Many food bloggers would like to “go pro” and turn their blog into a business that can generate 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 most recent studies have shown that the median household income for a family in the U.S. is $63,179. We’re going to use this number as the base income for our “full-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 $63,179 comes out to $5,265. 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 $5,265 from that one income source per month. Two eggs would both need to generate $2,632.50 per month. In our example, we have 16 different income sources, so 16 eggs would need to net $330 per month. That’s going to be 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 to earn $330 from that income source.
1. Display Advertising
Display advertising is the most familiar income source for most food bloggers. Display advertising is commonly found in a blog’s header, sidebar, footer, and body of the text of a blog post.
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).Need some definitions? Check out this post:
Prefer audio? Listen to this podcast episode:
It’s tough to provide an exact traffic number, but I’m confident that you could earn $330 a month on display advertising with 50,000 – 75,000 visitors a month.
2. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is sometimes called, “Performance Marketing” 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 an 8% commission. That means anytime that someone clicks on your affiliate link and purchases a product, you get 8% of the purchase price. In order to get to $330 dollars a month, we’d need to sell $4,125 worth of Blendtec products. That might sound like a lot, but many of Blendtec’s blenders cost at least $400, which means clicks on your affiliate links would need to result in 11 blender purchases 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 (here’s a list of nearly 70 options from our FBP Expert, Justine!), so the $330 price point is easily achievable if you’re intentional about doing smart affiliate marketing.Are you a Food Blogger Pro member? This course is for you:
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 a 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 $110 per post, you could earn $330 a month by publishing just three freelance articles.
4. Recipe Development
Many food companies need recipes to promote or integrate into their product, and oftentimes 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.
You can develop three recipes per month at $150 per recipe, and you’d be earning well over $330 each 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 $85 you could get to the $330 price point by licensing four different recipes in a month.
6. Food Photography
Much like recipes, many companies need photographs of food to use in advertisements, in magazines, and on 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, Lindsay did a photo shoot a few years ago 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).Want to level-up your food photography skills? Check out this article:
Food Blogger Pro members! Don’t miss this:
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 or using 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, your social following, your audience’s engagement, and more.Need help reaching out to a sponsor?:
Need help setting your sponsored content rate?:
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, meal plans, guides, or video courses.Related reading:
Price points can vary greatly for information products, but $10-$30 is a common price range. At this price point you’d need to sell 11–33 copies of your product a month on your blog to reach $330 per 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 vary greatly, but for this example, let’s say that yours is $3. That means that for every 1,000 views you get on your video, you’d make $3.
It doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up as your video is shared and seen. You’d need ~110,000 views on just one video with a CPM of $3 to make that $330 per month.
10. Video Product Placement
Remember that episode of The Office where Jim is trying to get Karen her bag of Herr’s Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips? Was there a reason why Herr’s, a real chip company, was chosen for this storyline?
It probably wasn’t random. It was probably the result of paid product placement.
You can do similar product placement when creating recipe and food related videos. The most common way is to get a company to sponsor your recipe. If you make a soft pretzel recipe and partner with a flour company, they can sponsor your video and you can include their product in the video.
But you can still make money from video product placement even if you don’t have a company to sponsor it.
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.Want to make your own recipe videos?
An eCookbook is a compilation of recipes put together in a digital format. On Pinch of Yum, we sold one eCookbook in a PDF format. The only place we sold this eCookbook was on pinchofyum.com, but I know of other bloggers and businesses that have had success selling eCookbooks on other sites like Amazon.
It’s important for an eCookbook to have a specific niche because it’s 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 our eCookbook on Pinch of Yum for $9, and at $9 you need to sell 37 eCookbooks to make $330 a month.Members! Check out this course:
12. Hard Copy Cookbooks
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 (an advance) followed by smaller payments (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. And while you can work with a publisher on a hard copy cookbook, you can also self-publish your own hard copy cookbook.Learn more about self-publishing in this podcast episode:
13. Membership Sites
A membership site is the ultimate example of recurring income, as people sign up and pay on a recurring basis (usually monthly or yearly).
Does it sound like a lot of work to create and run 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.
In becoming an affiliate for a membership-based site with a recurring affiliate payout schedule, 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 $13.60 a month per member, which means you’d need to refer about 24 people in order to get to the $330 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. Lindsay did this a few years ago with her Tasty Food Photography Workshops.
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).
Eventbrite 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 seven people to attend one of your classes to make a little over $330.
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 $130 an hour, you’d need to consult two and a half hours a month to make $330.
Along those same lines, maybe you want to share your expertise in audio form. We do that for Food Blogger Pro with The Food Blogger Pro Podcast.
It does require a high production value, but it can help you reach a new audience or reach your current audience in a new way.
As for ways that you can monetize your podcast, I’m not the expert here, as we’ve never monetized our podcast before. Instead, we use it as a lead generation platform to help us generate sales for our membership.
One really popular way to monetize your podcast is to sell ad spots to sponsors. You can charge sponsors a one-off fee or sell your ad spots based on the CPM model we talked about before with display ads and video ads.
And! If you create shownotes for each episode (here’s an example of what our shownotes look like), you can include affiliate links to products you mention in the episode.
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 your “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! 🎉