Recently, food blogging has got a lot of hype around the industry. This is a very popular niche as people start new blogs every day — thousands of food-related websites appear monthly. Since many food bloggers are just at the very beginning of their journey, the topic of monetizing a food blog is getting hot. So, cooked and served for today is the business side of having a food blog. Quite often food blogs are considered a hobby, not a money-making machine. But financial potentials go much further than covering blog expenses: the latest income report (unfortunately, they stopped posting reports) from Pinch of Yum states $95 197.
There are many ways to begin earning from your recipes, so below you will find the most effective methods to monetize your food blog. All of them have their pros and cons, some may work well in your case while others can happen to be a failure. You are in for a real treat with the following list of major strategies to earn money from your food blog.
Spoiler: The best option is to use multiple income channels, so as not to depend on a single source.
In the past five years, the credibility of food bloggers rose steeply with millions of followers, deals for cooking shows, and cookbooks. Besides the global culinary celebrities, there are passionate bloggers with impressive numbers of followers, unique mouthwatering recipes, and healthy lifestyle diet recommendations.
Note, food blogging is not only about sharing recipes, this niche is divided into sub-niches that include restaurant reviews, healthy living, specialized diets, drinks (spirits, wine, etc.), the food industry, and so on. Below we will discuss several ways to monetize your food blog.
Display ads allow you to start earning from your blog instantly. The ads are displayed on your website/blog and every time users click on the ad you’ll be paid. You don’t need to have any specific skills to add Google AdSense, Mediavine, AdThrive or any other display ads to your blog. Some bloggers love AdSense and recommend it as the first monetizing option for beginners, while others consider display ads as a low-profit nuisance and insist on avoiding it.
Actually, display ads are easy to start with until you’ll have enough original products, including digital ones, to offer to your audience. Usually, display ads are paid on CPC or CPM basis. To let ads work, experiment with their position — you want ads to be seen but not to overbear your content. One of the hardest tasks is to choose a network that will match your website and audience because some networks set requirements for the number of page views, audience type, and traffic. Most networks are easy to join, though.
Another effective way to generate income. In short, you add links/banners to affiliate products to your recipes and articles. Whenever a reader clicks on the link and purchases the promoted product you are paid a commission. Remember that a loyal audience is your first priority, so do not overload your posts with products of dubious quality or something you’ve never tried. Instead, try to find affiliate offers for products you use regularly and trust their quality.
Join the Amazon affiliate program: people usually search on Amazon for whatever they need, so it will be natural and easy to purchase a product from a well-known platform. Actually, you will be paid for anything they buy if originally they clicked on your link. For example, you promote Tefal pans; a person clicks on your affiliate link but purchases a box of Barilla pasta and a camera instead of pans. You will still receive your commission for these purchases.
You can work with brands directly (there are plenty of companies in the food industry that offer affiliate programs) or through affiliate networks. Affiliate networks are mediators between webmasters/bloggers (Publishers) and advertisers. The comfort of affiliate networks is in a wide selection of affiliate programs on a single platform. ShareASale, Rakuten, CJ Affiliate, ClickBank, and PeerFly are just some examples of affiliate networks.
Needless to say, the YouTube channel for your food blog might help with earnings. Video content shared on your blog keeps visitors on your blog longer. Videos are ranked high across all search engines, so you may generate more traffic to your blog by sharing videos. Add here traffic from social media where you can share links to the video updates — voila. You get more traffic. More traffic, higher rates for ads, more earnings on affiliate links, higher bids for sponsored posts, and so on.
Email databases are a very powerful tool for monetizing any website/blog. You can use it for the promotion of your own products (both physical and digital) and affiliate offers; you can even sell an ad space to someone (an individual or a company).
Selling your own products is one of the best money-making strategies. Naturally, you can sell physical goodies like printed books, t-shirts, or mugs. But manufacturing and printing require investments. New bloggers aren’t always ready to invest in additional products, so digital downloads, such as e-books, might be the best option. You have a collection of recipes posted on your blog and some secret recipes and recommendations up your sleeve.
The price of digital cookbooks varies from $2 up to $20. It may seem not impressive at first, but if you’ll make a name in the food industry and people will recommend your e-book to each other as a valuable source, eventually you can make a fortune. Make the e-book useful, try to answer the most common question people usually have, and provide the information and recipes they are looking for. You may sell your e-book on your own platform, as well as Lulu and Smashwords, online self-publishing book and e-book platforms.
This is the next level after your digital eCookbook (in fact, you may skip an ebook and make a printed book right away). Most likely you know many people who have their favorite printed cookbooks. As of now, you can make the book yourself (self-published) and arrange a deal with Amazon to free hands from shipping.
Some food bloggers offer paid services: consulting and coaching, photography, freelance writing, or meal planning services. Consulting and coaching services are quite clear: you may share your expertise in cooking via webinars or individual consulting. Meal planning services may include a plan of meals and required groceries for a week. It can be a specialized healthy or sports diet, budget family meals, or gourmet meals; rely on your target audience and its needs. Add here cooking lessons and cooking courses. Actually, you can make some free tutorials and offer them as a bonus for subscription; more specialized courses can be paid (as exclusive content). Another option is freelance writing. You may write for other blogs or larger platforms like Huffington or BBC network (they have food-related sections).
Rates for sponsored posts depend on your traffic and may vary between $50 and $10 000 with an average $100 for every 100k pageviews a month. If your name is already known, brands can contact you directly; new bloggers can find some sponsors on platforms like TapInfluence, RealClever, and SocialFabric. Typically, a company pays a blogger to create a post (or a recipe) with a specific product. There is also Brand Ambassadorship, a variant of sponsored content. The principal difference is that Brand Ambassadorship is a long-term agreement (from 3-month cooperation and up to a year or even more). Usually, bloggers create special content for the brand’s website and social media channels, create sponsored content on their blogs, make appearances at various events, seminars, and conferences, etc. It stands to reason that brands prefer to make partnership deals with recognizable bloggers.
