The Cost of Food Blogging: Part II

At the beginning of the year, I decided it might be fun to write a post about the cost of blogging. It included, everything from the time I put into blogging, my schedule along with the actual monetary cost of blogging from equipment to ingredients.

Russell van Kraayenburg 11

Photo use courtesy of Russell van Kraayenburg of

Photo by Russell van Kraayenburg

When I wrote that post I had no intention of writing a Part II, that is until I received numerous emails and many comments expressing how costly and intimidating I made blogging appear. So of course I wanted to express a few things. Grab a cuppa, this post is longer than my usual ones.

Russell van Kraayenburg 21

Photo use courtesy of Russell van Kraayenburg of

Photo by Russell van Kraayenburg

My intention was not to turn you off from starting a blog. Can I hook you back into wanting write a blog with ideas and ways that you can monetize your blog? Make money doing what you love – I sound like an infomercial, right? Well it’s true you can and I do. Did I start out with that intention? No, I did not. But as hard work would have it I am fortunate to make some supplemental income off of doing what I love.

Eggs Sylvie Shirazi1

Photo use courtesy of Sylvie Shirazi of

Photo by Sylvie Shirazi

I should mention, I’ve re-written this post more times than I care to count, but I struggled with trying to write this post more informatively. What the hell does that mean? Exactly. I have nothing in that way, so I’m going to write it my way. No posing, I’m not an authority and if you’re looking for information about whether or not to start a blog all I can offer is my experience.

Kitchen Tools Sylvie Shirazi1

Photo use courtesy of Sylvie Shirazi of

Photo by Sylvie Shirazi

How do I make money?

I have ads. Baking can get costly depending what you make and how often you do it and photography is expensive. The ad money supports these two addictions.

The impact: Any free money I have is spent towards these two things. As a result I’m not very fashionable-I can’t afford to be. I also wear the same thing over and over because I would rather buy a piece of kitchen tool or food prop than a piece of clothing.

My home is not stylish at all. Many of the items I buy for my home, I buy used from EBay or Craigslist. So instead of being shabby chic I lovingly call my style ghetto chic.

But if you must judge my spending habits please do so based on my kitchen equipment because you might walk away saying, “Well geared”. That is unless you are not a foodie and go by the name of Matt (my husband) then you will walk away shaking your head. He doesn’t see the sense in buying an $80 rolling pin much less having 5 different types. Nor does he see the sense in my happy dance when I place the winning bid on someone’s old marked up and stained wood cutting board.

I tell him, and I will you who found my $5K+ food prop spending outrageous, it’s a matter of value. As you can see feeding my passion for baking and photography have a much higher value to me than say fashion and style.

I also realize $5K is not realistic for some people. What you spend is up to you and subjective to how you want to present your food.

Did I start blogging with the intent to make money?

No, but I’m fortunate that I can make money off of my blog. I don’t take it for granted and I don’t let that compromise my integrity. For those wanting to make money off your blog, the easiest way is to join an ad network. There are a bunch out there, of course I belong to BlogHer and LOVE them so I strongly recommend them first. A few others that I have heard worth joining are Foodbuzz, Plateful, VSW, Glam Media, Technorati, Value Click.

Here’s something that I’m going to tell you that I haven’t done, because I can’t find the time to actually put it into place. But don’t be dumb like me and leave money on the table.

If your ad network periodically does not have ad inventory, make sure you back fill. A back fill is ads from another ad network when you primary one does not have any on hand. Some bloggers have up to 3 backfills lined up. Smart – they are always making money.

Would I still blog if I didn’t make money?

Yes, I would. It’s a passion. As a result, that commonality has led me to finding some of my dearest friends and closest confidantes. Aside from that, try talking to a non-blogger about cool plug-ins or sharing tips and tricks to weathering wood boards for food photography backgrounds-not very interesting chatter for most people.

How do I find the time?

