August Traffic and Income Report – $32,647.69 - Skillful Cook
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August Traffic and Income Report – $32,647.69

August Traffic and Income Report collage.

Greetings friends!

This is an exciting post for us! September 2014 marks the third anniversary of doing these income reports. We published our first report on September 5th, 2011. That’s exactly 1,105 days ago.

In that first post, we talked about starting something called The Food Blog Money Making Experiment. Here was the idea behind it:

“We thought it would be fun and maybe even helpful if we gave everyone a sneak peek into the earnings coming from Skillful Cook. The plan is to post total earnings once a month.”

The Food Blog Money Making Experiment – August 2011 Report

There has been a lot that has happened between that first post and this month’s post. There have definitely been some really big/exciting/significant events (which I’ll talk about in this post), but it’s actually the less exciting stuff that has had the biggest impact on Skillful Cook’s growth.

If I had to pick one thing that has been the most important thing over the past three years I'd pick grit. The daily grind. The ability to press the publish button again, and again, and again. But not just publishing for publishing’s sake. Publishing while continually improving.

It’s one thing to continually create stuff. It’s another thing to continually create stuff while trying to get a little better each day.

That? That’s awesome. I call it 1% infinity.

You don’t have to create something incredible today. You just have to create something and then let the world see it. Did you already do that? Good job. Now find one itsy-bitsy way to get better and do it again. Create something and then let the world see it again. Did you already do that, too? Awesome. Keep doing it. Forever.

Here’s a real-life example of 1% Infinity.

Skillful Cook First Post Chocolate Chip Muffins on a Saturday Morning.

That’s the first post ever published on Skillful Cook.

If you look at each post after that you wouldn’t notice huge improvements. You would notice really small improvements. But 1% improvements over five years can really add up!

But it’s important to remember that the goal isn’t to arrive somewhere. We’re there. The destination isn’t the prize, the process is. All of us are currently (and forever will be) in the middle of the process. We’ll never “get there,” which is why it’s important to fall in love with the process, not the allure of the destination, whatever you imagine that to be.

I’ve been rereading one of my favorite books lately. It’s called The War of Art. The author, Steven Pressfield, says it well:

“We must do our work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause.”

Steven Pressfield

Doing the work for the sake of the work. I love that idea.

With that in mind, let’s jump into the numbers for August. I’ll be sharing some thoughts on August as well as some reflections on the things we’ve learned after three years of The Food Blog Money Making Experiment.

A quick note: Some of the links below are affiliate links. All of the products listed below are products and services we’ve used before. If you have any questions about any of the income or expenses you can leave a comment and I’ll do my best to reply.


Total Income: $36,494.53


Total Expenses: $3,846.84

Net Profit: $32,647.69

Thoughts On Income

August was the highest revenue (and profit) month we’ve ever had on Skillful Cook, but it wasn’t the highest traffic month we’ve ever had (that was March 2014).

So how could the blog have less total page views in August than it did in March 2014 but still make $12,000 more?

It comes down to the blog’s RPM. RPM shows how much a website earns for every 1,000 page views.

In March Skillful Cook’s RPM was $9.99.

March RPM for Skillful Cook.

In August Skillful Cook’s RPM was $16.70.

August RPM for Skillful Cook.

There’s a number of factors that play into increasing your blog’s RPM. Some of them are things you can control, other’s are not.

Here are some things we had control over that helped to improve our blog’s RPM:

  • Improved our ad waterfall (see tip #1 in this post).
  • Improved our sale’s page conversion rate (see A/B Testing Tasty Food Photography Page in this post).
  • Diversified our ad networks (i.e. started working with a few more ad networks).
  • Added an ad unit in the sidebar.

These are some things we didn’t change but still had an impact:

  • The advertising quarter. Ad networks pay better or worse depending on what quarter of the year it is.
  • The month within the quarter. Advertising networks pay better or worse depending on what month it is. For instance, July and January are really crummy months for advertising revenue.

