Part III: What People Don’t Know About Food Bloggers — A Tell-All! Blogging as a Full-Time Career, Answering the “Big Question,” and Revealing My Blog’s Income & Expenses

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I’m publishing a four-part series on the blog to answer some frequently asked questions, increase transparency, and share a little “Behind The Scenes” of Desserts With Benefits and the blogger behind it…  moi!

Part I:  Why I Removed Some Recipes From The Blog
Part II:  A Deeply Personal Post…
Part III:  What People Don’t Know About Food Bloggers — A Tell-All!  Blogging as a Full-Time Career, Answering the “Big Question,” and Revealing My Blog’s Income & Expenses
Part IV: My Future Business Goals — Blogger To Bakery Owner?

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Each installment of the four-part series has a bit of a different “feel” to it.
Part I was candid and to the point.
Part II was, slightly gloomy, but it ended on a good note (a HUGE thank you to ALL who reached out to me personally about this post.  Emails flooded by inbox.  I wish I could give everyone a big bear hug!  The outpouring of love, the mutual openness, the newfound connections — I appreciate it all.  THIS IS WHAT DRIVES ME AS A BLOGGER!)
Part III is pretty straightforward, but lighthearted as well.  Hope you enjoy  🙂


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What’s the number one thing people don’t know about food blogging?  It ain’t a cakewalk!  (Heh, get it?)  🎂

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But wait, I thought only weird old men who sit in their underwear down in their parents’ basement blog??

That stereotype could not be any more wrong — I’m a dessert-obsessed, quirky and girly foodie who is constantly eating and thinking about eating.  Morning, noon and night.  Although, I must confess, I am tooootally weird and I do blog in my underpants  😉

In all seriousness, I thought long and hard about whether or not to write a post like this.  I don’t want to sound whiney or negative, or make my job sound terrible.  It’s not.  Food blogging is probably one of the best jobs out there — gratifying, liberating, and just a tiiiiny bit indulgent (if you’re like me, of course — a food-loving homebody who thrives with freedom.  I can’t stand sitting in a cubicle, being pressed by an annoying boss, and trying to survive a cutthroat work environment).

If you’re curious as to what food blogging entails, read on!

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In this post, I will:
  1. Give a Comprehensive Look at Blogging as a Full-Time Career — The Good, The Bad, And The “In-Betweens”

  2. Answer the #1 Question I get when I tell people blogging is my full-time career:  “Soooo…  How do you make money?”

  3. Share my Blog’s Income & Expenses For the Year 2015

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Let’s get started shall we??

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1.

A Comprehensive Look at Blogging as a Full-Time Career
— The Good, The Bad, And The “In-Betweens”

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I thought I’d simplify this by using bullet points since it’s a bit easier to read than giant paragraphs (and it’ll reduce any ranting on my part)

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The Good
  • Never Ending Supply of Food (and it’s freaking awwwweesoooome, my fridge and freezer are never empty)
  • Ability to Connect With Amazing Readers and Other Bloggers From All Over the World
  • Partnering Up With Brands

I’ve been approached for freelance recipe development, photography jobs, magazine articles, and even cookbook concepts by publishing companies.  It’s so great to work with companies you love and support!

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The Bad
  • Low Income For How Many Hours Are Put In (or at least that’s the case for me)
  • High Expenses (again, maybe that’s just the case for me)
  • No 401(k) or Benefits Typical to “Standard” Jobs (Gotta Pay Our Taxes Too!)
  • Dealing With Copyright Infringers and Online Trolls  😞

Occasionally, an online troll will feel the need to rip my heart out through the computer screen.  Over the years (and lots of venting to my friends and family), I’ve learned to take a deep breath, shake it off (like Taylor Swift!), and move the hell on.

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The In-Betweens (Can Be Both Good AND Bad)
  • Ability to Work From Home (FREEEEDOMMM!!!)

