May Traffic and Income Report - $7,093.52 - Skillful Cook
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May Traffic and Income Report - $7,093.52

May Blog Income - Skillful Cook collage images.

Hiya! Bjork here, sending you greetings from Three Lakes, Wisconsin. Lindsay and I are here at a cabin for the week spending some quality time with her family after spending the year in the Philippines. I ducked into the local library to connect to the internet and put together this post.

So, what is this post all about, anyways?

Every month I put together a report that includes nitty-gritty details about Skillful Cook. I focus on two things (1) the income and expenses and (2) the traffic. I also include any tips or tricks that we're learning as we continue to find ways to grow the blog. Our hope with these reports is that they provide insight and inspiration as you start and grow your own food blog.


Total Income:: $8,457.98


Total Expenses: $1,364.46

Net Profit: $7,093.52

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

May was the best month we've ever had on Skillful Cook in terms of total income ($8,457.98). This is largely due to the fact that it was a really good month for BlogHer earnings.

Another number that caught my eye was the Ziplist Recipe Box earnings. The total income isn't substantial, but the increase compared to last month's earnings is noteworthy, and I think it has the potential to continue to grow and eventual become a decent source of income.

In last month's traffic and income report I talked about changing the color of the links on Skillful Cook in order to make them stand out more, therefore increasing the number of clicks. We looked at the specific example of our How to Start a Food Blog page, where we noticed that the purple links negatively impacted the number of clicks on affiliate links. We decided to change those purple links to a light blue link to make them stand out more.

As promised I wanted to report back on the results of that change. In April we had a total of 368 clicks, and after making the change in May we had a total of 444. While there are many factors that go into the amount of clicks, I believe that changing the link color positively effected the number of people that clicked on the affiliate link. So, needless to say, we'll be keeping our links blue. 🙂

Traffic Breakdown

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

Traffic Overview

Traffic Overview May 2013.

Top Ten Traffic Sources

Top Ten Traffic Sources May 2013.

Thoughts On Traffic

One of the things we noticed when switching from Thesis to Genesis was a decrease in organic search traffic. The change was pretty drastic, dropping 18%.

Google Organic Search.

It's nice to see that number slowly climb back up. It's not back to the high of 61,457 that we saw in March, but the numbers are climbing back up.

Top Ten Tips For Passive Income and Traffic

One of the things that Lindsay and I are really thankful for is the fact that we don't have to be “working” in order for Skillful Cook to be “working.” Some people would call this passive income. I want to be clear that when using the word passive I don't mean “not a lot of work.” If you have a blog you know that it takes an incredible amount of work to run and maintain it.

When I talk about passive in regards to income and traffic, I mean income and traffic that occurs even when we're not physically present. An example is this week, as Lindsay and I are up at the cabin with her family while the blog is still “working” for us online. In honor of our week long getaway with family I wanted to put together a top ten list of things we've done on Skillful Cook to create passive income and traffic.

1. Automated Sales Process for eBook (income)

We use E-Junkie and PayPal Website Payments Pro to run a completely automated process for collecting payments and delivering Lindsay's eBook (Tasty Food Photography) to customers. The great thing about writing an eBook is that the production cost is extremely low (you can use your computers publishing software), and E-junkie and Paypal Payments Pro are really affordable (starting at $5/month for E-junkie and $30 for PayPal Payments Pro).

2. Affiliates for eBook (traffic and income)

One of the ways that we increase traffic and income to Skillful Cook is through the Tasty Food Photography affiliate program. People that sign up for the program promote the book on their site using special tracking links. If someone clicks on the link from their blog and purchases a copy of Tasty Food Photography then the affiliate gets 50% of the sale. If you have your own product I'd highly recommend that you look into setting up your own affiliate program, especially if it's a digital product that doesn't cost anything to produce. An affiliate program is a great way to setup a system to generate passive income and traffic to your blog, and possibly help some other people earn income from their blog as well!

3. Leveraging a viral coefficient (income)

Eric Reis is the author a book called The Lean Startup. In the book he talks about a concept that he calls viral coefficient. A viral coefficient exists when “a product causes new customers to sign up as a necessary side-effect of existing customers' normal usage.” Facebook is an example of a product with a viral coeffiecent. When people sign up for Facebook, they encourage other people to sign up for Facebook so they can interact, share, and follow.

If you have a product on your blog you should be thinking about its viral coefficient. What are you doing with your products to encourage people to get others to purchase your product (or read your blog, or sign up for you newsletter, etc...). For example, at the end of Lindsay's eBook we include a short paragraph that informs the readers about the book's affiliate program:

Affiliate Example

This short little paragraph helps to increase the product's viral coefficient by encouraging readers to become promoters.

4. AWeber Email List (traffic)

In January's Income Report report I talked about the process of setting up an auto responder email list. After an individual signs up for an auto responder list they get pre written emails delivered to their inbox. It takes a decent amount of time to setup, and you should be really intentional to craft useful emails, but once you have everything in place it runs all on its own.

