Traffic and Income Report – March 2016 - Skillful Cook
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Traffic and Income Report – March 2016

March Traffic and Income Report collage of images.


Bjork here. Checking in for the March (two months ago!) traffic and income report. We've been hustling with some exciting projects that are happening behind the scenes here at POY/FBP HQ, hence the reason for this income report coming out a bit later than usual. Can't wait to share with you what we've been working on. Stay tuned!

For those that aren't familiar, we've been doing these reports for a long time. If you have some free time I'd suggest jumping back to the first report we published and read through each month's report. Reading through the old reports will give you an idea of the decisions we've made and the things we've learned over the past 5+ years as we've slowly built Skillful Cook into a full-fledged business.

Let's jump into the numbers for March...

Income Report Numbers


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 we’ll do our 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'

Traffic Totals

Below are some Google Analytics screenshots from the month of March 2016.

Traffic Overview

Google Analytics Traffic Overview for March.

Top Ten Traffic Sources

Top Ten Traffic Sources.

Mobile vs. Desktop vs. Tablet

Mobile vs Desktop vs Tablet Traffic.
Income Report Takeaways

I wanted to switch things up this month and answer a few blog/business/life-related questions that we've been hearing frequently.

So here they are: Some of the most common questions we get related to POY as a blog/business.

Do Your Income Reports Get The Majority Of The Traffic?

No. Far from it.

In 2015 Skillful Cook had 39,417,974 total page views.

241,234 of those page views were to income reports.

That comes to a whopping 0.006%.

Here’s what that looks like in graph form:

Traffic to Income Reports vs Traffic to Regular POY Posts.

If you’re reading this you’re a one-percenter. 🙂

These reports are still helpful for traffic, as blogs or websites link back to them, which in turn helps SEO, but even with that, the vast majority of links pointing to Skillful Cook are related to food, not these reports.

We have two separate cards. One is a personal debit card and one is a business debit card.

If we’re at the grocery store buying both personal and business-related food then we’ll divide it up and check out twice, once for personal purchases and once for business purchases.

Here’s a post I wrote called Zen Accounting for Bloggers. The only thing we’ve changed with that system is that we now use Shoeboxed to process all our digital and physical receipts.

What Do You Do with The Money You Earn From The Blog?

Kind of a funny question, but people occasionally ask us so I thought I’d answer it.

We view business income as separate from personal income. So if Skillful Cook has a profit of $40,000 in a given month we consider that business income, not personal income.

Lindsay has a salary of $72,000/year from Skillful Cook (it’s the same amount for me but my salary comes from Food Blogger Pro).

This helps us to budget our personal spending and keeps us accountable to not use the surplus business income for excessive personal spending.

The surplus business income goes into three buckets - save, spend, and taxes.

Save - As expenses grow for the business so does the amount of savings we want to have in the bank. These savings go into the business emergency/savings fund. We aim to have 9–12 months of projected expenses set aside.

Spend - This is listed as “Expenses” in the report totals shown above. We’re also working on another project that isn’t directly related to POY (hence the reason for not being listed as an expense in these reports). We’re using some of the profit from POY to fund this new project. Stay tuned for more info on that!

Taxes - Never a fun check to write. But we’re thankful to live where we live. We pay quarterly federal and state taxes along with the income taxes that come along with each paycheck. These quarterly payments are calculated by our CPA while Justworks handles the bi-monthly employee and employer income taxes.

Who Designed Your Website?

The site was designed by Melissa (The Faux Martha) and developed by Bill Erickson.

I Don’t Have a Self-Hosted WordPress Site. Should I?

It depends on what type of site you’re building.

E-Commerce? Check out Shopify.

“Static” Site that’s not updated much? Check out Squarespace.

Blog? A self-hosted WordPress site is probably your best bet.

What’s It Like For You and Lindsay To Work Together All The Time?

We actually don’t work in the same place that often. I’m usually working from home in St. Paul and Lindsay is working from the studio in Minneapolis. Our goal is to always be more husband and wife than co-workers. Having separate workspaces helps with that.

That being said, we always have a lot of work stuff to talk about in the morning or at night, which we both like (right Lindsay?!?). We also chat via Slack, Messages, and email throughout the day.

Here’s a post (and an awkward high school picture) Lindsay wrote a couple of years back that talks about what it’s like to run a blog as a couple.

