Welcome to my food blogger income report for the third quarter (July, August, and September) of 2021. This report is part of a series of food blog income reports that I have maintained since the beginning of my blog in November 2018.
Initially, I did quarterly reports, as quite frankly there wasn’t that much to report. Then I progressed to monthly reports which were great for continuity, but very time-consuming. Recently with dedicating my time to creating more content, I’ve been streamlining this one-woman band and so have decided to return to quarterly reports.
On the plus side, this also allows me to do my favorite thing which is to compare data and trends (yay!) as well as have more time to do more complete reports.
My last monthly report was for June 2020, so this one is jumping forward three months and things are certainly looking a bit rosier (knock on wood!).
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty. In this report I’m going to be looking at:
- What’s new?
- Social metrics
- Review and goals
Three months is a long time in the food blog world, so actually, quite a bit! If you’ve been here before you might have noticed the site is looking a bit different… This is because I got a new site logo designed, and then simply tweaked the site colors and fonts for a cleaner more professional look.
I don’t normally recommend messing around with your logo and site colors/basic design too much just for superficial reasons – at the end of the day, most people won’t care as long as the recipes are good.
But this had been bugging me for ages and was a simple and quick enough fix so I went ahead and just did it and will hopefully never touch the way The Fiery Vegetarian looks again. See my logo before and how it looks now!
I requested the colors with some coral, grey and black so I could tweak the color scheme of the site to be more monochromatic yet still have a few pops of color using the coral, which I love.
I got it done through Fiverr and the company (Shirazyasin, a team of designers) did a fantastic job, I highly recommend them (I’d get the standard package with unlimited revisions so you can be sure to get the logo you want).
In other news, not much happened as during the summer months I now let the blog take the backseat (somewhat) so I can spend more time with my kids when they are off school. September definitely saw me increasing content and double-checking my plans though, ahead of fourth quarter.
I also worked my way through about half of the Mediavine RPM challenge and hope to finish it soon! I’ve also tentatively started marking aside time in early 2022 to do my first cookbook and fix up old content, but we’ll see how it goes!
- July 2021 Total: 64,592 page views (versus July 2020 85,950)
- August 2021 Total: 75,623 page views (versus August 2020 70,493)
- September 2021 Total: 89,110 page views (versus September 2020 60,922)
- 3rd Quarter 2021 Total: 229,325 page views (versus 3rd Quarter 2020 217,325)
I’m a fan of comparing data but if you learn one thing from this food blogger income report learn that 2020 data is not that useful because most of the year was “outlier” data.
As you can see from the above numbers and the graph below, 2020 had higher numbers earlier on which then tailed off – this is partially due to the pandemic and lockdowns pushing up visitor numbers in the first half of 2020.
The “tailing off” in my case is probably more due to the fact that I had some speed work done in August 2020 which removed all of my images from Google SERPs by mistake and wasn’t corrected until mid-September. But who knows? I sure will be glad to finish this year out and not have to compare data to 2020 anymore.
There isn’t a huge increase in traffic when comparing the third quarter from this year to last, but traffic is trending up as we exit the third quarter so I have high hopes for Q4. One thing is for sure, if Q3 next year shows as little growth like this one, it’ll be time to go back to the day job!
However, when you look at traffic sources for the same time period (third quarter, from July to September) of 2021 versus 2020, a bigger difference does become clear.
You’ll see a large increase in organic traffic making up for a decline in social traffic. And no it’s not because last year I was a social media whiz and this year I’m not, it’s because reach has been declining in a big way in Facebook and Pinterest.
In a way it’s a good thing because, for long-term traffic, Google should really be your main aim and SEO will give you a better ROI. Having said that though, no one likes to have all their eggs in one basket where you are only one algorithm change away from annihilation!
- July 2021 Income: $1,775.42 (versus July 2020 $1,464.01)
- August 2021 Income: $1,721 (versus August 2020 $,1039.19)
- September 2021 Income: $2,566.50 (versus September 2020 $1,049.21)
- 3rd Quarter 2021 Total Income: $6,062.91 (versus 3rd Quarter 2020 $3,522.41)
- 3rd Quarter Income less expenses: $5,583.74
I was actually pretty blown away with the fact that my income was nearly double that of third quarter last year, despite having very similar traffic. And it’s all thanks to Mediavine who generate the lion’s share of my income from ads.
Of the $6,062.91 I earned this quarter, all of was from ads barring $445.97 which came from affiliate sales (more information on that below). I detail my expenses below but the above amounts don’t include tax and social security deductions.
RPMs (Revenue Per Mille, the money we earn per thousand page views through ad monetization) were much higher than last year. This is super exciting because we’re only in the third quarter, so I can’t wait to see what the fourth quarter will bring, which is generally when RPMs are at their highest.
Below you can see the average monthly RPMs I got this, compared to last year. Do remember though that even if you’re in a similar niche your RPMs can be significantly higher or lower as they depend on so many different factors. The table displays my RPMs per thousand page views, not per thousand sessions (which would be much higher).
|RPMs (page views)||2020||2021|
- Affiliate income July 2021: $348.65
- Affiliate income August 2021: $23.15
- Affiliate income September 2021: $74.17
I’ve just started dipping my toes in affiliate income and was quite frankly surprised to earn any income from that area at all. I have to admit that I really haven’t made much of an effort either, which is silly as you’re just leaving money on the table. I guess I prefer not to clutter up my posts with links for just a handful of dollars while making Amazon a great income.
At least placing affiliate links in your top posts is covered in the Mediavine RPM challenge, however, so I will make a bigger effort this next quarter. To give you an idea of where I generated affiliate income, I received these amounts from these affiliate networks over the entire third quarter:
Q3 2021 affiliate earnings by network
Shareasale for the win here! I don’t make a big effort with affiliates and I only recommend things I’ve been really happy with, but I should include more affiliate links on the website in the future. This is definitely something I need to do for Q4.
