September Traffic and Income Report – $29,421.94 - Skillful Cook
Our recipes, your inbox. Sign up

September Traffic and Income Report – $29,421.94

September Traffic and Income Report collage images.

Greetings from Seattle, WA!

Lindsay and I are on the last leg of a Tour de West Coast. Lindsay is attending a photography workshop today and I’m hanging out at Roy Street Coffee & Tea putting together this month’s income report. Thanks to you Seattleites for sharing your city with us. It’s beautiful and inspiring.

If this is your first time reading one of these reports here’s the quick back story:

Three years ago Lindsay and I started something called “The Food Blog Money Making Experiment.” We promised to publish a post every month where we’d provide a “behind the scenes” look at what we were doing to grow the blog’s traffic and income.

If you’d like to look through the past reports you can do so on this page.

We’ve learned a lot over the past three years while doing this experiment, but the most important thing we’ve learned is showcased in the results of the experiment itself: Growing a blog (or business or non-profit) takes time and a lot of work. It doesn’t happen overnight, in a few months, or even in a year. Are there exceptions to that? Sure. But the vast majority of full-time bloggers have been doing it for a long time and have been working really hard during that time.

We’ve talked in previous reports about what hard work looks like when building a blog. There’s grit, 1% ∞, and thinking like a cross country star (not a tennis star).

Another simple but critical skill is the ability to focus on one thing.

When you’re building a blog there are thousands of things that you could be working on (no exaggeration), but the most important thing for you to be working on is the thing that you’re working on.

Said differently, one of the biggest competitive advantages that someone can have in today’s work world is the ability to focus on a single task until it’s done.

Think about this: What if you (1) developed your ability to focus on a single task while (2) improving your skills and knowledge in that area (3) over an extended period of time?

You could do some incredible things if you did that.

It’s easier said than done though, isn’t it?

There’s unanswered emails, the new iPhone, a new level of Angry Birds, that text message that just came through, Madden 15 (no? just me?), a new follower on Instagram, your favorite news site, and a laundry basket that’s spilling over the top.

There are hundreds of things that are trying to steal our focus, and the problem is that they’re pretty darn good at it.

So how do you recapture that focus?

What about doing less in order to do more? Is there something that you need to cut out of your life that will allow you to focus without feeling completely distracted or stressed?

On Skillful Cook, we’ve started to hire support staff to help with different social media channels - right now we have an intern working on community management for Skillful Cook Pinterest and Facebook. We also have an admin who manages all our submissions to food sharing sites and optimizes some of the existing Food Blogger Pro videos. And then there’s our beloved accountant who does everything that we don’t want to (read: can’t) do on our own.

In the life department, we have made the intentional decision to bring on a team to complete all the steps of our kitchen remodel rather than doing it ourselves, which would inevitably result in a) stress from us trying to do remodeling things that we don’t know how to do, and b) yet another distraction that would prevent us from doing what we’re actually good at doing.

The bottom line: You don’t have to do it all, in your business or in life. We sure don’t!

Pick your priorities, focus on them, and don’t feel guilty about moving some things (even if they’re good things) to the back burner.

If you’re looking to take this concept to the next level I’d suggest reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown. It rawks.

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


Total Income: $36,019.51


Total Expenses: $6,597.57

Net Profit: $29,421.94

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

Amazon Affiliate Program in Minnesota

Amazon finally allowed Minnesota back into their affiliate program at the start of October.

Before October Minnesota wasn’t allowed because Amazon wasn’t collecting sales tax on orders made in Minnesota (it’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s the basic reason). Amazon recently changed this and is now collecting sales tax on orders made in Minnesota, which has allowed Amazon to open their affiliate program back up to residents in Minnesota.

We’ll soon start experimenting with different ways to use Amazon affiliate links throughout Skillful Cook. If you’re interested in getting an inside look at what we plan on doing you can check out the 5 Ways We Plan to Use Amazon Affiliate Links post on the Food Blogger Pro blog.

