April Traffic and Income Report - $22,280.50 - Skillful Cook
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April Traffic and Income Report - $22,280.50

Blog and Income Report collage of images.


Bjork here, checking in for the monthly traffic and income report.

Quick back story on these reports: Lindsay and I started this experiment way back in September of 2011. You can check out our first ever income report here. We made $21.97 that month.

I mention that first income report because it’s important to understand that monetizing a blog takes a lot of hard work, dedication, time, and luck. Other bloggers know that there’s a lot that goes on behind each and every post that goes out: lots of testing, learning, changing, staying up late, getting up early, tweaking (not twerking), connecting, and hustling.

Along with all that hard work, it’s important to have patience. We’ve been at this blog thing for a few years. As you'll see in the image I share later on in this post, it was a long time before Skillful Cook started to get decent traffic (and therefore decent income). As a matter of fact, Skillful Cook turned four years old on April 11th! We celebrated by watching Office reruns and eating double chocolate cookies.

In honor of Skillful Cook’s fourth birthday, I’d like to give a quick shout out to four people that have inspired me in this journey.

  • Gary Vaynerchuk - Gary was the first person that helped me understand that you could actually create an income from a blog. His book Crush It was instrumental in inspiring us to take this blog thing seriously. Thanks, Gary.
  • Pat Flynn - Pat inspired me to do these monthly income reports back in September of 2011. I’ve learned a ton from him and owe him a huge thanks for the things he’s taught me about doing business online. Thanks, Pat.
  • Dan Miller - Dan wrote a book called 48 Days to the Work You Love. It helped me realize that it’s possible to do work you love alongside people you love. It might still be hard work, but it will be work you love. Thanks, Dan.
  • Lindsay Ostrom - Lindsay has built this thing called Skillful Cook in the early mornings and late nights in between her job as a 4th-grade teacher. She works incredibly hard yet is intentional to prioritize the things that really matter. She inspires me. Thanks, Lindsay.

Let’s take a look at the numbers for April.


*We didn't have the totals for Swoop at the time of publishing this post, so we took last month's income and adjusted for traffic.

Total Income: $27,623.74


Total Expenses: $5,343.24

Net Profit: $22,280.50

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'

Thoughts On Income

Display Advertisers

You might have noticed a couple of new advertisers in the income list. In this month’s report, you’ll see a company called YellowHammer Media and at the very bottom, you’ll see Say Media.

Our earnings with YellowHammer Media started out strong but dropped significantly at the end of April. We started using Say at the very end of the month, hence the reason for the low earnings.

In last month’s report, Kiersten from Oh My Veggies shared her five tips for blogging full-time. That post (and her eBook, How to Monetize a Food Blog), inspired me to take advertising more seriously on Skillful Cook.

Kiersten’s first tip is “up your ad game,” which is exactly what we’re doing with Skillful Cook. In short, we’re testing different ad networks to see which ones pay the highest CPMs. I applied to a handful of networks in April but the implementation process is slow, hence the reason for only having two new networks in this month’s report. After testing the ad networks we'll place them into our advertising waterfall.

The highest paying ad networks will show first. If they don’t have an ad to show then it will “passback” to another ad network to see if that network has any ads to show. If they don’t, it will “pass back” again to another ad network. The process helps to increase your blog's RPM without increasing the number of ads that appear on your blog.

Speaking of RPM…


RPM stands for page revenue per thousand impressions. Or, in other words, RPM shows you the average revenue you earn from every 1,000 page views on your blog.

Income Report Advertising and Affiliate RPM

If you want to learn more about RPM (and some other important advertising terms) then be sure to check out this post on Food Blogger Pro.