That’s the funny thing about finding passion. Passion has a way of filling any idle time. Outside of family and work, when I’m not baking, photographing, editing and posting, I’m thinking about recipes, studying photography, pinning points of inspiration on Pinterest.

The downside: I am embarrassed to say have no idea what is going on with the upcoming presidential election. Exhaustion also has plagued me on more than a few occasions and I’ve showed up to work with my dress on inside out. I’ve been known to sleep in my work clothes, just so I can shave a few minutes off my morning routine.

Most importantly, I will admit, I’ve missed out on time with my little guy especially when I was first starting out. But I’ve now come to a place that I’m comfortable with in terms of my family time and blogging time.

Am I ”superwoman”?

No, I’m not, that term and comments towards it in the first post made me really uneasy. I promise you anyone can do this.

I’m not doing anything special or impressive. I have no secret sauce. If you know me well, then you’ve heard me cheer blogging on as a great tool for a creative outlet as well as a way to find and join a community that shares a common passion.

What did I do to make my blog successful?

This was a common theme in most of the emails I received and reflective of why people thought they didn’t have the time or money to build a “successful” blog.

Successful is relative. For me successful is being able to constantly improve my baking skills and photography skills.

Have I ever wanted to stop blogging?

Now I’m going to be blunt, real blunt. Yes, there was a time when I didn’t enjoy blogging. I was worried about how I measured against my peers, in terms of creativity and skill level. I measured my worthiness by my comment count, page views and Alexa ranking.

Again, don’t be like me – take my advice on this: define success for yourself and stay the course.

I lost my way and I became unsure of myself. Thankfully having friends who blog and who may or may not have gone through this self doubt helped me find my perspective again. These types of people, as one of blogging friends termed it are your “cheerleaders and motivators.” That is exactly why the best thing about food blogging is the community aspect—make friends entrench yourself in it there’s so much to learn, discover and so many friends to make.

Nowadays, I don’t doubt myself or worry about my worthiness. The one stat I do look at is pageviews, just to measure which posts are popular.

Do I blog towards what is presumably popular?

Truth is, yes. I like connecting with you guys. I like delivering on what I think you might enjoy. If I didn’t I would just keep my blog private.

At the same time I balance it out and still post what I know may not necessarily be “popular”, but I do so for the sake of my own personal growth as a baker. Even with that, I always work towards imparting something useful.

That’s it. An abrupt end, but this is already a long post, so no need to make it longer with extraneous stuff. I really hope this post was useful for those of you who are thinking of starting a blog.

As an aside, I think a few of you emailed me about specific ways to offset the cost. If I didn’t return your email, please email once more. I had security problems and had to clear out my email box.

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  1. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Naomi, I think this is a brilliant post. I think you ARE fantastic, as you manage to blog so often whilst having a full-time job, and looking after a family!

    p.s. My friend once introduced me to her friend this way: “This is Su-yin. If you gave her the choice of a branded kitchen utensil or a branded handbag, she’d choose the kitchen utensil.” 😛

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — February 10th, 2012 @ 4:15 am

      Hi Su-yin! We are of the same mindset-pass on the brand name purse, give me a kitchen utensil instead. Does that make us geeks?

  2. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Naomi, I too loved this post!! When I first started, it was about sharing recipes with my family and friends…once I found the food blogging community, I was here to stay.

    This “Again, don’t be like me – take my advice on this: define success for yourself and stay the path.” needs to be printed and framed and put up in my office.

    Thanks for being a good friend to me.

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — February 10th, 2012 @ 4:16 am

      Julie-Thanks for being such a great friend, cheerleader, motivator and mentor!

  3. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Wonderful blog post! I started blogging in September and I love it! It’s a passion for me, after all these years I found something I love! The cost, well it’s mostly on food and trying new things. I signed up for advertising to so it will help pay for my cooking addiction. I love this blog post and I am so glad I found it!!

