June Traffic and Income Report - $32,971.75 - Skillful Cook
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June Traffic and Income Report - $32,971.75

Bjork Ostrom

Hiya friends!

Bjork here. Lindsay and I are back at it this month after last month's Q&A report. Thanks to everyone that submitted a question.

You new 'round these parts, pardner? If so, pull up that thar chair and lemme explain what this post is all about.

Many moons ago Lindsay and I decide to do an experiment. In a moment of (un)inspired brainstorming we decided to call it “The Food Blog Money Making Experiment.” Indeed, the name wasn't creative, but it was clear: we were going to experiment with creating an income from a food blog.

Every month Lindsay and I tally up the numbers, take screenshots, review notes, draft, erase, re-write, research, message back and forth, email back and forth, organize, compile, re-organize, and eventually publish all of the things that we've learned from the previous month. The things that work, the things that didn't work, and the things that we're excited about moving forward.

If you look at that first report you'll see that the income created from the blog has grown substantiality over the 3+ years that we've been doing this experiment (from about $20 to $20-30k). There are few reasons for that:

  1. Time and hard work. We've been doing these reports for over three years, and Lindsay has been working on Skillful Cook for over five years. That's a lot of time and hard work. Keep in mind that those first few years represent a time when we were putting in work without getting anything back - like, zero income. It was like a really long, unpaid internship.
  2. Lots of quality content. When you're building a content driven website (which most food blogs are) it takes a lot of quality content (see #1 above) before your proverbial snowball-down-a-hill can get big enough to create a decent amount of traffic, and therefore income.
  3. These reports. These reports, while not the focus of the blog, have allowed us to talk about the business of blogging, which makes it easier to generate affiliate income from hosting and theme-related products (i.e. Bluehost, Genesis, Elegant Themes).
  4. Two people. Don't forget! Both Lindsay and I are working on this together.
  5. Luck. Luck is always a factor, and it's something we've experienced with Skillful Cook in different ways throughout the past few years. We also believe that luck wears overalls and looks a lot like work (see #1).

Regarding #1 - I've done over 10 interviews for the Food Blogger Pro podcast (more on that later!) and I've noticed the consistent thread throughout every interview has been time and hard work. We call it 1% infinity. You get a little bit better, every day, over a long period of time. If you can do that you can do a lot of things. It's our story, it's the story of the people we've interviewed, and it can be your story as well.

So wherever you are and whatever it is that you're doing our hope for you is this: that you do your thing, that you continue doing it, and that you try to get a little bit better each and every day.

Let's take a look at the numbers for June.

The Numbers

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: $39,727.80


Total Expenses: $6,756.05

Net Profit: $32,971.75

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'

Traffic Totals

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

Traffic Overview

Blog Traffic Overview for June

Top Ten Traffic Sources

Top Traffic Sources for June

Mobile Vs. Desktop Vs. Tablet

Mobile vs Desktop vs Tablet for June

Top Traffic Channels

Traffic Sources Graph for June
Takeaways and Things we Learned

The Food Blogger Pro Podcast

The Food Blogger Pro Podcast

We launched the Food Blogger Pro podcast last week. We couldn't be more excited about it! We already have over 10 interviews recorded, three of which are published (see below). You can subscribe in iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite audio player.

  1. Lindsay Ostrom from Skillful Cook on life as a career blogger
  2. Bjork Ostrom from Food Blogger Pro on building a membership site from scratch
  3. Sally McKenney from Sally’s Baking Addiction on creating success

It's been a huge undertaking to get the podcast up to speed, but now that we have a system in place it's smooth sailing. Huge props to FBP team member Raquel for all her work in helping to launch it (and keep it going).

Podcast Downloads

We've had just over 3,000 podcast downloads at the time of publishing this post. Were you one of those downloads? If so, thanks! **high five/hip bump**

Podcast Downloads

The Podcast Tools and Services we use

Curious about how a podcast is actually created?

Here's a quick list of the tools we're using for the podcast and how we use them (the links to Amazon are affiliate links).