Advertising on Facebook

Understatement: Facebook advertising is powerful.

It’s amazing how detailed you can get when creating targeted Facebook ads. There are some really awesome things we could be doing with Facebook ads but it’s currently not the time for us to be spending a lot of time with Facebook (see beginning part of this post).

That being said, I wanted to have a basic understanding of Facebook ads, so I took a few hours to create an ad that pointed to a page on Skillful Cook with affiliate links.

The good news? We came out with a profit!

The bad news? The grand total was two cents. Literally, $.02.

After spending $114.98 on Facebook ads we earned a total of $115. I consider it a success as a proof of concept and something that I might be revisiting when time allows.

The thing that really fascinates me about a setup like this is that it’s extremely scalable because the traffic is purchased as opposed to earned via organic search and social media. If you can make $101 dollars for every $100 you spend then there’s little risk in spending money advertising.

That being said, paid advertising is a foreign space for me, so I’m approaching with caution. For now, we’ll take the $.02 and buy a couple of Tootsie Rolls. #datenight

Video Ads

We’ve been fighting a mean fight with auto-play ads with audio.

They’re terrible. We apologize if you’re run into them. If you still continue to see them, especially the weird one with the sheep-goat baaaing and the dog on the skateboard (?!), please let us know. If the issue continues, we’ll have to pull the plug with certain ad networks. We really can’t afford to have “bad tenants” renting Skillful Cook’s digital real estate.


RPM stands for page revenue per thousand impressions. RPM shows you the average revenue you earn from every 1,000 page views on your blog. It’s a helpful metric because it allows you to see how effective you are at monetizing your blog.

Below is the RPM that we had for Skillful Cook in the month of September.

September RPM.


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

Traffic Overview

Google Analytics Traffic Overview.

Top Ten Traffic Sources

Google Analytics Top Ten Traffic Sources.

Mobile Vs. Desktop Traffic

Google Analytics Mobile vs. Desktop vs. Tablet.

Thoughts On Traffic


We’ve started posting some videos to the Skillful Cook YouTube Channel. Did you see the one of Lindsay smashing the wall with an ax? 🙂

I’m really excited about the potential that video holds. However, one place it doesn’t (yet) have an impact for Skillful Cook is traffic.

Traffic from YouTube.

That’s a grand total of 40 sessions from YouTube in September. It’s nothing to write home about (then again, I’m writing about it in this report, which my parents read, which is kind of like writing home).

The biggest potential that YouTube holds isn’t the potential to drive thousands and thousands of visitors to your blog, but the potential to connect with readers and build a relationship with them, which I would consider more important than traffic. After all, it’s better to have 1,000 readers that care than 100,000 that don’t care.

Have you ever met someone in person that you’ve watched on video? It’s kind of like you already know them.

Have you ever met someone in person that you’ve only read, not seen on video? Did it catch you off guard a bit how they looked, acted, or sounded?

That’s why video is powerful - it allows us to “know” each other better than just written content does.

Is it scary to jump in front of the camera and press record? You bet.

Is it worth it? We think it is.

Viral Posts

50% of Skillful Cook’s traffic comes from 10% of the posts. That means that out of 600 posts, 50–60 of them are driving half of the traffic to the blog. These are kind of like Skillful Cook’s hit songs. They’re the ones that people know, recognize, and share.

Needless to say, having a “viral post” will give your blog a huge bump in traffic, just like writing a hit song will give a musician a huge boost in their music career.

We often get emails from people asking how to write a really popular post, and the answer is much simpler (but not easier) than people think. I share more in a post called Viral Posts and Hit Songs on the Food Blogger Pro blog.

I also share about having a song of mine featured on MTV (teaser!).

Blogging As a Business

Lindsay and I are humbled and grateful for the growth that Skillful Cook has experienced. We feel a (positive) sense of obligation to continually and consistently create content that is helpful and inspiring.

One of the ways that we feel that pressure is with these income reports. We want to continue to find creative ways to grow and monetize Skillful Cook so we can report back and share what we’ve learned about creating an income from a food blog.

