Hey this is DK here.
One of the questions that we, very frequently get asked is, “How much money are you making from your blog”? I am sure this is a question you too would have if you are thinking of starting a food blog or, if you are already running one for some time. In fact this is a question that is irrespective of a blog’s niche.
How do you make money with your blog?
First of all let me answer the question on how much money we are making. We have had this blog for a long time now. We were plagued with multiple issues including a lost list because of a fraud Autoresponder, a crashed server with pretty much everything on the blog vanishing in 3 hours and frequent hacking attacks (Don’t forget to check out our recommended services to avoid these kind of issues). You can attribute it to a little bit of laziness as well on our part. As a sum of all this, we lost rankings on Google (we were at search result # 2 for the terms “indian food blog” and “indian recipes”, for almost a year) and our daily visitors dropped to a rock bottom of about 10.
Consequently our earnings also dropped. Our primary source of earning was advertisements. Then the internet changed and so did Google and everything around it.
Today our earnings per month is a little above $1,300 per month, which is good from an Indian standpoint. But overall if I look at the expenses, I am little better than breaking even.
This does not create heartburns for us, because we are working on something bigger. Also there are a lot of niche blogs that we run which are good sources of income for us. So from a long-run we think we are on goal and we should be able to monetize the blog as per our plans.
How to Monetize a Food Blog?
Now moving onto the second question – how do you really monetize your blog, especially a food blog?
When it comes to monetizing your blog, there are primarily 2 ways that are the most common – selling advertisements and affiliate marketing. While pretty much every blog follows these 2 principle channels, the bigger ones who earn extremely well have a different monetization strategy which is something we will be discussing in a little while.
We will look at the general monetization technique and also specifically on how to monetize a food blog.
But first let us look at the primary channels of monetization.
Bloggers, since the time blogging started have been using this as their income source. In fact, most bloggers in the early 2000, used advertisement as their primary source. Back then there was no Facebook, Twitter or, Instagram and it made sense for most advertisers to advertise on a website that was regularly updated with fresh content and hence had a regular inflow of new visitors.
That is why advertisement markets like buysellads, Clicksense etc. became a hit. There were hundreds of other such marketplaces which made a lot of money until 2005-2006, but which over the next 10 years failed and shut shops.
Because by then Social Media started gaining importance and Facebook and Twitter became the primary places to hangout.
Over the next few years, as advertising on Social Media gained importance, banner ads slowly started losing steam. But it is not that banner ads were wiped out and people stopped buying banner ad spaces. Instead people were still buying banner ads but only on blogs that had a decent presence in the niche that they wanted to target.
If your question is, “are banner ads relevant in today’s scenario?”, then “yes”. It absolutely is.
So if you want to make money selling banner ad spaces on your blog, you can surely do that. The only thing you might want to keep in mind is the fact that your blog has to have a decent amount of pageviews, if you really want people to be buying banner ad spaces on your blogs. Anything above 10,000 views a month should be good. But if your traffic is anything below that, then I would not recommend that you attempt to sell banner ads.
Advertisement is not limited to banner ads though. There are a variety of other options like interstitial ads, link ads, native ads etc. We will look at some of these so that you know about the different sources you have at your disposal.
I primarily use 2 sources for selling banners ads on my websites and blogs. But let me also tell you that “banner ads” is not something that I prefer or, sell a lot. It is my least preferred mode of selling advertisement spaces.
BuySellAds – BuySellAds is a place where you can buy and sell advertisement spaces. They deal in banner ad spaces and has an easy setup process. You can get some nice advertisers at their marketplace.
Linkworth – Linkworth is another vendor that I have been using for long. While I primarily use them to sell advertisement links on my sites, they also have a wide variety of advertisement options including sidebar banner ads, full page ads etc.
I have used Linkworth for most of my link ads. The only one negative aspect of using them is their revenue share. They work on a 70:30 share and hence you only get about 70% of the amount for which you sold the ad. But that is not a problem for me, because I get a lot of clients through them.