  • Skype - We use Skype to conduct the interviews. I always make sure to physically connect an ethernet cable (vs. using WiFi) as Skype's WiFi connection has been spotty for me. I've purchased some credit with Skype that allows me to call someone on their phone if the interviewee prefers phone over Skype.
  • Screenflow - I use Screenflow to record the podcast. This gives us two channels of audio to work with. One channel for my audio and one channel for the interviewees audio.
  • Call Recorder for Skype - Plan Bs rule. Especially when it comes to audio and video. That's why I always have a backup audio source. If Screenflow flops for some reason I have the audio from Call Recorder for Skype to fall back on.
  • Heil PR-40 - This is the mic we use for recording. It's awesome, especially for the price.
  • SoundDevices USBPre2 - This is the pre-amp I use. It's more than I need for a podcast, but it's really good. I used this one for years when doing screencasts and it treated me well. It's also $800 cheaper than the USBPre2, which is always nice. There are quite a few USB mics that won't require you to use a pre-amp at all, like this one.
  • Google Docs - We use a Google Docs spreadsheet to keep track of potential interviewees and completed interviews.
  • ScheduleOnce - ScheduleOnce is a super slick scheduling software. It hooks into Google Calendar and automatically shows available times and lets people pick a slot that works for them. When someone picks a time the software adds the interview event to the calendar and sends out reminders to the interviewee. Super slick.
  • Libsyn - Just like a website, a podcast has to be hosted. We use Libsyn to host our podcast. We upload the podcast to Libsyn, add the metadata, and press publish. This pushes the podcast out to podcast distributors like Stitcher and iTunes.
  • Auphonic - Sometimes the audio levels are different between the interviewee and interviewer. Auphonic is a service that automatically levels the audio out. Not too loud. Not too soft. Just right.
  • MusicBed - We used MusicBed to find royalty-free music for the podcast. It's a really solid site for music. Not cheap, but it's good!

What's The Benefit Of a Podcast?

“Podcast, eh?” you say. “What's the big deal with these things, anyways?”

Great question. The benefit depends on the business. Here's what we see as the benefit for Food Blogger Pro with doing a podcast:

  1. Connected Content - It's one thing to read what I write. It's another thing to hear what I say. An audio podcast allows us to hang out with (i.e connect) with our audience when they're not sitting in front of a computer. You could be at the gym, in the car, or on a run. It's still content (just like a blog post), but it's content that allows us to connect with people in a way that words on a screen can't.
  2. Connect with Influencers - One of the things I've enjoyed most about the podcast so far is connecting with incredible people that do incredible work. In a sentence: It's inspiring. I'm really excited for you to listen to some of the interviews we have queued up!
  3. Content Marketing - Our goal is for the Food Blogger Pro podcast to be a win-win-win. A win for the listener, a win for the interviewee, and a win for Food Blogger Pro. Content marketing at its best! It's a win for the listener in that they're (hopefully) learning new content, it's a win for the interviewee in that they're getting exposure to a new audience, and it's a win for us in that we're getting exposure and providing value as a part of the FBP brand.

Revisiting Long Pins Vs. Short Pins

Lindsay Ostrom

I thought I was done with the Pinterest analyzing, but I'm baaaaack! And I'm still talking about Pinterest.

There's a good reason, though. As you might remember, in April we reported our findings that on average, long pins got 70% more repins than short pins. Whoa! You can read more about our little experiment and how we came to those numbers here.

After posting those numbers, we got a great question from Becca.

She asked if we had seen any correlation between the number of repins on those long images and the actual click activity. Essentially, do long pins actually result in more traffic to your blog?

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 3.31.00 PM

Abby (our amazing POY team member) and I went back to the analytics to see if we could find any correlations. Because we studied so many different boards to get our initial results, we decided to just take a quick glance at our Pinterest analytics to see which types of pins (long or short) were actually getting the most clicks to answer this second question.

We looked at the data from our top clicked pins (some of which were Skillful Cook content and some of which were other people's content) and we found that the long pins generated 54% more clicks than short pins. We also saw a really close correlation between the pins that were on that top clicked pin list and the pins that had gotten the most repins.

So when we look at our data, we see that yes, there is a correlation between repins and clicks, and yes, the long pins are getting repinned and clicked more than short pins.

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 3.43.45 PM

Like I said in the last report, this is valuable information with big implications, but we have to remember to take this information as a piece of a bigger picture.

First of all, this is a tiny sample size. I am only looking at my own analytics for my top 50 clicked pins. Small potatoes, guys.

Secondly, we know that social media changes, and we have to be ready to change with it. While we (Skillful Cook) see long pins performing really well with repins and clickthroughs right now, we have to know that the performance of long pins and/or the ability to use them on Pinterest may or may not last.

I think it's important to ask a few questions here.

Why do long pins work? Because they are attention-grabbing. They stand out.

Are they the end-all-be-all answer to food blogging? uhh, no.

What's the takeaway?

  1. Make your content stand out in whatever way fits the social media platform that you're using.
  2. Be creative.
  3. Be ready to change.
  4. Look at your numbers and act accordingly.

