New York Times best-selling author, slow cooking expert, mom of three
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A Year of Slow Cooking

Monday, August 9, 2010

Can You Make (real) Money Blogging?



Yes. Yes you can.

WARNING: there isn't a recipe here. I'm sorry. I've been getting lots of questions about making money through blogging, and figure the easiest way to get the info out there is to write a post. We'll be back to your regularly scheduled (well, sporadically scheduled--it's summer, after all--who are we kidding?!) slow cooker recipe in a day or two.


I do make money from my blogs, and I started making this money without spending *any* of my own money. Except for buying the food. I had to buy the food.

In 2007, I wasn't working. I quit my (super low-paying and ridiculously mind-numbing) job because the kids needed me home. I don't regret that decision at all, but there were a few very panic-stricken moments when I didn't know how we were going to make ends meet.

My friend Jenny offered me a job working from home for BlogHerads.com. I knew that in order to understand my job better, I should start a blog of my own. I wasn't interested in spilling too much of our family info out into the Internet, and only wanted to do this thing if it was going to make money for the family (this may be offensive to some, but it was honestly how I viewed it at the time). 
{PS: I no longer work for BlogHerads. I worked for them for a little over a year, and quit when I began working on the first cookbook}

I chose to not buy a domain name. The crockpot365.blospot url still has the "oh no, you're using a BLOGGER blog?!?" stamp of disapproval. I also didn't buy a fancy camera or lighting--- at first.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't buy these things. I just didn't. Because I wanted to prove to myself (and my husband) that I could do this blogging thing without spending any of the family's money.

It did not take long to make money from this blog. I was PROMing the files this weekend and found a pay stub from April of 2008. That was only 4 months into the year, and the stub was for $211. I know that there are bloggers out there who have blogged for years who haven't seen that kind of money.

Was I/am I lucky? Yes. Absolutely. I have been tremendously lucky and I am so very grateful for the opportunity to make money at home in my pajamas while caring for my children.

But I also view this site as a job, and as a source of information and inspiration to those who 1) like crockpotting, 2) eat gluten free, 3) need help planning meals for their families.

I like helping people. I truly believe if you find a tightly-focused niche where you are providing quality content that people search for (through google) that is both helpful and interesting, you will do well.

I also have an entrepreneurial side to my personality. I like to create things, and I like thinking of ways to build content/businesses. If you question any of my friends, they'll tell you that I am the happiest when in the midst of a huge project. If I'm not busy, I get frustrated and start making up stuff to do. That's just who I am.

I'm going to link to some posts I wrote on my other blog last year that might be of some help.

The Business of Blogging (part 1)
Figuring Out Your Internet Voice
Writing for Search Engines Doesn't Mean Selling Your Soul
Is Self-Esteem Tied Into Site-Meter?
Social Media and Time-Management (an oxymoron?)


Full listing of my "can you make money blogging?" series (the above links are linked again with others)

I don't know it all. I am not going to even remotely pretend I know it all. This site has led to three book deals in two years, and through the ad revenue and affiliate links (Amazon is the only one I use thus far) I'm pretty confident that I'll no longer need to look for a "real" job once the kids are fully in school.

That said, there's a lot more that I could be doing with my sites to make them more profitable. I need to better organize the food categories, I know. I need to add a gluten free/casein free tag. I need to get the archives on TotallyTogetherJournal.com updated. I need to work on stephanieodea.com and find a way to wade through the mountainous piles of email I get so my buddy Bob doesn't send me icky emails (Hi, Bob! Sorry for the delay in getting back to you!). I'm not a good facebook or twitter person, and am looking into launching a messageboard so you can write back and forth to each other with recipe questions since I'm not able to be on the computer 24/7.

But these things take time, and the kids are only kids once. There is plenty of time to have a career, but there is only a limited amount of time when the kids are still drooly and goofy and like having me around.
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41 comments:

Michelle (What's Cooking Blog) said...

Thanks for sharing this, Steph. I feel that many bloggers keep their gems of info close to their chests. I am one of those bloggers who doesn't earn now what you made even in the beginning. But I need to change that, especially since I have my first book coming out in May (The Whole Family Cookbook). I am pretty sure, like you, that my book deal (along with my recent invitation to the White House!) was because of the brand that I have built through my blog. I think I am ready to do what it takes...Thanks for reminding me :) xox M.

DessertForTwo said...

I really like this post. It's great for new bloggers like me. I appreciate the help and insight. You are blessed to be able to stay home, do what you love, and make money from it! Isn't that the American dream?

