In this post, I share my last *QUARTERLY* food blog income report of 2022! This Q4 income report is to give bloggers a peek into what it takes to run a food blog and a little sense of where blogging income comes from. Q4 2022 was an interesting quarter that saw continued growth but has also gotten me to think a lot about the next steps in this blogging journey!
Hello, Friends! This is my fourth QUARTERLY blog income report…and the last one of 2022! If you want to read my first-ever income report, check it out here: December 2021 Income Report, and my Q2 2022 Income Report and Q3 Income Report are here. See all the income reports plus some blogging resources here.
Q4, for the most part, did not disappoint! However, there is a lot behind these numbers, so let’s dive in!
WHAT I FOCUSED ON THIS QUARTER (and what I didn’t)
This quarter, I slowed down a bit from the summer holiday and pie-baking craze and focused on my normal, everyday-type content.
This quarter, I published 22 brand-new blog posts and updated just one. Here is the breakdown by type of post:
- New Recipe Posts: 20
- New Non-Recipe Posts: 2
- Updates to Old Posts: 1
Last quarter, I mentioned I published a good amount of holiday-related non-recipe posts I found on RankIQ, and those posts really paid off this holiday season! My Substitutes for Evaporated Milk in Pumpkin Pie and How Long Does Pumpkin Pie Last in the Fridge were in my Top 10 posts for Q4.
Both of those posts supported a pumpkin pie recipe post I did, which also did well. The non-recipe posts are sometimes a DRAG to write and time-consuming to research. However, this past quarter, they were a welcome change to all the frantic testing, cooking, photographing, and hands-on work I did. I found it nice to have some days I just sat and wrote.
That’s one thing I love about this job–it’s different every day! Never bored over here, ya know?!
⭐️ Non-recipe holiday content really paid off in Q4! ⭐️
Hiring Out/Smart Investments
Last quarter, I started hiring out some mundane tasks (like posting roundup links!). I also started purchasing a few recipes here and there. In Q4, I continued to invest more in both my VA and recipes/photography.
I will continue to invest in recipes and also have a photographer reshoot some ugly old photos, too! I have set a (rough) budget to do this each month.
Nothing to report here. I still continue to do pretty much the bare bones on social. I post to FB and Instagram twice a week and that’s it.
I have an amazing VA company that handles my Pinterest and it’s been a Godsend not to have to keep up with making and posting Pins. I do the bare minimum package with them and my Pinterest has still grown by over 240% (Total Engaged Audience) since June 2022, so if it ain’t broke….I’m not touching it!
ALWAYS REFLECT ON HOW FAR YOU’VE COME
Before I jump into all the numbers, I want to remind you that in our blogging journey, it’s ESSENTIAL and NECESSARY to consistently glance back to see our progress and celebrate wins–big or small!
Every day may seem like a grind, pumping out new content and working without much to show for it. But take the time to glance back every once in a while and see how far you’ve come.
Look at your old posts–I bet your writing is SO much better now! Look at the first photos you posted on your blog–do they make you cringe?! That’s progress!!!
And of course, look at your traffic. It might seem dismal because it’s moving at such a slow pace but things can change SO QUICKLY if you just keep producing solid content and doing keyword research.
I want to share with you something amazing that I hope gives you HOPE and MOTIVATION. The numbers below are my traffic numbers from Q4 2022. In parenthesis, is my traffic from that same time in 2021 (the first year I had my blog).
DO YOU SEE THAT??!!! In October 2021, I wasn’t even halfway to Mediavine!
⭐️ In October of 2021, I wasn’t even halfway to Mediavine! ⭐️
Q4 2022 TRAFFIC SUMMARY
The numbers in parenthesis are 2021 traffic for that same time period.
Pageviews: 355,473 (24,026)
Sessions: 313,330 (19,238)
Pageviews: 432,487 (67,735)
Sessions: 382,328 (55,865)
Pageviews: 438,597 (90,672)
Sessions: 385,669 (76,721)
Social: 9% (Breakdown: Pinterest 88%, Facebook 9%, Instagram 2%)
Ads: No surprise that most of my income comes from Mediavine ads (I was accepted in December of 2021. You can read the full post on how I got to Mediavine in one year here).
This was my first Q4 with Mediavine and it DID and DID NOT disappoint. In November, I saw incredible RPMs and of course, traffic was up, especially for those holiday posts I talked about earlier. There were a few days when I could not believe my earnings!!
Then December rolled around and it was fairly ho-hum. Mostly because I was expecting the same or better RPMs than in November! That wasn’t the case.
In fact, the week between Christmas and New Year’s were some of the lowest RPMs I had ever seen since joining Mediavine. The first couple of days in January (as I write this) have been downright horrific in terms of RPMs. RPMs always drop in January, but this I feel is an unprecedented drop. Luckily, my traffic still continues to grow, and kinda-sorta “cover” for the reduced RPMs.
There was lots of chatter in the Mediavine Facebook Group about low RPM’s across the board (all niches, not just food). Basically, it comes down to the economy and advertisers are spending less.
