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Episode 126: Diversify Revenue Streams with Megan Porta

In episode 126, Megan talks about the revolving stress of predictable revenue and ways you can diversify.

We cover different revenue sources to consider such as ad revenue, ebooks, courses and affiliate marketing as well as using your email to deliver products to your audience.

Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.

Today we’re going to talk about diversifying revenue streams because this is a very relevant topic for food bloggers currently. 

First, though, if you would head over to itunes to subscribe, rate and review EBT I’d be so grateful. It literally takes 2 minutes to do this.. Those 2 minutes of your time are SO appreciated.. And they also add value to EBT, so thank you.

One more thing before we dive into DIVERSIFYING.. If you have not yet joined the new amazing community that we created.. GO DO IT.

You’ll find so much value inside, including connecting with other food bloggers in a much deeper way and having access to ALL kinds of exclusive value such as bonus podcast episodes and mastermind groups and challenges to keep you on track and a resources and service providers directory (and SO much more..). Go to eatblogtalk.com for more information and we can’t wait to see you inside!!

Takeaways

DIVERSIFYING REVENUE STREAMS!

As you all are very well aware, 2020 has been an interesting and at times unexpected year.

There’s been revenue changes, as well, and not always in your favor. It’s been a little bit more difficult to predict revenue, especially if you’re relying solely on ads.

I’m going to talk through the list I came up with, but please feel free to add to the list in the comments.

1 – Ad revenue

Ad revenue is most food bloggers’ most prized source of income. Once we reach a certain amount of monthly page views, most of us find an ad network to help get advertising up on our blogs and the revenue starts coming in.

Earning money this way really is a long game. You should see a steady progression of increased revenue.

The more posts on our blogs, the more opportunity for eyeballs and traffic.

It is passive revenue stream, which is why so many of us like it and rely on it so you can continue creating content and sharing it with the world.

For this, you have to assume that traffic is always going to be around. But when you start depending on that traffic (and revenue), then a Google algorithm knocks out over half of our traffic.

They are jolting reminders that we need other streams of income. We cannot solely rely on our blog traffic because especially as the food blogging space gets more competitive, the major platforms like Pinterest and Facebook and Google can uproot our traffic in a split second.

2 – Ebooks

Grab bits of that content you’ve put out and repackage it into the form of an ebook.

You can also create exclusive NEW content and put it in an ebook.

Start by coming up with 3 topic ideas for ebooks you would like to create.

Poll your people and ask them to pick one of the 3 ebook ideas.

If you don’t know where to start with putting an ebook together, join the email list at ebookspro.com. Kelly McNelis delivers valuable information for free that will help steer you in the right direction. She also has a paid course if you’re really serious about diving into the world of ebook creation. I recommend listening to Eat Blog Talk episode 107 where Kelly talks through the process of ebook creation. Once created, ebooks can be a great stream of passive income.

Courses

Like ebooks, courses can also be a great stream of passive income.

To be successful, you need to pinpoint one big problem your audience has and solve it in a course.

Courses can be video-based or text-based. Once you find a topic and a delivery method that fits your audience’s needs as well as your personality, you can expand and experiment. Listen to Eat Blog Talk episode 104 to hear Jason Logsdon speak about how to create foodie courses. He offers great advice for bloggers who are creating courses for the first time. 

Affiliate marketing

Joining affiliate programs as a food blogger can be a nice source of additional revenue.

The main affiliate network a lot of us have tapped into is the Amazon Associates Program.

The application process is easy and since it is AMAZON, bloggers can promote any product under the sun and earn a percentage when people purchase it.

With this program I personally have found the most success when I study my earnings reports and see which products people are purchasing.

For example: I have a recipe on my blog for Instant Pot Cake. I assume anyone who clicks over to the recipe already has an IP. You also need a 6-inch round cake pan to make this recipe, which is something that most people do not have. This cake pan is the top selling Amazon product on my blog, hands down.

My advice is to put some thought into which products you put on your blog and study your earnings reports.

In addition to Amazon, many other companies now have affiliate programs that bloggers can join. Start by looking around your kitchen. Find 3-5 appliances, kitchen tools or food products that you love and use all the time. Google “{PRODUCT X} affiliate program” and see if there is a program available. If so, apply and start promoting!

Disclaimer: I am definitely not an affiliate expert, but I’ve talked to experts about this topic and they say this: Only promote the products you know and love and don’t dive into too many at once.

Email marketing

Email helps you not only connect with your audience, but also to sell to your audience.

The previous 3 revenue opportunities (ebooks, courses and affiliate marketing) can all be offered to your audience through email.

Building up a solid email list can be daunting, but there’s a lot of value in focusing on this part of your business.