Stephanie O'Dea said...

Hi Michelle! I can NOT wait for your cookbook's release! I'm so proud of you.
you're doing a great job. Who you are as a real person needs to come first. xoxo

DessertForTwo, I'm happy to help. I realize that I was kind of vague in regards to the income coming in now, and that was at Adam's request. His wishes have to come first, too! ;-)

xoxo

Debbi Does Dinner Healthy said...

Great information!! I want to focus on my recipes but I do want to make money on it if I am able to. I've been doing okay but I so need to learn more. I've read most of your posts and have used many of the tips. Thanks again!!

EG said...

Steph, when you first posted about the business of blogging on your other blog I thought it was fascinating!

That's a big part of the reason I'm a PW fan - I think all her "I'm just a dope in the country typing on my computer" is a very good schtick. She is savvy as heck! And I was so impressed to learn that you are, too.

marilyn said...

Yes, always remember there is a limited time when the kids like having you around. Hang onto that when you feel pulled away from them. One day, they will be gone and you will have so much time to do other things. Hugs.

Sweet and Savory said...

Stephanie, thank you so much for this post. I am still trying to work on a cookbook deal (gotten rejected twice now)...but still plugging away, looking for agents. I also just signed up for Amazon, thanks for the information!!!

Stephanie O'Dea said...

Debbi, I'm happy to help.
EG, Ree is wonderful, I love her. She is also a very savvy business woman!
absolutely, Marilyn. I'm so lucky to have these kids.
Sweet and Savory, do not give up. At some point I'll post all my rejects. It took dozens (maybe 60? eeps!) rejects to find my agent, and then years of rejects to find the publisher for the Totally Together book. And then that fell through after the contract was signed!
patience, it's quite the virtue! :-)

xoxo

Vanessa said...

Thanks for the information! I started a food blog recently of easy recipes and honestly wasn't doing it for the money. I wanted a way to keep track of my recipes and share easy recipes with other busy folks out there! Of course making some extra cash never hurts=) I love your site and you inspired me to start using my crockpot after years of it collecting dust!

Michele said...

Thanks for being so down to earth, I appreciated your comments and found them very helpful.

Alana, Author of Domestically Challenged said...

Thank you for sharing this - it is VERY helpful info!

Dina said...

Thank you for sharing this! I'm sure if I even get popular it will be helpful! Right now my blogs are just for fun. But who doesn't dream that someday they'll have a huge and profitable blog?

Mine for the Making said...

I for one, love your blog. I am sure you hear/read that often. I entered blogland in Jan of this year (i am still a newbie) and your blogs are one of the first ive followed.

Thank you so much for sharing that info specifically. It's very helpful to a young working mother who so desperately wants to stay home with her child/future children. dont get me wrong...unlike you did, i LOVE my job (teacher) and i do have great benefits when it comes to time off. but I do miss out on a lot 9 hours a day, 5 days a week, 9 months a year. I have always loved writing, art, creating, working with my hands, teaching...so i think my blog is a creative outlet for me...a sort of therapy that is done when the rest of the house is sleeping :) making money doing it would only be a plus...and something helpful when and if I am able to stay home.

thank you for the tips, inspiration and the hope :)

Kara @ mine for the making

thegirlwiththeplan said...

I had to read this post after seeing the title. My husband and I make our entire living on blogging, and other internet marketing. We don't live a flashy life, but some how make the same amount of money as when my husband worked full time as an attorney. When he left a legal career to "work in the basement on his computer" people gave us all sort of looks, and asked all sorts of questions.
It is not easy to make real money, but it can be done. I think most people think it is not work and we are just watching daytime television all day, but we put in 50 hour weeks just like a regular job.
The flexibility and time with family though really make it the best life.

Connie said...

I love to hear people say blogging can wait, the kid's youth can't. It's so true. Enjoy every minute of your children because before long they'll be gone and you'll have more blogging time than you every hoped for.

Enjoy a sloppy kiss for me. Mine are gone and I'm holding out hope for grandkids in the future!

You're wise and wonderful!

Connie

Crystal said...

Great tips! Love it!

Three of my kids are still little, two are in school. I too want to make money at my blog... just keepin' it real and honest.

I keep telling myself to be patient... patience can wait for anything.

