May Traffic and Income Report - $24,946.00 - Skillful Cook
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May Traffic and Income Report - $24,946.00

Food blog income report collage.

Hey there friends!

Bjork here, checking in for the monthly traffic and income report on Skillful Cook.

We started doing these reports over three years ago when we were making less than $30/month from this blog. At that time, food blogging for us (mostly Lindsay) was purely a hobby, but we wanted to know if it was possible to actually monetize a food blog. These income reports were created to document that progress.

Usually, in our monthly income reports, Lindsay and I write a bunch of stuff about the things we learned or did or studied in the previous month. But after drafting and re-drafting and talking this post over several times, we decided that this month we’re going to change it up.

We’re not going to write about anything this month.

At least, not in the way that we normally do.

For this month’s report, we’re going to host a Q&A in the comments!

Here’s how it’ll work:

You can ask a question in the comment section below. The questions can be about anything - blogging, business, work/life balance, our dog Sage, Skillful Cook, Food Blogger Pro, the dark chocolate coconut bites that Lindsay won't stop making, etc, etc…

In 48 hours, we’ll close the comments. Make sure you get your questions in as soon as possible!

Lindsay and I will take the next few days to answer each of the questions thoroughly in an effort to provide you, our readers, with information that is, we hope, both valuable and super relevant.

It’s as simple as that. I’m excited to hear what questions you have!

Update 5/19 at 8:53 am: please limit to one “big” question - this will enable us to give better responses to each commenter!

Before we dive into Q&A, here are 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.


Total Income: $31,775.31


Total Expenses: $6,829.31

Net Profit: $24,946.00

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

Traffic Overview for May

Top Ten Traffic Sources

Top Ten Traffic Sources for May.

Mobile Vs. Desktop Vs. Tablet

Mobile vs Desktop vs Tablet for May.

Top Traffic Channels

Top Channels for May.

That's a Wrap!

That's it. Our shortest income report ever!

Now for the fun part: Any questions?


  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ok, I love you guys for this post. Sorry for stalking you! Here’s my question. I’ve been blogging about a year now on my home & garden website. You know better than anyone how hard it is to get paid. Because it’s sort of a different niche, I at times monetize my blog by selling links for $50 linking to for example to a pet control site, or an organic slug site out of the UK. Do these links hurt my SEO? I’ve read that they do, and on the flip side, I’ve read that they can help. Which is true? Heeeeeeelp.

    Also, I noticed P.O.Y. just did an awesome giveaway. I’ve been doing product reviews on my site. I’ve gotten some awesome stuff and then I am able to give the same product away to one of my very lucky readers. . It has worked to increase my traffic and interest. But do you think I’m annoying my “normal” readers who may not want a giveaway once or twice a week? They have worked to increase my social media for sure!!! Companies keep contacting me now wanting me to do product reviews…..I have home & garden stuff piled up in my sunroom and garage waiting to get reviewed and the FedEx/UPS guy thinks I have an online ordering addiction. I am not paid for these reviews but it’s always nice to learn about a new product and get some nice stuff like a $150 shovel and $300 folding greenhouse, ya know? What do you think? I don’t want to be known as just a giveaway site either.

    Thanks guys, I really think you’re awesome and appreciate any feedback and direction you can provide. Love P.O.Y.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      One more question…..that’s so much for your patience.

      I read (I think?!? on one of Bjork’s previous posts that link exchanges are powerful, especially on reputable sites to increase our SEO. Should we continue this practice and start actively engaging other sites that are closely related to what we do for this type of exchange or not. It has helped increase our traffic and theirs to the mutual benefit of both parties, but if we ever wanted to opt out, I could see that presenting difficulties as well.

      ONE LAST QUESTION: (Any maybe this is my most important one!!!!! What nationality is the name Bjork? Where did that name come from. How is it pronounced? Sorry, just learned how to pronounce farro! And then what’s your middle name? If you don’t want to answer, that’s fine. I’ve just been wondering. Sorry for being such a curious beaver!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        From Bjork’s Mom..Bjork is the Swedish word for a birch tree. Bjork is actually the last name of special friends of our family. These friends served as missionaries in China and Japan and for many reasons, we admire them and so named our second son, Bjork Robert.

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      **Do these links hurt my SEO? I’ve read that they do, and on the flip side, I’ve read that they can help. Which is true?**

      It depends. Usually when companies ask you to put in links like that their hoping to get an SEO boost, which is a series no-no in the eyes of Google. Check out this video –

      My recommendation would be to avoid these companies like the plague.