I’m Just Getting Started with My Site. How Do I Make Money?

Freelance or continue working your job.

If your hope is to build a content-driven site (like a food blog), then you shouldn’t expect to make a livable wage in the first year, let alone within the first few months.

But that doesn’t mean you have to do work you hate.

Search for jobs or freelance gigs in subject areas that you’re passionate about. Writing, photography, design, data analysis… All of these are extremely marketable skills.

Continue to work on your site in the margins of the day (morning, lunch, evening). This regular-work/blog-work balance allows you to build your empire without having to worry about paying the bills. As your site continues to grow you can slowly shift your time and attention from regular-work to blog-work.

But be sure to work hard at your job or on your freelance gigs and don’t try and sneak your own work in here or there. Jon Acuff says it well in his book Quitter.

“Bad employees make horrible dreams. You’re not just working; you’re practicing for your dream. If you want your dream job to work, work on your day job.” - Jon Acuff

I love that line: practicing for your dream.

Speaking of, Quitter is a good read if you’re thinking about leaving your day job. It came out a few years ago, but it's still a good read.

Here’s the trailer:

Lindsay and I did the regular-work/blog-work balancing act with Skillful Cook and Food Blogger Pro. For the first 3-4 years it was work full-time and blog part-time (plus).

From 2013–2014 Lindsay and I were still working our “normal” jobs but on a reduced schedule. I was putting in 2 days a week at the non-profit I was working at and Lindsay had moved to 6-hour days at the school she was teaching at.

It was a slow and steady shift for us.

When Lindsay and I decided to officially go full-time with the blog in May of 2014 (two years ago!) there were 12+ months of consistent growth and earnings from the blog. It was a risk, but it was calculated. Continuing to work our jobs while working on the blog helped us make a smooth and (relatively) worry-free transition into full-time blogging.

How Do I Improve My Photography?

It’s helpful to know two things when it comes to feeling uncomfortable with your art:

  1. Almost everyone else feels the same way.
  2. You’ll get better if you stick with it and continue learning.

But it takes time.

Time (months and years) to develop your skill and time (hours) when you’re doing a shoot/project/creating your art.

Ira Glass says it well:

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years, you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” - Ira Glass

Don’t rush it and stick with it.

It Seems Like Everyone That Is Earning An Income From Their Blog Is Also Doing Income Reports. Do I Need To DO Income Reports To Create An Income?


For every successful blog that is doing an income report, there are probably 49 that aren’t.

Reports like this are helpful for blogs that want to build a complementary business alongside their current blog. For example, it makes sense for us to publish these reports because we want to gain the attention of other food bloggers and introduce them to Food Blogger Pro.

Income reports like this (or any type of business transparency reporting) are most impactful when you can use it to engage with an audience that aligns with your target market.

For instance, it makes sense for Buffer to be open and transparent because business owners (their target market) tend to share and engage with the content that they're openly sharing.

Where DID You Get Your Dog Sage?

Okay, not really blog related, but (dog) people ask us this sometimes.

Lindsay found Sage deep down on the list of available dogs from No Dog Left Behind. The “mellow girl” bit is 100% true. “Moderate” shedding not so much. Also...”sweatiest girl ever?” Still trying to figure that one out. 🙂

Oh yeah...and her given name was Sith!

How Do I Get More Traffic?

Entertain or help.

People want to be entertained. We want to watch interesting videos, read engaging blog posts, and laugh about funny stories. If you can entertain, whether via video, written content, or audio (podcast), then lean into that. It’s a rare skill.

The other way to build traffic is to help. If you’re in the food space and you’re not focusing on entertaining then you should be focusing on helping. It’s tough to be really good at helping if you’re just publishing generic recipes. It’s possible, but not easy.

It’s much easier to help by serving a specific niche and doing a really good job of helping that niche. It could be affordable recipes, or maybe desserts for sugar-free families, or perhaps recipes that are made with food entirely grown from a family garden. Serving a niche like this will help you gain traction much quicker than trying to build a catalog of generic recipes that competes with sites like Allrecipes. You can always expand your niche later on, but starting with a focus will help you build an audience and traction, and therefore traffic.

After you pick what you're going to do – entertain or help — then it’s a matter of consistently creating high-quality content for a long period of time and finding ways to get a little bit better each and every day. Traffic is a byproduct of entertaining or helpful content.

