October Traffic and Income Report - $15,048.82 - Skillful Cook
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October Traffic and Income Report - $15,048.82

The Food Blog Money Making Experiment - October Results collage of images.

Hi there friends. Bjork here, checking in for my monthly traffic and income report.

Every month I put together a report that includes a behind-the-scenes look at Skillful Cook. This is our 26th traffic and income report. You can browse through all of the previous reports in the Making Money from a Food Blog archive section.

I focus on two things with these reports (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. Creating an income from a blog or website isn't something that happens over night (or even after a few months). It's entirely possible, but it takes a lot of time, hard work, and focus. We can't do the hard work and focus for you, but we can certainly help cut down on the time part! 🙂

Let’s take a look at the numbers for October.


Total Income:: $18,815.66


Total Expenses: $3,766.84

Net Profit: $15,048.82

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

Embedded Recipe Ads

In the August traffic and income report I shared about Swoop, the in-recipe ads that we're running through BlogHer. The first month's income from Swoop was only $586.20, which was a bit of a let down considering the fact that the ads are somewhat invasive for the reader. It was nice to see that number jump to $1,425.00 in October.

The challenge with traditional visual advertising (for example, a 300×250 ad in the sidebar) is the fact that readers are starting to become “banner blind.” Think about how often you actual click on a banner that you see on a website. Probably not that often, right? Advertisers also have to consider the fact that more and more sites are becoming mobile responsive, which means the website looks different on mobile devices, like iPhones and iPads. Mobile responsive websites will oftentimes push the sidebar all the way to the bottom of the page. For instance, if you're reading this in portrait mode on an iPad or an iPhone then you won't even see a sidebar. It'll just be the post content. This is why marketers have to come up with creative ways to get their ads in front of readers.

One way they're doing this with food blogs is “in-recipe” ads.

Swoop In-Recipe Ad Example

As advertising continues to become more and more integrated into the actual content, bloggers are forced to make a tough decision: user experience vs. income generation. As many of you know, it's not an easy decision to make.

We'll need to get through the fourth quarter (traditionally the most lucrative time in advertising) to really get a read on whether these types of ads are worth it or not for Skillful Cook. The plan for now is to keep them.

The Creamy Cauliflower Sauce eCookbook Discount Code

On October 16th we offered a discount code for the Creamy Cauliflower Sauce eCookbook. At the time Lindsay and I were in Montana vacationing with some good friends. Lindsay put the post together on the car ride there, and I got up early the day the post was going out to setup the discount code and make sure it worked. Apparently I got up too early, because I setup the discount code like this:

E-Junkie Discount Code - Max use count

Note: Max. use count = 1.

I tested the discount code that morning, it worked fine, and then Lindsay and I left with our friends for the day. It wasn't until 5PM that night that we realized the coupon hadn't been working for the entire day.

In my early morning stupor I was assuming that max. use count meant max use per individual. Nope. It means TOTAL max use. As in, only one person can use the code and then no one else can use it. #fail

As I mentioned in the July report, offering a discount code on your own product is a great way to boost sales, but only if more than one person can use it!

I corrected my mistake and there were 90-some people that used the discount code, but I'm sure that we missed some potential sales from people that tried to use the discount code and were denied. Hopefully this saves someone from making the same mistake that I did. 🙂


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

Traffic Overview

October Blog Traffic Overview.

Top Ten Traffic Sources

Google Analytics Top Ten Traffic Sources October.

Mobile vs. Desktop Traffic

Google Analytics Mobile vs. Desktop Traffic.

Thoughts On Traffic

Pinterest and Facebook

In last month's report I brought up the issue of having a large portion of traffic coming from one area. For Skillful Cook, and many other food blogs, the majority of traffic comes from Pinterest. This isn't a bad thing...unless Pinterest changes something and traffic suddenly drops. Changes like this happen all the time, especially online.

Remember Myspace? How about Digg? If you're interested in SEO then you probably know about “Panda,” the Google update that dried up the income of many niche sites that had previously ranked high on Google.

I might be a bit paranoid, but I'm a big fan of the phrase “better safe than sorry.”

We're starting by focusing on building the Skillful Cook Facebook page. The first thing we're doing to help build momentum with Facebook is offering a free product to those that “like” Skillful Cook on Facebook. This type of incentive is called a fangate. You must become a fan in order to walk through the gate and access the product. The product is an eCookbook called Skillful Cook's Top 25 Recipes of 2012. It's a collection of the most popular recipes from last year. You can check out what it looks like by visiting the fangate page on Skillful Cook's Facebook page.