Be sure to send out regular communications so you are building up trust and authority. Then start offering them the things you’ve worked really hard to create. This includes your blog content (which is free!), and paid products.

If they trust you and see you as an authority figure in a specified area, they will buy from you! Listen to Eat Blog Talk episode 114 where Matt Molen talks about the importance of building an email list. He is far more eloquent on the topic than I am, so you really do have to hear him talk about this.

Meal planning apps such as Prepear

There are a lot of “recipe sharing” sites out there that bloggers have been burned by (I refuse to mention their names here)

But I personally can recommend Prepear. It’s a free meal planning app and social network all in one and the entire platform was created BY a food blogger. Made BY and FOR food bloggers! 

The recipes from your blog automatically get transferred to the Prepear platform so you can deliver them to your audience in one perfect little spot. This is a great app for your end user because it is easy to navigate and use and Prepear offers ad-free experiences, as well. And the best part for us? Bloggers can earn revenue through their platform. Listen to Eat Blog Talk episode 79 to hear Natalie talk about the platform and episode 125 for details about how to create digital cookbooks within Prepear to offer to your audience (which is another revenue opportunity in itself!).

Sponsored work

Working with brands is another way to earn revenue. Once you start gaining blog and social media traction, opportunities for brand work might begin. Be sure to choose carefully.

Don’t say yes to every offer that comes your way because you have to be sincere about the product or service you are sponsoring.

Much like affiliate marketing, it is wise to look around your world and take inventory of the products and services you use often and that you truly, sincerely love. Those are the things you should pour your heart into when it comes to sponsored work because the authenticity will shine through to your audience. If you aren’t sure how to go about seeking partnerships, consider Alyssa’s “pantry pitch” advice from Eat Blog Talk episode 4 that really digs into working with brands.

To learn how to price your work and build long-term relationships with brands, also listen to episode 30 with Alli Kelley.

Contributorships

Contributing to other blogs is another way to earn revenue. If writing is a strength of yours, this is a great avenue to explore.

There are bloggers who want to place a focus on publishing as much content as possible to grow their businesses in a huge way and they need help to make that happen.

Keep your eyes peeled in the food blogging groups for bloggers looking for contributors. Or if there is a blogger whose work you admire, peek at their blog to see if they have contributors already. If so, apply to be one yourself! Include urls for a handful of your best articles or blog posts so they know up front that you are taking it seriously. For more information about taking the leap into contributorships, listen to Eat Blog Talk episode 87 with Jessica Formicola.

Freelance work

Because you are a food blogger and you have a lot on your plate, you know how many moving parts there are in this world.

Consider your own personal strengths and passions and do those things for other bloggers.

Things to consider: video creation/editing, photography, recipe testing, keyword research, copywriting, social media planning/scheduling, graphic or web design, email marketing campaigns and so much more.

Places to announce that you’re offering your services (EBT community resources and service providers directory) and other groups specifically made for food bloggers.

Make and sell physical products

You might have a physical product made that you know would resonate with your audience. Glance around your kitchen and within your blog to gather ideas.

Think of ways to put your own spin on a product, develop it (or put your logo on it) and offer it to your audience. In Eat Blog Talk episode 37 Barbara Hobart talks about creating custom products and offers great advice about how you can dive into this as a way to diversify your income. And in episode 43 Kate Hansen talks about starting a Kickstarter campaign to get your product out into the world.

We hope this helped to spark a few ideas for you so any upcoming Google or Pinterest updates don’t sink you. 

Want to launch a physical product?

In episode 043, Kate Hansen of Culinesco, shares about using Kickstarter to create products.


Transcript

Click for full text.

Eat blog talkers!! Hey! How are you? I’m super excited to talk a little bit about diversifying revenue streams today because this is a very relevant topic for food bloggers currently. 

First, though, if you would head over to itunes to subscribe, rate and review EBT I’d be so grateful. It literally takes 2 minutes to do this.. Those 2 minutes of your time are SO appreciated.. And they also add value to EBT, so thank you.. I’m really so grateful for every single person who takes the time to do this.

One more thing before we dive into DIVERSIFYING.. If you have not yet joined the new amazing community that we just launched.. GO DO IT. You’ll find so much value inside, including connecting with other food bloggers in a much deeper way and having access to ALL kinds of exclusive value such as bonus podcast episodes and mastermind groups and challenges to keep you on track and a resources and service providers directory (and SO much more..). If you sign up by the end of August, you can be a part of the FIRST session of mastermind groups, so this is not something you should put off. Go to eatblogtalk.com for more information and we can’t wait to see you inside!!

Onto the topic at hand today.. 

