How my part-time food blog side hustle made $3,752.65 in October 2021! I share my strategies for taking your blog side hustle from hobby to business one post, and one month, at a time.
Welcome to the October 2021 Fork in the Road income report! If this is your first time reading one of our monthly traffic and income reports, my name is Kristina and I am a registered dietitian and the face behind this plant-based recipe and sustainable kitchen blog. Find out more about the site and the content shared on Fork in the Road here.
If you’re new to my income reports, make sure to check out my last update — September 2021 food blog income report — to get caught up.
Ready to learn how Fork in the Road grew in June? Read on for my income and traffic report, my analysis of what worked (and what didn’t) and the goals I’m working toward in months to come.
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 make from my food blog with the world. Why would I want to put myself out there and share the nitty gritty details of the money this blog is 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 very inspirational in my own food blogging journey, and reading about other bloggers’ successes (and failures) has been invaluable over when I was low on motivation and needed a push to keep going.
I especially want to share because so many blog income reports are from established bloggers who are raking in tens of thousands of dollars, and I want to show what realistic growth (and the inevitable plateaus) look 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 latter of which I sometimes lack!).
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 monetary and business growth 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 for the future. I share this to stay accountable and so that you can learn and be inspired to keep going with your food blog journey as well.
💰 October 2021 Income Report
Below is a table showing revenue, pageviews, and content posted for each month of the last year. I keep this table updated to show incremental traffic and income increases (and setbacks) over the course of a year.
TOTAL INCOME: $3,752.65
- Display Ads: $3,734.12 (Mediavine)
- Affiliate Marketing: $18.53
- Amazon Associates: $12.37
TOTAL EXPENSES: $1,827.14
- Website Upkeep Total: $72
- Website hosting: $11 (Cloudways)
- Website tech/development: $47 (iMarkCreative)
- Tasty Links: $4* (automatic linking plugin)
- Photography + Video Total: $65.94
- Adobe Creative Cloud: $52.99
- Canva: $12.95
- SEO + Keyword Research Tools Total: $37
- SEMrush: $25 (shared account with other bloggers)
- Keysearch: $12
- Email service provider: $79* (Kartra)
- Content + social media management: $14.95
- Tailwind: $14.95*
- Learning (courses, ebooks, memberships, etc.): $308.25
- HashtagJeff SEO membership: $8.25*
- Creative Course Collective: $300*
- Writer + Virtual Assistant: $1250
+Expenses with a plus sign are new for the month and explained in the expense review below.
*Expenses listed with an asterisk are paid annually to take advantage of annual discounts, but I include the monthly amount here to show how much the blog costs to run each month.
**Expenses crossed out are those that I paid for last month but decided not to pay for going forward. I leave these here for the first month I don’t pay for them to show how expenses change month-to-month.
NET PROFIT: $1,925.51*
*Note that the numbers here are an estimate and are not reflective of actual money in and out for the month. I report money earned, not received, for the current month as my ad company pays two months after money is earned. I am also showing a breakdown of expenses to give you an idea of how much it costs to run a blog every month, however many of these are paid annually and not monthly.
Income + Expense Review
Let’s talk about income…
October is an interesting month. It’s FINALLY quarter four (the most celebrated time of year for food bloggers), but it’s also the beginning of the quarter so ad spend is down compared to September.
So even though traffic was up slightly, ad RPMs are down a bit and that resulted in the blog’s overall ad income being slightly less than last month at $3700.
Affiliate income was as usual – virtually nonexistent. However, one of my affiliate partners did move platforms a few months ago and I never updated the links on the buying guides that typically bring in sales during the holiday season. So at the end of October I carved out a couple of hours and finally did the tedious work of updating the links on the most popular posts, which should hopefully result in increased sales as the holiday season continues.
📈 October 2021 Traffic Report
October 2021 traffic: 76,619 pageviews
This is +4% from September 2021 last month and +76% from October 2020 last year.
Top ten traffic sources for October 2021
New content in October 2021: 21 total posts
- New recipe posts: 1 new recipe + 18 updated older recipes (complete rewrites)
- New green guides: 1 updated older green guide
- New resources posts: 1 new blogging resource (income report)
- New videos: 0
Website traffic was up slightly in October compared to September, but still in the same 70,000 to 80,000 range that I mentioned in last month’s report (see my thoughts on this in the summary section below).
In general there has been a lot of talk about the strange traffic fluctuations in 2021, with crazy high numbers in June and July and then what seems to be a very slow start to the usual boost of the holiday season.
Here’s my (non-educated) take on why traffic is slow right now:
- We’re still in a global pandemic, though many people are living like we’re not.
- There were MANY search engine algorithm updates this year, both announced and unannounced.