This sounds great at first, but it can be to your benefit or your detriment.  I heard this quote at a blogging conference, “The great thing about blogging is that you don’t have any Mondays.  But then again, you don’t get any Saturdays either.”  This is SO true.  You’ll need to work weekends, super early mornings, and very late nights.  Blogging isn’t a 9-5 job…  we’re 100% in charge of our own schedules, so it suffices to say that we better be on top of our sh*t!  You are your own boss — you choose your services, your rates, who you agree to work with, etc.  You are also the boss of whether or not you shall work in your undies and pajamas (DON’T JUDGE US)  😉

  • Overwhelming Number of Emails/Comments/Messages

I honestly have no idea how other bloggers handle this, it’s insane!  My inbox is NEVER empty, but thankfully, most of the emails and comments I get are amazing and uplifting — each and every one brings a smile to my face.

  • Constantly Evolving Technology (always gotta be up to date!)
  • Social and Antisocial At The Same Time

Blogging is a highly social profession, although it’s mostly via online communication.  We’ve gotta make an effort to get out of the house (wow, I sound like a hermit).

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2.

Answering the #1 Question I Get As A Blogger:
“Soooo…  How Do You Make Money?”

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There are a number of ways a blogger can make money, but the following are just the avenues I pursued on Desserts With Benefits:

  • Sponsored Posts
  • Freelance Recipe Development
  • Sidebar Advertising
  • Cookbooks

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DIY Protein Bars Cookbook – Jessica Stier of Desserts with Benefits Naughty or Nice Cookbook: The ULTIMATE Healthy Dessert Cookbook – Jessica Stier of Desserts with Benefits

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3.

Income & Expenses Of The Desserts With Benefits Blog
[For The Year 2015]

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IMPORTANT!  PLEASE READ:

Did you know that Desserts With Benefits is a business?  YES!  I incorporated just last year, so now it’s officially Desserts With Benefits, Inc.  🙌  I’m 23 and a business owner.  BOOM.
What are businesses in the biz for?  Money.  But money is NOT the reason I incorporated (keep reading).
I incorporated because I can see owning my own healthy bakery (or selling a healthy dessert product) in the near future.  I started this blog unsure of where I was going in life, but now I have a pretty good idea (stay tuned for Part IV: My Future Business Goals — Blogger To Bakery Owner?)!  To start any new business venture, you need capital and a track record.
Even though I’m the CEO and founder of Desserts With Benefits, Inc., I’m not even an employee of my own business.  I personally make zero income from this blog.  Every penny that the business makes, every cookbook that sells, every sponsored post I write, all that money is going into the business, not into my pocket.  I can’t touch it.
I’m no money-grubber and I sure ain’t sitting here rolling around in cash.  In fact, I’m struggling (hence, the reason why I work TWO full-time jobs — blogging and baking at a local restaurant).

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Now that that’s clarified, without further ado…  the blog’s 2015 income & expenses:

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Sources of Income for 2015
  • $3,980.77 for Sponsored Posts
  • $5,000.00 for Freelance Recipe Development
  • $9,399.26 for Sidebar Advertising
  • $6,599.60 for Cookbook Sales

For the DIY Protein Bars Cookbook and Naughty or Nice Cookbook, including both print and Kindle versions.

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Most of My Expenses for 2015

This list does not include other large expenses from previous years, such as my Canon Rebel t3i camera, 50mm lens, 80mm lens, photo editing software, etc. (that’s some expensive shizz).  This list does not include my utilities (electricity, water, heat, AC, etc.).  My utility bills are a bit high since I use the oven and dishwasher A. LOT.  And, this list does not include my quarterly taxes.

  • $1,375.00 for Web Hosting
  • $511.45 for Domain Registration, Website Backups, Security, etc.
  • $874.00 for Lawyers

I actually have two lawyers — one who helps me with my taxes and helped me incorporate Desserts With Benefits into a business, and one who specializes in trademarks and copyright law (it’s how I trademarked Desserts With Benefits™ last year)!  We all know how expensive lawyers can get.  The first lawyer is on retainer, but with the second lawyer I have to pay for every. little. thing…  I literally get invoices for 15 minutes of his time for responding to an email *rolls eyes* but, I guess it’s worth it in the end.