If you want to check out these numbers for yourself to see which types of pins are doing best for you, here's where you can find that information! In your Pinterest analytics, find the Clicks tab and click the little tab in the top right-hand side of the window that says “export data.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 11.18.40 AM

I'd like to say this will be my last segment on Pinterest for a while, but I make no promises. Good questions are worth digging into!


Bjork Ostrom

One of the new tools we've been using with Skillful Cook and Food Blogger Pro is called Hotjar. It allows you to do two important things with your site: gather feedback and analyze changes.

Check out these screenshots for some examples.


A heatmap allows us to see the “hottest” parts of a page.

Homepage Heatmap

You can click here to see an interactive preview of that heatmap.

Interactive recording

A recording enables you to see mouse movement on designated pages.

Hotjar Mouse Movements on User Recording


A poll allows you to easily ask your readers specific questions.

Hotjar Poll Feedback

Why it's noteworthy

The tools and services in Hotjar are really well designed and easy to use, but they aren't new or revolutionary. What's incredible about Hotjar is what you get for the price you pay. They have a free tier for bloggers that are just starting out and a really affordable tier ($29) if you want access to more data points.

I know you'll learn something new about your blog if you implement some of the analysis tools. If nothing else it's a cool party trick. “Hey, look at this cool heat map!” It's a great tool to have in your virtual tool belt. I'd encourage you to check it out.

Food Blogger Pro members can check out the Hotjar course to learn how to set up and implement Hotjar on your blog.

Speaking of FBP...

New Course: Instagram For Food Bloggers

Instagram for Food Bloggers
Lindsay Ostrom

That's right!

We have a brand new course that we JUST launched with 21 lessons packed with info to help you discover how food bloggers can and should be using Instagram to build their brand.

The Instagram for Food Bloggers course is available on Food Blogger Pro ($29/month for access to all courses - including this one) and the lesson outline was designed in a way that will hopefully make it easy to pick and choose what's relevant for you.

If you're completely new to Instagram, I recorded a few lessons that will help you start right at the beginning and get your account set up.

But if you're already up and running, and/or you're just not sure if what you're doing on Instagram as a food blogger is actually effective, the strategy lessons will be more your style: how to gain followers, how to edit photos so they actually look good, hashtag best practices, and whether or not that little single clickable link in your Instagram bio is really worth your time. (Hint: I'd say YES.)

We also did a bonus lesson in this course that we've never done before - it's all Q&A from the questions that Food Blogger Pro members asked about Instagram before the course launched. And surprise: I LOVE Q&A.

One thing that's really fun about this course is the fact that we were able to create a setup where you will be able to see my phone on the screen as I do different things in the Instagram app. So as I talk about each concept, tip, or trick in the lessons, I can also demonstrate it all live on my iPhone. 🎉 Too cool.

Instagram for Food Bloggers

There is so much fun and practical stuff in this course - and best of all, Sage makes an appearance once or twice in the back corner of the video (perks of recording at home?) which, really, is the main selling point to the whole thing.


Do More Of What You Love

Lindsay Ostrom

... without necessarily expecting anything of it.

Lately, I have needed more of this. So much of what I do at this point in the life of my blog is comments, project management, interviews, organizing photos and delegating and email marketing and bla bla bla - and these things aren't necessarily about the means or the process, but about the potential end or the strategy behind it. And that's a good thing sometimes, but it's also sort of depressing. Anti-joyful. Soul sucking.

I'm not even dramatic AT ALL.

I've just been feeling this pressure lately like it's time for me to go back to the means. I need to get the point where I'm working on something - anything - only because I love it and not because of “what might come from it.”

And this is how I feel about something that I've been working on for the last few weeks.

Tasty Food Photography Workshop

On Thursday, I made an announcement in my VIP group on Facebook about something that we've never ever done for Skillful Cook before. We launched our first-ever workshop for Skillful Cook called the Tasty Food Photography Workshop, which will be happening in Minneapolis in September.

To be honest, I was really excited about opening registration and also extremely nervous. Like what if nothing comes from it? What if it's not financially worth it? What if it is a flop and we only have a one person who is interested, and it's my mom? But the thing I kept coming back to was the pure joy of just doing it for the enjoyment and the love.

And the story has a happy ending: we sold out the workshop in just over 24 hours.

But regardless of what would have happened, it would have been a win, in a sense, because I am so excited to be doing this work that I feel refreshed, energized, back to the things that got me into it in the first place.

The takeaway, I guess, is that there is power in doing what you feel intrinsically motivated to do. Strategy is great. Thoughtful planning is really important. But the soul of the work is the driving force, and successful entrepreneurs are those people who can keep their soul alive and energized as they build and grow their businesses.

