How to make money from blogging? Which niches could you consider? These are some questions I asked Samantha Milner, who is a food blogger over at RecipeThis.com.
What you will learn in this episode:
- How your niche will impact your profits
- Different ways to make profits with a blog
- What to take into account when considering blogging
About Samantha Milner:
Samantha Milner is a food blogger over at RecipeThis.com and created it in 2015 with her husband Dominic. It has grown to 8 million visitors a year and it has become an authority in its niche. Prior to this Samantha worked as an internet marketing manager for more than 10 years, along with flipping websites and running her own successful blogs. She has worked online since the January of 2005.
Connect with Samantha:
TP: Welcome! Today, we are speaking about blocking my guest is Sam Milner. Welcome, Sam.
SM: Thank you very much for having me, too.
TP: You are an experienced blogger with your food blog. Can you please share us how and why did you start blogging?
SM: I originally started blogging on Christmas Day 2008. I was having one of those really rubbish, horrible Christmases that just didn't turn out how I wanted. And I was chatting online to this guy and he was telling me that you've got to move forward from just having a website on HTML and actually get into blogging. So within ten minutes I had my very first blog and me and my husband were kind of thinking, yeah, we really like blogging and this is going to be a different thing for us to doing, and we'll see how it goes, because back in 2009, there wasn't that many people doing them. So it was just something different to do. We were already working online, so it was kind of like the next step up.
TP: And what was the area you started with? Food blog.
SM: So no, it wasn't. We started in 2008 with an entrepreneur blog. I think it was called from memory, My Easy Online Pay or something like that. And it was for people that wanted to kind of make the first two and fifty dollars online as it was. And we have many, many blogs follow because what we used to do is we used to set up blogs for people, drive traffic to them, driving come to them and then sell them for profit. So we had a lot of different blogs. Our first food blog, we started in 2009, so the following year and at a really cheesy, stupid name to it, we called it a DSM food because my husband's name is Dominic, obviously I'm Sam, so it just kind of a silly initials into a blog. And that was our first time doing it and we got on the front page of Google for really high traffic keywords and suddenly we were making a small fortune in Google adsense. We thought it was a small fortune at the time and that was our first take on food cooking with so that and the next closest we got to food blogging was running a kitchen gadgets website. So it was more reviews about kitchenaid mixes, blenders and suchlike. And then a few years later, I think it was in 2013, we started a diet blog and that was very much focused on food again. And we realized that we kept coming back to the food and the kitchen gadgets. So we started in November of 2015. So five years ago recipethis.com, which is our food blog that we've owned for the last five years, and it's also our only site now. We kind of wanted something that was going to be our retirement package and something where we could just focus on one area. And that's been it.
TP: Really interesting journey, what you've had. And yeah, you have turned this blogging into six figure business and actually entrepreneurs often consider blogging as time consuming activities. So how can we make money from blogging?
SM: Well, I'll tell you now that blogging is very much a time consuming activity, you're very right there. You know, I wouldn't normally admit to how many hours I work blogging, but since you're here and you're interviewing me, I would say that I do a 50 hour working week, sometimes a 70 hour working week. So it is a lot of hours and it is a lot of hard work. But you could work less, but it would mean that your business would not grow as fast. I'm making money from blogging and we're putting in the hours, but let's say we did half of that workload, then we wouldn't be on six figures within five years. So, you know, it comes down to how much effort you actually put into it. I mean, most people quit food blogging and any other type of blogging, actually, not just food within the first year because they realize how much work is involved and they have to work hard at it and they're not going to be rewarded with income straight away. It's a long term game when I think of blogging. I often think of it like acting. You know, you're always going to have your kind of you, Joey, from “Friends”, who's trying to make it but not very good at it and you work in a second job while you're trying to get good at it. Whilst at the Top End you've got your movie stars like, Tom Hanks of the world, and then you've got you in between, which I suppose is like your TV stars. And there's a lot more Joeys than there is Tom Hanks about in the blogging industry. There's a lot of them that struggle to understand the work that's involved and struggle to actually make money from it.
TP: So how can you make money from blogging, how you start, besides establishing your blog site?
