March Income Report - Making Money from a Food Blog - $1,024.53
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March Income Report - $1,024.53

Making Money from a Food Blog Experiment collage of four images.

Greetings! My name is Bjork.

I am Lindsay’s husband and the head computer surgeon here at Skillful Cook.

Computer surgeon Bjork with a creepy smile.

Starting in August of 2011 Lindsay and I decided to share our journey in monetizing a blog. Our first month's income totaled $21.97.

Our hope with these monthly income reports is to provide some insight so you know what's working and not working when it comes to monetizing a blog.

We both work full-time, so any income you see created from this blog is a result of time spent outside of the regular 9-5.

Here's the breakdown of March’s income from Skillful Cook:

The Breakdown:

Bluehost Affiliate Program – $390
The Thesis Theme Affiliate Program– $143.55
VigLink - $136
Google AdSense - $353.84
Amazon Affiliate Program - $1.14

Grand Total: $1,024.53

NOTE: The above income report doesn't include sales from Lindsay's eBook, Tasty Food Photography. We're really excited to talk about the details of the book, but we'll be waiting until next month's report to do so.

Things We Learned In March

Moving on Up

The time finally came to move Skillful Cook from a shared hosting account to a virtual private server (VPS). I can feel your eyes glazing over already. Stick with me. This will be important to know when (not if) your blog starts to get a decent amount of traffic.

Think of it like this: A shared hosting account is like an apartment. It's perfect for when you're just getting started because it's small and affordable. You can't throw huge parties or have lots of people over, but you can comfortably keep all your stuff there and have friends over to visit. We recommend Bluehost for shared hosting.

A virtual private server is like renting the entire floor of an apartment building. It's more expensive, but it's spacious and you can host lots of guests. It's great because you don't have to worry about things being too crowded. We use Media Temple for Skillful Cook's VPS.


We decided to pull the plug completely on Foodie Blogroll and it proved to be a good decision. In fact, on April 3rd we made more from AdSense in a day ($116.26) then we did with Foodie Blogroll in a month.

What's the difference between AdSense and Foodie Blogroll? The most obvious difference is that AdSense pays a certain amount every time someone clicks on an ad, while Foodie Blogroll pays a certain amount every 1,000 page views that your blog gets. AdSense, for the most part, serves ads that are pretty relevant to your readers. Google, in their crazy-smart-scientist-computer-people ways, has created a script that looks through your website content and offers ads based on what that content is about. That's a good thing, because the more relevant the ads, the more likely that someone will click on them. And every time someone clicks on an ad, you get paid.

Tips and Takeaways


Always experiment. It's hard to change up something that seems to be working, but we've found it to be rewarding to constantly change and tinker in certain areas. Lindsay and I were both amazed when the blog made $75 in a month with Foodie Blogroll (we celebrated by going out to eat) :). It's a good thing we decided to experiment though, as we found Google AdSense to be much more lucrative.


The majority of income from Skillful Cook is affiliate related income. If you're not familiar with the term affiliate I explain it here in October's post. One of the hard things with a food blog is that there aren't that many online affiliate products that fit well with the food blog niche.

This was one of the reasons we decided to write Tasty Food Photography. We wanted to create a product that fits well into the niche that Skillful Cook is in (a food photography and recipe blog).

For those of you that are interested, Tasty Food Photography has an official affiliate program that offers a 50% commission. We're excited to open it up to the food blogger world to see what happens. Click here if you're interested in signing up for the Tasty Food Photography affiliate program.

Keep on keepin' on

This might be the most important tip. Keep at it! The internet is altogether the fastest and slowest creation there is. You can have a blog up and running in an hour, but it takes months and months and month and post after post after post until you get a decent flow of traffic coming to your site. Keep it up! If you stick with it you'll see growth.

In case you're interested, this month's income will be used to help fund our summer trip to the Children's Shelter of Cebu, and after this point, we will continue to use just a portion of the earnings from Skillful Cook to support this incredible ministry. CSC is an orphanage in the Philippines where Lindsay's three youngest siblings lived for several years before being adopted to the United States. You can read more about this awesome organization here.

