February Income Report - Making Money from a Food Blog - $6,975.30
Our recipes, your inbox. Sign up

February Income Report – $6,975.30

Collage of photos.

Greetings! Bjork here. I'm checking in for the monthly traffic and income report.

In this month's report I'm going to talk about the numbers (as usual) and then discuss what will possibly be a new income stream on Skillful Cook. It's actually a type of income we've never had before, so we'll be starting from scratch and updating you along the way. More on the details of this later in the post. First, the breakdown.

The Income Breakdown:

Grand Total: $6,975.30

Income As Percentages

Blog Income Graph.

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'

The Traffic Breakdown

You can click on the screenshot to view an enlarged version.

Traffic Overview

Food Blog Traffic - Total Traffic.

Top Ten Traffic Sources

Food Blog - All Traffic February.

Top Ten Landing Pages

Top Blog Landing Pages.

Thoughts On Income and Traffic

February was a record month for Skillful Cook, as we earned $1,288.40 more than the previous high last month. The extra income came from an ad being purchased on BuySellAds in addition to an above normal month with BlogHer. Other than that there wasn't anything too out of the ordinary.

A New Form Of Income

We want to do our best to keep you in the loop with what we're doing behind the scenes with Skillful Cook in hopes that you can learn something from us and apply it your blog. And the next frontier we're going to try and tackle with Skillful Cook in regards to generating income will be establishing long-term partnerships with reputable brands.

This will be a new thing for us! But we're hoping that starting from scratch and talking about the process as it happens will be helpful.

Why are we pursuing these brand partnerships? The online advertising industry can really fluctuate. This can be a bit unnerving, especially if your blog is your primary source of income. For example, advertising income from BlogHer in February was $2,126.22, whereas in January it was $754.40. That's a swing of $1,371.82 in one month!

The reality is that this type of fluctuation is normal and expected. That being said, it's hard to budget your income when you know that your next payment from a certain advertiser could be half of what the last one was. In short, it would be nice to build a consistent stream of income as opposed to one that fluctuates from month-to-month.

Two True Statements

  1. Companies like Google AdSense and BlogHer offer a great way to generate advertising income from your blog.
  2. Companies like Google AdSense and BlogHer are not the only way to generate advertising income from your blog.

With that in mind, let's talk about how you can go about setting up a system to partner with brands and remove the advertising middle man.

How We'll Go About Doing It

DoubleClick for Publishers

DoubleClick by Google

DoubleClick for Publishers is a Google company that allows publishers (i.e. food bloggers) to serve and track their own ads. It works the same way as other ad networks in the sense that you get HTML code and drop it into your website where you want the ads to appear. The only difference is that it won't automatically start showing ads. The ad images and settings are set by you.

You'll need a Google AdSense account in order to sign up, but otherwise it's free

Here's an example of what's possible with DoubleClick: Let's say, for instance, we find a maple syrup company in St. Paul, MN called Bob's Organic Syrup. After meeting with Bob he decides that advertising on Skillful Cook might be a good way for him to increase sales at the Minneapolis Farmer's Market as well as his online store. We agree that for $200 dollars a month he gets a 125×125 permanent ad on skillfulcook.us and 50,000 impressions of a 300×250 ad. The 125×125 ad shows to every single visitor while the 300×250 ad only shows to people from Minnesota. Also, Skillful Cook would link to their website whenever we use maple syrup as an ingredient in a post. Lastly, we would agree to provide them with statistics about the ad impressions and click-through rate at the end of every month. We can do all of this using DoubleClick.

Pretty sweet, huh?

If you want to learn more about DoubleClick for Publishers you can check out their website: https://www.google.com/doubleclick/publishers/

PayPal Recurring Billing

PayPal Recurring Billing

Remember, we're attempt to create long-term relationships with brands, so that means we want to build a billing system that allows us to use recurring billing. This frees us up from having to send out invoices every month, and it frees the brand up from having to enter in their payment information every month. The easiest way I've found so far is by combining two services from Paypal: Website Payments Pro and the Recurring Payments add on.