      **I am not paid for these reviews but it’s always nice to learn about a new product and get some nice stuff like a $150 shovel and $300 folding greenhouse, ya know? What do you think?**

      It’s different for everyone, so I’d be sure to start by asking your readers. That being said, I think that doing too many giveaways can water down the perceived overall quality of your content. That’s just my opinion though. I’m sure others might feel differently.

      **I read (I think?!? on one of Bjork’s previous posts that link exchanges are powerful, especially on reputable sites to increase our SEO.**

      Not linking exchanges, but links in general are a good thing. For instance, we allow people to use POY’s images as long as they link back to the site. When Buzzfeed features Skillful Cook’s recipe, they include a link. We get some nice traffic from that, but the real bonus is the link. That tells Google, in a sense, “hey, we trust Skillful Cook which is why we’re linking to them.”

      The best links are natural (meaning not paid for) and come from popular and trusted sites, like for example.

      **What nationality is the name Bjork? Where did that name come from. How is it pronounced?**

      Swedish. It’s pronounced like Bjorn with a “k”. 🙂

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Lindsay and Bjork!

    I’ve just started a food blog called The Working Foodie – the site aims to provide healthy, fast recipes for the busy person. I always hear complaints that people are too busy to cook or eat / live healthfully (myself definitely included) so I’m hoping this blog shows them (and me!) that it is possible.

    I’ve joined Food Blogger Pro and the vids are ah-mazing so thank you for those.

    My questions are:

    1. The IT stuff (real technophobe here) is so hard to learn. Do you think its better to focus on that and provide less content while you get up and running or is it better to focus on quality, consistent content and maybe pay someone to design it for you? In a few years time will I regret not learning about SEO etc?!

    2. Pinterest – wow, this one is an EMOTIONAL ROLLERCOASTER. How do you help drive traffic on Pinterest (aside from installing the pin it button on your website, pinning on shared boards and commenting).

    3. Work life balance. I’m a lawyer in London and work some pretty intense hours. When you guys were working full time jobs as well as this blog, how did you manage it?

    Starting this blog has been a dream of mine for some time so I am pretty excited. Thanks so much for holding this q and a by the way!

    Bijal (The Working Foodie)

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Your questions are awesome, Bigal! I’ve been wondering the same things, and I think work-life balance is tough, especially trying to get more than 2 posts up a week (at least for me).

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Bijal!

      **Do you think its better to focus on technical stuff and provide less content while you get up and running or is it better to focus on quality, consistent content and maybe pay someone to design it for you?**

      I’d recommend consistently creating solid content over trying to learn the nitty gritty of the technical stuff. You can hire for the technical stuff, or ask your friends/fellow bloggers for help, but none of the technical stuff is relevant if you don’t have any content to work with! 🙂 There is definitely a balance, so I’d suggest getting in a really solid rhythm with your content creation first, and then looking at what you might need to add on the technical side second.

      **How do you help drive traffic on Pinterest?**

      On the less practical-helpful side of things, but staying true to what I believe about Pinterest, I would go back to #1 and say quality content is so, so important. For example, Skillful Cook did not have its own Pinterest account until last year. BUT Pinterest has always been one of our top sources of traffic! Even without any activity from us on the platform. That’s because people liked the content, so THEY shared it. Even now, when we do have our own account, it’s not like OUR ACCOUNT is generating that much traffic to POY. Most of our Pinterest traffic comes from other people pinning and repinning our content. We rely very heavily on users pinning our content to gain traffic on Pinterest, and the best way to make that happen is by creating content that people like and feel compelled to share. So pay attention to what works on Pinterest with your own content and try to do more of that!

      As an addendum to that, on the more practical side, I would say that pinning to group boards is a great way to increase your engagement on Pinterest. I would also recommend you check out this thread if you haven’t already – we have tons of FBP members with great information about this topic!

      A giveaway could also be a great way to increase your followers on Pinterest.

      Bottom line: Personally, I don’t think the secret to Pinterest traffic is in any sort of pinning ninja tricks. I think the secret to Pinterest is in the super awesome quality of your content, how you visually present it (photography, graphics, etc.) and how people respond to that.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Oh, and work life balance! I missed that.

        **When you guys were working full time jobs as well as this blog, how did you manage it?**

        It’s really hard to try to build a blog/business and work full time. REALLY REALLY HARD. I think it’s important for people to know that I worked ALL the time during those first four years while I had “both jobs”. Every Saturday, I was up early enough to start cooking three recipes and every night after work I was responding to comments, posting on Facebook, editing pictures, etc.

