A food blog about food blogging.

Making Money With Your Food Blog: December Revenue Report

Happy New Year! It’s time for another monthly revenue report! Each month, we reveal the “behind the scenes” economics of our ongoing quest to turn our food blog, FromAway.com, into our full-time job. We’ll share with you what worked and didn’t work from the previous month, with the idea that the things we learn will save you a few steps on your own path to profitability. As always, please let us know if there are any particular stats or pieces of data you would like to have, and we’ll do our best to answer everyone’s questions.

Here’s the breakdown of the income generated by FromAway.com for the month of December, 2012:

Total Earnings in December: $1,809.25

Were you wondering what this data would look like in pie chart form? I’ve got you covered:

Here are a few notes and explanations of the above:

BlogHer and Google Adsense

The end of the year is always a good time for anyone serving banner ads, and this December was no exception. The ad sales team at Blog Her must have been kicked into overdrive, serving up tons of banner inventory with fairly high-paying CPMs, or cost per 1,000 impressions. We also raked in an extra $50 for a small campaign we did for The Art of Shaving, which required us to “tout” a predefined advertising message eight times before the end of the year. Unfortunately, we came just short of our goal of generating one million banner impressions for the month.

TIP: When you reach a million banner impressions per month, your share of revenue at BlogHer changes from 45% to 54%. This may not seem significant, but with our current traffic levels as an example, it represents a difference of about $200 per month. Thus, hitting a million banner impressions per month is one of our major goals.

We managed to generate 902,859 banner impressions for BlogHer in December. To get to a million, we’re choosing not to add any more ad units to the site; instead, we are focusing on building more traffic.

Google ads were shown instead of BlogHer’s house ads, when there were no campaigns available, generating approximately the same amount of revenue as usual.

Affiliate Sales

It was a good month for affiliate sales; nearly across-the-board, sales were up for the month of December. I’m not sure why, as we didn’t do any additional marketing. For now, we’ll call it a fluke and see what happens next month.

And now, here’s a quick look at From Away’s stats for the month of December:

Notice our average pages/visit? It’s low. This means that people are hitting the site, either through a referral or from a search engine, reading one page, and then leaving the site. We’re simply not doing a good enough job of engaging users and convincing them to browse the rest of the site, which is a design issue that I will be working on in January.

What else will we be working on in January, to drive revenue higher? It’s a bit of a scary month; now that the holidays are over, major national advertisers will be scaling back their advertising budgets, meaning we can probably expect our BlogHer numbers to go down next month, as advertisers are less willing to buy banners. In an effort to mitigate this drop in income, we are going to make a few big moves.

First, we are going to test replacing From Away’s search functionality with a Google custom search. I have mixed feelings about this. I’d hate to alienate users with even more Google ads, and I don’t think that Google’s search is any more robust than WordPress’ built-in search function. On the other hand, some of the biggest food blogs on the planet use it (Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes springs to mind), so there has to be a reason. In January, we’ll test replacing our regular search function with Google’s, to see if the results it delivers are better, or if it brings in any extra money.

More significantly, though, January 1st saw the launch of a big new experiment on our website: A retail, mail-order branch of the blog, selling a collection of our favorite items from the world of food and drink. This may not be a revenue stream appropriate for every food blogger, since it will be rather expensive in terms of time and the initial inventory purchase for each item we add to the shop. But it could be a way to convert casual visitors into customers. We’re keeping an open mind, and trying to approach the new portion of the business slowly, sanely, and with a minimal initial investment. Of course, we’ll report back on its relative success (or failure) at this time next month.

I hope you found something in this month’s report that was useful! Check back next month, when we’ll talk about the changes we’ve made, as well as what worked and what didn’t for January. Of course, if you have any questions or comments, or if there is any more specific information you would like, please let me know in the comments.

Please note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you use them to make a purchase. I have used each and every one of the products or services listed above, and recommend them based on my positive experience with them, not because of the commissions that I may earn from your purchases.

About Malcolm Bedell

Malcolm is one-half of the blogging team at From Away, an Alexa-ranked top 100k most trafficked website about cooking, eating, and food culture in Maine. His writing and photography has been featured online on Serious Eats, the Huffington Post, BlogHer, and Foodista, as well as in print for Downeast, Indulge, and Cigar Snob magazines.

Comments

  1. Scott H says:

    Malcolm,

    I was just looking at your stats from google analytics and your comments about crossing BlogHer million impression threshold. You stats were showing approximately 200K pageviews, and you mentioned over 900K impressions. How many BlogHer ad spaces do you have on a page? Or are their other sites adding into your total BlogHer impressions?

    Thanks

  2. David says:

    Malcolm, thanks for posting the earnings breakdown. I am surprised you are not monetizing with Amazon. Any reason you are not using them?

  3. Hi Malcolm,
    As someone just starting out on the route to a food blog that may monetise, I have been going over your legacy articles here in detail. Are you intending to update as I note you haven’t posted since January? Making the site into a real biz means you won’t have time to share the info perhaps? My stats are heading the right way, and while I am not a US-based blog, I am gaining traction from the States so keen to understand Blogher etc. You pointers are very useful. Keep it up please, and you blog.

    As an aside, something you wrote about local advertisers being a very marginal revenue stream rang a bell with me here in Malta. I’ve been running a location blog (non food) for over four years and despite the relevance of content to tourists, local businesses, etc, practically no one will advertise. I am shifting over to my new food blog as at least that has the potential of a worldwide audience and while anchored in the food of the central Mediterranean, it is not location specific to the nth degree and therefore hamstrung by reliance on local advertisers.

    • Hi there! I have taken a break from the revenue reports, mainly because I am not doing anything differently to drive new income right now. I felt like I was writing the same things over and over. But when I start trying out some new ideas, I will definitely report back here. Thanks for reading and thanks for the support!

      • Tnx for the update Malcolm. What would be interesting to know though is if you are seeing steady revenue increases, whether you’ve cracked the bounce rate and if traffic is growing. Just a short update on the stats even if you’re strategy is the same. Cheers,

  4. Hi Malcolm! I know this is an old post, but I’m new to BlogHer and hoping you can help. How did you set up Adsense to backup the BlogHer ads when there were no BlogHer ads to show? I’ve heard somewhere that if you uncheck the PubMatic and unpaid PSA options in your BlogHer account, BlogHer will contact you to figure out what you want to do for backup? Is this what happened, or did you set it up some other way?

    Also, how did you find out about the revenue share changing when you get to a million impressions? I just check my BlogHer contract and didn’t find anything about that. Maybe they’ve changed since you signed up, or you found this somewhere else?

    Thanks!

    • Hey Lori! Sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. I actually just got an email from Blog Her letting me know that they are no longer allowing accounts to run Google Adsense as a backup. They are grandfathering in anyone who had that set up, so we can still do it on From Away, but I think anyone trying to set that up now would have a tough time.

  5. This is quite interesting as i wander through the tactics of developing succesful blogs

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