Everyday Healthy Presale

On April 28th (Lindsay’s birthday!) we did a presale release of Lindsay’s newest eCookbook, Everyday Healthy. The thought process with the presale was twofold:

  1. It allowed us to build some buzz around the product before its official launch.
  2. It was something that Lindsay could easily and naturally mention at the end of posts leading up to the launch as she did at the end of this post and this post.
Everyday Healthy Complete Package

Here’s the process we used to run the presale:

  1. We decided on the incentive: The $19 package would be discounted to $10.
  2. I created a simple verification PDF in Pages for people to download after the purchase: You can click here to see what this looks like.
  3. I uploaded the PDF to E-Junkie just like you would an eBook. (If you want to see the step-by-step process for doing this you can go through the Selling your eBook course on Food Blogger Pro.)
  4. I used this tool to create the “Add to Cart” button.
  5. Lindsay wrote the presale blog post and created some images to go along with it.
  6. We published the post. 🙂
  7. When someone purchases the presale package they are emailed the confirmation PDF and their email address is recorded in E-Junkie. We’ll use these email address to send out the Everyday Healthy eCookbook and add-ons when the product launches.

Overall the presale process has gone pretty smooth. We’ve had a few people follow up and ask why they didn’t get the product, which made us realize that we could have been more intentional about communicating that they wouldn’t be receiving the product until May 12th, when the eCookbook will be released.

If you’re interested in becoming an affiliate for Everyday Healthy you can check out this affiliate page for more information!


Below are some screenshots from Google Analytics. You can click on these images to view a larger size.

Traffic Overview

Google Anatlyics Traffic Overview April.

Top Ten Traffic Sources

Google Analytics Top Ten Traffic Sources April.

Mobile Vs. Desktop Traffic

Google Analytics Mobile vs Desktop April

I usually don't include the screenshot below, but I thought it would be fun for people to see. This is the traffic to Skillful Cook over the past four years. Starting in April of 2010 until the day I wrote this post (May 8th).

You can click on the image to see a larger version.

Traffic - April 2010 - April 2014

Skillful Cook's Traffic Over the Past Four Years.

Rss Email - Mailchimp And Leadpages

I dedicated an entire day in April to switching over the Skillful Cook email RSS to MailChimp. We had previously been running RSS email through Feedburner. The good news with Feedburner is that it’s free, the bad news with Feedburner is that’s free. In many ways with Feedburner, you’re getting what you pay for (at least when it comes to the email side of things).

The transition process wasn’t too complicated, but it took some time. The general step-by-step looked like this:

  1. Export RSS email subscribers from Feedburner.
  2. Import that list into MailChimp.
  3. Create an RSS campaign in MailChimp and assign it to the list that was just imported.
  4. Turn off the Feedburner email list.
  5. Turn on the MailChimp email list.

We have a relatively small email list considering the traffic that Skillful Cook gets (at the time of writing this post we had 7,500 RSS email subscribers). The open rate is pretty good (42%), but we could really improve on the number of subscribers.

The first step we took was to make the signup option more obvious. We’re using LeadPages and integrating it with MailChimp in order to get this signup box in the sidebar.

You can click on the image below to see the same box that people would see if they clicked on the button in the sidebar.

Subscribe via Email.

That opens up an opt-in box like this:

Leadpages Box.

At this point, we’re using an eCookbook that has the top 25 posts from 2012 as the lead magnet for signing up for the list. This is actually the same eCookbook we use as inventive to like Skillful Cook on Facebook, but we’ll soon be pulling back on that Facebook marketing approach. As many of you know Facebook is making it harder and harder to reach followers without paying to get their attention, so we’ll be switching our focus to the Skillful Cook email list.

The next step will be creating a similar signup box that we’ll put at the bottom of blog posts. This has been a long time coming, so I’ll be excited to get that in place soon.

Those are the updates from Skillful Cook! Thanks for checking out this month's report.

Because Of You

It’s really true. It’s because of you (yes, you!) that this thing we call Skillful Cook can exist as it does today. Thanks so much for reading, tweeting, commenting, emailing, and sharing these recipes with your families and friends. We love hearing from you!

We’re using a portion of this month’s income from Skillful Cook to support special projects at the Children’s Shelter of Cebu, an orphanage where Lindsay and I lived and worked for a year.

Children's Shelter of Cebu Special Projects.

This month we're supporting CSC by purchasing new bunk beds and sponsoring “outings” so that kids can get out and do some fun things with their teachers and houseparents. This is a picture of Lindsay's students on one of the outings we did to the mall and the arcade last year. Fun times for the kids (and the adults)! You can learn more about CSC’s special projects by visiting this page on their website.

