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How Would You Monetize this Food Blog

Posted By Darren Rowse 24th of October 2009 Case Studies 0 Comments

I recently received the email below from a reader asking me for advice on her blog. As I responded to them I realized that it might make an interesting discussion starter and that perhaps the ProBlogger community might together have some good advice to give – so lets do tackle it together.

What I’m going to do is to share the email below (the blogger has given me permission to do this) and share the link to the blog and then open things up to discussion for readers to share their advice.

First the blogger’s name is Veron and the blog is Sparklette – a Singaporean Food Blog.

Screen shot 2009-10-12 at 11.15.24 AM.pngI am from Singapore and I have been following your blogging tips for 2 years now. It was through your blog that I first learned the concept of SEO. Because of what I learned from Problogger, I managed to improve the web traffic of my food blog tremendously to the present 10,000 pageviews a day.

Early this year, I attempted monetising my blog. Through your recommendations I have tried Google Ads, Chitika and Amazon Associates, but only succeeded in making dozens of dollars a month from Google, and zilch from the others. I’m thinking it has something to do with the fact that food blogs are, by default, hard to monetise. I might be wrong though.

Still, I would like to try harder. I really hope that this blog can one day replace my present day job as my primary source of income.

Are there any tips which you can recommend to someone like me – a passionate blogger who is willing to work hard and already sees substantial web traffic but somehow isn’t able to properly monetise it?

I’m no food blogger so am unfamiliar with the niche and how it monetizes best – so while I did give a few words of advice I wondered if others with experience in that niche might have some advice to share with Veron.

Do keep in mind that Veron is asking for advice on monetization – so lets keep the focus upon that aspect of the blog and lets try to keep things constructive.

PS: the main advice I shared with Veron was pretty simple but revolved around the possibility of producing her own product to sell (perhaps an ebook/cookbook) and perhaps also to do some looking around at other blogs in that niche.

The other suggestion that I’d probably be doing is identifying advertisers to approach directly. Are there food stores, publishers of cookbooks or even restaurants in Singapore that might be willing to sponsor the blog.

OK – over to you – what advice would you give?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Just a quick note on the Compete.com statistics that someone provided: The figures are shockingly inaccurate! I have 2 traffic trackers (Google Analytics) installed on the same website and both give me figures that are approximately ten times that of Compete. It makes more sense if Compete tracks just those visits to the homepage and not the rest of the pages within the website.

  2. I love this article. Very practical for all of us and maybe will help to look more objectively at our own sites.

    Veron may not be making much yet, but she’s obviously figure out how to get traffic. My best site now gets about 30,000 hits per month. What I’d do with 300k!

  3. Regardless of what you do, do these first, then read the rest of my advice……(improving usability will only contribute to your new bottom line, whatever that may be)

    1. You site takes too long to load. Im in Seattle on a 16mb line.
    2. Your site is a little busy on the homepage, those posts have so many links/buttons its confusing.
    3. Make your site wider, this will help with the business and you can take advantage of more white space.
    4. The cursive headers down the right are not readable and are too small. Make those bigger and more legible.
    5. Put your web dev/design add in the footer, your users want food info not that.
    6. Do something more with your homepage. Notice on probloggers homepage the “Popular at Blogger” box. You could really increase pageviews with something like that front and center.

    100. Once you have done all that deploy premium membership! Maybe a video series of some sort where some of the vids are only available to premium members. Or some other content package (photos,video, articles etc) available to premium members only. And keep giving it to them, maybe $3/month or something.

    Or maybe offer exclusive nights out as well for your members. I think some bands do this. $50 for a dinner party at a resturant, $100 for a dinner party in their home, $500 for a dinner party in your home, $2000 for a dinner party and a writeup about it in your blog, and a video. You see where im going with this.

    Im not too sure how well a cookbook will do. Your users obviously like what you are doing so far.

