January Traffic and Income Report - $17,735.97 - Skillful Cook
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January Traffic and Income Report - $17,735.97

Income and Traffic Report - $17,735.97 collage of images.

Hey there! Bjork here, checking in for my monthly traffic and income report.

I focus on two things with these reports (1) Skillful Cook’s income and expenses and (2) Skillful Cook’s analytics and traffic. I also include any tips or tricks that we’re learning as we continue to find ways to grow the blog.

Usually these tips and tricks are pretty factual, like how to block certain ads in AdSense or advice on running a sale for your eBook. This type of information is important to understand and apply to your blog. That being said, you could have all of the factual information in the world but still continue to struggle if you don’t have the right mindset. So, at the end of this post, I’ll be sharing 10 important mindsets that Lindsay and I have developed as we’ve grown Skillful Cook and Food Blogger Pro over the past few years.

But first, the numbers.


Total Income:: $23,525.21


Total Expenses: $5,789.24

Net Profit: $17,735.97

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

As expected, January was a low month for display advertising (BlogHer, AdSense, Lijit) relative to the numbers we saw in October, November, and December. It’s never a good feeling to see numbers that are significantly less than what you’ve seen before, but it’s helpful to know that it's an industry wide situation, not a situation that's specific to one ad network. The low advertising numbers happen because companies generally spend less on advertising in the first quarter of the year than they do in the fourth quarter.

December Vs. January

We know that January typically performs poorly in terms of advertising, so how come Skillful Cook had its most profitable month ever despite lower than usual advertising numbers?

Two reasons: diversification and traffic

1. Diversification

While our advertising numbers dipped in January our product and affiliate numbers jumped. This happened for a number of reasons, but one of them is the fact that January is the month of resolutions.

People are looking to learn new skills, develop new habits, and start new ventures. This was one of the reasons why January was one of the best months we’ve had for Food Blogger Pro, Tasty Food Photography, and affiliate pages like the how to start a food blog page.

We also offered a 5DayDeal Bundle to Skillful Cook readers in January. This bundle did pretty well, bringing in $2,521.90. eBook and product bundles are really interesting. In this case, 5DayDeals offered hundreds of photography eBooks and products for a significantly discounted price. If one of your products is a part of the bundle then you can sell the bundle as a high percentage affiliate. Tasty Food Photography was a part of this bundle, so we were able to earn a 75% commission rate on affiliate sales.

2. Traffic

One of the new habits that many people want to start in January is healthy eating, which resulted in a traffic boost to certain recipes like the Creamy Cauliflower Sauce and a few different salads.

As we all know, more traffic means more sales, so the general traffic bump definitely played a role in the increased income numbers in January.


I recently published a post on Food Blogger Pro called 7 Simple Advertising Terms Every Food Blogger Should Understand. The last term that I shared in that post is RPM. It's a really interesting number to look at (if those exist), so I'd like to chat about it a bit with you here today.

RPM page revenue.

RPM stands for page revenue per thousand impressions.

It’s usually used when looking at the numbers for a specific ad company (i.e. RPM for AdSense ads), but if used in a slightly different way it can give you a really helpful performance metric.

The equation looks like this:

(Total revenue / Number of page views) * 1000 = Page RPM

Here are the RPM numbers for Skillful Cook over the past few months:

  • November: $10.76
  • December: $15.31
  • January: $10.63

RPM is helpful because it removes the traffic factor and shows you how much income a site earns for every 1,000 page views. For instance, I can look at the examples above and know that if Skillful Cook’s January RPM was as high as its December RPM then our revenue could have been as high as $33,875! I just used some old school algebra to drop those numbers in and figure it out. 🙂

RPM is an awesome equation that can be used to help predict feature earnings and compare and contrast your earnings from previous months.


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

Traffic Overview

Google Analytics - Traffic Overview.

Top Ten Traffic Sources

Google Analytics - Top Ten Traffic Sources.

Mobile Vs. Desktop Traffic

Google Analytics - Mobile vs Desktop.

Thoughts On Traffic


This was the first month we’ve ever had 1,000,000 unique visitors. Lindsay and I celebrated by watching the first season of The Office.

Quality Or Quantity?

FBP member Jacob recently brought up a really good point on the community forum in a thread, “Quality is King. Does that make Quantity Queen?” I thought it was a good question to ponder after POY reached the 1,000,000 unique visitors milestone. Here's what he said:

“I’m curious to know what you guys think about quantity when it comes to blogging. I’m not knocking quality, or saying people should write a post just for the sake of adding to their tally. But curious to know how important you see quantity of posts when it comes to a blog and income.”

