June Traffic and Income Report - $8,673.27 - Skillful Cook
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June Traffic and Income Report - $8,673.27

Traffic and Income Report - June 2013 collage.

Heyya! Bjork here. I'm checking in for my monthly traffic and income report on Skillful Cook. If you're new to Skillful Cook I wanted to fill you in on what these posts are all about.

Here's the dealio - back in 2011 I read an article online that said it was practically impossible to make money with a food blog. I had trouble believing that. I asked Lindsay if I could experiment with Skillful Cook to see if we could create an income from it. On September 5th, 2011 I published a post titled The Food Blog Money Making Experiment.

Total income? $21.97.

I was a little embarrassed to publish the post. I started to think that the article might have been right. Twenty dollars is technically an income, but it's nothing to write home about (or write a blog post about). I questioned whether it would be worth it to move forward with publishing the posts, but Lindsay and I decided we'd stick with it even if we didn't earn much. Our hope was that it might help people that were just getting started, even if it was telling people what wasn't working well.

“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 first ever post in the food blog money making experiment

As mentioned in that very first post, the plan was to publish an update every month. We've stuck with that plan, and every month since September 2011 I've published a behind-the-scenes Skillful Cook post. This is post #23 in The Food Blog Money Making Experiment. Thus ends our short Skillful Cook history lesson. 🙂

Let's jump into the numbers.


Total Income:: $10,238.88


Total Expenses:: $1,565.61

Net Profit: $8,673.27

P.S. 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

Enjoyable, but not easy

One of the things that Lindsay and I want to make sure to communicate in these posts is that creating an income from a blog is not an easy thing. We both work hard on Skillful Cook and put lots of time into it. We don't want to create the illusion of quick success or pretend to know any secrets of blogging. Lindsay has put in over three years of daily work - cooking, baking, photographing, editing and writing. I've spent the past 4-5 years learning about web design, web development, online business, and the psychology of buying online. We both love doing it, but it's been a long road of repeated daily effort.

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”

Robert Collier

Income streams

Skillful Cook creates income from three primary revenue streams: traditional advertising, affiliate marketing, and selling our own products. One thing that has become apparent over time is the fact that an increasing percentage of our revenue comes from traditional advertising.

Here's what the percentages of those revenue streams look like in a pie chart:

Revenue Streams as Percentages in a graph.

The yellow section, which represents freelancing and creating your products, is the type of income that I believe holds the most potential for bloggers. This also happens to be the smallest percentage of the income that we create from Skillful Cook. The largest section, traditional advertising, is the most volatile area and the one that we have the least control over. My hope is to even out the graph percentages by building up income that is created from selling our own products.

Here's my challenge to you - this week, take the first step in picking yourself and creating something that you can sell (or give) to others. Maybe it's writing a book, creating a cooking course online, hosting a live blog-talk event, or seeking out work as a freelancer for developing recipes. Whatever it is, take the first step this week, even if it's small.


“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”

Robert Collier

Traffic Breakdown

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

Traffic Overview

Google Analytics - Top Ten Traffic Sources.

Top Ten Traffic Sources

Traffic Sources.



Thoughts On Traffic

This month I included a screenshot of the different types of browsers that people are using when reading Skillful Cook. See what's in the #1 spot? Safari (in-app).

What does that mean? It means that people are reading the blog from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch. It's an important reminder to bloggers that the majority of their visitors are probably reading from a mobile device.

Food Blogger Pro Affiliate Program

The Food Blogger Pro affiliate program is one of our bigger updates from June, so I'll give you a little bit of the back story on the whole thing.

No matter where you are as a blogger chances are that you get people that ask you for advice on certain things. Sometimes people ask simple questions that can be answered in an email, while other times people ask more complicated questions that require more thorough answers. Lindsay and I have found that quite a few of the questions we were trying to answer via email were things that required a lot of explaining. They were questions like...

  • How do I setup my WordPress blog?
  • How do I get traffic to my blog?
  • How can I create an income?