SM: Well, the biggest income source for, I would say the majority of bloggers is the placement of adverts running on your blog. And each time somebody visits your blog, that's considered as an impression and you normally get paid a certain amount of money for each 1000 impressions that land on your blog. So let's say at the moment it's high season, it's quarter for advertisers are spending a lot more money right now. So blogs are earning the most money now compared to any other time of the year. And at this time of year, you can earn up to 40 dollars per 1000 impressions. But in last season, which is quarter one, which is January through to March, it tends to be a lot lower and be around fifteen dollars. So it kind of it's kind of up and down and has its seasons. And that's how a lot of people and the money Google ad sense is probably the most common. But advertising networks that manage your ads on your behalf and get you the best amounts of money for your ads pay you a lot more. For example, the popular one for the beginner blogger is Mediavine, because you only need I think it's about thirty thousand page views a month to get on to Mediavine compared to Updrive who we are with, which is more the six figure blogs, which just because the minimal minimum threshold to join is one hundred thousand page views, you know. So if you get in a hundred thousand pages a month, you're going to be getting a decent amount of advertising revenue. So that's the biggest source of income. But the second source of income for a lot of people is also affiliate marketing. So earning a commission from, let's say, a review you've written about a product or when you've looked out to an affiliate product in your post, for example, if somebody was interested in instant pot accessories, you've got an instant pot accessories post running on your site and you all link it out to people buying those products on Amazon. Or, you know, we had a site many years ago that covered the Xbox games console and that links out to an e-book that was for sale on ClickBank. So there's plenty of different opportunities. But then the number one is normally the advertising network. The number two is affiliate marketing . And number three is often your own digital products. Like, for example, we have a couple of courses. We've got plenty of ebooks and principles that people can buy. And at the end of the day, because, like acting, blogging is not that stable, you could end up losing your traffic. So that could happen. It's best that you spread out your income stream so that you're not just relying on the advertising networks. As a good example of this is that coveted travel bloggers have lost about 90 percent of their traffic and they still haven't recovered from it. Those just relying on ad networks are pretty screwed.
TP: Yeah, so we started to speak about different niches. And you are blogging at the moment in the food niche. Is this the only profitable topic, as you mentioned, that blogging is totally not profitable at the moment? Where should we start blogging from? Or what subject would be the profitable one?
Make sure that you are going with the trend and always keeping up with the trend to make the most money. - Sam Milner, Podcast Step Up & Thrive
SM: The funny thing is before covid, I was like really jealous of how much money these travel bloggers were earning because I always considered travel to be one of the highest profitable niches. And a lot of that's because within the travel niche, they've got better opportunities as far as affiliate marketing is concerned, because there's lots of software that they can have installed so that they can be selling holidays for the main tour operators through their website. And they've got a lot more opportunities than the food's got. The thing about food is it's very easy to get traffic because there's so many recipes that you could write a post about that could generate attention. But with food, you know, beyond advertising networks, you've got your affiliate marketing, but there's not as many opportunities with affiliate marketing for food, and they often pay a lot less in commissions. However, compare this to some other niches that do actually pay a lot more commissions and affiliate marketing, and I would consider them to be more profitable niches, for example, one niche that is fantastic for profit levels is arts and crafts and more specifically sewing. For example, being able to affiliate sewing machines, for example, because sewing machines are quite a high ticket item. So for each one of those, you're getting paid a lot more compared to if I'm affiliated in instant pot pressure-cookers in the food niche. A lot of the sewing machines sell for three hundred dollars, sometimes even more. And when you are affiliated directly with them on a 10 percent or a five percent base, you don't need to sell a lot of sewing machines compared to the instant pot, for example, I recently bought out an instant pot course and I remember telling one of my affiliates that one sale of this digital cost is about the equivalent of eighty eight sales of an instant pot because commissions on Amazon are just so low on products like that, both the arts and crafts niche is just amazing because they've got the sewing machines. There's plenty of courses they can affiliate because people want to know how to then use these sewing machines. And people want to buy a lot more courses to do the sewing machine because just reading it on Google isn't enough for them. They really need to learn the stuff and learn the trade better. So I would put arts and crafts up there as one of the best niches. And they've been doing a fantastic job right now because they've been teaching people on YouTube how to make face masks. You know, you can't say no how can you? You know, it's like where you know, I know one lady that's got an arts and crafts blog and she puts out this tutorial on YouTube for making face masks and it had one million views on YouTube the next day, you know? That's just how popular the DIY face masks industry is right now. And all she's done is because she's already an arts and crafts blogger, and she's just discovered what's on trend and what's popular right now. And quite often in these niches, there is a lot of profit to be made. It's just making sure that you are going with the trend and always keeping up with the trend to make the most money.
TP: Hmm. If we now take some kind of coach or consultant, do you have any information about this general entrepreneurship blogging? You started… The the first blog was for you, this general entrepreneurship one. Is there any chance to earn money?