I won’t complain that I am making a decent income and living from my ad revenue. However, this has been a true wake-up call and the kick in the butt I need to truly start diversifying my income (more about that below).
⭐️ What is RPM?⭐️
Find out in this article from Mediavine: What is RPM?
Nothing has really changed here. I do not prioritize affiliate income at this point (but may soon!).
If there is a product or service I LOVE LOVE LOVE and that happens to have an affiliate program (for example RankIQ , Cooking with Keywords, the Pretty Focused Photography course, and my amazing hosting company WPOpt), I will share those. But I really have to love the product or service!
I also earn about $100 per month with Amazon Affiliates and for now, I’ll take it.
Pinterest Creators Program:
Well, ding dong the witch is dead!! I have been complaining about the Creators Program for the last 6 months — it was a low-earning, disorganized MESS. I literally could not believe a major company like Pinterest could operate like a bunch of 11-year-olds!
But they finally self-destructed and shut down the program. Hallelujah! They claim they are going to find other ways for Creators to make money and there is chatter about having links on idea pins and affiliate income opportunities. But we’ll believe it when we see it, right??
On an interesting note, they gave all creators in the program a $750 parting gift to say thanks for putting up with the chaos. Odd move, but I didn’t complain!
Q4 2022 TOTAL EXPENSES: $6,194
Monthly Reoccurring Expenses
Adobe Lightroom (monthly): $10
Bank Account Fee (monthly): $15
Keysearch (monthly): $17
Canva (monthly): $12
Rank IQ (monthly): $29 or $49 depending on how many reports I run
Pretty Focused Course (monthly until December 2022): $199
Pinterest VA (monthly): $250
Accountant (monthly): $139
VA (monthly): $225
Purchased Content (recipes, photos): $1,420
New MacBook Pro: $1,465
Go Daddy Domain Renewals/Email: $83
Tasty Pins Renewal: $29
Artificial Light Supplies: $434
Q4 2022 NET PROFIT: $40,001
This quarter I continued to invest in more purchased content — mostly recipes and photos. This saved me so much time testing and shooting every single recipe.
I also dabbled with having photographers photograph (or re-photograph) a few of my recipes and I think I really like it! Since I shoot only in natural light, the winter gets tricky and ANNOYING with so much less light. Hiring photographers has been so helpful so I can focus on recipe development and writing, which is what I love!
That being said, I invested in some artificial light equipment this quarter. I have yet to use it, so we’ll see how it goes!
A WORD ABOUT DIVERSIFYING YOUR INCOME
In my first year of blogging, I heard the phrase “diversifying income” so many times and I always just brushed it aside. My goal was ad income and only ad income (AKA: Mediavine).
However, now that I look back, I actually WAS diversifying my income before Mediavine! I took on sponsored projects, dabbled with affiliates, and joined the Pinterest Creators program. I did this to make income before ad income was in sight.
With ultra-low RPMs, constant algorithm shifts, and third-party cookies going away in 2024 (most likely), it’s more and more apparent that you can’t solely rely on ad income.
I take that back. Yes, you CAN rely solely on ad income, however, you just need to realize it’s very volatile and it will be affected by things out of your control. If you are just trying to make some extra money, you probably won’t be disappointed by your ad income.
However, realize that you may need to work twice as hard and get twice the page views to make the same money year over year. It just really depends on where things are headed and no one knows that for sure– that’s out of our control.
Does this make blogging harder? Yep! But remember Tip #5 in my How to Qualify for Mediavine post, I said “you must be willing to adapt, change and pivot…always.”
Small business owners can’t just quit every time change happens. Small business owners need to be resilient, creative, and have grit and determination!
And in case you need to be reminded: *YOU* are a small business owner!! I don’t care if you haven’t made one dime yet (most businesses in this world aren’t profitable for years)!!
So don’t get bogged down in the Facebook groups with people complaining and predicting Doomsday. Just put your head down and create your amazing content. If ad income is lower, does that mean you shouldn’t be trying to get to Mediavine?! HECK NO!
One thing is for sure, you’ll earn way more than you would NOT having ad income!
But always keep the word “diversification” at the back of your mind. Think about other things you could do to supplement your income. Writing, photography, sponsored work, affiliate income, courses, online classes….get creative! Even if you don’t act on it right away, at least start throwing ideas around.
⭐️ You must be willing to adapt, change, and pivot…always. ⭐️
All of this being said about diversifying income, I will be honest and tell you it’s SCARY! It’s so fun just earning passive income with ads! HAHAHA!!
However, this past month I think I finally have the motivation to dive into a project I’ve been creating in my head for the last nine months! The teacher in me just won’t let it go.
I want to create a blogging course that takes students through EXACTLY what I did to grow my traffic, EXACTLY how I write a blog post, and super specific, actionable strategies for food bloggers.
Are you on board for that?! What else would be super helpful to you? Reach out RIGHT NOW at: [email protected] and tell me!!!
Hope you enjoyed this Food Blog Income Report! In the meantime, if you have any other questions, feel free to drop me a line with those, too! I read every one of your emails.
Remember…I’m cheering for you!
XO ~ Casey