There are food bloggers who earn 20x the sponsored post rates of “power bloggers”. I know it’s hard to believe. But it’s true and I personally know of two.
I absolutely cannot divulge identity. One is a personal promise I made and the other is through a professional relationship so I am contractually bound to maintain confidentiality. But the numbers are so big that there is plenty I can talk about around this topic without disclosing identity or actual rates. So bear in mind that the $ figures and traffic stats I provide are slightly fudged, but you’ll understand why it’s irrelevant when you see the comparisons.
Both these blogs have a fraction of the traffic of “power bloggers”. I’m talking around 100k to 200k page views a month which is nothing to scoff at, but is not in the region of multiples of millions that the the “power bloggers” have.
One has a reasonable mail list in the low tens of thousands and the other has less than 10,000.
Both these blogs earn 15x to 20x the sponsored post rate of “power bloggers”.
The rate card for sponsored posts in the US differs from network to network. On the generous side, let’s use a sponsored post rate of $3,000 for a blog with 3 million monthly page views. I think this is actually a little higher than what the average is, but it’s a reasonable benchmark.
With 3 million monthly page views, this works out at a sponsored post rate of $0.10 per 1,000 views (“Sponsored Post CPM rate”).
In comparison, the blogs I am referring to are paid $2,000+ for a sponsored post, yet they “only have” 100,000 monthly page views. That works out at a Sponsored Post CPM rate of $2.00 – that’s 20x higher.
What that??! How on earth is that possible?
It’s possible. It exists. I actually know of more than 2, but I am only referencing the 2 that I know the most about.
How, how, how??
When I heard what rates these blogs were earning for sponsored posts, I raised an eyebrow slightly (just one eyebrow…!) but didn’t fall off my chair. Because it made perfect sense.
Because you see, both these blogs have one very big thing in common that they nailed. Something that I repeatedly harp on about.
They operate within a very tight niche.
Both these blogs have a very specific food niche that they operate within. Which I’m gagging to tell you but I can’t because you’ll probably be able to figure out which blogs I’m referring to.
And because their blog is so niche, they have a highly engaged readership.
The influence and engagement these blogs have with their readers is far greater than mine which is a more general food blog. Their email open rate is higher, and when they recommend a product, their readers actually buy it and use it. Their readers follow their blog for recommendations and inspiration – and they actually follow what he/she says.
I can’t say that about my readers, can you? Do you think your readers are dashing off to buy the latest brand of Chia Seeds you did a sponsored post about?
Why Brands Pay More
There are two big problems with digital ads that brands are grappling with.
1. The Right Audience – brands want their ads displayed to the readers who are most likely to want to buy their product. When brands sign up to an ad network or Google, they select criteria which determines when their ad is displayed to readers. For example, display an ad for KitchenAide appliances on sites tagged “baking” or “cake”, and only in English speaking countries.
Perhaps 10 years ago this was effective. But nowadays, with the implosion of the world-wide-web and the sheer volume of content out there, not to mention SPAM, there is very little certainty that the ads are being seen by the right people; and
2. Ad Blindness – I can tell you right now, I don’t notice any ads on any site unless it’s a horrible spammy one. Which we all hate!
So while displaying ads on blogs might seem cost effective, for example, $1.00 to be displayed to 1,000 people (i.e. your ad CPM + a margin kept by the ad network), if it’s not effective advertising, it’s money down the drain.
And that, my friends, is why brands and PR companies are starting to get smarter about where they are spending their advertising dollars.
They would rather spend $20 per 1,000 views for a highly engaged niche specific blog because it means that those 1,000 people are genuinely their target audience. Plus, they are paying for the influence that these bloggers have over their audience.
How to Build a Niche Blog
If your objective is to maximise the monetisation of your blog, then you should care more about what rate you are earning per page view rather than the total page views.
I realise that 80% of blogs are more general food blogs and I am one of them. Though I do have my own focus – “fast prep, big flavors” – the type of food I share draws a readership that ranges from college kids to seniors.
Really niche blogs – the REALLY niche ones – are going to earn far higher rates for less traffic.
Here are some ideas of food specific blogs and the types of niche-specific clients they might attract. Note: I’ve omitted obvious health food ones like paleo, gluten free etc. Also, the two blogs on which this post is based are not on the list.
– Italian food blog in the US – a die hard Italian food blog that shares real Italian recipes. Potential client: Italian canned tomatoes distributed by a major US food group. (PS As a side note, I received an opportunity to develop a series of recipes using Australian canned tomatoes. This brand was owned by a larger group – and they have advertising budget!)
– Cocktail blog – this one has great potential because I know from offers I’ve had (none of which I have taken up) that liquor brands have marketing budget and are willing to spend! A great cocktail blog would be perfectly positioned to strike up an ambassador arrangement with liquor brands. Especially for something like cocktails that the majority of people are not familiar with so they will specifically go out and ensure they buy the exact liquor recommended, rather than substituting the Hot Smoked Paprika I specify in my recipe with whatever paprika they have in their cupboard.
– Cheese blog – All things cheese! I have no idea why I didn’t do this myself given my obsession with all things cheese. 😉 The cheese market in Australia is highly commercialised and I imagine it is the same in other countries. And any food brand owned by a large food group means there is marketing budget!
– Movie Food Blog – A blog that combines movie reviews and food! Think “couch food”. Production houses and distributors have budget so a blog with an engaged readership would be able to command high $. Very different from those mass produced movie review sites – a blog would be personal!
– Coffee Blog – A blog that shares all things coffee (seriously, you’d be surprised how good coffee is in things like BBQ sauce!). I can tell you with absolute certainty that the coffee market is more competitive than ever. And that the big brands have budget.
Now I’m not going to tell you that if you have an Italian food blog that a client will pay you $2,000 to do a post using their brand of canned tomatoes. It doesn’t work like that. The one-off jobs are the type of thing you’ll get from ad networks (read about that here in this ultimate Sponsored Posts guide) and you’ll be paid accordingly. I’m talking about much more meaningful, integrated content marketing that would be a brand ambassador arrangement involving a series of recipes.
Higher rates and long term contracts.
The examples I’ve provided in this post are extreme, including the two bloggers I refer to. And if you’re a general blogger, I am most certainly not suggesting that you do a 180 degrees about face and start blogging solely about cocktails!
What I hoped to do by sharing this information is driving home the point that you’re probably sick of hearing me talk about, and that’s the importance of choosing and sticking to your niche. You can read more about that in this post: How To Stand Out from 227 Million Blogs.
And most importantly: remember to stay true to yourself. Don’t blog about something just because you think it’s got better monetisation potential. That’s akin to just posting “viral potential” recipes, or “food porn”. Souls, heartless and not sustainable.
I hope you found this helpful! If you enjoyed reading it, share it with your friends!
– Nagi x