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!

How to Deliver Cooking Courses to Your Fans

Cooking course jump start logo call

I love cooking courses and if you want to provide massive value to your Fans, then you should definitely explore them as well.

I go into a ton of detail about how to create an amazing cooking course, but in this article I wanted to share with you more details about the ways you can actually DELIVER these courses to your Fans.

Cooking courses can be delivered in a few different ways.

View the rest of the article

The Secret Why Products and Services Are The Key to Serving Your Fans

Products main

I wanted to share with you the secret why creating products and services is the key to growing your income while providing tremendous value to your Fans.

Ready for the secret?

When ads, sponsored posts, and affiliate links are your largest source of income, your main "customers" are the external companies doing the advertising.

I'm sure you have made tradeoffs working with external companies, I know I have. Maybe taking on a sponsored post that doesn't provide quite as much value as you would prefer, breaking up your content with large image ads, or writing a review post for an affiliate link just to have the link. This is part of the tradeoffs of having external companies as your customers, and they can weigh on you.

But when you are making products and services, your customers are your Fans. So you only do things that provide value to your Fans. You will be surprised how liberating of a feeling that can be.

View the rest of the article

Key Truths for Food Bloggers to Grow Their Income

Donald duck money pit.png

I've been blogging for more than 12 years now, and along the way I've come to realize certain truths. I wanted to share these with you so that you can be armed moving forward trying to grow your income and make more money.

Making Money is Not Bad

Now, to be clear. Focusing on making money does NOT mean putting out an inferior product or taking advantage of your readers.

I've found the best way to make money, hands down, is to consistently surpass your readers expectations.

A lot of my business comes from repeat customers. Putting out a shoddy product would prevent all of that from happening.

So don't think of trying to make money as a sleazy process, think of it as being fairly compensated for providing your readers with something they need and want. And my goal is to give you lots of ideas on how to accomplish that.

View the rest of the article

Smartphone Apps for Food Bloggers

Smart phone apps food blogger

Raise your hand if you have a phone with apps on it!

Almost all of us do, and yet almost no food bloggers have apps out for them.

These apps can take many forms. I've released recipe apps, apps with tools to help my readers cook, apps with cheat sheets and regularly needed information, and apps to help find high quality cuts of meat and effectively store vegetables. The options really are limitless, and finding something that works in your niche, that your readers need, is a great way to capitalize on smartphones.

I've found the most effective apps are ones that provide information or tools that your Fans need time and time again. Packaging it in a manner that makes it easily accessible to them is a great way to serve their needs and bring in money.

View the rest of the article

How to Pick Your Niche as a Food Blogger

Food blogger cookbooks jason logsdon

The most important key to being a successful food blogger? Hard work!

Number two? Correctly picking the niche for your blog.

If you are competing with Serious Eats, Cooks Illustrated or Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg you are going to have a lot harder time than if you are a big player in a smaller niche.

And honestly, it's more important to pick ANY niche than what that niche actually is. I have talked to so many people that were struggling with their blogs until they finally decided to find a niche. Then their readers started growing, along with their income and success.

View the rest of the article

How to License Your Content and Recipes

Content licensing montage

If you are anything like me, then over the years, your biggest focus for your blog has probably been creating an abundance of content, from product reviews and "how to guides" to lots and lots of recipes. It's something I, and most bloggers, really enjoy doing, and it is often a blogger's favorite thing about blogging.

While I have gotten a ton of benefit from all the different types of content, the part that has paid for itself again and again has been the recipes. I've been able to reuse them in a variety of ways, from creating internal projects like smartphone apps and cookbooks to licensing them to outside companies, which is what I want to talk about now.

Another way of working with external companies that isn't ad based is by providing content and recipes to them.

The general concept is when an outside entity, usually an equipment manufacturer or publisher, wants to use your recipes as part of their product. This is because many manufacturers don't know the cooking aspects, they just know the manufacturing aspect. So they turn to outside sources to provide the "how to" information their customers will need. And that's where you come in, to provide the "how to" information.

View the rest of the article

Types of Ads Food Bloggers Can Use

Ads horrible sites.png

I wanted to talk with you about ads because ads are pretty much the same place every food blogger starts.

Ads get a real bad rap, and generally for valid reasons - they are pretty distracting to your readers and they often don't pay that well. But they definitely can be a solid part of any monetization strategy, even though they don't serve your readers and I think the biggest mistake food bloggers make is only focusing on them.

