How my part-time food blog side hustle made $912.39 in February 2019 — all while having a full time job! In this February 2019 food blog income report I’m sharing my tips and strategies for building a successful food blog and taking your blog from hobby to business one step, and one month, at a time.
Welcome to the Fork in the Road February 2019 food blog income report! If this is your first time here, my name is Kristina and I am a registered dietitian and the face behind this seasonal recipe and sustainable living blog. Find out more about what we do at Fork in the Road here.
I recently shared how I made over $20,0000 from my food blog side hustle in 2018, which was the first year I took the blog seriously after years of running the blog as a (very expensive) hobby. And last month in January 2019 I made nearly $1500, which was a great start to the new year.
I have always been inspired by reading food blog income reports, but I found them unrelatable because so many large bloggers either share astronomical amounts of money per month, or do not work full time and therefore have more time to build their blogs from scratch.
So I decided to put my food blog side hustle experience out there so hopefully you will be encouraged to keep pushing to grow your own food blog business.
Ok, ready to learn how this little food blog grew in February 2019? Read on for the February 2019 food blog income report, and my analysis of what worked (and what didn’t) and the goals I’m working toward in the future.
Why would you share how much money you’re making from your food blog?*
*If this is not your first time reading a Fork in the Road income report, you can skip this section and head right to the income and traffic report below.
You might be wondering why I am sharing how much money I made from my food blog with the world. Why would I want to put myself out there and share the nitty gritty details of what I’m bringing in?
The main reason for sharing this information is to inspire you to start taking your own blog seriously. I found other food blog income reports from bloggers like Pinch of Yum, Making Sense of Cents, and Root + Revel very inspirational in my own food blogging journey. Their posts have been invaluable over the last year when I was low on inspiration and needed a push to keep going.
I especially wanted to share because so many blog income reports are from established bloggers who are raking in tens of thousands of dollars, and I wanted to show what realistic growth looks like when you’re also working a full time job. No one starts out bringing in the big bucks, it happens with time and consistency.
The other reason for sharing is a bit more selfish: while I’ve done well creating new content and mastering food photography, I haven’t been great at tracking my own progress and setting attainable goals. I have a ton of ideas for the blog, but sometimes not a lot of follow-through due to time restraints and not knowing where to start on everything I want to accomplish. Sharing my monthly food blog side hustle reports with you is a way for me to stay accountable.
In these reports I share a month-by-month analysis of what I’m working on, how the blog has grown, what’s working and what isn’t, and my goals. So I can track my progress and hopefully you can learn and be inspired to keep going with your food blog journey as well.
Ready to see how Fork in the Road fared in February 2019? Let’s do it!
FEBRUARY 2019 FOOD BLOG INCOME REPORT
TOTAL INCOME: $912.39
- Display ads: $7.36
- Chicory: $7.36
- Affiliate Marketing: $5.03
- Amazon Affiliates: $3.28
- Earth Hero: $1.75
- Sponsored Posts: $500
- Freelance Writing, Photography, Design: $400
TOTAL EXPENSES: $204.69
- Website Upkeep: $91.25
- Website hosting: $36 (Siteground)
- FacetWP: $8.25 (plugin that creates my recipe index)
- Website tech/development: $47 (iMarkCreative)
- Adobe Creative Cloud: $30.98 (photo + video editing)
- Email service provider: $9 (Active Campaign)
- Content + social media management: $73.46
- Learning + Courses + Conferences: $29
- Food Blogger Pro: $29
NET PROFIT: $707.70
Income + Expense Review
Let’s talk about income…
If you’ve been reading other food blog income reports, you’ll know that no two blogs monetize in the same way. Some are high traffic with high display ad earnings, some are killing it at affiliate marketing, and some sell their own products and courses. And some are doing a little bit of everything.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into the way Fork in the Road created income in January 2019.
As explained in prior income reports, In 2018 I had a few low-income generating display ads (Google Adsense and Gourmet Ads). I made under $20 a month on them and I found that Gourmet Ads specifically significantly slowed down my site, so I decided to go without ads. I did, however, keep one small ad in my recipe card, which is the amount you see here.
My main goal for display ads is to grow my traffic to the amount necessary to apply to Mediavine (25,000 sessions). As shown in the traffic report section below, in February 2019 I had about 20,000 sessions, which means I’m about 5,000 sessions away from being able to apply and make passive income from ads — and passive income is my main goal, as I work full time. More on ads in the coming months!