I realized women really were making money at this whole blogging thing last summer watching Oprah (and eating bon-bons of course). Then I found your site and PW's site... and thought there is money out there- I just need to figure out a way to get it into my pocket as well... finding my voice and telling my story. Surely someone else is the imperfect mommy like me and does not want to feel alone.

And you're right- the kids are only young once... and soon we will no longer be cool playmates to them!

Tomomi said...

Thank you for sharing your experience and insight. You answered many of the questions I have as a new blogger!

Gina @ MoneywiseMoms said...

I am so glad to hear your honesty! There's a lot of bloggers out there who think it's awful to be blogging to provide for your family, and while I actually started my blog to help others (mainly my friends and family), I quickly saw the potential and now make a very good income considering the few hours a week I put into it. I also think I (and you, it sounds like) have been able to create a job so that we don't have to return to the traditional workplace once the kids are older. You can blog on a flexible schedule, still attend the kids' field trips and be there afterschool--it's a win win!

I read you from the beginning of YSW's first year and was thrilled to see you grow and succeed. By staying so focused on a single topic and schedule, you had a clear vision and plan, which helps a lot. I think that if you're going to monetize, you need to have some kind of "plan," at least know what you niche/focus is and stick to it.

LynnMarie said...

Thank you so much for such great advice. You are so kind to share. Sounds like you are living the American Dream.

Melissa said...

I don't blog or have any desire to, but it's nice you are so open and honest about things. I'm thankful for your blog and cookbook. You do provide a service and should be paid for it. There is nothing offensive about doing what you love and providing for your family. It's a dream of most people! Without you I never would have tried fish in the crockpot. For that alone I'm grateful. ;)

Deanna said...

I'm usually a lurker here - pilfering recipes for the weekend and reading everyone else's comments! I just have to say that I love this post. It's honest and it's also inspiring. And I love that you're not afraid to be real about the fact that your family comes first. Great job!

Miss M.J. Ma'am said...

I'm in the first stage of wanting to start a food blog......thanks for the info, you make it real!
Don't know if I have what it takes, but I will take all this and see what happens. I've been a lurker for awhile, and love your site!
Good luck to you, I think you have this nailed down!!

Alex said...

This is great information. I am not trying to make $ at this point with my 2 blogs, they are just my creative outlet. I have thought that in the future, when I am no longer homeschooling and my children are grown, I would love to make money from home.

Wade Meyer (Concord, CA) said...

Thank you so much for this blog! I came upon it recently. I cook twice-monthly meals for 25-40 low-income seniors at a community center (using a kitchen that has no oven or stove, but several donated large-volume slow cookers). Your recipes are a godsend because I quickly ran out of ideas! I generally x5 the recipe to feed our hungry folks, and the food usually gets great reviews. Another amazing thing is that several of our seniors are gluten-free, and your recipes mean I don't have to adapt anything! Thank you!!

Nan Sheppard said...

*sigh...* You are my hero!

I use your slowcooking cookbook all the time, by the way. Two thumbs up. I did a review on my site and even sold one or two through Amazon! that's, uh, six cents or something.

I keep thinking I can make my site into a proper money maker. I'm not sure what I want to do.

Christina Jeanne said...

These are great ideas. I have to check those sites out. I tried Ad sense and a lot of other things but never made any money. But, I really want to because I would love to become a professional blogger.

Anonymous said...

You have made the absolute right decision.

I had a baby 8 years ago, when my older two children were (cough) 16 and nearly 21!! And we've had a blast reliving parenting, but the "new improved version".

Most people don't get this chance, but I've learned a lot since the first two were little (and are now both finished with grad school).

For starters: All that hogwash about home school parents being control freaks was just that, hogwash.
We are happily homeschooling, and my child is happy, she has a mind of her own, and she is thriving. And I wish I had been brave enough to do this with the older two kids.
Sure they did well, but I practically lived at their schools. I was the room mother, the science fair mother, the garden mother, etc. Now, I get to do all of that, but mostly with just my child.

My husband's high power career is now slowing down, and he's realized how much he missed. He's passed up two big promotions this past year, because he LIKES his days to run our school!! He's a cool dad, and now drives the car pool, is involved in all our extra activities, and people don't ask me if I'm a single mom anymore!! He did have to shave his head so he's not asked if he's the "grandpa"!! Oh, well!!

I would encourage ANY Mom or Dad, you can never spend too much time with your kids, never. And no one gets to heaven and says "I should have spent more time at the office".

In the end, it's our family that are our friends, clear until the end. Make them your priority....and KUDOS to you for finding out how to do that and still be so young and cute!!