Interstitial Ads – One of the most obtrusive advertisements are interstitial ads. I would never recommend these type of ads to anyone because of the poor experience it gives your readers. But there are a lot of people who prefer them and you should be able to find a lot of marketplaces where they sell interstitial ad spaces and you could use them to sell one on your blog as well.
Contextual Ads – This is one of the most commonly used advertisements formats especially on Blogs. And one of the most common platforms serving contextual ads is Google Adsense. If you are still thinking about how to make money with your blog, then the first thing you need to do right away is to sign up with Google Adsense.
The only downside with Google Adsense is their payment. They are probably the ones who pay the lowest for advertisements. It is hence that a lot of bloggers use some of the other options like Chitika, who pay much better than Google Adsense, for the same clicks.
Contextual Ads for Food Blogs
Now since we are talking about how to monetize a food blog, let us see some of the Contextual ads platforms that specifically cater to the food blogging niche. These are some options that you might want to check out, of course in addition to Google Adsense.
Gourmet Ads – This is a platform that most food bloggers use on their website because the advertisements that they serve are for the food niche and hence it gels really well with your blog’s theme. It is important that the ads are specific to the topics in your blog, else it looks a little out of place. It is here that Gourmet Ads scores above everybody else.
In order to get accepted in Gourmet Ads, your site has to be serving at least 10,000 pageviews per month.
Swoop – Swoop is another platform preferred by a lot of Food Bloggers. Their payment terms and the amount paid for the ads are much better than Google Adsense and hence it becomes an obvious choice against Adsense.
Sovrn – Sovrn is another platform that serves display ads, mobile ads and video ads. I have seen a lot of bloggers preferring Sovrn as well. Implementing their code on your blog is pretty simple and they also provide a lot of handy tools to measure how well your blog is doing.
Making money with Affiliate Marketing
The next monetization technique that we are going to talk about is “Affiliate Marketing”. In fact this is my favorite method to monetize a food blog, rather any blog for that matter and some thing that I do with pretty much all of my blogs.
Affiliate Marketing is a method where you are paid a commission in return for promoting a specific product. So if somebody buys the product from a link of yours, you get paid a commission which is usually a specific % of the price of the product.
Since the internet changed and selling ad-spaces started losing steam, this is the method that most bloggers started using to make money. Some of the other reasons why affiliate marketing is a preferred way of monetizing your blog are –
- Most companies invariably will have an affiliate option. Hence you could promote pretty much every product from every company and get paid an affiliate commission
- The payouts are much better than selling advertisement spaces or, running contextual ads from Adsense
- This is very easy to setup and most affiliate marketing companies will accept you without too much hassles.
- There is no restriction on the minimum number of pageviews that your blog is getting. So you could start promoting affiliate marketing products from day one of starting your blog, though I recommend doing it only once your blog has enough posts on it (at least 20 posts).
I absolutely love affiliate marketing, but I ensure that I am only promoting products that I have either personally used or, that I know is really good from a near personal experience. This helps me build confidence in my readers and consequently conversions are really high.
A classic example of a blog that follows this monetization strategy is Smart Passive Income by Pat Flynn, where he makes money from product endorsements. Pat ensures that he is promoting or, recommending only those products that he has either used himself or, had a first hand experience on. His readers trust his word and hence his referrals see good conversions.
There are a lot of affiliate marketing companies that I use and the choice of which one to use entirely depends upon the niche that I am in. For our food blog there are primarily 5 different ones that I go with –
- Amazon Affiliate – This is by far the easiest and the best converting when it comes to food blogs. There are a lot of things that you can promote from the Amazon marketplace. And since most of these things are daily use products, you are bound to have an experience to share about these. Hence it makes it easier to promote them. Their payout is not that great, but it evens out because of the high volumes of sales you get.
- Flipkart Affiliate – Now this is specifically for Indian Food bloggers. An online retailer just like Amazon, Flipkart has a good presence in the Indian market. Their payouts are also pretty decent.
