This is our food blog income report for January 2018. 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, how getting a food blog assistant helped grow my income + my food blogging and photography coaching program is still taking on clients. Wahoo!
If you’re interested in growing your blog’s traffic and revenue, make sure to sign up for Cheryl’s Food Blogging Bootcamp! This six-week course contains Cheryl’s method for growing food blogs in quality, revenue, and traffic, and contains everything you need to know for better, bigger food blogging. Click here to learn more.
Remember what we said about most food bloggers in December? They were rolling around in piles of cash, thanks to their seasonal recipes and seasonally high RPMs, bragging about their new private islands and whatever. Lame.
But guess what, fam… January is our month. January is *the* month for health food bloggers. We’ve got all the New Years resolutioners, the Whole30ers, the Veganuary-ers, and we love them. Sure, our RPMs are at yearlong lows, but we’ve got the traffic to make up for it. It’s Health Food Domination Takeover Monopoly Blogger January.
That’s a thing I’m trying to start. Let me know if it takes off.
So January 2018 was my first real January since burrowing down into the health food niche. January 2017 kicked off my overall increased traffic so I was looking forward to what the first month of the new year might bring, but what happened shocked me.
My traffic doubled started essentially the day after Christmas and stayed that high or higher for an entire month. I had one day that sent me almost as much traffic as the entirety of last January: 50,000 pageviews! A record for me for sure.
The reason I think I did so well in January is threefold:
First, I made sure to have an appropriate and new lead magnet on my site. I offered a free downloadable cookbook of my most popular Whole30 recipes in exchange for a subscription. I gained something like 6000 new subscribers in the month of January alone, and I attribute this increase largely to my high-quality lead magnet. The kicker is… it was hardly any work for me! In fact, I had my assistant lay out almost all of it – but more on that in a little bit.
Second, I worked hard all of 2017 to develop Whole30 and paleo recipes that naturally lend themselves to spurts of healthy eating. Not something you could do overnight but I see all of my content as an investment. In other words, it might not fund my child’s college tuition today, but over time it will contribute to a larger business made up of lots of small investments. This January was a great example of that method.
Third, I grew a Whole30 Support Group on Facebook during 2017, and this community was a great place for my recipes to be shared during January. It’s not a “40 Aprons Whole30 Group” by any means, but the group is linked to my page so my content is naturally shared more frequently than your standard group. This community is invaluable to me, and I love having this additional element of support for my readers who are doing a round. I personally feel it helped in January, too.
Without further ado…. the numbers, fam.
My traffic skyrocketed in January after the comfort food quarter (October – December… you get it) and has actually stayed significantly higher than my 2017 traffic since. We’ll see what happens over time.
Here’s January 2018 compared to December 2017. Keep in mind that the tail end of December 2017 reflects the bump that led to a higher January:
And here’s January 2018 as compared to January 2017. Whoa.
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 worked on my nonprofit client’s year-end campaign. I’m sure my blog had some sort of influence when they hired me, but it’s not directly related, so I don’t include it. On the other hand, my freelance food photography is a direct result of my online presence, so it goes in the report.
This month I was still in that icky early pregnant phase so I didn’t take on much additional work beyond keeping my blog (and baby) going. I actually started a couple new projects that you’ll see on future income reports but I didn’t invoice them at this point.
- Sponsored posts: $600. I knew January was going to be busy and I wanted to maximize the truly custom, Whole30-based content I created so I only took on one small project. I had one lined up with a regular client, but this post went live a couple days into February 2018.
- Ad revenue with Adthrive: $13,100.76. RPM (revenue per thousand impressions [pageviews]) = 13,100.76/1,069,834 = $12.25. Definitely a yearlong low, but that’s to be expected! Most advertisers blow out their budgets in Q4 with the holidays and reset with peanuts at the start of the year. Thankfully, our traffic made up for it. However, if we had the same RPM from December with this January traffic, we’d have made… $19,632. CRYING.
- Freelance food photography: none. While I had a new, large project get started in January, I won’t invoice it for another few weeks even still. I also started a large recipe development project but it too was not finished (at the invoice level) by January 2018.
