Bjork here checking in for my monthly Pinch of Yum cameo. You can usually find me hanging around the Food Blogger Pro blog, but once a month I get to stand in the bright lights on the Pinch of Yum stage and talk about all things blogging and business.
We’ve been doing these traffic and income reports for over three years now. Some of you have been along for the entire ride (thanks!) while others might be reading these for the first time (welcome!).
One thing we always try and communicate in each report is the insane amount of time and energy that it takes to build a blog into a full-time source of income. When you look at the archives page for these reports it can seem like we grew Pinch of Yum pretty quickly, but the reality is that it was a really slow and steady process.
It reminds me of what Mark Zuckerberg said in a recent Q&A session when someone asked him what he thoughts about The Social Network, the movie that (supposedly) told the story of how he built Facebook.
“I think the reality is that writing code and building a product and then building a company actually is not a glamorous enough thing to make a movie about.
“So you can imagine that a lot of the stuff they probably had to embellish and make up. Because if they were really making a movie, it would have been of me, sitting at a computer coding for two hours straight, which probably would have just not been that good of a movie and these guys, I think, want to win awards and sell tickets.”
A Pinch of Yum movie would look pretty similar, and I’m guessing the same would be true for other full-time bloggers. A lot of emailing, post writing, picture editing, ad network tweaking, server troubleshooting, and general computering.
We love what we do and are really thankful that people come to the blog to read the posts and make the recipes. We’re deeply grateful to you (yes you!) for following along or checking in on what we’re doing from day-to-day.
We just want to make sure that we don’t paint a picture of a scene that doesn’t exist. Building a blog is like building any other business. It takes time, energy, commitment, and the willpower to do things when you don’t really want to. But if you stick with it for the long term (like 3–5 years, not 3–5 months) and get a little bit better every day then it’s completely possible to build a blog into a business.
Possible? You bet.
With that in mind, let’s jump into the numbers for October.
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.
- Bluehost – $6,440.00 –> this income comes from a page where we show people how to start a food blog in three easy steps
- sovrn – $4,812.55
- Tasty Food Photography – $4,273.00
- BlogHer (now SheKnows) – $3,308.81
- Sponsored Posts/Speaking – $3,000.00
- Yellow Hammer Media – $1,818.50
- Google AdSense – $999.63
- Gourmet Ads – $937.30
- Genesis Theme – $898.18
- Ziplist – $784.86
- Swoop (via BlogHer) – $700.00 (estimate)
- Everyday Healthy eCookbook – $379.00
- The Creamy Cauliflower Sauce eCookbook – $294.75
- Amazon Associates – $167.11
- How to Monetize Your Food Blog eBook – $97.50
- Elegant Themes – $89.00
- Thesis Theme – $28.71
- AWeber – $11.40
Total Income: $29,040.30
- Travel – $3,383.59
- New Mics for Video – $1,728.65
- Food Expenses – $1,409.29 (including travel-related food)
- eBook Affiliates – $1,214.50
- Support Staff – $775.00
- Amazon S3 and Cloudfront – $498.66
- Media Temple (Hosting) – $444.35
- Conference Fee – $249.00
- MailChimp – $150.00
- Mic Cases – $119.98
- LeadPages – $67.00
- Food Photography Props – $55.97
- Adobe Creative Cloud – $53.55
- PayPal Website Payments Pro – $30.00
- ViralTag – $28.00
- QuickBooks – $26.95
- E-Junkie – $18.00
- Audio Jungle – $20.00
- VaultPress – $15.00
- Time Doctor – $9.99
- Facebook Advertising$6.55
- WP Stream – $2.00
Total Expenses: $10,306.03
Net Profit: $18,734.27
Thoughts on Income
BlogHer and Display Advertising
In addition to having a hefty month of expenses, our display advertising income was significantly down in October.
BlogHer is usually our number one income earner on Pinch of Yum, but as you can see, it took a huge dive, which is a little bit disappointing considering the fact that the fourth quarter is usually the best performing month for ad networks.
This month BlogHer only brought in about $3,000, as compared to last year’s October report when we earned $7,345.31 with BlogHer even though we had 858,736 fewer pageviews that month.
If we would have had that same CPM with BlogHer this month we would have earned a total of $11,796.95.
My initial reaction after calculating those numbers? We need to move networks nowwww!
But after I took a step back and pondered a bit more I realized that, although I’m sure there other display ad networks that may be performing better, the reality is that switching networks to get better results from our display advertising wouldn’t work in the long run.
The bottom line: we need to replace traditional display ads.
It’s a bit unnerving to type that out, especially considering the fact that 46% of our income at this point comes from ad networks. If we were to stop using display ads now it would be like giving ourselves a significant pay cut.