Note: Want to read more about if you can, or should, make money from ads?

Ads can take many forms including:

An ad network is basically a company that acts as the middleman between your blog and companies that want to advertise. There are a whole lot of ad networks, but the most common are probably Google AdSense, Mediavine, and AdThrive.

View the rest of the article

Types of Branded Merchandise Food Bloggers Can Create

Products main

I'm super excited to talk to you today about making branded merchandise and physical products. Physical Products are one of my favorite things to create. There's just something nice about reaching the end of the process and having something you can hold in your hands.

I feel like so much of what we do as bloggers is just moving data around that it's nice to create something tangible that will last longer than dinner.

Note: You can learn more about the power of products your readers need.

I'll be talking about several types of products, but most can be made in one of two ways.

Making Products with a Print-on-Demand Company

The easiest is to use a print-on-demand (POD) service like Threadless. They run the website, collect the money, create the product, and ship it to the customer without any additional input from you. You just need to advertise it and direct people their way. I highly recommend starting with a POD company when you can. They have the lowest profit margins but are much easier to set up and use, and there is little to no risk involved.

View the rest of the article

How to Sell Custom Spices to Your Readers

Korean sous vide short rib spice h

As a cook, you probably use spices when you are cooking, and most recipes include favorite spice mixes of your own. Your readers respect the spices you recommend, and many of them use them on their own. However, most food bloggers don't think about creating their own blends and selling them.

It is actually a pretty easy process to have spices bottled with your name and logo on it. It's called "white-labeling" or "private labeling", and is an effective way to put out a product. A spice company will have 10, 20 or 30 different blends that you can try out. You pick the one you like and then wrap it in your logo and branding.

We've looked into several online sellers, and it's generally $4 to $5 per 4oz bottle, with a minimum order of 30-50 bottles. Most "custom" spices can be sold for $9 to $15, leaving you a nice profit after shipping.

Obviously, if you are a BBQ blogger and you are always preaching how your custom BBQ rub is the only way to go, this might not work well for you because you are using the blends that they come up with. But if you write about something like "quick and easy weeknight meals" or "healthy meals for the whole family", you can probably find several different blends that you really enjoy and would feel comfortable selling to your readers.

View the rest of the article

Can (and Should!) You Make Money with Ads on a Food Blog

2018 income distribution food blogger chart

Because I'm always talking about how you can grow your income by serving your Fans, usually through products and services, I often have people ask me if ads have any place on a food blog.

My response is always an emphatic "Yes!".

In an ideal world, serving your Fans can bring in all the income you need. However, working with external companies on things like ads, affiliate links and sponsored posts are a great way to supplement your income.

My income percentages vary widely from year to year, but in 2018 almost 30% of my income came from ads, affiliate links, and sponsored posts. So I definitely think ads are a valuable part of a disversified blogging strategy.

To me, the greatest benefit in serving your Fans is that you don't have to RELY on ads, and you can focus on providing your Fans VALUE. The ads are simply a nice bonus that comes along with it.

View the rest of the article

Keys to Succeeding With Products and Services

Products main

I wanted to share with you some of my tips for creating products and services to help ensure you will be successful.

How to Find Products and Services

Finding products for your audience is a really simple concept - find holes in the market and then create products to fill them. But like most simple concepts, it's the execution that is the hard part.

It can be hard to find those holes. I tend to look for areas where my readers keep asking for help, since it shows a lack of information in that area. I also focus on things that they tend to do time and time again, either actions that can be made easier or packing information that they need regularly into a more easily accessible format.

You can read more information about Harnessing the Power of Products Your Readers Need and How to Choose a Cookbook Subject.

View the rest of the article

How Do You Actually Publish a Cookbook?

Food blogger cookbooks jason logsdon

When bloggers first start thinking about serving their fans by creating products or services, they usually turn to a recipe book or cookbook. These books can be anywhere from 10 pages to 300 pages and can take a ton of different forms, including:

  • PDFs on your website
  • Printed cookbooks
  • Electronic cookbooks on the Kindle or Nook
  • Traditionally published cookbooks
  • "Magazines" or one-off publications

I've done all of the above except for the magazine (though it's on my to-do list) and they all are a great way to expand your brand and make money. For most of my blogs history, self published cookbooks were my biggest moneymaker.