        One thing that helped me during that time was how much I loved it 🙂 so in a sense, it didn’t feel like work. Another thing that helped me was the mentality of 90% – so 90% of the time, when I feel like I can’t do it, it’s too much, I’m still going to do it. There IS a time and place (the 10%) to say – I’m so fried, I need a break! And to actually give yourself a rest. But I would try to balance that out so that 90% of the time I was saying “yes” to doing the work. I would “save” my 10% for times that really called for it – like if I was sick, or if I was on vacation.

        That sounds kind of extreme, but I know that’s been true for other bloggers, too. Sally from Sally’s Baking Addiction always says to work harder than anyone else you know! That’s the secret sauce. It’s not a forever thing, it’s just a phase in the life of a business that requires major hustle. Which is why it’s super important to have major love for what you’re doing! 🙂

        On a practical level I would say find the blocks of open time in your schedule where you can plow through a bunch of stuff all at once. For me, that was Saturday and Sunday.

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          Hi Lindsay

          Thanks a lot for such a detailed reply – your advice is really helpful. Funnily enough, that 90/10 philosophy is very me already :)! It seems like slow and steady is best on this one, with lots of patience so I will plough ahead. Thanks again for your advice 🙂


  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Will try to keep this short + sweet =) Any tips on getting more sponsored posts? Obviously quality quality quality pictures, but other than that… do you reach out to companies or let the sponsors come to you?

    Thank you much! =)

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      **Any tips on getting more sponsored posts? **

      Great question! Right now, for Skillful Cook, we don’t reach out to brands with a very few exceptions. Almost everything we do comes from brands getting in touch with us.

      A few ideas…

      – Reach out to brands that you like! Send emails, follow them on social media, show them that you’re engaged in what they’re doing.

      – Do your research. Find out who your audience is and get some specific numbers related to what they like, where they shop, what their needs are. Use that to give some specific reasoning around why a brand might want to work with you. One thing I’ll often say when talking to a potential client is X% of my readers are ___ which would make them a great fit for your product.

      – Join a network that has sponsored opportunities available or is in the business of connecting brands and bloggers! BlogHer often had this through their Influencer program, and I know Massive Sway and Business 2 Blogger (new) have opportunities available that you can apply for.

      – Maintain your community. One of the reasons I think Skillful Cook is a great place for sponsored posts is because I’ve maintained the community aspect for more than five years. I have a lot of trust with my audience, I’m only going to recommend things I like, and they know that I’ll be there to respond to questions about a recommended product. That is REALLY valuable to a brand. Even if you aren’t ready for “huge” brand partnerships yet, you can prepare yourself for that down the road by really maintaining a good rapport with your readers.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hey Lindsay & Bjork!

    Thank you so much for posting these income reports, it’s helped give me a lot of insight into the blogging world. I am JUST starting out (my baby blog is only 2 months old), and I was wondering if you have any tips for increasing traffic? I have pinterest and publish to Facebook, but I think I could be doing much more.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      We really encourage people to focus on something we call “user controlled analytics” in their first year of blogging:

      Is it possible to build a bunch of traffic in your first year? For sure! But it’s rare, especially for people that are working full-time jobs. If you focus too much on traffic then you’ll get discouraged (we speak from experience here), so focus on the things you can control.

      1. Consistency in posting
      2. Learning (podcasts, courses, etc…)
      3. Focusing on your blog vs. social media

      I wouldn’t worry about traffic until you master the user controlled analytics.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I just popped over to FBP to check out the User Controlled Analytics, and I just had to tell you how helpful that perspective is. To move away from Google Analytics for a while and to limit social media time, focusing on posting consistent quality content is so intuitive, but often overlooked (by me at least) when I feel like I need to have all the information and be aware of what everyone else is doing.

        So thank you! I needed that reminder. 🙂

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    i love his q&a! So I guess my question would be, where to start?! Like, say you’re just a person with an idea and haven’t even started a website so you have absolutely zero following. What are those first steps? Should I invest in a high quality website and great camera initially, or start off on a free platform with a mediocre camera until I figure out if this idea I have is actually something people want to read?? Should I start on Instagram and move to a blog once I’ve gained a following there?? Im scared to take the leap! Any advice is so appreciated

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      **So I guess my question would be, where to start?**

      Start with what you love and what you have. If you don’t love it you’ll burn out, and if you wait to get “the right stuff” then you’ll be starting to late. There’s so much to learn, and there always will be, so starting today without the ideal stuff is the ideal way to start, because you’ll start to learn right away.

      We hear a lot from people that are worried about having things look right when they first start, but the reality is that not that many people will see your stuff until you’ve been doing it for awhile.