This gave us the idea to create Food Blogger Pro as a place to point people when their questions required more than a simple answer. After launching the site on February 1st we received some great feedback from people that were using the videos and tutorials. We even noticed a few bloggers like Jad, Emily, Min, and Lori linking to Food Blogger Pro as a resource for their readers. We wanted to figure out a way to provide a benefit to the bloggers that linked to Food Blogger Pro, so in June we launched the Food Blogger Pro affiliate program. I'm really excited about it. Here's why:

The affiliate program is setup to allow other bloggers to essentially have their own little membership site. This is because the FBP affiliate program is a recurring payment program. This means that as long as the person you referred to FBP is a member then you'll get a percentage (20%) of the membership payment. We're really happy to be able to offer this to other bloggers and are really thankful for the bloggers that have already signed up to be a part of it.

Simplified Sales Page

This month I also made a small but important change to the Tasty Food Photography sales page by removing the footer.

Here's what the bottom of the page looked like before:

Tasty Food Photography Sales Page - Before.

And here's what it looks like now:

Tasty Food Photography Sales Page - After.

Although it's a small change I think it'll have a big impact on the conversation rate, as the last thing on the page that people now see is the Add to Cart button. It's incredible the impact that such a seemingly small change can have on the way that people interact with a page.

If you have any pages on your blog that are selling a product I'd encourage you to simplify the page by removing the sidebar and footer. Be careful about removing the header navigation though, as this will negatively impact your page's SEO.


Those are the updates we have from Skillful Cook for the month of June, in addition to moving back to the country and trying to get settled back in without going crazy. 🙂 Thanks as always for checking in on this thing we started two years ago called the Food Blog Money Making Experiment.

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    That’s funny what you said about how you were a little embarrassed to publish the first post. I have felt the same way but I still enjoy it every day and the income has progressed significantly over the last year.

    Keep up the inspiring posts!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I remember looking at Bjork and being like, “What are we thinking?! This is so awkward.” 🙂 But you gotta start somewhere! Thanks for the comment Jad.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    That’s really amazing. I have no idea how you guys do it! And your traffic has grown so much, too. Yay! 🙂

    I was googling something bloggy last night and came across the Food Blogger Pro forums, which have some great information in them. I’ll have to check our Food Blogger Pro some more!

    Thanks as always for sharing your stats and everything else with us. 🙂 And I hope settling in back in the US is going well!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      That’s encouraging to hear that Food Blogger Pro came up in the search results! The traffic is minimal right now (100-200 a day), so every visit counts. 🙂

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        ‘Minimal’, he says, at 100-200 per day.

        It’s all relative. I get occasional views but nothing close to THAT. Migod.

        I’m thinking maybe $30/month for your FBPro might be worth it.

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for the update Lindsay and Bjork! Numbers are always more inspiring than generalities with no details. And very good point about the effort it takes to reach this income level. There’s nothing ‘passive’ about this income.

    And thanks Bjork for the Sales Page tip!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Daniel. I noticed on your blog that you teach FPU classes. Way cool. I queue up Ramsey’s podcast every few days and listen through on my commute to work.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    I really appreciate how you and Lindsay are being so transparent about monetizing your blog. Honestly, I thought about blogging a couple of years ago and gave up on it. As I’ve watched Skillful Cook grow, I’ve been more and more inspired to give it a try.

    I totally believe that you and Lindsay must work on FBP and PoY daily because I know how much time I’ve already devoted to getting Practical MOMents up and running. There are all kinds of challenges that I’ve run into along the way and EVERYTHING takes a lot of time to change, fix, post, or implement. There are days when I want to quit because I just don’t have the time (or things seem too hard) to devote to my blog. Your monthly posts remind me that it can be done and that if I hang in there, follow the advice of those who have gone before me, and keep working at it then I will hopefully start to see some success, too.

    I’m so excited for the success you’ve seen with PoY and FBP. Way to go!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Karen. Glad to hear to that these posts have provided a bit of inspiration. Like you said, it takes a lot of work to keep a blog up and running, and even more work to keep it growing. It makes it a little bit easier to do if it’s something you enjoy (as is true for Lindsay and I with FBP and PoY), but it’s still hard work. 🙂

      P.S. Those cupcakes on your blog look awesome!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    As always, I love these monthly recaps and haven’t missed any of the 23. It’s amazing watching you go from 20 bucks to 10g’s. WOW. Congrats. Thanks for also pointing out that this is WORK. It doesnt just fall from the sky and into your lap – that Bjork does the tech side and Lindsay does the cooking/photography side and so you have dozens of man/woman hours into EACH and every post, I would surmise. Sure, the recipe may take 15 minutes to make but all the pics, staging, editing, building your blog frameworks, dealing with advertisers, reader questions, those things need to all be built in, too which is why many people may not always remember. Anyway – thank you for your candid posts.

