Traffic and Income Report – November 2015 - Skillful Cook
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Traffic and Income Report – November 2015

November Traffic and Income Report collage images.

Hiya! Bjork here checking in for Skillful Cook’s monthly traffic and income report.

The quick back story with these reports: After a year and a half of blogging, we decided to see if it was possible to build the blog into a business. We documented the journey publicly with these monthly reports, starting with this post in September of 2011.

We’ve been doing these reports for over four years (you can see all 50+ of those posts here), and Lindsay has been publishing posts to Skillful Cook for almost six years (resulting in 800+ posts).

If we were to tell you the complete story of Skillful Cook, it would be a pretty boring. The main plot would consist of us taking slow, steady, but persistent steps forward. Day-after-day, week-after-week, year-after-year.

Our philosophy for building a business is pretty simple. We like to hit singles instead of home runs and focus on the long-term over the short-term. We believe that people overestimate what they can do in a year but underestimate what they can do in a decade. We believe that people are more capable than they think they are and that courage, dedication, and commitment to improvement are more valuable than a high IQ.

Our hope with these reports is that they encourage you to take consistent, daily action on the goals that you’re hoping to achieve, whether that be growing closer with your family, improving your health, starting a non-profit, or building a business.

A few steps, taken every day, really add up over a long period of time.

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

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. If you have any questions about any of the income or expenses you can leave a comment and I’ll do my best to reply.



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'

Hiring a Remote Office Manager

Some of you might have noticed yesterday’s post announcing that we’re hiring a remote office manager. In the past we’ve worked with friends, family, and people we’ve connected with offline, but this is the first time we’ve done an official announcement and application process for Skillful Cook.

Skillful Cook is Hiring.

The remote office manager is the first step that we are taking towards distributing some of the workload that comes with running Skillful Cook.

We’re assuming that the main source of applications will come from people finding out about it on the blog, including yesterday’s post, today’s mention in the income report, and a possible reminder in upcoming posts on Skillful Cook (depending on how many applications we receive).

The general process looks like this:

  1. Create a detailed outline of potential roles for the position that we can use to create relevant application questions.
  2. Build out the application on TypeForm.
  3. Post an announcement about the position on Skillful Cook.
  4. Post a few reminders about the job opening (like in this post and on a few upcoming POY posts).
  5. Collect and sort through applications daily.
  6. Follow up with 2nd round interviews and/or questions.
  7. Offer a candidate the position.

In the first 24 hours we had over 150 applications. Every day, Lindsay has been looking through applications one at a time, taking detailed notes and keeping track of who she wants to follow up with. It'll be tough to pick just one person!

The position title is Remote Office Manager. It could probably be called Remote “Office” Manager, as the office the person will be managing is virtual. This means the ability to communicate via written word is extremely important, as almost all of the conversations and work will be via email/Slack/text. Hence the reason why the application has so many questions that require a written response.

As I mentioned before, the growth of Skillful Cook has been slow and steady over the years, but this is an area where we probably should have moved more quickly (see Time and Money section towards the end of this post).

Bringing on capable team members to help with all of the day-to-day stuff that comes up will allow us to continue focusing on a high level or personality-related tasks, like writing blog posts, creating new products, or planning out the future of Skillful Cook.

As you know, it’s really easy to get caught in the nitty-gritty details of blogging, and having someone help take on some of those tasks will be a huge win for team POY.

Have you ever hired for your blog or business? What are some of the things you learned in the process?

Workshops and The Cost Of Something New

If you’ve been following along with Skillful Cook, you might have noticed that Lindsay is starting to do food photography workshops. One of the decisions we had to make with Lindsay doing these live events was whether we’d rent a space each time or set up a permanent studio where we would host them.

We opted for a permanent studio space, which will be a big win in the long run in exchange for lots of work (and more expenses) in the short-run.

This initial high-work-high-cost-low-pay stage is familiar territory.

Some other examples:

The First 2 Years: Skillful Cook

Lindsay started Skillful Cook in April of 2010 and worked on it during early mornings, lunch breaks, evenings, and weekends. It took two years before the site started to create a decent amount of revenue (let alone profit). We don’t have expense totals from those first couple years, so I made an educated guess.

April 2010 - April 2012

  • Total Revenue: $4,720.18
  • Total Expenses (educated guess): $3,000.00
  • Total Profit: $1,720.18
  • Educated Guess of Time Worked (Lindsay): 20 hours/week
  • Hourly Rate: $0.83

The First 2 Years: Food Blogger Pro

We announced Food Blogger Pro in November of 2012 and collected pre-order sign-ups, so I consider November of 2012 the official launch of Food Blogger Pro (even though it didn’t open until February 1st, 2013). From that point on I shifted the majority of my time and energy into building Food Blogger Pro, which you’ll see in the “time worked” category below.