Let's go back to the example we were using before. Bob's Organic Syrup agreed to pay Skillful Cook $200 per month. Using PayPal and Recurring Billing we enter in Bob's billing information and set the billing date to the 1st of every month. Once the 1st of the month comes around Bob's credit card is automatically charged.

We had already signed up for Website Payments Pro because we use it on the Tasty Food Photography sales page to process credit cards. So that meant we only needed to sign up for the Recurring Payments add on. After signing up for Recurring Payments we get an option under the tools area of PayPal called “Recurring Payments.”

PayPal Recurring Payments.

Setting up a recurring payment is now as easy as logging into PayPal, clicking on “Recurring Payments”, and then entering in the customer's billing information.

Once again - pretty sweet, huh? 🙂

Connect with people


This is the hard part - connecting with real people. It's important to be the one to pick up the phone (or press the compose button) and start the conversation with the brands you want to work with, because they might not necessarily be knocking on your door and asking to advertise on your site. And reaching out to connect with people is exactly what we plan to do as we attempt to develop some of these brand partnerships.

In the coming month's income reports I'll be sure to include an update on how this new experiment is going and the things we're learning along the way.

How About You?

Do you have any experience or thoughts on working with brands? Have you done it before? Has it been too much work? Has it been rewarding? We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Always love these income reports 🙂

    What’s your verdict on Buysellads Bjork? Seems to be working ok… Where did you place those?

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Jen. It’s worked fine for us when an ad is purchased. When no ad is purchased the space where it would have been just collapses up. It doesn’t hurt to have the option, as the only time an ad will show is when someone has purchased one through BuySellAds.

      We place the BuySellAds code at the bottom of the sidebar.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    OMG you guys are amazing!!! I just started using DFP on my blog two weeks ago and my income has doubled. It’s a wonderful tool (although it took a little bit to learn how to best utilize it, and it’s still a work in progress)! WOW, your blogher income was so high!!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      What do you think caused your income to double? I’d love to hear what you think.

      Thanks for the kind words Aimee.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I started using it to back up my BlogHer ads when they are at 0. I also added on AOL with my adsense and that seems to be working. I’m curious why your BlogHer is so high!! Did you guys run any roadblock ads this month?

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Always love these reports – your book has helped me so much with my food photos – people actually like them now 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks for buying the book Allen. Glad to hear that you’re getting positive feedback about your pictures. 🙂

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    I have had one opportunity where I sold a sidebar ad for a flat rate for one year. I would like to do more of that but it’s really a matter of me not having enough time being I only blog on the side. I think you can totally do it though. Also you should consider having a contract for each ad so that when the time limit is up you can re-evaluate the relationship and over time increase how much you charge per month.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Great thought Holly. We’ll for sure have some type of contract in place. We just need to figure out what will be in the contact. 🙂

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    wow what kind of work are you in ? I wish I had some of those smarts . I’m happy for you . stay well ,will see you in a few mo. G’ma R

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Lenora! You and Erv taught us the importance of education and hard work. 😉 You also taught us Rook, which I’ve since forgotten how to play. You’ll have to teach me again this summer. We miss you!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    guys, I wanted to thank you for these income posts – not too many people are willing to “lift the curtains”and show what goes on behind the scenes. it’s motivating, encouranging and helped me better my own blog. Keep on it!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love, love, love to see the blog thrive and the work you guys put in be rewarded, hopefully I’ll be there one day… thanks to your tips of course, thank you so much for sharing!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great job guys! Love these reports!

    I read about DFP a few months ago and was intrigued – but a little confused when I looked into it. I am interested in learning about your experience.

    Also, I too would love to hear more about buysellads. Is that something you use every month in conjunction with all your other ad networks? Are you happy with it? I am a little confused how that works compared with all the others.

    Thanks! You guys are da bomb!!!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Yep. We use BuySellAds alongside the other ad networks. BuySellAds is different in that businesses purchase an ad on your specific site. In other words, an ad will only show after a business purchases one on your site.