      **Should I start on Instagram and move to a blog once I’ve gained a following there?**

      It depends on what you’re trying to do. If you’re hoping to build a blog then I wouldn’t spend your limited time building your Instagram. That can come later. Some people might just want to build an Instagram account though, which is okay (if that’s your thing).

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    How did you make your site mobile-friendly? Is it a separate mobile site? Thanks!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi there! I noticed that your highest income earner is from the Bluehost link to starting a food blog. When you first starting, I assume you didn’t have this as an income stream as you were…ahem..just starting a food blog yourself. Or did you? And if you didn’t – at what point did you incorporate it in to the mix?

    I am relaunching my website, so that along side my traditional income of providing workshops, I can monetise the content I have in my head from years of being in the craft business. I am writing several pieces to help get the ball rolling (like the aforementioned food blog link) and am just trying to figure out at what point you add an item which you use your experience as the content?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      **When you first starting, I assume you didn’t have this as an income stream as you were…ahem..just starting a food blog yourself. Or did you? And if you didn’t – at what point did you incorporate it in to the mix?**

      Right. We didn’t have that integrated right away. We started earning income from that in 2011 (summer), which was about a year after POY got up and running.

      **I am writing several pieces to help get the ball rolling (like the aforementioned food blog link) and am just trying to figure out at what point you add an item which you use your experience as the content?**

      I’d say as soon as you feel like you really know and understand the product or service.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great idea for a Q&A. My question is about your eBooks. Is there a reason why you don’t self publish with Kindle or iBooks? Is it more profitable to sell eBooks like you do? Any insight you could provide on this topic would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Anthony!

      **Is there a reason why you don’t self publish with Kindle or iBooks?**

      I don’t think it’s more profitable – I do think we could benefit from having the book available in other places and in other formats as well.

      Right now we only offer Tasty Food Photography and the eCookbooks as PDF versions – when we made the products, we were excited about the idea of Kindle and iBooks, but honestly, I was pretty overwhelmed at the idea of trying to format all that content to make it work on those other platforms. For that reason, we decided the best path was the one that was easiest to actually complete (rather than just TALK about completing), and that was creating the ebooks as a PDF.

      That being said, there are also other reasons, like TFP has so many images that it would look pretty terrible on a Kindle and potentially cost quite a bit for us to make that happen, since we’d be paying for the larger, image-heavy file size.

      All that to say, it’s something I would love to experiment with in the future and I think if you have the capacity to make that happen, I would say go for it!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m interested in Food Blogger Pro, but not sure if it’s right for me. My blog is very centered around food but not so much recipes – would I still benefit from Food Blogger Pro, or is it meant for a more specific target (i.e. recipe blogs)?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I’m a bit biased, but I think you’d find it helpful.

      If not you can just ask for a refund on your first month. No contracts or anything, which makes it easy to get in and kick the virtual tires a bit.

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Lindsay & Bjork!

    Your income reports are so inspiring!

    I’ve been blogging for a couple months now and my struggle has been balancing my full-time job and blogging. I wish I was more on a schedule. Right now i’m posting at least once a week, but don’t have a particular day I post. If I have to pick one day of the week to publish a new post which day is the best? (or does it matter?) Eventually, I want to bump my weekly post to 2x-3x a week.

    Also, as a new blogger what are the best ad networks to monetize your blog? Right now I only have Google Adsense. But, to be honest, I haven’t had time to look into any other networks.

    Oh and keeping up with all social media outlets… How do you keep up with all? I finally created an FB page, so that’s another social media source to keep up with it and I’m really bad at the Twitter thing…

    I recently joined FBP and the blogging community there is fantastic. I love all the videos so far!

    Thanks so much guys!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Ana! I’ll answer two of your questions – I’m not the ad network expert around here so I’ll skip that.

      **If I have to pick one day of the week to publish a new post which day is the best?**

      For the posting consistency, I would say yes! definitely pick a day and try to stick to it. For me, that gave me personal accountability because I would “feel it” when I skipped a post. Staying consistent is a huge part of building a successful blog. And IMO, setting a schedule for yourself is one of the best ways to keep yourself on track with consistency. Also, I’ve found that it helps readers know when to check in. One blog I’ve followed for a long time is How Sweet Eats – I literally can’t think of a time when she’s “missed” a post. It’s always on the same days, and as a reader, I love that. There’s a time and place for flexibility, for sure, but when you’re starting out that consistent schedule is huge. I get the best engagement with new posts on Mondays. Fridays are usually pretty low days for me – people have better things to do than read a blog. 🙂

      **How do you keep up with all the social media?**

      It’s hard, and honestly, one person can’t do it all. If you can, hire help! We’ve done that in the last few months and it’s been so fantastic. Otherwise I’d say choose the ones you like, and the ones that are most effective for increasing traffic or getting exposure or connecting with readers or whatever, and ditch the rest. I think it’s good to have your names secured on all social media outlets, but the reality is that your time is probably a lot better spent on creating new content than it is on 80 different social media outlets. Choose a few and dive deep on them (for food bloggers, Pinterest and Instagram are big), but don’t worry about the rest, especially as a newer blogger.