When Does Food Blogger Pro Enrollment Open Again?

Shameless plug. 🙂 But we do get that question a lot.

We’ll be opening the doors with the month. Stay tuned! You can join the waiting list here.

Action Items

  1. Read Quitter: It covers some important concepts for people looking to “make the jump” to working for themselves (or in their dream job).
  2. Write down the three things you enjoy most about blogging: Could one of those things you enjoy be a new freelance or part-time job for you? You might need to do some unpaid work for your first few clients as you build your network. If your work is good then you’ll quickly be able to build your client list as well as your earnings.
  3. Pick your focus: Entertaining or helping. You can do both, but you should start by focusing on one. If you’re focusing on helping, then what’s your niche?

Because Of You


That’s the dollar amount that you, Skillful Cook readers and followers, raised at the end of the March. The money you raised will feed 40 kids that will be arriving at the Children’s Shelter of Cebu this year and early next year. We’re amazed, honored, and humbled to be part of this incredible community.

Unsurpassable Worth blog post fundraiser.

As Lindsay mentioned in this post we’ll be using a portion of March’s income to match the donations raised.

If you have a minute you should scroll through the Hero Roster that was created as part of that fundraiser. Truly inspiring!

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    You guys are a true inspiration! Congratulations on you well deserved success. One quick question; I notice that you seem to do really well with Adthrive and I’m currently at the point where I have enough traffic to apply. I’m torn though between than and Mediavine. I’m assuming that you are happy with Adthrive but do you have any experience with or thoughts on Mediavine?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Congrats on getting to this point Mike! We don’t have any person experience with Mediavine but I know a handful of bloggers that use them (and like them). 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Agreed! This is one of your best posts ever. I mean, c’mon, we’re all dying to know what you make off your blog and instead of just having to sit here and wonder….you just told us. That’s why I love you guys! I’m with you 100% on doing freelance work until your blog builds $$ momentum. I get contacted all the time about doing writing for various companies and businesses and it’s been great! If I want the work, I take it. If not, I disappear into the sunset. I can set my own price and own hours and best of all, continue being a SAHM. Thanks for another inspiration post Bjork!!! You and Lindsay always seem so real to me.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Loved this report, Bjork! I always find the reports super inspiring but especially loved this FAQ format. And I’ve heard you mention that Glass quote before, but it’s such a comforting reminder every time. Off to check out Quitter…

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hey hey! Love your blog. I like cooking your recipes based on each season. However, it’s really hard to find your past recipes by season. I have to go through a ton of pages. Any way y’all could fix this? Thanks! Keep up the good work!

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Yay! I’m so glad that you are a fan of Jon Acuff! I love his stuff. “Start” by him was a fantastic read too.

    I’d recommend any of his books and also following his personal blog. His updates there, like his writing, are inspirational.

    Thanks too for keeping us updated with the monthly income report here that I thoroughly enjoy.

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love the Q&A. It is weird that people ask what you do with your money, but I liked hearing about your salary, budget etc. It’s not all shoes and champagne

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    If your traffic isn’t coming from these then stop doing them! It really is making us feel like crap especially when we have been blogging the same amount. This stuff should be personal. Remember that post that you wrote on not comparing yourself!?! How do we not compare when you put this out there??! We get it. You started making $20 and now you make a million. I love reading your site and seeing your food you create but this is right in our faces. Annoying

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I’m so sorry you feel that way Melanie, but please don’t speak for other people. I enjoy reading the reports.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Hey Melanie! traffic and all that can be SO frustrating, but something that has helped tremendously for me is, Food Blogger Pro. I know it may seem like it is just more of these income reports, which you don’t enjoy, but it is SO much more. There are thousands of people in the community that are learning from others and sharing frustrations as well as solutions to those issues they are having! I would be your site has tons of value but there is always something we can learn from others and especially folks like you that have years of experience! I hope you consider giving it a try…I think you may enjoy the experience, and find those few areas you can change to see your site thrive! Best of luck, Melanie!!

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      And Melanie…maybe more people would be drawn to your blog if you linked to your blog with your comments? Maybe you usually do, but because you put something less then nice you didn’t want people knowing who you are? But just like in life, people work for what they earn, and Skillful Cook has done nothing less than treat their blog like a business and work to tweak analytics and do extra things, like ebooks and workshops, and food blogger pro. If you want to make more, work harder. And speak for yourself.