Here's how we did it, from start to finish:

  1. Paid a designer $150 to create an eBook template.
  2. Used Google Analytics to find the most popular Skillful Cook posts from last year.
  3. Copy and pasted the recipe content from the top 25 posts into the template.
  4. Exported the document as a PDF.
  5. Uploaded the PDF (just like you would an image) so we had a link where people could download it.
  6. Installed Static HTML: iframe tabs on Skillful Cook's Facebook page.
  7. Filled out the Fangate information (what people will see before they like the page).
    Static HTML Fangate Setup.
  8. Filled out the Content tab (what people will see after they like the page) and made sure to include a link to the product that was promised.
    Static HTML Content Setup Screenshot.
  9. Uploaded a custom 111 x 74 pixel image for the tab on the Facebook home page.
    Facebook Custom Tab.

We released the free eCookbook on October 21st and put an image link in the sidebar of Skillful Cook to direct people to the page. The image link hasn't driven much traffic yet, but the book has been mentioned by other websites, including a post on Money Saving Mom, which caused the boost at the end of the graph below.

Facebook Net Likes Graph.

The fangate doesn't work on tablets or mobile devices, which is a huge bummer. We've also had some issues with people not being able to see the content after liking the page, which I'll have to spend some time troubleshooting. If you try and download the book I'd appreciate hearing your feedback on how hard (or easy) the process was.

The next step will be building a “sales” page so we can direct people to that page and explain what the free eCookbook is all about. This page would look very similar to a real sales page, the only difference being that people don't have to purchase anything, just “like” Skillful Cook on Facebook.

Because Of You

Without you, this thing we call Skillful Cook wouldn't exist. Lindsay and I can't express enough how much we appreciate you following along, commenting, tweeting, and emailing to say hi.

For example, this week some people reached out and connected with us to see how the staff and kids at the Children's Shelter of Cebu (learn about our time at CSC here) were doing during the awful typhoon that recently hit the Philippines. It was an incredibly kind act that made us feel like you guys really know us, not just as bloggers but as friends. Just so you know, everyone at the orphanage is okay. There was some damage to the buildings, and many people we know in Cebu are still without water or power, but no one from the shelter was injured. Please continue to keep the Philippines in your thoughts and prayers as many people have lost their homes and loved ones.

We're using a portion of this month's income from Skillful Cook to support a special project at CSC - purchasing brand new playground equipment for the kids! After spending a year at the shelter we saw first hand how often the playground equipment was used, so we're excited to help purchase some new elbow pads, knee pads, playground balls, and kites for the kids to use. If you're interested in seeing some of the other specific donation needs at CSC, you can check out the special projects page on their website.

Thanks again for reading, and hopefully talk to you soon!

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great numbers! I too saw Swoop revenues double last month for me and it was nice to get all reports from BlogHer early enough this month.
    I love the idea of diversifying POY’s traffic sources with Facebook and free eBook is a great idea. Facebook is a tough one, if you ask me. Just the way it works. It’s very time consuming and not so easy to work with. Pinterest is much easier. But I often wonder how Pinterest makes money now and what’s their plans. Never know…
    Thank you so much for publishing these reports every month, guys! They inspire and help many of us bloggers. I publish my own income reports too (thanks for the idea and inspiration). Not sure if you have seen them. I know you, guys, are busy.:) But anyways, have a great weekend!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Olena.

      Yeah – Facebook definitely isn’t easy, especially considering the complicated Edge Rank stuff that decides how much exposure a post gets. I still think it can be a solid traffic source though. We’ll see. 🙂

      You bet! I’ve checked out the reports you publish before. Great job!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    These reports are really interesting. So smart to diversify! What are the myfitnesspal referrals?

    Very thankful everyone at the orphanage is okay!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks so much for this! As a new food blogger, I love reading these reports and getting ideas. Thanks again for sharing your secrets!

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    I just discovered this blog but I am loving your monthly advertising reports! It’s really great to see the confidence to be transparent… it’s really helpful. I have already implemented or looked into some of your tips and am excited to see the results. I am only at 2,000 hits per month or so but hope to see traffic spike a bit with new advertising ideas. I love all your analytics as well. Oh yea, and I’m sure I will love the recipes once I venture over that direction! Great work to both of you.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Alyssa! Glad to hear that you’ve been able to find some things that you can implement on your site. Keep up the good work!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    I have a question regarding the traffic spike from Money Saving Mom when she highlighted your ebook. Were you proactive in submitting the ebook info to MSM, or did her site just happen to find out about it?

