A few months ago, I discovered the food blog Pinch of Yum. I was shocked that I hadn't come across this terrific food blog earlier. Lindsay features gorgeous food photography and healthy, delicious meals. For example, this week she posted a recipe for a Garlic Parmesan Chicken Lasagna Bake:
I'm working on another blog development post right now about food photography, and Lindsay's photos are featured several times. They are consistently beautiful. She even wrote an ebook called Tasty Food Photography about how to take photos like hers that I can't wait to get my hands on! (Mom- if you're reading this, that's a blatant hint for a birthday present.)
Once I was done ogling at drool worthy post after post, I noticed a tab labeled "Income" and found that each month, Lindsay's husband Bjork posts a breakdown of how much money they made, what sources it came from, and what they think is working or not working on their blog currently. This kind of information coming from a very successful food blog is gold for a blogger like me. I read post after post and learned so much about advertising, analytics, and traffic. It gave me a lot of courage to try new things on my blog, things that have worked very well!
Then, even better, I found Food Blogger Pro! Bjork started a blog, service, and community to support newer food bloggers (or any bloggers, for that matter) and help them grow their blogs. It's a great resource and has answers to all kinds of questions about ads, traffic, analytics, design, etc. It's an invaluable resource.
I'm so grateful to bloggers like them for sharing their knowledge and taking the time and energy to help others! Including answering a few of my questions about how they got to where they are today. Here's what I asked Lindsay about:
Why did you decide to start a food blog?
I was sharing recipes all the time on Facebook, and didn't want to keep annoying my friends on Facebook, so I decided to start a blog. I was unsure of myself at a first, but my husband Bjork was really encouraging and told me that I didn't need any special knowledge to start a blog, so I went for it!
What pieces of photography equipment could you not go without? Do you have any lighting solutions for those who don't have lots of natural light?
I could not go without a good background. I use a old wood boards from a table that we bought at the market in the Philippines. I also rely pretty heavily on my artificial light (Lowell EGO Digital Imaging Lamp) in the winter or during really busy times of the year when I can't always shoot in natural light.
What was the spark for Pinch of Yum to make it such a well-known blog? Was there a specific post that triggered it?
There was a post I did in my second year of blogging for Healthy Sweet Potato skins that was pinned by the woman who was, at the time, the most followed user on Pinterest (she was actually the founder's mother). This was a huge thing for Pinch of Yum because it started to get more exposure and be seen outside of my own little circle. It wasn't an overnight boom; it was more like a three day spike in traffic and then a dip back down to "normal", but that was definitely a tipping point for future growth for the blog.
How did/do you break through growth plateaus for Pinch of Yum?
We find that traffic will increase and then plateau periodically, maybe for a few months, and then get bumped up to the "next level". I think making your content available across more platforms can really help to keep those plateaus from lasting too long - if you're constantly branching out into new areas and getting your content in front of new faces there is inevitably going to be growth.
Considering the size and complexity of Pinch of Yum, how do you and Bjork divide your time between recipe development, photography, and writing vs. managing ads, ebooks, and other behind the scenes stuff? At what point did you and Bjork decide he should take on a bigger role than taste tester (which is of course, very important!)?
Bjork started working on the business side of the blog after I had already been blogging for about a year and a half. He was just kind of playing around with ads at that time, but I think when we started to make more monthly income from the blog than from our day jobs, we realized that this was something that probably deserved more of our time. Right now I do about 30-40 hours/week on recipe development, photography, writing, social media, ebook and other product creation, and personal connections via email, and Bjork does the ads, affiliate programs, and server and hardware maintenance. We make a really good team with what we're good (and not good) at, so it's nice to be able to work together for our strengths to compliment each other.
Do it for the love. You HAVE to do it for the love. You can't start with the expectation that you're going to make millions or get tons of followers overnight. Be bold, be creative, and have fun. If your heart's in it, and you prove to yourself that you actually want to do the work enough to make an income from it, then the rest will follow. :) And if not, you will have spent your time doing something awesome and loving the process. Win win!