I know other bloggers make a ton with affiliates, but honestly, I can’t see myself going that route (who knows, maybe that will change), I’m just too lazy!
I depend on my blog for my income, and as I’m not earning huge bucks yet I try and keep my costs low. My basic monthly expenses usually run to about $93 dollars or so, and you can add on if I need to buy new props or backgrounds or camera equipment.
Core monthly expenses
These are the expenses I pay every month and as such, I was very choosy about picking whether these were worth it or not (and they are).
- $34.52 Accountant (based in Madrid, Spain). This is a monthly set fee I pay and includes quarterly paperwork and end of year tax reckoning. I could do it myself for free but paperwork in Spain is impossible. Totally worth it for complete peace of mind.
- $9.99 Adobe Creative Cloud Photography plan (Lightroom and Photoshop). For food bloggers, good photography is crucial and editing plays a part of that. The majority of food bloggers either use Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop or Canva to edit their photos, and I’m a fan of Adobe.
- $34.95 BigScoots WPO Starter plan. I’ve been with Bluehost (big mistake) and Siteground (great but really expensive come renewal time) and BigScoots is definitely my favourite. Their service is amazing and I can’t count the amount of times their agents have fixed issues that I didn’t have a clue about. Just this quarter alone they’ve stopped websites from hotlinking to my content, banned access from scraper sites, and answered about fifty questions. They will normally go in and fix things for you as well if you’re not sure how to do it.
- $13.60 Keysearch. I love Keysearch. The only keyword tool I might love more is Ahrefs, and only slightly, but I’m not at a place yet where I can shell out a hundred bucks a month for Ahrefs. I wrote a thorough review on Keysearch and outline exactly how I use it to find keywords in this Keysearch review.
So for third quarter 2020 my core expenses came out to $279.18 ($93.06 x 3).
These are any one-off expenses I incurred this quarter.
- $54.75 Domain renewal. I’ve been playing a dangerous Russian roulette where I renew my domain yearly and at the last minute in October, so this quarter I decided to grow up a bit and be more responsible and I renewed it for five years.
- $103.47 Logo redesign. As I mentioned at the start, I’m super happy with the new logo.
- $13.95 Domestika course on food plating. I haven’t started it yet so can’t comment on how good it is.
- $27.82 Various food props from Amazon.
So the total for one-off expenses came to $199.99.
The last few months have seen me take a big step back and decide my time is better spent on producing content than spending hours on social media promoting it and doing the work to get the algorithm to share my stuff and increase my reach.
I didn’t really make an effort to collect subscribers for ages, and actually just launched a freebie to entice signups this quarter. I don’t recommend putting it off like I did, as I’m super behind other bloggers who started at around the same time as me. I still use Mailchimp to manage my list as it’s so small and Mailchimp is free up until 2000 contacts.
When I get to around that number I’m also going to clean my list well and get rid of any subscribers who never open my emails, as there is zero point in paying for them. The Mediavine spotlight subscribe has been a gamechanger when it comes to increasing signups for me and I’m (less) slowly but surely getting subscribers.
Current subscribers: 927 (compared to 736 followers at the end of the previous quarter, in June)
Facebook changed their algorithm earlier this year and reduced reach even more, so I don’t really spend much time there anymore. The effort required to be constantly engaging and publishing is not really worth it in my opinion, although I know many bloggers, who were already well-established on Facebook, are killing it there.
As such my follower numbers aren’t really going anywhere, but oh well.
Current followers 5971 (compared to 5793 followers at the end of the previous quarter, in June)
I rarely post on Instagram, I don’t want to do sponsorship deals and it doesn’t bring any traffic so it’s just not a priority for me. I do like it for connecting with readers who tag me in the photos they take of the recipes they’ve made, and they also zap me quick messages if they have questions about my recipes. Honestly, I’m lucky if I even remember to share new posts there though.
Current followers: 817 (compared to 649 followers at the end of the previous quarter, in June)
Everyone kind of gave up on Pinterest recently when after the changes made in March-April, nothing would move the needle anymore. I make three new pins for each new post now, manually pin the first one and then schedule the next two out, and that’s all I do.
With the disappearance of the feed of people you’re following, followers have really become super irrelevant on Pinterest, and there is no real point to following anyone either.
Current followers: 3478 (compared to 3172 followers at the end of the previous quarter, in June)
Review and goals
Doing these food blogger income reports is always a great way for me to see how far I’ve come and to stay accountable. However, this one has shown me that I really need to work on increasing traffic more.
Comparing traffic to last year is only marginally helpful given what a weird year last year was, but I really did hope to be a lot bigger by now. So now it’s time to dig into why traffic hasn’t increased as much as I’d like.
I did get a lot of content out this quarter though, and also reshot some important recipes. I’ve never been more thankful for how much my camera skills have improved due to Food Blogger Pro. Check out the before (so embarrassing) and the after below.
I have some time scheduled off at the start of September due to visitors, but after that my goals for this quarter are:
- Add affiliate links throughout the website and consider more affiliates.
- Finish the Mediavine RPM challenge
- Look into why traffic has not increased much compared to the same time last year.
- Audit my website.
- Schedule time in January to do any outstanding courses I have (There’s one on printables, one on food styling and for sure a million more).
Not many goals this quarter, but with it being fourth quarter I’ll be focusing mostly on content I guess. Auditing my content will also help me decide where I can make some quick gains in this quarter, and what content I would be better off leaving until the next quarter to fix.
I hope you found this income report helpful and I’ll see you with the next one in January after Q4!