Welcome to A Sassy Spoon’s first food blog income report!
*breathe in, breathe out*
I’ve been talking about posting my first income report for MONTHS now. I know how absolutely helpful and inspiring these reports are but let’s be real, putting it all out there is truly terrifying. What kept me convinced was that Pinch of Yum’s Income Reports are a prime reason I am here today. They inspired me to give food blogging a fair shot after I quit my safe, secure, full-time job back in 2016 without a back up plan (don’t try this at home, kids). So here we are.
I’d be lying if I wasn’t also posting this income report for my own accountability and to prove to other naysayers out there that food blogging can be a fulfilling, lucrative career. I’ve had to prove myself time and time again because I’m so often told that food blogging is not a “real” job. Anything online media is usually scoffed at and belittled but I’m here to tell you, I do not sit on my ass all day. I work hard. Really hard. Some days are long and the to-do list never ends. But guess what, I’ve made a full-time salary from my blogging biz this year and this is the proof.
I don’t plan on posting monthly income reports as putting these together is pretty time consuming. Maybe, quarterly? I do however want to show you what I made last year, where it came from, and what my traffic looked like in 2018. I’m confident that this income report will help and inspire other food bloggers as Pinch of Yum inspired me just 3 years ago.
A little background on me (in case you’re new here – hi!)
My background is in digital marketing. Prior to that, I worked in health care, managing a team and climbing the corporate ladder like everyone else. I went to art school for a bit after high school but then I eventually graduated with a ‘safe’ business degree many years later. Regardless of any promotion or raise I’ve received throughout my job trajectory, I was never truly as happy, accomplished, nor proud as I am at this very moment. I personally believe I found my purpose. My hustling spirit and sheer determination is what has brought me to this, my dream career. I have you all to thank for that. Honestly, I wouldn’t be here without your constant support and loyalty to A Sassy Spoon. I appreciate you all so much! <3
Ok, enough mushiness, let’s talk numbers!
Traffic was steady throughout the year, averaging 187,500 page views per month for a total of 2,250,490 page views for 2018. Top traffic drivers were Google and Pinterest.
My RPM (revenue per 1,000 page views) with AdThrive averaged $20.49 in 2018.
Ad Income: $44,822.25 ($4,602.25 with Mediavine + $40,220 with AdThrive; I explain below.*)
Freelance Photography: $20,973.05
Sponsored Content: $14,195.00
Affiliate Marketing: $3,518.36
Contributor Content: $1,500.00
Total Income: $85,008.66
Food Expenses: $4,749.36 (groceries only related to work projects)
Supplies/Equipment: $6,016.93 (camera/lens/computer/laptop)
Web Redesign: $1,200.00
Travel Expenses: $1,041.55 (work trips)
Wpopt: $515.88 (hosting)
Courses + Education: $1,473.00 (best ones: Lightroom Magic + Hashtag Jeff)
Adobe Creative Suite: $119.88 (Photoshop + Lightroom)
Google Storage: $119.88
Total Expenses: $16,466.48
Net Profit: $68,542.18
Phew! That was a lot to take in, huh? In years prior, I made about 10% of that number or less from this blog. Why? Because even though I started A Sassy Spoon in 2016 with the intent of making a career out of it, I didn’t really go full force until 2018.
After I quit my agency job in 2016, I took on freelance work to help pay the bills. To this day, I’m so grateful to have had the freedom and flexibility to grow this blog while working freelance. The problem was that I would get caught up in the work, and at times, would use it as a crutch. It was steady money after all. If the blog wasn’t making money, it was ok because my freelance job was paying my bills. But… if I was going to make a real salary from this blog, I needed to just take the plunge and dedicate all my time to working on it. Needless to say, I quit that freelance job in early 2018 to focus on growing A Sassy Spoon.
I worked my ass off last year to get to these numbers. It wasn’t a walk in the park. Some months fluctuated. Pitch emails would go through the wayside. Summer was harsh since that’s slow season for food bloggers (and my mental health was a mess). But overall, having focused on SEO and site optimization since this blog’s inception really paid off in the long run. I cannot stress this enough. Focus on those two things and you’ll be well on your way to bringing in more income from your blog. It also helps that I’ve been blessed with incredible clients for both brand partnerships and photography gigs this year.
Ok here are a few takeaways, not only from last year but overall.
Switching from Mediavine to AdThrive.
- I joined Mediavine in Summer 2017 when I met the traffic requirements (30k page views). They were beyond amazing. I have 0 complaints and it was the first time I ever made decent money from ads on this blog. By Thanksgiving 2017, just a little over a year after launching my blog, I hit the 100k page views threshold needed to switch over to AdThrive. After reading so many rave reviews about them, I decided to switch over and signed up for their waiting list. At the beginning of 2018, they transitioned me over and set everything up themselves. The results were unimaginable. I had doubled my ad income with fewer ads. Needless to say, switching to AdThrive was the best decision I made all year. *Since Mediavine is net 65 (AdThrive is net 45), I was still receiving payments in early 2018 even though I was already with AdThrive. This is why you see revenue from both networks listed.
