In 2019 I made over $150,000 with my food blog after being self employed for only 2 years. I’m sharing my Food Blog Income Report and how I got there!
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As of today it has been TWO YEARS since I officially quit my corporate job + set out to run this blog full time. It’s been the best two years, EVER.
I wanted to share a recap partially because I know many of you are looking to start a blog/ make money for a blog.. but also as a way to reflect on the year for myself.
If you’re unfamiliar with how I got to the point of being able to quit my job, I’d recommend pausing and reading this post on How I Quit My Job + Became a Full Time Food Blogger. I also have a post reflecting on Reflecting on A Year of Self Employment + 2018 Income Report from last year.
2019 was the best year so far for my business, and I’m so excited for what’s to come in 2020. I’m breaking down all of the info on what I achieved and how I did it below.
How I Increased Blog Traffic
My blog traffic increased a ton this year- 284% year over year if we’re being specific. And when compared to 2017, it’s a 1,000% increase. (PS this is a little nitty gritty, and unless you’re a blogger -you probably might not know what 1/2 of this stuff is!)
- A majority of my traffic increase came from google search. (YOY it was a 393%+ increase). I did a lot to help my search traffic:
- SEO Optimization – Last year I took Hashtag Jeff’s SEO Course and implemented it quickly. I did the entire course in one week and then canceled my membership (it was great, but I felt like I learned what I needed from it and didn’t need to pay every month) I continued to implement the strategies I learned in his course in my business today.
- Created better content- My blog posts are much more thorough and have great tips/tricks now! Everything I shared this year includes process shots and step by step instructions with images. I also include more substitutions and general recipe info so that I’m answering ALL of my reader’s questions
- Updated old content– More than half of the recipes I shared on my site this year were old recipes that I updated and revamped. You can get more info on that process here – How to Update Old Blog Posts
- Social Traffic increased as well Pinterest is up 143% YOY (I love Tailwind and use it every day! You can use this link for a free month.)
- Facebook is up 340%. I hired 40A and my VA Elizabeth is *the best* she manages my Facebook page so much better than I ever could. I’ve found that sharing my facebook posts in groups (Instant Pot, Weight Watchers ad Whole30 groups) has been super helpful.
- Instagram traffic is down 61% YOY, which I’m not surprised. I love connecting with you all on IG but I don’t think it’s the best use of my time, and I’ve de-prioritized it.
- Email list -Email was a huge focus in 2019, and our email traffic is up 301% YOY. I switched to ConvertKit, which I’m SO GLAD I did. You can try it for free here. ConvertKit is extremely easy to use, and allows me to have multiple opt in’s to capitalize on all of my traffic.
- If you’re not on our email list, click here to subscribe + get a free 7 day whole30/paleo meal plan! My goal is to grow my email list to 30,000 people by the end of 2020.
Ok.. now, let’s get into my most asked question.. ‘how do you make money?’
Making money with a food blog
When I was writing this post last year, and this year, I debated about sharing monetary figures.. but then I realized that I’m really proud of the money I’ve made.. and that we need to start talking about money (and specifically women making more money).
The money I made in 2019 granted me a lot of freedom and flexibility – primarily to renovate our house (which was far more expensive than we’d imagined it would be). However – I also was able to donate to charities I believe in, put food on our table, enjoy fun experiences and so much more.
Last year, I set a few goals for the blog. One of them was to double my income and have a salary of at least $154,000. I was SO excited when I hit the $100k mark back in July (celebrated with John Mayer tickets, obviously) and even more excited come Dec 31 when I netted out at $168,643.
I’m confident if I stayed at my corporate job, I would have never reached this salary. My salary at my previous job was $46,800 (which I quit in January of 2018).
Before I go any further, I purchased FreshBooks to manage my income and it was one of the best things I did for my business. It’s so easy to use and have an over view of my finances.
So let’s get into the numbers.