    And I was just thinking of trying to get my site more optimized for mobile reading. Amazing that MORE ppl are reading on mobile devices than computers these days!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks for always reading the posts and weighing in Averie. It means a lot to Lindsay and I.

      Yes – you’re spot on with the number of hours that go into each post. Like you said, it’s important to remember that a blog isn’t just publishing a few posts each week, it’s all of the other things that go along with it.

      Isn’t that amazing that so many people read the blog on a mobile device? Crazy!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love these post. They excite and inspire me every month. I love that you said this is work, because yes it is so much work. Like you guys I work so incredibly hard on my site and improving it every day. Like 24 hours, the blogging life never stops!! You have to love it!!

    Thanks for these post guys!!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Tieghan. Lindsay and I have talked about how hard you work on your site. It shows, as it’s a beautiful blog with incredible pictures and recipes. Keep up the good work!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    CONGRATS. I always love reading these posts. By the way, we’re both Minnesotans so I thought I’d ask if you’re aware of the Amazon Affiliate changes in our state? Apparently we’ll no longer be able to use the affiliate link program because they wanted to avoid the sales tax: https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2013/06/18/amazon-drops-minn-affiliate-bloggers-to-avoid-tax/

    Bummed, but hopefully the Marketplace Fairness Act will push through soon!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      No way! I live in Minneapolis, so this will definitely affect me if I ever decide to do the affiliate link program one day. Bummer!

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      It’s funny that Minnesota doesn’t seem to understand that this is a commission on the sale of a product not really a storefront. I’m not aware of ANY state that collects “sales tax” on commissions. Clearly many in our local and even federal governments STILL don’t understand the “big bad” internet and e-commerce.

    3. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Monique! We did hear about the Amazon Affiliate thing. Bum! I guess it’s a good reminder to push ourselves towards creating more independent income versus income that can change or disappear so quickly!

    4. Skillful Cook Logo

      Yeah. That was kind of a sad email to get from Amazon. Not that we were earning a ton of money from Amazon Associates, but it’s always a bummer to know that the option is completely closed off.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        It definitely sucks, but there are options that you can change your existing amazon links to another program that still lets you earn through Amazon. Viglinks or Skimlinks for example. That way you don’t lose what you already built. You might have a cut in the commission though, but it’s worth checking it out.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congratulations you guys! I made my first few pennies this past month and I was so proud! It wasn’t so much about the money, but I just got super excited that people were actually looking at my blog. My favorite thing on Google Analytics: looking at all the different countries people are viewing my blog from 😀

    Can’t wait to start getting some feedback on my recipes, stories, etc. as I build more traffic using your tips and tricks.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Congrats on the start of creating an income from your blog Nadia. If you can make a dollar, you can make two. If you can make two, you can make four. Etc, etc… 🙂

      Isn’t it fun to think about the fact that people are visiting your blog from all around the world? Pardon the generic cliche statement, but I really think the internet is amazing.

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for another great post! I enjoy reading these so much and learn something every time. I so appreciate the effort you put into these.

    Congrats on a great month, and here’s to another!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you so much for this post! I haven’t researched enough, but I’m fairly sure a lot of beauty bloggers (which is my main focus) wouldn’t post something like this. This post is so inspirational and informational for someone like me who wants to starts a beauty blog. I expect to put a lot of work into it and not make money off my blog right away. Thank you again for giving me an idea of how things might go.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      “I expect to put a lot of work into it and not make money off my blog right away.”

      This is the exact mentality you need to have when starting a blog. Right on, Carolina.