DIVERSIFYING REVENUE STREAMS!

As you all are very well aware, 2020 has been an interesting and at times unexpected year. As bloggers we’ve kind of been tossed all over the place, with abrupt traffic changes and for some that meant revenue changes, as well, and not always in our favor. The current climate is just so different and constantly evolving, so it’s been a little bit more difficult to predict revenue, especially for bloggers relying solely on ads.

For me personally as a food blogger, it has been a bit of a scary stretch because I almost solely rely on ads for my revenue so I have been scrambling to figure out how to diversify my revenue streams. I think a lot of YOU are in the same place, so I thought it would be worthwhile to record an episode on this topic as a way to brainstorm and figure out ways to branch out. Because.. We are FOOD BLOGGERS and food bloggers know how to be resourceful and also how to get things done.

I’m going to talk through the list I came up with, but please feel free to add to the list on the show notes post at eatblogtalk.com/diversify if you have additional ideas.

  1. Ad revenue – Ad revenue is most food bloggers’ most prized source of income because this is where a lot of us get started. Once we reach a certain amount of monthly page views, most of us find an ad network to help get advertising up on our blogs and the revenue starts coming in. Earning money this way really is a long game and if you look back over time you should see a steady progression of increased revenue. The more posts on our blogs, the more opportunity for eyeballs and traffic.. And this quickly becomes a sort of passive revenue stream, which is why so many of us like it and rely on it. We can continue doing what we love (creating content and sharing it with the world) while traffic and revenue (hopefully!) increase over time. Which is great in theory, right?! Assuming that traffic is always going to be around and not fluctuate much? What happens, though, when we start depending on that traffic (and revenue) and then a Google algorithm knocks out over half of our traffic? Scenarios like this have happened to a lot of us (myself included) and they are not fun. They are jolting reminders that we need other streams of income. We cannot solely rely on our blog traffic because especially as the food blogging space gets more competitive, the major platforms like Pinterest and Facebook and Google can uproot our traffic in a split second.
  2. Ebooks – We have all of this quality content that we’ve created and delivered to our audience, but what if we grab bits of that content and repackage it into the form of an ebook? Or what if we create exclusive NEW content and put it in an ebook? Whether you repurpose or create from scratch, ebooks are another way to deliver your amazing content to your current audience or even a new audience. Start by coming up with 3 topic ideas for ebooks you would like to create. Poll your people and ask them to pick one of the 3 ebook ideas. Most likely there will be an overwhelming vote for one of the picks, so you’ll know what content to focus on. If you don’t know where to start with putting an ebook together, join the email list at ebookspro.com. Kelly McNelis delivers valuable information for free that will help steer you in the right direction. She also has a paid course you can take if you’re really serious about diving into the world of ebook creation. And if you haven’t already, go listen to Eat Blog Talk episode 107 where Kelly talks through the process of ebook creation. Once created, ebooks can be a great stream of passive income.
  3. Courses – Like ebooks, courses can also be a great stream of passive income. Start by pinpointing one big problem your audience has and solve it in a course. Courses can be video-based or text-based and you can start really small just to get your feet wet. Once you find a topic and a delivery method that fits your audience’s needs as well as your personality, you can expand and experiment. Listen to Eat Blog Talk episode 104 to hear Jason Logsdon speak about how to create foodie courses. He offers great advice for bloggers who are creating courses for the first time. 
  4. Affiliate marketing – Joining affiliate programs as a food blogger can be a nice source of additional revenue. The main affiliate network a lot of us have tapped into is the Amazon Associates Program. This is a really easy program to join. The application process is easy and since it is AMAZON, bloggers can promote any product under the sun and earn a percentage when people purchase it. With this program I personally have found the most success when I study my earnings reports and see which products people are purchasing. I’ll give you an example of this. I have a recipe on my blog for Instant Pot Cake. Obviously you need an Instant Pot if you plan to make this recipe, but I assume anyone who clicks over to the recipe already has an IP. You also need a 6-inch round cake pan to make this recipe, which is something that most people do not have. So guess which Amazon product I advertise heavily inside this post? This cake pan is the top selling Amazon product on my blog, hands down. My advice is to put some thought into which products you put on your blog and study your earnings reports. In addition to Amazon, many other companies now have affiliate programs that bloggers can join. Start by looking around your kitchen. Find 3-5 appliances, kitchen tools or food products that you love and use all the time. Google “{PRODUCT X} affiliate program” and see if there is a program available. If so, apply and start promoting! I will add a disclaimer here that I am definitely not an affiliate expert, but I’ve talked to experts about this topic and they say this: Only promote the products you know and love and don’t dive into too many at once.