- CJ (erstwhile, Commission Junction) – CJ is a place where you can find a wide variety of products and services to promote. While getting approved by their vendors is a little difficult, it is still worth the effort.
- Shareasale – Shareasale is another affiliate marketing network that offers some great products for promotion. In comparison to CJ, here you can get approved pretty fast, if you have the right details in your profile.
- Clickbank – This has always been my favorite affiliate network though for a food niche specifically, you might not find a lot of products here. But you will find some nice health related products at Clickbank.
You can check out some of the other affiliate networks like Peerfly, MarketHealth etc. as well.
But when it comes to a Food Blog, I would recommend sticking to only the above 5 because they have a lot of offers that will be relevant to the niche and converts really well too.
Monetizing with a Backend Product
I still remember a friend of mine asking me, if it is really possible to make a living off the income from a Blog. If this question had come about 6-7 years back, the answer would have been easy.
But in today’s scenario, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. You ought to have a complete business plan on how you plan to make money with your blog. If your plan just says that you will be making money by selling advertisements and affiliate products on your blog, then I will call it a little impractical business plan.
Because, these two sources or, methods of monetization will not help you make enough money to make a living off your blog. Or, else you will need a lot of traffic coming into your blog everyday. Rather, I should say that you will need huge consistent flow of traffic to achieve your goal.
Smart Passive Income (SPI), that we spoke about earlier has a huge fan following and consistent traffic to make a decent earning from referrals.
While SPI might be able to do it, we all know that Blog traffic completely depends upon how frequently you post. If you fail to post for a couple of weeks, you are sure to see your traffic dropping. And with a drop in traffic, your income will also drop, which in the case of SPI might not be too relevant because of the very high traffic that they consistently get. And moreover, Pat has a history of consistently producing top quality content.
So, what’s the solution? How do you make consistent income from your Blog?
The answer lies in creating a backend product.
If you have been regularly following other blogs, you would have noticed that almost all of the very successful blogs have a backend product which is what they make the real money from.
Since we have been talking about SPI, you would have noticed that Pat too, follows this principle and has some nice backend products which he promotes using his blog.
Let us check out some of the blogs in the Food Blogging Niche.
Pinch of Yum – Pinch of Yum is one of my favorite food blogs. While they make a lot of money from advertisements and product endorsements, they also have some decent backend products that they make money from. Food photography course, eBooks and a Food Blogging Course are just some of their backend products.
A Sweet Pea Chef – A sweet pea chef is another food blog that primarily focuses on healthy food. And they monetize their site using a backend product. And they have a very nice high converting funnel to do it, which starts from offering a free guide. In fact if you see, this is their primary monetization technique though they also run a few ads on their site.
Minimalist Baker – Minimalist Baker is another food blog which uses their food blog as a front end to promote their backend “food photography course”. They also have a few food related books that they sell through Amazon and some of the other book stores.
You would by now have realized that in order to make a consistent income from your blog, you need to have a backend product/service which you can promote using your blog as a frontend. You also need to have a good sales funnel so that your conversions are high.
If you had noticed something specific in all of the above cases, then I am sure you would have realized that all of the backend products that we saw are membership products. In fact, they were membership services which meant recurring income for the blog owners.
So, if your question is, “What kind of backend product should I offer?”, then the answer is very simple.
Any product or, service that you can build a good funnel for, using your blog and something that addresses a pain area for your blog readers. It could be an ebook, a course, a plugin, an app, a service or, pretty much anything you can think off.
If you are able to setup a recurring membership, then it will mean long term consistent income. But there is no hard and fast rule that you need a membership site for a consistent income. If you can setup a product or, a service for which you can get recurring buyers, that too should be fine.
Whatever is the case, you will want to ensure that you carefully plan your funnel in order to keep your conversions high.
Now it is Over to You
I am sure you would have learnt a thing or, two about how to monetize a food blog.
So, what’s your plan for your blog? How do you plan to monetize it?
Let us know your thoughts about this post and also how you plan to monetize your blog, by commenting below. You can write to me if you need any help.
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So until next time,