Part of the pressure we feel is to report back each month with numbers that are higher than the previous month.

But the reality is that won’t always be the case, and while it’s hard to say for sure what will happen, we anticipate the next season of Skillful Cook to be a building phase, which means that we’ll be incurring more expenses in order to build the business.

We report the profit on these income reports (profit = revenue minus expenses), which means that during this building phase the income report profit totals will most likely go down.

Many readers won’t know why this is happening because they’re “check and go” income report readers, which is totally okay and expected. But I’m really excited that not everyone is a “check and go” reader.

How do I know that?

Because you’re still reading even though it’s the last few paragraphs of a 2,000-word post about generally hard to read stuff like numbers and analytics. **high five**

We’re excited that you're part of this journey as we continue learning about building and growing a successful blog. We have some really exciting stuff in store. We’re thankful that we can share it with you.

I’ve polished off my mocha and Lindsay should be wrapping up soon, so it’s time for me to close down my laptop.

One more thing before I go:

Because Of You

It’s because of you that this thing we call Skillful Cook can exist as it does today. Thanks so much for reading, tweeting, commenting, emailing, and sharing these recipes with your families and friends. We love hearing from you!

This month the special project that we’re focusing on is buying birthday gifts for the kids at the Children’s Shelter of Cebu, an incredible orphanage in the Philippines where we lived and worked for a year.

Birthday Party at Childrens Shelter of Cebu.

When we lived in the Philippines, attending these kiddos’ birthday parties was always a bright spot in our long, hot days. There were always big smiles, loud singing, and plenty of rice, chicken, and birthday cake.

We really think of this as the Skillful Cook readers supporting CSC right along with us. Thank you for standing with us to give these kids the care, love, and special birthday attention they deserve as they wait to meet their forever families.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you, Bjork, for another great report. I have been following Skillful Cook since I started my website. It was a coincidence that I found you almost in the same time I started my website. I apply a lot of your advice and my readership is growing slowly, but steadily. I also have two young children at home which keep me busy during the day.

    I understand how much work goes in a blog post, as sometimes I spend hours doing research for many of mine. But as you guys, I love it, as I consider it brings value to many people (my blog is geared towards parents and their children and I offer nutritional advice and easy, delicious, and nutritious recipes).

    I am planning on learning how to take better photos and I hope that your ebook will help me with that, as I hope will some of the books I recently got from the library.

    Thank you for all the hard work you do and Lindsay do, as it helps many people, me being one of them.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks Bjork! I always look forward to your income posts. In fact, I check for them every day (sometimes several times a day) at the beginning of each month! I’m excited to hear that you and Lindsay are starting new things and planning on building. I love following your progress; it’s really inspiring. And thank you for the reminder that building a blog takes time. I’m not in a rush, but it feels good to be reminded by you and Lindsay, because you guys really know what you’re talking about. Enjoy Seattle!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks for always checking ’em out each month Michelle. It’s a huge motivator to know that people will actually read the posts.

      Seattle was awesome!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you, Bjork! Your experience is always so helpful and the way you explain everything is easy to understand. Also, I’m absolutely loving the YouTube videos! They are so fun to watch (especially the one of Lindsay with the axe!).

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you for another great in depth income report. I appreciate how much information and tips you share with us here. Keep up the good work. Wishing you and Lindsay every success as you focus on growing your business even further. You are an inspiration to all bloggers, especially those of us who love to share recipes. Have a safe trip home from the west coast.

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Bjork, I often feel like you’ve read my mind when these posts come out–they are always so relevant for me! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about focus (because I’m naturally not so good at it). When I’m really overwhelmed, I have a little mantra for myself: “pick a thing and do it”. Sometimes I’m too stressed to prioritize well, but at least accomplishing one thing (ANYthing!) is better than sitting around trying to do several things at once or worrying about making the best decision about which thing to pick first.