It's a great way to create a passive system that allows you to continually stay in contact with your readers without having to create new content or write individual emails. You can also occasional include links back to your site to encourage people to head back over to your blog.

If you're interested in seeing how we have ours setup you can sign up for our “Blogging Tips” newsletter in the sidebar at the top of this post.

5. Scheduling (traffic)

This one is obvious but important. Scheduling your posts and social media (when necessary) is a great way to build flexibility into your schedule. Because we knew that we were going to be at the cabin this week Lindsay scheduled a few posts to publish throughout the week. This allowed us to be at the cabin (without internet) but still have the posts go out at the normal time.

6. Create a powerful contact form (income)

The contact form is an often overlooked area of a blog. We recently redesigned the Skillful Cook contact form to help cut down on unnecessary emails by directing people to our different resource and product pages (when appropriate). This has not only decreased the number of emails we get, but it has also increased the number of visits that we get to our high income earning pages.

Feel free to check out the contact page and select a few of the different options to see how we have this setup.

7. RSS and Email Feed (traffic)

This one is another obvious but important point. If you have a blog you need to have an RSS and email subscription option. It's a great way to send extra traffic to your blog without having to do any extra work. In my opinion it's best to include your entire post content in the RSS feed. Just be sure to include links that point back to your blog so people that read a post in their email inbox or RSS reader have the opportunity to click on those links and visit your blog.

We use Feedburner for our RSS feeds, but some of the members of Food Blogger Pro recently mentioned on the forum that they really like using Feedblitz.

Update (09.22.17): Feedburner is no longer a recommended solution for RSS feeds. Skillful Cook now uses the default RSS feed from WordPress (example here) and we send our RSS emails through our email marketing platform, ActiveCampaign.

8. Create a “Resources” page on your blog (income)

Skillful Cook has two different resource pages. The how to start a food blog page and the resources for food bloggers page. If you're looking to create passive income from your blog one of the first things you should do is setup a page that has affiliate links to the different tools and products you use. It's a fun page for visitors to read through and a great way to create passive income.

9. Use email and forum signatures (traffic)

I'm amazed at how many bloggers don't have their blog URL in their signatures. It's not going to drive thousands of new visitors, but it's a great way to encourage people to check in on your blog.

You should also be sure to customize your signature if you're a member of any online forums. For example, here's a forum topic that shows how some of the members of Food Blogger Pro have customized their forum signatures to include a link back to their blog.

10. Enjoy the freedom

Okay, this one isn't really a tip, but more of a reminder (just as much for me as for anyone else). One of the main benefits of building systems for passive income and traffic is the ability to enjoy the freedom that it creates. So don't forget to occasionally slow down and enjoy a bit of down time, which is exactly what I'm going to do right now.

Off to the lake I go! 🙂 As always, thanks so much for checking in on Skillful Cook.

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congrats, Lindsay and Bjork! Not only are you two an inspiration for your work in the Philipines but for your transparency and honesty in the financial aspects of a blog. Born in another generation I might have considered writing a blog. My feeble attempts at writing include medical CE and a (bad) mystery novel from Switzerland. I can not fathom all that goes into this production. It warms my heart to know two lovely people are able and willing to share this information with others. May we all grow and prosper with this knowledge. Merci.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks so much for the kind words Wendy. That really means a lot to Lindsay and I.

      I’d really encourage you to give the blog thing a try if you’re interested. Lindsay and I would love to do whatever we can to help. 🙂 We’re just an email away! – [email protected] and [email protected]

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    A good reminder that I need to fix my email signature AND forum signature for Food Blogger Pro- hadn’t thought about that before, actually. I’ve finally be able to delve into the videos on FBP and they are IMMENSELY helpful. You all did such a great job with keeping the videos brief but super-informative.

    For any food blogger considering joining Food Blogger Pro, it is DEFINITELY worth it!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Nice work as always! One problem I’m experiencing, is how to get in with Blogher…I’ve filled out the app, and it’s been a few months now…anyone have tips on how to get them to advertise on your blog? Thanks-

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      We waited awhile as well. I don’t know of any tricks to speed things up, although I’m guessing it wouldn’t hurt to send an occasional email to check in. BlogHer has been really incredible in terms of responding to our questions or inquiries.

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      I was on the BlogHer waiting list for almost a year. I got an email earlier this year saying they’d be accepting people from the list soon, but since then it’s been silence. I finally gave up on BlogHer and joined with Glam (Foodie) a few months ago and have been SO happy. I don’t know how they compare to BlogHer but I think the rates are great and the experience has been very positive.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hey Guys,

    As always super impressive stats. I do have a couple of websites myself (including a food blog on blogher) but don’t come close to those numbers.

    How are you getting this much w/ Blogher? Based on your traffic, looks like you’re seeing ~400k of monetizable impressions (after mobile/int’l/bot traffic), if Blogher fills upwards of 80% of that, you’d still be looking at a $13 RPM. Not sure how accurate my calculations are, but are you able to generate this much from the 3 blogher ads on the site?