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'

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for all this information Bjork! Between Lindsay’s delicious photos/recipes of food, I really enjoy readying about the income side of things. I’m glad you’re so willing to share these numbers and offer advice to other food bloggers out there.

    I just signed up for your Tasty Food Photography affiliate program and I noticed that it was a link. As much as I love links, I’m worried it may not get the attention is deserves on my website. I’m looking to play around with my side bar and I think it would be a perfect fit since it’s one of the few food-related affiliates I have. Is there an image I could use instead of the text link?

    Thanks again!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Great question Jessica! The link at the bottom of this comment will bring you to three images that you can use instead of the text link. We’ll also be creating more image options this week and will email all the affiliates once the new images are available.

      Let me know if you have any questions about it. 🙂

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow, that is incredibly awesome. I’ve been following you guys for a while and I remember your post about making $20 and it’s amazing how the numbers keep going up! Congrats! And as always, thanks for the tips and using understandable “apartment” language 🙂

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Glad you guys are moving up to the VPS after you went into bloggie black-hole land there for a day or so during the month. Based on your traffic, all the great things you’ve got going on, all the movin’ and shakin’ going on for the blog, I had a feeling that was coming. It has happened to every single blogger I know who is with Bluehost and hits a certain traffic level.

    The affiliate program and the google adsense are doing amazing things for you…wow! I need to look into it seriously. Do you have exactly links that you used? In years past I’ve tried to put it on my site and made like 3 cents in a week, not kidding. So something isn’t right on the “version” of adsense I’ve tried. Any tips, links, or more detailed info on it?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Averie!

      We’ve had the most success with the image/rich media ads in the sidebar. We experimented with placing text ads in recipes but they haven’t performed very well. I wish I could provide specific details on click through rates and amounts that we’re getting per click but Google has super strict rules on sharing that publicly.

      I know for sure that Google AdSense has performed better than Foodie Blogroll for us. We are going to be testing out BlogHer sometime in the near future to see how it compares to Google AdSense.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Amazing – and I love that you’re so open and transparent. I feel like I learn so much from this each and every month!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m not sure if I’ve thanked you before, but I really appreciate your monthly reports! I’m hardly making money directly through my blog, but I’ll be moving to a more expensive area soon and am looking for smart ways to monetize. Thank you for being so open with your endeavors, and I think it’s wonderful that you donate your income to charity!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow, you guys have really made some awesome progress, congrats. Like Averie said, I’m floored by how much adsense brought in for you b/c everyone I know who uses it makes pennies. Literally. What’s the trick?!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Gina. No tricks. 🙂 I think it was a combination of a high traffic month (relative to what the blog usually gets) and a couple days where advertisers were paying a decent amount per click.

      Currently in the very top right we have an add for Lindsay’s book. Before the book was released we put an AdSense ad there. That’s when we made the most with AdSense.

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hey there! I’m interested to know what you consider “good traffic.” I have BlogHer ads on my blog and one affiliate program that I make virtually nothing from. I am considering bagging the whole thing unless I’m persuaded otherwise. Currently, I get anywhere from 500-1000 hits per day.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Good work..Thanks for all the tips and advice on blogging and monetizing. Keep it up….Might need your help soon on my blog….My site is still on the design board..Want to give all the income from my site to

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for continuing to do this, Bjork! And I like your advice not to be afraid to switch things up and tweak things, sometimes hard to do when you’re busy with other things but obviously worth it! Thanks for your encouraging tone and positive attitude!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow. I actually shouted at my husband to come to the computer and see your total when I first saw this. I haven’t monetized my blog but if I decide to one day, it’s interesting to see what could happen (of course if I had better pictures and all that). Oh and I’d definitely be interested in the affiliate thing for Tasty Food Photography, but again, only when my pictures are better.

    Congratulations on doing so well with this experiment. 🙂

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is one of my very favorite parts of your blog. Don’t get me wrong, I love the recipes, BUT this is so helpful too. It’s such a pain to reinvent the wheel and sometimes I feel like I do that with Bloggins, so thanks.


