*With FREE Media Kit Template*
Ok, it’s time to get down to the bit you really want to know: how food bloggers make money!
I’m sure you’re having a great time researching, developing, cooking (and eating!) your recipes, BUT, wouldn’t it be nice to pay the bills too? Luckily, in our field there are lots of ways that a food blogger can monetise; you just have to know where to start.
By the way, this post contains affiliate links which means that if you click on them and/or buy something, I may earn a small commission – at no extra cost to you. If I’ve listed the product on my website then you can be damn sure it’s something worth having or I wouldn’t recommend it. For more information, check out my Disclaimer.
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What are my choices?
There are methods that involve little or no work on your part, methods that take a lot of time upfront but then look after themselves, and methods that need regular, steady input. It really depends on how much time you have, where you see the direction of your blog going and whether you want to make a little money or are in it for the big bucks.
You can download my FREE Media Kit Template below to use in your own blogging!
As a food blogger, this has to be one of the most fun ways of making money. Basically, a brand that you love reaches out to you (or you reach out to them!) and pays you to write a post/a series of posts about their product or service. It could be as simple as using their ingredient to develop some yummy new recipes or it could mean trying and then reviewing something, e.g. “we tried this brand of frozen foods; here’s how it went”. The brand might specify if they want particular wording used in your post or if they need you to share it on your social networks at a certain time of day. Remember – the more complicated the ask, the more you can charge. You’re worth it.
There are some media companies that you can sign up to that will put you in touch with brands looking to partner up; of course, they take a cut and charge a bit for taking you on, but it can balance out if they help you get the right sponsorship deal.
I have heard good things about Collective Bias (although I’ve never used them myself), mainly that there is no minimum page-view requirement to be accepted. As a new blogger, having to hit your first 10k views is another barrier you don’t need.
If you’re going to pitch yourself for sponsorship posts then you’ll probably need something called a media kit. This is basically an A4 document that has all your information on it, like the number of followers on your social media (should you be on social media?), your niche and popular topics, experience, expertise and how much you charge for work. Think of it as your resume for your blog. It’s the most professional way you can talk about money with a sponsor and it’s easy to keep updated as your statistics and work change.
I’ve designed a 1-page Media-Kit Template that you can download below and use for your own blog. I know that not many people have the professional software to make their own, especially when just starting out, and so I’ve made it in Microsoft Word so that you can easily access it and make the changes you need. If you don’t have Word, then you can check out the PDF here – to give you an idea of what a media kit should look like.
Companies such as Google Adsense put adverts on your website (for free) that encourage people to click through and buy. For every click through that you get, you receive a small commission.
While it is true that this method of monetising takes extremely little effort on your part – just sign up to the programme and they’ll take care of the rest – there are a couple of things you should be aware of:
#1 You often have no control over what adverts are placed on your site; nobody wants an ad for indigestion on a food blog!
#2 While some themes come with built-in widgets for displaying adverts, some do not allow you to control their location and so you might end up with adverts interrupting your content or cluttering up your site.
#3 It takes a LOT of click-throughs to make any substantial money and some companies will actually close your contract if you don’t hit certain targets.
That said, if you’re looking for a quick setup with little or no follow-on work, then display advertising might be for you. Other resources include:
Affiliate Marketing is HUGE right now. The idea is that you sign up for an affiliate programme and then direct people to buy products that you recommend through your website. For example, the most famous has to be Amazon Affiliates.
Did you ever see those recipes which list all the equipment used as part of the post? For example, “you’ll need an 8×8 inch brownie tin – like this one!” ? Yup. That’s an affiliate link. If you click on it and buy the brownie tin then it doesn’t cost you any more, and the blogger receives a small commission.
If you sell the right products through affiliate marketing then you really can bring in the big bucks but it’s more applicable to some niches than others. You also have to be aware that you must state – by law – every time you publish an affiliate link.
Some other popular affiliate programmes include:
A really easy way to start with affiliate marketing, and one of the first things I did, is to sign up for a programme such as VigLink. This takes the affiliate relationship to the next level by turning ANY appropriate links in your text into an affiliate link – and gaining you a commission. You can also act as a referral agent for VigLink (like I’m doing right now) and get a hefty 35% commission on the first year if any fellow publisher signs up.
Coaching/Teaching/Speaking in Person
1-2-1 and group coaching is very popular and if you’ve got no problem standing up in front of a room full of people then why not give it a go? You could teach cookery classes from home, coach meal planning (like me!), or even try giving talks on your specialist subject to local groups (like the WI or U3A).
