How do you make money from a food blog? This is what food bloggers say.

Updated in 2020 with fresh insights

ITB sent a detailed questionnaire to a dozen food bloggers whose food blogs have found place in the Directory of Best Indian Blogs and also to a couple of foreign food bloggers. Some kindly responded, three gave some information in confidence, one wanted only an audio session, two promised but failed to reply to specific questions and some ignored us.  The present post is based on our research of the web on food blogging and the responses we received.
We tried to find how food bloggers make blogs, how much money they make from the blog, and what good practices they adopt. We’ve also tried to assess whether globally food bloggers have as many avenues to make money as their US / European counterparts. 

Responses on "How to start a food blog and maintain it?"

A few bloggers on and do have well maintained blogs, but their growth seems to have remained subdued due to constraints of free blogging. 

Well-known food bloggers all build blogs as independent websites (= self hosted blogs) and put them on an independent web host. 

Almost all established food bloggers with self-hosted have used as their content management system (CMS).

Responses on "Is earning the primary goal of food bloggers?"

Almost all food bloggers do monetize the blog to different degrees, but most seem to have started it as a hobby, or when a housewife was looking for an engaging activity, or when someone wanted to show to the world her culinary skills.

A few established food blogs were also started by professional dietitians and chefs as supplements to their profession or to their main website.
Interestingly, many food bloggers prefer to call themselves hobby bloggers even though they are well established and earn good money. Some have told us, blogging has added to their popularity, self-esteem and social recognition, and they value these more than dollars that they earn from the blog.

Many food bloggers have their channel on YouTube and some share videos on other video sharing apps. In fact, people (usually housewives and girls) keep sharing videos of their home cooking on YouTube and then covert that into a channel, rather than opening a standard blog. Both (video channel and standard blog) have their unique advantages and, therefore, one should ideally use both the platforms to maximize their reach, traffic and earnings - this is indeed done by quite a few food bloggers.

Responses on "Do food bloggers make enough money?

Food blogging is one of the best blogging niches and has not been impacted badly even during COVID-19 (except when the bloggers had ventured into restaurant business). Most bloggers seem to earn money, perhaps because advertisers find value in putting advertisements on such blogs. However, how much the blogger earns depends on how good he/ she is at the cooking craft and also the blogging craft.

Till one is 'established', a food blogger generally makes just a few dollars from CPC advertisements on the blog. If he/ she uses additional streams for monetization, the earning can be decent. 

Being established as food blogger needs patience. You can call yourself established when you have built the blog with application of mind and ran it ceaselessly for at least 2-3 years, the blog has at least 200 high-quality posts, the blog receives many thousand visitors a month, and you have good presence on at least one video sharing and one social networking platform.

"Responses on "How to make money from a food blog? How do food bloggers monetize their blogs?"

There are many ways by which food bloggers monetize their blog. These include:
  • opening a channel on video sharing apps (video blogging)
  • CPC advertisements (e.g. AdSense) on blog and YouTube channel
  • affiliate ads
  • direct ads from restaurants, cooking ware, spice/ ingredient brands, etc
  • creating ebooks and giving them as gift or in return for subscribing or other promotions
  • promoting one's print/ electronic cook book on the blog
  • cooking classes/ workshops or diet consultations
  • selling product / restaurant reviews on the blog

For getting relevant traffic to the blog, bloggers have found social networking of good use whereas being in blogrolls is not reported to help much. Some bloggers say, their real-life social circle (as against Facebook friends or followers) helps in spreading their blog's content and making them popular.