Affiliate marketing is when a blogger promotes another brand’s product or service and receives a small commission if the reader purchases after clicking through an affiliate link.
As mentioned in detail in past income reports, I didn’t pay much attention to affiliate marketing in 2018 except to join Amazon Associates and link to ingredients and tools that my readers may find helpful when preparing my recipes.
However, at the end of 2018 I took the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course by Michelle from Making Sense of Cents, the queen of affiliate income promotions. I started putting the lessons into action with minor success by creating targeted affiliate content for my readers’ interests, which brought in around $200 over two months.
So I was excited to see what February would bring and when doing this income reports I laughed out loud when I saw my affiliate income total for the month: $5.03 (hey, it’s a coffee!).
To be fair, I did not put much effort into affiliate posts this month, due to losing a very close friend and just not having the mental space to do more than the posts I had already planned (more on this below in my recap section).
I’m still very interested in affiliate marketing and am looking forward to exploring it more in 2019. More updates to come!
A significant amount of the money Fork in the Road made in 2018 came through brand sponsorship of blog articles, food videos, social media posts, and emails directly to my email list.
In February 2019 I secured one sponsored post partnership with brand that I had worked with before the previous month. The post included a full blog post with recipe, and social media posts on all four of my platforms…for $500.
And to be honest? I think that in the end I will not be accepting sponsorships at this dollar amount in the future. It was A LOT of work with MANY back and forth emails and extra requests, and at the end of the day I don’t think that the amount of work put in was worth the compensation.
While I think brand sponsored blog posts are fine occasionally, and many bloggers do really well with them, this month I decided that moving forward I will be more selective with the brands I work with and the amount I receive for sponsored content. Instead I would like to work on increasing more passive income streams, like ads and affiliate marketing. This may mean a drop in income at first, but hopefully it means a more consistent increase later down the road. Stay tuned to see how this pans out throughout the year!
Freelance writing + photography
The biggest portion of my income in 2018 came from freelance writing and photography, but I decided to cut back significantly in 2019 and only kept one client month-to-month. Even though this type of work means that the content never ends up on Fork in the Road itself, I still include it in these income reports because without the blog serving as my portfolio, I would never have secured the work.
In February 2019 I made $400 from freelance photography, which should be about the same amount in months going forward. It’s an easy and fun project, as I get to shoot photos outside of my typical style, which I find builds my photography skills overall.
INCOME TAKEAWAY: February 2019 was an average month for the blog. Ihave been consistently making around $1000 from the blog, give or take a few hundred in either direction, for the last six months. I think in future months this total may decrease if I stop taking on brand sponsorships, but I’m ok with that because they means I can focus my energy on building my site’s content and optimizing it for search so I can implement more passive income streams.
Let’s talk about expenses…
What you can see from this breakdown is that running a food blog means spending money to keep the blog running. I consider these costs of doing business, because I work full time so I use tools to automate some things like social media and emails to my mailing list.
I mentioned in my 2018 report that I learned the hard way that sometimes it’s better to pay an expert to do things that you don’t have the knowledge or time to do yourself. I’ve DIY-ed almost everything on Fork in the Road, but after experiencing a few website issues I decided to hire out my tech and any tools that help me reduce the amount of time that is not devoted to creating content.
Many of the expenses you see listed in this expense report are things that I pay annually, so I have divided out the monthly cost to give an idea of what it costs to run the blog each month. Before doing this for this income report posts, I actually had no idea that it costs me over $200 a month to keep the blog running.
I have been considering ways to reduce this, but it’s been challenging because I like the tools I use for different reasons. However, I do see some areas I could cut out (for instance, I’m not doing video right now and I’m still paying for Adobe Premiere Pro video software), but I’m going to think on it more over the next month.
EXPENSES TAKEAWAY: The amount I spend monthly is probably pretty standard for most bloggers with a site my size, however after laying out the expenses here I think there is some room to combine or cut back on some spending. I will continue to monitor to see how I can improve my expense to income ratio in the future.