Like most things, it's easier if you are in a smaller niche that you can dominate. I've tried to condense publishing down to the basics, with a focus on your options and how they can pay off. If you'd like a much more comprehensive look, then I recommend my free Self Publishing Master Course.

View the rest of the article

The Biggest Mistake Food Bloggers Make

How food bloggers make money

Today, I wanted to talk about the biggest mistake food bloggers make. And this is so YOU can avoid it.

I've seen beginning bloggers do this, as well as bloggers that are successful. And in every case, I'd argue that it is holding them back and preventing them from maximizing their success.

The mistake is that they focus on serving external companies, instead of serving their Fans.

When you start blogging, the easiest way to start making money is by working with external companies. This can take many forms, but usually starts with ad networks (like Google Adsense, MediaVine or AdThrive), affiliate links, and sponsored posts. There is nothing wrong with this, and it's a great way to get some money starting to trickle in, but the mistake many bloggers make is settling with only those methods.

I did a (very unscientific) survey of about 60 food bloggers. 88% of them use ad networks, 57% use affiliate links, and 23% use sponsored posts.

Only 7 of the 60 people actually moved on from those ways of making money and began creating products or services directly for their Fans.

That means that 88% of bloggers never tried to move their blog beyond simply serving up ads and links.

View the rest of the article

How to Create a Cooking Course

Cooking course quick start sous vide call

As you blog more and more, you will become an expert at teaching people how to successfully do the type of cooking you write about. Once you get to this point, it can be really smart to start looking at creating cooking courses. These courses are a great way to re-package your content in a new form that your Fans will love.

What Makes It a Cooking Course?

As food bloggers, we usually are creating content like recipes and how-to guides, so what actually makes a cooking course different?

In my mind, they take a discrete subject or problem the readers have, and then teaches them how to solve it.

So you take readers that don't know how to bake pound cakes but want to. They go through your course and now they know how to bake pound cakes.

It can be a basic topic like "How to Start Sous Viding" or "How to make tofu" to a more complex and nuanced subject like "How to regulate airflow in your smoker to maintain the correct temperature".

View the rest of the article

How to Handle Critical Comments and Mean People

What I learned: Shun nonbelievers. Ignore critics. Do your best for people who want to dance with you. - Seth Godin

I was speaking at the Everything Food Conference (if you haven't gone, definitely check it out!) and during the conference several people talked about "Serving Your Readers". One blogger mentioned how hard they find that concept, especially when people are being critical, rude, or just plain mean. They were asking for tips on how to handle them.

It was actually this question that got me to mentally shift my focus, from "Serve Your Readers" to "Serve Your FANS".

"Readers" is too generic of a term and includes way too many people. Just because someone stumbles upon your website (or watches your YouTube video, listens to your podcast, etc.) doesn't mean you created that content for them or that they are part of your tribe.

To paraphrase what Tim Schmoyer from Video Creators said during a presentation he gave - if you know your belief statement, you can easily ignore everyone that disagrees with it, because they aren't your audience.

View the rest of the article

Should You Self Publish a Cookbook?

Food blogger cookbooks jason logsdon

I wanted to discuss the advantages, and disadvantages, of self publishing compared to traditional publishing.

Financial

The largest difference, and why many people choose to self publish even though they could find a traditional publisher, is financial. The two financial components are the royalties, which is the amount you get per book sold, and the advance, which is the money you get paid upfront.

For traditionally published books, the advance and royalties are negotiated ahead of time and depend on how established an author is. In most cases, the advance will be between 5 and 15 thousand dollars and royalties usually falling in the 5% to 8% range. These royalities are usually based off the profit of each book sold, not the list price.

Turning to a self published book, all of the profit is yours. For most printed cookbooks this is about 20% to 40% of the list price, and it's closer to 70% for ebooks. Because of these higher royalties, you only need to sell a fraction as many books in order make the same amount of money as with a traditionally published book.

Now the advance is something that you can't replace through self publishing, but it's important to remember that the advance is not in addition to the royalties, it's just the royalties you are paid upfront. So the higher royalties mean you can often make more in the long run through self publishing.

View the rest of the article

How to Set up a Patronage Campaign

Patron jason.png

Have you ever thought of simply asking your biggest fans to help fund your website?