    Thanks for the info!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you so much Bjork and Lindsay for the income report and blogging tips. It’s really helpful and you are really an inspiration for us. This income report is just one of your monthly articles but the impact was great especially the way you help fellow bloggers in your own ways helps us to be more confident in building our blogs and to have a successful blog site like yours… 🙂

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Thanks Bjork. Hopefully they’ll gonna learn from my series “8 Days to Build a Money Making Blog” because that’s the main objective of that series of blog. And thank you for inspiring many bloggers with your blogging tips and ideas.. We learn a lot from you and Lindsay.. 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      We are implementing it through BlogHer, so there isn’t actually any code that we need to drop in. It’s all on BlogHer’s end.

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow! I’m new to blogging and new to your site, but I love this! SO inspiring! Thank you for sharing 🙂 Off to ‘like’ your FB page and have a nosy at your e book!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great information as always Bjork.! Wonderful to see your income growing month by month, and it’s also good that you’re putting some income back into the community. I’m glad all your friends at the orphanage are OK.

    I had no problem downloading your recipe book from FB. In fact, I was wondering why I hadn’t already liked your page, but I don’t really need a reminder in my feed about POY. I know Lindsay posts great stuff three times and week, and I always look forward to your income report on the past month.

    Will be interesting to see how many more FB likes your free recipe book drives over the next few months.

    Many thanks, and have a great Sunday!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Another great post, thanks guys! I 🙂 I notice you got some traffic rom the MFP blog this month – did they mention you in a post? (do you have a link?)

    I’m really glad to hear everyone in Cebu is doing ok!!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you so much for sharing your stats and insights. My two cents on Swoop, I found the ads incredibly ugly and evasive. They weren’t placed on the bottom of the ingredient list or directions, but within the ingredient list or in the middle of the directions. And when the user wanted to print the recipe, the Swoop ad would also be printed. Plus, most of the time, the ads had NOTHING to do with the recipe. I didn’t get great feedback from BlogHer, just “we are still working the kinks out.” For a small-medium sized blog like me, it just wasn’t worth the payout. I know bloggers wants to get paid for their hard work, as I do, too. But if our blogs become overladen with dozens of ads on the sidebar, and dozen of ads in the blog post, the user experience is diminished. I like that you have diversified your income channels. I think that’s the lesson we all have to learn. Like you said about Pinterest. Better safe than sorry. Thank you again for sharing!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I hear ya. All valid and important points. Like you said, there’s definitely lots of room for improvement with Swoop, and user experience needs to be a constant consideration. We lean towards more ads, but that’s not necessarily the right answer. Thanks for the honest insights and feedback Laura.

      Side note – your purple sweet potato soup is super intriguing. Yum!

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      I sent an email to BlogHer about the Swoop ads because I was also very unhappy with them appearing mid-ingredient list or mid-recipe. Sending a specific post’s URL seemed helpful, because they fixed it and got back to me about it right away. I’m not sure if *all* instances have been fixed, but I haven’t seen any badly placed ones in a while.

      For me, another small sized blog, Swoop is on probation for all of the reasons you mentioned. But like POY, I’m trying to keep an open mind through the end of the year. Hopefully the kinks get straightened out!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Bjork,

    Congratulations on your new all time high. You guys are great! Thank you for posting this information about how to set up the Facebook page. It will take me awhile to wrap my mind around it, but I’m really grateful.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      You bet Mireya. I remember you emailing to ask about it, so I’m glad to see that you caught this post. Let me know if you have any questions as you go about setting it up.

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you for posting this! As a new blogger, it is helpful to get this kind of insight and see what successful blogs are doing. Do you have any reports from when your blog was fairly new? Or any advice for someone just starting to build up their readership? I am hoping to one day be able to make money with my blog. I think it’s a great option when you have small children!

    Have a good one!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Sure thing Lindsey. We started doing the reports when Skillful Cook was making less than $30. You can look through all of them here – https://skillfulcook.us/category/making-money-from-a-food-blog/page/2

      In terms of advice – I’d recommend working hard but be sure that you enjoy what you’re doing. It’s only sustainable if it’s something you love. I’d also look at what other successful bloggers are doing and find ways to do the same thing with your own twist. Business are built not as totally brand new ideas but iterations and improvements on previous proven concepts.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Bjork! These income reports are really the highlight for me, apart from the amazing recipes Lindsay posts of course! I’ve only started monetizing my blog less than two months ago, and the one thing that i have implemented so far is Lijit ads – which are find to be very easy to implement and seems to be generating a small but constant income (on the rise).

