Monthly Income Report + Moments: March 2016
Hey guys!! So I am SUPER excited to start sharing my monthly income reports here on my blog. It's grown so much over the past year that I have started focusing primarily on food and recipes, and I'm happy to say that I'm finally at a point where I have started earning a relatively stable income from my work as a budding food photographer and freelance writer!
I figure these monthly posts will be a great way to not only share some of the ways that I earn money from my website to serve as a starting point for others, but it will also be a great way for you to get to know me a bit more personally – and hopefully in the process, I will start to learn some more about you too!
Whenever traffic has been slow or paid opportunities seem to be waning, I always look at this blog as a portfolio piece, and if you have a blog, you should definitely have the same mindset: it's a constantly evolving showcase of your photography, writing, social media marketing skills and much more.
So without further ado, let's get started!
This month probably yielded my highest income to date. I made a whopping $3975 from my blog this month!!! Now, I know that this sounds all fine and dandy but I have to warn you that this was an unusually high month for me, and it has taken a lot of time, hard work and effort to get to this point.
I have been blogging about 20-30 hours a week for about a year now, all while doing a Master's degree in journalism and freelance writing on the side. It's been very difficult but if I had a full time job I don't think I would have ever been able to find the time or creative energy to do something like this.
First if all, here's a breakdown of my traffic:
As you can see, it's kind of middle of the road compared to a lot of other food bloggers out there, but that doesn't mean that my time is worth less than those who blog full time and have hundreds of thousands of page views. It also makes me more affordable for brands and companies who don't have a big budget, but they still get quality work and attention to their product.
Here's a breakdown of my income from this month:
- $100 from advertising (Google Adsense, Gourmet Ads, Chicory and AOL Ads)
- $1125 sponsored posts (clients came from a variety of PR firms and independent brands)
- $200 freelance writing and photography work
- $2550 photography contract (this was a project outside of my blog, but was contacted through my blog contact form for the job)
Okay, so the photography contract I received this month was HUGE, and not a typical month for me. However, I was beyond ecstatic, and it feels like all my hard work is finally starting to pay off. I think it's also a good sign of the professional level that I'm now working at, and with some initiative on my part I could land future, similar jobs in the industry.
Even though I made a lot of money this month, I've been steadily making about $1200 a month from my blog between advertising, freelance work and sponsored content, so I think it's fair to say that I really am earning a small income. For a long time, I was making only about $200-500 a month on average, and as my web traffic has built and client referrals have gone up, I've been able to make a low, but steady and liveable income. And you know what? I'm SUPER proud of that. I'm sure all you entrepreneurs out there can relate: when you make something out of nothing, it can be pretty exciting even if the pay is temporarily low.
So I know you're probably wondering…Where do I get the opportunities for sponsored posts? About half of the sponsored posts I get are through content and blogger networks such as Food Bloggers of Canada and Social Fabric. I've also heard good things about Mode Foodie and Collective Bias. The other half of my sponsored posts are through emails directly from my site – usually PR people, brand managers and small business owners wanting me to include them in a sponsored recipe.
Recently, I have also been pitching online food publications with ideas, like the Huffington Post (it's hard to get paid opportunities with them), Food 52 and Eating Well. Success with this has been up and down, so I will keep you posted here. I do have a Master's degree in journalism, but there's no reason you can't pitch to bigger media outlets if you're a great writer and have creative ideas that fit with their content!
I should also mention that as far as monetization goes, I also have affiliate advertising on my Shop page and my Blogger Resources pages. I have only made two sales in the three months the pages have been up (one for Bluehost, and one for Fresh City Farms), but my traffic isn't that big yet and these landing pages are more an experiment for me as a blogger. They require very little work on my part, and I don't really actively promote them. I will update as my traffic continues to grow and I figure out different ways to ethically promote these areas of my website.
Outside of paid work, I had many other great opportunities and foodie experiences this month:
- I had the chance to review a restaurant in St. Lawrence Market
- I had a beautiful evening on a patio overlooking Yonge & Dundas Square with some friends
- I went for pho on a gloomy Tuesday after class
- I read my friend's first published print article in This Magazine
- I made homemade pizza with my family and had a games night
- I learned how to make homemade protein bars
- I visited the Real Jerk restaurant after Rihanna & Drake shot their Work video there
- I attended a digital media and marketing conference called Podcamp, which was hosted at my school (Ryerson). My friend & I learned a ton about SEO strategy!
Outside of all of these great activities, I am coming to a close with classes for my Master's degree in the middle of April and this will open up all kinds of time for me to further devote to content building, social media strategy and audience development. It will also open up some more time for me to dedicate to finding more paid opportunities both inside and outside of the blog. I am also SUPER excited to start work on some videos for the blog – this is another great skill for me to hone and a way to diversify my income as a freelancer.
As I noted in my last post, I recently moved home to Hamilton to start paying off my student loans, and since I had been living in downtown Toronto for six years I never bought or leased a car. This is very good because I'll now be able to save every penny, but it's also somewhat challenging because now I am looking mostly for remote work opportunities.
Though it can be scary, I love being able to work as freelancer full time because there is always room for improvement. For the blog, my goals for the month are going to be the following:
- Creating more branded photos with text I have purchased from Creative Market (the same text as my blog's logo)
- Start building editorial calendars by season with recipes that have been better researched for SEO
- Continuing to build my email subscriber list and start sending out bi-weekly newsletters (I have been inconsistent with this)
- Finally build a media kit and start looking for more paid opportunities
- Start brainstorming miscellaneous financial opportunities for myself outside of the blog using skill sets I have developed through blogging (e.g. hosting cooking classes, website/social media consulting, professional meal planning, etc.)
My goal for the next few months is to ultimately start making an average of $2000 per month. Living and working out of my parents' home leaves me without any expenses whatsoever, so this amount of money will be more than helpful in paying off my debt and saving up to move back to Toronto.
Finally, before I end this income report I wanted to include some reading that I found especially helpful, and will be guiding me in my goals for the upcoming month.
- How to Find the Best Recipe Keywords for Food Bloggers from the Wicked Noodle
- Media Kits & Pitching Brands from the Food Bloggers of Canada
- Why I Shoot with Artificial Light from Gastrostoria
And there we are, the end of my very first income report! Phew, it was a long one wasn't it? I know I drifted from the traditional format at times but I hope that I have ultimately been able to help in some way. How do you make income from your blog? Are you still trying to monetize? I'd love to hear some of your stories in the comments. Let's talk moneyyyyyyyyy?