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    I have been blogging for about 2 years and have just now started getting more involved in networking and social media and I’ve finally started to see my page views increase, but it’s definitely not where I want it to be. My question is—

    When did you see a “turning point” for your blog– where you were going from just a hundred or so visitors a day to over thousands? What were you doing at the time to bring in these visitors? How much time were you spending on social media sites– FB/IG/Twitter/Pinterest?

    One more short one— when did you write your ebooks? Did you write them when you were a little blog, or when you became more popular?

    Thanks! 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hey Emily!

      **When did you see a “turning point” for your blog?**

      I know we have it pinpointed in one of these income reports down to the actual month, but anecdotally, I know that the closest thing we have to a “turning point” happened for us when Jane Wang pinned one of my recipes. After that, it seemed like we got a huge bump of traffic from Pinterest, but also things in general just started to pick up in terms of traffic. I was getting featured on FoodGawker a lot, I had a feature on Huffington Post, and we just started seeing more referral traffic all around. I posted that Jane Wang recipe in October of 2011, so I would say it was about one and a half or two years after we started blogging that things started really picking up.

      And at that time, I was doing virtually nothing on social media! I don’t even know if I had any social media accounts other than Facebook. Instagram wasn’t a thing, and I wasn’t personally on Pinterest, and I was clueless about Twitter (still am, maybe).

      **When did you write your ebooks?**

      I wrote Tasty Food Photography in 2012, so that was also in about the 2nd year of blogging. I was a very medium-ish sized blog at that point. 🙂 The book definitely didn’t do really awesome right out of the gate – what has really helped us sell a lot has been affiliate marketing. We encourage others who found the book helpful to share about it, which leverages their audience (and hopefully puts a really valuable product in the hands of people who want/need it)! Ironically, the books I wrote after that, when I had more of a following, haven’t sold even close to the amount that Tasty Food Photography has. It’s all about finding the right content for your audience, even if that’s a smaller audience.

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    I just love these reports – they’re always so helpful!
    I started my food blog about 6 months ago, and it would be a dream come true to monetize this passion of mine. Starting Fooduzzi is the single best thing I’ve ever done, so being able to turn this into a career would be amazing. Heck, I spend a ton on ingredients, so just being able to get some of that back would be considered a “win” in my book! I’m a member of FBP, but I still have some questions regarding this topic:

    1. Because I’m just starting out, where should I be directing my time most? Social media? Applying to ad agencies? I applied to BlogHer a couple of months ago and got rejected. I plan to re-apply after six months have passed, but I don’t know if I should be more established before applying again!

    2. Along those same lines, are certain ad agencies more beneficial to those who are just starting out? I had almost 5,000 page views this past month, so I’d still consider myself a small blog.

    3. I’ll be starting my first post-undergraduate job in a few weeks. Do you have any pointers regarding work-blog-family balance? Right now, I’m posting three times a week (Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays)…will I see a large enough decline in traffic if I need to decrease that amount to affect long-term growth?

    Thanks so much in advance!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      **Where should I be directing my time most? **

      I’d really encourage you to focus on your blog content as much as possible. Really try and figure out what your readers find valuable and what they need. It’s one thing to create a lot of content every month, but it’s another thing to create a lot of content that your readers find really helpful and are likely to share. The latter is gold. The former is pretty useless.

      When people say that content is king they don’t mean that lots of content is good, they mean good content means lots of traffic. What is “good content”? It depends on your audience and readers, but with food blogs it means awesome recipes, engaging content, and good photos.

      It could also mean humor or engage video, if that’s your thing.

      Bottom line: focus on creating stuff that people like. All the other stuff doesn’t matter until you’ve figured that out.

      **Along those same lines, are certain ad agencies more beneficial to those who are just starting out?**

      If you have time (not many people do) you can use some ad networks to experiment and get a feel for what it’s like to work with them, but if your time is limited see #1 above.

