HOW LONG DID IT TAKE ME TO START MONETIZING AS A FOOD BLOGGER?
Let’s be honest – no one ever wants to talk about money. Mixing money and passion can be a tricky topic that has the ability to either motivate or demotivate you.
Personally, learning how others monetize their platform not only inspires me but helps me realize what other aspects of my business I can improve in.
A question that I am often asked is how long did it take me to start monetizing as a food blogger?
As always, I promised to be as transparent as possible, so I thought I would break down my journey as a food blogger. Hopefully, this will help you the same way other bloggers have helped me.
THIS BLOG POST IS ALL ABOUT MY JOURNEY OF MONETIZING AS A FOOD BLOGGER
SEPTEMBER 2020 – THE START OF “TIFFYCOOKS”
I was a passionate home cook for 11 years with 5 “failed” blogs and 2 “failed” YouTube channels.
On September 3rd, 2020, I posted my first video ever on TikTok. I remember being so nervous about the idea that I almost didn’t post it.
When I woke up, the video had attained 40k views, and I was honestly so surprised. I began to post every day for the next five months to grow my platform.
Since I was in Canada, I wasn’t monetizing anything.
I wanted to focus on growing my community and keep the momentum with posting.
Within one month, I grew to 20K followers on TikTok. I didn’t have a blog yet, so I pushed all my Tiktok traffic to Instagram, where I was posting full recipes.
Here is a strict rule that I follow even to this day.
Always answer every one of my comments within the first hour to engage with my audience, and I answer at least 80% of my DMs.
Every day I spend 1-2 hours answering DMs, because I genuinely believe that the best way to learn and improve is to get feedback from people who support you.
NOTES: I worked a full-time corporate job while posting every day. If you want to learn more about my 9-5 journey and transition from the corporate world to food blogging, check out my blog post.
MONTHLY INCOME: $0
OCTOBER 2020 – LAUNCHED MY BLOG
I still remember many friends telling me not to start a blog because “no one uses it anymore.”
They told me to mostly concentrate on Instagram because that’s how you “make it.” I’m so glad I didn’t listen because my blog has turned out to be my most stable source of income and the first platform I started monetizing on!
I spent HOURS moving all my recipes from Instagram to my website. Since I was still working full-time at my corporate job, I worked every night until 3-4 am to get my blog up and running.
If you are interested in starting a blog, which I HIGHLY recommend, I also have a blog post breaking down STEP-BY-STEP on how to start a blog that MAKES MONEY ** important for monetizing as a food blogger**
Trust me, there are a lot of “rules” when it comes to starting a proper blog.
To push traffic from TikTok and Instagram to my blog, I stopped posting my full recipes on my social media platforms and started pushing traffic towards my website.
My main focus for the next few months was to drive my traffic up and apply for Ad networks. I also accepted my first ever brand deal on TikTok that month.
NOTES: Not posting your full recipe on social media may cause your engagement to drop, and your audience may get upset.
However, I have always been very transparent with my audience by sharing that having a website allows me to work with LIMITED and SELECTIVE brand deals without compromising my website’s quality.
This way, I can still provide FREE recipes to my audiences while earning income to upgrade my content, website, and brand.
MONTHLY INCOME: ~$1500
- Brand deal (1)
- Google Ad Sense
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2020: ACCEPTED INTO MEDIAVINE
Once you start your blog, your first goal should be to get into an ad network. This will help you to start monetizing your content quickly! There are many ad networks you can work with, but I chose to work with Mediavine.
They are amazing, have excellent customer service, and the community is super helpful!
However, to be accepted into an ad network, there are many requirements you must meet first.
For example, to join Mediavine, your site must:
- Have 50,000 sessions in the previous 30 days
- Be in good standing with Google Ad Sense
- Have original content
- Have long-form engaging content + more
It took 60 days to get accepted into Mediavine, but there was a HUGE difference in my ad sense money once I transitioned.
I spent A LOT of time learning about social media optimization and understanding how to make my posts “rank well.”
The most important tip I have is to STAY CONSISTENT for a successful blog!
I recommend posting at least ONCE a week and ensuring that each post is HIGH QUALITY. Having a blog IS A FULL-TIME JOB.
It is NOT easy and can be very demotivating, so I highly recommend having a schedule and dedicating hours to it.
I dedicate at least 3 to 4 hours to each blog post, and I am continually taking courses and upgrading my equipment to invest in my blog.
During this time, I also launched my first ever e-cookbook on my website and accepted 2-3 brand deals per month on the platform.