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ah, I totally understand about feeling embarrassed. I published my June income report today and compared to your income my $133. 22 is just…yeah. But it’s a start and I’m proud of every penny. Thank you for inspiring!
    Yes, food blogging is WORK! Gotta love it in order to do it and succeed!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congratulations once again. If I was just starting out I’d definitely be tempted to blog. Alas, my writing has been limited to a few travel articles, (mostly scientific) translation, and medical missionary work. Thankfully I’ve had the opportunity to travel and experience the warmth and compassion of people in various areas of our world. Even as a non-blogger, I appreciate your transparency and hard work. It has been a blessing to follow you on your journey to the Philippines and back as well as the yummy recipes. Thank you.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Wendy. It’s fun to hear from non-bloggers that still find these posts (even somewhat) interesting. Let us know if you ever decide to take the plunge and start a blog. We’d love to help however we can.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m so impress by you guys and the growth you’ve seen. We’re just now starting to put new methods into trial to monetize our cocktail blog. It’s still a hobby for us, but I’m passionate enough to do it for a living. Tracking and experimenting like you did might not be a bad idea. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Alex & Lori

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Alex. Tracking and experimenting – two things that sound boring but are actually really interesting and SUPER helpful when growing a blog or website. 🙂

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for the very helpful post Bjork! I’m in the midst of going self-hosted so that I can one day monetize my blog, and it’s very encouraging to see that blogs such as Skillful Cook is so successful. Of course, I know that not every blog will reach the same success that you guys have, but still, it gives me hope! thanks & happy weekend! keep up these income reports! they are extremely helpful!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Good for you Felicia. Switching blog platforms is a huge pain but it’s 100% worth it. We switched from Tumblr to WordPress a few years ago and are so thankful that we did.

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    I think its great that you guys post this stuff. It definitely has helped me. In fact, I’m not trying to suck up here, but I contribute a lot of my blogs success to your site and Food Blogger Pro. I’m not quite where you guys are in the blog money making range just yet. Hopefully, I will get there some day. I make chump change compared to you guys.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Nicole. Thanks so much for the kind words. It’s incredibly exciting to hear that the resources on FBP and PoY are helping other bloggers. Also – thanks for jumping into the community forum on FBP. 🙂 Looking forward to connecting more!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks so much for putting these posts together, I look forward to seeing your new update post in my mailbox each month! It’s so inspiring to hear your progress, a big congratulations is in order I think!! Blogging really is SO MUCH WORK@ Day in, day out, it’s constantly on my mind, I’m continually tweaking, changing, upgrading, and trying to improve my blog each and ever day. Not to mention the tremendous amount of time and effort it takes to keep up in the create-and-share process.

    You two really are so inspiring! Love your blog, love you guys!

    And welcome back to the U.S.!!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Tiffany! Happy to hear that you enjoy the posts.

      Thanks for the welcome back – it’s been really fun to see family and friends again.

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m happy, and not surprised you’re a Godin-ite.
    I just finished reading The Icarus Deception. Great stuff. He discusses that idea of ‘picking yourself’ even more throughout the book. One of my fav quotes:

    “Our cultural instinct is to wait to get picked. To seek out the permission, authority, and safety that come from a publisher or a talk-show host or even a blogger who says, ‘I pick you.’ Once you reject that impulse and realize that no one is going to select you – that Prince Charming has chosen another house in his search for Cinderella – then you can actually get to work.”

    It’s an exiting time for bloggers, web designers, and all internet-makers. Our success is limited, not by any educational certifications or publishing gatekeepers…but only by the quality of the content we create. And POY is a perfect example.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Eric, it really does seem our generation is one of the first to be able to do whatever we want. If we have goals and work hard we can make something happen without, as you were quoting, being “picked.” This is both intimidating and exciting. POY is a very interesting and inspiring experiment!

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      Eric – I smiled while reading your comment. I read The Icarus Deception in the Philippines and loved it.

      One of the things I love about Godin is his commitment to continually creating. I recently read an old post of his where he talked about the fact that it was his 3,000th blog post IN A ROW! And that was in 2009. That’s like 12+ years of blogging. Insane and inspiring…

      Another thing that fascinates me about him is his reservations with social media. It was interesting to read about the story when he saw someone that said something negative about him on Twitter and at that moment swore off of Twitter.

      Here’s the link to the book in case anyone else is interesting in checking it out. It comes highly recommended: https://www.amazon.com/The-Icarus-Deception-High-ebook/dp/B0090UOLEW

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love these posts and honestly check them out every month. They are super helpful, so thank you both for pulling these together for all of us. I just started advertising with blogher in May and my revenue is going up each month as I grow, but it’s nothing compared to what you’re making, but it’s nice to know that over time I can actually make a decent amount of revenue from blogher as my traffic continues to grow. I wasn’t really sure if advertising was going to make me anything, but I see that it can as long as you have a good amount of traffic. I do have one question, do you opt out of certain ads? I have opted out of certain ads and wonder if it makes a difference in revenue. I know some companies might pay more than others.
    Congratulations on your success and it’s definitely a HUGE leap from the $21.00 that you started out making and it gives us bloggers all hope! BTW, I purchased your food photography book when it first came out and I LOVE it. It was super helpful and I recommend it to all of my blogging buddies. xoxo, Jackie

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks so much for purchasing Tasty Food Photography Jackie. We really appreciate it. So happy to hear that it was helpful, and thanks for recommending it to your friends.

