Last month, at the fabulous FBC2013 conference, I spoke on a panel (with Aimée and Dan) dedicated to ‘making dough’, and how to generate an income with your words. We had an open discussion on the topic, and shared the diverse ways the three of us earn a living as food writers.
I was thrilled to be asked to recap the chat for those who weren’t in attendance, and to expand on a few of the important points that were discussed that afternoon.
Making Money Via Your Blog
I’ve divided this into three main categories, which include: Amazon affiliates, ad networks, and sponsored posts. I view these as the most common ways to generate an income strictly from the posts you create.
1. Amazon Affiliates
Everyone who has a blog could/should open an Amazon affiliate account. Aimée spoke to this on our panel, but I want to expand on it and share a little more information.
For starters, as long as you have a blog you can create a profile. It’s free and is available to you regardless of whether you have 10 or 10,000 readers. Essentially, any time you mention a product or cookbook in one of your blog posts, you can embed a ‘secret’ code in the link that earns you a commission if one of your readers clicks through and purchases the item you linked to.
Obviously, the more readers and click-throughs you have, the better, but it’s a great place to start. You can sign up with Amazon.ca or Amazon.com, and my suggestion would be to determine where most of your readers come from in order to help you decide which store you’d like to sign up with. For example, I have more American readers than Canadian, so I often use the .com version of my Amazon affiliate account, although I do have myself set up with Amazon Canada as well.
2. Ad Networks
In Canada, there are several options for partnering with an ad network. In most cases, this means placing a display ad on your site, but it can also result in integrated creative content within your posts (see sponsored content below).
The best ad networks are the ones that will run campaigns that are a good match for your content and your readers. Here is a list, with links, to some of the ad networks open to working with Canadian bloggers:
- Federated Media
- Ligit Advertising Services
- Say Media
- SavvyMom Media Collective (you need to be a mom to sign up)
- Martha’s Circle
- Glam Media
- Google Ad Sense
Visit each network to learn more about their requirements, terms and policies, and featured ad partners.
3. Sponsored Content
There are plenty of opportunities for creating sponsored content for your blog, and they typically come via an ad network or directly from a brand.
In my opinion, the most important aspect of creating sponsored content is to ensure it works its way seamlessly into your blog, without appearing like a paid message. It shouldn’t deviate far from the type of posts your readers expect, and ideally is written with your voice and perspective.
Examples of sponsored posts:
Here are three examples of sponsored content, where the post is created in such a way that it doesn’t necessarily come across as a paid opportunity.
How to plan a simple taco party: the make, the buy, & the do-ahead – SimpleBites
Skillet mac n’ cheese with spinach and bacon – Dinner with Julie
Party pieces: making homemade sparkling water – Family Bites
Making Money as a Freelance Writer
1. Online Work
Online writing opportunities are more readily available than those in print, which is great, because it helps you to quickly build up your writing portfolio. Connect with web editors and pitch your ideas for unique content for their site.
2. Print Work
Traditional newspaper and magazine articles are harder to come by, but it’s not impossible to secure one of these precious writing assignments. Build a relationship with the editors of the publications you are interested in writing for, and send a query with a pitch for a story.
Alternative Ways to Earn an Income
Plenty of income-earning opportunities have come to many food writers via their blog. They include, but aren’t limited to:
- Teaching cooking classes
- Spokesperson work
- Program ambassadors
- Event hosting
- Selling of photos
- Contest judging
Lastly, many food bloggers have made appearances on television and radio programs. Most of these don’t pay, however, the exposure can sometimes be worth more than a cash payment.
Jan Scott is a food writer, party planner, and blogger with a specialty in celebrations for kids. She is the Food and Party Editor for SavvyMom Media and regular contributor to several other family-focused websites.
Prior to making the transition to freelance writer, Jan was an event planner for one of Toronto’s top private caterers. She currently lives in Toronto with her husband, and two tween sons, and can almost always be found in cooking in the kitchen or scheming up plans her next party. You can follow Jan on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.