Income Sources

One thing that’s important to consider as you grow your blog is diversifying your sources of income. At this time Skillful Cook has four broad income categories:

  1. Advertising
  2. Affiliate Marketing
  3. Internal Products
  4. Sponsorships/Freelancing

Here’s what the break down of those income sources looked like in the month of August:

Pinch Of Yum Income Sources As Percentages

Blog Income Categories as Percentages.

“But Bjork!” You say. “Why is ‘Products’ such a small percentage of the blog income? Don’t you recommend products as one of the best ways to create an income from your blog?”

Good catch! I'm a big believer in creating your own product or service that you can offer to your readers, but when you look at the above graph you can see that “Products” is actually the smallest of the four main income categories.

The reason that products are the smallest percentage in that graph is that it doesn’t include one of Skillful Cook’s primary products, which is Food Blogger Pro. Technically it’s another company, but we’ve dedicated a lot of time and energy towards growing Food Blogger Pro into one of the product offerings that’s tied into Skillful Cook. Here’s what the graph looks like when we include revenue from Food Blogger Pro.

Pinch Of Yum Income Sources As Percentages (Including Food Blogger Pro)

Blog Income Categories as Percentages including Food Blogger Pro.

Why do we not include Food Blogger Pro in the standard income report? Our assumption is that most bloggers won’t have the time or energy to build and maintain an entirely separate site from their blog. Maintaining and growing a blog is hard enough on its own. We want these reports to reflect practical things that bloggers can do to increase their income, and developing a totally separate business in addition to maintaining a blog is not necessarily practical for most bloggers.

That being said, we're more than open to share information about Food Blogger Pro. If you have any questions about the site you can let me know. I’ll do my best to answer them in the comments below.


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

Traffic Overview

Google Analytics Traffic Overview for August.

Top Ten Traffic Sources

Top Ten Blog Traffic Sources in August.

Mobile Vs. Desktop Traffic

Mobile vs Desktop vs Tablet Google Analytics.

Thoughts On Traffic

Skillful Cook has almost fully recovered from our summer slump. As mentioned before our highest traffic month has March 2014. August page views were still 11% below March, but the general trend is upward.

Skillful Cook's Summer Slump.

A Look Back - Reflecting On Three Years Of Creating An Income From Pinch Of Yum

It’s strange to think back to that first post we wrote for these income reports. It doesn’t really seem that long ago, and at the same time so much has happened between then and now.

Thirty-six of these monthly reports have been written. In that time, Lindsay and I moved to the Philippines, moved back to Minnesota, bought a house, sold a condo, left jobs that we loved (Lindsay working as an elementary school teacher and me working at a local non-profit) to start new jobs that we love (Skillful Cook and Food Blogger Pro).

One thing Lindsay and I believe to the core is this:

You are the reason that we are able to do what we are now doing, which is blog about food and teach about food blogging.

Sure, there’s a handful of people that come for a recipe, print it off, and then never come back. We’re thankful for those people, too, but we’re really thankful for you. The people that are connected to the blog, read the posts, follow our story, and truly engage in this community in one way or another.

Our gratitude runs deep. Thank you.

Three-Year Review Of Blog Stats

An interesting question was recently asked on the Food Blogger Pro forums: “How long before you get traffic from Google searches?

The question piqued my interest so I jumped into Google Analytics to see what the answer was for Skillful Cook. In short, the answer was a long time.

Sometimes I get so deep into the day-to-day that I forget to take time to reflect and learn from the past. Answering that question allowed me to reflect for a moment and reminded me how interesting it is to look at historical data.

As you know, this post marks the three year anniversary of The Food Blog Money Making Experiment, so I thought it would be a good time to zoom out and look at some big-picture numbers from the past three years.

Keep in mind that these numbers only represent the time that we’ve been trying to monetize the blog. Lindsay was working hard on Skillful Cook 18 months before we even started to think about creating an income.

Monthly Blog Traffic: August 2011 - August 2014

Traffic to Skillful Cook over the last three years.

Monthly RPM: August 2011 - August 2014

Quick reminder: RPM is the average income you make from 1,000 pageviews.

