This post is a part of a 3-part series:
This is Brett, Faith’s husband. I’m our very first income report for The Conscientious Eater! A combination of 4 things led me to write this income report:
- Faith has been doing an amazing job over the last few years of publishing delicious vegan recipes that people find easy to make and use whole food ingredients. If you’re here just for the recipes, you probably won’t care about this post. If that’s you, I’d recommend you head on over to her Baked Pumpkin Donuts Recipe. I’m killing those right now!
- I read Rich Dad, Poor Dad in May, which led me to challenge us to see if we could 5x the income from this blog by the end of the summer. (There’s a reason this book is The #1 Book In Personal Finance Of All Time. The $5 + time spent reading it has paid off in spades!)
- Faith sent me one of Pinch Of Yum’s income reports so I could get started learning how to monetize a food blog.
- We hit our goal of 5x’ing the income for this blog… just in the nick of time. =)
If you’re an aspiring food blogger, our hope is that this income report will help you just as much as Pinch Of Yum’s income report helped us.
Read on to learn from our journey! I’ll go into each one of the points above in more detail below, with the end goal of helping you start a food blog or better monetize the one you already have.
1. Faith & The Conscientious Eater
If you’ve been following The Conscientious Eater for any length of time you’ll know that Faith and I live in a smallish town in China and we love it!
Prior to moving to China, Faith knew that she wanted to continue eating a plant-based diet, so she decided to create a vegan food blog as a way of cataloguing the recipes she makes so that she could refer back to them in the future.
She also wanted to share these recipes with other vegan expats who might not know how to eat a plant-based diet without a Whole Foods nearby!
Lucky for us, there are fruits and vegetables EVERYWHERE in our small city!
a local Chinese market
Believe me when I say this, Faith and I knew nothing about how to make money from a food blog when we got started!
Faith figured out how to put some Google AdSense ads and Gourmet Ads on The Conscientious Eater and we enjoyed the extra $75-$100 a month it provided. We typically celebrated by eating a nice meal at vegan restaurants while we vacationed in places like Chiang Mai and northern Vietnam and on our babymoon to Stockholm, Berlin, Budapest, and Dubrovnik.
We didn’t know the potential that The Conscientious Eater had at making more money until reading…
2. Rich Dad, Poor Dad
What caught my eye about Rich Dad, Poor Dad was that it was The #1 Selling Book In Personal Finance Of All Time. I had to see what was behind it.
Now let me pause here to say that Faith and I have no desire to be rich, as most people think of being rich. In fact, we have made numerous decisions in our lives based on our Christian faith that would lead us not to be rich. Our desire is to utilize the gifts and skills that the Lord has blessed us with to make money and use that money to bless others.
The concepts inside this book blew me away! I’ll paraphrase a few:
- College teaches you how to be a good employee. If you want financial freedom, you need to learn how to be a good employer.
- Employees only get incremental increases in income. Employers can exponentially increase their income!
- Most high income earners give ~40% of their income to the government in taxes. That’s like working 5 months out of the year for the government!
- What people think is their biggest asset is really their biggest liability – their house.
- A liability is anything that takes money from you. An asset is anything that gives money to you.
After reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad I realized Faith’s blog was an asset! And we were the owner!
Then a thought came to my mind… “What if, while we’re in the States this summer, we make a goal to 5x the blog’s income?”
Our previous 12 month income average was $93.
We set a goal of $500.
And we literally had no clue where to start.
3. Pinch Of Yum’s Income Report
…Faith sent me Pinch of Yum’s Income Reports. I still remember Faith saying,
“Hey, there’s this food blog called Pinch Of Yum that publishes their income reports. They share exactly how they make money. You could check it out as a place to start…”
After going to their site I was blown away… seriously? Bjork and Lindsay are making over $30,000 a month? That’s $360,000 a year! And that report was from 2015.
Their last income report was November 2016. They had $95,000 in income and $28,500 in expenses. Almost $60,000 in profit in a month! WOW!
I learned so much from one report:
- The main ways to make money from a blog are display ads, sponsored content, affiliate marketing, and selling a product.
- The expenses section showed me what services are worth paying for because they were paying for them.