    Any insight would be appreciated, wondering if I’m doing something wrong myself.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Max,

      I think the thing that’s off in your calculation is the 400k of impressions. Keep in mind that each ad counts as an impression, and each page view (not visit) counts towards impressions.

      Just to make it easy I’ll assume a 100% fill rate in the example below (as you know this never happens, but it makes the numbers easier).

      765,820 pageviews x 3 ads per page = 2,297,460 impressions.

      Hopefully that provides some insight.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Thanks for the insight, Bjork. Actually I meant monetizable pageviews, and then saw that you’re running 3 blogher ads so it all makes sense now.
        Very impressive income figures, looks like Blogher also got a lot more high CPM campaigns to fill inventory these days.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Rachelle. Fashion blogs are similar to food blogs in that you can drive a pretty substantial amount of traffic from Pinterest. Glad to hear that you found the info helpful.

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow! $7,000 That’s so impressive. I swear each time you put a report, it gets higher and higher. I wish I could also do the same for my blog. Cooking is expensive. You and Lindsay do it good and you do it right. Glad you had a safe trip back to the U.S.

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Very very impressive stats Lindsy and Bjork. I always look for this report. I get inspiration from your blog. Hope I too can earn at least half of these figures. Since I found your blog I am big fan of it especially of these reports. Since quite a some time I am waiting for Blogher approval. Hoping Blogher could improve my earnings. If time permits go through my website too. Let me know your suggestions.

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    You guys are such an inspiration! I really appreciate you sharing this detailed information with us 🙂 Fabulous work as always!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    as always thanks so much for your insightful posts…so full of knowledge you are! have a wonderful time in the northwoods! we just got back from up nort’ and mosquitos were awful 🙁 but watching the sunset over the lake is worth it!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great post. Love your top 10 list. Thank you for giving away so much good information about the joy, work and business of blogging!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love the contact form. What a great idea!

    I hear another way to to generate passive income is to be a guest on a podcast. Hint, hint….Wink, wink…..

    Haha! Can’t wait to interview you two. 🙂

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Bjork, you know how much I appreciate you! My blog would still be a site if it wasn’t for you. These posts are so informative…you’d be surprised by how many times I say “Aha!” I’m really interested in the Tasty Food Photography Affiliate Program. I’ve purchased it last year and have seen a tremendous improvement in my photography skills. Can anyone join?
    Hope you and Lindsay are having a blast at the cabin! Sounds like fun 😉

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi Min! 🙂 I know your comment is addressed to Bjork but I wanted to let you know that anyone can become a Tasty Food Photography affiliate! Here’s a link with more info. Thanks again for the nice comment!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hey there,

    One thing that could be causing the drop on your organic search is your pages are doing something odd. I went back to try to get some idea of how you guys started out and when you click past page 34 there are no articles listed. This is odd because it looks like the site goes to page 52 at least at the bottom.

    Not sure if its just my browser, but it might be something to check out?

    Anyway, great blog! Thanks for everything!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow! Great job!

    These income reports have been so incredibly helpful to me, I honestly study them! I finally (after 7 months of waiting) got into the BlogHer Publishing Network… I’ve already noticed the rates are higher than AdSense… I can only hope that one day I’m getting a payment like THAT from BlogHer! 🙂 Do you have any tips on ad placement?

    Thanks again,


  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Okay, now I’m got blue blog links, hopefully making them easier to see. Thanks!

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hey! I am a huge fan of your recipes and blog and have recommended it to so many people! I was just checking it today and saw you were in Three Lakes. I used to live up there and work at a camp! It is beautiful in the summer and I hope you enjoyed it 🙂 Keep up the great posts and thanks for so many delicious and healthy recipes!!
    God bless,

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      That’s crazy! We love Three Lakes and we’re going back again later this summer (as we do every year). Already can’t wait! Thanks for the comment!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great stuff, will probably be back to ask another question or 2 but first one is, what plugin are you using thats shows …faves, faves and popular?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Chris! Thanks for the comment. It was actually built as a part of our custom design by Shay Bocks (

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Linday,can i know how does Blogher program works?
    Is it something like we put advertisement in blog,when someone click on the advertisement,we will get paid?
    When i open few articles in Blogher,there is no ads in it.

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Bjork and Lindsay!
    I love looking at these reports and insights into your blog success! I am a new blogger and have gained some decent traffic over the last few months. I’m wondering when you guys decided to start trying to make money off of the blog? I also see that BlogHer is a huge income for you. I just joined it today and am wondering what some of your steps were there to start seeing money come in. This is so helpful, thanks so much! Also, I’ve made so many of your recipes. I love them.

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    Can I ask about Blogher. I’ve just joined and I read conflicting reports on backfill. Should I backfill with the PubMatic ads from Blogher or should I backfill with my own adsense code? Any idea which is going to pay the most?

    Thanks for publishing this info every month, its so useful and interesting even though a lot of what you do doesn’t apply to my site – you have such wonderful ideas. Deby