  4. I love you Veron has incorporated Google maps for the locations of the restaurants! I’m in the food blog niche too, and I’m just starting to monetize my blog, which is more recipe oriented, but here are just some ideas that come to mind…

    As has already been mentioned it’s really more of a restaurant review blog, and I noticed other Singaporeans commenting that eating out is big in Singapore, plus anyone traveling to the country is going to be looking for good recommendations on where to eat. So I’m thinking something along the lines of a Lonely Planet guidebook, but focusing on restaurants and eating out.

    I know I’ve seen plenty of ‘Eating Out’ guide books and it seems like there would be a huge market for this in Singapore. It might be a bit ambitious, but what about a mobile version – a mobile phone app for looking up restaurants based on location and/or cuisine? This could be combined with the previous suggestions for getting coupons from restaurants and sponsored links (think about how Google search results have sponsored links, but everyone still trusts Google’s results).

    How would a monthly or weekly magazine on restaurants go down there? A lot of food magazines I see do a feature article on a restaurant or chef. The chef could provide one of their favorite recipes (because by the sounds of it most people would still visit the restaurant rather than cooking themselves), you could monetize it just like a normal magazine – with ads from other restaurants or services (even things like dating services, because where do you take your date? A restaurant!). You’d have to experiment to see if an ebook magazine would work well enough, or if you’d have to make it a print magazine (are there local print-on-demand shops that are affordable?).

  5. I think Veron’s site is fantastic but maybe shld be better organised into Singapore food and travel food sections?

    Also, a list of restaurants in S’pore tt have closed down, since these are opening like flowers after the rain and then dying like flies not long after.

  6. I hope some of this helps Vernon because reading the comments sure helped me. I’m a food blogger as well and, after a year, I know I have to/want to get serious with monetizing my efforts. I, too, sing the praises of FoodBuzz. It’s a great community for food bloggers and with the stats Vernon has there is money to be made.

  7. Wow, I’m blown away by all the great tips posted here!
    My foodblog is also a year old and I started monetizing a few months ago, but no significant results so far. I know that’s due to (lack of) traffic but I’m working on it. Needless to say that Darren’s post drew my attention and I will surely give some of these tips a try. Thanks all!

    Adsense and Amazon generate some revenue for me, especially after listing some tools that are not frequently used. Currently developing an Amazon Store, but if this doesn’t work for Veron maybe she can work with an Asian or local version of Amazon or Ebay.

    I think she’ll have a good shot at selling affiliate products too and the best idea I think is her own ebook. Veron can hire a someone (virtual assistant) to put it together if she doesn’t have time. This would be a one-time investment. Set up your own affiliate program and have others sell the book for you. Since I have a multicultural blog, I would gladly sell it!

    Instructional videos for a membership is also a great idea but might take more time and training to set up.

    Great site Veron, but even with a T1 connection it takes a while to download. Imagine what would happen to your pageviews if you could shorten that download time!

    Good luck with monetizing, I hope you will follow up on the ebook idea :)

  8. I’m taking lots of notes. I suggest working something out with a few restaurants and posting daily lunch or dinner specials separately from your regular posts and possibly attaching some sort of coupon. That way you can easily update your blog content daily. Alternatively, you can send the menus to paid subscribers who would appreciate the service.
    On another note, maybe you can be a guest writer on Problogger sometime soon and tell us how to increase our traffic to 10,000+ a day!

  9. I would also recommend Foodbuzz ads – they pay by the click ($2 per 1000) so that would be an easy $20 a day.

    Best of luck!

  10. Veron – instead of trying to monetize your site directly, why not try adding a service?

    For example – offer a review service to restaurants where they feed you and you offer a private or public review (much like Men With Pens website review drivebys)

    Be careful with this – don’t undervalue your time & services. 300k visitors is a lot of exposure they would be buying.

    Good luck!