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — February 10th, 2012 @ 4:17 am

      Jennifer- So glad to hear that. Like you it took me awhile to find something I can truly say is a passion and not an interest. Passion is all consuming.

  4. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Thank you so much for this post! I’m a relatively new food blogger and hearing more about other successful blogger’s experiences is really helpful!

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — February 10th, 2012 @ 4:20 am

      Hi Annie-First off thank you for being a regular reader and secondly, I love finding your comments. :)

  5. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    I feel like I have always spent an extraneous amount of money on food. I thrift lots of plates and napkins and other bakeware now, but there are many days that I find myself bidding on $80 springerle molds.
    Your blog is such an inspiration!

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — February 10th, 2012 @ 4:21 am

      Shannon-Isn’t it crazy how Ebay can just suck you in like that!

  6. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    I love that we share the same passions and friendship!!
    Great post Naomi!!

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — February 10th, 2012 @ 4:24 am

      Cheryl-I do too. I’m fortunate to have you as a friend. You are honest and genuine and always give it to me straight!

  7. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Thank you for these posts. I started my blog in August, and while I would ultimately love to make money from it, I still have a lot to learn!

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — February 10th, 2012 @ 4:25 am

      Heather – If you haven’t already done so, go sign-up for BlogHer. There’s currently a waitlist, but it can’t hurt to put your name. They are great. I can’t say enough good things about them.

  8. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonCarol says

    Thank you so much for Part II (and Part I). I really appreciate it. As one of those that felt intimidated by the earlier post, this was helpful. I absolutely understand preferring spending on kitchen equipment over trendy fashion. I’m surrounded by people who love what I make and have no idea or interest in what it took or how it was done. I’m okay with that, but sometimes it would be nice to have the discussions about the process, or to share ideas and get inspired by like-minded people.My husband was just laid off, so I will have to postpone for a time, but meanwhile I’ll get my recipes ready. Thanks again, Naomi. Keep up the great work.

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — February 10th, 2012 @ 4:28 am

      Carol – I’m so sorry to hear about your husband’s job. I think if you are cooking and baking and you love it, you might as well photograph it, write the recipe and tell us about it. All the other stuff can come later. Share your talent and join us!

  9. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Thanks so much for the honest post! As a relatively new food blogger (3 months in now!), I’m still focusing on many of the things you say not to (like stats!). I’m glad to know my passion can be shared with others and am enjoying it thoroughly, and hopefully one day I won’t care about the stats at all. It’s nice to have more experienced bloggers, such as yourself, to help guide and inspire me!

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — February 10th, 2012 @ 4:32 am

      Mary-It’s hard not to focus on that when you are first starting off. I think most people’s inclination is to quantify things and in doing so with blogging stats is something concrete that can provide a measurement of progress. I did it,but like I said, don’t beat yourself up over it.

  10. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonRussell van Kraayenburg says

    I love this post. Your line …”I wear the same thing over and over because I’d rather buy a new kitchen tool…” summarizes me and my thoughts exactly! Boy is this food blogging a wonderful addiction.

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — February 10th, 2012 @ 4:33 am

      Russell – I agree, wonderful addiction! Thanks again for the use of your photos. I’m sure your tired of hearing how much I love those shots, but SHOOT those shots are AWESOME!

  11. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    I so enjoyed reading this post!

    I’m horrified at the thought of anyone emailing you and saying that you spent too much money on food props. Who in the world should tell someone else what to do with their money? Or time?

    The minute I laid eyes on your site with its clean design, stunning sharp photos and creative recipes, I was instantly hooked on you. Keep doing what you’re doing! We love ya!

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — February 10th, 2012 @ 4:35 am

      Christina-Thanks so much! I’m sending all that love back over to you times two! I love your blog and creative recipes.

  12. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    I love this post! I had to laugh at your comment about your husband shaking his head in bewilderment…been there! But you’re right, you don’t have to be superwoman to find time for your passion – I love blogging, sharing recipes, and being inspired in the kitchen, and always like to be reminded that that’s why I do it, not for page views or “success”. Thanks for sharing!