      **will I see a large enough decline in traffic if I need to decrease that amount to affect long-term growth?**

      It really depends on the quality of the content. You could make a living on one post a year if it was the most popular post written that year, or you could post 1,000 times a year and not make a cent if no one engages with the content.

      If you’re stretched for time I’d encourage you to spend more time on one post vs. doing more posts and spending less time on them.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    What percentage of your monthly traffic is visits to your income reports posts? I would imagine every blogger out there must love reading them!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hey guys, thanks for encouraging this kind of discussion on the blog. My question is about work/life balance. I have a blog that gets decent traffic and just about covers its own costs and I’ve been thinking about whether I want to try make it my full time work, but how much work does that mean? I realize that in the growing process it means a lot of work to bring in new readers, learn the ropes, etc, but now that you have an established audience and are making enough to support yourself full time, how much does that work time cut into life time. Are you working in the 40-hour a week range? 60? 80? Are you working on weekends or evenings or holidays? Do you give yourself time off? I’d love to know whether running a blog that pays a full time salary means working a full time job or means working way more than full time to make it work. Thanks!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      This is such a great question.

      **Are you working in the 40-hour a week range? 60? 80? Are you working on weekends or evenings or holidays? Do you give yourself time off?**

      I’d say for the first 4 years of Skillful Cook and starting Food Blogger Pro (2010-2014) we were working at least 60 hours/week. We both had day jobs that were 40 hours/week or more, so anything we did for the business had to happen above and beyond that. Lots of work, work, work! 🙂 But thankfully we really enjoyed doing it!

      Now that we have built up the business to a point where we can hire people (and leave our day jobs), I would say we are working about 40-50 hours/week. It feels so much better than it did during that growth stage – it feels like we’re hitting our stride in terms of finding a work pace that is fast, hard working, and smart, but not just completely frazzled all the time. There is definitely still frazzle 🙂 but hiring a team and slowly working ourselves out of the business in areas we don’t necessarily enjoy has been really, really freeing! I feel really good about where we’re at with work life balance now – normal 8-5-ish days, with the occasional work-till-8pm night, and a few hours on the weekends.

      And in terms of weekends and holidays and time off – it’s pretty rare. For example, we work on random weekday holidays like Memorial Day or the 4th of July. When we were building Food Blogger Pro, we were in the Philippines and I remember Bjork working on Christmas Day – partially because we had a lot to get done, and partially because we were in the Philippines, thousands of miles away from family. And I think I probably cried about it like a big ol’ baby. 🙂 So there’s a reality that some holidays that we would otherwise have off are now “work days” for us. On the flip side, now that we’re full time blogging, every day I try to go for a run at 11:30am, or sometimes we’ll have a leisurely brunch together, which feels like time off! it’s so awesome! but when we go on family vacation, we bring our computers and get up and work for a few hours every morning. It’s a trade off – for the flexibility that you gain, you also lose the ability to truly, 100% disconnect and vacation in the same way.

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    LOVE LOVE LOVE every single thing about Skillful Cook. Especially proud of your Minnesota base! Yay!

    Is there any chance Lindsay would ever do a “cooking class” — live and in-person so that your Yum Club Fan Club (did you know you had one?) members can meet you?

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      Oh my gosh, what a fun idea! I’m honored! I would probably just have every bring a food processor and we’d all make Magic Green Sauce and sit around and chat/snack for the rest of the time. 😉

      No plans for a cooking class at the moment, but I have been toying around with the idea of more live, in-person classes and stuff like that for the next year, whether photography, cooking, whatever. I’ll keep you posted!

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    Hi there! I am new to the money making side of food blogging. I have had my site for three years and I am just now moving over from blogspot to my own domain. Couple of questions…1. what pointers can you give me to “pour gasoline” on top of a pretty good following I already have established? Also how can I make money on my website? I’m getting ready to do ads but is there anything else you can advise for people just getting started? My main two things that I’m trying to accomplish is to grow my following and to start making money. Any advice or first steps you guys could advise would be excellent thank you! My current site is My developer and I are almost done with the new site, but you can hit it at this URL: Any feedback about my site is welcome

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      **What pointers can you give me to “pour gasoline” on top of a pretty good following I already have established?**

      Hmmm… Tough (and good) question. I’d dig into the data that you have (traffic, income, etc…) and see what’s been successful so far. Once you’ve figured that out see if you can take that and evolve it into something similar but different. Essentially, repeat (and improve) on your previous successes.

      I’d also encourage you to do the hard things that no else is doing. Video is a great example. If you can start to do video (and do it well) now, then in three years you’ll be in a really good place when everyone else is trying to catch up to you.