Here was my response:

“A blog that is trying to ‘make it' is actually really similar to a band that is trying to ‘make it.' If a band is going to be a long-term success they have to write hundreds and hundreds of songs…day after day, week after week. If they continue to work hard, enjoy the process (this is key), and perform consistently then eventually one of their songs might become a hit. That hit will carry the band to a new level of success, but it won’t carry them forever. They’ll eventually need to write another hit, which will only happen if they continue to write songs…day after day, week after week.

The same is true with a blog. If you stick with it long enough you’ll probably have a few “hits.” Posts that are really, really popular. These hits will carry your blog to a new level of success.”

I bring that up because it was exactly the case for Skillful Cook's traffic in January. There were a handful of posts (or hits) that did really well and brought the traffic numbers to a new high. However, if it wasn’t for Lindsay posting consistently for the past 3-4 years then we never would have had those “hit” posts.

10 Important Mindsets For Growing a Blog

10 Important Mindsets for Growing a Blog.

This is usually the time when I share a tip or trick that we learned in the past month while growing Skillful Cook. These tips usually have to do with internet marketing, SEO, or WordPress. As I was reflecting on what I’d write about this month I realized that I’ve neglected to talk about one of the most important things that Lindsay and I have learned about: a good mindset. You can have all of the knowledge in the world but it won't do you much good unless you have the right mindset.

The following ten tips are all mindsets that Lindsay and I have developed when it comes to starting and growing a blog. I hope that at least one of these tips helps you develop a new mindset that in turn helps you grow your blog or business.

1. If You See It You Can Be It.

Sure, there are extreme examples like all-star athletes and the tallest man in the world, but when referring to starting and growing a blog this statement is almost always true. The easiest way to do this is through reverse engineering. Trace back the steps of the person you admire to see how they got to where they are today. Use those steps to guide you moving forward.

2. 3 Years, Not 3 Months

When growing a blog or business you need to have a 3 year mindset before you have a 3 month mindset. What feels like a roller coaster with a 3 month mindset is more like rolling hills when experienced from a 3 year mindset. Do you feel like your pictures are crummy and no one likes your recipes? 3 month mindset says you should throw in the towel. 3 year mindset says it’s just a phase and you’ll be back on track soon.

3. Who, Not How Many

This is a tip that I share in the “blogging tips” newsletter (shameless plug: you can sign up for this newsletter in the sidebar to the right). When you’re first starting it’s important that you think about who is visiting your blog, not how many people are visiting your blog. You never know when an influential person might stumble upon your blog and see your awesome content. You might only have three visitors a day, but you never know who those people are. For all you know it could be Rachel Ray, Guy Fieri, and Justin Timberlake (not sure how this one would help you, but it’s fun think about).

4. Most People Like People

I think the internet gets a bad reputation sometimes. Especially if you hang out too much on YouTube, Reddit, and CNN. Do you ever read the comments on those sites? Yikes! It can seem like everyone on the internet is out to get each other, which makes it really scary to think about putting yourself (or recipes) out for the world to see. But the reality is that most people like people. Most people in the world are friendly, caring people. Are there crummy people out there? For sure. Will they occasionally find and comment on your blog? Yep. Will the vast majority of people appreciate the work you’re doing and support you in doing it? You bet. 🙂 Don’t get too scared about the criticism and negative feedback that might happen. It’ll happen, but you’ll also get lots of support and encouragement.

5. Writing a Good Post Takes Time

If you’re interested in growing a blog as a business then you can think of writing a post as your work day. Lindsay shared that a post can sometimes take her over 10 hours. There were a few other successful food bloggers that shared the same thing. Don’t rush through your content. Good posts take time.

6. To Get a Friend You Need To Be a Friend

Networking feels weird. Being a friend feels great. Lindsay and I have found it’s much easier to be friends with people then to “network” with people. It’s kind of the same thing, but the mindset is different. Friendships are established not by wanting something, but by giving something. If you’re looking to connect with other bloggers think first about how you can be a good friend.

7. Be a Cross Country Star, Not a Tennis Star

I love tennis. It was my favorite sport in high school. But I always had a ton of respect for the cross country guys and girls. Not only because of their crazy ability to run long distances, but because of the mindset they had in regards to their performance. With tennis, if you beat your opponent you consider the day a success. With cross country, if you beat your own previous record you consider the day a success. Your journey of growing your blog will be much more fulfilling if you aim to outperform yourself as opposed to other blogs.

8. Google and YouTube Are Awesome

Isaac Newton said: “If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Bjork Ostrom said: “If Skillful Cook has grown better as a blog it’s because it is standing on the shoulders of Google and YouTube.” I use Google and YouTube all the time to get my questions answered. Chances are that someone in the world has had the same problem you have had. Chances are equally good that they've posted their solution for that problem on Google or YouTube. Lots of people use Google, but not as many people think to go to YouTube right away to search for answers.