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — February 10th, 2012 @ 6:05 am

      Anna – We better make sure our husbands never meet. :) So glad to hear how much loving it!

  13. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Naomi what a wonderful post. I love everything you do and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again, you are a wonderful person, whom I’m so happy to call a friend. Without blogging we never would have met and the fact is my life is better because you’re in it. Whether we’re communicating or I just get to read you posts, I feel like when you write you are always talking to me :) you’re so special that way.
    I love how honest you are, and I loved reading all about your day to day clothing rituals.
    My husband says my style is garage sale chic :) we may have more in common that we knew!

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — February 10th, 2012 @ 6:07 am

      Diane-Big hugs to you! Thanks so much for the kinds words. I agree, so glad that we met through blogging. And it sound like we need to hit a flea market together.

  14. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Love this post! 7 months ago I never in my wildest dreams believed I’d have more than a quarter of our pantry filled with props for this hobby/passion. It’s nice to know there are options to assist with the costs of blogging. Thanks a million for sharing your insight and encouraging all of us to stay the course :)

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — February 10th, 2012 @ 6:10 am

      Athena-Crazy how quickly props can take up space,right? :)

  15. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonJeanette says

    Great post Naomi! Blogging is definitely a passion and only fun while you’re having fun doing it. I agree, having a close community of bloggers is so supportive and necessary – they are the best cheerleaders when you’re doubting yourself.

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — February 10th, 2012 @ 4:29 am

      Jeanette-Having a support network is important in any aspect of life, so it’s great to have it for blogging – I’m so glad we are in the same one! :)

  16. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    It’s so nice to hear your thoughts about blogging. I’m slowly but surely having the same addiction to food props. Your work is truly an inspiration to me. Even though I try not to measure success by comparing to other blogs, I do always ask myself if Naomi will like it.

  17. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonBrian @ A Thought For Food says

    Right there with you, Naomi! This was such a wonderfully honest post and I thank you for sharing all of these thoughts with your readers. I couldn’t agree more with the ghetto chic comment… most of my clothes have holes in them (sad, but true). They’re nice clothes, but there are holes.

    • Avatar for Naomi Robinson

      Naomi replied: — February 10th, 2012 @ 6:01 am

      Brian-I knew there was a reason beyond blogging that makes us friends! Love that someone else can pull ghetto chic. :)

  18. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonAverie @ Love Veggies and Yoga says

    I love this post and your honesty.

    A couple things..
    Plateful is not taking new blogs on and hasn’t been for about the past 14-18 months maybe. Unless something has changed, you can’t get in with Plateful/Adify anymore.

    Glad to hear you really like Blogher. I’ve been with FBuzz for almost 3 years and I always like hearing that people are happy with their sponsors. That’s important!

    And as blogger, you wrote this post without sugar coating it…and that may turn off some people but there are plenty of blogs out there who say, oh just start it, it’ll be fine, you’ll love it. And yes, that’s true but there’s a bit more to it than that and thank you for being candid :)

    I found myself nodding in agreement with every sentence.

  19. Avatar for Naomi Robinsonlinda says

    kudos to you for this courageous & out- on- the- table posting.
    it is an extremely informative & revealing insight for us that do not blog.
    thank you for your creativity, your passion & your candor.
    wishing you all the very best!

  20. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    really good post. i wish i made money off my blog so i could buy the craft supplies needed to have an impressive site. i did a bunch of valentine’s crafts this week and probably spent $30 of my own money. no one asked me to, and it was fun, but i won’t be able to do that all the tim.

