Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links so if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a commission.
Written by Jason Logsdon

Makin' Bacon - Discover How to Better Monetize Your Food Blog

We have been running a food blog for 8 years and one of the biggest challenges we ran into was how to make money from our thousands of readers while still serving their needs. Through a variety of projects - including printed cookbooks, tee shirts, electronic recipe guides, kitchen products, ad networks, training courses, affiliate relationships, sponsored posts, and direct ads - we slowly learned what worked and what didn't.

Our hope is to share what we've learned with other food bloggers so you can get some of the benefits we have accrued by more effectively monetizing our blog. We share our personal stories of what worked and what didn't work, what caught us by surprise, and the best ways we found to make our blog work better for us.

We are still learning and trying to improve, so come join us on our journey, and start getting more out of your blog today!

Where to Place Affiliate Links on a Food Blog

I think affiliate links are the second things bloggers turn to, behind only ad networks. Because they are often implemented so early, and by new bloggers, many times they aren't used as effectively as they could be.

I know when I got started I would throw in a bunch of “You can buy this now!” links in random places on my website and hope for sales. I definitely had some success, but I’ve found much more effective ways to do it now. My affiliate payouts have gone from a few hundred dollars a month, to often breaking a thousand or more. Here’s a few of the areas I attacked to accomplish that.

Equipment or Ingredient Reviews

Screenshot 2018 08 17 13.45.30

I found affiliate income really started to take off when I would use it in equipment or ingredient reviews. This is mainly because you are writing about a product, preferably one you like, and then provide links to purchase it. The review should have your audience’s interests at heart, but if it is truly a product that would help them, sharing it with them is doing them a favor.

Our reviews range from 500 word “quick hit” reviews to 5,000 word super-in-depth reviews. They are all effective in their own right, and for some products we actually do both.

The affiliate link just needs to be displayed prominently at the top and bottom of the article, and sometimes sprinkled in throughout, if it is a longer review.

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Recommended Email Newsletter Programs for Food Bloggers

Afmeasy newsletter signup preview

The one thing that nearly everyone recommends once you decide to monetize your blog is that you need to begin to build your email list. This will allow you to share your valuable content with individuals who are interested in what you have to say, and moreover, have given you permission to email it to them.

Clearly, there is no shortage of email providers to choose from. We are more familiar with three of them and feel confident suggesting that you consider researching each of them to see which one fits your needs most closely. Our favorites are the following:

Mailchimp logo

MailChimp

It seems like MailChimp has been around forever, they were founded in 2001. It was originally a paid service but in 2009 they introduce their freemium option which had a huge impact on the growth of their user base. They have since greatly reduced their free plan, and even limited the functionality of it.

Mailerlite logo

MailerLite

MailerLite was born in 2010 from a company that started as a web design agency. They have increasingly gained popularity largely due to their competitive features and aggressive pricing.

Convertkit logo

ConvertKit

ConvertKit was founded by Nathan Barry in 2013 and has grown at a meteoric rate to become one of the more popular email systems available. ConvertKit is used and advertised by some of the most well-known bloggers on the Internet.

Let's take a little closer look at what each of the three systems has to offer.

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How to Choose a Cookbook Subject

Self publishing cover huge

This is an excerpt from my book Self Publishing Made Easy: The Food Bloggers Guide to Writing, Publishing and Marketing a Cookbook, my comprehensive guide to creating cookbooks.

Choosing the right subject for your cookbook is probably the most important decision you will make. The best cookbook in the world will not sell a single copy if it is on a subject no one cares about. Regardless of the goals of your book, there are several factors that make a good subject.

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How to Create and Sell T-Shirt for Your Food Blog

Mens model kitchen landscape

A pretty easy, but often overlooked, way to make some extra money from your food blog is through selling t-shirts, mugs, bags, and other accessories. There are many ways to do this, but this article will look at using Threadless.com to create and sell them.