MONTHLY INCOME: ~ $5500 – $7500
- Mediavine Ad Sense
- Brand Deals (5)
- LIVE events: Cooking Live on TikTok for a brand deal + private cooking classes for corporate companies
JANUARY 2021: I QUIT MY JOB!
After four months of juggling my corporate job and my food blog, I finally decided to take the next step and take my passion to the next level.
It was easily one of the most challenging decisions I’ve ever made. I was incredibly scared, but I knew I had to be strategic and “smart” this time around.
Mixing your passion with money can be a scary topic. That is why I always preach in diversifying your income.
To ensure I was staying on track for monetizing my food blog, I broke down my company into four quarters, like most corporate companies.
I was determined to make at least $75K in my first year, so I did some simple calculations to see if it was achievable:
$75,000 divided by 12 months = $6250 month
$6250 times 3 months = $18,750 per quarter
Since I only just started, I gave myself some wiggle room in the first few months as I knew it would take me longer to jump-start my food blogging career to get monetizing.
PLUS, I knew that brand deals are not always reliable. Below are estimations, but this is an example of what my quarters looked like:
I will list how I will make money between all my different income streams each quarter.
For example, in Q3, I can plan for a product launch like merch or an e-book to help me reach my goals, and in Q4 is usually when there are more brand deal opportunities, along with higher ad sense, so I can aim to make “more” during Q4.
If you are interested in learning how I make money and all my different income streams, I recommend reading my blog post on “HOW TO MAKE MONEY AS A FULL-TIME FOOD BLOGGER.”
MONTHLY INCOME: ~$9500
- Ad Sense
- Brand Deals
- Passive Income from E-book
FEBRUARY – MARCH 2021 – DIVERSIFY YOUR INCOME!
I keep preaching to diversify your income because it is SO IMPORTANT in making money as a food blogger!
My blog and social media platforms started to pick up in February and March.
40% of my income came from my blog, while the other 60% came from live events, another product launch, and brand deals.
In February, I did another e-book and sticker launch, and I also started implementing affiliated marketing on my website.
Here are a few excellent resources that helped elevate my blog:
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND joining Food Blogger Pro! Food Blogger Pro is a website and community dedicated to teaching bloggers how to start and grow a successful food blog with easy-to-understand video tutorials.
Every week, the Food Blogger Pro team produces an information-packed podcast. It combines expert advice from industry professionals with up-to-date insight into blogging trends.
They teach you EVERYTHING – the best tools to start a food blog, how to start monetizing your food blog, how to edit your photos/videos, how to create a media kit, social media strategies to bring traffic, and even how to set up a branded email with templates!
If you are thinking of becoming a food blogger, I highly highly recommend checking out Food Blogger Pro as it was able to answer all my questions when I first started!
This step-by-step affiliate marketing strategy course shows you how to increase your affiliate income and make more money blogging.
In this course, Michelle shares how she earns over $50,000 a month through affiliate marketing!
I took the course in March, and it was a great course; I would highly recommend it for those that want to learn more about how affiliate marketing works.
MONTHLY INCOME: ~$17K per month
- Ad sense
- Brand deals
- E-book launch (monetizing on past products as well)
- Affiliated marketing
- LIVE EVENTS: Private Cooking Classes for universities & corporate companies
APRIL 2021 – I HIRED MY MANAGER!
By April 2021, I knew I had to hire a full-time manager to help me with brand deals. I was overwhelmed with answering emails, and I knew I would burn out quickly if I didn’t hire help.
I am a firm believer in always outsourcing on topics I am not an expert in. Let the expert be the expert while I can focus my time and energy on my own expertise.
What people don’t talk about is how time-consuming brand deals are.
From getting the invite to getting paid by brands can take up to 5-6 months.
It often takes one month to negotiate and review contracts, another month to approve the concept, create content, and post, then another 30-90 days to get paid. Yes, 90 days!
To be honest, I’m not great at negotiating brand deals. It is difficult to pitch yourself and not take it personally when brands undermine your value.
Since hiring my manager, it freed up a lot of my time and ensured that I carefully reviewed all my contracts.
Though I now give her 20% of all my brand deals, I ended up making more money as she helped me negotiate industry standard rates (prior, I was undervaluing myself) and helped me ensure I was getting properly compensated for the work I was doing.
People often ask me how to find the “right” manager.
My answer is to find someone as passionate as you about your work – if not, more than you!
You want a manager that sees your value and will go above and beyond to fight for every brand deal for you, as well as ensuring you get the amount you deserve.
