Welcome to our very first annual income report from RecipeThis.com. This featured everything that we got up to in our first year of running our food blog.
We created our first income report for our first month of food blogging just to show where you are starting out and not just basing it on success. We have now done 12 of them and we wanted to reflect over the last 12 months and share our story of them with you.
In the food blogging niche there is a huge drop out rate of people quitting their blogs in the first year. They don’t make it as far as month 12 is concerned and their food blog will be left to gather dust on the internet. It will be totally untouched. They may not even renew their domain name or leave it until it runs out. They may have the odd post that brings them in a little Adsense income thanks to one post taking off on Pinterest or being shared on a site such as Buzz Feed or Community Table.
They will resent the effort that they have put in and feel like a failure because all the sheer hard work that they have put into the site has become unnoticed and the dream of quitting their job to become a full time food blogger has long since vanished.
If that is you and you’re thinking about doing that, then you’re not alone.
The way I look at it I am in a better position than most. I have had years of experience in internet marketing and know what will take off on my blog and what won’t. I know how to get my content shared, how to rank in the search engines, how to build a mailing list and so much more. I am also financially in a position to work on my food blog on a full time basis which makes a big difference for the speed that your site can grow at.
For example do the maths. If you’re working full time and therefore can only get out two recipes per week, compared to my five per week this means that you are going to grow on average at 40% the speed of me. And that is without putting in the effort into social media and other marketing methods. So let’s say with the limited time you have to put into marketing this puts your growth at 20% of mine. This would mean for where I am at the end of year 1 would take you 5 years.
This means that you have to have a lot of dedication in order to still be there at the end of the first year.
But why am I telling you this?
Well it’s certainly not to depress you or rub salt in your wounds. But to remind you (like I have to remind myself sometimes) that it takes time and you can’t expect to have it all in a flash. I want to be further along now and I am not, but we have to be grateful that we are still here and that we have not quit straight away like so many other people do. It’s about being there and standing out from the crowd. You need to be showing that you will always be there and that people should associate you with your niche.
Then there is the other quote that I always use “where will you be this time next year?” This is very important to really think about. When I started in November 15th 2015 it was a brand new site. It had no traffic, it had no social media updates, it had no income and it certainly had no advertisers.
Plus the benefit to YOU is that because many people quit it means there is more room for you!
On another note because we picked up our domain name from the Godaddy Auctions our domain will have been the result of someone else quitting and we wouldn’t have such an amazing domain otherwise.
So think to yourself over and over again, when you’re next working your butt off on a Sunday where you could be in a years time if you work incredibly hard on it.
The moral of this has to be DON’T GIVE UP and you’ll get there before you know it!
Our Food Blogging Income During Year 1
- Food Blogging Consulting & Management = $15649.35
- Free Products = $6271.79
- Sponsored Review = $3788.33
- Social Media Ads = $1315
- Kindle = $1257.98
- Draft2Digital = $703.44
- MediaVine = $392.52
- Google Adsense = $324.04
- Amazon CPM Ads = $181.56
- StudioPress Theme = $139.92
- Amazon Associates = $122.63
- BlueHost = $65.00
- Aweber = $52.20
- Google Play = $32.22
- Knownhost = $25.00
- Tailwind = $17.98
- Fiverr = $8
- Content.Ad = $5.34
- Gourmet Ads = $3.73
- Swoop = $0.51
Total Revenue = $30,356.54
Our Food Blog Expenses During Year 1:
- Virtual Assistants = $2481.10
- Shutterstock = $1485
- Freelance Writers = $1207.87
- Bing Ads = $785
- Graphics Designer = $445.79
- Knownhost = $419.95
- Aweber = $202
- Hubstaff = $135.42
- Hootsuite = $107.88
- Tailwind = $107.88
- Statusbrew = $100
- Max CDN = $99
- Blog Vault = $99
- Bluburry = $84
- Ever Hour = $78
- Stream Guys = $71.08
- DMCA = $65.89
- Sumo Me = $60
- Quuu Promote = $39.00
- Rafflecopter = $26
- Social Warfare = $21.30
- Nekkra UG = $20
- Time Doctor = $13.32
- IZEA = $5.00
Total Expenses = $8159.48
This leads to a total income from Recipe This For Year 1 of $22,197.06
You can read each of our past income reports that have made up the first yearly income report by clicking here.
Passive Income Vs None Passive Income
Okay so passive income sounds great doesn’t it? The idea that you are doing nothing to earn your income and that while you are sleeping the money is rolling in! In reality to earn passive income can be down to having a lot of traffic and having done a lot of work to make your site passive. So in reality no income is actually passive because of what you did a long time before to get it.
Take our food blog for example. Kindle, Draft2Digital, Mediavine, Google Adsense, Amazon CPM ads, affiliate sales, Google Play, Content ad, gourmet ads and swoop would all be considered as passive income. In total they resulted in just $3,306.09 of the annual income.
But as no extra work was needed to make them it is considered as easy money.
Then you have the middle ground where you have to do something to create it such as sponsored reviews, social media ads, free products and other forms of advertising. This is probably the area of a blog that will always make you the most money in the lifetime of your blog. I like these the most as it will normally involve working with brands to advertise their products to my readers and that is addiction of mine.
Then there is the other end of the food blogging world and that is consulting. It will often produce half of a blogs monthly income (if not more) in the early days and it’s a great way to support yourself while your blog brings in passive income.