  5. Email marketing – Email is such a great way to not only connect with your audience, but also to sell to your audience. The previous 3 revenue opportunities (ebooks, courses and affiliate marketing) can all be offered to your audience through email. Building up a solid email list is something many bloggers push aside, but there’s a lot of value in focusing on this part of your business. Once you start building a list, send out regular communications with your people, building up that trust and authority and then start offering them the things you’ve worked really hard to create. This includes your blog content (which is free!), but don’t be afraid to offer paid products to your followers, as well. If they trust you and see you as an authority figure in a specified area, they will buy from you! Listen to Eat Blog Talk episode 114 where Matt Molen talks about the importance of building an email list. He is far more eloquent on the topic than I am, so you really do have to hear him talk about this.
  6. Meal planning apps such as Prepear – There are a lot of “recipe sharing” sites out there that bloggers have been burned by (I refuse to mention their names here..) so I understand the hesitance to check out sites like Prepear. Prepear is a free meal planning app and social network all in one and the entire platform was created BY a food blogger. Made BY and FOR food bloggers!  The recipes from your blog automatically get transferred to the Prepear platform where you can store all your favorite recipes and deliver them to your audience in one perfect little spot. This is a great app for your end user because it is easy to navigate and use and Prepear offers ad-free experiences, as well. And the best part for us? Bloggers can earn revenue through their platform. Listen to Eat Blog Talk episode 79 to hear Natalie talk about the platform and episode 125 for details about how to create digital cookbooks within Prepear to offer to your audience (which is another revenue opportunity in itself!).
  7. Sponsored work – Working with brands is another way to earn revenue. Once you start gaining blog and social media traction, brands may start reaching out to you to do sponsored work but you must choose carefully. Don’t say yes to every offer that comes your way because in order for sponsored work to be successful you have to be sincere about the product or service you are sponsoring. Much like affiliate marketing, it is wise to look around your world and take inventory of the products and services you use often and that you truly, sincerely love. Those are the things you should pour your heart into when it comes to sponsored work because the authenticity will shine through to your audience. If you aren’t sure how to go about seeking partnerships, consider Alyssa’s “pantry pitch” advice from Eat Blog Talk episode 4 that really digs into working with brands. If you want to learn about how to price your work and build long-term relationships with brands, also listen to episode 30 with Alli Kelley.
  8. Contributorships – Contributing to other blogs is another way to earn revenue. Especially if writing is a strength of yours, this is a great avenue to explore. There are bloggers who want to place a focus on publishing as much content as possible and also growing their businesses in a huge way, which means they probably need help behind the scenes to make that happen. Keep your eyes peeled in the food blogging groups for bloggers looking for contributors. Or if there is a blogger whose work you admire, peek at their blog to see if they have contributors already. If so, apply to be one yourself! If you can’t tell if a blog has current contributors, it doesn’t hurt to reach out and ask. Include urls for a handful of your best articles or blog posts so they know up front that you are taking it seriously. For more information about taking the leap into contributorships, listen to Eat Blog Talk episode 87 with Jessica Formiola.
  9. Freelance work – Because you are a food blogger and you have a lot on your plate, you know how many moving parts there are in this world. You also know that not every moving part is something that you enjoy doing. So it is safe to assume that just about every other food blogger out there has tasks on their plate that they’d rather not be doing and that they would love to outsource. Consider your own personal strengths and passions and do those things for other bloggers. Things to consider: video creation/editing, photography, recipe testing, keyword research, copywriting, social media planning/scheduling, graphic or web design, email marketing campaigns and so much more. Places to announce that you’re offering your services (EBT community resources and service providers directory) and other groups specifically made for food bloggers.
  10. Make and sell physical products – Also consider having a physical product made that you know would resonate with your audience. Glance around your kitchen and within your blog to gather ideas. Maybe there is a taco seasoning your followers ask about a lot or maybe there is a silicone mit that’s shown in a lot of your food photography. Think of ways to put your own spin on a product, develop it (or put your logo on it) and offer it to your audience. In Eat Blog Talk episode 37 Barbara Hobart talks about creating custom products and offers great advice about how you can dive into this as a way to diversify your income. And in episode 43 Kate Hansen talks about starting a Kickstarter campaign to get your product out into the world.

I hope this episode has helped to spark a few ideas for you so you have more than one source of revenue to rely on and also so any upcoming Google or Pinterest updates don’t sink you. 

Thanks so much for listening today food bloggers. I’ll see ya next time!


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Megan
Megan

Megan started her food blog Pip and Ebby in 2010 and food blogging has been her full-time career since 2013. Her passion for blogging has grown into an intense desire to help fellow food bloggers find the information, insight, and community they need in order to find success.

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