With “blogging” now a full-time serious profession, I have seen the trajectory of blogosphere grow from “tech blogging” majorly to other niche segments such as “fashion,” “real estate,” “personal health,” “finance” and even “food.”
In the last few days, I was researching the concept of niche sites and their monetization techniques. Apart from the run-of-the-mill technology blogs, I came across a large number of food blogs too. Genuinely intrigued, as a business person and a foodie, I delved ahead, and this article is the outcome of my research.
What is Food Blogging?
“Food blogging” is the unique blend of photography skills and written content. However, visuals are key, so it’s important to take the best food pictures possible. I can see food bloggers covering new restaurant openings, reviewing food joints, collaborating with brands and more. They also try out new recipes, record and share them – text and video. It is “blogging” in the truest sense but comes with a dash of PR exercise.
Food bloggers do not spend their days behind a computer screen writing content. As they become popular, they have to attend food-social engagements regularly, write about them on the blog, and create social media engagement. In short, it is a word-of-mouth referral system with commercial intent.
Now comes the question – is food blogging profitable? Is it possible to create a sustainable income?
Ultimately, if I have a food blog, I would want to earn money from it. Wouldn’t you?
More research ensued!
I came across blogs such as the Pinch of Yum, which generated around $90,000 in ONE damn month! You can read a detailed feature on them on Huffington Post. There is Tasting Table, grossing $100,000+ per year.
I literally swooned discovering these blogs. No kidding!
In a BlogHer study, it was found that 73% of general Internet users believe food bloggers. This is an impressive stat and encouraging for upcoming food bloggers.
I interacted with popular food bloggers and asked them for their method of blog monetization. It is divided into two phases.
In the first few months or even a year in some cases, food bloggers do not charge for any brand collaboration or activity, which includes covering a restaurant during launch, publishing guest blogs, attending launches, and generating social media interaction.
As new food bloggers, it is understood that all brands will not be interested in spending substantial money because the food bloggers are still building their self brand and brands will be unsure of potential ROI.
As such, a food blogger enlists their blog in various blog networks, Facebook groups, and PR companies to start getting brand invites. It helps to build a social following and create a brand presence for the food blogger. Such activities are sometimes incentivized by brands through discount coupons and gift vouchers.
Once a food blogger builds a considerable brand presence, they create a PR kit/advertising kit and begin to accept paid gigs. By this time, it can be assumed that their food blog has begun to receive good traffic daily. Some of the preferred ways are:
#1 Direct Affiliate Partnerships
Food bloggers become the affiliate partners of popular products (mostly!) and services in existence. Also, there are marketplaces that connect product owners with food bloggers.
Food bloggers could directly partner with a product like Lavu winery POS for iPad with which wineries can onboard their winery business onto a compact, state-of-the-art system for all operations, from order taking to payments and receipts. Wineries can track sales, manage inventories, customer interactions and more. Products like this target a specific audience and food bloggers can help to reach the preferred audience set, and earn from every successful buyer referral.
#2 Paid Reviews
Food bloggers with large social following and influence can enter into paid review deals whereby they experience the product/service and publish an in-depth review on their blog. The review is then boosted on social accounts for higher engagement. Food bloggers usually charge between $100 and $1000 per review or more depending on the influence of the blogger.
Of course, the buyer also needs to see some stats before accepting highly priced review requests. Given the availability of sophisticated social and website traffic analysis tools, it is not tough to crunch numbers. Sometimes these paid review partnerships are followed by hashtag specific contests and giveaways.
#3 Social Campaigns
You will also see a lot of food bloggers promoting products exclusively on their social channels, preferably Pinterest and Instagram. This is usually the norm when new restaurants open. Food bloggers are contracted to attend the opening gala, experience the ambiance and talk about their experience on the social channels.
Food bloggers, in general, invest in sophisticated photography devices as the pictographic impact is higher than textual. Sharing food coupons or discount vouchers is usually the intent behind the social campaigns, which is to get more and more local people turn up at the restaurant.
Social collaboration fee for social campaigns depends on the influence of the blogger.
#4 AdSense & Others
AdSense is the TOP preferred monetization channel for any kind of blog. If a food blog has good traffic, it can be monetized with AdSense. Even while a food blogger spends the first few months of the blogging journey building a brand, AdSense monetization begins from the second or third month itself. Of course, the food blog needs to have high-quality niche traffic to earn from AdSense substantially.
To conclude, food blogging could be as profitable as any other blogging niche. Do you have one?