January 2016 Blog Traffic & Income Report

Excited for 2016! The year I begin trying to make an income with Food Marriage! I’ll start out by saying….VERY humble beginnings. But everyone has to start somewhere. A little over four years into this crazy blogging journey, I’ve decided that NOW is the time.  Why now? Well, especially if you saw my recent post on why I didn’t monetize my blog in the beginning, you may have seen that I started it just for fun, I was focused on building content, and I did not understand advertising at all.  I feel I now have a good handle on the direction I’m going and understand a lot more about the business side of blogging. So I’ve decided to create my food blog income report to share!

Food Blog Income Report - January 2016 | FoodMarriage.com

I spend about 10 to 15 hours a week commuting to and from work (my full time job as a corporate recruiter).  The commute used to be the worst part of my day and I felt like I was wasting so much valuable time – however, I’ve recently discovered podcasts (I know….totally late to the game!!!) Now every day, I fill that time with listening to really great podcasts. I’m a huge Serial fan, but as you may know, with a new episode coming out just once every two weeks now, I have some other space to fill! I’ve been keeping my food inspiration alive with the Bon Appetit podcast, I’ve been listening to some of Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income Podcast, and I’ve been keeping up to date on parenting pop culture with the Spawned Podcast (they are super funny! Check them out if you get a chance!)

But mostly I’ve been binge-listening to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. Whether you are new to the game of blogging or an experienced veteran, you will definitely benefit from listening to this podcast! Each episode Bjork Ostrom interviews someone different who is influential in the food blogging community. Each person’s story is so unique in how they got started and how they got to where they are today. Many of them also started out with humble beginnings and lack of knowledge. The best part? They want to help other bloggers avoid the missteps they made and help them achieve the success they know is possible. Because I am so thankful for those bloggers that have paved the way and who are so generous in sharing their knowledge, I wanted to join in on the community and share my journey as well.

How I will be measuring my income and expenses:

While I have not attempted to make money in the last 4 years with Food Marriage, I certainly have incurred expenses over the years (domain name purchase and renewal, web hosting, camera, etc). I will not be reporting any previous expenses before this point. #1 – I was blogging for fun, so just considered it my hobby expense.  # 2 – I never truly kept a good record of expenses! So I actually don’t have a clear record before now!

I will be reporting income as it is paid out to me. Depending on the ad networks a blogger can work with, you can actually earn income that may take some time to pay out until you hit a certain threshold. Some bloggers report out their income in the month it was earned, and not in the month it was paid out. I find that it makes most sense for me to report on when it is paid, because let’s face it, money that is sitting with an ad network that I can’t access actually isn’t mine yet!

Income & Expense Breakdown:

  • Expenses:
  • Net Income:
    • $15.45

Income & Expense Summary:

I’m calling it a win that I have a net profit this month! Okay maybe it’s enough to buy me lunch tomorrow, but it’s a profit nonetheless!

My profits came solely from ad revenue.  I’m so excited to be working as part of the Propel Program with the Blogger Network. While most premium blog networks require high traffic volume of 100,000+ page views a month to join, The Blogger Network created this great program to teach you how to grow your traffic while they take care of the monetization piece. It cost $99 to join the program (again another expense that I already previously paid in 2015, so not reporting at this time) but I do anticipate to make back that money quickly and continue earning even more! As part of the Propel program, you get access to a wealth of online trainings to help you grow as a blogger. They also take care of setting up all ads on your site, so you don’t have to worry about it. You are eligible to sign up for the Propel program if you have over 10,000 page views a month. The goal is to keep your traffic going up and up so you can continue to be successful and make money! I love how supportive they are of bloggers and also how quick their customer service is to respond if you ever have questions!

My only expense this month was with Canva. I know a lot of bloggers live by PicMonkey, but I’m personally obsessed with Canva! It’s generally a free service to use to do graphic design if you use your own photos or their free elements, but you can also purchase stock photos with a one time use license agreement for a great price! The photos are only $1. I don’t use stock photos that often, so for an awesome price and if I find exactly what I’m looking for, I’ll use it! I spent $10 this month since I bought a package – $10 actually gets me 11 images. A couple examples of the stock photos I’ve bought and did some design with include my post on Travel Tips for Flying with a Baby and 5 Tips for Blog Branding.

Traffic Summary:

For January 2016, I had a total of 18,744 pageviews! It is so exciting to watch these numbers grow month! As I continue to create these monthly income reports, I plan to dive deeper into analyzing other data such as mobile vs. desktop usage and main sources of traffic.

Food Blog Traffic Totals - January 2016 | FoodMarriage.com

Social Media Overview:

Pinterest continues to be a front-runner in the social media space for Food Marriage! One reason may be because of my increased pinning and utilization of a tool called Ahalogy! Not only does it give me the ability to schedule pins, but it also helps with elevating my SEO with Pinterest by helping pick out different keywords as I type in your pin description! It allows me to be part of an AWESOME content network with so many other talented bloggers. I love sharing my content and pinning the great things that I see from the other bloggers!