    Hope you and Lindsay enjoy the rest of your trip!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      So true Becky! That actually happened to me two minutes ago (literally). After much internal debate of what to do next, I brewed a cup of coffee, put in some headphones, sat down at my desk and said to myself: “Pick one thing and do it, Bjork!”

      That one thing? Respond to comments on this post. 🙂

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m not a “check and go” reader – I fully absorbed all 2000 words and loved every second of it! You always make me think! And I’m glad that it sounds like you and Lindsay are starting to find a balance. I’m learning a lot from you two (my blog idols). 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Rachel. Makes me so happy (and motivated) to know that.

      Looking forward to the launch of Three months!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love these income reports. They are very inspirational. I still am just writing and posting as a hobby ie no income. Which at times makes me feel like a crazy person for pouring so much in to something where I don’t get paid to do it. I am coming up on seven years of doing this and am fearfully ready to take the leap.

    I can’t wait to hear what you have to say at ChoppedCON!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Jamie! So excited for you to take the leap. 🙂 Keep us in the loop as you move forward with things…

      I’ll try and catch your ChoppedCon recap post on your blog. Hope the session was helpful!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Bjork, thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed monthly report! I also appreciate your positive and open-minded attitude toward FB ads. I’m neither pro or against it. (I simply haven’t had time to look in to it in depth.)

    By the way, I love your videos! And I’m so excited to see what you have in store for us. With your new kitchen, I hope to watch some awesome “Skillful Cook” cooking shows. You’re totally right about how videos take the connection to the next level. From you short videos, I already feel like I know you. Keep up the great work, yumteam!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Makes me so happy to hear that Shinee. That’s the hope with the videos – to “get to know” readers/watchers/friends-from-around-the-world a little bit better.

      We’re honored/humbled/excited to be able to share this journey with other people.

      Thanks for reading!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    You guys are awesome! Can’t wait to see all the great things from Seattle! These posts are always so amazing and inspiring, thank you for sharing and for really touching on the point that it doesn’t happen over night 🙂

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    These posts are so impressive. Thank you for taking the time to gather all this information and share it with everyone in an easy to read and understand manner.

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    As always, such great detail and useful information in this month’s report. It’s really cool that you guys have an affiliate program now! These reports are super useful and I love to search through and see what is new month to month in who you are working with. Keep up the good work! Neil & Nelia

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Neil & Nelia – Thanks so much. It’s been awesome to watch you guys jump in and start to figure out all of this blog stuff. Always something to learn, huh? 🙂

      Keep up the good work!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Yes, and yes! This topic really hits close to home for me. I am too much of a multi tasker, and I have noticed that while I am DOING a lot, I am not FINISHING a lot. I will have to start thinking of ways to prioritize the most important tasks, and really allow myself to complete them.

    I’m excited to see how you continue to grow PoY!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      “…while I am DOING a lot, I am not FINISHING a lot. I will have to start thinking of ways to prioritize the most important tasks, and really allow myself to complete them.”

      Nailed it. You and I both, Michelle. Such an important (yet difficult) thing to do.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    As I read through this report this morning, I was also importing and editing photos and writing parts of my corresponding blog post. Yes, I am a multi-tasker. A lot of people tell me I need more focus, but there is that “I have to do it all and right away!” mentatilty that is hard to shake. I love these posts so much, it is actually how I found the blog and what inspired me to get over my fears and take the plunge into food blogging. It is what brings me back each month and what makes me want to take a peak into the rest of the blog and see what Lindsay is up to as well !

    I think for the rest of October, I will take this as my homework assignment and try and focus on one task at a time. My first success: I was able to write this whole comment without doing something else like checking social media or finish editing that one last photo.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I LOVED this paragraph Amanda. Actionable next steps and little victories.

      “I think for the rest of October, I will take this as my homework assignment and try and focus on one task at a time. My first success: I was able to write this whole comment without doing something else like checking social media or finish editing that one last photo.”