I love your web site, I've tried many recipes, and I cook at home nearly every meal (yup.....21 meals per week). We're healthier, happier, thinner, and we like the food! What's not to love!

pumpkinscales said...

I Love this post...it motivated me to finally start my own blog...yay! Thanks for the information!

John & Suman said...

I LOVE your blog! Thanks for being here for to help me make delicious meals for my family (I use your recipies 3-4x a week!). Keep it up!! I am here to support you!!

Karen said...

Steph, thanks so much for this post. I started out with a cooking blog, but realized there were so many that it really wasn't the niche I wanted to pursue. But I do private tutoring and have so much to say on THAT subject that I added a blog to my tutoring website. I am still working on getting it fully functional. But it is something I am passionate about. My hubby has been battling cancer for the last couple of years, and has finally made the decision to stop working and go on disability, so it is now up to me to really try to boost my income. And I have decided one way to do that is through my website. He is going to be the "house hubby" and I am going to devote my time to my tutoring and website. I really loved the things you had to say about blogs so thanks so much for that. I am now going to go read the links to your other articles on the the subject.!

Nikki said...

Thank you so much for the information! I am only an occasional reader of your blog, but I always find reading it enjoyable.

I have often thought of starting a blog of some sort, but I have no idea about what! I have so many interests and ideas, but I don't know if I have a tough-enough skin to just do it. Congratulations to you for having the guts, willpower, and tenacity to make a success of it!

Gayleg said...

Hi.. Steph.. I like this post on blogging. This is useful for me as I am struggling with blogging business. This post encourages me to work harder and remain committed. I hope I become successful like you..

Shari Lynne @ Faithfilledfoodformoms.com said...

Hi Stephanie! I love your blog also!! Thank you for getting me into the rotation of your blogroll. I have so many things that I am passionate about so it's hard for me to pin things down to "a" niche. I also love that you are featuring "Blogging with Amy" It was her blog that I stumbled across and decided to give this whole blog thing a go. I LOVE it!!
Thanks again for a great post!
Blessings
Shari

Candy said...

Thanks for this post. Its helped encourage me to try again. I've tried blogging before but was unorganized and became discourage. There are so many things I like to do, and so many things I like to share its hard to focus on just one.

Pat LaBarge said...

Thanks, Stephanie, for all the tips, making money with blogging! I am new at blogging, oldie at cooking. I need to use your ideas on making money. As to the slow cooker, I have never used one, but a friend keeps telling me that I should. Your blog has convinced me far more than she did. Thanks!

Tammi said...

Hi Stephanie! I saved your site under my favorites way back when and I've recently started my own blog. mommasmeals.wordpress.com and I've been asked for more crock pot recipes so I went searching through my favorites and here you are! Your view is wonderful. I love being home taking care of my family and I also LOVE cooking and writing, now if I can just make some money from it LOL...we all have to start somewhere right? Thanks again!

myork said...

Thanks for the great info! I have no problem with people making money from blogs, especially when they are up front about it. I have greatly enjoyed your site and put your cookbooks on my Amazon wishlist. I also recommend your site any time I get a chance because I think it's awesome. Some day, perhaps I will find my niche and become a rich and famous blogger too ;)

Stephanie O'Dea said...

@myork, thank you for your kind words, support, and vote of confidence. I'm certainly not rich though--- :-)
but thank you. have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Stephanie O'Dea said...

or famous...
LOL.
just content. :-0
xoox

Nancy said...

Just stumbled across your site for a cheese fondue recipe and of course, kept on reading. It's my downfall, reading OPBs (Other People's Blogs)! I write a zillion wedding blogs and got started because I was trying to file ideas for my daughter's wedding. Five years later... I'm in it for the long haul!Of course since I'd divided all my 'blogs' up as though they were files, one diy blog, one flowers, one cakes, etc. I need to pull them all together into a few larger blogs. And maybe someday take it all to wordpress...maybe. But I'm also a 'blogger' person. At my age it's harder to change! LOL Nah, really, am a young 60 this May. So anyone looking for wedding blogs can find mine under a search for WDW(Wedding Day Weekly) although I'm beginning to think I should have done weddings 365 days a year! Since that's how often I blog!

Lisa Middendorf said...

Stephanie,
Thanks for sharing this I just want to say one of the things I love about your blog is that you are real, its not some perfect, super mommy thing.
You rock and help the rest of us to feel like "hey I'm ok, life happens."
Lisa

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