Social Media Following - January 2016 |FoodMarriage.com

Another thing that Analogy does is give brands the ability to pin my content! A notable brand that has pinned one of my pins is Keebler Toll House Crackers! They pinned my Bacon Wrapped Tater Tots recipe to their Entertaining Made Easy Board! In the last 30 days alone, because it is on this board, this ONE pin for Bacon Wrapped Tater Tots has gotten 59,611 impressions, 944 clicks, 318 re-pins, and 28 likes! SO POWERFUL!

Goals:

Gosh – where to start with my goals!? I have so many for this year!! If I had to narrow it down to my number one goal – it would be to blog more consistently! I’ve gone through periods where I’ve blogged very consistently, and then through periods where I didn’t blog for months on end (ahem….during pregnancy….ahem….again after I had my daughter). The goal I want to work towards is blogging consistently once a week and I plan to implement this starting in March.

Once I get into the rhythm of consistency again (which should hopefully in and of itself increase traffic, which should then increase income), but I would also like to then look into other avenues of blog monetization!

Thanks for joining me on my money-making journey! Looking forward to continuing to share my story!

 

xoxo, Food Marriage

Why I Didn’t Monetize My Blog in the Beginning

Tip Tuesday Blog Post Header for FoodMarriage.com - a Philadelphia area blog about being married, having fun, loving life and loving food.

As a mom who spends 40 hours a week working outside the home along with 10 to 15 hours a week commuting, I’m always looking for different ways to make money. I have known for a while now that bloggers can make significant income, but didn’t realize the true potential until I discovered bloggers who disclose their income. The best example I have found of this is by the blog,  Pinch of Yum. They started trying to make money blogging in September 2011 (Eek! Just a month before I started Food Marriage!) and they have grown exponentially since then! Pinch of Yum’s Monthly Income reports are not only for their own tracking purposes, but also to help and inspire other bloggers that if you put your mind to it, anything is possible!

When I look back at my own blogging experience, I often wonder to myself, “What if I had monetized my blog early on?” I actually didn’t start to try to make money until December 2015, a good 4+ years after I began my blogging journey. Why didn’t I monetize early on? There are several reasons why I didn’t monetize my blog in the beginning.

Reasons for Not Monetizing a Blog | FoodMarriage.com

My Reasons for not monetizing a blog in the beginning:

  • I started Food Marriage for fun!

    This blog has always been about being married, having fun, loving life, and loving food! I have kept that theme present from the very first moment I started blogging on October 3, 2011. I have always loved to cook and saw it as a great platform not only to share recipes with friends, but also to document and save some great family recipes! I’ve been able to share some of my wedding and party-planning ideas. And as our marriage has evolved and we are now parents, I incorporate some of that into the blog. Food Marriage always has and always will be a space for sharing and personal expression for me. I do it because I enjoy it, not just to make money. If it turns out that it can bring me an income in the future, that will be an added plus!

  • I was focused on building content.

    Looking back at Food Marriage’s Blog archives, it was surprising to see and remember that for the first three month’s of the blog’s life, I was posting almost every day! Granted, it wasn’t always the best content or the best photography in the beginning, and I certainly wasn’t sharing it out on social media at that point. But the effort to be consistent and really build up a good base of information was there. Currently, at this point in my life with a 1 year old, I’m lucky if I even get the chance to make a grilled cheese at the end of the night for myself, but back then in the newlywed stage, I spent a lot of time cooking for myself and my husband, learning to blog, and sharing that content out for everyone to see.

  • I had a Bad First Experience with Ads

    I remember installing Google Adsense when I first started blogging. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing and thought that maybe it would make me some money, but I was thinking in terms of nickels and dimes. As soon as I installed the ads, I saw an ad for something divorce-related on my blog. I had assumed they picked up the keyword of “marriage” and somehow thought a divorce ad was appropriate. It definitely did NOT fit with what my blog represented. At the time, I didn’t understand that you could actually have some control over the ads and filter certain things out, so I completely uninstalled the whole thing. It wasn’t until several years later that I actually took the time to sit down and learn more about different advertising networks and what control a blogger can have with the ads on their site.

My Advice to Other Bloggers

My advice to other bloggers is to NOT start a blog with the sole intention of making money. If you do, it has the potential to come off as forced or not genuine. I believe to build a blog and to gain a following, you have to have passion for what you do. The love and passion you have will really shine through and be what makes your blog special and memorable. Once you have that, I think looking at monetization is a great idea! Why not start to make money from something you love!?

 

xoxo, Food Marriage

5 Tips for Blog Branding: How to Create and Build your Blog Brand

Tip Tuesday Blog Post Header for FoodMarriage.com - a Philadelphia area blog about being married, having fun, loving life and loving food.

Branding is such a huge part of the world we live in, and I’m not just talking about commercials you see on TV or products you buy in the store. I mean in everything we do, including the blogs we read and write. When I started The Food Marriage Blog back in 2011, I had my general idea and my tagline, “Being Married, Having Fun, Loving Life, and Loving Food,” but I did not have a clear brand direction.

