2023 Income Report

Ever wonder how food bloggers make money?

Well, you’re in the right place. I’m dropping alllll the deets on how I made over $77,000 in my first year blogging full-time. So, keep reading to learn how I did it.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

mini sugar cookies in a pile.

My backstory, in case you’re new here! 🙂

Hi! My name is Bianca, a food blogger based on Long Island, NY. I like to make cute, easy recipes, like frog cookies and chick macarons. I’d also like to share more educational content on blogging and being a creator, hence this post.

After sharing my 2023 month by month income on Instagram (see video below), many people messaged me asking for a full report. I’ve always loved Pinch of Yum’s income reports because of their transparency. So, I wanted to start writing my own to not only track my own progress, but also to show what blogging is like to my readers! :~)

But before I get into the nitty gritty, I wanted to share a little bit about myself. Hopefully, my background might help you answer your own questions about your career path or clear up any uncertainties about food blogging as a job.

My backstory is quite long, but it may help you understand how I got here. I wasn’t always in the food space and my path to food blogging isn’t straightforward. It’s actually quite zigzaggy and full of ups & downs. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way and I’m glad to be here. 🙂

education

I’ve always loved baking. In high school, I baked macarons almost daily. I was constantly developing my own flavors and designs, sharing them on my old, now deleted Instagram, @macaronsbybianca. Despite this intense hobby, I didn’t want to go pastry school because I was also a STEM girly.

Instead of going the culinary route, I got my BS in Biology and Minor in Chemistry at SUNY Oswego. It was a LOT of fun and I’m super grateful for the education I received there. Go Lakers!!!

post-undergraduate struggles

After college, I moved to Boston, MA by myself to work in biology research for a few years. During this time, I started my food blog for funsies, starting out with macaron recipes. It was my creative outlet; I felt like my high school self would’ve been super proud. And while balancing work, my blog, and living in new state all alone, I was also applying to medical school.

However, medical school didn’t pan out. I didn’t get into any schools. It was an extremely confusing and tough time because I felt I had failed. Were my grades too low? Did I not do enough? Where did I mess up? It truly made me question my achievements and unfortunately, my self-worth. The path I saw myself in for years seemed to fall apart. It took years for me to build myself up, mentally.

I thought of backup plans—PA, nurse, food scientist, etc., but I was tired of school and knew I wanted a break from STEM. I really started listening to myself and thought about my main passion: baking.

After debating with myself, I thought I’d give it a year, meet + learn from other pastry cooks, and move from there.

following my passion: baking

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work as a baker or possibly start my own brick and mortar one day… especially since I had ZERO professional kitchen experience. I was just baking for my blog and selling desserts from my house, donating all of the profits to charity. So, for about a year, I job hopped as a pastry cook, while also working on Bites by Bianca.

I truly LOVED working in a professional kitchen—being a baker was one of my favorite jobs. But after a few months, I realized it wasn’t my calling. Even though I’m an early bird, the 4AM opening shifts were brutal. Additionally, I ended up having issues with both of my ankles, so standing for long periods of time was really uncomfortable.

Most importantly, baking & teaching other people how to make cute desserts were my favorite parts of baking. There’s a HUGE difference between making 1-2 dozen cute cookies, versus making hundreds and hundreds of cookies, breads, and other pastries every day with limited creative freedom.

If I opened up my own brick and mortar, I wasn’t sure if I could dedicate the next few years knowing all the struggles that come with being a bakery/cafe owner. I knew myself and could anticipate the future burnout, when it wasn’t even a full year yet.

By the fall of 2022, I was miserable at the last bakery I worked at due to the long hours, the work culture, and my painful ankles… only to make about $18/hr. I was so miserable that I actually quit with no backup job. I had a few pastry cook interviews/stages, but wasn’t thrilled with the pay or work environment.

moving back home

Due to life circumstances, I ended up moving back in with my parents in NY at the end of 2022. I didn’t have a car and public transportation isn’t great in my area. So, I looked for remote jobs in social media or food writing.

During my job search, I was also learning how lucrative social media influencing + blogging could be. People were making over 6 figures. Thousands a month off of blog ads. I was shocked because, well… I was only making <$10/month off ads. And so while looking for jobs, I was also doing deep research on how being a self-employed food blogger worked.

I reviewed my own stats and had about 36K followers across Instagram and TikTok. Over time, I toyed with the idea of what Bites by Bianca could be and couldn’t stop thinking about it. I already few brand deals and features (Tasty, Facebook) under my belt doing this as a hobby. What if I took it to the next level?

My gut feeling that I should go all in wouldn’t go away. Just like I did with being a pastry cook, I told myself I could try blogging for 6 months to a year. Then, reevaluate. How else would I know if I liked it? Plus, I lived at home, so it seemed like the best time for me to try it.

inner struggles + growth

Before, I was making ends meet and only making enough to pay my bills. With the privilege and luxury of living back at home with my parents, I was able to comfortably work on Bites by Bianca 24/7. I could truly focus on blogging and invest any money + time in better equipment, blogging courses, etc. In my mind, I HAD to make it work. I was given the perfect circumstances to go all in and I wanted to prove something would come from it.

Yet at the same time, I felt like I failed for moving in with my parents and not working a job that I went to college for. It went against the ideas I grew up with, especially how I should have “started my life” after university. I was also constantly comparing myself to my peers, blah blah. You know, just the average American quarter-life crisis, lol.