- Hire quality staff when there’s too much to do. It’s worth it!
Their highest income was from something called AdThrive. I had no clue who or what that was.
It turns out AdThrive is an ad management company. “We gotta get ourselves one of them!” I said. But it turns out you have to have above 100,000 pageviews per month to apply for AdThrive to manage your ads. We only had around 60,000. We couldn’t get ourselves one of them. =(
Or could we?
I started Googleing “AdThrive vs” to find their competitors. Up popped “Ad Thrive vs. MediaVine”. The reviews for both agencies were both equally positive.
MediaVine only required 25,000 sessions to apply. We had 41,000. Check.
People who used them loved them. Check.
People also seemed to love the ~$10 RPM they were able to provide. Dollar Signs.
What’s RPM you ask? I had the same question. It’s Revenue Per Mille or Revenue Per 1,000 (pageviews). So for every 1,000 pageviews, the revenue is $10.
We had an estimated 60,000 pageviews / month in May 2018 and made $100 that month… that’s only a $1.67 RPM. Ouch. If we got approved by MediaVine, we could potentially 6x our income! Here was our path!
Here are the calculations:
60,000 pageviews / 1,000 * $1.67 RPM = $100/mo with Google AdSense and Gourmet Ads
60,000 pageviews / 1,000 * $10.00 RPM = $600/mo with MediaVine!
I say we had an estimated 60,000 pageviews because our Google Analytics tracking stopped for a few months this spring. Like I said, we are AM.A.TUERS! We hired a friend to help us get Google Analytics working, along with some other things. Actually, we HAD to get that set back up because MediaVine needs proof of your 25,000+ sessions per month from Google Analytics.
June and July 2018 – Learning And Implementing
While we were waiting on our data to roll in again with Google Analytics, we figured we’d use that month or so to learn as much as we could, implement what we learned, clean up the site, and speed up the site.
Learning On Food Blogger Pro
Right at the end of May, Faith also said, “Hey, Food Blogger Pro has open enrollment right now. They only do it twice a year. Should we sign up?” She went to foodbloggerpro.com. “There’s only an hour left to sign up!”
I took a quick look and said, “They have a 60 day money back guarantee. I’m sure what we learn in those two months will be worth the $58 we would spend for those two months, but that at least gives us a no risk trial. And, let’s face it, they are killing it on Pinch Of Yum! (Food Blogger Pro is run by the same couple that manages Pinch Of Yum) Let’s commit to 2 months and we can re-evaluate from there.”
Worth the $58? More like worth $5,800! Their classes give excellent 101 level video courses on every aspect of running a food blog:
- Building Traffic
- Social Media
- Food Photography and Photo Editing
- Video Creation
- Generating Income
- Essential Tools and Plugins
- Creating an eBook
- … and lots more!
Pro Tip: Set the video speed to 1.5x or 2x and fly through the courses!
We watched the vast majority of the courses in those two months and will easily make that money back from what we learned… probably 100-fold.
Want to join Food Blogger Pro? Click the image below!
Cleaning Up And Speeding Up The Site
The website definitely needed some work…
- Faith’s picture and the Meet Faith page hadn’t been updated in 3 years.
- The link structure for the old Vegan Restaurants page was difficult to navigate, so I created the images that are currently on that page and Faith rewrote the copy to make that page look presentable.
- Our old website was SLOW! We upgraded from a shared Bluehost plan to Hostgator‘s WordPress Optimized hosting plan, which gave it a big boost!
- Shareaholic also really slowed down our site, so we switched to speedy Social Warfare, which also restored our Social Share Counts when we switched from http to https.
- We updated our Foodie Pro Theme to unlock more features.
- We cleaned up the sidebar.
- We signed up for Amazon Associates for affiliate marketing.
Upgrading our hosting plan to Hostgator’s Optimized WordPress plan and switching to Social Warfare reduced our homepage load speed from over 8 seconds to 4.5 seconds!
