It is a subject that is very secretive, how much can you earn as a food blogger? On the one hand, I understand that because who tells everyone how much you earn from your work? On the other hand, for ‘normal’ jobs you have a collective labor agreement and a competitive salary. A food blogger has to figure out for himself what he is worth.
That’s why I decided to write this article. I will share how much I earn myself, how often I do collaborations, and whether it is profitable. Spoiler alert, I still have a ‘day job’ and I don’t do that for fun haha.
Making money as a food blogger.
Let me start right away with what most people find interesting, how much do I earn?
- Recipe development incl photography, styling (3 photos) including posting on Instagram (where you can also buy Instagram followers), Pinterest, and my website. I currently charge 1,500 Euro ex VAT for this.
That’s a lot of money, but I’m also busy coming up with a recipe, shopping, cooking (sometimes several times), photographing and styling, cleaning up, editing photos, writing out a recipe, preparing socials, and responding to Insta.
What you may not think about is that that price also includes the use of my equipment (your camera is ‘on’ after 3 years, just like a laptop), my backdrops that I have purchased, props for styling, all the groceries that I buy for my blog, the 100 hours that I (have) spent on photography and the 100 hours that I (have) spent on Instagram.
Furthermore, my photos can be used on the brand’s website and its Insta channel. It can be used commercially.
Through my Insta stories, I got the reaction yesterday that I don’t have to defend my rate, but many people quickly feel that ‘influencers’ are cashing in on the backs of their followers. Now they are probably also among them but don’t want people to think that way about me, haha.
Finally, is this a bit profitable? Can I live on it? Think you already know that the answer is no. Now I don’t do a lot of collaborations, I don’t want people to see my account: ‘there you have something they’re selling’. I can also easily say no precisely because I still have a job. If I’m not 100% behind a product, I don’t do it. For example, I sometimes get requests to work together for (waste) shakes and diet products. I certainly do not.
I do an average of 1 collaboration per month and that is enough to buy equipment and backdrops and to do groceries for all my recipes, maintain my website, etc. My blog doesn’t cost me anything, but I don’t make real money with it.
How do you calculate what you can ask for?
There is a difference between being a photographer and being an influencer. An influencer really has to sell something on Insta and it’s less about the photo itself. Your fairy is then purely based on your follower numbers.
If you’re a photographer, followers don’t care at all. A company buys your knowledge and talent, as it were, not your reach.
The best thing is of course if you are a combination of these two things. You can then calculate an amount based on your followers and you can ask for an amount based on your skills as a photographer. To come up with a serious gauge, you have to be really critical of your photography skills.
To come up with examples, because I have also gone through these phases.
2017: Beginner. This is literally when I just started on Insta.
It will not surprise you that you cannot ask for money for this. Unless you have thousands of followers on Insta maybe, but I can’t imagine that with these types of photos.
2018: Food blogger
At this point, I had around 3,000 followers and started to delve more into photography. I had purchased a camera so I didn’t take any more pictures with my mobile. At this point, I received no requests for collaborations. I did get a lot of emails asking if I wanted to work in exchange for products (more on that in a moment). Had I received a request for cooperation, I could have asked around 100 to 150 euros for this with my follower numbers and photography skills.
2019: food blogger
In 2019 I started to delve even more into photography. I had a tripod, started creating motion in photos, and had done a course to learn more about my camera. I also had about 5,000 followers around this point and I did get requests for collaborations. My gage was now around 200 to 250 euros. A bit better than just, but I wouldn’t consider this as advanced yet.
In 2020 I did a food photography course, I learned more and more about composition and I was familiar with evoking a feeling/atmosphere in photos. I felt like I was just here at the point where I was a past food blogger and just advanced. Here I also had more than 10,000 followers and my gage was around 450 euros.
2021: advanced to expert
I wouldn’t call myself an expert yet, but I’m certainly more advanced than in 2020. I have a strong sense of composition, am good at post-processing and my photos are very recognizable. In 2021 I also went beyond 20,000 followers, I have around 30,000 unique website visitors per month and my gage was between 1,000 and 1,500 euros.