Don’t get me wrong, I 100% acknowledge that living at home has been a privilege and I am grateful for the support system I’ve had. Comparison is the thief of joy, and I fell under that for the first half of 2023.

Over time and lots of therapy, I began to feel more comfortable with myself and where I was at. As I kept my head down and kept working, my confidence grew. I began working with brands. I slowly increased my rates and was able to end the year with $77,702. 2023 has truly been a year of inner growth + working my butt off to surpass my goals.

And now, here I am. I’m excited for what 2024 has in store for me.

How food bloggers and content creators make money

Food bloggers and content creators usually have multiple streams of income, which include:

  • Blog ads: These are the pop-up ads you see on websites. Ad agencies can pay quite well if your website has high traffic.
  • Affiliate links: Creators usually receive a percentage based off their audience buying products from links you share. One example is the Amazon affiliate program.
  • Paid partnerships: This is when companies hire food bloggers/creators to make content showcasing their product or service.
  • Freelancing: This can include writing articles or developing recipes for other brands.
  • Misc: Reels bonuses, gifts.
  • Products: Ebooks, apparel, equipment.
  • Services: Coaching, courses, subscriptions, audits.

Personally, most of my income was from paid partnerships. My goal for the next few years is for my income to mostly come from blog ads. This is because it is the most stable, while pitching brands and relying on partnerships can come in waves.

My 2023 audience statistics

Here is what my following looked like in 2023.

  • Instagram: 34,000 followers -> 70,000 followers
  • TikTok: 2,000 followers -> 24,000 followers
  • YouTube: 100ish subscribers -> 900 subscribers

Over the course of the year, my following significantly grew, especially on Instagram. I attribute that to a number of videos going viral, practicing my craft, and also upgrading my camera/lighting gear.

I believe that having a larger audience allowed me to charge more for brand deals. This is because of more viewership, engagement, and clicks that can lead to brand sales. & don’t worry, I’ll share a few posts in the future on my gear, favorite props, and growing my audience!

My 2023 income breakdown

2023 was a whirlwind, both financially and emotionally.

When the year started, I expected to make $20,000 or less. It was my first year blogging full-time… and for the 2 previous years, I made negative net income. During that 2 year period, I didn’t really have brand deals, despite pitching to companies. So, I had low expectations because I didn’t want to get my hopes up.

But by the end of the year, I made $77,202. I had NO idea the year would turn out the way it did. I’m so shocked, ecstatic, and proud of myself. And I want to show others that this is possible for them, too.

here’s my income month by month:

  • January – $1,112
  • February – $1,373
  • March – $1,893
  • April – $2,298
  • May – $6,761
  • June – $7,972
  • July – $4,133
  • August – $7,298
  • September – $9,185
  • October – $7,449
  • November – $14,049
  • December – $13,679

Now, the income stream breakdown:

  • Blog ads: 1-2%
  • Affiliate links: <1%
  • Paid partnerships: 65% (25 partnerships)
  • Freelancing: 30%
  • Misc: 1-2%
  • Products: N/A
  • Services: N/A

As you can see, most of my income was through paid partnerships and freelancing (recipe development + writing) for other companies. This was all pre-tax and before expenses, but I’ll write up a post on how I manage my finances in the near future.

My blog received about 200K page views this year and I hope to double or triple that this year. With more traffic comes more blog ad revenue.

Most of my blog recipes are not SEO optimized because I didn’t realize how important keyword research was. So, in 2024 I’ll be working on updating most of my 100-ish posts to rank higher on Google… which means rewriting and reshooting content. It’s a big endeavor, wish me luck!

2023 Reflections

This was the year where I started leaning into who I am and believing in myself. I’m very proud of my journey and where 2023 ended.

I’m not sure how the creator/influencing space will be in the future. Will brands increase their creator budgets or slash them? Instagram got rid of their reels bonus (which was earning me $100-$700/month in its prime in 2022), so what’s next? What about TikTok’s Creator Beta program? Will new platforms rise to the surface? These aspects make the creator financial space scary because in a snap, your stable income can suddenly disappear (I’m talking about you, Reels Bonuses…).

And personally, pitching to brands and relying on sponsorships is quite stressful. It’s upsetting when a brand doesn’t have the budget or lowballs you. Plus, a lot of payments are made Net 30-60 days AFTER the content is posted. For example, work that I did in April may not be approved until May, then I wouldn’t have to post it until mid-May. Which results in a mid-to-late June paycheck.

This being said, I would love to have more of my income be from my OWN website through blog ads. I’d also love to focus on YouTube and create a community there. We’ll see how 2024 goes!

my goals for 2024

  • Hit 100K on Instagram, 5K on YouTube, 50K on TikTok
  • Monetize on YouTube
  • Earn more income through blog ads
  • Update 70-80% of my old recipes
  • Continue my relationships with past brand partners

I truly wonder what will happen this year. If I don’t make all of these goals, it’s okay. If I do make them, YAY. Either way, I’ll try to be kind and give myself grace.

Any questions?

I hope you enjoyed reading my first income report! It was quite long, but I wanted to cover all my bases here.

In 2024, I plan on writing a few more posts: how I started a food blog, how I got brand deals, and how I track & manage my finances. But if you have specific questions, please feel free to comment them or DM me on Instagram!

Other resources

Coming soon:

  • How I Started My Food Blog
  • How I Receive Brand Deals As a Food Blogger
  • How I Track and Manage my Finances as a Food Blogger

And as always, feel free to drop a comment or message me via Instagram. <3

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