[September 2018 Update] After numerous recommendations we also installed WP Rocket which dropped our homepage load speed from 4.5 seconds to a blazing 1.7 seconds!!! (we do our speed testing on Pingdom)
A Groovy ‘Shroomy Twist
After adding Amazon affiliate links to our two most popular pages – Homemade Oat Milk and Healthy Cookie Dough Overnight Oats – and a few other pages, we started seeing some referral money come in from Amazon.
Here’s a look at the Amazon Affiliates income for June and July:
June – $18
July – $15
It was great to make a little extra money just by adding some links!
Then. On August 1. Someone bought $3,240 of mushroom capsules on Amazon within 24 hours of clicking on a link from The Conscientious Eater! (We didn’t link to these on TCE. We get a commission on anything someone buys within 24 hours of clicking on one of our links as an Amazon Associate.)
At 4.5% commission that was $145 on day 1 of August!
Here are those beautiful mushroom capsules in all of their $1,620 per 6 pack glory that our friend bought two of…
Disclaimer: This is the ONLY affiliate link on our site for a product that we haven’t bought or used. I think you can guess why =)
4. Hitting Our Goal!
August 1 was just a great day. Not only was it Japanese ‘shroom day, it was also the day we got accepted to MediaVine! We were on our way!
After doing a few more things to get our site set up to run their ads, they started managing our ads on August 11.
On August 13, we made $17 on 1,596 pageviews… a $10.65 RPM and over double our best day ever trying to manage the ads on our own!
Then, Faith kept creating more easy vegan recipes and we excitedly checked our dashboard each day… $15, $18, $10, $16, $13… $23! And on it went.
We ended up averaging around $15 a day and totaled $312 for the 20 days that MediaVine ads were on The Conscientious Eater!
So now, without further ado, here are the income and traffic numbers for August 2018…
The Conscientious Eater Food Blog Income Report for August 2018
$312.27 MediaVine (August 11-31)
$169.18 Amazon Associates
$27.49 Google AdSense (August 1-10)
$508.94 Total Income! WE DID IT!
$36.95 – Camera to Laptop Tethering Cable to instantly see pictures on laptop
$35.85 – Food expenses – Cacoa Nibs and Vege Broth
$10.00 – Tailwind – scheduling Pinterest pins
$6.52 – HostGator‘s Optimized WordPress Hosting
$4.83 – Food Blogger Pro – educational courses on how to run a food blog ($58 averaged over 12 months)
$4.00 – PicMonkey – picture editing
$2.42 – Social Warfare – social sharing buttons and social share count recovery
$2.42 – Tasty Pins Plugin – helps with Pinterest SEO
$1.33 – Domain (theconscientiouseater.com) with Bluehost
$101.90 Total Expenses
$407.04 Net Income
To put into perspective how big of a leap this was, check out the graph below that shows the blog’s income from January 2015 until now:
Here’s how it looks with blog traffic added:
And here’s a peek at where the August 2018 traffic came from:
When Will Our Next Food Blog Income Report Be?
When we hit $1,000 / month!
That was a lot of work, but it was almost too easy!
There’s still a few more things that we’re working on and ideas that we have to better monetize The Conscientious Eater. Our goal in all of this is still to create passive income by working on things now that will continue to generate income long after we stop working on it. We hope to have all major projects wrapped up by the end of 2018.
Here’s a brief rundown of some ideas we’re kicking around to help us get to that $1,000 / month goal:
- Creating more SEO friendly recipe posts
- Creating our new Shop page! (NOW LIVE!)
- Using Tasty Links to automatically add affiliate links to keywords for all posts
- Hiring A Virtual Assistant to help make old posts more SEO friendly, help manage our Social Media, submit recipes to recipe sites, and create graphics
- Figure out how to crack the sponsored content space for this blog and for The Conscientious Eater on Instagram
- Create an eBook
- Better encourage email signups for people to receive new recipes to help increase traffic
So there you have it… our first ever income report!
We are so thankful to YOU, our dear readers, for helping make this possible. Together, we can help the world eat more plants!
Was This Food Blog Income Report Helpful?
Our goal with these income reports is to help aspiring bloggers like yourself just like Pinch Of Yum’s helped us. If you found this income report helpful, would you mind doing 3 things for us:
- Comment below and introduce yourself.
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