Food will always be relevant, and thus, food blogs will always have an audience. In today’s article, I list down some great ideas on how to monetize a food blog so you can have your cake and eat it too!
Do you love food?
And not just in the “I love eating” kind of way.
Do you love food so much that you studied to be a chef? Or watch cooking tutorials every chance you get?
Do you love food so much that you’re willing to cook learn how to cook a dish from scratch because you want to eat it whenever you want? Or because you want to eat a version of it that fits your lifestyle (e.g., vegan, gluten-free, or food allergy)?
Do you love food so much that you take plenty of pictures of your food before you eat, even though you never post them on Instagram?
If you said yes to any of the above, and you like writing about your love of food, then food blogging may be for you!
Or maybe you already are (if you are, good for you! Keep it up!).
At any rate, you might be thinking of monetizing your food blog at some point, but you might not know when the right time is to do it or how to actually do it.
In today’s article, I describe some things you need to do before you monetize your blog, and then talk about some ideas on how to monetize a food blog.
Those are all good things to start with, but give your blog some time to thrive naturally before you leap into monetizing it. Building an audience, especially one that trusts you and engages with you, takes time.
Here are some suggestions of things to do to help you build your audience and make sure that you and your blog are ready for monetization.
Your blog needs to be regularly updated with high-quality content. This will form the basis for your entire strategy, from traffic to monetization. Without excellent content, all your other efforts won’t be worth anything.
You can’t be a food blogger without showing off photos of food, whether you made it yourself or ordered it in a restaurant.
Invest in a digital SLR camera if you have the budget and practice your photography skills. You don’t have to buy the most expensive one, just a decent one that takes gorgeous photos of food in various settings (indoor, outdoor, artificial light, etc.).
If you don’t have the budget for a digital camera, then at least learn to take beautiful photos with your smartphone. There are lens kits you can also buy so you can take spectacular close-up photos of food.
There are plenty of affordable online courses on photography you can take, so invest in those if you truly want to level up your photography skills.
Normally, I’d advise you to keep your blog design basic: clean and readable font, 2+1 color scheme (2 base colors plus 1 accent color), and mobile-responsive.
But with a food blog, aesthetics are very important. Your appetizing photos of food need to have an equally attractive backdrop.
Hire a web designer if you can, or read up on how to design your blog yourself.
When you’ve created a blog worth visiting, the next step is to direct a steady stream of visitors to it as you can.
Social media will help your efforts, especially the more visual ones like Instagram and Pinterest. But social media isn’t the only way to increase traffic to your blog. Here are 60 (!) ways to promote your blog.
You don’t have to do ALL of them; pick 2 or 3 that seem like a good fit for your blog and try those out. If they work, good, but if they don’t, try another 2 or 3 until you find the ones that work.
Aim to have at least 100+ visits a day before you start monetizing your blog. How long it takes would depend on the quality of your content and how successful your blog promotion efforts are, but it normally takes around 6 to 12 months for this to happen.
An email list is basically a database of names and email addresses that you have explicit permission to email about updates on your blog and/or your newsletter.
Building an email list allows you to foster deeper relationships with your readers, which gives you some insight into what problems they’re facing. Knowing what your readers struggle with is key to understanding their needs and thus, which products and services will solve those problems. These are the products and services that they’re likely to buy.
If you’re a bit lost on how to start your email list, this article can help.
Having an email list with 500+ subscribers should put you in a good position to monetize your blog, but only you can really predict whether your blog and your subscribers are really ripe for it.
When you have a blog worth visiting, with first-rate content and a steady stream of visitors, it’s time to think of ways to earn money from your blog. Here are some ways on how to monetize a food blog.
Briefly, affiliate marketing is endorsing products and services from other merchants or companies on your blog and making a commission either when a reader clicks your affiliate link, when that click results in a completion of a form, or when that click results in a sale.
If this is your first time to hear about this, you can learn more about the basics of affiliate marketing in this article.
There are plenty of affiliate programs that are tailored for food bloggers, but it all boils down to your choice of products and services to promote. To be credible, you should always stick to promoting products and services you actually consume or use; those that you truly believe in.
Every time you endorse a product or service, you’re essentially saying to your readers “I stand by this product/service and its value to me and to you.” So make good choices about which products and services to promote.