  21. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    I feel a bit sad that we have not met when I was living in Mission Viejo (we moved to Redondo Beach in December, and I absolutely love it here)!
    I read Part 1 and I understand why you had to write Part 2, even though I smiled through most of the questions.
    Your blog is lovely and I admire your tenacity and organizational skills (I worked full time, blogged, and tried to spend as much time as I could with my two tweens and one college daughter:)
    Good luck in the future:)

  22. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Truly honest and up front! I’m just a year in and I can’t imagine NOT blogging. I never ever imagined that I would make money off of it- and I try not to be motivated by stats. I truly truly love the community. There would be a big empty space in me without this community.

  23. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Yay! We’re all alike. Wait, not sure if that’s worthy of celebrating but we all have the same idiosyncracies. But it’s true. It’s work, costs money and it’s tiring. And we sacrifice other things as well. Really good post, Naomi!

  24. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonKath says

    I hate when bloggers are deemed as some kind of super-hero. Do you work full-time also?

    Many Americans and people around the country have to work 2 jobs, support a family, etc. – they don’t have the option of pursuing their passion. And they don’t stop to hear the accolades of people sucking up to them everyday (please don’t take this the wrong way, it’s just the plain facts). Blogging is a lot like high school in many respects. A big social circle of the same people making the same comments and producing the same content.

    Many people do blogging in their spare time – and spend an equal amount of time on it – or ANY other type of passion. People knit, sew, craft, cook, write, read, do music, etc. – and they most likely aren’t paid for it or given the opportunity to make much money off of it. So to hear people talk about how “exhausting” it is etc. is just ridiculous.

    A lot of bloggers (not saying you) don’t know how to function in a real job. Do you realize that those of us who work full-time, whether in an office or whatever, work JUST as hard as bloggers?? And we have to spend hours and hours doing something we DO NOT/MAY NOT like but have no choice in order to secure some type of income (which can be crap or not). Then in the little time we have to scramble after those hours we are left to try to do what we really like and may never make a cent off it.

    IT just is.

    Stop trying to explain yourselves bloggers. It’s getting annoying, ridiculous and just childish. Most bloggers – and yes, it’s true, are people in college with “such busy schedules” (yawn – no, ya don’t and if you do then get off the damn internet); high school kids; people with eating disorders (do food bloggers realize that about 80% of their readers have ED’s? Don’t believe it? – don’t be naive); are stay at home Mommy’s who have no other way to fill their time; and extremely narcissistic people.

    Now, I’m not all blogs are like this. Many blogs that have more content (such as yours with recipes) with an focus and not just about “me, me, me” lend itself to being a more valued website. Even then though – where do you draw the line?? Where is the originality? You can go to any site/recipe book/magazine and find the same recipes over and over and over. It’s just like a big game. Bloggers that find it “cutesy-fun” to spend hours poring over recipes or photos and as such feel the need to replicate it.

    That’s not a job – that’s a hobby.

    That’s not a passion – it’s an obsession.

    Spending hours on the computer on Pinterest – are you for real?? Pinning photos of stuff that you see? What is this need for bloggers to share everything they love or just have to say with the world?? Why not just keep it to yourself, share it with friends and family – in the real world – and move on ?

    The world is not meant to be lived on line with friends on line.

    Think of your family. You are no different than the person who spends 80 hours in an office away from their family trying to do what is their “passion” and to make more money.

    It becomes an obsession, unhealthy – and at some point you have to back away and step into real life. Achieve a balance.

    I’m sure you’ll find this offensive and start defending yourself immediately. So typical – to go on the defensive and consider it an attack vs. seeing some real value in it.

  25. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    I love this blog. I recently started my own blog and am amazed at how much it has taken over my life. My husband now teases me when he finds me up at 5am on a Saturday editing pictures or when I make a new dish and wont let anyone touch it until I get my photograph!

    When you first started, were you tentative about letting other people read your blog? I finally have invited my friends and family to read my blog, and I was surprised at how nervous I was about that.