    Right now I’m still experimenting with using different banner sizes/ placement positions, but mostly importantly I dont want readers to feel “AD-ed out”.

    I’m just curious though – from the reports, it seems that you have ads with Blogher, Lijit, Adsense and others, but how do you make it seem that there aren’t that many ads on POY? Perhaps it’s because I’m based in Argentina and some of the ads aren’t shown to me because of my IP address?

    would love to hear your thoughts!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      We have five ads in the sidebar and one below the post (above the comments). The ads are spaced out throughout the sidebar which helps a bit. I think you might be correct in assuming that some of the ads are filtered out when it’s a non US impression. We are currently using AdSense as backup, so it only shows if one of the main networks doesn’t have a paying ad to show.

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you for posting this every month. I know it takes a lot to write a post like this and I just wanted you to know that I read it EVERY month. I think it’s so interesting to see what goes into your blog and really appreciate you sharing it with us. I believe it really does help us, the readers, connect with you guys on a different level because you care! 🙂 And thank you for the update on the orphanage, it was one of the first things that popped into my head when I heard about the typhoon – glad everyone is ok!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      “I know it takes a lot to write a post like this and I just wanted you to know that I read it EVERY month.”

      Thanks. That makes my day. These posts are a beast. Lots of information gathering before I even start to write.

      “And thank you for the update on the orphanage, it was one of the first things that popped into my head when I heard about the typhoon – glad everyone is ok!”

      Sure thing. Please continue to keep the Philippines in your thoughts and prayers. It’s pretty bad in Leyte, a province that is very close to Cebu.

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    I immediately thought of you two, as well as the orphanage, when I saw how horrible the storm had hit the Philippines. My thoughts are with everyone there! 🙁

    Congratulations again on such an amazing month. I too am trying to build up my facebook page–I’ve noticed that unless you have “fans” interact with posts (likes, shares, etc)–then apparently some people miss out on updates all the time? It’s hard to figure out FB, at least, it is for me. But it seems like FB is sort of exploding lately. I’ve noticed several bloggers pages have gained almost 10,000 likes in a single month?! Crazy.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      “I immediately thought of you two, as well as the orphanage, when I saw how horrible the storm had hit the Philippines.”

      Thanks Laura. That means a lot.

      “I’ve noticed that unless you have “fans” interact with posts (likes, shares, etc)–then apparently some people miss out on updates all the time?”

      Apparently there are over 100,000 factors that go into whether someone sees your post or not on Facebook. Yoiks! If you’re looking to really geek out and learn more you can check out this post: https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2013/08/27/edgerank-is-dead-long-live-facebooks-edgerank-algorithm/

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am routinely blown away by these posts. Have you posted before about what resources you use to learn these things? Curious who your teachers are!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo
  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congrats on another great month! You two continue to inspire me. I am just now getting to where I make a somewhat decent part time income from my blog. Reading your posts let me know that hard work will have good results in the end! Have a wonderful afternoon and keep up the great work.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Julie! Awesome to hear that you’re starting to see some decent income from your blog. Keep up the good work!

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    What a great and informative post – I too wondered if your friends in Cebu were okay, and I’m so glad they are. Here at work we’re organizing a fundraising event for the people of the Philippines- every bit counts!

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    I too love reading your monthly posts on income and can only imagine how time consuming it is for you, Bjork! You all have worked so hard, so congrats.

    I truly feel a connection with the Philippines that I would not have felt if I hadn’t stumbled upon your blog during your time in Cebu. I hope many will consider making a donation to the Red Cross, no matter how small, to help all of those so in need. They have such a long road to recovery 🙁

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      “I truly feel a connection with the Philippines that I would not have felt if I hadn’t stumbled upon your blog during your time in Cebu.”

      That makes me so happy to hear! The Philippines is definitely a place that is near to our hearts, especially Cebu and the kids at CSC.

      “I hope many will consider making a donation to the Red Cross, no matter how small, to help all of those so in need.”


  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow! You two inspire me! I’ve had my website for quite a few years but lost interest for a while and I”m trying to figure out if I can get excited again and go for it or ??? Glad Lindsay liked our Confessions of a Butcher book and hope we can work on something together in the future. I envy your awesome photo skills and that you can both work together using your strengths.