April Income Report - Making Money from a Food Blog - $2,322.30
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April Income Report – $2,322.30

Collage of four images for April profits.

Hi there! My name is Bjork.

I'm Lindsay's husband. I play the role of the YLILAPPWY Officer here at Skillful Cook (YLILAPPWY = Yes, Lindsay, I'll look at Pug Pictures with You).

You think I'm joking...

Every month I put together a post outlining the income we earned from Skillful Cook and the things we learned along the way.

Lindsay and I work full-time, so any income you see created from this blog is a result of time spent outside of the regular 9-5.

Here's the breakdown of April’s income from Skillful Cook:

The Breakdown:

Bluehost Affiliate Program – $195
The Thesis Theme Affiliate Program– $57.42
VigLink - $68
Google AdSense - $680.24
Amazon Affiliate Program - $1.14
Tasty Food Photography eBook - $1320.50

Grand Total: $2,322.30

NOTE: On March 28th, Lindsay released her Food Photography eBook (Tasty Food Photography). The above number includes sales of the eBook from March 28th-31st as well as eBook income from April.

Things We Learned In March

It's okay to take a break.

Blogging is hard work. Posting two to three times a week (or more!), maintaining a job, taking care of energetic kids, staying involved in church, getting ready to move abroad, doing the 1,000 other things you have to do... it's crazy sometimes to imagine all that you have on your plate. The hard thing with a blog is that it oftentimes seems like if you miss a few posts then everything will fall apart.

It's true that you want to do your best to maintain a good stream of quality posts, but it doesn't hurt to take a break. Especially if you're feeling overwhelmed.

Lindsay decided to take last week off to take some time to breathe and prepare for our year long trip to the Philippines. Here's the thing: On Monday, when she didn't post anything, Skillful Cook saw it's #2 highest traffic day in April (24,404 pageviews) and #1 most profitable income day in April ($229.22).

Monday Traffic and Pageviews

Imagine your blog is a coal powered train. Every post you do is putting coal into the fire that powers the train. The higher the quality the coal is, and the more often you put the coal in, the faster the train goes. If you stop putting coal in for a little bit, will the train suddenly stop? Not at all. It will keep chugging along at a pretty good pace. If you stop putting coal in all together, will the train stop? Yes. But it's okay to take a break for a little bit and then start back with your regular routine. The train can keep going forward from the coal you've put into it in the past.

The best product is your own product.

Skillful Cook officially has its own product! As you can tell from the numbers, we've learned that one of the best products is your own product.

It was a ton of work to create the eBook and video tutorials that make up Tasty Food Photography, but it's been such a rewarding experience to finally put it into the world. The highlight of this whole process has been getting emails or messages from people who have gotten their first food photo accepted to Tastespotting or Foodgawker using the tips the learned in Tasty Food Photography. You can click here to see some of the comments that people have left about the book. Thanks for all the kind words for those of you that have dropped us an email. We really appreciate it.

Tasty Food Photography.

We've also had our first handful of affiliate sales. We're so excited that Tasty Food Photography has become a money maker for other people as well! Congrats to those of you that have sold some of the books. I've explained the affiliate sign up process here if you're interested in checking it out. If you have questions about what all this affiliate mumbo jumbo means you can check out the Affiliate FAQ page.

Tips and Takeaways

Super Sidebar

We've been experimenting with the sidebar on Skillful Cook.

I'm excited about the current setup that we have, and I think it will the most lucrative setup that we've ever had for the sidebar. Here's the setup:

  • A 600 x 300 BlogHer ad at the very top of the sidebar (we just added this May 1st).
  • A 600 x 300 AdBrite ad that shows up with BlogHer doesn't have any ads to show.
  • 3 200 x 250 Google Adsense ads spaced throughout the sidebar.

One of advantages of this setup is that BlogHer pays based on total page views (CPM), while Google AdSense pays based on the number of clicks (CPC). There are times when Google AdSense will run a campaign that has a really high CPC, like last month when we earned over $100 dollars in a day with just AdSense. However, with a food blog, it's more likely to get people that are just visiting to see a recipe and then leave. Food blogs aren't going to get a lot of people clicking on ads. That's why the BlogHer setup (that pays based on page views) is important to have.

The AdBrite ad is just a backup in case BlogHer doesn't have any ad to show. The reason we are using an AdBrite ad for backup instead of another Google AdSense ad is because Google AdSense only allows you to use three image/media ads per page.


This is a new section in the Blog Income Reports.

We've had lots of people ask about the type of traffic that Skillful Cook gets. I'm going to start posting our Google Analytics information so you can browse through it if you're interested. Click on the image to view the larger photo.