      We currently don’t opt out of any ads with BlogHer. If there were certain ads that came up that seemed offensive we would go in and temporarily opt out, but we haven’t had to do that yet.

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    I understand what you mean about wanting more ads to come from sources you can control. Even with affiliate marketing like Amazon Associates you still see up and down numbers. July has always been a bad month for Amazon, people aren’t spending as much money online in the summer. I have not been able to find alternative ad sources to help me in the times Amazon is not very successful.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      It’s interesting to watch the ebb and flow of advertising and affiliate networks. Like you said, Amazon is so closely tied to the spending habits of consumers, so summer months can be low but then months like November or December can be really high.

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for sharing! That is an amazing increase.
    I found your blog through a recipe link and am now a follower. This post has some great resources in it. I am accepting your challenge! (although I was doing it this week before I found your site, but I am grateful for the push from someone who has become successful)
    Thanks again for sharing.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks for following along Dawn.

      Good for you. I’d love to hear what you’ll be doing and how it goes for you.

  21. Skillful Cook Logo

    Bjork, your explanations are always so thorough and easy to understand. Thank you. I don’t even know how you guys constantly stay ahead of the game. I wouldn’t even know where to even start looking (although you guys are making things much easier for me). I’ve been backing up all my photos on an external hard drive and this morning (after a relaxing weekend spent with my college friends) I found that it somehow crashed! I’ve lost all my photos somehow. I’ve been trying to figure out how to recover all day. What a nightmare! If I’m unable to, I will just have to stop screaming and crying and move forward. Start fresh. Anyway, sorry..I just had to vent haha..such is the life of a blogger. Thank you for sharing this month’s income report and lending an ear.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Argh! Isn’t that the worst? Lindsay lost all of the photos on her computer when she was in college. It was right after she spent a semester in Spain traveling around Europe. 🙁 It’s incredibly frustrating. I’m sure you’ve looked into it, but it’s sometimes possible (but not always cheap) to recover data from hard drives that crash. I hope you’re able to get them back somehow!

  22. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’ve looked into the Food Blogger Pro and have wanted to sign up sign up for a couple of weeks now, but I’ve been SO slammed, I haven’t had a chance yet. I’m hoping to in the coming weeks as I think all the information that you two provide is super helpful! Thanks for creating an affiliate program for Food Blogger Pro as well! You guys rock!!

  23. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hey Guys,

    This is such a great resource as we just jumped into the food niche full steam by purchase a baking site with 500,000 pageviews a month. Fortunately we run an online marketing firm so we have quite a bit of experience in the nuances of this type of thing. I am commenting to hopefully point out a way that you can significantly increase you advertising potential. I am assuming most of the advertising you are generating is coming form CPM based on your advertiser list. Have you consider breaking posts into multiple pages. The number of unique visitors you are grabbing is huge, but your pageviews to visitor ratio is relatively low. CPM advertising is all about pageviews to get more ad impressions. Take a look at major news outlets and how they have broken up their articles. Some people complain, but if your content is strong, I don’t see the harm in it. It has the potential to increase your page views by 35-50% if you went sitewide. That’s a 35=50% increase in CPM based advertising as well.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey David – I love comments or feedback like this. Thanks so much for taking the time to provide some insight into ways that we could tweak or adjust things to improve PoY.

      We haven’t ever considered breaking posts into multiple pages before, but it’s something that would be interesting to think about. As you mentioned, the most important thing to consider would be how it impacts readers. I imagine some people wouldn’t care, while others would consider it a nuisance. I can see a multiple page post working really well with certain types of posts, like the one that Lindsay recently did on household items that can improve food photography: https://skillfulcook.us/ten-household-items-that-can-improve-your-food-photography

      Thanks again David. We really appreciate it. I hope the new site you purchased goes really well!