Blog Income RPM Over Three Years.

Monthly Page Views Compared To Monthly Revenue: August 2011 - August 2014

Monthly Page Views compared to Monthly Revenue.

Our Hourly Wage

I thought it would be interesting to do some estimating on what our hourly wage would be over the past 4.5 years of working on Skillful Cook.

I used some conservative estimates for how much time we put in each week. For Lindsay, I used 30/hours a week, which is probably a bit too high for when she first started but definitely too low for the current amount of time she puts in each week. I used 10/hours a week for me, starting in August 2011. This time accounts for writing these posts, troubleshooting tech stuff, and responding to emails and comments.

So, here's what I came up with...

  • Lindsay: 30 hours a week for 230 weeks: 6,900 hours
  • Bjork: 10 hours a week for 162 weeks: 1,620 hours
  • Total: 8,520 hours
  • Total earnings: $335,370.13
  • $335,370.13 / 8,520 = $39.36

That's a really rough estimate, but interesting nonetheless! Another thing to consider is that $39.36/hour is before taxes. After taxes would bump that down to less than $30 an hour.

Significant Events Over The Past Three Years


  • August 1st: Started the food blog money-making experiment
  • Morning of September 12th: First affiliate sale! 🙂
  • Afternoon of September 12th: Learned that our first affiliate sale was actually from me 🙁
  • September 16th: First real affiliate sale (yeah!)
  • November 24th: Received first ever free shipment of food: Paula Deen frozen vegetables. Made us feel like we won Wheel of Fortune.


  • January 1st: Started using the infamous four food images in a square header for income reports. 🙂
  • March 28th: Launched Tasty Food Photography eBook.
  • April: First month making more than $1000
  • June 15th: Relocated to the Philippines. The blog came with us.


  • February 1st: Launched Food Blogger Pro.
  • April 1st: Launched new design for
  • July: First month with 1,000,000 page views.
  • August: First month with 1,000,000 visitors and first month making more than $10,000
  • August 19th: Launched first ecookbook for Creamy Cauliflower Sauce


  • January 1st: First month with 1,000,000 unique visitors.
  • May 12th: Launched second ecookbook Everyday Healthy
  • June 10th: Lindsay goes full-time on Skillful Cook.
  • September 5th: Three year anniversary of The Food Blog Money Making Experiment.

That brings us to now. 🙂

So what will the next three years bring? We're not sure, but we're sure excited about it. We're honored that we get to be on this journey with you!

Looking For More?

For the last few months, I've been writing blog-related posts over on the Food Blogger Pro blog. If you're looking to dig into some more content you can check out these posts that I've recently published:

BONUS! 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.”

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'

Because Of You

I've said it before and I'll say it again: 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!

Usually, Lindsay and I talk about the orphanage where we lived and worked for a year, but this month we're switching it up and showcasing an incredible nonprofit organization that was co-founded by one of our good friends called EOS International. We're using a portion of this month's income to support EOS, specifically their work around helping Nicaraguan entrepreneurs install safe, sustainable, and efficient ovens.

Thanks for reading!

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I really appreciate that you guys do this, you are so open and honest, it just warms my heart every time I read one of your income reports. Just shows what’s possible with a little grit~ Thanks Bjork! 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I completely agree with you Chantelle. These posts provide such valuable information that not many other bloggers are willing to disclose so openly.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congrats to you and Lindsay both, Bjork. When I began helping Lindsay with Tomato Boots only a few months ago, (an an entrepreneur myself), I had no idea the community of people I was getting into. The crazy thing: you and Lindsay have basically built it. Every email I get about our growth reports start with, “I’ve read PoY’s income reports for years and am glad to see you doing it as well…” or some other variation. My Lindsay and I are in awe.

    Keep up the good work.