MONTHLY INCOME: ~$21K
- Ad sense
- Brand deals
- Live events
- Affiliated marketing
MAY – AUG 2021 – HIRING + TESTING
In May, I started to see the benefit of hiring external help. Since bringing on my manager, I’ve taken fewer brand deals but have doubled my income with them.
She was able to help me filter through my emails, prioritize brands, negotiate the correct pricing, and so much more.
However, I started realizing there were other areas of my business that I needed to improve on. Since I was making more money, I wanted to invest more into growing my business.
A HUGE issue I was having was keeping up with my books. As mentioned above, often, it takes 30-90 days to get paid.
But sometimes, some brands will “forget” to pay you, and honestly, my accounts receivable was a MESS.
I hired a bookkeeper to help me create monthly financial reports and organize my A/R so that I could get paid in a timely manner for my work.
Another investment I made was Pinterest.
Since hiring a manager and bookkeeper freed up a lot of admin time, I wanted to focus on growing my website.
Most of my traffic came from Instagram and TikTok at the time, so I spent the next few months hiring external SEO specialists and hired help to help me grow my Pinterest account.
This step was costly, but worth it in the long run.
I break down my 2021 social media strategy in this blog post so you can deep dive on all my “strategies” on each social media platform.
During this time, I also launched CLOTHING MERCH!
Versus doing everything internally, I worked with a local Canadian brand to help me produce merch.
Even though I make less profit compared to doing everything in-house, I find that the quality of the products and customer service are so much better.
It is important when creating a merch line or any product to hire a lawyer to go through the contract.
There are many rules and regulations that I was unaware of until I consulted with my accountant and lawyer.
The process of finding the right company can also be very time-consuming.
It took me 3 months to find the right supplier and another 1.5 months for us to jump-start our project.
Many companies will sign you to a 1 year deal, which is why it is SO important to review all the terms and conditions before signing.
MONTHLY INCOME: ~$30-40K
- Website Ad Sense
- Brand Deals
- LIVE Events
- Affiliated Marketing
SEPT 2021 – NOW
Since September 2021, I now have an entire team dedicated to helping me.
It is now harder to share my income report as it is entirely different from when I first started, and I was doing everything on my own.
Without hiring help, I wouldn’t have time for most of my projects, such as my hardcopy cookbook that I am working on!
Another reason why it is harder to share my income report now is that even though my income has increased significantly, so have my expenses.
I am still constantly taking courses, learning and expanding my knowledge, and making investments in my website and brand to help grow my business.
Here is who I currently outsource to support me:
- Brand + PR Manager (FT)
- Video Editor (FT)
- Assistant (FT)
- Photographer + Editor + Stylist (Contractor)
- Bookkeeper + A/R (Contractor)
- Content Writer for Pinterest (Contractor)
MONTHLY INCOME: ~$40-65K
I hope that this blog post was able to help you learn about the journey behind monetizing my blog.
Everyone has a different journey, and remember, even though “TIFFYCOOKS” started in September 2020, I’ve also had MANY failed blogs and YouTube channels in the past 11 years.
Stay consistent, and don’t ever stop believing in yourself!
Let me know if you would like me to post more content and tips and tricks on how to start monetizing your food blog! I am always here to help.
As always, thank you so much for all your support. I wouldn’t be here without your constant love. I promise to always be as transparent as possible and share all my tips and tricks to help the same way you have all helped me!
Want to do Food Blogging Full-Time? Here are some helpful blog posts:
My blog has been the most stable income by far and has helped me make FIVE FIGURES a month for the past four months!
With only SIX simple steps, I will share how I set up a blog correctly that makes MONEY.
One of my most asked questions is always, “how did I become a full-time food-blogger?” Believe it or not, I don’t have any background working with food. I never worked in a restaurant and never had any culinary training.
Do I regret working for corporate? What did I learn from my corporate job? Here is my 11-year journey before launching TIFFYCOOKS
HOW MUCH MONEY DO I MAKE AS A FOOD BLOGGER (WITH BREAKDOWNS)? HOW DID I DECIDE WHAT PLATFORMS TO BE ON?
One of my most asked questions is always, “How do I MAKE MONEY as a FULL-TIME Food Blogger?” The truth is that there are many different revenues, every month varies, and every blog is different.
I explain why I choose to blog and how I DIVERSITY my income as a full-time food blogger.
Here are some courses, equipment, and apps that I purchased and subscribe to that help me make FIVE FIGURES a month as a full-time food blogger.
I hope these blog posts and videos will be helpful for those on this journey with me. I also wanted to take the time to say THANK YOU for always supporting me. Without your help, support and love, I wouldn’t be here today! THANK YOU for turning my 11-year dream into a reality.