      Here’s our BuySellAd profile if you’re interested: https://www.buysellads.com/buy/detail/126379

      We don’t have a ton of ads that come through BuySellAds, but when we do it has been really slick.

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    As always, love your monthly recaps and congrats on having your best month ever! Working with brands and picking up the phone is something that’s hard to do but if there’s a brand I’ve really wanted to work with, I don’t let my fear of rejection stop me. When I was a newer blogger I reached out more and as time goes by, the brands do find you but still building those relationships is important and can be intimidating but I try to not let it stop me from reaching out to them sometimes!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks for the comment Averie. Totally agree. It kind of reminds me of running “the mile” in gym class. The first part can be really hard, but it gets a little bit easier once you get going. 🙂

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for sharing all of your tips and tricks with us! It is so nice to know when I have a question about how to get started monetizing my new blog I can find so much of what works right here! It sure beats having to Google it and spend all of my time as a busy mom looking for what I need to know!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for the post and all the information. Its extremely helpful to a new blogger like me. I really like learning about everything that goes on behind the scenes.

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love these reports! You guys had a great month with Blogher!! I love that you are going to include your progress in working with brands. Sending an email to a brand (let alone actually calling) is so intimidating!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hey Bjork,

    Great post and report as always. Also like how you break down the use of Double Click for publishers and Paypal Recurring billing. There are so many ad server options out there. I was currently using OIO publisher. But the fact you can serve an ad if a keyword is in the post is a great feature/benefit for the advertiser. I personally think you can make way more in ad revenue when you cut out the middle man. You just have to do some research and align yourself with companies that have good healthly budgets to spend on sites like yours.

    One more thing. I noticed a good amount of your traffic is coming from Pinterest. Have you guys ever thought about using Flickr for traffic generation also? I think you are allowed to place backlinks in your Flickr descriptions which could help you with SEO. I would look into that if you haven’t already.

    Great work and continued success!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Samuel. Love your thoughtful comments man. Thanks for dropping by and sharing your wisdom.

      I haven’t considered Flickr before, but it would be interesting to create a campaign URL in Google Analytics and use it with a Flickr photo to see how what type of traffic it brings in.

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    I decided to go down the brand partnership route because the income was guaranteed, rather than dependent on clicks or purchases.

    I’m interested in your thoughts on whether your links in these ads will be follow or no follow. It’s a pretty hot topic at the moment.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        No follow – and the ad income has dried up. However, I believe it’s the ethical way and the recent Interflora Google penalization serves as a warning to us all.

        In the longer term I believe the ads agencies will realise brand and trust is more important and I’m willing to wait for that to happen.

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    i would like to know more about food photography and how to start up a food blog

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Once again, THANK YOU for doing these reports, Bjork! I really enjoy seeing the behind-the-scene details.

    I’m interested in the nearly 19,000 visitor discrepancy between visitors coming from FoodGawker vs. TasteSpotting… Have you decided to focus more on FG, or did TS get fussy about pictures? Is there any strategy here, or just merely a fluke?


    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi Mary! I submit the same photos to both Tastespotting and Foodgawker and I’ve found the acceptance rate to be about the same for both. One thing that seems to make a difference, though, is the popular or most gawked pages on Foodgawker. There isn’t really anything that’s updated frequently like that on Tastespotting. I looked at my FG referral traffic numbers and there are a lot of posts from far back popular pages (i.e. most gawked page 13) that will send a few hundred people a month, and I think even obscure traffic like that really starts to add up. My referral traffic from the FG home page is only about 8,000 per month, so obviously the rest of it is coming from other FG pages like those popular or most gawked pages. That’s one huge advantage that FG has over TS. Hopefully that helps! 🙂

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love these posts, you guys are so helpful! I’ve been totally intimidated to work with brands, and I’m trying to make myself branch out a bit. I’ll be interested to see how things go for you!