The concept of patronage goes back thousands of years, when the elites in a society would help support artists by paying for them to work. The creations would still belong to the artists, but the patrons believed enough in the value of the work to help fund it. As more and more small, niche bloggers and artists try to make a living through their work, the patronage model has made a comeback.

I recently tried out a patronage campaign and had pretty decent results, with about 30 of my fans signing up to contribute a total of $100 a month. While it might not sound like much, that is $100 a month I didn't have before, plus I also know who my biggest, raving fans are.

In addition to the money, I also use them to help proof and test out upcoming products that I can give them for free, as well as collect testimonials from them. All in all, it was a good experiment and one that I think would be even more successful if you have a more tightly knit community than I do.

View the rest of the article

What Skills Do You Need to be a Successful Food Blogger?

Utah utes logo.png

I talk to many people who think you require some perfect set of skills to be a successful food blogger. Whether that is professional training as a chef, a lifetime of cooking in the kitchen, or a magnetic personality that draws people in. I think it can be valuable to share a little bit about myself, which should give you hope that if you put the time in, anyone can make money as a food blogger.

I graduated from college with a degree in Psychology at the University of Utah. Go Utes! I then followed a very atypical post-psychology path and got jobs doing programming and web development, mainly with a focus on fantasy sports. I only seriously started cooking about 14 years ago, just a few years before I started blogging. So basically the training and background you would assume you would need to be a successful food blogger, right?

A little over 12 years ago I started blogging in my spare time and after a year or two I was making some money, but certainly not enough to live off of. I was experimenting with AdSense, paid ads, affiliate links, sponsored posts, and all that fun stuff we all enjoy so much. Then in 2009 I decided to try something a little different and see if I could move beyond ads, and focus on my readers.

View the rest of the article

How to Think About Making Money as a Food Blogger

Homer money

It often feels to me like our society has split views on making money. One group puts making money above all else, and they will do anything to make more. The other group views making money as almost a bad thing, and never focuses on it, and it can be really hard to be successful with that mindset. Many people who get into food blogging initially seem to fall into the later group because of all the negative connotation around making money, and it can be a hard transition to start focusing on making money.

I believe there is a happy medium in between the groups, where you are actively serving your fans, but also growing your income. You are providing your fans so much value, and they are happy to pay for that because you are giving them what they want and need.

I love making money, but focusing on making money does NOT mean putting out an inferior product. I've found the best way to make money, hands down, is to consistently surpass your reader's expectations. A lot of my business comes from repeat customers. Putting out a shoddy product would prevent all of that from happening.

View the rest of the article

How Accurate is My Sales Page Conversion Rate?

I've started to dive into Facebook advertising and other areas where you are making critical decisions based on the conversion rate of sales pages. As I've gotten into this, I've become more and more concerned about how accurate that number actually is, and what it really means.

The issue is that the conversion rate tells you what just happened, but not how likely it is to happen in the future. It's ability to determine the future is largely dependent on how many people visited the page. And this is something that makes intuitive sense to us.

Screenshot 2019 04 22 13.31.17

Imagine we decide to play a game where we flip a coin and I get a dollar for every heads and you get a dollar every tails. If after 4 flips it has come up heads 3 times, you probably aren't going to be worried. But if after 1,000 flips it has come up heads 750 times, you're going to call me a cheater!

The same thing is true with conversion rates. Most of us would agree that if 10 people came to your sales page, and 4 of them bought, it's a little hard to say that in the future 40% of people will also buy. And if a million people came, and 40% bought, we'd feel very comfortable basing predictions on it.

So my question was how do you get a good idea of what the actual conversion percent is, without needing a million visitors. After a bunch of research, I came across the Wald Confidence Interval, which is a pretty neat metric. At a high level, it tells you how many conversions you can actually expect if you had the same amount of visitors again.

View the rest of the article

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.

View the rest of the article

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.

View the rest of the article

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.

View the rest of the article

How to Create and Sell T-Shirts 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.

View the rest of the article

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.

View the rest of the article

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.

View the rest of the article

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.

View the rest of the article

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.

View the rest of the article

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.

View the rest of the article

Welcome to Makin' Bacon!

View the rest of the article

Jason logsdon headshot Hi, I'm Jason Logsdon! I'm an adventurous home cook and the head writer and photographer for Amazing Food Made Easy. I grew my income to 6-figures by focusing on serving my Fans by providing massive value, and I want to help you do the same.

Related Makin' Bacon Articles

All tags for this article: