Hi everyone! It’s that time again- when I write about how I make money blogging. If you’re new here, every three months (or every quarter of the year) I write a post documenting my sources of income, what I’ve learned, what I’m going to do moving forward, and check in about my goals. It’s a way to a) share this valuable information with other bloggers or aspiring bloggers, and b) hold myself accountable to working hard to achieve my goals.
Angry this isn’t a recipe? Don’t want to read this? No problem! There won’t be another for three more months. Let me make it up to you by sending you to make this Fiesta Chicken Salad. Or maybe you’d prefer some Huevos Rancheros!
Want to start from the beginning? Check out my past income reports.
In this post, I’ll:
- Document how much I made from all my sources of income over January, February, and March of 2016 and break it down into income for each month
- Take a look back at my income growth since I started doing these posts
- Update you on my goal progress and talk about what I’m doing to do moving forward to increase my income to reach my goal
- Announce something BIG. HUGE. EXCITING. And a bit terrifying.
Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links to products I highly recommend. If you click on a link and choose to purchase the product, it won’t cost more for you but will help support Bowl of Delicious!
Revenue Sources and Quarterly Income Report
Without further ado, here is a breakdown of my income from the first quarter or 2016:
Total Income: $4,259.50
Total Views: 666,486
RPM (revenue per thousand visitors): $6.39
And here it is month by month:
When I started writing these posts, I made just over $1000 ($1000.06, to be exact) in the first quarter of 2015. Now, one year later, I’m making over FOUR TIMES that amount. Here’s a breakdown of each quarter’s income:
2015 Q1: $1000.06
2015 Q2: $1387.54
2015 Q3: $2248.80
2015 Q4: $3631.34
2016 Q1: $4259.50
It’s easy to get a bit excited about this and jump to conclusions. For instance, “if I made over 4x my income in one year, next year at this time I’ll make over $12,000 in the first quarter!! LET’S GET A POOL!!!”
This may or may not be true.
Let’s take a look at this blog’s income growth (and traffic growth) since it was just beginning in January 2014:
First of all, two years is not a very long time to recognize patterns. But there are a few things that stand out to me: clear jumps in income in September and December, and drops in January (especially when compared to the increase in traffic in both Januaries). In addition, there is a clear correlation between traffic and income- the more traffic I get, the more money I make. And the gap between the traffic and income gets wider over time, because of higher RPM over time (or, income per 1000 visitors) because of having more (or more lucrative) sources of income.
For now, I’ll hope that the jumps in September and December stay consistent, and that the traffic jumps in January also remain. It will be super interesting to see what this graph looks like in two more years- or even longer! I anticipate starting to plateau with traffic at some point- let’s hope it’s not anytime soon.
Goal Update and Next Steps with Sponsored Posts
In 2015, my year-long income goal was to make at least $1000 in the month of December. I surpassed that goal by making $1493.13!
This year’s income goal is to make at least $3000 in the month of December 2016.
Thus far, I seem to be on track in terms of steady growth. One category of income in particular was very helpful: sponsored posts. So far, I’ve really been focused on affiliate links and advertising as my sources of income. Sponsored posts, however, are another HUGE way bloggers make money. It’s basically when a company pays you to feature their product in a post and usually, with food blogs, this includes creating a recipe using the product or to go with a product.
The two sponsored posts I wrote this quarter were for Chocolate Coconut Energy Balls (to pair with Bigelow Tea with an emphasis on healthy New Year resolutions/habits), which paid $175, and Oven Baked Goat Cheese Balls with Basil and Honey (to pair with Gloria Ferrer wine with an emphasis on Spring entertaining), which paid $175 (as well as two free bottles of delicious wine!). In addition, there was another opportunity to post on my social media accounts on behalf of Turbo Tax, to spread the word about their product (which paid $50).
I got all of these sponsored opportunities through third party influencer networks: Social Fabric (Bigelow) and Clever Girls (Gloria Ferrer and Turbo Tax). These are networks you apply to join, and they have frequent opportunities that you can apply to for sponsored posts.
I have to say: it’s pretty great getting paid to do something I would already be doing: write a post! It is a bit more work to write a sponsored post- you have to make sure you add disclaimers to your post to comply with FTC regulations, and there are very specific instructions you have to follow (like, how many photos to take, when to post, and what to post to promote it on social media). For the most part, I’ve found it very worth my time to write these posts!
There have been some challenges to writing sponsored posts:
- I don’t want it to look like I’m “selling out” in order to make money. I try very hard to write my posts like I normally would and incorporate the product as seamlessly as I can in it- and in fact, there have been a few opportunities that seem like a good fit until I find out how the company wants the post to be written, and I realize it wouldn’t fit with the way I already write on Bowl of Delicious.
- MANY of the sponsored post opportunities are for processed foods and beverages, and since I write about real food and healthy eating, it would go against the entire basis for my blog if I wrote about one of these products!
- When working with a third party- you get some of the money from the sponsorship, and they get the rest.
So. In order to meet the challenge of working with products that I believe in, here’s what I’m going to do moving forward in order to move closer to my goal of $3000 in December:
- Continue to pursue sponsored opportunities via Social Fabric and Clever Girls
- Reach out to brands directly in order to develop a sponsorship without a third party
- Continue to build my traffic and social media followers by posting consistently on my blog and social media channels
It’s good to have goals. Which brings me to my BIG ANNOUNCEMENT…
I ended my seven year art teaching career last Thursday in order to become a full time blogger. (Ahhhhhhh!)
As most of you know, I’ve been blogging on the side of my full time job. For the past seven years, I’ve taught high school art at low income charter schools- first in New Orleans, then in Lynn, MA, and this past year in East Austin.
Ask any teacher you know: maintaining work-life balance is a very, very difficult thing to do in the profession. Especially at a high stakes charter school, where the hours are long (our school day went from 8-5:30) and the achievement gap and challenges of a low income population can be extremely emotionally draining. It’s a job that demands 110% of physical, spiritual, emotional, and intellectual energy at any given moment.
Don’t get me wrong- it is extremely rewarding. When you get a hug or a note from a student, when someone tells you “you taught me how to draw! I never thought I could!” or when you finally gain a connection with that student who has been super challenging behavior wise all year.
But it’s often all-consuming. It can be extremely difficult to detach oneself from work at the end of the day. I’ve spent many nights unable to go to sleep because I kept thinking about what that one kid said. Or because I kept thinking about the lesson I needed to teach to 100 antsy teenagers the next day and it better be perfect or they will LITERALLY eat you alive. And the stress- it’s enough not only to keep you awake at night, but to wreak havoc on your health from the constant presence of cortisol in your body.
I started this blog two years ago as a hobby, and as a way to detach myself from my work. Cooking itself has always enabled me to do this- it’s almost meditative to me. Chopping onions, smelling the aromas as they cook, putting ingredients in order in a pan and watching as they magically come together in a delicious meal that you can enjoy by yourself or with your loved ones- it’s much more to me than just a way to eat. It’s spiritually fulfilling. It’s just the right amount of relaxation and problem solving. When I find myself in a grumpy mood, chances are it can be fixed by whipping up something delicious to eat.
Even after an extremely draining day teaching, I almost always found time to cook. (Alright… okay… sometimes, I just ordered a pizza and was done with it.) But I knew I felt better- both from the act of cooking and from eating the healthy, real foods that I prepared- when I cooked at home. And feeling better enabled me to be able to balance my super difficult job better. After I got into the habit of making sure I almost always ate healthy, I noticed that far too many of my coworkers ate horribly throughout the day. Skipping meals, getting take-out… mostly because they either didn’t know how to cook healthy foods or didn’t think they had time. I met Zach (who also had trouble with this) teaching, and one of my first girlfriendly acts was splitting my sandwiches with him for lunch, and eventually packing extra food for him out of habit! (and I’ll be starting my new blog on how to use food to find your soulmate soon, too) :-)
Starting this blog enabled me to do three important things. First, it helped distract me from the ominous work cloud that constantly hovered in my mind. Second, it helped me use my teacher-ness to educate in a niche that I felt desperately needed attention: how to cook healthy foods even if you are “too busy,” an epidemic amongst young adult workers today.
Third… if I monetized the blog, and it was successful… it may provide me with a career that was rewarding, that I felt passionate about, and that was not all-consuming. That did not require 50+ hours per week of extremely difficult, draining work that caused stress, fatigue, and gradual health problems.
I told myself: if you reach your goal of $1000 per month at the end of 2015, you will be ready. And I surpassed that goal. So here I am: FULL TIME BLOGGER.
Is it scary? Yes. Exciting? Yes. Freeing? Oh my goodness, you have no idea. To be my own boss. To work a flexible schedule. To help people, but in a different way and in a way that is much more in my control!
I’ve only been able to put about 10 hours into my blog per week as a teacher. With more free time, I’m so excited to see what I can do to elevate Bowl of Delicious to the next level- to achieve my income goal for December, and to continue to be an educator in a different way. I have quite a ways to go before I reach the financial comfort I am used to (says the teacher… hah!), but if there’s anything teaching has taught me, it’s how to face a challenge head on like a pro.
So bring it on, full time blogging!
That’s all, folks!
Thanks for reading my quarterly income report and life update. If you have any questions at all, please feel free to leave them in the comments below! I answer every question that I get to the best of my ability, and your questions or comments might be featured on the next quarterly income report.