  26. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    I just started blogging and I found this to be so helpful and realistic. I just had the idea one day, I should start a food blog, and its been a rocky start, but I’m definitely starting to love it. I promised myself if I was still posting regularly at 6 months I got to buy a SLR (I have a glorified point and shoot that is driving me crazy).

  27. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonSara says

    I’m not sure if commenter Kath is taking a swing at you, but I love your blog. Had she read the part in which you mention you don’t take it all for “granted”, then she would realize you aren’t complaining. And I think she missed your point completely when you said you are not a superhero.

    I admire how humble and honest you are about blogging and how anyone can do it. I will say some bloggers are not of your breed and are of the high school type Kath refers to, but like anything else I just choose not to participate in it by overlooking their blog.

    You have another cheerleader here, although I’m not a blogger, I think you do wonderful work. I always enjoy coming here.

  28. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    I just love reading this post, and prompt me to leave a comment for first time here, tho I have visited your lovely space oh so often (but too shy to come fwd as mine is just a humble blog)! I blog for the passion of food and baking whilst maintaining my day job as a doctor, yes, just like you I find time is so constraing, but thanks to my blog I find a healthy outlet to destress myself and actually cook something scrumptious for my family.
    I love to see more from your blog, and really glad that I can connect with lovely people like you through the same love for baking, shooting and posting them..:-)

  29. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Awesome post Naomi, your honesty is refreshing. Having a food blog is so fun and rewarding, but can also be frustrating and an investment in time and money. Thank you for being open about your experience!

  30. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonCharlette says

    I do not have a blog and most likely never will. But I love each and everyone of you who are so kind to have blogs and post just wonderful recipes and beautiful pictures. YOU have inspired me so much to bake more often and cook differnet things for dinner. I enjoy checking your blog daily and all other blogs I visit. So THANK YOU so much for all the time you spend posting wonderful things on your blog. I truly appreciate it. Have a wonderful day.

  31. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Ok, I love your site! One of the many sites that got me inspired to blog! It is costly to begin, but you gotta love it. I’m not sponsored yet, nor do I know how to… I’m just trying to gain an audience and critiques from blogging peers. Please let me know what you think…

  32. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    One year ago, I’d have never understood this. But as a person who probably spent $400 this past week on props…well, scuse the corny jokes, but props to you for laying it out!

  33. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Wonderful post and I am so happy you wrote this. I need to forward this link to all the emails I get all the time. I still question what I do often ~ but the passion always drives me.

  34. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonDana @FoodieGoesHealthy says

    Thank you for your direct, honest, heart-felt post. I enjoy your writing style. As a person starting my own recipe blog, I appreciate you sharing details about the business side. It helps me know more about what I am getting myself into. I have the passion, so I’m jumping in with both feet.

  35. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    This was exactly what I needed to read today – thank you! Found you through Pinterest and I’ve just taken a leap without looking into food blogging. Looking forward to going through your archives.

  36. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    I have no idea how your last post could have turned people off blogging. If it turned them off blogging, then I think they might have wanted to start for the wrong reason. I don’t think you absolutely need a lot of money or loads of time. If you have a few hours on the weekend to devote to blogging and can only make a post a week (like me) then so be it. I really appreciate both posts. Thanks for writing them!

  37. Avatar for Naomi RobinsonKatie says

    Well written blog post! I can relate to so many of your points especially the “trendy” pointer. I might buy myself 2 or 3 clothing items a year the rest goes to photography and cooking gadgets! lol. :)

  38. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    I actually started my new blog right after reading the one you wrote about the costs of blogging. I totally got your point and I knew I didn’t have to spend the money you do, but if I did have the money (I’m student so I can’t spend that much) I am sure I would spend the same amount you do, when you have a passion you just can’t help it!

    I just want to get better at baking by blogging, and right now I don’t think about making money out of it, but I totally see your point and love your blog!

  39. Avatar for Naomi Robinson says

    Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having trouble locating it but, I’d like to shoot you an email.

    I’ve got some recommendations for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.