I was using Blogger at the time and had a generic theme with a pink background. Back then, I didn’t have consistency with my images (And can you believe I didn’t even watermark my blog images?  Not that many of them were worth watermarking…the quality of my images back then were not the finest!)

Top 5 Tips on How to Create a Brand for your Blog - using personal inspiration and design boards| FoodMarriage.com

In 2013, I switched to WordPress and also worked with a designer to help me completely re-vamp the blog and develop a true brand. Since I am the face of my brand, I wanted something that would truly reflect me. At the time, my blog was not monetized, so it was a personal investment to make – but investments in yourself are always the best ones!

I worked with Elizabeth from The Mustard Ceiling Designs (unfortunately she is no longer taking on new design projects, but if she were I would totally recommend her!) She really took all of my ideas and turned them into a reality.  The inspiration for the Food Marriage Blog Design was my wedding. I wanted to use a similar color scheme and use things like the scrolling pattern on my wedding invitations as inspiration. I shared some of my ideas (and my wedding photos) with Elizabeth and she went to work helping me create my dream brand!

Blog Design and Brand Board Inspiration for FoodMarriage.com Blog - A Blog about Being Married, Having Fun, Loving Life, and Loving Food

Whether you are just starting out or have been blogging for years, I highly suggest you create a brand for yourself. It gives your readers something to remember and look forward to every time they are on your site. If your blog is well laid out and easy to read, they will keep coming back!

Here are my Top 5 Tips for Creating your Blog Brand:

1. Stay True to Yourself – Go with your gut on this one. While you are hoping for page views and loyal readers – don’t choose a design just to impress others. Choose a design that fits you. If you are true to yourself and genuine, the readers will come!

2. Stay Creative – This one can be the hardest part because we all try to emulate the blogs that we love (They say “Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery”) But for your personal blog, you really want to do something that is unique and a little different if you can. It will make you stand out from the crowd!

3. Stay Simple – Don’t go overboard. You don’t need 10 different colors and 15 different fonts to make an impact. Anywhere from 3 – 5 colors in your palette will do just fine and two fonts will suffice (one block font and one script). Also stay simple in your design – I can’t tell you how many times I have stopped reading a blog because it was difficult to navigate!

4. Stay Up To Date – We all know mobile is the way of the future. While you may have a beautiful desktop design – a huge number of our followers are now viewing our blogs on mobile platforms. Be sure your branding and design extend into the mobile space as well!

5. Stay Consistent – Try to stay as consistent as possible. This goes for all social media outlets as well. Be sure to extend your brand into your social media avenues and keep it similar. Loyal fans and readers will come to know your style. If they happen to see a pin on Pinterest, they may know it’s yours before even going to pin it if it has your logo and consistent design elements!

What inspires you? Do you have any other branding design tips to share?

 

xoxo, Food Marriage

Food Marriage Hits 500 Pinterest Followers!

FoodMarriage.com Hits over 500 Pinterest Followers

Today was a big week for Food Marriage! We just hit 500 Pinterest Followers! Thank you to all of our followers for helping us to meet this huge milestone! Pinterest has always been one of our biggest drivers of traffic to this site, and so to celebrate, I’ve decided to do a round up of the top all time favorite pins from Food Marriage on Pinterest. How or why certain things go viral, I’m not sure, but I’m so happy they did!

Many of these are from older posts of mine, when Food Marriage had just gotten started – and it makes sense because they have been out there so long and keep getting pinned! Please excuse any amateur photography as I was in the very beginning stages of learning at this point!

All Time Most Re-Pinned Pins from FoodMarriage.com (as of 9/26/15):

  1. Pepperoni Stromboli
  2. Homemade Garlic Bread
  3. Roasted Red Potatoes
  4. Zucchini & Rice in a Stewed Tomato Sauce
  5. Mashed Potato Martini Bar

Curious how I found this information? I used Pinterest Analytics! Personal Pinterest accounts will not have access to this data, however if you have a Pinterest for Business Account, it is readily available to you. If you are a blogger, I highly recommend switching to a business account so you can get access to this great information! (Best part – it doesn’t cost anything!)

I truly love Pinterest not only because it is a platform for me to share my own content and interact with others, but because I can pin and save other great content too! I especially enjoy getting inspiration for new recipes or DIY craft ideas for the holidays! If you’re not already following Food Marriage on Pinterest, click here to find Food Marriage’s Pinterest Page!

 

xoxo, Food Marriage

Do You Use Bloglovin?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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I’m not usually a big user of RSS Feeds (mainly because I didn’t know what to do with them!) I don’t have a streamlined way to stay up to date on all of the blogs I like to read.  Up until recently, I’ve been doing it the old-fashioned way of typing a blog’s URL in the address bar of my computer.  This is all going to change now that I have Bloglovin’!

With Bloglovin’, you are able to create a free account, search for your favorite blogs, add them to your favorites, and have them appear all together newsfeed-style on your screen.    Now you will never miss out on your favorite content again!  Check it out and Follow my blog with Bloglovin!

 

xoxo, Food Marriage