As a blogging niche, food blogging is one of the most popular niches around.
But, if you’re trying to make money online through blogging, this popularity might sound scary. After all, a popular blogging niche just means more competiton, right?
Well, as a personal finance blogger who made around $22,000 from blogging last year, I can tell you that niche competition doesn’t mean you can’t make money.
But, if you’re wondering how to become a food blogger or are curious how to make money as a food blogger, are you in for a treat!
Today, we have an interview with Sam from the keto and low carb food blog Mouthwatering Motivation.
If you want to learn how to create a successful food blog and thrive in one of the most competitive niches out there, this is absolutely the post for you.
Let’s get to it!
How To Become A Food Blogger – How Sam Went Full-Time
I’d like to thank Sam for taking the time to share her insights and journey on becoming a full-time food blogger.
In this interview, we’re covering:
- Why Sam started a food blog in the first place
- How long Sam has been blogging for
- How Sam makes money as a food blogger
- What specific traffic and monetization strategies work best
- How much do food bloggers make
- If starting an Instagram food blog is viable
- If starting a food blog in 2021 and beyond is still a good idea
Take it away, Sam!
About Sam & Mouthwatering Motivation
Hi! I’m Sam. I’m a 25 year old full-time food blogger and recipe creator.
To get an idea of where I started, I went to school for Foods and Nutrition at Brescia University-College.
During this time I also competed in a figure competition. I met most of my friends at the Western Rec Center since I spent the majority of my day there outside of classes!
I also worked as a baker/cashier at a French Bakery & Patisserie in London, ON. Following school I took a job at a supplement store where I further increased my nutritional knowledge.
When & Why Did You Start Mouthwatering Motivation?
It’s a long story, but I’ll do my best to condense it!
I was actually a big art nerd in high school. I had no interest in working out and nutrition at the time.
But in 2011, I was diagnosed with scoliosis. It came as a huge shock as I’d never had any serious health conditions before.
It was so severe I had to have surgery as soon as possible since I could run the risk of my ribs puncturing my lung if I continued to let it progress.
So, that same year, I had spinal fusion. I came out on the other end 2 inches taller with 2 titanium rods and 20 screws in my back (I really love singing “I am Titanium”).
This resulted in a whole lot of reflection time (and sitting in a chair trying to pick things up with a plastic claw my parents gave me).
Ultimately my surgery really changed my outlook on life. I valued being able to walk, run, lift things.. etc, a lot more than I did prior. I no longer took my health for granted.
This is also when I started blogging. I actually wrote about my surgery first and about my experience to try and help others.
But as I grew stronger and was able to get back to normal physical activities, I started getting into weight-lifting and began eating a higher protein diet.
I was determined to replace the lost muscle in my back, and in-doing so, I unknowingly started a whole new path of life.
I changed courses in high school. I decided to take more courses related to nutrition. I asked what grades I needed to get into the Brescia Foods and Nutrition program and I made it happen.
Then, the following year, I started a food blog called Mouthwatering Motivation (My Dad wanted me to call it ProteinQueen – very thankful I went a different route).
Originally it was a high protein recipe blog as I’d starting to gain a small following online and some friends had asked for me to share my recipes.
My first recipe was actually a Pizza Frittata, and it’s still up on my old site today if you’d like to see where I started.
I continued to post on my free WordPress food blog for about 3 years before I actually learned you could make money blogging.
So for me, starting a food blog was the result of a passion. It was never about making money as a food blogger when I started.
However, when I finally monetized my blog, I was able to start making money quite early on since I did already have a following. But it was still a difficult road to making any sort of livable income.
As the years went on, my blog eventually became a fully low carb, gluten free website due to my growing interest in the ketogenic diet and my love for those specific recipes.
How Did Your Food Blog Change Over The Years?
Oh man, it’s been a rollercoaster.
Seriously. I could go on forever about the amount of times I’ve screamed at my computer screen, cried when a 4000 word post didn’t save (I re-wrote that post TWICE that same day due to a site error, LOL…Note to all bloggers, back-up your work outside of your blogging platform!)
I’ve had weeks and even months where I was ready to give up on my blog. I actually abandoned it once for about two months and said it wasn’t for me.
But I felt lost without running my food blog. It always seemed to pull me back in. especially when someone would leave a nice comment on an old recipe.