9. You Are Not Your Numbers

You are still a creative, smart, talented, and worthy individual even if you don’t get a lot of traffic to your blog. It sounds fluffy, but someone reading this post today needs to hear that.

10. 1% ∞

Remember that little symbol from math? ∞ stands for infinity. 1% ∞ is a little phrase I use to remind myself to continually learn and improve. My goal is to get 1% better, every day, for infinity. Consistently creating content and posting it to your blog? That’s pretty awesome. Consistently creating content and posting it to your blog while trying to make it 1% better every day? That’s really awesome.

What did I miss? I’d love to hear other mindsets that you think are important for building a blog (or business) online.

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 or emailing. We love hearing from you!

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

Roller Blading at the Children's Shelter of Cebu.

We know the rollerblades will be put to good use because the kids at the shelter are really active. Need proof? Lindsay and I shot this video last April when we went up to the shelter for a couple hours to play with the kids. It's a great example of what an average Saturday afternoon looks like. Lindsay even makes a little cameo appearance at the end. 🙂

Thanks for reading, friends. 🙂

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I simply love these post. I may not be fully focus at the moment to promote my blog but I like to use it as template improve my skills. Maybe one day when I feel it is good enough, I will aim for more but right now I am very content. Your advice is very reassuring for a sma Aussie blogger like myself.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you so much for these posts every month. It is so great to be reminded that success is not instant and there is no need to throw in the towel just because my traffic is about 0.001% of yours hahaha! Thanks again, I love you guys and pinch of yum!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Another wonderful and helpful income report! Although, I must admit, seeing the income figures for TFP terrify me. Looks like I’m going to be getting some more competition 😉

    Thank you both for all that you do, my blog makes me SO happy and I never would have started it if it weren’t for you and Lindsay.

    Here’s to a great February!

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    I read this post at least four times. Then, I sent it to the Hubster and made him read it because it’s just so good. Thank you for sharing these fantastic tips! Wishing you guys continued success (and cookies!) in the future! 🙂

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congrats on the success in January – you guys are continuing to crush it. I loved all the mindset tips too – they are all things people should reread from time to time.

    One other funny thing I thought of was that 1% x ∞ = ∞ (I know this was not the point you were making.)

    Can’t figure out if that’s a motivating or demotivating equation. 😛

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    The Office…nice.

    My two fav points from the points:
    “With cross country, if you beat your own previous record you consider the day a success.”
    “Lots of people use Google, but not as many people think to go to YouTube right away to search for answers.”

    I had a question about Lijit media which I could’t find an answer to on Google. Off to Youtube..

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for this great post! Though I’ve been blogging for years, it’s been on multiple different blogs. I know I’m getting better each and every day even if it feels like I’m just starting over. I appreciate the encouragement that numbers aren’t everything and that at least someone “out there” truly enjoys the work that is put in on a daily basis. I love these reports each and every month!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    It’s been amazing to see your income grow year after year. I appreciate that you and Lindsay are so open about where that money comes from. When I first started my food site it was the first I had decided to really focus on monetizing since I was done with my MBA I finally had time to do so. I set a 3-month plan, and then a 6 because a lot of the ad and sponsor networks will not work with you until you have gone past the infant stage. Now that I am in an ad network I can focus more on pageviews and work on that 3-5 year plan. I have a Food Bloggers Tax Guide and have written a recipe book all about smooties, but I do not see much income from there. I wonder if I would do better selling them through my own site instead of using Amazon and other ebook retailers.

    Maybe e-junkie would be a better place because of the affiliate aspect as well.

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Your success is so motivating! You guys rock, seriously and for a good reason – your recipes are amazing, you are honest good people who do the work necessary. Great inspiration for all the other bloggers out there, myself included.

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    I really, really love these monthly income reports the two of you put together. It gives me something to shoot for, while still reminding me to be true to myself, work hard, and stick with it. As bloggers, we tend to put our best foot forward and concentrate on positive, upbeat posts, so it’s great that you two share everything — the awesome, the need-to-work-on, and everything in between. Thank you for compiling these every month! They must take a while to write and analyze, but we readers really appreciate it. 🙂

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    In what world should a blogger take in $17,735.97 per month? I am not discounting the hard work you put into the site and your other endeavors but, let’s get real, you’re not making a positive contribution to society in the way a teacher, social worker, or emergency response personnel does. Frankly, I find these income posts boastful and a slap in the face to those public servants. It is just another reminder of where America puts its value.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi Heather – did you know that Lindsay is a teacher? And I work full time running a non-profit which helps seniors who want to stay independent in their own homes? I’m not the type to get involved in these sort of conversations, but I couldn’t just read your comment and not respond. I had a few thoughts after I read your comment. The first being the value of food and the happiness that cooking can bring to people. I wouldn’t be so quick to discount the joy that people find in recipes, and food bloggers provide that to readers for free. I’d consider that a public service. With that said, public servants receive salaries, too. We all have to live. Lindsay and Bjork have worked incredibly hard to provide education and opportunities to people, like myself, who want a career in online publishing. They teach others how they can accomplish their goals and dreams, which I consider highly beneficial to society.