Make sure that it is clear for your readers that some of the links in a particular blog post may be affiliate links. Not only is it required by law, but it projects that you are an honest, trustworthy person with nothing to hide.
Affiliate marketing is great for honing your sales skills as well as your persuasive writing skills. It’s practice for when you want to sell your own products and services if you’re interested in going that path in the future.
However, a drawback is that there’s no way to foresee how much you’re going to earn with affiliate marketing because your commissions can vary depending on the affiliate programs and the merchants you’re working with. It can be as little as $5 per click or as large as $1,000 or even $5,000 per click or per sale.
Start looking through your old posts and listing down products and services you’ve written about and liked using. Next, check if they offer affiliate programs. You can do a Google search for “affiliate program” + [product/service name].
If there are food blogs that target the same audience as you do, do a little competitor research and find out which products and services they’re promoting as affiliates. You may be able to find products and services you’ve missed and may actually be a fit for your blog and your target audience.
If you’re stumped, or if you want to promote more products and services, you can sign up with affiliate networks. Affiliate networks connect merchants who create and/or sell products and publishers and bloggers who are looking for products to promote on their site.
Here are some affiliate networks that work with many food-related brands:
From a simple Google search, you can find affiliate products and services that you can possibly promote. Before you promote these products and services, though, make sure you’ve tried them out and that they’re a good fit for your audience.
These are just some examples to give you some ideas.
This recipe for vegan, gluten-free cookies has a couple of affiliate links for coconut flour and silicone baking mat. The disclaimer can be found at the end, which is less than ideal, but having it at the end is preferable to not having one at all.
Sponsored content is similar to affiliate marketing in that you’re still promoting products and services.
The difference is that in affiliate marketing, as long as your affiliate link is valid and people are clicking on it, you’ll get paid commissions in accordance with your arrangement.
When you create sponsored content, the merchant or company actually selling the product or service pays you a flat fee for a piece of content or for multiple pieces of content, like a blog post series or social media posts spread out over a certain period of time.
The company may also give you the product or let you use the service for free in exchange for writing about it or posting about it on social media.
Sponsored content is a form of native advertisement, so it can look like a typical article on your blog or social media post, except that you got paid for it (or got the product or service you wrote about for free).
It’s not unethical to do sponsored content; it only becomes unethical when you don’t disclose it. It’s your credibility on the line here, so always be honest about a post being sponsored. Clearly state that you’re only sharing honest insights, and make sure that your readers are still getting high-quality content that’s informative and useful.
This honesty should go both ways. You need to be able to say to the company that you’ll only be posting honest insights about their product and that you’ll only do it if they agree not to pressure you into writing only good things about their products. Companies that are absolutely confident about their products would usually agree to this condition.
At some point, you’ll find yourself torn between accepting a sponsorship opportunity for the money and declining it because it doesn’t reflect your and your audience’s preferences and values. THAT’S FINE. You’ll be okay. It doesn’t mean that you’re a horrible blogger; it just means that you’d rather not sacrifice your integrity for a few dollars.
Ideally, you should only accept sponsorships from companies and brands you know and trust to be able to make actual, reliable observations and thoughts.
But before you accept, you need to be offered sponsorships.
The best way to get offered is to get noticed, and the best way to get noticed is to always focus on creating excellent content, directing targeted traffic to your blog, and developing your social media presence. Continue doing these and your blog should eventually attract companies targeting the same audience you are.
Make it easy for potential sponsors to get in touch with you by setting up an advertising page specifically for them. Include your traffic statistics, e.g., your target audience, monthly pageviews on your blog, social media accounts and statistics (number of followers, engagement rate, etc.), and what benefits they’ll get.
A dedicated contact form and email address will make it more convenient for them to contact you for any inquiries they’ll have. This will also ensure that these inquiries and requests for sponsorship would not be delayed or lost in email purgatory.
This instructional on how to make almond milk is sponsored by a company that specializes in grains and cereal (which are perfect with almond milk!). Notice that the post is information-packed and filled with helpful images, which makes it engaging to read even though it’s sponsored.
This recipe for Japanese-style iced coffee is another stellar example of a high-quality sponsored post. Notice the seamless disclaimer in the first sentence, the personal story, the helpful and illustrated instructions, and another disclaimer at the end.
Before you venture into selling your own products and services, it’s advisable to have plenty of engaged followers on social media as well as engaged subscribers to your email list. Having an engaged customer base will make it easier for you to know what they need and how you can address that need.
