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.
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.
I think this is worth repeating, because making money from food blogging is hard work. It's not easy. There is no secret 3-step process to fame and fortune that will turn you into a millionaire in 6 months. It just doesn't work that way.
But you CAN make money from blogging. You CAN turn it from a hobby into a business.
But once you decide to focus on making money, it IS a job, and you have to work hard at it. You also probably have to do things you don't enjoy doing. And I'm not talking about sketchy things, or taking advantage of people. But things that might make you feel uncomfortable.
You may have to pick up the phone and make a sales call pitching a brand. You may need to invest several hundred dollars into a product, not knowing if you will get a return on your investment. And you may need to put work out there that leaves you feeling vulnerable and exposed because that is what resonates with your Fans.
None of these are easy things to do, but if your blog is a business, sometimes you have to do the uncomfortable work to become successful.
As your own boss though, you can definitely limit the uncomfortable stuff you have to do, so don't be too worried!
The best way to make money from your blog is to serve your Fans. If you keep them in mind and create content and value for them, you will succeed.
Focusing on ads and external companies makes it much harder to effectively serve your fans, which makes it harder to grow and harder to make money. So don't fall into the biggest mistake food bloggers make.
Heads Up! If you need help figuring out how to serve your fans, you can sign up to receive my free PDF Beyond the Ad Network: 11 Ways to Monetize Your Blog as well as my weekly newsletter of invaluable blogging tips.
There are so many ways to make money as a food blogger, to grow your blog, and to be successful. I've tried dozens over the years and in my blog I share them all with you. But I've been doing this for more than a decade, so don't feel overwhelmed and think you have to do them all at once.
Pick one or two to start with, give them a shot, and then you can slowly add on from there. Each one will incrementally add to your income and they will continue to build on each other, creating a loyal fan base and increasing your chances for future success.
Another caveat is that one approach doesn't work for everyone. We all have different goals, different focuses, different audiences, and different strengths and weaknesses. What works for me, might not work for you, and vice versa.
I'm going to share what I've done to make money from my blog, and hopefully you can take that, and apply it to your own circumstances. Tweak it to take advantage of your strengths, and best apply to your readers.
It also helps to figure out what your goals are. Are you looking to create a full-time income that will replace your current job? Awesome, you can do that.
Do you just want an extra grand every month or two to supplement your current household income. Perfect, that's doable too.
Are you looking to put in 30 to 40 hour weeks on your blog, or do you want something that makes money even when you are on vacation?
All of those are 100% valid goals, but the way you approach monetizing your blog will be different for each. So give some thought to what your goals really are, and how the techniques we will discuss can help you get there.
My most important tip is to find yourself a niche. This applies to producing products, creating a successful blog, publishing cookbooks, or honestly, starting almost any other type of business.
Nearly every product I have put out for a small niche has been "successful" and almost every time I've gotten greedy and attacked a bigger market, it hasn't worked as well. 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. You'll still be able to sell to your fans and make some money, but it's much harder to break into the larger market and to stand out.
It is so important to find a niche that you can own and be an authority in. Find your niche and attack it, and create the content readers in that niche want, while resisting the temptation to expand into larger markets too quickly. And your chances for success will skyrocket.
My last tip, is that You Can Do It.
Don't be intimidated - most of the stuff we will cover is new, but it's not that hard. It's no harder than blogging, that's for sure. If I told you 5 years ago that to be a blogger you just needed to install wordpress on a server, set up a template, learn to take photographs, write proper recipes, import photographs and optimize then for a web site, then optimize your SEO and social media presence you'd have thought it was impossible too...but here you are.
So if one of these options sounds good to you, but there's several steps you don't fully understand today, don't worry, you've got it. You can learn what you need, you can lean on people that have done it, like me, and you can be successful.
I believe in you.