I'd love to hear your thoughts: How do you keep the heart and soul of your work alive?

The Dalai Lama Be Like...

Bjork Ostrom

I've been revisiting some books and blogs about minimalism over the past few weeks. I wouldn't consider myself a minimalist, but whenever I spend time learning about it I always feel inspired. One quote, in particular, has really stuck with me this week:

“If one's life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness. Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have, is very vital: satisfaction with just enough food, clothing, and shelter to protect yourself from the elements.” - The Dalai Lama

“Having few desires.” Uff-da. That's a tough one. Especially in a culture of work more, do more, be more, get more.

I'm trying to reconcile the reality of that quote with the reality of what we often talk about in these reports - the amount of hard work, hustle, and focus that it takes to grow and build a blog (or business or nonprofit).

I'd be curious to know: How do you process that quote? Do you think that having few desires is important for happiness?

Because Of You

Lindsay Ostrom

It’s because of you that this thing we call Skillful Cook can exist as it does today. Thank you so much for making these recipes, leaving comments with your love and feedback, and sharing this food around the table with your families and friends.

Every month we use a portion of the income from the blog to support a special project at The Children’s Shelter of Cebu. This month we’re supporting CSC by donating to help cover tuition for the older kids at the orphanage. Most CSC kids attend the Children of Hope School, which is integrated into CSC. But eventually the older students need to go to a school in Cebu City for higher grade levels - and that requires tuition payments.

Tuition at CSC

These are four kids that I had as students, and three out of four of them are now able to attend a local private high school to continue their education beyond what the Children of Hope school can provide.

Thanks so much for following along with Skillful Cook. We really appreciate you.

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    So excited for the FBP course on Instagram! I’ve been in a very busy season of life for the past few months, and I continually feel the need to excel in every area of my life. But I think I could find greater contentment in celebrating my successes in the things that do matter, and worrying less about the things that don’t. So that’s make current take on simplicity 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      “I think I could find greater contentment in celebrating my successes in the things that do matter, and worrying less about the things that don’t.”

      Love that Alexa. Inspiring!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    100% driven to continue especially when I get this newsletter. Just wrapped our first ever photo and film session this weekend. So exhilarating and fulfilling. I am following everything you guys teach on FBP and I know with hard work and a little time, I will get there. Congrats guys. Hope to meet you two one day. Peace. 🙂

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congrats on your continually growing income. It’s so impressive.

    I notice you have AdThrive in addition to several other ad networks working on your site. I didn’t realize you could have other networks working along with AdThrive. I’d love to know how that works! I just recently got set up in DFP with them and when they took over my site, I quit using other ad networks.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Beth! Great to hear from you. 🙂

      I’m not sure how the different levels of AdThrive work in regards to what they allow and what they don’t allow. I’d check in with them on that.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Could you share how you were able to screen cast Lindsey’s iPhone to demo Instagram? I would love to make some “how to use this app” screencasts for my students but have yet to find an easy way to do this. Thanks & congrats on all of your success!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    I absolutely love, Love, LOVE these posts!! They’re so helpful and inspiring! It’s reinforcing what you mentioned in the FBP podcasts with each other — if I can make $20 from my blog, I can make $40… And if I can make as much as I am now, I can hopefully continue to grow in both intangible and monetary ways {with a TON of hard work, I know!}. You two are some of the best blog role models I have! 🙂 And as for the FBP podcasts, they are AMAZING. I had actually never listened to a podcast before this week (I’m still in the dark ages… welcome to the 21st century Amy!), but they were so helpful and I was immediately hooked. I also started listening to the ones Bjork recommended in episode 2! So thank you for putting these on, and I can wait to hear the rest!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Loved reading this comment Amy! I love podcasts and have a huge queue that I listen to throughout the week – in the car, working out, doing dishes, etc, etc, etc… Thanks for following along with POY and FBP!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow! What an amazing month! Congrats! And thank you so much for these informative posts! And on selling out so quick! Im keeping my fingers yall have a workshop in Atlanta soon…bet yall wud sell out quicker! 🙂

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Bjork, with regard to the quote from the Dalai Lama, I think he is speaking against the constant quest for more and more; speaking against greed. There is a quote on my Shanghai Mah Jong game that goes something like “he is rich who knows he has enough”. I do not think he expects people to not want more or different. It’s really more about having an insatiable appetite for more things. I’ve heard it said for years that the problem with being rich is that then you have to worry about all your money and all your possessions. That fixation on the material is less likely to happen when your life is simpler. That allows your life to be more about relationships, which is what is really important. Hope this makes sense… 🙂

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am looking at a quote in my mother’s bathroom that says, “Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have”. I don’t know who said that but I like it as a goal. I think the more we appreciate what we already have the happier it will make us. And I can’t speak for other bloggers that read these income posts but for me, it gives me hope that I can use my blog, use this creative outlet, to do what Skillful Cook has done and create a passive candidates income, not to buy more stuff but rather to sustain the life I already have while doing work I love. I think that’s what most recent of us are seeking. Thank you for continuing to inspire is and show us that it’s possible.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Right on! It’s an ongoing balancing act between pushing to work hard and do creative/big things and at the same time being okay with where we’re at.

