This is our food blog income report for November 2017. This food blog income report shows you how much traffic we had, what money we made, where it came from, and what it cost to run our site. This food blog income report is awesome for food bloggers looking to expand and monetize their blogs! Also this month: how I grew my food blog income 3708% in 12 months!
November 2017 was a funny month trying to make money as a paleo blogger.
Think back to just a couple months ago, yeah? Were you:
a) Eating a raw kale salad
b) Prepping to start your Thanksgiving-Christmas Whole30
c) Enjoying a juice cleanse or
d) Eating all the things
If you’re like most people, including, um, me, you were d’ing it up daily. Even though I try to stay 80% paleo all the time, November and December are just so weird. Even us, we end up going through the paleo and Whole30 motions, with no real desire to meal prep or come up with new healthy recipes or do anything but snack on cheesecake-stuffed pumpkin bread (Hey… at least it’s paleo!).
So, going into my first real holiday season as a full-time paleo blogger, my strategy went a little like this:
Work your tush off publishing seasonal recipes to offset the expected traffic loss.
And it worked! But we still had lower traffic than our typical average, whilst watching all our comfort food blogger friends brag about their traffic explosions, tying in with the highest RPMs of the season. Shhhhhhh.
So November wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t our best ever by any means. There are tons of sponsored posts to be had in Q4, but they aren’t typically for, like, almond flour and coconut oil. 95% of the offers I got in my inbox were for sodas, I’m pretty sure. My love for the job never waned, though, not one second! I got to experience an enjoyable, family-focused holiday season just like I had in my freelance days, and I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. Not even for sky-high holiday traffic and record-breaking RPMs!
…although I wouldn’t kick those out of bed.
On to the numbers!
My traffic dropped small amounts in most areas, to be expected with comfort food season. October’s traffic looks a little higher in general, because there were 31 days then and only 30 days in November. This graphic compares all of November to the traffic from October 2-31.
I don’t include any of my freelance work that isn’t completely related to my blog and my online presence. For example, this month I produced a massive video project for a client. They likely hired me because of my experience with the blog, but it’s not directly correlated so it stays out of the report. I did some food photography work for a client in November but didn’t finish the project and invoice them until December, so it won’t be counted until December’s income report.
- Sponsored posts: $650. I had only one sponsored post go live in November, and it was on the lower end for me budget-wise. I’ve been in the process of raising my sponsored rate to where I feel comfortable, so we’re in the middle of that still. Again, there are a ton of sponsored posts available in Q4, but they’re typically for treats, soft drinks, etc. It’s important to me to stick to my niche and voice (No refined sugar, no gluten, etc.), so I skip them, even though the money would be nice!
- Ad revenue with Adthrive: $6443.51. RPM (revenue per thousand impressions [pageviews]) = $19.88
- Sales: $395.25. This number includes all the items I have for sale on my site, like my food photography presets and my ebook Improve Your Food Photography Almost Instantly. My cookbook The Paleo Instant Pot launched in December, so this number reflects sales before that release.
- Amazon Affiliate sales: $259.89. This is what I make when anyone purchases something using a link from my site. It doesn’t cost the buyer anything else, but gives me a small portion of the sale as a referral fee for the purchase. I’ve been wanting this number to be higher, and I’m seeing nice growth right now… but it hadn’t happened as of November 2017.
Total Income: $7749.65
- WPOpt: $43. I adore my host, and they keep my site running super fast. They even include an https certificate, so I didn’t have to deal with any headache at all. They offer different levels for different traffic volumes, so there’s something for everyone. I probably need to upgrade soon, but I still feel like WPOpt handles the volume well at the level I pay for. I highly recommend them.
- Mailerlite: $65. My list is so important to my traffic, but that focus has made it pretty large. I used Mailerlite because it was so affordable, but I’ll likely be switching to Mailchimp or ConvertKit soon.
- Adobe: $50. I pay for the entire suite of Adobe apps, because I do so much design, photography, and videography. For my blog I used Premiere Pro, Lightroom, Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator, so the $50/month deal is great for me.
- LinkMyPhotos: $5. This services lets me link my Instagram photos directly to my blog. A lot of people use LinkInProfile, but LinkMyPhotos is half the price and does the same thing.
- Food blogger VA: $600. My assistant helps me with finding social media links to share, on photo and video shoots, and on a million other things. She’s taking on new clients right now, too, if you’re interested! She’s awesome; check her out.
Total Expenses: $763
Net Income: $6986.65
Overall, this month didn’t hurt. I brought in a couple serious chunks as a freelancer, and the blog income was fine. But it was a little bit of a bummer to see the number go lower than the month before. This drop can be attributed to working on fewer sponsored posts in November than October, which was a relief to my content calendar but harder on my type A personality that likes to anticipate all the things.
My food blog revenue grew 3708% in one year.
OK, so, I get it, this ENTJ wants reliable growth each month. So how’s this for growth?
My pageviews in November 2017 were 600% higher than they were in November 2016. Returning visitors accounted for 36% of all my traffic in November 2017 vs. a measly 18.1% in November 2016. My average session duration rose from 00:53 to 1:10.
