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 Pinch of Yum into a full-fledged business.
Let’s jump into the numbers for March…
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.
- AdThrive – $23,791.85
- Tasty Food Photography – $8,572.40
- Bluehost – $6,900 –> this income comes from a page where we show people how to start a food blog in three easy steps.
- Gourmet Ads – $3,674.31
- Swoop – $3,105.98
- Amazon Associates – $2,881.45
- Sponsored Content – $2,800.00
- Yellow Hammer Media – $2,603.97
- Federated Media – $1,600.84
- sovrn – $1,166.11
- How to Monetize Your Food Blog eBook – $525.00
- Genesis Theme – $315.25
- Elegant Themes – $89.00
- ActiveCampaign – $20.25
- AWeber – $14.40
- Justworks – $10,969.85
- Studio Related Expenses – $6,845.00
- MacBook Pro – $3,615.93
- Amazon S3 and Cloudfront – $1,575.43
- Media Temple (Hosting) – $1,246.55
- eBook Affiliates – $1,192.55
- Food Expenses – $1,068.53
- ActiveCampaign – $447.70
- Eventbrite – $417.90
- Coschedule – $360.00
- Apps/Software – $194.49
- Adobe Creative Cloud – $107.43
- LeadPages – $67.00
- Vimeo Plus – $59.95
- Zapier – $50.00
- PayPal Transaction Percentage – $30.00
- PayPal Website Payments Pro – $30.00
- Shoeboxed – $29.95
- Hotjar – $29.00
- QuickBooks – $26.95
- E-Junkie – $28.00
- VaultPress – $20.00
- SumoMe – $20.00
- HelloBar – $15.00
- Pingdom – $14.95
- Backupify – $12.00
- Buffer – $10.00
- BoardBooster – $5.00
Below are some Google Analytics screenshots from the month of March 2016.
Top Ten Traffic Sources
Mobile vs. Desktop vs. Tablet
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 Pinch of Yum 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:
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 Pinch of Yum are related to food, not these reports.
How do you track your food or recipe related expenses?
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.
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 Pinch of Yum 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 Pinch of Yum (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 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?
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 more husband and wife than co-workers. Having separate work spaces 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 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 Pinch of Yum and Food Blogger Pro. For the 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 was 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:
- Almost everyone else feels the same way.
- 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 complimentary 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) is 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. Here’s the original post. 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 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 catalogue 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 your 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.
- Read Quitter: It covers some important concepts for people looking to “make the jump” to working for themselves (or in their dream job).
- 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.
- 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, Pinch of Yum readers and followers, raised at the end of the March. The money you raised will feed 40 kids that will be arriving to 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.
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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