Making Money with Your Food Blog: November Revenue Report

Hey everybody! Welcome to another edition of our monthly revenue report. Each month, we examine the things that have been working (and the things that haven’t been working so well) to help turn our blog, FromAway.com, into a means of making a full-time living. With any luck, our experience will help you on your own blog’s quest to profitability.

November was a good month for the site. In fact, it was our most profitable so far. Let’s look at the reasons why, as well as what we’re going to try this month to move the needle ever-upward. Be sure to 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 November, 2012:

Total Earnings in November: $1,813.74

And of course, here’s your pie chart, because I love making pie charts:

I wanted to take a moment to make a few notes on these items:

BlogHer and Google Adsense

We had a great month with BlogHer. There are a few reasons why. First, we had a slight bump in traffic, allowing us to generate 763,902 banner impressions for the month, moving us ever-closer to our goal of a million banner impressions for BlogHer per 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.

Second, we were selected to participate in three lucrative flat-rate opportunities. The first, a review opportunity for Kettle Chips, paid a total of $325. There was also a $50 payout for embedding a small block of ads for Cracker Barrel at the top of one of our regular posts. It was a nice bonus, but the real revenue for this deal came from the associated banner ads that ran. For a few days, all of our ad inventory went to Cracker Barrel, at a $5.33 CPM. This means that we served very few low-paying ads during the few days our site was “roadblocked.”

TIP: Be on the lookout for BlogHer opportunities that pay not just a flat rate, but that more significantly include what BlogHer refers to as a “roadblock.” When your site gets “roadblocked” for a particular advertiser, it means that every single visit your site receives will display high-paying ads for that particular advertiser. This usually is significantly more profitable than the flat payout itself.

So, what’s the plan for December? We still need to get to a million banner impressions per month, but I think the site has reached the maximum possible number of ads. If we add any more, it will start to damage user experience. Instead of adding more banners, we are going to concentrate on getting overall traffic levels up, to get us to that million mark.

In an effort to maximize revenue on the impressions we are already receiving, we are testing running BlogHer ads with “floating layers,” which usually contain surveys. It’s a decision I am somewhat concerned about; I find floating layers annoying, and the last thing we want to do is annoy our readers. If it doesn’t significantly improve revenue, we’ll kill “floating layers” in January.

There’s not much to report on the site’s other revenue streams…the numbers have remained stable.

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

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 December. 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.

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10 comments

  1. Stephanie 5 years ago

    Hey there, question – how are you getting 763,902 banner impressions if you’re only pulling in 184,177 pageviews a month? Is that because you’re running four ads at once? I only see three on your site – the two in the sidebar and another above the nav bar.

    Which ad sizes are you finding the most lucrative? Does it matter that the two ads in your sidebar are often running the exact same ad? Seems like that might be a negative to Blogher, or no?

    • Malcolm Bedell 5 years ago

      Thanks for writing, Stephanie. Yes, the high number of impressions is due to the multiple placements. We run the two sidebar ads, the top header ad, and then a 300×250 on the single post pages. All of these placements have been approved by BlogHer.

      It’s very unusual for the two sidebar ads to be showing the same ad…that only happens during a roadblock, which we happen to have right this second.

  2. Eric | carpeseason 5 years ago

    We are a relatively new food blog (1 year) and are not yet monetized. We’re trying to set a traffic goal before we apply for Blogher b/c of the different pay rates etc. Do you have any number you would suggest? We’re currently at about 21,000 visits/month.

    Thanks!

    • Malcolm Bedell 5 years ago

      Hi Eric! This will be different for everyone, but I feel any efforts that you would put toward monetization should instead be spent on content and link building, until you reach about 100k uniques per month. Again, that number may not be for everyone, but it’s always the “magic milestone” we kept in our heads, and the point at which the amount of income generated becomes meaningful.

  3. Sara 5 years ago

    Is that amount gross or net? What kind of expenses do you have – do you pay for any advertising? Thanks.

    • Malcolm Bedell 5 years ago

      Hi Sara! We don’t pay for advertising or have any expenses, outside of our ingredient and restaurant meal costs. Those expenses are not calculated as part of these reports.

  4. lalaine 5 years ago

    Am I right in thinking page impressions is not only based on unique visits but how many “pages” the visitors looked at?

    • Malcolm Bedell 5 years ago

      That’s correct. “Impressions” refers to pageviews, “Uniques” refers to absolute unique visitors.

  5. lalaine 5 years ago

    God knows I am no expert but shouldn’t you then focus on getting your old posts more accessible to increase pageviews, thus more impressions? 1.3 average seems a little low for such a powerhouse of content like yours. I spent 2 hours last night just going through all your recipes but I had time in my hands to actually search but most people don’t devour food like I do LOL

    • Malcolm Bedell 5 years ago

      I think you’re right Lalaine…we are simply not engaging people the way we need to. A navigation overhaul is on my to-do list.