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    And this is why I love PoY so much. Not only do you have the best photography around, but you share how to grow your blog and tips you find out! It gives me so much hope to see how much your stats grew from 2010/11 to now. Hopefully someday my blog will grow to be even somewhat as big as yours! Thanks again!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Leigha. So happy to hear that! Let us know if you run into any questions along the way and keep on keepin’ on.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hey Bjork! As usual, your once-a-month income report is something I look forward to!

    Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge – one tip I remember very well from a report earlier this year is the 1% infinity (to improve every single time), and I’ve been working on making each post better than the last – in terms of writing quality, photography (just signed up for a formal photography class to learn my camera’s manual functions), and basically learning as much as I can from people like you and Lindsay!

    It’s very encouraging to know that working at your blog as you guys did consistently and patiently over the last 4 years has allowed you to reap its benefits today! Very inspiring. I’ve been blogging for 2 years, but only started really working at the photos and recipes over the last one year. So I’m really hoping that for every bit of effort I put it, one day I’ll see the benefits!

    Cheers & thanks!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Yeah, I think that the 1% infinity concept is such an important concept to understand Felicia.

      It can be incredibly intimating to think about growing a successful blog (or business or non-profit), but when you break it down into day-by-day steps and think about making tiny improvements along the way then it makes it seem more “doable.”

      It also helps you realize that you’re actually making progress, even when it seems like you’re really far away from your goal.

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Greetings from Niagara Falls, NY Bjork and Lindsay!!

    As always, love these reports. Really helpful.

    What I respect most is the honesty…..it takes hard work, time, dedication to build a bigger blog. I get all that. But you don’t ignore the luck aspect.

    I find this admission quite refreshing because you do need a pinch of luck to in the blogging world alongside all those other qualities.

    Gotta go make the kids some smoothies……

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Laura.

      It’s really true. You need both. You need to work really hard and at the same time there’s an element of luck involved. I think it’s summed up best by this Thomas Edison quote:

      “Opportunity {you could also say luck} is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Since facebook is becoming so useless do have any thoughts on moving your focus to twitter? I don’t have twitter but I have noticed this trend.

    P.S. Congrats on the big numbers!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks JC. I’m not a Twitter expert by any means (as evidenced by my sleepy account: . But, if I were to weigh in on it, I’d say that Twitter is really good for connecting with people but necessarily great for driving huge amounts of traffic.

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Seriously, so inspiring. Being so new I’m looking at my traffic reports and reminding myself that you guys started where I am now. It all takes time – and hustle. And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

    Just imagine what WOULDN’T have happened if you had decided not to monetize? Look at all the people you are helping! I’m one of them, big time. So, thanks.

    “My heart soars with the eagle’s nest.”

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I love coffee so much.

      Thanks Beth. It’s been super fun to connect with you over on the FBP forums and watch you get Eat Within Your Means up and running. You’re doing an awesome job with it. I’m excited to watch you grow this thing. 🙂

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Thanks, Bjork! Likewise! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you and Lindsay’s encouragement, along with providing the forum to connect with other bloggers at FBP. I don’t know where I would be without it, certainly not as confident to fail upward as I am now. 🙂

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Looking good. Are you actively setting CPM floors with the ad networks as well?

    One thing to be careful about is setting up too may passbacks. What can happen is you will miss out on ad impressions because they ad doesn’t load by the time a visitor leaves that page because it’s stuck trying to find an impression to fill.

    We generally recommend not going more than 3 or 4 ad networks deep, and we usually put AdSense as the final network because they will have 100% fill rate since they are CPC network.

    Nice work, and loving the report as always.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Great to hear from you Mitchell! Yeah, we are setting CPM floors when we can (we cant’ with BlogHer). At this point we don’t have anything more than three deep.

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love reading your monthly income reports! You are so right about the hard work, dedication, time, and luck needed. I would add that you also need some serious patience! You were probably working just as hard that first income report month when you made $21.97 as you are today making 1,000 times that. The trick is to keep up your motivation to work really hard in the beginning when you aren’t yet making money and have no guarantees of ever getting there, but thanks for showing us that it can be done.

