In this article, you will find real-world data on how food blogs generate revenue. To provide this information, I have analyzed the income sources of ten food blogs that have published income reports online.
Based on this sample, on average, food blogs generate approximately 66% of their revenue with ads, 17% with sponsored content, 10% with services such as food photography or recipe development, 7% with affiliate promotions, and less than 1% by selling their own products.
Average Food Blog Income Split
*The RPM is the revenue per 1000 pageviews generated from all income sources combined. It has been calculated based on the traffic data I collected in this food blog profitability analysis.
Income Split of 11 Food Blogs
The below table shows, at the example of 11 different food blogs, which proportion various sources of income contribute to the total food blog revenue:
|Went Here 8 This||$46.28||77.8%||16.3%||0||5.9%||0||$4,782||2019/11|
|Clean Eating Couple||$40.14||43.3%||25.1%||0||29.7%||1.9%||$14,050||2019/Avg.|
|Fork in the Road||$29.62||48.5%||0||42.7%||8.9%||0||$938||2020/06|
|Pinch of Yum||$22.42||63.1%||23.5%||0||10.8%||2.6%||$95,197||2016/11|
|Piping Pot Curry||$19.16||93.6%||0||0||6.4%||0||$5,110||2018/08|
|Midwest Foodie||$17.72 ||99.3%||0||0||0.7%||0||$9,132 ||2020/06|
Note: In Kitchen Sanctuary’s income report, they summarize sponsored content and freelancing in one category. For the purposes of this table, I have divided the total amount by two and attributed 50% to each sponsored content and freelancing.
Analysis of Food Blog Income Sources
Let’s dive into more detail and see what the research tells us about the different kinds of revenue sources of food blogs:
1. Ad Revenue
The biggest revenue driver for most food blogs is ads. Six of the featured blogs run AdThrive as an ad network, four of them run Mediavine.
When looking at the 11 blogs of this analysis, the average food blog RPM from ads is $18.7.
The following table summarizes the ad RPM along with the ad network for each of the food blogs:
|Blog||Ad RPM*||Ad Network||Pageviews p.m.||Year/Month|
|Went Here 8 This||$36.00||Mediavine||103,331||2019/11|
|Piping Pot Curry||$17.94||AdThrive||266,696||2018/08|
|Clean Eating Couple||$17.38||Mediavine||350,000||2019/Avg.|
|Fork in the Road||$14.35||Mediavine||31,649||2020/06|
|Pinch of Yum||$14.15||AdThrive||4,245,565||2016/11|
Note: Some of the blogs state higher numbers as their ad RPM. I assume that their numbers come from their ad network’s dashboard and may be based not on all pageviews, but, for example, only on views of pages that have ads on them. For purposes of the above table, I have used the total number of pageviews as shown by Google Analytics to calculate the ad RPM.
As you can see, the variance in ad RPM is massive, starting below $10 (Butternut Bakery) and reaching up to $36 (Went Here 8 This).
There may be several factors playing into this, but one reason could be that Went Here 8 This blogs to travellers who want to cook international cuisine and this type of audience may be more affluent then a baking recipe audience.
However, you don’t need to feel sorry for Butternut Bakery – they might not do well with ads, but they make it all up with sponsored content and have the highest overall RPM.
2. Sponsored Content
As Butternut Bakery illustrates, sponsored content plays a vital role in food blog monetization.
And it’s not just Butternut Bakery. Most of the analyzed blogs that achieve a high RPM do so by adding a significant chunk of sponsored content to their income mix.
For Whole Kitchen Sink, sponsored content is even consistently the biggest source of income. (Whole Kitchen Sink is not included in the table because they do not publish their pageviews.)
3. Freelancing Services
As another way to increase profitability, several bloggers use their blog as a platform to acquire freelancing clients. They provide services such as food photography or recipe development to food brands.
However, freelancing becomes less attractive the bigger the blog becomes, because the blogger’s time gets more valuable. That explains why Pinch of Yum, the blog with the highest revenue among the listed, does not do any freelancing at all.
4. Affiliate Marketing
On average, the overall contribution of affiliate promotions to the overall income of the food blogs is rather small.
However, I do feel that most of the food blogs could do a better job at affiliate promotion. With affiliate income, you get out what you put in and many of the featured food blogs simply do not place much emphasis on affiliate marketing.
With their 30% affiliate income portion, the Clean Eating Couple shows that affiliate income can be a significant revenue driver for a food blog.
They achieve this by going beyond the Amazon affiliate program and promoting subscriptions such as ButcherBox and DailyHarvest and even thinking out of the box and promoting skincare products that appeal to their audience.
Yet, this is still just the beginning when it comes to affiliate marketing opportunities in the food niche. In my Ultimate Food Niche Guide, I show you many more affiliate marketing tactics for food blogs and niche sites. I have pulled these together by analyzing how the top blogs in the industry do affiliate marketing. Each of them has its specific tactics and I have summarized all of them in my Food Niche Guide.
5. Food-Related Products
Most of the blogs that publish income reports do not sell any products at all.
Clean Eating Couple, 30Aprons, and Pinch of Yum sell Ebooks (This statement relates to the time when the income reports were published. Today, Pinch of Yum runs a membership site for food bloggers. I would imagine their income from products has increased because of it.)
However, there are food blogs that do put a greater emphasis on selling their own products. Products sold in the food niche include online courses, meal plan subscriptions, spice mixes, live online cooking class and in-app purchases within a blog’s own mobile apps.
You can find examples for each of these products in my Ultimate Food Niche Guide.