Have dreams of making it big as a food blogger? There’s a science to it. Photo: Lumina/Stocksy
Food blogging as a career is, for some, the stuff of daydreams. Yet more and more, one-time hobbyists are turning their blogs into full-fledged, money-making ventures by attracting the attentions of big-name sponsors. One blogger, who we’ll call Mallory, has done particularly well: Last year, she made more than $150,000. This year, she expects to clear a quarter of a million.
“You’ve got to decide: Is this a personal thing or is this what I want to do to make a living?” Mallory told Yahoo Food. Her blog is a few years old, though she only began making big bucks last year when she signed with an agent, which helped her land deals with major grocery store brands looking to reach a digital audience.
Most often, she’s paid to write a recipe post using the brand’s product — something that, not long ago, the same brands might have recruited bloggers to do for as little as $50. “I won’t do a post for less than $3,500 now,” Mallory said. “My average is about $5,000, and my high is $10,000.”
“Large brands were not thinking this way a few years ago — it’s a definite shift not only in terms of their spending, but their mindset,” said Raina Penchansky, the chief strategy officer of talent agency Digital Brand Architects. Although she doesn’t represent Mallory, her boutique firm handles about a dozen food-focused bloggers and social media personalities, including former Yahoo Food Bloggers of the Week Claire Thomas of Kitchy Kitchen and Love & Lemons’s Jeanine Donofrio.
“There’ll always be print media, and there’ll always be television,” Penchansky said. “But traditional brands are definitely seeking out opportunities with bloggers, because that’s where the audience is. And you have go where the audience is.”
For Mallory, that audience is in large part her robust social following on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest: She boasts roughly 300,000 followers combined across all four platforms. There’s no magic formula to gaining a loyal following, she said — it’s simply the result of being active on social media, both by posting frequently and replying to readers. And we mean frequently — Mallory tweets, Facebooks, Instagrams, and pins multiple times throughout the day, Monday through Friday. That’s in addition to posting two to three new blog posts a week, each of which require at least three rounds of recipe testing and numerous staged photographs. It’s a full-time job.
Being active on social media is key to growing a loyal readership. Photo: Jovo Jovanovic/Stocksy
But Mallory also relies on other bloggers for traffic. She says there’s an unspoken quid pro quo amongst heavy hitters that if one blogger promotes another’s content on social media, the favor will be returned. There are even “secret” Facebook groups dedicated to this practice: A blogger will post a recent story and openly appeal for tweets, likes, and comments. But the only way to join these traffic-driving groups is to be invited, and the only way to be invited is to get a top blogger’s attention.
“You can’t just expect to walk into a community and everyone will accept you with open arms,” Mallory said. “Make sure you retweet their posts, but add value to whatever they’ve done. Don’t just write ‘yum!’ It pays off in the long run.”
Can be found on https://www.yahoo.com/food/how-being-a-food-blogger-can-net-you-150k-a-year-117012993426.html