Data nerds rejoice! 🙂

Visitor Overview - April.
Traffic Sources - April.

Search Terms

In closing, I will leave you with my three favorite search phrases that led people to Skillful Cook.

I sure hope we could help these people. 🙂

Is there an app for that?
The answer is no.
Good question

P.S. If you're interested in learning more about some of the ways that you can monetize a food blog, we encourage you to download this free ebook, “16 Ways to Monetize Your Food Blog,” from our sister site, Food Blogger Pro!

a picture of the 16 Ways to Monetize Your Food Blog ebook from Food Blogger Pro and a note that says, 'free download from our friends at Food Blogger Pro'

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m so glad to see who will the ebook has done – you guys put so much work into it and I absolutely love my copy and find it invaluable. I also love having a sneak peek at your google analytics (it’s the accountant in me). Thanks, as ever, for sharing and congratulations on an awesome April! Even more awesome, you’re going to get to see the benefits of the money you raise with this site in person soon!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Kathryn! Glad to hear that the book as been helpful. We’re excited to make the transition to CSC. Like you said, it’ll be amazing to see the kids and the shelter in person.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    I loved the last part. When I look at my stats, it’s the first part I look at because it’s always good for a laugh. 🙂 And both my husband and I were really interested in the Google Analytics parts. It’s fun to compare! Oh and I hope the book continues to be a big source of revenue. It’s the best! So much better than those overly long and technical books that just confuse me and put me to sleep.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Erin. I need to limit the time I spend on Google Analytics. I could look at those stats forever. 🙂 Another fun analytics service is called ClickTale. We don’t have it installed on Skillful Cook, but I’ve used it with other sites before. It records user interactions. Kind of like a Big Brother of the web.

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    I currently have FoodBuzz and they have a no ad rule, so I can’t have any other advertising. I’m assuming BlogHer doesn’t have this rule, so you can run google adsense and BlogHer? That’s awesome! I may have to look into that…

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Aimee. BlogHer requires their ads to be above the fold, so they have to be the first ad to appear. Not exclusive though.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love your monthly reports! Didn’t know you guys moved to BlogHer. I thought you were “independent” last time I checked. I would love to hear your experiences and overall how you like them. They work with a variable rate & I’ve always been with FoodBuzz which is a fixed rate. I’m always curious how people feel they do with the variable rather than locked-in CPM rate. Obviously you can backfill with other ad networks and with FB, you can’t. More to think about, but possibly more upside potential $$.

    Great recap and great month$$ for you guys! Blog traffic is sometimes such an unpredictable thing, too. How and when and why it does what it does!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Averie. Thanks for the kind words! We have gone back and forth with FoodBuzz. We’d love to give it a shot, as I think it’s an awesome rate compared to the average CPMs that you’ll get with other networks. The only thing holding us back is the contract. Something to consider for the future for sure!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow, you’ve got me thinking now…I’ve been tinkering around with monetizing my site but really have not gotten passed the “thinking about it” process…this inspires me to be more proactive about sticking some adds up. Your search phrases crack me up…I’ve seen a few strange ones on my site, too…for instance “how to wash bell peppers” led someone to my site once…hmm…. Anyway, nice job and keep up the good work!!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Let us know if you have any questions if you decide to go for it.

      It’s crazy the things that some people Google! 🙂

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love the photography book and it has done wonders for my pictures. Since I have read your book, I have gotten all my submissions accepted on both foodgwaker and tastespotting. Thank you!

    I also love my new camera lens and it has made a world of difference in my shots. It’s so nice not to have to run outside for all my shots because it works amazingly well in low light situations.

    I am finally thinking of getting some advertising on my blog. I was accepted by foodbuzzz a while back but have not pulled the trigger because I wasn’t sure it was the best move for me. I am thinking of going with AdSense but I don’t want random ads on my blog that don’t correlate with my blogs theme. I plan on taking a closer look at the info you provided above and figure it all out!


    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Awesome! That makes my day to hear that the book has helped you get some photos accepted to some food sharing sites. Congrats!

      I’d encourage you to go for it with the advertising. For us it was realizing that it’s possible. Even if it’s just one dollar a month. If you can make one, you can make two, if you can make two you can make three! 🙂

      It’s nice to start with Adsense if you’re a little hesitant to sign a contract. Adsense is pretty good about matching the ads with the content. Not perfect, but the food specific advertisers aren’t perfect either.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Thanks for getting back to me Bjork! I will look into both again and see what is best. Your AdSense revenues were pretty good for the month and I would definitely be happy with those numbers alone.

        I love posts like this as they are so informative and fun to read. I am trying to incorporate some new ideas into my blog instead of a recipe twice a week to give a little more variety to the blog. Keep posts like this coming!