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Just as I start to lose steam and start slacking off on my blog, these income reports appear and provide me with inspiration and motivation again. I really look forward to them…it’s just the kick-in-the-butt that I need to help me stay focused and to keep getting better at my craft. Thanks!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    honorable mention in the unsurpassable worth photo… so awkward (looks like I was the second to last one to donate… always behind the ball) hahahahh.

    I can TOTALLY plug in here that foodbloggerpro is 100% worth it! I’m gearing up to start traffic & income reports and in the three months (almost) I’ve been a FBP member I’ve seen crazy growth in traffic! I’m getting ready to go through the monetizing sections and take that plunge soon 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Woo! Makes me so happy to hear that Ashley. Would love to hear any ideas you have for making it even better. Drop us a line any time with your thoughts or ideas.

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I always love these income reports; they’re so useful (and my labradoodle Charlie waves hello to Sage). A week ago I started my food blog, having read lots of your site and read your photography e-book. I still have lots to learn, I feel like such a beginner, and there’s lots more content I’ve yet to add to my site but this feels like the beginning of an exciting journey. Thank you for all the information you share. I love that you’re making a difference in the world with your donations to the Philippines.

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great post guys! It’s been nearly a year since we met and I’ve been following your adventures on a regular basis (or as much as Facebook newsfeed algorithm allows). I also love the “Practicing for your dreams” line… need to pass that book along to my hubby 🙂

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great post, Bjork! I can’t wait until Food Blogger Pro opens up again! I have a question- how do you determine how much money is ‘take home’? Like in your case, both you and Lindsay take home $72K each…how do you define how much to invest back into the business vs. how much is ‘take home salary’? I find that balance to be hard at times, especially when you’re business is still new and you just want to invest it all back into the business. Is there a percentage you use, some rule of thumb, special formula, or does an accountant handle that for you? Thx in advance for your help!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      The $72K isn’t as much about what we want to take home vs. what we want to invest in the business. It’s all about what a realistic salary would be for someone running this business. As the business grows that salary will need to grow. It’s a tax related issue, not so much an issue of how much to invest back into the biz.

      In terms of how much you should put back in, it really depends on what type of lifestyle you have. If you’re able to put a lot back into your business I think that’s a smart choice, but that often requires restricting lifestyle decisions (driving used cars, living in a smaller house, not spending a lot on non-essentials, etc…). It also depends on where people are at with their family. A family of four require more income than a single person just out of college.

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Hi! I run the Income Index at Alone on a Hill and I’ve added your income reports to it. Is there any chance you’d consider adding totals to your income and expense lists in future, please? It’d make my life much easier 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Number nerds rejoin! Thanks for include us on that list Dave. We probably won’t be adding the totals in again as we want to demphasize the lump sum total income.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    As usual, great report and inspiring!
    Love the work in Cebu, my friends adopted 2 beautiful girls, sisters from there last year. An amazing story.

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    hi to all, is a great brand name for any thing related to food ..
    be it a blog , a cafe or restaurant, food show or website related to food.
    its short, catchy and easy to remember name…
    have it for your show or blog or website or any food related biz…
    so hurry up and make me an offer… for this wonderful brand name with domain .

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Inspiring report. I am very excited about your success. I know you guys from Matthewwoodward website. I just curious about the link building strategies you use in early days of this website? could you reveal it a little bit here. Thanks !

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Happy Monday!
    What do you guys use ActiveCampaign for and has it been effective. Thank you so much for all the help you have given me. I super appreciate it!
    With Gratitude

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    Thank you for sharing so much information with us! I am patiently waiting for the next FBP session to open! My blog is already my full-time job and income but I know it can be so much more!

    I haven’t read through all of the comments so I don’t know if someone has already mentioned this but please switch to credit cards for both business and personal. They are much safer than debit cards! You both seem like you have your head on straight regarding finances so as long as you don’t spend more than you make, they are a much better option. You have limited rights with debit cards, even if they are compromised.

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    I hope you continue to have such quality articles to share with everyone! I believe a lot of people will be surprised to read this article! Visit my site Godaddy provide hosting only at the price of 1Pound web hosting plan. You will able to save your extra money by using Godaddy domain name coupons on deals and offers.

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    I applaud you Lindsay for continuing to sow steady side hustle millionaire blogging growth. Keep on keeping on! 🙂