Sunday, January 27, 2013

Can You Earn Income From a Blog About BBQ?

I received an e-mail today presumably from a visitor to my bbq blog asking me to share a few thoughts about blogging and the potential for earning an income from it. I am flattered to receive questions asking me for advice about such things. I don't consider myself an expert at all, but I did my best to reply with information that might be helpful based on my experience. A short e-mail morphed into blog-post-length, so I thought I'd share it in a blog post here in case it might help someone else.

I love blogging. I've been blogging on the internet since 2001 in various forms. I started with a plain old website and then switched to Google's Blogger platform. I tried to switch over to the paid Wordpress platform a couple of years ago because I like the templates and plugins available, but I don't have enough knowleldge to do it myself.

If I were starting over from scratch, I'd definitely use the Wordpress platform.

I have 7 or 8 blogs, but my bbq blog is by far my biggest and oldest. It's ironic, but my smallest blog actually was the most profitable. I had a blog about vermicomposting that was very profitable. I wrote about composting and gardening in my backyard. I also wrote about raising eisenia foetida red worms and sold my "extras". I had referrals coming from several sources including the local Worm's Way retail store.

My wife and I at Martin's original location in Nolensville, TN
BBQ blogging has become very competitive. When I started there were only 3 or 4 real bbq blogs. There were some link aggregators compiling bbq sites, but only a few people writing high quality bbq articles. It's several years later now, but the interest in bbq has skyrocketed thanks to popular television shows on Food Network, Versus, Discovery, etc. who featured many programs about bbq contests.

I earn a steady income from my bbq blog, but it is not "big". I don't dismiss it though because over a period of years it starts to add up. I earn a little money that helps support my bbq hobby. The income keeps me interested enough in the website to continue writing articles for it.

There are ebbs and flows in blogging. As my readers have witnessed, I go through periods where my creativity declines and through other periods where I am writing content that is more engaging and interesting. My site has enjoyed a steady readership year after year and I have several hundred subscribers who receive updates from my site in their e-mail inbox. It continues to be the sincerest form of flattery to me. That someone would continue receiving my blog posts for a period of weeks, months, and years. I go through periods where more people unsubscribe to the blog than I'd like, but during other periods I have added new subscribers on a consistent basis.

If you like blogging about bbq, then go for it. Read other blogs about bbq and learn what you like and what others like. That will help you find your own blogging voice and position in blogosphere. I do not think it's realistic to start out with the goal of earning a significant income, but it is certainly possible. It is an endeavor like most get out of it what you put into it.


Kim said...

Here in Denmark where I live there's still a bit of way before you can live of your earnings from a BBQ blog.
I have a BBQ/cooking blog myself with around 1000 unique visits/day and I decided from the start that I would not have banners on my blog.
After 6month of blogging, companies started sending me food-samples, cooking equipment, charcoal etc. for me to try out and maybe mention on my site. I have also had several requests from banner networks that would like to get on my site - some of then actually offered quite a good payment.
For me the blog is a personal experiment and not a job, hence I would rather keep it as I like it and then not earn money on having it.
Some of my food-blogging friends do earn quite well on their blog but then again many of them have 350.000+ unique hits a month (some in the 1.000.000 range - mind you that we are only 5.5mil people in Denmark and these blogs are in our native Language Danish).
A Blog in English could most likely earn quite some money if they wanted to.

DRU said...

Great info! I started my BBQ blog ( just for fun, so anything I earn from it is just gravy!

Chris said...

I've done okay the past two years but it's not something that will sustain a lifestyle. It just pays for some of the extras.

The BBQ Guy said...


Your blog is looking good.

Steve said...

This is a great article Brian and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this on your blog. I've had a handful of people ask me the exact same question regarding my blog. I like your answer b/c I can relate. For me, it's about decent passive income that supports the hobby I love. If a few clicks here and there can pay for a bag of lump, then hey, I'm all for it. I also agree that there are a TON of BBQ blogs out there, but IMO, there still aren't a whole lot of "quality" ones. In the end, what really keeps me going are my readers that truly benefit from the content I provide. Again, great article and thanks for sharing. Steve

The BBQ Guy said...

Thanks for commenting Steve. The pictures on your blog are sharp. Admittedly, the pictures are an area on my blog that need improvement. When time is tight, it's just so easy to snap the picture on my phone versus the 12 megapixel 35mm digital camera. But the photo quality is night and day different.

The BBQ Guy said...

For anyone that wants to start a self-hosted blog, here's a nice "how-to" article written by a gentleman getting 1.5 million visitors per month on his Financial Blog. I've wanted to switch to a self-hosted blog for years. With this step-by-step tutorial I might be able to do it now. Wish me luck. Thanks Mr Money Mustache.