SM: Oh, you mean in the entrepreneur niche? Oh, definitely. Definitely. And the thing about the entrepreneur niche, is they tend to look after each other, you know, in the food niche people are rather competitive with each other and are not very nice to each other. Whilst in the entrepreneur niche or as I would often call it, the make money blogging niche people affiliates in each other's products. There's a lot more digital products and courses to buy, and those courses give you a very, very high affiliate commission compared to what you would get in any other industry. You see, courses going on sale there for like three thousand dollars with a 40 percent commission rate you are not getting anywhere else. And because it's digital, people don't have the same outgoings and costs associated with it compared to a physical product on Amazon, so they can give you a much higher commission. And, you know, the blogging niche is incredibly profitable. I will say that. But I've done it for such a long, long time, I am not in the nice anymore because it just wasn't my passion, even though that's probably what I probably know the most about it. It's just it was a wonderful income for many, many years. But not where my heart is at.
TP: So you stay with your food?
SM: Yes, I do. I get to eat great food every day. I get to watch my kids learn about cooking. At the same time, I get to write about food all day. You know, this is fun.
TP: I bet it is. So now it's time for our Quick Tips section, and this is something that we do have regularly on our podcast. My question is, what is your biggest revelation about blogging and making money from blogging?
SM: That people will always, always be copying your content. That's something you have to deal with a lot. You know, you'll write a great piece of content, and it will bring great traffic for you, and then somebody will have outsourced somebody else to rewrite your post. You know, it's your post is only very slightly different and there's nothing you can do about it. I think that's the worst thing about blogging is no protection against your content being stolen. You can only take action if it's exactly word for word. They could just change 10 percent of the words up and is considered as theirs.
TP: That's quite cruel.
SM: It is.
TP: And there is no solution for that.
SM: No, that doesn't seem to be at the moment, it's been a problem for a long, long time. It's also a problem in the food niche as well. I think the problem is like people say you can't copyright shepherd's pie because everybody knows shepherd's pie is we've all got a different variation on it. But sometimes you see things where all the text is too similar to a bit on your site first and rewritten what you've actually done. But, yes, that's the that's the biggest downside of blogging, I would say.
TP: So I think what you can do is produce more great text for others to read.
SM: Yes. Yes. For example, I've got about a 1000 to 1100 persons on my site.
TP: Whoa that's a lot.
SM: And because it's always Americans that copy my content, anything that's British related never gets copied or anything European or Asian, it doesn't get touched. It's just anything that's American seems to be the problem area. So my UK stuff's always good.
TP: So this is a chance for all European entrepreneurs. You're basically safe.
SM: Yes, you are. Yes, you are. But the downside there to that argument is that American traffic is paid a lot more for than UK traffic. I didn't realize this. And when I moved to media on the network I used to be with, I noticed that for UK traffic we were earning ten dollars per thousand impressions compared to thirty dollars for US traffic. So it's quite a difference. But you know, a lot of these copays, they'll only put one or two per week so they can't catch up with the amount we've got on our side. So it does make you realize that you just got to keep blogging, keep getting on with what you are content about and just kind of ignore everyone else around you and just get on with it now.
TP: OK. And still, there is a lot of chances to earn a lot of money with blogging.
SM: Yes, there is. There is. I mean, one thing I haven't talked about is sponsored content, and that is very lucrative in blogging. I haven't really talked about it because I don't do it personally anymore, cause it's difficult for me because I'm in Europe with an American audience. And sponsored content basically means that brands will pay you to write a post about their products. But the downside of that is the amount of work involved with to and forwarding, with emails, with potential clients. There's constantly asking them if the content is OK, if they're happy with it and they often make you jump through hoops for the actual money that you get. But a blog that's, say, getting over one hundred thousand page views a month can expect two thousand dollars each time to do an article for a sponsor, depending on who the sponsor is, of course. But I find it too time consuming. I can be writing a lot more blog posts in that time. I could be doing more PR promoting myself, you know, for the effort it takes to do it and you know, they're not that interested when you're not in America for you to actually receive the products, to then be able to test them for them. But a lot of people do do it, you know, and it is a popular way to make money from a blog. It's just I would rather rely on passive income where I'm earning money from content over and over again. I've written and I'm not chasing for anything.
TP: Very pragmatic approach, I would say. Yeah. Thank you so much for joining us and sharing all those great tips. I definitely will look more into that. And if our listeners would like to know more about you and follow you, where can they do so?
SM: And they can find us at RecipeThis.com and that is where we run our food blog and it focuses around cooking with kitchen gadgets, if any of you have any of those. And we're also on social media, we're on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and we have a Facebook group. And you can get the links for the different channels directly on our website.
TP: So if you love food, this is a place where you should go. Thank you once again.
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