income for a family in the U.S. is $51,371. That number includes income of the householder and all other people 15 years and older in the household. That means that this average probably accounts for multiple people. That being said, we’re going to use this number as the base income for our “fill-time blogger” experiment. I know that it’s not enough for some people to live on (and it’s more than enough for others to live on), but I had to pick a number to use. 🙂
The monthly (before tax) income for someone that makes $51,371 comes out to $4,281. We’re going to use this number and divide it among all of the possible ways to create an income as a food blogger. My hope is to show you what it takes to create a full-time income from your blog if you’re intentional about filling in the empty spaces in the egg carton (i.e. diversifying).
If you have just one egg (one source of income), you’d have to create $4,281 from that income source. Two eggs would mean $2,140.50. In our example, we have 15 different income sources, so 15 eggs comes out to $285. For ease of use we’ll $300 as our “per egg” price point.
Is the goal to be creating an income from every. single. possible. income source? No. Is the goal to create an income from as many sources as possible? Absolutely. With that in mind, let’s take a look at each “egg” and estimate what it would take earn $300 from that income source.
1. Display Advertising
Display advertising is the most familiarly income source for most food bloggers. Display advertising is commonly found in a blog’s header, sidebar, footer, and occasional within the body of the text. Most display advertising is paid based on a CPM or CPC basis. Depending on the time of year, you can expect to earn between $1-$3 for high quality CPM based ads and $.25-$1.00 for CPC ads (for a food blog).
Related FBP Blog Post: 7 Simple Advertising Terms Every Food Blogger Should Understand.
It’s tough to provide an exact traffic number, but I’m confident that you could earn $300 a month on display advertising with 50,000 – 75,00 visitors a month.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is sometimes called performance marking because you’re only paid if you perform. Let’s use blenders as an example to see how this type of marketing works with a food blog.
Blendtec is a blender company that has an affiliate program. Their affiliate program pays a 15% commission. That means anytime that someone clicks on your affiliate link and purchases a product then you get 15%. In order to get to $300 dollars a month we’d need to sell $2,040 worth of Blendtec products. That might sound like a lot, but many of Blendtec’s blenders cost $500, which means you’d only need to sell four blenders in a month.
Keep in mind that these numbers are just for one affiliate program. There are thousands and thousands of affiliate programs that you can choose from and promote on your blog, so the $300 price point is easily achievable if you’re intentional about doing smart affiliate marketing.
FBP Members: Be sure to go through the affiliate marketing course to learn the basics of effective affiliate marketing on a food blog.
3. Freelance Writing
Freelance writing is a great way to bridge the gap between quitting your “regular” job and blogging full-time. If you find yourself getting to the point were you’re almost ready to make the switch to blogging full-time, but can’t quite justify it financially, then you can use freelancing as way to quickly bump up your income.
Just a word of warning with this one: be sure that you don’t spend too much time freelancing if your ultimate goal is to be blogging full-time. One of the most important things with building a blog is continuing to add high quality content to your publication (i.e. your blog), not other publications. As soon as you can justify it financially you should switch your focus and produce content for your blog full-time.
At $100 per post you could earn $300 a month doing freelance writing.
4. Recipe Development
Many food companies need recipes to promote or integrate into their product, and often times these food companies don’t have in-house staff that can do the recipe development for them.
Enter food bloggers.
Companies will often look to food bloggers to develop recipes for them. As you grow the list of recipes on your food blog you’re essentially growing your recipe portfolio. Recipe development, much like freelance writing, is another example of an income source that can be used as you transition into blogging full-time. Carefully consider any jobs that pay less than $100 per recipe, as your time might be better spent developing content for your own blog.
At $150 per recipe you could earn $300 a month by developing two recipes a month.
5. Recipe Licensing
Recipe licensing is a bit different than recipe development. With recipe licensing companies pay you for recipes that you’ve already developed (as opposed to developing a brand new recipe).
The price point on recipe licensing is usually a bit lower than recipe development because it’s work that you’ve already done.
Lindsay and I have done recipe licensing with Pinch of Yum, but we haven’t done a lot of it, so to be quite honest I’m not sure how common it is.