  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    As ever, these posts are so informative and helpful. I really appreciate how you guys put so much information out there.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Your blog is talking about food however you earned so well with some affiliates program like hosting and WordPress themes, I surprised me.

    Congrats to you, Bjork.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Trung. We setup some resource pages for people looking to start or improve their food blog. Most of the affiliate income comes from those pages.

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    This is a great article Bjork, thanks so much for sharing! I think I must be doing Adsense wrong. I had it on my blog for about a half a year and barely made $25 the entire time. Do you have any tips for successfully implementing it on your blog?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Julie. We just have the two image blocks in the sidebar. One at the very bottom and one about half way down. The day we earned over $100 was an anomaly. Average is $10-$20 a day.

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Really awesome month, guys. I have a feeling that once you start reporting e-book sales, you’ll be inching closer to a spot on my blogger leaderboard!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Lindsay and Bjork: Thanks so much for this post. I’m working to monetize my blog and your openness on how you are doing it is very helpful. Thanks too for the Bluehost note. I may need to find another hosting company and others have mentioned Bluehost. Good to know, as I may need to go VPS as well as my traffic continues to build. Looking at your analytics, I long for the day when I have your traffic. Like you said, keep at it. I am growing, but it’s never fast enough is it. Thanks again.

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks so much for these posts. It is nice to see some honest information about the financial side of blogging. I love the blog, I have so many of your recipes bookmarked now…

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Emma! I have to admit… these posts are all Bjork. I just do the cooking and eating part. 🙂 We’re so glad it’s useful information for you!

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    Is Skillful Cook a registered business, e.g. an LLC or something? I guess I’m asking if you have a blog and are making money off of it, if you have to register it as a business with your state of residence.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Audrey. We do indeed have an LLC that we report the income under. However, I’m pretty sure you don’t need it. If you don’t have one you would just report the income as miscellaneous income (like a sole-proprietor) on your taxes. Be sure to double check though. My word is far from gold on this.

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    So refreshing to see a monthly income report on a non-internet marketing blog! Love the progress and I’m definitely cheering for your success!

    Thanks for the transparency, I’l be using your blog to convince my sister to start monetizing her cake blog. And we’ll be using your affiliate links 😉

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    While checking out food photography I saw your video at vimeo and decided to have a look at your site. It is useful to read this info. I have a site under construction, but I am working on my photography. It is generous of you to let us know about the monetary part of blogging. People don’t seem to be comfortable talking about money. I am such a foodie if I don’t make any money it will be a good place to my over-exeuberant energy, but making a little money would be good also.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      These are some nice tips. But monetizing might not be really easy for new blogs. I use a blog on and I must say that with no Javascript support, there really isn’t a scope for any advertising there. Moreover, the blog needs a really good traffic stat to make some money. This is just my first month and I have close to 1900 views now. Guess I am happy blogging right now and will come back to your blog for these fantastic tips after a month or two 🙂

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        By the way, just when does a site start getting awesome hits like at least over 10k hits a month to begin with… Read your bit on driving traffic… would you mind sharing more info on this? How did your blog perform when you hit off… pretty amazing I should say by the look of the stats today 🙂

  21. Skillful Cook Logo

    Bjork, I can’t wait to see your “numbers” for May. Did you have any technical problems from transferring from shared hosting to VPS (particularly Bluehost)? I do not know if you recieved your domain through Bluehost or not. I read that some individual domain and web host providers make it difficult to “cut you loose” to someone else. Any truth to this with your experience? I have been shopping around to a point where everything is starting to become a blur…I’m dizzy! I was thinking with going with Bluehost simply because of its high ratings, particularly with WordPress. Who did you go with for your domain name, why? And why did you go with Bluehost and now Media Temple from such a wide variety to choose from?

  22. Skillful Cook Logo

    Fantastic work! I’m still with foodieblogroll at the moment. I am wondering, though, what the difference is between a free theme versus paying for one. If I shell out the money for something like thesis, will my blog then become more searchable (I guess is the word one would use) and therefore yield the return over the months that I use it? I am currently using pagelines for free.