November 2012 - November 2014

  • Total Revenue: $102,926.83
  • Total Expenses (educated guess): $59,156.09
  • Total Profit: $43,770.74
  • Educated Guess of Time Worked (Bjork): 35 hours/week
  • Hourly Rate: $12.03

The First 2 Years: Workshops

It’s hard to say for sure what the first two years of workshops will look like when it comes to time and money spent since Lindsay has only been doing this since September, but if you look at this month’s and last month’s expenses you’ll see that studio or workshop related expenses are high on the list. So is the amount of time invested, as we’ve spent lots of evenings and weekends at the studio getting things into place.

  • Total Revenue: $15,066
  • Total Expenses (educated guess): $12,176
  • Total Profit: $2890
  • Educated Guess of Time Worked (Lindsay): 240 hours total (for 3 2-day workshops and setup of new space)
  • Hourly Rate: $12.04

So what’s the point?

So what’s the point of starting a business if you’re only going to make $0.83/hour, or, if you’re lucky, $12.04/hour, in the first few years?

A few thoughts on that:

  • The obvious main point with this is that the first few years of low-pay work are laying the foundation for which you can build a successful blog or business. The first two years is like rolling a snowball down the hill. It starts small and requires you to help push it along, but eventually, it picks up speed and grows to a larger size. You can see an example of that in these reports over the years.
  • It’s also important to note that there are lots of people that are able to scale something much quicker than we have. Instead of taking two years to start creating a livable income it takes six months or a year. It’s not common, but it happens.
  • What if it doesn’t grow? What if it stagnates and stays the same size? That’s a real possibility, and it’s one of the most important reasons that you should seek to work on something you enjoy working on. If you try and build something that doesn’t grow, but you enjoyed the process of building it, then the time you’ve spent working on it isn’t in vain. Important Note: This doesn’t mean it should feel easy. Easy is different than enjoyable.

Time and Money

When you’re starting something new you can spend two resources to build it: time and money. When we first started Skillful Cook, we were able to spend our time since we had more free time (and not as much money) to spend on building something.

As we’ve built up the business over the past few years, our time resource has dwindled, which means that if we’re going to start something new, we need to spend money to get it up and running.

There’s a balance that needs to kept between how you spend your time and how you spend your money when building your business, and that balance needs to be readjusted periodically. Have you shifted your time/money spending balance lately? Do you need to be spending more of your time and less of your money? Or have you grown your blog or business to the point where you need to start putting some of the earnings back into it in order to regain and refocus some of your time?


We’ve had some awesome guests on the Food Blogger Pro podcast lately. I wanted to loop you in on the most recent four episodes so you don’t miss them.

#22: Sponsored Content from a Brand’s Perspective with Zach Tackett from DeLallo

Zach Tackett from DeLallo.

#23: Building a Team for your Online Business with Melissa Lanz from The Fresh 20

Melissa Lanz from The Fresh 20.

#24: How to Find Balance in Blogging with Ali Ebright from Gimme Some Oven

Ali Ebright from Gimme Some Oven.

#25: How to Connect with Influencers with John Corcoran from Smart Business Revolution

John Corcoran from Smart Business Revolution.

Because Of You

Lindsay and I fully realize that it’s because you – the readers, commenters, silent observers, and share-with-your-friend-ers – that Skillful Cook is what it is today.

Thank you. We so so so appreciate you.

Every month we donate a portion of this blog income to the Children’s Shelter of Cebu, an orphanage in Cebu City, Philippines that we know and love.

Man playing with young kids.

This month we’re supporting CSC by donating to help support their Christmas Outreach Party. If you’re interested in learning more about CSC (or what the Christmas Outreach Party is) you can check out CSC’s special projects page.

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    This was an especially fascinating report! I loved seeing the estimates of how much you two made per hour while building FBP and POY. That time and money balance makes a lot of sense to me, and is something I’m struggling a lot with right now—I can’t go below 45 hours per week at my day job anytime in the foreseeable future, but also don’t have the budget to hire anyone to help me with my blog yet. I’ve always been relatively low on money, but used to have much more time. I’m now scrambling to figure out what to prioritize with time being so much less available to me than it was in the past. I think starting with calculating how much time I spend and how much money I make in a month with help, though. Then I’ll be able to see an approximate hourly rate and can work on increasing that gradually over time by trying to work smarter instead of just harder.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hey Lindsay & Bjork. I read this reports on a regular basis. But this time it had some extra value for me. I just start out my awesome foodblog journey and everything that helps me see what incomes and visitors are normal in the beginning stage are really valuable for me.
    Thanks a lot!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for this post! I am in a completely different business, but I find always inspiration for my own work and I wish you guys all the best, you’re great!

