Making Money with Your Food Blog: October Revenue Report

How cool would it be to spend your days driving around, blogging about food from quirky, out-of-the-way places, while getting paid to cook gourmet meals at home? Like many food bloggers, I am always looking for ways to increase the revenue our site generates each month, with the idea that maybe someday, working on our site will be something I can do full-time. In this series, we’ll share what worked (and what didn’t) from the previous month, in a totally transparent look behind the scenes at the business of food blogging. Hopefully, some of the work we’ve done can save you a few steps, in your quest to making your food blog profitable.

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.

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

Total Earnings in October: $1,242.47

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

BlogHer and Google Adsense

Once again, the combination of ads from BlogHer and Google Adsense were our most profitable relationships for this month, earning a combined $933.68 for the site. That’s a great number (although I feel better when we break $1,000 for the month), but it does represent a decrease from the previous month’s $1,169.04 from these two sources. The question is: Why?

Our traffic was about the same as the previous month. We generated 681,598 banner impressions for BlogHer in October, which is less than the 717,214 impressions we generated in September. Still, it doesn’t seem like a difference of just 35k impressions should create a drop in revenue of almost $300.

I decided to contact BlogHer, and find out. Here’s what they had to say:

It’s usually the case that every month will bring a different amount of revenue, even if your traffic is holding steady. It all depends on how many campaigns are running, what the CPMs for those campaigns are, what types of ads you run (for example, you’re opted out of floating layers, so you won’t serve any ads where the client has requested surveys), and how much of your audience is based in the U.S. Sometimes traffic will rise sharply and revenue will stay flat or fall; other times traffic will dip and revenue will rise. I guess that’s a longwinded way of saying that ad revenue is pretty unpredictable.

There aren’t really any surprises here, though I do appreciate how open BlogHer is about their process. This explanation confirms what I already suspected; that from month to month, the revenue you earn (even if your traffic remains consistent) is entirely dependent on what kinds of deals the ad sales team at BlogHer has been able to make with advertisers. We don’t run “floating layers” on the site, because I believe they negatively impact the user experience, and that’s a careful line you must walk when considering how much advertising you will run on your site. Still, it’s frustrating to not have any direct control over your site’s performance, though our rep at BlogHer did include this little nugget of information:

When you serve one million or more impressions, your revenue share goes from 45% of the gross to 54%. Since you’re pretty close, you might want to consider placing another ad, if you can fit one above the fold, or installing a BlogHer TV widget in your sidebar, to see if you can reach the 1MM impression mark.

This is good news; those nine little percentage points will mean a difference of hundreds of dollars in revenue each month. I don’t want to place any more ads on the site, and I’m not 100% sold on the benefits of the BlogHer TV widget yet, so we’ll focus on growing traffic in order to get to that magic one million banner impression level.

Local Ad Sales

Unfortunately, one of our local advertisers went out of business, and so we saw a slight drop in revenue from our local advertisers. We’re actively looking for new sponsors to fill this gap, but as usual, local advertisers didn’t add a ton of money to the site’s bottom line.

Affiliate Sales

Affiliate sales for our top performing partner products, DIY Themes and Bluehost, were exactly the same as the previous month, generating a combined $223.71 for the site.

VigLink

VigLink‘s system of creating affiliate text links for sites you may not have an existing affiliate relationship with has been hit-or-miss so far. The first month we tested the software, it brought in almost $200. This month, it brought in two bucks. We’ll keep running the software for a few more months, to see what develops.

Amazon Affiliate Sales

As usual, Amazon has not been a big moneymaker for us, bringing in just over three dollars for the month. At this point, we are offering Amazon affiliate links not as a way to make money, but as a convenience to our readers, who may want to make a purchase after reading about a product on our site.

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

There was a slight decrease in traffic, but not enough to be concerned about.

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 November. 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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7 comments

  1. Rebecca 5 years ago

    This was very helpful. I am just at the point where I’m thinking about possibly adding advertisements to my site. I don’t have a huge amount of traffic yet and don’t want to just add any ad site. I think the big sites like blogHer have hits/day requirements to become part of their network, right??? Do you have any advice for those of us that are not pulling in the sort of traffic that your site does?

    • Malcolm Bedell 5 years ago

      Hi Rebecca! I think that there’s not a lot of sense in burning your efforts on advertising until you get to around 100k uniques per month. Until then, the money isn’t great, and your time would be better spent building links back to your site. Be sure to check out our “How to Start a Food Blog” post on From Away for tips on getting started, and later this month on PFB, we’ll start our series on traffic building techniques for food bloggers. Stay tuned!

  2. Marvo 5 years ago

    After seeing your previous results with VigLink, I decided to add it to our blog last month. We made $3 from it in October. Sad panda. Last month I also tried out Infolinks, which turns keywords in each post into ads. We earned about $2 a day from it, but I had to remove it because it made us look desperate for money and it just didn’t look nice.

    • Malcolm Bedell 5 years ago

      Hey Marvo, thanks for stopping by. We’re big fans of TIB. I’m not sure what is going on with VigLink; I think that our huge results in the first month were due to some BlueHost links that they created. I’ll write to them today to see what their explanation is, and we’ll certainly test them for another month, but my gut says that they may be better suited for technology or gadget blogs that have lots of opportunities for affiliate link creation. And I agree with you about all of those keyword ad services…they really junk up your site, for not a lot of return.

  3. Lauren W 5 years ago

    Malcolm, are you going to post a month to month comparison? That might be interesting to look at as time goes by.

    • Malcolm Bedell 5 years ago

      I hadn’t really planned to do that directly, though probably looking at some overall trends is a good idea every couple of months. In the meantime, you can search using the “revenue reports” tag to see all posts on this topic, or just click here: http://profoodblogger.com/tag/revenue-reports/

  4. Chris 4 years ago

    That was very interesting to read. At least I got a picture of what kind of amount of visitors I have to expect before I could even start thinking about any money related things.