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      I have to agree with Anetta here. I find it appalling that you feel the right to judge what Lindsey makes in a month and her comparative worth to society. Before the internet and bloggers, one had to purchase a cookbook or take a cooking class in order to try a new recipe, master a new culinary skill or learn what techniques work and why. Now all that knowledge is just a click away and (usually) free! Those cookbook writers, publishers, and cooking professionals were paid for their work, it is only fair that a blogger be paid for hers, because, after all, isn’t she doing the exact same thing.? I don’t think it’s fair to put a price tag on these benefits.
      This blog is their livelihood and we cannot forget or discount the incredible risk they are taking by depending on a blog for their income. These monthly posts are not boastful. Their only purpose is to guide and help other find success in blogging; to provide inspiration to those who strive to follow in their footsteps; and to show how far they have come. This is what America is all about.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Whoa. What a bitter thing to say, Heather. You can go as far as your ambition, talent, and hard work takes you in the free world. These guys have been incredibly successful, and haven’t forgotten to give back though their work with the orphanage. I don’t see you mentioning this in your comment. I smell a lot of jealousy and displaced anger here…

    3. Skillful Cook Logo

      Haha… Heather if you think the amount of money these folks (skillfulcook.us) are making is appalling, then how about this guy that made $400,000 in Dec of 2013.. hxxp://www.businessinsider.com/why-viralnova-might-sell-2014-1 …….. (for the URL to work, change it to https://)

    4. Skillful Cook Logo

      I guess Miss Heather missed the posts about Lindsay being a teacher , all the money her and Bjork donate to their favorite charity AND there own non profit.

      You got to love internet trolls who just have to take the time to spew their jealousy.

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Another great income report! I’m glad to see the diversity of your income, I think is it was not for the tasty food photography your income would have dropped due to the Q1 rates. I saw a dramatic drop (over 50%) in income this month due to the low advertising budgets this quarter.

    I look forward to your next income report guy!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m a designer and one of my clients sent me a link to your site in regards to something in your sidebar. Then I found myself reading this post and unlike a previous commenter, I find this post very inspirational! It’s definitely a positive contribution but in a different way than other vocations. My mother is a nurse and I know for a fact she appreciates blogger content, especially having to do with food and nutrition. I didn’t find this post boastful but rather encouraging and a goal for others to strive for. Thank you Bjork!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi! Thanks for writing this post, I just started my blog this week!! After thinking about it for a long time.
    I make cakes and cookies for a living, but my secret dream (not so secret now) is to work as a food blogger!! I know I have a long road ahead, but I’m sticking to this to make my dream come true some day, (3 years, not 3 months

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    I just found your site – someone mentioned it to me because I started my own blog-monetization this year. I made .79 in December! Whoot! But almost $15 in January! And in the first week of this month…I’ve already made $13! I’m movin’ on up.

    I’ve always known this is a marathon. I have a question – the Bluehost money! I know this is an affiliate, but where are you posting it so that people will click and sign up? Newsletter? Just curious how a single affiliate can bring in so much.

    Thanks for all of your awesome advice.

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love your recipes and look forward to reading your blog daily, but I really LOVE these posts. I don’t even have a blog but I just find it so interesting!

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    I don’t have a blog, but I love yours. I read several blogs and get so much out of the hard work people put into recipes and research so I can just pin or print. I have learned so much. I have never seen another blogger actually state their income, much less report it all as you do on your blog. I find this level of transparency refreshing and not boastful. Thank you for sharing what you’ve learned along the way with anyone who wants to take the time to read it and implement it.

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    Fantastic post…. I’m going to post your 10 mindsets on the wall of my office; it was such an encouragement at just the right time. Thank you so much for your openness and encouragement!

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    I only recently stumbled across this blog and I am really impressed with your monthly reports!

    It’s one of the only informative posts about monetizing a blog. I have recently started mine and even though I am not looking to monetize for a year or so, it’s great to learn about it from you.

    Many thanks!

    The Macadame. xx