        Congratulations on your assignment. I see you both coming home with a new addition to your family. We adopted my son from Guatemala and he is the best! There are so many kids out there who just need a mom and dad and someone to love them.

        Cheers for now!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    WOW I love the new side bar – I recently switched mine up and I think it really does make a difference.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow guys, congrats on a great month! I think your new setup has some serious earning potential like you said 🙂 As always, thanks for your honesty. I love reading these and following along in your successes, hearing what works best and what doesn’t.

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    That last search phrase was me, but it has a pretty major typo. I meant to write “who” not “how”.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Upon further examination it appears as if all three of the search phrases mentioned above originated from Indianapolis.

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    You guys will love Cebu. I’m from the Philippines and moved to Boston eight years ago, but I still go back home at least once a year. I’m from Manila and have only been to Cebu once – it is beautiful. If you guys have any questions, let me know and I might be able to give some advice – as a fellow food blogger, as a Filipino, or as someone who understands the experience of moving to an entirely new country 🙂 Good luck, can’t wait to read more about your journey!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Bianca. We’re really excited about it! A little nervous, but mostly excited. 🙂 We’ll be sure to let you know if we have any questions.

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    That is AMAZING, you guys! Good work!

    I’d love to hear how the heck you’re getting such good results with AdSense. I run them as well and make about $50 a month. :/ That being said, I think you’ll love BlogHer. April was a really slow month with them, but May has already picked up and the further into the year you get, the more ads/money you see. December is always a HUGE month with them. 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Karly – I wish I could give you more tips or tricks with AdSense… All we’re doing right now is using three 250×300 ads on the sidebar to the right.

      Do you have any advice for us with BlogHer? What have you found to be the most profitable setup in regards to the ad sizes?

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Thank you! I’ve been using a 160×600 with Google and it’s pretty far down the page, so maybe that’s my problem.

        As for BlogHer, I used the 160×600 for a few years and just switched over to a 300×250 in November. I really haven’t noticed a difference in revenue. I would recommend running a supplemental ad at the end of each single post (between the post and the comments), too.

        I also do the BlogHer reviews when they’re available and they tend to pay pretty well!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    But really-HOW cream cheese look like?

    Thank you for providing this very, very clear breakdown of your earnings. It’s really helpful. I’m glad to hear that Lindsay was able to take a break, and that you’ve earned a nice tidy chunk from a book you put lots of effort into–and hopefully will keep a steady earning stream from that.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    I don’t remember how I was introduced to your blog. I am so glad I was. Since that time I have forwarded your site to the Southern Food Bloggers FB page advertising your e-book. The subject was posted regarding photographing food and the challenges getting accepted to Foodgawker. Hope you made some money from that group. I bought your book.
    In addition, I forwarded this article on monetizing to the Word Press Meetup leader here in Atlanta. They schedule monthly meetings and share newsletters. Although, I may be the only foodie there. I’m a nerd but not a geek but it is fun to sit with geeks and listen to the jargon. Each meeting I gain valuable information. Mostly on CSS (see…I too, speak geek)
    I work the SEO bit pretty well. In fact my son e-mailed me that my blog popped up on the first page, eight down, when he googled ‘smoke cookies georgia’. From him, I learned another way people google so that helps me to think SEO when I publish each post.
    This is all still new to me and eventually I will change themes but I’m enjoying the 21 subscribers and don’t want to lose them as I did previously when I upgraded from free blog to paid blog.
    In any event, you two have really done well in blogging, photography and especially sharing. I’ll be interested in your monthly analytic’s.
    Looking forward to reading your stories from Indonesia. BTW, they don’t always have to be just about food. It will be interesting to read how you adjust to this new culturally rewarding experience.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Oops! Pressed send too soon 🙂 I’m excited to know about all the beautiful things this money is doing across the world!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Impressive numbers. As someone who is looking to begin monetizing my food blog, this post is really encouraging.

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Firstly, I’d just like to say thanks for posting these monthly income reports. It’s really helpful to me to see what’s working for another food blogger!

    Sort of unrelated, but I noticed your popular posts section in your sidebar, and I was wondering if you used a plugin or some sort of code to make that. I want to have a way to showcase popular posts on my own sidebar but can’t seem to figure it out after doing some research. Help! Thanks 🙂

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is great information! I’ve been working on figuring out how to make the most out of my food blog. It seems to be a tricky business, but I will give some of these tips a try. Thanks so much!

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    I just want to say thank you for this post. I am new to this world and have nooo idea about a whole lot of things about blogging. Been hearing things about how to make money from it and decided to check it out and i’m glad i found you guys. Perhaps somewhere down the line, I too will learn how to do this. Thank you encore.