- Sales: $2098.06. 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 this month, so this number reflects sales after that release.
- Amazon Affiliate sales: $1080.55. 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: $16,879.37
- 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 use Mailerlite because it does the job, and I really don’t feel like I need any fancy capabilities with my list.
- 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 made the biggest difference in my business and what I’m able to do and earn, and I really think everyone needs a virtual assistant. More on that in the next paragraph! cal
Total Expenses: $763
Net Income: $16,116.37
The last twelve months have been full of terror on my part. Fear that I’d fail and have to go back to an office job, fear that my traffic would just drop off and I’d have to figure something out, fear that I’d never eat healthy food again for those first few weeks of pregnancy…
And the fear that, even though I was ready to hire an assistant, I wouldn’t be able to sustain her, that I’d be eating away at my profit, that I’d have to fire her because I just couldn’t afford it.
What happened, though, was what I’d hoped would happen but assumed would go in reverse. In theory, I thought this: I’ll hire an assistant, she’ll clear my plate of the tasks that I don’t like to do and that don’t need me to do them, and I’ll be able to focus on creating content, starting businesses, and growing what we do.
And guess what… it really happened that way.
But hiring her didn’t go exactly as I’d planned. I’d had so many friends who’d gone through virtual assistants in the past but they felt like there was no real communication, no real partnership, that they weren’t getting the results they were paying for, they didn’t know how to explain that, they didn’t know how to keep their assistant up on the trends and best practices and algorithms.
But I knew I needed one but I was terrified.
And one of my best friends had been talking to me about her toxic work environment, and it occurred to me… maybe I could hire her. I’d used her as my assistant before when I had a burlesque troupe (Right? Like lifetimes ago), and I knew that, at worst, it’d just make work a lot more fun. But I didn’t think I could pay her what she deserved, and she has the sweetest daughter and and and… yeah, lots of fears.
But I decided I’d at least offer. And she took me up on it. I told her I couldn’t afford to hire her full-time, but that I would try and get her other food blogging clients if it worked out. Within a few weeks, she took on her first other client, and then another after that, and then another after that… And it occurred to me, and to us, really, that we’d created the perfect food blogger assistant relationship. That, because she worked so closely with me, and because I have a background in brand development and food blog coaching, that we could offer this to other bloggers.
Other bloggers who are scared of the lack of accountability and vision. Other food bloggers who need help to define what they even need. Other bloggers who worry that hiring someone won’t move the needle or that it’ll eat away at their profit.
So we made this a reality. We hand-picked a couple amazing, brilliant women local to us that we trained and continue to train so they’re always on top of what they need to know. They work closely with us to analyze their clients’ content and numbers so that each month we know, hey, this is working and this is not working and let’s try something else or she really should post more of this because her audience freaking loves it.
It’s a partnership, not just a task list. It’s someone who truly knows your business and your niche and can give you the feedback and support you need.
The fact that my assistant has freed up my time to do more of what I love and what I do best is invaluable to me! It’s allowed me to launch my food blogging & photography coaching program, too, because I had the time and the passion and the clarity. And my assistant helped me plan through the program, she keeps me on schedule with my clients, and she gives me the feedback I need from someone who really knows my business. Speaking of…
We’re still taking one-on-one clients while we fine-tune the program! So if you’re interested in growing your food blog or improving your food photography, you really should reach out. Each program is totally unique, so it’s perfect for just about anyone who wants to be successful and make money as a food blogger. And once I get super super pregnant, I won’t be taking on very many one-on-one clients, so now is a super exciting time for my little coaching guinea pigs. ? An affectionate term, of course
If you’re thinking about hiring a food blog virtual assistant, reach out to me and let’s chat! I’d love to talk to you more about my experience and what might work for you, and hey, you might even be a good fit for one of our own genius gals. Click here to shoot me an email – I love to hear from you all!
Cheryl Malik is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind the healthy, flavorful, family friendly recipes at 40 Aprons. She’s been a blogger for 10+ years and is known for her delicious recipes and detailed recipe instructions. Cheryl is a mom of three who lives in Memphis, TN.