After my brief pause, I slowly started posting again after those 2 months and I’ve been going strong ever since (still with the occasional moments of panic and frustration of course). I don’t think I could have kept with it this long if I didn’t love it.
Overall, my blog has grown immensely over the years. Not only in size and following but in quality of the content. I’ve learned SO much and I am still learning something new each day.
In terms of actual stats, my blog had 1773 monthly viewers and made 0$ in the entire year of 2012.
That’s not bad for my first year of starting a recipe blog.
But, fast-forward to recent years, and I’ve received between 1.8M – 3M+ views in a single year. It still blows my mind that that many people are interested in what I make!
When it comes to other social media platforms, I’ve seen quite a bit of growth there as well.
I started my Instagram around the time I started my blog and it now has 14.3K followers at the time of writing this post (I will say I’ve only focussed on Instagram and really taken it seriously in the last 1 year).
I grew it to 1M monthly viewers in just my first year of creating an account (I think around the year of 2018) and at its peak it was at 7.1M monthly viewers.
Recently, Pinterest made some changes to their algorithm, so my traffic is back down to 3.2M and I’m working on a new strategy to bring it back-up!
I’ve also expanded into other social media platforms because I’d like to rely less on Pinterest. I think this is an important tip for anyone trying to create a successful food blog since the diversity can help you grow your following.
I’ve also had a YouTube channel for years but never took it seriously until the past 2 1/2 months.
In the last month alone I’ve gained over 400+ new subscribers putting me at almost 3000 so I’m excited to see where that takes me!
I also share content in Facebook groups. I receive a small amount of traffic from them but more-so I find it’s a great place to meet people and connect.
Lastly, I will say that my traffic has sky-rocketed and crumbled and sky-rocketed again over the years.
It’s never completely consistent. The internet is constantly changing and you have to learn to adapt to keep growing a food blog. But I think that’s what makes this job so exciting.
Extra Reading – How To Make Money With Pinterest.
How Did You Become A Food Blogger & Go Full-Time?
In the beginning, I grew my blog almost exclusively with Pinterest and sharing in Facebook groups for the first 3 years.
I knew nothing about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or how to properly structure a blog post.
I find Pinterest is best for beginners because you can rank and get discovered almost immediately if you have good-quality images or enticing pins. It’s also easier to start seeing traffic than Google, so if you create content often I’d highly recommend it.
Pinning your own content to a variety of well-named boards often is what can really grow your site quickly.
Pinterest used to focus more on re-pinning content already on the platform but in 2021, it’s looking for more fresh content.
This can also mean, creating multiple Pinterest pins (images) for the same blog post. I use Canva to create all of my pins and would highly recommend it.
However, although I mainly focussed on Pinterest and I think it’s a great way to grow your blog quickly, don’t skip out on SEO.
You’ll thank yourself later if you focus on creating SEO friendly blog posts early-on.
There’s plenty of YouTube videos and blog posts explaining it so do your best to educate yourself on the topic if you want to start ranking on Google.
Extra Reading – Is Tailwind Worth It For Bloggers?
How Does A Food Blogger Make Money?
Food bloggers make money in all sorts of ways!
But the most common methods I’d say are:
- Display ads with networks like Google Adsense, Monumetric, Mediavine, or AdThrive
- Affiliate sales
- Sponsored posts
- Selling products (whether that be food products or cookbooks!)
We can also make money through other platforms such as TikTok and YouTube!
In terms of what works and what doesn’t, I’d say all revenue streams I’ve mentioned “work” but it’s just the amount of effort you are willing to put into each one and which ones best suit you and your blog.
A combination of multiple revenue streams is always optimal so if one declines, you can put more effort into your other revenue streams to continue making a steady income!
Also, growing an email list early on is one of the most important things you can do!
Your email audience will be your most loyal audience because they TRUST you.
This is a huge asset when it comes to launching products and affiliate sales in the future! (Look up “how to create a lead magnet and email list” for a better idea of where to start).
Extra Reading – How To Make Money On YouTube.
How Much Do Food Bloggers Make?
Food bloggers can make anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to six figures or more each year. It really just depends on the level of effort and where they are at in their blogging journey.
I would DEFINITELY say not to compare yourself and not to expect income right away or even in the first year (though it is possible start earning something).