ALSO READ: 5 Social Media Marketing Tips for Gastronomy Businesses
What to take into account when determining your fee
These are not fixed amounts, this is what I have done myself and what you could use as a guide. My tactic is always: If a company immediately agrees with your fee, then it is time to increase it. If they immediately say no, you may have to go down a bit. Do they indicate that you are actually above budget, but they still really want to work together? Perfect. In any case, it is better to bet a little higher, and if they say no, you can negotiate a bit more.
What else do you have to take into account, in addition to your photography skills and follower numbers
- what kind of recipe should you make? Is it a savory dish that you have made in half an hour or a cake that you spend several hours working on.
- Do you also have to post stories and/or a reel? (Certainly, reels take a lot of time to make. Stories are included in the rate with me)
- How many photos do they want you to take?
- How quickly do you need to finish the content? (Charge some kind of urgency fee if necessary)
- Do they want to use your photos for publication in magazines? Think of licenses!
- Do they want to buy ownership of your photo? I never do! You can ask for a mega-high amount for this so that you are almost certain that they will say no. If they say yes, you can always consider whether you think it’s worth it.
- Do they want exclusivity? Charge extra for that! (If they don’t say it explicitly, I’m not going to ask about it and we haven’t agreed on exclusivity, the lawyer in me will come up)
- How big is the company? (At Ahold you can really ask a lot more than with the local entrepreneur. Their budget is just much bigger and it would be a shame not to use it.)
- how many unique website visitors do you have? (With many website visitors you can also increase your rate because = more reach)
Furthermore, it is very important to regularly re-evaluate your fee. Remember that range is a costly thing and commercial photography is also expensive. Are you (almost) as good as a professional photographer? Why should you earn much less? Purely because you are also an ‘influencer’?
Working in exchange for products
Unless you really get something beautiful in return and you find that your work is sincerely worth it, I always say ‘don’t do it’ here. How many times do I still get emails asking if I want to make a photo/story/reel in exchange for a product, it’s embarrassing. A real example of an email I received this year:
Here you would take us into your morning moments of happiness through posts/stories and possibly. reels spread over the month (of course we are also open to other ideas regarding deliverables). In return, we will take care of the product.
They ask for multiple posts/stories and possibly reels in exchange for the product (the product costs about 1.50 in the supermarket). When I responded that I don’t work for free I got the response that if they are happy with my work I might be allowed to do paid assignments for them in the future. Really, don’t fall for this! Do you imagine that during your trial period, you have to work for free for a month in the office so that they can see if they like you enough?
Standard responses to barterdeals
I now have an e-mail ready so that I can respond to these types of e-mails by default without too much hassle. Feel free to use this text (in your own words) as well.
Thank you for your mail.
Collaborations on my account are always based on a pre-agreed rate. Since food photography is one of the ways I earn a living, I can’t give away/exchange my services for products for free. In addition to this, photography / styling / post-processing / reels and placement on social takes a lot of time and all this work for me is not in proportion to receiving products.
If you are interested in my food photography with placement on social and have a budget for this, I can always send my media kit!
Standard responses when negotiating
When I send my media kit and get a response back that it is a starting company and whether I would please work for 1/3 of my normal rate, I also have a standard response. A side note: I understand that as a starting company, you don’t have much budget for this kind of thing, but just as loudly said: that’s not my problem. Unless a company is very cool and would like to support me, I would never agree to such a drastic reduction in my rate. Certainly not because there are usually many requirements, such as below in which I also had to take step photos.
Thank you for your email! I understand that you are a startup and therefore have less budget, but I am also a startup and depend on photography assignments for my income. Furthermore, a lot of hours go into developing a recipe, especially with step photos, photography, and post-processing.
Good luck and hopefully you will soon find someone for a nice collaboration!
If you receive a request for a longer collaboration or you just want to work with the brand, you can of course always make a price agreement. The most important thing is that you feel good about the reward and the appreciation you get for your work.
Finally, I added my media kit below. You can use this as inspiration for your own media kit.
It is difficult to name a fixed rate because it depends on so many factors. In any case, it is important to look critically at yourself, but certainly not to put yourself on the market for too little. You can always negotiate down, never up.