    I bought Kiersten’s ebook when I saw it here last month (even though my blog has very little to do with food), and hope to spend some time learning how to better monetize my blog through ads. That’s probably one of my weakest areas of income generation even though I have enough traffic that I should be able to make something from that plus I want a good setup in place as my traffic grows.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      “The trick is to keep up your motivation to work really hard in the beginning when you aren’t yet making money and have no guarantees of ever getting there…”

      Spot on Laura. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that (for the most part) you enjoy the process. Sure, there will be things here and there that might feel like work, but if enjoy the time that you spend working on your site then it won’t feel like a waste of time if it doesn’t turn into a significant source of income.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love these behind the scenes posts! Especially the way you balance realism with encouragement. I remember once you talked about about the amount of time that goes into one post. It was super interesting. I wondered if you have ever worked out how much time goes into any one week of running Skillful Cook, and exactly how that time is divided up, for instance admin / site maintenance vs recipe development vs social media vs research… I’d be so interested to understand that and I bet other bloggers would too?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Is this the post you’re referring to?


      It’s tough to say an exact amount, but the general answer is a lot. 🙂 My time is more sporadic. Some weeks I’ll spend 10-20 hours working on a project, others I’ll just spend 5 hours doing some things here and there. I think it would be easiest to say that Skillful Cook is a full-time job for Lindsay and a part time job for me.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Oh I hadn’t seen that post before! Just what I was looking for! (I was thinking of the one where Lindsay totalled up the hours spent on a particular post, I think within that actual recipe post, but I can’t find it now.)

        Time management / effective working is one of the hardest things for me when it comes to blogging! So I find it really inspiring to see how you are both achieving so much when you have other jobs too- something which feels overwhelming and impossible to me sometimes! This is one reason I value your behind the scenes information so much.

        Thank you for sharing so much with us!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love your monthly reports. They inspire me to stick with it and try harder. I know food blogging takes time and mine is only a year old but sometimes you just get the blogger blues when you put in all that hard work and don’t see immediate gratification. So these posts, keep me going and make the impossible seem possible. Thank you, Team Pinch Of Yum! 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Farah. I hear ya… Any type of creative work can really be a roller coaster. This post by The Oatmeal sums it up pretty well (warning: strong language): https://theoatmeal.com/comics/making_things

      The thing that has helped me (whether it be in building a business (like Skillful Cook) or learning a new skill (like playing guitar)) is to realize and celebrate the small wins.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Always loved The Oatmeal. It really sums up things for us. Two things I liked from that:

        1. Inspiration is more like food poisoning: it sprays out uncontrollably when you need it the least – in my case, ALWAYS in the shower. I’ll get brilliant ideas and prose there when I can do absolutely nothing!!! Someone needs to invent a waterproof dictation device.

        2. Art is not born in a vacuum. I actually learned this little gem at a Food Conference some time back and wrote my thoughts on it: https://www.thecookingjar.com/blogging-tips/dealing-with-writers-block/

        Thanks for replying and here’s to another good month!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hey Bjork! Happy 4 year anniversary and congrats on the new high on income! You have come a long way 🙂

    I did notice the new ad networks on your list this month. I bought Kierston’s e-book after your very convincing words in last month’s report, and it has helped me understand ad networks much better. It does seem to be quite a process…I applied for several of them and am now playing the waiting game.

    I’m excited to see how the new networks work out for you throughout the next few months! And as always, thanks for putting out these income reports!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Christine! Four years seems like a really long time, and at the same time it still feels like this is such a new venture…

      We’ll be sure to keep you updated. 🙂

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love these income reports Bjork. One of my favorite parts is seeing how you and Lindsay help CSC each month with a portion of your earnings. You guys are giving back and it’s fantastic to see. Congrats on 4 years too!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Have you guys given thought to the fact that one thing really helping to drive your traffic might be the income reports themselves? It is really what sets this blog apart from all of the others. I found Skillful Cook through a Google search for food photography tips, but once I was on the site, the “income” tab caught my eye. I was amazed that you guys gave up this info freely and really for the first time I saw a peek behind the curtain of food blogs. I think that if I hadn’t seen the “income reports” I may have clicked away only to get washed back out into the sea of millions of food blogs… but the income reports made it REALLY special in my mind.