Coaching /Teaching /Speaking on the Internet
More and more people are turning to the Internet to learn valuable life skills and, as a food blogger, you certainly have valuable skills to share. If you don’t want to coach face to face, then why not try it via Skype? If you don’t like having to think on your feet, then why not start a YouTube channel and offer subscriptions to view your instructional videos? You could film “cook along” meals or demonstrate knife skills, the advantage being that customers can pause and rewind as they need, and you can re-shoot your videos as many times as you like until you are happy with them.
A continuation of speaking on the Internet, a podcast is a pre-recorded digital file that listeners download (sometimes for a fee) to listen to at will. Think of it as recording an interview off the radio that you will listen to later. Podcasts are growing in popularity at the moment, particularly in the coaching world, due to their accessibility for listening while on the move. Plug in your headphones and learn a new skill at the gym, while in the car, or simply around the house. As a food blogger, you can use podcasts to deliver all kinds of material, such as interviews, instructional lessons, back stories, food history and so on. If you can pick a niche that is particularly in demand, you can charge a hefty fee per download.
Related: 100 Tasty Niches for Food Bloggers
A webinar is a seminar delivered over the Internet (web) and is a popular way of delivering content in the blogging and coaching world. Any of the articles on this website could be extended and turned into a webinar, which can either be pre-recorded or conducted live. The difference is, it is a visual medium not just auditory (like the podcast) and so you can include important and stunning visuals to go alongside. Again, if you are used to teaching and can write and deliver a presentation, a webinar is a good way to extend your outreach. However, even if the thought of speaking directly to your audience brings you out in a cold sweat – don’t sweat it! Practise, pre-record and give it a go. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Write for a Food Magazine
Getting into journalism of any kind is always difficult but the one main piece of advice I can give you from all my research is: be indispensable. You want to be the go-to writer for your niche – so make it as specific and experimental as you like. Then, when you pitch to magazines and websites, the editors can’t help but hire you!
Now here’s a way you can make some money that is totally all you. If you have a passion for sauces that use tarragon, or hand-held baby-weaning foods, then chances are, someone else does too.
More and more cookery books are self-published and published online, so there’s no need to get others involved if you don’t want to. You will, however, need some incredible photography, great recipes and a lot of patience.
Online Courses and E-Books
If you enjoy writing and you have the organisational skills for teaching, then writing your own courses and e-books might suit you. As a food blogger, popular topics might include kitchen techniques, food photography or meal planning. If you can break down the topic into manageable and digestible (boom, boom) lessons, and supplement that with downloadable resources, then the world is your oyster!
Teachable is a wonderful resource that allows anyone to write their own online course. Your clients simply pay for the course through your chosen avenue (e.g PayPal) and then you grant them access to the course documents, which are stored online. Most good courses these days comprise a mixture of video- and text-based lessons and, while there is a cost involved in using the software, you can more than make it back when you sell your course to your eager customers. Some of the really big bloggers charge upwards of £1000s for access to their courses.
Sell your Photographs
You’ve spent all that time learning how to take the best shots of your food – you might as well make some money from them! Places that might buy your food photography include:
#1 Stock-photography websites, for others to download and use themselves (like the pic above); ShutterStock is a good example, but be aware that you often only get a small cut of the money;
#2 Social-media campaigns for brands where you provide the photographs they use on their social-media channels;
#3 Working with advertising agencies who will help you sell your work directly to the big names (note: only for the really top-notch photographers);
#4 Working directly with clients, e.g. smaller grocery stores or local restaurants, to provide images for their advertising.
To get into selling photographs of your food, it goes without saying that the pictures have to be of the very highest standard. If you want to try taking photographs for editors, you might first try some of the online recipe-share publications such as FoodGawker and Tastespotting. While they certainly won’t pay you for your efforts, if they choose to publish your photographs then you’ll definitely see an increase in traffic to your blog (and traffic = money, right?!) PLUS it’ll show you how you have to adapt your photography and editing styles to fit with different guidelines. If your photographs are rejected, you’ll get some valuable feedback, too.
Related: How to Get on Foodgawker
Many big companies, like supermarkets and food brands, employ people as their recipe developers and some of the sponsored posts I talked about above will also include recipe development.
Set up an Online Store
You might get to the stage when you want to sell some of your own products, either downloads, guides and documents, your own cookery book (see above), or perhaps you make cutting boards or beautiful kitchen utensils? You can easily host a shop on your website, and we’ve got a whole post on this coming up soon – so stay tuned.
As you can see, there are many ways that you can make money as a food blogger, aside from your actual food blog. Whichever route you choose, take care that you do your research and that you are covered by the correct insurance and business standards. Now go out and find that work!
How do you branch out?