      **Also how can I make money on my website? I’m getting ready to do ads but is there anything else you can advise for people just getting started?**

      Lots of options here! Ads are okay, but honestly they’re not going to be your best option. Some type of course/product/service will get you to a good place financially a lot sooner than ads will.

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    Thank you so much for this! Okay, my first set of questions are all about your income breakdown and the second group is about driving traffic.

    Questions about income breakdown:

    1. In your income list you have “Sponsored Posts/Speaking” but then the link goes to a company called Sway. Can you explain how you generate income from this group?
    2. I just started a weightloss blog and I was just wondering if you guys have done any research or have any insight as to the future of blogging. Do you think there is still a long term opportunity to make money off blogs or has the ship sailed and new bloggers missed the boat?
    3. Can you explain your income from Yellow Hammer Media? It seems like they are a marketing group so wouldn’t you also have a mention of them in your expense report to if you’re paying them for a service that generates traffic to your site? Is that what they do ?
    4. Do you find e-junkie to be better at selling your products than Amazon?
    5. Isn’t Genesis theme from WordPress and then Elegant Themes is a whole separate company for blog templates, correct? So how can you get income from both? Isn’t your website design only using one of those?
    6. Sovrn – again, it looks like they help increase traffic to your blog so how do you make money form them?

    And then about driving traffic to your site:
    1. On your top ten traffic feeds – what is #3 – “direct/none” – what does that mean?
    2. I have been slow but steady on getting people to follow me on Pinterest and I’ve noticed people repining a lot of pins that I’ve repined – especially food BUT I cannot seem to get my pins from my blog repined by anyone (except friends of mine) and I can’t get my pins to show up in searches. I’ve tried all kinds of renaming games to get my pins to show up in a search but no go. So how do I get my pins from my blog notices on Pinterest?
    3. How long did you make significant income (and what did you consider significant) before you felt it was safe to leave your full time job? And is Bjork still working his full time job or have you both left your jobs?

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      I’ll tackle that first set of questions and come back if I have time for the other ones. Just want to make sure I get to all the questions from others on here. 🙂

      1. Sway is the agency we use to help us connect with and negotiate contracts with brands for sponsored posts. They don’t have anything to do with the speaking we do. We lump those income categories together for the privacy of the brands and conferences we work with.

      2. It’s still possible, but it’s constantly changing. As blogging becomes easier earning income becomes harder, and the quality of the content has to be higher. Creating an income from content you publish will always be possible, but it’s for sure going to change over the next few years.

      3. Yellow Hammer is an ad agency. They have a few different divisions, but we use them to earn income from ads.

      4. Yep! It works great for the PDF eBooks we sell.

      5. We offer a couple recommendations on this page – – which is why we get income from both. You’re right though, you can only use one theme at a time.

      6. Sovrn is an ad agency. They don’t bring us any traffic, just income from ads.

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    How did you start getting traffic from Buzzfeed? Thanks for doing this awesome Q&A – oh, yes – I made your beer-battered fish tacos w/ creamy avocado sauce and um, I DIED. So delicious – one of the best things to ever come out of my kitchen!

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      I love that Whitney! Those are soo good – glad you liked them!

      We have just been lucky enough that Buzzfeed editors or contributors have found our content and started including some of our posts in their articles, like “Ten Awesome Ways to Cook Chicken.” That’s just a fake example, but stuff like that.

      The important thing to know about that is that those contributors are just regular people submitting these articles, and they are most likely searching for recipes where everyone else searches for recipes – Google, Pinterest, Yummly, FoodGawker, etc. 🙂 So optimizing your content for search in all these food hubs is a really, really smart idea! For example, make sure you have your Pinterest descriptions set with the words “chicken recipe” in it if you want that to show up when people search “chicken recipe”! 🙂

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    Hi! First, I just want to say you guys are awesome! My question is about taxes–how do you keep track of all of the things you write off (do you include all the food for your recipes?? That’s what I want to do but it seems super tedious!), and do you do your taxes yourselves or did you have to hire someone? I’d imagine it gets really complicated and that’s what intimidates me. It’s the only reason I haven’t tried to monetize my blog yet! THANK YOU!!! 🙂

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      I have this same question about taxes! What do you write off and how much of an impact taxes make on your take home amount? Thanks!!!

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      Ugh. Taxes. 🙂

      Great question though Audrey.

      We have a business bank account for Skillful Cook. Any food related purchases go on that business card. We keep those receipts in case we’re audited.

      We give our bookkeeper full read-only access to our bank account. She logs in once a month and takes care of the bookkeeping by matching up the purchases with our business QuickBooks account.