    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Means a lot Chet. It’s been so awesome to see you around the FBP forums. You two are doing a really awesome job. I can’t wait to see where you’ll be in a few years!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congratulations Lindsay and Bjork! It’s so inspiring to hear your story.
    The whole 1% infinity thing is such an important thing that I need to keep focussed on. I’ve only been blogging since the beginning of this year, and I find myself running around trying to improve 100 things at once and never managing all of it. Instead of getting frustrated, you’ve shown me I really should be focussing on making small improvements every day.
    I’ve just got some advertising up on my blog a few days ago, and I’m still trying to get my head around everything, but I’ll keep coming back to your income reports and the Food Blogger Pro blog to help me to figure out those incremental improvements!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I know exactly what you mean Nicky. It’s really difficult to just focus on one small thing at a time, especially when there’s so many things vying for your attention! So happy to hear that the reports and FBP blog posts have been helpful. 🙂

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you both so much to giving an insight into what works for you and what does not. It’s very inspiring to see you track new ideas and reflect to how they work and share them with everyone! You both are such an inspiration!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thank you Renee! None of it would work without dedicated readers and blog checkers and food friends, so thank you for being a part of our little space here. 🙂

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congratulations on your blog’s 3rd anniversary… here’s many more years of blogging! I think I am going to engrave these words in my mind.. ‘it’s important to remember that the goal isn’t to arrive somewhere. We’re there. The destination isn’t the prize, the process is. All of us are currently (and forever will be) in the middle of the process. We’ll never “get there,” which is why it’s important to fall in love with the process, not the allure of the destination, whatever you imagine that to be.’

    Well done!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I’m right there with ya! I need to remind myself of that often.

      It’s really a balance between setting ambitious goals while also being content with where you are. It’s learning to love the game for the sake of the game, not for winning something because of the game.

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    It’s so encouraging for me to look back and see how far you’ve come in a few short years!

    Thanks for the monthly inspiration.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Donnie! Thanks so much for the kind words.

      I can’t make up my mind if it feels like a few short years or a few long years. 🙂 Depends on the day I guess.

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    You are amazing guys!!! Thank you very much for sharing your experience, wish to be successful like you… 🙂 Tomorrow I am signing up for Food Blogger Pro, hope that will help :p Thank you very much for the opportunity!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congratulations on the bloggiversary!!! I love these posts, you guys are so awesome and inspiring, I just wanna give you both a big squeeze… (sorry… not trying to be creepy… :P)

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi and Happy Anniversary!

    Reading your site has given me the push I needed to start my own blog. It is funny that your email arrived when it did. I set up my domain name last night and set up my wordpress account this morning. I was just trying go log back into my wordpress account and it doesn’t recognize my user name or password. WAHH WAHH (bad buzzer sound). Thanks for the reminder that this is just a very very first step. Thank you so much for the helpful information that you have published and I look forward to reading more about your successive anniversaries. 🙂


    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Congrats on getting that all setup Wendi.

      And so it begins… The first of many troubleshooting/password reseting/username updating sessions to come. It’s all part of the fun. 🙂

      I see you posted your first recipe, so you must have figured it out. Looks great!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you for posting these monthly reports. I’m still in the new blog phase where I am trying to grow and improve and it’s so helpful to read things like this. It doesn’t come overnight, but I strive to improve a little bit with every post. You guys have really inspired me to keep working at my blog! =)

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Do you have a computer preference for bloggers to use? Laptop/Desktop, brand, programs etc? Just getting started and want to purchase products that will help me be successful. Thank you for any advice.

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    What would we do without techy geeks 🙂 Another great informative post. Congrats on your success. Love your blog.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Nate! I saw that you guys recently went to the Arboretum. We need to get over there to get some garden ideas. Maybe catch ya around sometime!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Kudos to the two of you and all of the incredibly hard work you’ve put into creating unique and crazy good content and the payoff you’re getting because of it. You’re an inspiration to us all! I’m impressed with your breakdown of your hourly wage. It’s amazingly important and puts into perspective the many, many hours that go into building a brand. Not to mention a very good reminder that these reports with increases in your monthly payout, didn’t happen overnight. Congrats on the anniversary!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Heidi.