    I also notice that your traffic really started to snowball right around the same time you started the income reports… 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      This is a great point. This is the only food blog that I regularly follow and it started because of the income reports. While Lindsay’s food is amazing, I return because the two of you are masters at engaging your readers. I am a Lindsay and Bjork fangirl:)

      Congrats on this awesome month. Oh and since you are so open with these I knew that I could use you as a benchmark when I was doing some Alexa research – holy crap you guys are killing it. I didn’t realize that you were more popular then skinnytaste, smittenkitchen, and thebloggess. Keep up the web domination.

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Alex,

      Great point. I think the income reports definitely play a role in POY’s success. They offer a hook that helps engage people and they help build credibility.

      That being said, I know a handful of food bloggers that don’t do anything like these reports but they make just as much (or quite a bit m0re) than we do.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is awesome and very inspiring. So far, you’re the highest food blog earners I know. Who knew that you could make this much from a food blog — but you guys are killing it. =) Well done!
    I was wondering, how do you take care of taxes? Do you have an accountant/bookkeeper taking care of them? If so, any recommendations on where to find one? Do you guys file taxes yearly, quarterly, etc.? How does it work exactly? Just getting ideas. Thanks and keep up the great work! =)

    Keep inspiring,

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Warren.

      Ah yes, the dreaded taxes. As much as I love person finance I have a really hard time enjoying accountings and bookkeeping. I’m starting to see the beauty in really clean books though, so I’m getting there. 🙂

      Yeah, we have an accountant and a bookkeeper. I email with the bookkeeper on a weekly basis and our accountant on a monthly basis.

      We used Dave Ramsey’s site to find ours: https://www.daveramsey.com/elp

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Bjork, I just adore you! Congratulations to both you and Lindsay on this month…love what you two are all about.

    Boogaloos & Big Cookies,


  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love the honesty in these posts. I love that you tell us exactly how much you’re making and how much traffic you get. It’s really an anomaly in this blogging world!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Bjork, What were the publisher requirements for joining YellowHammer Media? Was the CPM higher than Svorn at least?

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congratulations on this months fantastic numbers. I just found your site through the guest post your wrote for the sovrn blog. Thanks so much for sharing such great information. I’ll be reading your tips and reports in greater detail over the coming days. Best wishes for every success.

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh my gosh! Your traffic is just growing and growing! It is amazing…Happy 4th blog anniversary!! Blessings.
    BTW Lindsay, you mentioned about the place you stayed in Korea before you went to Cebu but there was no link in it. I might be going there this year since we are going home in the PI. If you can, please e mail me the place you stayed .

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    Lol! No twerking!! So funny!

    Quick question … I was under the impression that BlogHer wanted to be the only ad network we were with. But as I read, you are signing with new ones. Do they allow it, or is there some way to circumvent that system?

    Also, we’ve been accepted into BlogHer, but are wait listed. Do you think that we should move forward with another network, or will that hurt our chances with BlogHer?

    Thanks for being so transparent with all of this info – for bloggers just starting out (like me!) this is SO helpful!!!! 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I may be wrong, but I think POY signed up for BlogHer before they started the exclusivisity requirement, so they were grandfathered in and allowed to use backfill other than pubmatic. I also think you can still use other networks for below the fold ads. I was waitlisted by blogher for 8 months and just got accepted last week. Decided to pass it up and stick with The Blogger Network 🙂

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          I have the same issue -signed up with BlogHer a year ago- but not able to use backfill ads other than pubmatic. Also, can’t seem to put two side by side vertical ads like you do do on PoY.

          Bjork, since this is the case for many of us, would you still recommend Blogher to those who can’t backfill with other ads? Or are there other networks you would recommend in this situation?

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    Bjork and Lindsay,
    As usual, I am mystified by all the financial & technical info, but I love reading every word of these update posts to celebrate your successes from my side of the screen. Congratulations on multiplying your monthly income by 1,000, for staying real and transparent, and for your heart of service. You two rock!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Jakky! Your comments always give me warm fuzzies. Now, your texts on the other hand… 🙂 haha. Thanks for being such an encourager! You were probably POY’s first real fan, even before there was anything remotely good on the site. Thank you!!

  21. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you SO much for being so open and honest about such a personal aspect of your lives. I look forward to these posts every month, and they have definitely helped inspire me to keep going even when I get discouraged. Love it. Congratulations!!