This step requires some investments. If you’re familiar with IT, you can develop a tool/mobile app on your own; otherwise, you have to consider hiring a professional. Food bloggers might find beneficial for their audience various nutrition calculators, recipe app, food photo editing app, or similar tools. Try to answer the requirements of your readers (you may even ask them whether they need a specific mobile tool). There are free mobile apps monetized via mobile ad networks (for example, Admob by Google).
Besides the list of major affiliate networks and ad display networks, it’s always nice to have additional resources where you can join the like-minded community of bloggers, webmasters, and marketers. You have probably guessed that I mean marketing forums. Industry-oriented forums provide a great opportunity to learn something new and share your ideas, exchange experience, reviews of specific tools and instruments. Besides, forums allow you to stay informed about all important changes (for example, Google algorithm) within the industry. Naturally, Google search will offer numerous forums. Give a look at options, note recent posts and replies. Select a couple of the most interesting platforms. You may consider one of the following marketing forums: AffiliateFix, WickedFire, BlackHatWorld, or WarriorForum. These are very populated and functional platforms.
Another platform you might consider helpful is OfferVault, “the go-to source for affiliate marketers”. Well, OfferVault will be useful if you decide to monetize your food blog via affiliate programs. The platform helps in searching for a suitable affiliate offer. It provides populated lists of affiliate offers from various affiliate networks in different categories. It is so easy to see all the key details (type, payout, network, etc.) of available offers and compare them.
The Foodies100 is the largest and pretty useful UK network for food and drink bloggers. There are 5 000+ members and 8+ million readers. Bloggers can join the network to get the opportunity to grow and share their blogs through the platform, brand partnerships, and events. Members can promote their blog posts to other network members, download some exclusive e-books, access webinars to learn new blogging skills, attend Foodies 100 workshops and events, as well as connect with various food-related brands for advertising. To join the network bloggers simply fill in the registration form; upon validation of your blog, you’ll get a user ID and password to access the members-only content. Moreover, Foodies100 ranks all the blogs in the community every month; so, being a member you can download a personalized Foodies 100 badge to display your Foodies100 ranking on your blog.
Important note: as you see there are many ways to make revenue, but for some methods, like affiliate marketing and sponsored content, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) requires posting a disclosure on your blog and social media channels. It’s simple: if you’re paid to promote a product or service but do not inform people that you’re compensated, you are deceiving them. So, not to face any legal issues, post a disclosure.
Jess, the inspired blogger and owner of PaleoGrubs, shares her ideas on monetizing a food blog and reveals some stats. As of now, Jess is a well-known and reputable food blogger, who doesn’t reveal her income from running the blog. However, when her blog was less than one-year-old, she shared her insights on monetizing the blog and even revealed some stats.
Food blogging isn’t always about money, but the revenue flow can be a “strong motivating force” for the long-term venture. Below are the key aspects of Jess’s success.
Here is the screenshot from Jess’s affiliate earning (from one of her accounts). Keep in mind, that she was blogging for less than a year; so, with a proper strategy, new blogs can generate revenue.
As of 2020, Jess is a successful food blogger who runs her own affiliate program for the promotion of her Paleo Grubs Book.
Elizabeth Lindemann, the owner of BowlOfDelicious, created her food blog back in 2014. For two years in a row, she shared her income reports to inspire other fellow bloggers. Later Elizabeth stopped publishing her income reports and after the last report (below you’ll find the breakdown) she commented, “For those interested, I’m currently making a multiple six-figure income…” She also noted that she switched to Mediavine instead of AdSense.
She revealed the breakdown of her income from the first quarter of the year 2016 (so, the blog was less than two-year-old):
Google AdSense: $353.24
Amazon Affiliates: $312.73
BlogHer: $1 390.99
Gourmet Ads: $667.07
Sponsored posts: $400
Total income: $4 259.50
Total views: 666 486
Here is the breakdown by months:
As you see, she used several methods to monetize her blog and found success in persistence.
The Indian Food Blog TheTwinCookingProject.net was founded by two sisters, Sheenam and Muskaan, from New Delhi, India. They “love cooking, eating and creating easy and delicious recipes''. The Twin Cooking Project was initially created out of love and passion for food, cooking, and photography in August 2017. In the beginning, it was a fun experiment that “has slowly developed into a beautiful blog, with a collection of foolproof recipes and organic readership”. They joined Mediavine display ad network in March 2020, and in April they shared an income and traffic report for their blog.
The earnings come mostly from Mediavine: $682 with RPM $6.70. There was a sponsored post too. Sisters mentioned that they earned on sponsored content but didn’t reveal the figure keeping it “confidential” (with the promise to answer specific questions for sponsored content via email).
As for the traffic, they witnessed 42 000 page views, but April (they confess that the sudden increase might be the result of the global lockdowns due to COVID-19) surprised them with “an extra 100 000” page views:
Another source for generating traffic in April was Tailwind (Pinterest). Tailwind allows you to “have your content shared through other bloggers (through their feature known as Tribes)”. In May 2020 the sisters hit 1 million monthly unique views on Pinterest:
You may turn a food blog into a real business. Provide your readers with authentic genuine content and recommendations; participate in discussions on your social media channels; build trust; and prioritize mobile compatibility for your blog. Above mentioned methods of monetizing a food website/blog are indeed working tools; however, don’t put all the eggs into a single basket — use a combination of several best-working for you methods and develop a personalized monetizing strategy you’re going to follow. It’s not easy, but the reward is worth all the time and effort investments.