Threadless is an online system that allows you to upload a design and easily apply it to a wide variety of products. They also handle the product creation, money collection, and shipping, making it a very hands-off system. To get an idea of what you can do, you can check out our products from Threadless in our Amazing Food Made Easy Boutique.

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How to Design and Sell a Cheat Sheet Card for a Food Blog

Sous vide thickness ruler 1

One of the most successful monetization strategies we implemented was to create a plastic "cheat sheet" card that we sold. This can take many forms, but ours was called the "Sous Vide Timing Ruler" and it greatly simplified the process of determining the correct length of time a tender piece of meat needs to be cooked. Here's a shot of it:

Over the first year, we sold about 500 rulers for a profit of $3,000, not bad for a few weeks of work. You can read more about the financial factors in the Physical Produce Case Study: Sous Vide Timing Ruler article.

In today's article I wanted to discuss how to make a similar printed plastic "cheat sheet" card. Starting with picking a subject and going through having it produced, and just touching on marketing it.

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How to Analyze a Page with Link Tracking and Scrollmaps

One of the most important things to do when trying to get your readers to do something specific is to track what is working and what is not working. This is true whether you are trying to sell them an ebook, share your recipes on social media, successfully navigate your site, or sign up for your newsletter.

Food scrollmap mobile

There are many tools to do this, and in this article I wanted to look how we analyzed our data by using click tracking and scroll maps. At their most basic level, these tools show you what links your readers actually clicked, and what parts of the page they actually stopped on.

I use these tools for a whole slew of things on Amazing Food Made Easy. They are great for product sales pages but I also use them to help track how effective links in my recipes are, how my right sidebar is functioning, if my newsletter signup links are working and much more.

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The Power of Products Your Readers Need

Sous vide timing ruler article

Today I had a good reminder of the power of providing a product your readers both want and need. It was also a good reminder that your users can forget some of the things you have to offer, so reminding them occasionally isn't a bad thing!

I was sending out my initial 2018 email newsletter and it had 4 articles in it. You can view the newsletter here: Amazing Food Made Easy Newsletter. Of the articles, 2 were completely informational, 1 was half informational and half salesy, and the final was just an "ad" for our Sous Vide Timing Ruler.

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Physical Product Case Study: Sous Vide Timing Ruler

One of the ways we tried to better monetize our food blog was through the creation of physical products. We tried to create products that would meet their needs and make cooking easier for them.

Sous vide thickness ruler 1

In sous vide cooking, one of the main ways you determine how long to cook something is based on its thickness. There are a lot of charts out there saying "if it's 2 inches thick this is how long it'll take" but you still need to figure out the thickness, then look the chart up on your computer, find the right column, and match them up.

We decided to create a Sous Vide Timing Ruler that would do this task much more efficiently. It would be a tool that people could use in their kitchens as they were preparing their food.

The ruler makes it easy to measure your food and has all the times on it a sous vide cook needs. It's also made of plastic, so it is easy to wash off in the sink, which is important since it is around raw food. It is also something that we would personally use, which I think is important when creating products.

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Results of a Free Email Cooking Course

Two years ago we decided to set up a free online email cooking course for our Amazing Food Made Easy website. After writing the course and implementing it as an autoresponder in MailChimp (Convert Kit would work as well) we heavily marketed it through the year. Here's a little of what we found.

During the first year of running our free email course, from November 2016 through December 2017, we have had over 10,000 people sign up. And 8,000 of those people received all 20 emails that are in the course.

We have sent out 185,000 emails with an open percent that starts at 71% and slowly decreases to 43% on the final email. The industry average is around 20% so we are still double.

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Welcome to Makin' Bacon!

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Jason logsdon headshot This article is by Jason Logsdon. I'm an adventurous home cook and the head writer, photographer, and programmer for Amazing Food Made Easy. I'll be sharing with you everything that I've learned about monetizing a food blog and hopefully I can help you acheive the same success through your blog as I have.

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