      Yes! So true. There were so many “volunteer” hours that went into building Skillful Cook. A couple years worth, really.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congrats on another great month ya’ll!
    Quick and random question for you though. As you mentioned Food Blogger Pro is technically a whole other company for you guys. I was just wondering though if you made FBP a separate legal entity as in Food Blogger Pro, LLC? Or if you placed it under your Skillful Cook business and are running it as a DBA (doing business as)? Or another option that Minnesota allows you to operate with?
    Curious for those of us that may be looking at branching out as well.
    Thanks so much!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    These posts are a monthly dose of inspiration and fire for me! Thank you so much for continuing to share the nitty gritty business side of your blog with us. I have learned so much from these posts, but more than anything, I am absolutely fired up to do better and reach my goals after I read them. Thank you both x 1million.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Inspiration and fire. Love that Sarah! So happy to hear that posts have been an encouragement to you.

      Happy Birthday! 🙂

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Bjork and Lindsa! it’s amazing to see what a long way you’ve both com with Skillful Cook, and even more amazing that you keep working at it, improving 1% all the time on a long-term basis! Thanks for your honesty and transparency in the income reports – its the highlight of your blog for me, and every month I look forward to learning something new!

    I have two main questions:
    1) How did you manage to increase you RPM so much? It’s something I’m struggling with.
    2) I recently got accepted into the Blogher network and currently run Lijit ads. I’m wondering how you guys use both Blogher and Lijit? (do you use Lijit as passbacks for blogher, etc?) If you could share a bit about that, I’d be so grateful!


    p.s. since both of you are working full time with POY now, maybe it’s time to re-write the intro at the top right of your page? (it still says that Lindsay is an elementary school teacher).

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi Felicia! Thanks for the comment. And as for the about blurb, it should say “elementary school teacher turned food blogger,” meaning used to be a teacher and now became a food blogger, but maybe we should re-word that to be more clear.

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Felicia,

      1) Here are the things we did to increase RPM:

      Improved our ad waterfall.
      Improved our sale’s page conversion rate.
      Diversified our ad networks (i.e. started working with a few more ad networks).
      Added an ad unit in the sidebar.

      2) We use Lijit (sovrn) in the sidebar. I don’t think you can use it as passback for BlogHer (don’t quote me on that though). 🙂

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congratulations! I love reading Pinch Of Yum! As a new blogger your tips are so helpful. The idea of, “You don’t have to create something incredible today. You just have to create something and then let the world see it” is so inspirational. Thank you both!

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    I have to give you credit for having made your blog a successful business. I’m not sure I want to generate income, but if would like to build followers but find that takes much time. How to balance all this in a manageable way is a challenge.

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    $39.36 an hour, before taxes? I have a master’s in library science and work full-time making $18 an hour before taxes. My library system has about 300 workers and roughly 30 of us are fortunate enough to be full-time. Clearly, I’m in the wrong profession. 🙂 Congratulations on the fruits of your hard work!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Marie, both for your comment and your work. Libraries are such an insanely awesome resource. We lived three blocks from a library when I was growing up. A lot of the stuff I learned about photography (and video) came from checking out books at the library.

      The first three years would have been about $0.36 an hour. 🙂 The increased income over the last 6 months or so helped to bring that number up.

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    ‘A pinch of yum’ is just an absolute pleasure to read. Having recently started my own blog, I’ve found your willingness to be transparent and to guide others with your experiences, both positive and challenging, a great source of inspiration. Whilst blogging may appear a casual pastime, it requires multiple skills and creative thought. You guys do that! Many thanks. Di

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wonderful post as always. I always get re-energized, pushed from these great income reports. I wonder how much time you require to write such posts. I loved these two statements “The destination isn’t the prize, the process is.” ” Publishing while continually improving.” As I sit in front of computer everyday, I make it a practice to remind myself with these two statements.
    Wish you All the Best for next blog-anniversary.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Sumana.

      Yeah – I always have to mentally prepare myself for these posts because they take such a long time. From gathering the revenue and expense totals to taking screenshots to writing the actually content. It’s tough to say, but I’d guess it ends up being 10-15 hours depending on the month.