      I hope the October focus goal has been going well!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks Bjork for an awesome report! My sis-in-law and I have had our blog for about a year, and are deciding that it’s time to start monetizing a little. We’ve been so hesitant because, like you, we want great content and our passion to share our love for these recipes to be the driving force behind our little space, instead of being a sell-out for temporary and fleeting success. I think you’ve proven that you can have great content and be insanely successful in the long-run, but there still has to be an effort in figuring out the technical stuff. I love your honesty and your tips.

    Video has been something on my mind from the get-go, but it’s always a little intimidating when you don’t think that you would have the best voice/stage presence. So we’ll have to see if we ever go that route. I think it’s genius though!

    And so funny that you mentioned Amazon Affiliates. I hadn’t bothered with it to date, but was just reading about someone who, over the course of ten years, made $420,000 solely from this program just with persistent links (and obviously traffic growth over time). We are always recommending products that we love using on our site anyway, so even if it’s a minor amount of affiliate money, it seems like it’s worth using that space. I’m sure you’ll have a lot of success with it!

    I’ve been following your reports for quite awhile and you guys are inspiring. I especially appreciate all of the great things that it seems like you are doing with your earnings, esp the orphanage. Hopefully I will have the chance to get to know you “in real life” one of these days. I think you are both amazing people!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Really, really appreciate the kind words Christina.

      I’d always recommend that people at least give video a try. I know exactly what you mean when you talk about it being intimidating. I was SO nervous the first time I recorded a video for Food Blogger Pro. It took me almost 300 videos to finally get to a point where I feel comfortable talking into the mic!

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    I always look forward to these posts. I love that I can get a dose of informative and stay interested. While it’s inspiring to see the size of Skillful Cook’s growth and income (you guys are killing it!) I love that you still use the money to supports those kids. It’s not very often I get warm fuzzier when reading financial posts 😉

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    You make a good point about doing one thing and finishing it. I realize that I am juggling a hand full of ideas at once, and not giving any of them the attention that they deserve. As always love these posts. They are so helpful

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      So important JC!

      More important than genius ideas or high IQ…I’m convinced that the skill of “starting and finishing” is one of the most important business skills that people can have. The good thing is that it can be developed!

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you for these reports!! I’m one of the ones who read through every single word of this. Actually, it was you guys being so open about your income that inspired me to start my own blog! Now, I’m not looking to make money now of course since I just started two weeks ago 🙂 but thanks to you I know that it’s possible! Keep up the great work!! Can’t wait to continue following along!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Congrats on starting your blog Sarah! Humbled and honored that POY played a small role in inspiring you to do so.

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    I echo what most people have said already. I find these posts very inspiring. Not only do I read them all the way through but I have saved a lot of them to eventually re-read. There’s some seriously valuable information in these posts and I am very grateful for how much you share!


  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great report as always, Bjork! I love that it was written from the beautiful Pacific Northwest, my home sweet home. I waved to you and Lindsay as you passed by Vancouver, Washington. Did you see me? 🙂 I get to give a high five for REALS at ChoppedCon next week, to which I can only say, WOO HOO! Can’t wait.

    One thing that especially stood about to be about this post was the mention of the hits driving most of the traffic. I didn’t realize that was the case for you guys and it makes me feel better. I am experiencing the same thing, but with a much smaller ratio 1-2 posts out of 19 or so. It’s really good to know that this is a typical/expected outcome.

    I for one do not expect that each income report will be higher than the last. In fact, I expect ebbs and flows and business expenses, etc. It’s great that you’re sharing these, but no pressure! You’re keeping it real, and that’s what makes these reports so powerful. Thanks again.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      It was so fun to meet in person Beth! We LOVED hanging out at ChoppedCon last weekend.

      Regarding hits: Yeah! Totally true, and I’d assume it’s also true for other blogs as well.

      Thanks for the kind and encouraging words Beth. You’re the best!

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    Congrats on your continued success. I’m a Minnesotan as well and I had hear that Amazon was allowing MN affiliates back. That’s great news because I used it quite a bit before they dropped us.