Revenue Categories as Percentages
The Sigmoid Curve
This is the only real “tip” that I’m sharing in this post. It’s really important and I don’t want you to miss it.
I want to talk to you about the Sigmoid Curve.
Don’t you love saying that?
No? Just me?
Something about how it rolls off my tongue feels good. Not only is it a fun phrase to say, but it’s also an important one to understand. This video does a good job of explaining it:
I learned about the Sigmoid Curve a few days ago over coffee with my good friend Joe Cavanaugh (the CEO of Youth Frontiers – my first “real” job!). Thanks, Joe!
Here’s what a Sigmoid Curve looks like:
The Sigmoid Curve can be used to help conceptualize a weird phenomenon that we all know exists (but don’t necessarily know why): In order for a business (or a musician or non-profit or church) to sustain growth it needs to embrace change and the possibility (probability?) that it will need to leave what’s working in order to start something new and avoid the inevitable decline.
This excerpt from a post on dumblittleman.com (he’s actually pretty smart) does a great job of explaining this:
Successful individuals and organizations are self-reflective and constantly monitor their own position on the Sigmoid Curve. However, to be truly successful is to go even further – it is to jump off the current curve when it is nearing its peak and start on the bottom of another curve. This can be very hard to do, because just as you are reaping the rewards of your work and application, you find yourself at the bottom of another learning curve. This entails more pain, since growth always involves pain to some degree. It doesn’t appear to make sense to change just as you are doing so well, reaping the rewards of your efforts. There is even, perhaps, a sense of loss – why throw away something which is mature and bringing a reward for something untested and new?
Here’s where I feel like the monetization strategy is at for Pinch of Yum on the Sigmoid Curve.
We’re at a point now where the curve for our primary way of creating an income (banner ads) has matured. Ads have worked, they are still working, and they will continue to work for a while, but they are not necessarily something that will significant improve and develop our income over the long term.
So what does this mean?
It’s time to start a new curve.
To be clear, I’m not talking about Pinch of Yum as a whole – I’m talking about how we create an income from Pinch of Yum, and within that, I’m talking specifically about the role of banner ads.
While it’s disappointing to think about the decline of the traditional banner ad curve, we know that the long term picture with a new income strategy looks good – if not even better – than what we’re doing now.
Here’s what it will look like if we successfully innovate our monetization strategy with Pinch of Yum:
It’s exciting to think about forging a new path and how those new income avenues could make Pinch of Yum a better place for us and our readers.
RPM stands for page revenue per thousand impressions. RPM shows you the average revenue you earn from every 1,000 page views on your blog. It’s a helpful metric because it allows you to see how effective you are at monetizing your blog.
Below is the RPM that we had for Pinch of Yum in the month of October.
The biggest contributor to the drop in this month’s RPMs, when compared to last month’s, is a decrease in overall advertising income, as well as a decrease in sponsored post payments.
Below are some screenshots from Google Analytics. You can click on these images to view a larger size.
Top Ten Traffic Sources
Mobile vs. Desktop Traffic
In Case You Missed It
I publish weekly posts over on the Food Blogger Pro blog. Here’s a recap of some of the important concepts we talked about in October.
As we’ve started to shoot more video we’ve had more and more people ask about what equipment we’re using. This is a simple post that talks about what we use and how we use it.
Final Cut Pro X
We use FCPX to edit the videos that we’ve been recording for Pinch of Yum. This post covers three super simple tips for editing your YouTube videos in Final Cut Pro X.
The Meta Description
Do you know what the meta description is and how it impacts how your blog shows up in Google search results? If not then you should be sure to read through this post and watch the video that shows you how to find the meta description for any webpage.
A Real Office
We moved into a “real” office! Not only will this prove to my mom that I’m not at home playing video games all day, but it’ll also be a great way to take Food Blogger Pro and Pinch of Yum to the next level.
Because of You
It’s because of you that this thing we call Pinch of Yum can exist as it does today. Thanks so much for reading, tweeting, commenting, emailing, and sharing these recipes with your families and friends.
…No, seriously. Let that sink in. THANK YOU.
This month the special project that we’re focusing on is buying food for the kids at the Children’s Shelter of Cebu, an incredible orphanage in the Philippines where we lived and worked for a year. Many children arrive at CSC from situations in which they were without food – begging, looking through the dump for food or things to sell, or relying on a few grains of rice as their only nutrition. But this life-saving organization provides ALL 80 KIDS with three meals a day, 365 days a year. The money given to this special project is used to help pay for the food that will be made into those healthy meals, keeping the kids well-fed and thriving.