Here’s what the breakdown looked like:
The Clean Eating Couple 2019 Income
Total Income – $168,600 (this doesn’t include taxes or expenses, I’ll get there)
- Ad Revenue – $73,003 – shown as ‘Online Sales’ in graph
- Mediavine is THE BEST. I would love to make $100,000 in ad revenue alone next year.
- Affiliate Income – $50,020 – shown as ‘Advertising & Affiliate Income’ in graph
- Affiliate marketing was huge for me, increasing almost 400% YOY. Many of my affiliate sales come through high ranking posts in google related to my affiliates. This just means when you buy things like Be Well, ButcherBox, Daily Harvest, or shop from my Amazon page I make a small commission. You can read more about our affiliate strategy here.
- Sponsored Posts – $42,390 – shown as ‘Invoices’ in graph
- Shoutout to the awesome brands I’ve been able to work with this year like Bob’s Red Mill, Be Well, ButcherBox , NOW Foods, Path of Life, FAGE and Good Pop. I’m so honored to represent their brands and create yummy food with their products! Read this post you’re looking on tips for getting sponsored posts.
- Ebook Sales – $3,229– shown as ‘In Person Sales’ in graph
But let’s not forget that you have to spend money to make money.. so here is a breakdown of my expenses:
Total Expenses: $36,400
Here’s a breakdown of our expenses:
- Contract Work – $13,188
- I have a few people that help me with my business. I hired Isabel @ Isabel Eats & Amanda @ Mindful Avocado to create recipe videos for my site, Grace & Vine Studios for all of my design/website needs, Katie who helps me on photo days, and 40Aprons who manages my Facebook account. I did outsource my Pinterest management, but I’ve taken it back on.
- Other Expenses – $11,608
- This is a mix of things. Most of it pertain to specific renovations we did in the house to be able to run my business. (We had to completely redo the siding/framing in my office due to damage), It also includesHosting Expenses to keep my site up, Paypal Expenses as a fee for using the platform, a portion of our internet, etc.
- Supplies – $7,645
- Most of this is groceries, but any other technical equipment I needed like laptop chargers, camera lenses, cords, hard drives, etc falls into this.
- Office Expenses – $2,040
- I purchase multiple plugins that help my site be faster and more efficient like Lightroom, Tailwind Yoast, WP Recipe Maker, Grow, Deadline Funnel and WP Rocket. This also applies to anything I need to purchase for my office like light bulbs, paper, etc.
- Travel – $1,241
- I travel to multiple food expos so this is the cost of my transportation/hotels for those!
- Education – I purchased Lightroom Magic + Pinning Perfect Courses
I run a fairly lean business, and this year our expenses increased primarily due to renovations to portions of our house that are used explicitly for my business.
Important Note: At this point I have paid over $50,000 in taxes to the IRS alone. My taxes haven’t been finalized and I don’t know where I will net out on that. I thankfully am working with a new accountant who is going to help me with my taxes this year!
2020 Goals for the Blog
- Grow my email list to over 30,000. (You can click here to join if you’re not on it!) You can also read more about our email marketing strategy here.
- Maintain 450K pageviews per month. For perspective, last year I averaged around 350K a month. If you want to help me reach that goal – share your favorite recipe on the site with my friend.
- Cross $200K in revenue.
- Work less. I love what I do but I also love my family and friends, and I want to spend more time with them. This was my goal last year, and it’s something I’m still working on.
Do you have a blog or want to start a blog?
I want to help you! I’m offering 1 on 1 blog coaching sessions where we can go in depth on strategies for making you money in 2020, growing your blog, and having your pageviews jump through the roof. Send me a note if you’re interested! firstname.lastname@example.org
None of this would be possible without all of you, and for that I’m infinitely grateful. This website was started purely for fun to share my food with friends and family. The fact that I get to share my food with all of you and do what I love is something that I feel privileged and blessed to do. I’m so excited for the year to come!!
P.S. If you have a food blogger in your life and want to give them an awesome gift – check out this Food Blogger Gift Guide!