      I hate the process so I keep myself (almost) completely removed. 🙂

      Here’s a post I wrote about our process:

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    Skillful Cook, no. Tons of Yum! Thanks for your delicious posts.

    My question:

    What’s the recipe for dark chocolate coconut bites?

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    Hi guys! How have you liked working with the new ad management company – Has it been beneficial so far? (also, how long did it take for them to reply to you?) Thanks for all you do and for sharing these reports. They are so helpful!

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      We haven’t had our dashboard opened up yet so it’s still TBD. We’ll be sure to report back on it once we know though.

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    Waaaaaay back, before income reports, when you were just getting started, what did you find particularly helpful in building traffic?

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      At the time, Foodgawker was a really big deal! Foodgawker and Tastespotting both. That’s where I remember I really started to see a bump in traffic – like taking it from, for example, 40 people in a day, to several hundred people in a day. I would submit recipes there and they’d often end up on the top of their page, or on their “favorites” page, and we’d see a huge percentage of our traffic coming from that.

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    What is the best way to increase traffic? I can not seem to go beyond 5000 per month. I switched to the Foodie Theme, took a photography class and improved my pictures. I have improved my pins on Pinterest! Can you tell I am a bit frustrated!!

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      First off, huge virtual high five for all the work you’re doing Jennifer. Really, really awesome.

      The traffic question is always a tough one, as I know there are hundreds of ways to build traffic to your blog, but I can only speak to the things that we’ve done on Skillful Cook.

      A few things:

      1. Encourage people to use your content. It’s counterintuitive, but if you let people use your content (as long as they link back) then you’ll be in a better place traffic wise then if you were to hold tight to it.

      2. What’s worked well for you? What’s the #1 and #2 piece of content on your site? Why did that work well? Can you repeat that success in some way?

      3. As much as possible think about these things on the high level – What are the things that are hugely helpful to people? What are the things that people can’t help but share (or bookmark)?

      Lastly, we’re big believers in 1 percent infinity – – which is exactly what you’re doing. Stick with it and do what you can to enjoy the process.

      Really appreciate your being an FBP affiliate Jennifer!

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    Thanks for all the great info you provide! Your income reports are so informative and inspirational.

    I’ve just taken the leap to self-employment as a writer and while I can make an acceptable living from my technical contract work I would really prefer to focus on the kind of writing I can do when blogging.

    The burning question for me (and for FoodLoveGirl) is, “Do you think there is still a long term opportunity to make money off blogs or has the ship sailed and new bloggers missed the boat?”

    I’m sensitive to the fact that your answer could affect your own income so I really appreciate that you’ve given us this forum to ask the question!

    My secondary questions have already been asked, especially in the post from A Working Foodie and all those that asked about your breakdown of time spent between blogging, social media, and the rest. I’m looking forward to reading your follow-up post(s) to these questions!

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      **The burning question for me (and for FoodLoveGirl) is, “Do you think there is still a long term opportunity to make money off blogs or has the ship sailed and new bloggers missed the boat?”**

      I love this question, so no worries at all about answering it here!

      I’m of the opposite opinion of “the ship has sailed” mentality. I think we’re entering into a time where people will more and more be freelancing/self-employed/independent creators.

      Will everyone be making money from display ads on their blog? Not at all. Far from it actually.

      Will more and more people specialize in a certain skill or niche and have a “tribe” that follows them for advice on that? I think yes.


      The tool that people will use to do this? The Internet. 🙂

      Blogs? Maybe.
      Social media? Probably.
      The Internet? Absolutely.

      So…blogs specifically? Probably not. But a blog is just a platform you own that allows you to publicly create your content, which allows people to follow and engage with your work, which, IMHO, is a ship that will never sail.

      Great question Sophia!

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    Here is my question from the open forum; At which stage does a person develop their eBook? I will be seeking to sign up with Food Pro in the next month and wanted to know when to move into this area (i.e., several months after I have created my tutorials, and they have begun to build a catalog)?

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      Hey Keva! I don’t think you need to be at any particular stage to put together helpful resources like ebooks for your readers. but you DO need the ebook to be legitimately useful to people, and something that they’d want to share with others because they found it so helpful and awesome.

      That gets into affiliate marketing – and the beauty of affiliate marketing is that it leverages other peoples’ audiences and can potentially direct those people back to your product – even if those people have never heard of you before!

      If I were to put a time limit on it, I’d say give it a year before launching into the ebook world, mostly because you want to prove to yourself that this is actually something you want to do, rather than creating an ebook in the first few months and then deciding a few months later that you’re ready to be done with blogging.