It’s best to focus on growing your food blog traffic and social media presence early on, creating content people love, and building a name for yourself before you aim to monetize your blog.
You can see my first blog here to get an idea of where I started vs now: www.mouthwateringmotivation.wordpress.com (It was rough, but I grew an audience because I put out content regularly!)
You can technically monetize your blog with ads right away, but with a small amount of traffic, you really won’t earn much and it’s not worth it to cover your site with ads if you don’t have to.
In my opinion, it’s best to wait until you are receiving enough traffic to the point where you can apply for a high-end advertising platform such as Mediavine or Ad Thrive. It might take a bit longer to get there but it’s so worth it!
Plus, instead of ads, try focussing on affiliate income and virtual products early on like printables or ebooks! This is a great way to earn a little commission and motivate yourself to continue creating content!
Can You Start An Instagram Food Blog?
It’s technically possible to become an Instagram food blogger.
If you focus solely on growing your following and earn income with sponsored posts, you could grow an Instagram food blog and make money.
BUT, I think starting a food blog where you have your own website truly establishes your brand and opens up so many more opportunities.
A website is great for selling your own products and sharing longer content than Instagram (this is especially important for more complex recipes).
Owning your own blog also lets you earn more from affiliate links and sponsored posts as well!
Lastly, I think it’s easier to grow your food blog than figuring out how to grow your Instagram food blog.
But, I think the decision comes down to what works best to you and what sort of food blogger you want to become.
Is Starting A Food Blog Worth It?
YES! Becoming a food blogger is so worth it!
I also think there is no better time. So many people search for recipes online now.
I do think things have changed in terms of Google, Pinterest and other platforms, but change isn’t always bad. A lot of food bloggers are also now using Tiktok to grow their platforms, which was never available to us in the past.
Any Final Advice For Anyone Trying To Make Money With A Food Blog?
If you are starting a food blog, make sure you love it.
Make sure it’s something you truly get exciting about and enjoy doing.
If you’re just in it for the money, you’re not going to maintain the motivation long-term to get to the point where you are earning a steady income.
There’s so many struggles and little things you have to overcome along the way. If you truly enjoy what you are doing, like anything then you WILL make it. My mindset going into blogging was to share what I already loved doing in my free time.
Another piece of advice I would recommend to anyone is to remember every issue you encounter or time when everything seems to be going wrong is there for a reason.
In other words, think of each challenge as a test.
It requires you to think outside the box to progress. This thinking outside the box is what takes you to the next level of your journey. Every single time something has gone wrong with my blog, something better has come out of it.
As they say, “When one door closes, another door opens.” There is ALWAYS a way to keep moving forward, regardless of what you encounter.
If you have anymore questions about starting/running a food blog, I’m always happy to answer them if you want to shoot my an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I also want to thank Tom for taking the time to reach out and interview me. It was a pleasure to share my thoughts and experience!
Final Thoughts On How To Start A Food Blog
Once again, I’d like to than Sam for taking time to share her story on how she became a full-time food blogger.
I think Sam’s blogging journey is a pretty incredible one.
Despite various setbacks, algorithm changes, and wondering if food blogging was right for her at some point, she stuck with blogging and even went full-time.
If anything, I think Sam’s story proves that making money from a food blog is possible, even in 2021 and beyond, provided you put in the time and effort.
If you’re wondering how to become a food blogger, I also hope Sam’s story and advice gives you the inspiration and tips for your next steps.
I highly recommend checking out Mouthwatering Motivation for some awesome recipes ideas and to see what Sam is up to.
You can also find Sam on Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube as mentioned throughout the interview.
She’s also launching a new product soon, so if you’re a fan of her work and want to see what’s around the corner, I definitely suggest following her on all platforms!
Thank you again Sam, and best of luck to everyone out there who plans on starting a food blog!
Ready to take the plunge into food blogging?
I always recommend SiteGround hosting for new bloggers since it’s reliable, affordable, and easy to use to launch your first blog!
Tom is a full-time blogger and freelance writer with a passion for side hustling, passive income, and the gig economy. His work has appeared on dozens of personal finance websites like Money Crashers, The College Investor, Investor Junkie, and more. This Online World is all about providing people with honest ways to make and save more money by using technology. To learn more about Tom, read his About Page!
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