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Soo much incredible info in this post, but Lindsey! I am so excited for you and your workshop! That is so fun and something I have thought about so much. Hope it goes amazing! 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Tieghan – thanks for the kind words! I am really looking forward to switching it up with an IN PERSON event for once! 🙂

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    I too have been trying to get back to basics in my life and blogging life as well. I love that you are doing more things to keep you energized and motivated too, congratulations on selling out the workshop in 24 hrs, so exciting!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    As a new food blogger (and FBP member) I am so grateful for all of the information that you both share. It has been invaluable. It is obvious the information you put out comes from a place of wanting to help people.

    Thanks and congrats on your photography workshop. Hope I can attend a future session!! Also have to mention that I love the new podcast

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks for following along with the podcast and for being a member of FBP Gretchen! We really appreciate you!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Awesome guys – these just get better and better! The amounts that are starting to come in reflect so many years of really really hard work – and they act as a guiding light to us in the beginning of the process, telling us that good things ahead are possible! (Not that that’s the only reason we blog, of course… but you get my drift).

    One thing I was wondering was if you would consider separating out your speaking and sponsored posts category, and perhaps tell us a bit more about your speaking engagements?

    Until next month!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      We’d love to, but out of respective to the companies we work with (both sponsored content and speaking related relationships) we’ve decided to lump those together so specific numbers aren’t revealed. Most of the companies we work with ask us to do this.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great post as always, guys! I’ve been wondering for a while, though, are your hosting and Mailchimp expenses less affiliate earnings? They always seem so low compared to the quotes I get, and I know my site is about the same size/audience as yours.


  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    As a relatively new blogger, all the resources you provide are absolutely amazing. I first discovered Skillful Cook about a month ago via the Smart Passive Income podcast. I’ve since subscribed to your own wonderful podcast and am seriously considering signing up for Food Blogger Pro. You offer so much bang for your buck, you’re a true inspiration. Thank you!

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Another great income report! Thanks for so much information. I came back from vacation and had a week’s worth of posts to read through. I saved this one til last because I knew I wanted to pay the most attention to it. You guys rock 🙂

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow, your income this month is huge but I love it the you are helping high schoolers in PI. I finally made 4 cents this month! My husband is laughing about it but I thought it is fun to get something with the ads when I am not thinking about it ; when lots of 4 cents will be good to for next year’s blog renewal …. Stay healthy guys!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Exactly! If you can make $.04 you can make $.08, and if you can make $.08 you can make $.16, etc, etc, etc…

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    continue to do great things, to inspire, to teach, to give back, and to take time for you linz and bjork! that’s POY! and we are grateful. thanks for the info and i’m excited for your workshop. Wish i could be there. xxoo

    great podcast with Hot Jar!

  18. Skillful Cook Logo


    I’m a blogger from Malaysia. I was impressed with your online income report and it has inspired me to work harder. Currently, i’m generating online revenue about $200 per month through google adsense and only joined the affliate marketing like you recently. I hope to be as successful as you.


  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love reading ur monthly reports, it totally inspire me to keep going.. I hope I get the “little luck” too which you mentioned.. Wishing u all the very best for your future venture

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    Loved having you on EntrepreneurOnFire and congrats on the Podcast Launch! FreePodcastCourse.com has some great Podcast growth tips…as well as how to monetize! Enjoy 🙂

  21. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow! This quote really resonates with me. I’m becoming more self-aware and often repeat the word “simplicity” to myself in my mind. I have a tendency to over-analyze and feel as if I’m not where I “should” be. I’m always looking and trying to prepare for the next step and next phase while losing the present. When I think of simplicity, it reminds me that I need to go back to the basics. I have my health, I have a roof over my head and a predictable paycheck, and I have my family and friends. I am fortunate and grateful.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Loved this last sentence Ashley:

      “I have my health, I have a roof over my head and a predictable paycheck, and I have my family and friends. I am fortunate and grateful.”

      Such a good reminder and so true.