February 2019 total traffic: 25,610 pageviews for the month (-4% from December)
Top ten traffic sources for February 2019
New content on Fork in the Road in February 2019
- New recipe posts: 5 new recipe posts
- New resource posts: 1 new food blogging resource post
Top 10 Posts on Fork in the Road in February 2019
- Nut-Free Chickpea Basil Pesto
- Colombian Ajiaco
- 4 Things to Do NOW as a Dietetics Student
- 5 Dietetics Personal Statement Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make
- Pasta with Clams in a White Wine Garlic Sauce
- The Lowdown on the Dietetic Internship Application
- Homemade Bloody Mary Mix
- Pozole Verde Chicken
- 5 Dietetics Personal Statement Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make
- Cinnamon Golden Milk Latte
TRAFFIC TAKEAWAY: In the food blogging world December is usually a great month for comfort food, January is great month for healthy food, and February your traffic drops off after Valentine’s Day. Thankfully my site brings in a good amount of people in both December and January, and I’m happy to say that I only dropped by 5% in February.
One of of the reasons for this is that I also have specific niche content, my resources for future dietitians, that do very well from January to March. This content is strictly for nutrition students who are trying to match to a dietetic internship, and the application due date is in February — hence the increase in traffic to those blog posts in my top posts of the month.
I’m also happy to see that a new post I posted in January, my Cinnamon Golden Milk Latte, is already one of the top ten recipes on the site only a month later! This was a happy surprise, because usually a post will take a few months for Google to recognize it and rank it well (if it’s a well written and useful piece of content). I’m continually amazed at the power of Google.
I had a big bump in Pinterest traffic to this post initially, which also gave it a big boost. I wish I could tell you the secret to Pinterest, but I do not have one: as you can see it is only about 2300 sessions (about 12%) of my total traffic. If you have the secrets to Pinterest, let me know!
Email List Growth: 206 subscribers (+30 subscribers in February 2019, 17% growth)
EMAIL TAKEAWAY: I didn’t start actively communicating with my email subscribers until just a few months ago, so email list building and email marketing are brand new (but exciting!) topics to me.
In fact, after only a few months building an email list community, I’m finding I enjoy creating content for my list more than being on social media (I’ve mentioned many times how much I detest social media, but it’s a necessary evil…or is it?). However, there is a lot I could be doing to get more people on my list and then targeting them with the kind of information that they want once they are subscribed.
In February I had 30 new subscribers join my list, which was a 17% increase from the month before. I have a lot of ideas for my email list in the future, so as I experiment I will share what’s working (and what isn’t). Watch this space!
What is RPM? RPM is Revenue per Mille, or the amount of revenue per 1,000 pageviews. The formula for RPM is: (estimated earnings / number of pageviews) * 1000. In January 2019 I earned $912.39 and had 25,610 pageviews, which means my RPM was $35.62.
This means that for every 1000 pageviews I received, I made $35.62. This is lower than other months, but not terrible considering my pageviews are not very high, which means I’m bringing in decent revenue compared to how much traffic my site brings in. However, I would like to grow this in the future and I plan to do that through ads and affiliate marketing.
February 2019 Food Blog Income Report Summary
If I had to to sum up February in one word it would be: coasting. I posted six new blog posts throughout the month both on the blog and because I was also building on growth from the few months prior, I kept up with my traffic totals when food blog traffic usually takes a nosedive.
However, at the end of January I found out that a very close friend of mine passed away suddenly, and very tragically, at a young age. Her death hit my professional community hard because she was a fellow dietitian (I have featured her here on the blog many times) and it was a blow, to say the least.
I found it very hard to continue on social media, so I took most of the month off from posting. I had one sponsored post that required me to post on social, but otherwise I avoided Instagram and just gave myself some time to mourn.
By the end of the month I was still very sad, but the initial shock wore off and I finally felt like I was in a good headspace to start thinking about the blog again. However, then something truly huge happened on the very last day of the month: I found out I am pregnant!
More on how this huge life news affected the blog in next month’s report!
2019 Goals Update
In 2019 I decided to define focus areas for the year instead of hard number goals. Below is a summary of the goals and an update on progress.
- Content, content, content. I intend to create a lot of content around my niche topic, green eating and sustainable living, in addition to the usual recipes.
- Update: In February I created 6 new pieces of content, which is a great target for my months content development.
- Consistency. Work 3-4 weeks ahead on content (blog posts and emails) so when life gets in the way the blog doesn’t suffer.
- Update: haha, yet again this did not happen. I”m wondering if this is just a pipedream or if it can actually be done.
- Grow email list. Grow my email list, the Green Living Community, by sending weekly blog recap emails and share featured content not available on the website.
- Update: the email list grew, but I wasn’t consistent with sending out my weekly recaps.
Thanks for sticking it out and reading Fork in the Road’s February 2019 food blog income report!
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Do you have a question about food blogging you want answered in a future report? Leave a comment below or contact me!