How I Make Money From Blogging & My Other Online Projects (2019 Edition)
I would have thought people would have got bored of hearing about how blogger business work these days, but apparently not: my posts at the beginning of the year running through how and where all my blog and blog related business are always among my most popular. So, today once again I thought I’d take the time to break down how exactly the money part of food blogging works and talk some numbers. If this sort of deep dive is your thing, click through to read my 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 posts too!
Okay, the format. Whilst I used to do all my accounts in an Excel spreadsheet this time around to make my taxes easier I’ve started using Quickbooks. But, so that you can compare all my previous posts I’ve stuck the relevant numbers back into Excel to make up some pie charts to show where the money comes from; I’m someone where visuals really help with numbers! I’ve separated all my income (these posts are income only because brining expenses in too is way too complex for a simple and informative blog post!) into six categories: sponsored posts, my freelance work, the work I do on Pinterest and for my Pinterest consultancy Glendon Studios, affiliate income, sponsored Instagrams, and the money I make from my cookbooks.
Sponsored posts are almost every single bloggers bread and butter. Brands get in touch to see if we want to promote their product on our blogs in return for a fee. I usually create recipes for some of my favourite food brands this way, and in 2019 I enjoyed creating recipes for JAZZ Apples, Bailey’s Chocolates and Very Lazy.
Freelance Writing & Recipe Development
Freelancing has been a side gig for me since before I left university. Usually I pitch work out to publications I work with or I’d love to write for, but sometimes they come to me. Most of the time I’m developing recipes, but sometimes writing articles too. In 2019 I created content for Refinery 29, Amara Home, Saucy Mahi, Fish on Friday, Great British Chefs and BBC Food.
Glendon Studios + Sponsored Pinterest Posts
Glendon Studios is my mini-consultancy where I help small independent brands and lifestyle bloggers figure out their social media needs, focusing on Pinterest. The 26% figure I’ve included below is a bit of a mish-mash of the money I get each month from my regular Glendon Studios management clients, from one off clients I help create graphic pins for and sometimes other assets such as media kits, and the very small income I get from sponsored pins that get rolled into bigger agreements for sponsored posts.
I’ve mentioned many times before that I think unless you’re a mega blogger with loads and loads of traffic Affiliate Links will never bring in the big bucks, but I still like to use them as I like to get my income from as many places as possible so I don’t lose out big if an income stream suddenly vanishes overnight.
For those of you who don’t know affiliate links are special links to shop-able products bloggers can use that installs a cookie on the users computed so that if you make a purchase from the linked website within 30 days of visiting the blogger gets a small percentage of the purchase. I link all my affiliate links with either #ad or a * for bigger shopping posts, and I use the Amazon Affiliate program and rewardStyle, a special affiliate network for lifestyle bloggers.
Sponsored Instagram + Instagram Stories
Whilst I’m well aware I’m only something of a micro-influencer on Instagram I still do make a little income from sponsored Instagram posts and Instagram stories. Most of these brands contact me directly for or are rolled into promoting a larger sponsored post I’ve done over on my blog, but I do also sometimes use Tribe, something I found in the app store to bid for sponsored Instagram campaigns for brands that I already love.
In case you’ve not already seen, 2019 was a busy year for me as I was busy writing my second cookbook, One Pan Pescatarian (ad, see what I did there?) which means that cookbook income made up a massive chunk of my year, and had an impact on everything else as it was so time consuming!
For the uninitiated, when you get a book deal you get paid an advance. This is money that you get up front, in stages that is yours to keep; basically your salary for writing the book. You don’t see any royalties until you’ve made enough of them to pay back your advance to your publishers. Different book contracts work in different ways, but it is usual to get a lump sum on signing the contract, another on submitting the manuscript and another on publication day. The 39% includes my first two payments for the book.
2019 vs. 2018
So, a bit more number stuff. I know some bloggers are comfortable putting actual numbers up in their income reports (if you’re interested Pinch of Yum have a great collection of income reports where you can really watch what is now one of the biggest food blogging businesses out there grow as you go back through the archives) but I’ve always preferred to do this in percentages, a method that lends itself quite nicely to pretty pie charts!
So, this is my income for 2019. Pictured we have the following: Sponsored Posts (blue), Freelance (yellow), Pinterest + Glendon Studios (red), Affiliate Links (green), Sponsored Instagrams (orange), and Cookbooks (purple). Now, obviously lots of these wedges have been made a tad smaller by having a new cookbook thrown into the mix, but otherwise they’re still pretty accurate in showing that my three main income areas outside of books have pretty much levelled out to be as important as each other: sponsored posts (there are less of these about these days but they are better paid), freelance work (which I’m getting more and more of these days), and my Pinterest work which is just growing and growing (if you’re looking for someone to manage your Pinterest presence, or even to create new graphic / long pins to lean into Pinterest’s new algorithm changes, get in touch!)
2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014 (left to right)
For the sake of comparison, I’ve included a few older pie charts, way back to 2014 to see how the blogging landscape has changed. It is usually at this point I tend to make a few observations and predictions for the business of blogging for the coming year, but this year I’m not really sure where things are moving to. I know a lot of people are spending time doubling down on their own sites because there they can’t fall victim to any algorithm changes which I think is really great (always put the most time into content YOU own) but otherwise I just know what I’m doing to future-proof about whatever 2020 has to throw at the blogging community: focus on growing Glendon Studios, continue to put out new recipes here, and do my best this summer to get One Pan Pescatarian in as many hands and kitchens as possible!