If you licensed a recipe for $100 you could get to the $300 price point by licensing three different recipes in a month.
6. Food Photography
Much like recipes, many companies need photographs of food to use in advertisements, magazines, and product labels. Taking on food photography projects is a great way to create an income from the skills you’ve developed while building your food blog, but it’s important to know that the process will be different than just shooting photos for our own blog posts.
You should be prepared for 1) specific guidelines, 2) constructive feedback and 3) the client asking you to reshoot a recipe.
It’s important to know those three things when you factor in the price that you ask for your shoot. For example, last year, Lindsay did a photo shoot for some recipes that were going to be included on a cooking tablet. She asked for $100 per photo (one photo per recipe) shooting a total of 10 recipes. This initially seemed like a good price, but we quickly learned that there was a lot of time, energy, and cost that went into shooting 10 different recipes. On top of that, once we sent the photos over, they came back with specific requests for the photos to be different, like using a different bun for a burger or having less lettuce in a salad. In the end, we felt like $100 per photo wasn’t worth the time and energy it took to get one photo.
My point? Be sure that you take into consideration those additional factors when putting your quote together.
A full-day food photography shoot could earn you anywhere from $300 (very low end) to $10,000 (very high end).
7. Sponsored Posts
More and more companies are realizing the power of sponsored posts. A sponsored post usually means that a brand will pay you to write a blog post about their product and then have you publish that post to your blog. In essence, the brand is buying your audience’s attention and the trust that you’ve established with them. It’s an effective type of advertising for companies, as many blog readers have become blind to ads, but if the promotion occurs naturally within the content it’s really hard to miss.
Payouts for a sponsored post can range from $50 to $10,000 depending on your blog’s traffic stats. A good way to calculate an approximate price point for a sponsored post is to take off the last three digits of the number of page views you have in a month. Obviously there are lots of factors that go into the price point, but this is a good place to start. Here are a couple examples:
- 100,000 monthly page views = $100
- 1,000,000 monthly page views = $1,000
- 10,000 monthly page views = $10 (at this level you should probably keep writing your own content instead of doing sponsored posts)
8. Information Products
Chances are that you know something that someone else wants to know. You can create an income from this knowledge by creating an information product. Simply put, an information product is a product that contains information. 🙂 It’s common to see information products in the form of eBooks or a video courses.
Related FBP Blog Post: You Don’t Need to be the Ultimate Expert in Order Create an eBook
Price points can vary greatly for information products, but $10-$30 is a common price range for an eBook. At this price point you’d need to sell 10–30 copies of an eBook a month on your blog to reach $300 a month.
9. Video Ads
As video becomes more and more popular so does the prevalence of video advertising. Video ads usually appear in the form of a pre-roll ad (before the video plays) or a hover over ad (appears over a part of the screen as the video is playing).
The most common way to monetize videos with ads is through the YouTube Partner Program. CPMs for video ads very greatly, but the website Reel Seo states that you can expect to earn between $.30 to $2.50 for every 1,000 views. This means that at the lowest CPM you’d need 1,000,000 views a month to earn $300 (YIKES!), but at the highest CPM you’d only need 120,000 views a month (a little bit more realistic).
10. Video Product Placement
Have you ever noticed the judges in American Idol drinking Coke? It’s probably not because it’s their favorite drink. As you and I both know, Coke has paid to have their product placed within the American Idol show.
You can do similar product placement when creating recipe and food related videos. You don’t even need a company that wants to partner with you.
How you ask? Good question. 🙂
You can mention products that you use in your videos and include your affiliate link to that product in the video. As someone is watching the video they might be inclined to type in your affiliate URL and look at (and hopefully purchase!) the product.
One issue with this is that affiliate links are really long and complicated, and no one would every manually type a complicated URL into their web browser. That’s why you’d need to use a URL shortener like bit.ly. Bit.ly will allow you to shorten the affiliate URL to a nice length. You can even make it memorable by using a custom short URL.
FBP Members: Be sure to check out the the URL Shorteners course to see the step-by-step process for setting up custom URLs with Bit.ly.