And my revenue? It’s a little scary. In November 2016, I made…
Google Adsense: $90.82
Amazon Affiliate: $3.10 (THREE DOLLARS AND TEN CENTS)
Total Revenue: $206.60.
Comparing gross revenues (since, of course, I had expenses in November 2016 as well), my revenue grew 3708% in one year.
THREE THOUSAND SEVEN HUNDRED AND EIGHT PERCENT IN ONE YEAR.
So how did that happen?
Well, I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, because the process is really quite clear to me. I’ve been blogging for 9 years now and it wasn’t until the last year that I started making a full-time income. Until year 8 or 9, I didn’t take my blog all that seriously, or, well, I didn’t take it seriously for very long. This is what would happen:
I’d tell myself (or, most likely, my good friend Melissa, with whom I would commiserate daily about blog struggles) that I was going to really focus, post more, work on my food photography, whatever. And I would do it! I’d see growth, and I’d notice my skills improved. And then I’d share it within my professional circles, and I’d eventually get a new client, likely because I was out there being a content creator, marketing myself digitally, sharing my photography, and designing my site.
And then I’d let the blog fall by the wayside as I caught up with my new freelance work. The cycle repeated over and over and over. Until it didn’t anymore.
When I did my first Whole30, it was absolutely life-changing for me. I ended up 10 pounds below my pre-baby weight, my TMJ (for which I was set to have a retainer made) completely disappeared, my headaches dissipated, and we started sleeping like literal rocks. Dream life (and sleep!). So my passion naturally spilled over into the blog as we explored what it meant to now be paleo.
I’d been vegetarian and vegan off and on my entire life, really. From 10 years old, I’d go veg, the only real “alternative” diet with any visibility at the time. And it totally felt right, at least for a while. I felt good, and then I’d be overtaken by that steak craving, and I’d just tell myself no, and that I didn’t want to go back to that standard American diet, and I’d try to white knuckle it. Because I liked how I felt when I ate a ton of veggies, and I liked that I felt I was doing everything I could to eat “alternatively,” since I just knew intuitively my entire life that this processed, Westernized diet wasn’t right at all.
But the last time I was vegan? I developed hypothyroidism. I drank a cup of vegan Bulletproof coffee (using that term, of course, very loosely; I simply stirred coconut oil into the mix) and vomited. My serum mineral and vitamin levels were all out of wack. It just wasn’t right, definitely not for the long-term, for any reason other than ethics.
But doing a Whole30 and subsequently going paleo made perfect sense: it was all the things I loved about veganism and none of what taxed my body or made me feel weak. It was tons of veggies and loads of healthy fats and no “vegan cupcakes” and meals made entirely of seitan and a side of quinoa. I learned that, surprise, I was actually extremely sensitive to legumes, which explained why I felt icky as a vegan trying to get enough protein without supplementing with processed vegetable and soy protein.
So I started sharing Whole30 recipes. And they started doing well.
And then I thought, hey! I bet a lot of people are going to do a Whole30 in January. I was super overwhelmed by the restrictions and figuring out what I could eat and knowing what recipes were good and how I should expect to feel, so maybe I should write up a little eBook and give it away to people if they subscribe to my email list?
And I noticed that they were subscribing, and I noticed that the Whole30 recipes were doing well, so I started doing more and more of them. And I changed my social content to feature exclusively paleo and gluten-free content from other bloggers. And I did more Whole30s, mostly because they’re amazing and somewhat because damn, this is working for my career and for my body and I don’t actually need a glass of pinot every night after Leo goes to bed do I. And I made sure to always give away high-quality content in exchange for an email signup. And I looked at the recipes that did really well and the recipes that did just okay and I figured out what the successful recipes had in common and made more recipes like that.
In other words? I focused on my content, figured out what resonated with my audience, and created more of the content that my audience wanted.
That’s how my pageviews grew 600% in a year.
That’s how my revenue grew 3708% in 12 months (Well, that, and switching to a decent ad network).
That’s how my email list grew 1080% in 365 days.
Helping individuals, especially women, grow their blogs and create a sustainable income that’s flexible and fulfilling has always been my ultimate passion, but focusing on doing this with food blogging takes it one step even further: my two ultimate passions combined. If we could somehow work paleo margaritas in there, I might die from delight.
The point is: I want to help you grow your blog the way I grew mine. We’re still growing, of course, and we’re nowhere near where I want to be. But the growth I experienced is replicable, based on a few actions I outlined in this post and a few concepts I’ll share on the blog over time.
It took finding my audience and learning what I was really good at to make this work, and I can help you do the same. We’re in the process of formalizing our food blog brand development service and our food blog coaching program, so get in touch while we’re still working things out! Prices will rise in the next few months when the programs are packaged and shiny, so be our guinea pig now! I’d love to help you out. If you’re interested, get in touch here and let me know!
If you’re a food blogger, did this food blog income report help you? What would you like to see in the next food blog income report?