Many food bloggers wouldn’t count consulting as blog income because it often takes you away from the blog, but I will leave that decision up to you. What I will say to you though, is that you want to plan your long term income among options A and B just because C takes you away from your site when you could be creating that new piece of epic content that will take your site viral.
On an income streams point of view though, you need to be aiming for a mixture of income streams then if you lose one you wont be relying on it.
Not All Affiliate Programmes Are Equal
I find that with affiliate programmes some can be good for you and others are not. It’s a case of finding what works for you. Affiliate income on a food blog will always be a big part of it. You are talking about a certain product you use in a recipe and it is only natural that you link to it and get paid for the privilege.
But at the same time there will be some affiliate programmes that are great and bring you in a great income and there will be others that fail to give you what you were promised.
Take Tailwind for example. I love the product and went all out promoting it. When I have done this in the past I have found that I have got lots of affiliate sales. But none came in. I mentioned this in passing to one of my clients who pointed out that he used my affiliate link and couldn’t understand why I hadn’t been paid for it. I contacted both Share A Sale (who run the Tailwind affiliate programme) they passed us onto Tailwind and after them investigating it for six weeks we eventually got our commission.
Our affiliate link was tested and was correct and we have no idea how many of them we missed or why it just didn’t happen. We have used Share A Sale before without any problems, so no idea where the problem is or how many sales we missed out on. Then the week after this we found out that they had reduced the commission by a lot!
Then there is the payment threshold with affiliate programmes where you have to have earned a set amount before they will pay you. This can mean that if a product isn’t for you that those initial sales are never paid out.
Finally there are the programmes that you want to promote but they never approve you. You then don’t promote a worthwhile product on your blog because you feel hard done by and that the brand doesn’t appreciate you.
Though, I think the final nail in the coffin in the last 12 months was for a product that one of my clients had been promoting for a year. They changed the programme so that you needed written approval and that meant that he woke up one day and none of the affiliate links worked. Yet the company themselves never bothered to even email their affiliates to tell them.
Or there is the products that just disappear. You have everything in place, you’re promoting them and earning a good living and all of a sudden they are gone!
Read How @recipe_this made money from their food blog from the past year From Food BloggingClick To Tweet
My opinion though, is to be part of a handful of good quality affiliate programmes and to not get too carried away by affiliating everything. Also don’t rely on your affiliate income because you are not in control the person that owns the product is.
Recipe This Blog Traffic Year 1
Its hard to believe that this traffic is all in the first year of a blog. The result of putting our heart and soul into one site and making sure that it had excellent growth on a daily basis.
We had one target in mind and that was to be better than we were the month before. The idea that every month was a new month and that we needed to achieve better things.
Here is our traffic for our first year:
As you can see in the first year we had 447,674 page views, 296,788 sessions and 230,666 users. This worked out at an average of 37,306 page views per month and I am sure this will go on to grow further and further over time. It is also really exciting to say that traffic we got in our first month we now get per day in month 12!!!
What we love about the traffic we have built is that it is built around organic traffic that will grow and grow and grow over the years. Forget a quick hit on Facebook ads we are here to reappear and expect that blog posts that have been written in the last 12 months will STILL bring us traffic five years from now.
It is also great fun to look at the above screenshot ourselves as we can see when we had our spikes and our bad days. We can also see a day back in February when a new plugin conflicted with Google Analytics and gave us a zero traffic record for the idea.
Like most food bloggers though, we can see the high traffic days from when we had a good position on Yummly and when we went viral on Stumbleupon and on Facebook.
Here are our top 10 traffic sources for RecipeThis.com during Our First Year:
As you can see from the screenshot above SEO is our main traffic source. We are mad for the search engines and we love writing content that goes to the top of Google. We find that a lot of bloggers don’t focus that much on the SERPS and instead are more interested in Pinterest or Facebook traffic rather than diversifying their traffic results.
The best tip I can give as far as SEO is concerned is to make sure Google knows what keywords to associate you with. It is all well and good to rank on the first page of Google for lemon chicken but if that’s your only post about lemon chicken and the next post is for a cheese sauce, Google is not going to know what to make of you. They will simply be confused.
However if you wanted them to associate you with lemon chicken you could have a week dedicated to different lemon chicken recipes that way the search engines would think of you and not just one random post that you’ve done.
We did something similar with KFC copycat recipes. We spent a week doing recipes associated with KFC. These posts included:
This resulted in a total social share volume of 2755 and 27 different keywords being found for it in Google.com.
Furthermore we have diversified our traffic and get a good chunk of it from the search engines, social media, recipe sharing sites and of course word of mouth and our Podcasts.
It is all about time verses money a lot of the time. You are always thinking about another way to grow your traffic but you only have limited times in the day and as I would say “you can’t do everything”.
After reflecting on our first year the first thought is to get straight back to it. What could we do next and what could we do differently to improve on things.
Well from a traffic point of view we plan to work on the following in the next year:
- Google +
- You Tube
Plus for the traffic sources we already have we would love to improve on them. This particularly applies to Pinterest and our traffic from our Podcast as we believe both of those could excel further.
From an income point of view we find that if your traffic grows that your income grows too. If you are earning X amount from Adsense then if you triple your traffic then your Adsense income is going to triple too. In the same sense that if you get more traffic you can then charge more for sponsored content.
So if you work on your traffic and at the same time make sure your income streams are as good as they possibly can be, then the rest will fall into place.