  11. I have the same experience making money from amazon more difficult, google ads & chitika is more easy but too little. I think the key is traffic stream….. selling ebook is goods alternative

  12. OK, first thing that jumped at me was “What the heck is doing the Bavarian castle Neuschwanstein on a Singaporean food blog”, ok, that might be not the answer you are looking for, but if you want to monetize a food blog then it should also look like a food blog, not like a Bavarian travel blog. Second, where is the traffic coming from? Each monetization of each blog, never mind the niche the blog is in, depends on the kind of traffic the blog receives. Social traffic is notoriously difficult to monetize, search engine traffic is far easier to monetize. No reason to offer apples if your visitors are looking for pears! So, first I would do a lot of research into what kind of traffic this blog receives, which keywords brought the most traffic and which sites refer the most visitors. Try to find out what your visitors are willing to buy ;-) One idea that came immediately to my mind is https://www.projectwonderful.com , not big bucks, but with a high traffic site it could work out. Next would be to create something around the theme “Singapore + Food”, restaurant reviews, shopping tips, an ebook, cooking courses, the possibilities are endless, others have already elaborated on that, so I will not repeat this. Look what is on sale in your niche and what you are comfortable with to promote. Last point, don’t forget that it is important where you place your ads / products, the higher, the better, nobody scrolls down to find a product to buy, an ad to click on, just my 2 cents, SY

  13. Hi Guy’s,
    According to me you can use Google Analytics to determine if certain types of content are doing better?

  14. This is the most informative food blog source I’ve come across and I want to thank you for taking the time to lay it out and share your knowledge. The veil over the mystery of advertising is lifting, but the heavy one over the computer programming and customization aspect remains. Any suggestions on where to go for enlightenment on that subject?

  15. I do have a food blog as well. Try Foodbuzz network, they pay cost per impression ($1-3 per 1000 impression). Since Veron has about 10,000 impression a day, I believe that she will earn quite well with Foodbuzz.


  16. how about direct sponsored advertisement from Singapore Restaurants themselves ?

  17. I have found that Adsense along with other affiliate products on your blog is the best way to earn. Just be sure you don’t make your blog solely an advertising/banner laden mess, but a real blog with information people want to read about and then make sure your Affiliate products are related to your content.

  18. I would stick to well placed affiliate links and an email marketing campaign that you can separate from your blog so it doesn’t look like you are ‘selling out’

  19. I just started my food blog and as you can see i didn’t include apost yet. however I found an article that includes 100 ways to monetize your blog that may be can help you.

    Go to: http://www.insidecrm.com/features/101-ways-monetize-blog122007/

    Good Luck and let me know if it worked for you.

  20. With this kind of traffic she should be getting a decent Adsense check, but she will have to give in and give it some presence above the fold. That is the most valuable spot.

  21. With your traffic, I would absolutely go with a cpm model. Platefull is a great option, as well as Gourmet Ads and Foodbuzz.

  22. Slap some adsense on it. You coudl also place an affiliate program related to your niche as well.

  23. At 10,000 visits per day, making money should be a breeze.

    Invest in Aweber software to start creating a mailing list for your blog. Offer a free eBooklet to those who sign up.

    Your audience is global. It is not just Singapore. People eat that food all over the world.

  24. Flavorful recipe! ;-). I love studying this blog. Where did you get this lovely homepage template from? Regards from sweden.

  25. I love allrecipes.com or cooks.com! I visit them a lot and I think others would… It might bring you some good traffic!

  26. If Veron is still reading the comments, I would be curious to know if she has an explanation on why the number of pageviews is so low compared to the number of visitors. 1.88 pages per visits is a very small number in my opinion, and maybe it can explain why she gets so little revenue from her blog (comparing to her very good stats and her potential). My own blog gets around 500 unique visitors per day only, but also 5000 page views per days (10 pages per visits on average). As the readers spend more time on the blog, they have more chance to see an ad they will like and on which they could click. The content of Sparklette is very good and so is the design, so I cannot figure out why it is so low. Maybe people are only looking for information about one restaurant in particular and are not interested in other pages.

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