  • $832.11 for Cookbook Assistance/Editing
  • $997.12 for Advertising (Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter)
  • $960.00 for Donations
  • $2,100.00 for Blog Design
  • $2,016.41 for Laptop
  • $2,298.05 for Supplies

Photography Equipment (tripods, diffusers, reflectors, automatic shutter, artificial light), Photography Props (plates, bowls, utensils, glassware, cake stands), Kitchen Appliances, Business Cards, etc.

  • $482.69 for Blog Conferences (conference passes, hotels, etc.)
  • $3,582.56 for Groceries

This is how much I spent on groceries in 2015.  IT’S A LOT, right??  I always buy all-natural food, and organic and non-GMO when possible.  I hate wasting food so my freezer is at 110% capacity lol.  I even have a corner dedicated to about 8 failed batches of French Macarons that I can still put to use somehow (blended into milkshakes, sprinkled on top of yogurt/oatmeal, layered into trifles, etc.)

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To summarize, blogging ain’t cheap and it sure ain’t lucrative, but it sure is rewarding.  I get to “meet” people from all around the world.  People send me pictures of my desserts that they’ve made.  AND I am blessed with a fully stocked fridge and freezer and pantry at all times.  My life couldn’t be any better.  Love love love my job  🙂

Even though blogging requires many hours of pure focus, hard work, and dedication, even though it costs thousands of dollars each year just to maintain this website, even though there are ups and downs, I would never trade this job for anything else.  I think I’ll always be a food blogger, but I may dive into another profession alongside this one somewhere down the road (stay tuned for Part IV: My Future Business Goals — Blogger to Bakery Owner?)!

I hope that this (super long) post gave you a better idea of what goes on behind the Desserts With Benefits blog — The Good, The Bad, And The “In Betweens” — and how bloggers are able to make a living.  Thanks so much for reading  🙌

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section below  🙂

With peace and love,

-Jess

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PS:  Follow along for the final installment of this four-part series:

Part IV: My Future Business Goals — Blogger To Bakery Owner?

7 comments on “Part III: What People Don’t Know About Food Bloggers — A Tell-All! Blogging as a Full-Time Career, Answering the “Big Question,” and Revealing My Blog’s Income & Expenses

  1. Hi Jess, me again 🙂

    Thanks for this honest and once again tell-all post. I greatly enjoyed reading about the behind the scenes secrets of food blogging, because I am a budding food blogger too. My dream is to make a living of it in the future, and you are a lovely inspiration, so thank you! 🙂

    • Hey Stella! I started blogging hoping to become a full-time blogger too 😀
      Little did I know how complicated, time-consuming, stressful and expensive it was… but it’s so so worth it. I absolutely love blogging! I hope this post helped out a bit!
      Best,
      -Jess

  2. This was such a great read! So as long as you love what you do and you’re happy, then that’s all that matters.

  3. Why on earth are these so high:

    $1,375.00 for Web Hosting,
    $511.45 for Domain Registration, Website Backups, Security, etc.
    That’s crazy. I have 12 domains and don’t come anywhere close to that expense. This makes me doubt your whole income and expense report.

    • Betty,
      Because my blog gets so many pageviews, I had to upgrade my hosting service. Hosting DOES in fact cost $1,375/year (I use Flywheel hosting for my hosting). Flywheel isn’t even the most expensive hosting service… I was considering going with a company that costed $3,000 per year.
      And domain registration + website backups + security, etc., it DOES cost $511.45. I purchased my domain for multiple years rather than just one (extra cost) and included search engine visibility (extra cost).
      And ever heard of services that back up (and protect) your website in case of a coding error (spammers)? Like Vaultpress (and Akismet). Those aren’t free. Same as http://www.alexa.com and https://swiftype.com.
      I am fully aware that my expenses are through the roof, but please don’t rush to judgment! These are my real life expenses and I’m not lying about any of it.
      Best,
      -Jess

  4. Hi, Sai From India. I totally respect your decision for deleting some of your recipes. I get it not everything is free.You have put a lot of effort and money into this blog. You deserve a profit. P.S excuse me for some wrong grammar.

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