- Pinterest has taken a complete nosedive for many sites
So overall things have been shaken up big time in the blogging world in the last year, so it’s hard to compare this year to last year (you shouldn’t even try) or even pre-pandemic.
💌 Email List Growth
~2000 subscribers (+600ish new subscribers in October 2021)
There hasn’t been much movement on the email front in months, but in October I realized I had over 600 subscribers that had been collected through Mediavine‘s Grow.Me optin, which is automatically inserted into my blog posts. So this boost in numbers reflects subscribers who have opted into that form over the last 6 months (but I just never transferred over to my email service provider).
I also FINALLY reached out to my list at the end of the month because I’m ready to get a weekly email going. Because I hadn’t emailed my group in so long, I wanted to lead with some value so I did a giftcard giveaway for anyone who completed a survey about what type of content they would like to see in email newsletters in the future.
The results were great! Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Email subscribers: 2000+
- Open rate of two emails sent: 30-40% (not bad!)
- Surveys submitted: 58
- Unsubscribes: 2.5%
This isn’t a bad overall campaign, considering most of these people had never heard from me after subscribing. I gained some good feedback on my readers’ pain points around going green in the kitchen, which will help me to create more targeted content in the future.
💸 October 2021 RPM: $48.97
What is RPM? RPM is Revenue per Mille, or the amount of revenue per 1,000 pageviews. The formula for RPM is:
RPM = (estimated earnings / number of pageviews) * 1000
($3,752.65/ 76,619) * 1000 = $48.97
In October 2021 the blog earned $3,752.65 and had 76,619 pageviews, which means the total RPM for all income sources was $48.97. This means that for every 1000 pageviews the blog received, it generated $48.97, about $4 less than last month (note that this number is actually lower than my ad company RPM totals because my ad company takes a percentage of my earnings).
👩💻 Other Sites
Though I absolutely LOVE Fork in the Road and it will always be my blogging baby, my goal is to have a portfolio of websites and I even want to test the waters with buying and flipping websites in the future.
Below is an update on other blogs I have started, and I hope to flush this section out more as I dive into more projects.
Site #2: Recipe Blog Partnership
October 2021 was the third month that my second blog was live. This is a recipe blog partnership with Val from Thyme and Joy.
The blog is finally starting to get a little love from Google, with about 150 pageviews for the month. This is great considering we’ve just been dripping out a few posts here and there. We also have no About page, no contact information, and we haven’t set up a solid site structure on the website theme yet.
The plan is to continue to drip out content at about 1-2 posts per week each, and slowly start organizing the site. Stay tuned, I’m excited to see where this goes in the future as we get more serious about it.
📌 October 2021 Summary + Goals
After two months of feeling burnt out and doing the bare minimum to keep content refreshed on the site, in October I finally started to get the urge to get some work done again. We ended the month published 21 posts, mostly rewrites of older content.
I wrote about the traffic plateau that the site is experiencing in the traffic section above, but I’ll elaborate on my thoughts about this a bit more here in the summary.
The site has been hovering between 70,000 and 80,000 pageviews since March, which isn’t a bad thing considering many of those months are typically the slowest of the year for food blogs.
But I also expected traffic growth to go up exponentially as the fall season began because of all of the work we have been putting in over that time.
I think the site is at a plateau for a few reasons:
- Traffic in general is in flux for most blogs
- The site doesn’t have a ton of holiday-specific recipes, so it won’t see major increases
- We’ve been mainly republishing older posts since the beginning of August
While republishing is sorely needed, I think the lack of new content has kept traffic at a standstill.
Don’t get me wrong, I think republishing old content is VERY important for a site’s overall health. However, I had already republished most of the higher trafficked posts last year and now the posts we’re updating just don’t have high traffic potential because they were originally written before I had any idea what keyword research was.
So my goal right now? Plateau busting! In November 2021 I will start publishing new content with my tried-and-true strategy of low volume, low competition keywords. I’ve also been deep diving into holistic SEO and I’d like to create a topical map for the site to plan out future content to make Fork in the Road the best resource for sustainable eating on the internet.
October’s blogging goals were:
- Continue to post every other day in October (DONE, ended up posting more than that!)
- Only focus on updating older content (DONE)
- Get 2 weeks ahead on scheduled content updates (NOPE, only 1 week)
November’s blogging goals are:
- Publish 5 times a week, Monday through Friday
- Publish a mix of old and new content
- Stay at least one week ahead on scheduled out content
If you’d like to follow along on my journey, sign up below for email updates!
Thanks for sticking it out and reading Fork in the Road’s journey!
Make sure to check out the Food Blogging Resources page for past income reports and blogging tips, and sign up below to receive emails when new reports and blogging resources are live.
Do you have a food blogging question you want answered in a future report? Want to commiserate on your own blog traffic or income? Leave a comment below or contact me!