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Bjork & Lindsay,
    I read this report the other day, but wanted to come back and say that I really appreciate this month’s report detailing the overall revenue of POY, FBP, & the workshops. It’s really helpful to remember that a) these things take time and b) expenses are NORMAL. I’ll be making big changes next year in order to achieve my goals, so this was a nice reminder to not put too much pressure on myself to expect too much in the beginning, but if I maintain realistic & consistent goals, I’ll get there!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Bjork! Always love these posts… they’re very motivational. Quick question: you don’t add up your totals anymore? I feel like in the past there must have been the grand total somewhere, with gross income and actual income, and I don’t see it anymore. Am I missing it? I’ll be honest… I’m too lazy to add up your income and expenses to calculate the total, haha!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      They stopped posting the total earlier this year. I believe it was so that the focus was on the “sum of the parts” vs. “the whole”. I admit that I look more at the different line items now than I did when there was a final tally at the end. Of course, seeing that number, and knowing it is a possibility for any one of us if we work hard enough, was definitely inspiring! 🙂

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    I recently read all your income reports from the beginning and I have to say I’m pretty blown away. It goes to show that dedication, passion, and hard work, really go a long way. I recently started a tea blog earlier this year and am still in the early stages of ‘figuring out’ what works and what doesn’t work. I feel like you were in the beginning: blogging in the early mornings, lunch, evenings and weekends. I find your income reports motivating and hope you guys continue with the great work you’ve done!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Shut the front door! Look at that income report! You guys rock my socks. Thanks so much for all you do and for introducing me to AdThrive last fall! It’s been a huge success for our site and takes a lot of pressure off our small team.

    Congrats to you guys!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for this– always so informative and appreciated! Quick question….I notice you advertise on FB. Can you disclose what kinds of ads you place there? Like…. are you boosting posts, or advertising your blog in general …. what type of ads are you placing? Do you advertise to followers or non-followers? Do you feel its worth the money? Any more info or guidance would be useful.
    Thanks and have a happy Christmas!!

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Your figures are always excellent and motivational.
    Thanks for publishing them again this month and good luck.

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for sharing all of this super-helpful info! I love these posts. 🙂

    I noticed that you are with AdThrive. I am as well. I also see, however, that you have several other ad networks in addition. I was under the impression that AdThrive is meant to exclusively manage all of your non-private ads. Why do you have those networks separate from AT?


  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    So many congrats to you guys; I have been thinking about this for years and I am so inspired. Learning so much reading all about the business end of food – something I just LOVE

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    These income reports of yours always make me motivational and it give me driving push that if you can I can also but my main language is not English thats why now a days I focus on niche marketing instead of blogging and anyway congrats to both you two awesome couple.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thanks for the report!I love reading these and always find them so helpful!

    I was curious, how do you calculate the food costs for your blog, and how do you record your expenses? Do you just shop separately for all of your ingredients?

    I do freelance recipe development too, and I know this past year I spent so much money on ingredients and have no idea how to deduct the cost, and any bit helps a small blog like me! 🙂

    Thanks so much Lindsay and Bjork!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi Bjork and Lindsay,

    Thank you for your motivational ventures and nice post!
    Continue inspiring and keep lives vital and moving.
    Looking forward to how you develop further. All the BEST.

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Bjork, I sent an email to Abby to ask a few things. This report is fantastic and helps to motivate us all to keep with blogging and build our businesses! Thank you for sharing.

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi guys! Love your blog, recipes and podcasts! Just wondered where the google analytics are for this report? Would love to know the audience numbers you are getting to achieve such amazing results! Thanks for your honesty!

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    hey they way you share your income report every month boosts up my confidence as i am also a full time blogger and with time & patience my blog is also growing, all i want to tell u is thank you for motivating !!

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    Lindsay and Bjork,

    Thank you so much for posting all this valuable information, it is so motivational!

    I am thrilled that you are allowing me to showcase your numbers in my upcoming post on how small, medium and big bloggers make money. I can’t wait to share it with my readers and motivate them on their journey to making money with their blogs.

    Thank you also for the stories on how you both started. Blogging has become a passion for me, even though we all start with only making pennies per hour!

    The thrill and motivation of starting something from scratch is so rewarding.


  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    For whoever is interested:

    Total Revenue: 60757,00$
    Total Expenses: 10532,63$
    Total Profit: 50225,32$

  20. Skillful Cook Logo

    What percentage of your traffic is male vs female? I’m in the planning stage and am trying to decide if I want to remain gender neutral or play the single dude card.


  21. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi. Random question I am feeling quite constrained by how to sell my products online now that the EU VAT laws have come into play. Obviously this affects any sellers worldwide if they sell products to those who live in the EU , so I wondered what you have done and your thoughts? Is it worth all the extra hassle doing it yourself or who do you use as a third party to deal with it? Thanks so much in advance for your advice

  22. Skillful Cook Logo

    First, THANK YOU for the transparency and education given in this post. It’s tremendously generous!!

    I’m looking to start a food blog but am getting stuck on the hosting plans. I’m planning to use Food Blogger Pro. However, I’m specifically confused about how much storage to buy for the food photography needed to make the website look good. Do you generally compress the pictures or leave them at a high DPI?