Selling other people’s products can be lucrative, but having absolute control over the attributes of the product, such as the quality, branding, how you want to sell it, how many you want to sell, and most importantly, price point, is preferable.
It’s the same thing with services; you want to be able to charge how much the service is really worth while having total control over which clients to take on, what services to provide, and how you want to brand it.
If you opted to get your feet wet through affiliate marketing and creating sponsored content, then your sales skills would have been honed. You’d also have experienced partnering with other companies and exposed to different types of marketing campaigns. This is valuable knowledge that you can use when you start going into your own.
But if you haven’t gone through selling and promoting other people’s products and just went straight into selling your own, that’s all right. It just means it’s probably going to take longer for you to learn all the skills you need, but you’re going to get there if you keep at it.
It makes sense to begin with digital products because they’re inexpensive to make. There are plenty of free or low-priced resources and software you can use to create them. However, you’ll need some patience as digital products do take time to make.
Before you even start creating, you need to first know what kind of digital product/s your customers will find valuable. Do your customer research with answering one question in mind: “What do my customers want?”
Read comments on your past blog posts and note the questions you get asked most often. Comments on your social media may help you too. What do your readers say they want to read more of? What are they struggling with and can you help them?
Here are some ideas for digital products. Remember, you don’t have to make all of them; do your research first and find out which ones are a great fit for your blog and your audience:
If you want more information, read this article for a detailed guide on how to get started with digital products.
Maybe you want additional products aside from digital ones for sale on your blog to add to your income, or maybe you want to skip digital products altogether.
Either way, physical products can also be a good venture for food bloggers, provided you do your customer research to know if you at least have a chance at a steady profit.
Here are some ideas for physical products that you can sell on your blog:
Want to offer your services and lend your expertise? Set up a page specifically to advertise the service(s) you offer.
Specify key information that a potential client would want to know, like who you are, relevant experience, what services you offer, packages (if applicable), pricing, and your contact details.
Plus points for you if you provide a specialized contact form and email exclusively for service inquiries. It’ll help you prioritize these inquiries and not have them lumped with blog comments, social media notifications, and general inquiries.
Here are some services you might want to offer your readers:
Gimme Some Oven has a Work With Us page worth looking at. Notice how plenty of opportunities are listed, but there aren’t any prices quoted, which is probably because the services listed are general.
Note as well that the brand disclosures are very clear and stress honesty and transparency as top priorities. Their media kit is also available upon request.
Smitten Kitchen has released cookbooks in both digital and hardcopy formats.
The Pioneer Woman (Ree Drummond) is a food blogger-turned-entrepreneur who’s worth looking up to. She has her own cooking show, and just look at the range of products she’s offering; from a magazine to dinnerware (available at Walmart).
It took a while for her to get to this level of success, so don’t beat yourself up too much if you don’t have a steady stream of income yet for the first 6 or even 12 months.
Food is something that humans literally can’t live without. It’s a very competitive niche, but blogging about the food that you love eating and cooking, not just about food that’s popular, is key to finding your writer’s voice and targeting the right audience.
Here are some ways on how to monetize a food blog:
Here are some final reminders before you go and get started with monetizing your blog.
You know what they say about not putting all your eggs in one basket?
The same applies here. You can certainly pick one method and stick with it if it works, but there’s nothing wrong with diversifying and experimenting with other methods to find just the right combination that will go over well with your customers and will work for you.
Remember, success in monetizing a blog lies in the intersection of what solves your customers’ problems and what pays you a decent income.
It doesn’t matter if you started blogging a week ago or a year ago. Your first priority should always be creating first-rate content that hooks readers and makes them want to come back to your blog over and over again.
Excellent content is genuine, original, and valuable. Post nothing but the most fantastic recipes, show nothing but the most gorgeous photos, and tell nothing but the most relatable stories.
If you need more tips on writing better blog posts, check out this article.
Are you a food blogger or an aspiring one? Which of the monetization techniques above will you apply or have already applied? What worked and didn’t work for you? Let me know in the comments!
JoAnne is your average, everyday, sane stay-at-home mom who believes in the power of the internet to make dreams come true. She has an insatiable appetite for chocolate, as well as all things internet marketing. She keeps up with the latest trends in blogging, affiliate marketing, e-commerce, and more.