Growing my email list.
- In 2018, I really focused on growing my email list. That was top priority since Instagram algorithms and such were just so disappointing. At the end of the day, we only own our blogs and email lists. Imagine if social media blew up tomorrow, then what? Focusing on SEO and email were key for revenue this year. I’m still learning about email (and SEO for that matter) however my list grew over 600% since January 2017 which is insane!
Learning/perfecting food photography.
- When it comes to food, we all eat with our eyes, wouldn’t you agree? Learning to take professional food photos in Fall 2017 was vital for my success in 2018. I also upgraded all of my camera equipment which was a huge game changer. This is my current camera gear. Not only did it boost my confidence with my own recipe posts but I was also able to work with brands and bloggers to shoot for them too. While I’m still perfecting my food styling, shooting and overall editing skills, food photography has provided me another income stream in my online business and another skill to my repertoire. Don’t place your eggs all in one basket, my friends. Diversifying is key!
Goals For 2019
Focus on more niche content.
- As I continue to monitor my analytics and receive feedback from readers of this blog, I’m noticing that there are a lot more people like me out there than I thought. What does “like me” mean? Well, a while ago, I wrote this (now updated) blog post talking about how I grew up eating not so healthy in a Hispanic household and how much I’ve struggled with improving my eating habits now as an adult. Seriously, everyday is a battle. The initial intent with that post was to slightly pivot content with that target in mind – the target that found comfort food no longer comforting due to health issues or struggles with weight loss. Alas, I was afraid of this pivot. What if it bombed? Or what if it was too niche? What if people thought I was a hypocrite? I’m no health coach, who am I to write about healthy eating? etc etc etc. Here’s the thing though, improving eating habits is a goal for everyone. Not just people like me that were brought up a certain way. And the more I understood that, the more I wanted to just finally pivot to see what happens. Not to say that things will be drastically different on here (they won’t) but the focus, conversation, and even the brands I choose to partner with may become more targeted towards this new pivot. This is all still a huge work in progress. Clearly, I’m nowhere near a health freak but if there’s one thing I’ve seen in my own circle, it’s that adults in their 30s-40s (and older) that were brought up eating indulgent, veggie-less, sugar and carb-filled meals, like I was, are now either sick or struggling with their health or weight. And if I can help them by sharing healthy-ish recipes (sometimes Latin-inspired) then why not? And hey, if it doesn’t work, then we can always pivot back. Thoughts? Leave them below. I’m genuinely curious and appreciate any and all feedback.
Increase ALL numbers across the board.
- With this slight pivot in content and by optimizing old posts with new photos, videos and retested recipes, I’m hoping this will bring an increase in numbers across the board. This includes a six figure income (I’m close!), a 100,000+ page view increase in traffic (still working so hard on SEO), more long-term partnerships (let’s work together!) and doubling the number of email subscribers by the end of 2019.
Blog Consulting / Coaching.
- Lastly, I’ve been thinking about taking on coaching clients for a while now. I’m sure my friends and family are sick of hearing me talk about it. I’m passionate about what I do now and I want everyone to have the same success I’ve found through food blogging. I quit my job in 2016 in search of freedom and flexibility. I didn’t want to continue jumping from job to job, or position to position, trying to figure out if this or that was the best fit. Because, to be honest, entrepreneurship is what has ALWAYS been the best fit for me; I just didn’t know how to execute. Or I was scared. Or worst, I wanted to play it safe. So I took the plunge and learned, and read. A LOT. And then I just f’n FIGURED. IT. OUT. Granted, I’m still growing and I’m nowhere near where I want to be. But if I was able to grow A Sassy Spoon into a full-fledged business with a few content strategies and SEO tactics I’ve learned along the way, in just 3 years (less, actually), why not share the wealth, ya know? I want you to feel as happy as I do at this very moment. If you’ve started a blog (or any online business) and are like “ok, now what?” – click here for more info. I want to help you!
Well, that’s all folks. I hope this income report inspires you to pursue your dreams. As my friend and fellow food blogger Liz says, we spend 1/4 of our lives at work, make sure you’re doing something worth your while.
As always, thank you for being here! <3
Other posts you may like:
- How To Start A Food Blog in 5 Steps
- My Story: How I Became A Food Blogger
- A Week in the Life of a Food Blogger
- How I Grew My Food Blog To 100K Monthly Page Views In 11 Months
- Confessions of a Healthy-ish Latina: Building New Habits