Food blogging tips and best practices

Let us share with you some more insight based on our first-hand interaction with established food bloggers:
  • Be a food blogger if cooking is your passion or if you are an expert in one or more aspects of food business. Opening a food blog without passion or expertise but just to earn money is likely to fail badly.
  • If you are a food blogger in a developing country and not a well-known chef or expert or one with contacts with advertisers, food blogging will not earn you big money quickly. Be patient.
  • Even if your blog gets very popular, it is no guarantee you will generate income – unless people buy your product / service or advertisers pay you. So, monetize the blog well.
  • If you are a genuine food blogger with lots of passion, you maintain your blog well (in terms of content, design and regularity), there are chances that you will make handsome money.
  • There is competition, but many areas of food blogging have not been fully explored yet, even in saturated markets. Even for a generic food blog, there is enough scope for getting popular and making money if the blog is properly maintained. But the chances of success increase when you go specific: food photography, local dishes, dishes or drinks made from a specific item (e.g. pork/ tapioca/blueberry/bitter gourd).
  • That takes us to another important aspect: micro-niche (=focusing on a very specific topic). One global biggie blogger deals exclusively with 'food trucks', another with dishes without salt. Blogs can be built around health issues that have a positive or negative relation with diet.
  • Whether making a generic blog or a niche one, estimate beforehand what your target audience is and how big it is. Is it the people in search of new, experimental recipes? Foreigners looking for local, traditional flavors? People wanting tips on  good cooking? Drinkers in the lookout for rice beer available in South Africa? People searching for the source of best Indian spices? People looking for tasty food with low calories? Those in need to know about food suited to diabetics?...
  • Place advertisements on the blog but do not clutter it. Review advertisements on the blog after every six month. 
  • Monetize the blog in more than one ways. Only depending on one source  (e.g. AdSense) may be frustrating, especially due to very high competition.
  • If you are not fully conversant with web languages/ web designing, take expert help in designing it. A professional design helps in the blog standing out in the crowd.
  • Put some search engine optimization (SEO) into the blog. If on Wordpress, implement one of the popular SEO plugin such as Yoast. If you are scared of SEO, read on the web (a link here to start with: How does SEO work) or take help from a reputed SEO expert. 
  • Do offline and online promotion of your blog. Tell about it to your friends and send them email or WhatsApp or some other form of notification when you post a new recipe. Link it closely with social network accounts (e.g. Facebook, Twitter). Instagram and Pinterest are especially good to showcase good cuisine photos.
  •  Some bloggers have told us, going hyper-local (=getting it talked about in local communities; getting interviewed by local papers; etc) helps build a good community around the blog.
  • Open a YouTube channel. Simultaneously create a post on the same topic/ recipe. You can give all types of background information and tips that you cannot give on the video. Link both of them with social accounts. If you get queries on the channel/ blog, make their use in creating new blog post and video.

making money from food blogging

Sharing a few food bloggers' experiences

Lubna karim is an Indian food blogger who is an enormous food photographer too. She maintains Yummy Food blog, which finds place in our Directory of Best Indian Blogs. In reply to our question, ‘Has the blog contributed to your life in any way other than getting you money and making you popular?’, she says: ‘My blog is my e-cooking dairy, my kitchen flavors are trapped in this blog…my gift to my daughter who is 3 now…I just want her to know what her mamma did when she was keeping her on toes…’ 

Shailaja, a food blogger par excellence, whose blog Sailu’s Food also figures in our blog directory gives this advice to budding food bloggers: ‘Focus on high-quality content, good food pictures and give a LOT of importance to recipe writing. People are going to be trying the recipes and if they are happy with the outcome they will come back again and again and make your blog a cooking bible. They begin to trust you and bond with you like family.’

Mark Weins blogs on food in a very unusual way: he is in fact a travel blogger who specializes in food. So, more than anything else, he chooses food to not only showcase the best cuisines of different places but to also tell about the culture of the location. The success of his blog Migrationology confirms that when you are passionate about your subject, even a narrow, unusual, niche can make your blog successul and you can earn well from it. 

Shihoko, a popular food blogger, is primarily a qualified nurse. She became a popular food blogger by experimenting with native Japanese food because she was passionate about it. She runs her blog Chopstick Chronicles, with her daughter Elizabeth. Her mantra for success as a food blogger: passion, hard work and patience.

You may also like to visit this post listing four outstanding food blogs from India.

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