679 food bloggers completed a 32-question online survey. The respondents were primarily Citizen Bloggers (77%) with a minority of Entrepreneurial Bloggers promoting their own company (19%) and the remainder connected to corporations (4%). Based on the respondents, food bloggers tend to be from the United States, female, between the ages of 25 and 44, and either married or living with a significant other. 42% are parents and 81% are employed or self-employed full or part time.
42% of respondents have no background related to food blogging while 58% have some related experience.
Part II: The Motivation to Blog
When asked “Why do you blog?” 87% of respondents replied “Food is my passion.” Four additional answers that drew heavy response included:
• To make a name for myself in the food world (47% of respondents)
• Writing is my passion (46%)
• In hopes of turning my blog into a job (46%)
• To have a voice so I can say what I want to say (45%).
Food, then, is by far the most motivating factor driving food bloggers. Writing (passion for writing and to have a voice) is next most important. While a good proportion of bloggers hope to capitalize on their blogs by making a name for themselves or find a job in the food world, few bloggers engage in blogging to make money or promote a business.
When asked how bloggers track the success of one’s blog, the primary answer was simply “personal satisfaction”. Ultimately, a successful food blog is one that makes a blogger happy. Other items to note:
• Beyond personal satisfaction, what makes a successful blog for bloggers is whether people are reading it directly or via social media.
• While revenue is not a large indicator of satisfaction, it did jump significantly from 2012.
• Google + is not yet important to food bloggers. (We did not even ask this in 2012.)
Part III: The Blogs
Most food bloggers (53%) have been blogging for 1-4 years with a substantial portion (26%) blogging for more than four years or (21%) less than one year. We saw a significant increase from last year in the percentage of veteran bloggers, meaning many food bloggers are staying around and fewer bloggers (as a percentage) are brand new. 68% of food bloggers write for only one blog and a substantial 32% of bloggers write for at least two blogs.
Recipes are by far the most popular topic covered on food blogs, with 90% of food blogs providing recipes. Despite the intense publicity, few bloggers cover specialized diet topics.
Part IV: Social Media
Almost all bloggers engage in social media and, as presented earlier, many indicate social media is an important indicator of how they judge success. In terms of engagement, Twitter is dominant with 91% of food bloggers using it, followed by Facebook and Pinterest.
In terms of effectiveness, bloggers clearly consider Facebook to be the most effective social media platform in promoting their blog, followed by Twitter and Pinterest.
This corresponds, although not exactly, with the number of followers food bloggers have on each social media platform. Because a few blogs with extremely high numbers can skew results, both Average and Median are presented here. Clearly, the Median number of followers for each platform is much lower than the Average, both because several very active bloggers skew the average results and because many bloggers engaged on social media do not actually have many followers. (In fact, this chart is presented without the effect of one food blogger with 1.3 million Google + followers, since that skewed the results out of the chart range.)
Part V: Traffic and Profitability
Food bloggers were asked how many unique visitors they have per month and the average number of visitors is over 42,000. This number should be used with care, since each blogger might be getting numbers from different sources. Furthermore, the numbers are skewed because of some very popular blogs. The Median number of unique visitors per month is 2,000. This is double last year’s response of 1,000 unique visitors, which indicates traffic to food blogs is growing substantially.
62% of respondents said they do not make any money at all from their food blog and another 24% make less than $200 per month. Clearly, most food bloggers are not doing this for the income they receive and many do not even attempt to monetize their blogs. Only 2.6% of food bloggers are making anything close to an annual salary (over $2,000 per month).
Of those who do make some money from their blogs, the most successful methods including paid writing for magazines or newspapers, consulting in the food or social media industries, sponsored posts or product reviews, and brand promotion. Often the most successful way to monetize a blog is to leverage a blog’s credibility to create off-blog sources of revenue. Not successful at all were the traditional forms of online advertising: general ad servers such as Google AdWords and affiliate programs such as Amazon.com’s affiliate program.
Part VI: What Has Changed in Food Blogging
We asked a general question: What has changed since you first started blogging? Almost all bloggers are spending more time on social media, reading more food blogs, and using more photos in their posts.
Part VII: Food Blogger Conferences
There have been 18 food blogger conferences created in North America alone since the International Food Blogger Conference started in 2009, although not all are still in existence. Surprisingly, 70% of respondents have still never attended a conference; this is disheartenedly down from 82% last year. When asked what is most important in determining whether a blogger would attend a conference, the most important factors were cost, the quality of the schedule and speakers, and scheduling.
• Sites seen by 10X more unique website visitors per month
• 93% more likely to be making money from their blog
• 172% more likely to have been blogging for over four years
• Engaged with 704% more fans on Pinterest, 668% more on Google +, 281% more on Facebook, and 155% more people on Twitter