An eCookbook is a compilation of recipes put together in a digital format. On Pinch of Yum we’ve sold one eCookbook in a PDF format. The only place we sold this eCookbook is on pinchofyum.com. I know of other bloggers and businesses that have had success selling eCookbooks on the Kindle platform.
It’s important for an eCookbook to have a specific niche. This is important because when people are purchasing an eCookbook they are not necessarily purchasing recipes (which are readily available online), but a compilation of similar recipes that can all be accessed in one place.
Price points for eCookbooks are usually at or below $20. We sold The Creamy Cauliflower Sauce eCookbook for $9 on Pinch of Yum. At $9 you need to sell 34 eCookbooks to make $300 a month.
12. Hard Copy Cookbook
A hard copy cookbook isn’t for beginner bloggers, but it’s an important income stream to mention because many bloggers will someday write their own hard copy cookbook.
This income stream is a little bit different than the others in that there is usually a big payment up front (called an advance) followed by smaller payments (called royalties) that you’re paid based on how many books are sold.
This is an area where I’m far from an expert, but I wanted to mention it because I know it’s an important income source for many food bloggers. To be honest, I’m not sure what type of income you can create from a hard copy cookbook, so I won’t pretend to know.
13. Membership Site
A membership site is the ultimate example of recurring income, as people sign up and pay on a recurring basis (usually monthly).
Does it sound like a lot of work to create your own membership site? Well, it is. Trust me, I know… 🙂
But you don’t need to create your own membership site in order to create passive income from a membership site, and the answer once again has to do with affiliate marketing.
There are a handful of sites that charge members on a monthly basis and also have an affiliate program that pays on a monthly recurring basis. The Food Blogger Pro affiliate program is one of them, but some more well known sites like AWeber, Elegant Themes, and Dreamhost also credit affiliates for the lifetime of the customer.
In becoming an affiliate for a membership based site you can get the benefit of recurring income without having to put the the time, energy, and money into building your own site.
The top tier of the Food Blogger Pro affiliate program pays $10 a month per member, which means you’d need to refer 30 people in order to get to the $300 a month in recurring income.
“But I’m just staring out!” You might be saying… “How could I ever get people to come and listen to me speak?”
True, you might be at the very beginning stages with your blog. If this is you, you probably don’t feel like you have the skills necessary to teach a class. However, you can still create an income from a class by hosting one. If you’re connected to a blogger or speaker that has a unique set of skills then you could offer to organize the class and split the income with the speaker that leads it.
That being said, if you’re a couple years into blogging you probably have knowledge that people want to learn from you, and a great way to teach people this knowledge is through a class.
What is the one area that you feel like you really know best? Is it photography? WordPress? Photoshop? Maybe it’s how to spend time with your family while still maintaining a blog.
Take this specific skill you have and create a class around it. Not only is this a way to create income from your blog, but it’s also a great way to connect with other bloggers (which is probably more important than creating income).
Event Brite is an easy to use site that allows you to collect payments and distribute tickets for classes and events.
At $50 a ticket you’d need 6 people to attend one of your classes to make $300.
Consulting is similar to teaching a class but it’s usually done on a one-on-one basis. The best way to figure out what type of consulting you should offer is by paying attention to the types of questions that people ask you, both online and offline.
Do people always ask you about staying fit? Or maybe people ask about how you put together a well designed blog. Maybe your friends are always wondering how you make healthy food that your kids will actually eat.
These questions that people ask are like little arrows that point you towards the subject area that you could be consulting on. Once you’ve picked a subject area, build a page on your blog with different consulting packages that describe your expertise and what a client will learn if they decide to work with you.
At $100 an hour you’d need to consult 3 hours a month to make $300.
My point with his post wasn’t to try and convince you to create an income from every possible income stream. My point was to show you that when you start to add different income streams to your blog it becomes easier to achieve that goal of “going pro” with your blog and creating a full-time income.
So what areas of our “egg carton” are empty? Which one are you going to be filling next? Were there any areas that I missed that you think are important to include?
Here’s to a full egg carton and, in turn, a full-time income from your blog!