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Food blogging: How to cook your way to success

Money and food: A tasty match made in heaven? A new generation of cooking enthusiasts have taken to blogging and some have cashed in as a result.


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Take Lindsay Ostrom, the Minnesotan author of the highly successful "Pinch of Yum" blog. According to her monthly income reports, she made $32,971.75 from the blog in June 2015, up from $8,673.27 two years earlier and $21.97 in August 2011, the first month in which she tried to monetize her site.

So, thinking of a career change? CNBC takes a look at some of the other food bloggers who've made it big.

‘Sally’s Baking Addiction’

For Philadelphian Sally Quinn, what started as an online recipe journal has transformed into the famous "Sally's Baking Addiction" blog.

Quinn has already published "Sally's Baking Addiction Cookbook" and her "Candy Addiction" cookbook is out in September. Along with royalties, Quinn is paid through advertisements hosted on her blog, brand ambassadorships and sponsored posts.


Sally Quinn, from "Sally's Baking Addiction"
Credit: Jen Woodruff
Sally Quinn, from "Sally's Baking Addiction"

"When I first began, I had a full-time job in finance. Once I earned enough from my blog, I made the jump to blogging full-time," Quinn told CNBC.

"Now that I have a strong readership, I follow a set schedule, like more writing and personality in each post. I write how I talk in real life—abbreviations, run-on sentences. I find it makes my blog feel a little more genuine, personal," she added.

Quinn told CNBC that food blogging had gained momentum from the proliferation of content-sharing platforms. "Once Pinterest hit the online world, food blogs began popping up everywhere."

Quinn hopes to write more cookbooks and open a bakery one day.

Stats: Facebook: 309,000+; Pinterest: 244,300+; Instagram: 55,000+

'RecipeGirl'

A former elementary school teacher, Lori Lange started her "RecipeGirl" blog in 2006. Just under a decade later, blogging is Lange's full-time job and she has a global following.

"I've worked harder at this job than any other in my life," Lange told CNBC.

"I work long (but flexible) hours. My husband was able to support our family when I was first starting out, as when I began, I made a few cents per day. Hard works pays off. This has turned into a very lucrative career for me!"

Lori Lange, from "Recipe Girl"
Courtesy of Lori Lange
Lori Lange, from "Recipe Girl"

Like Quinn, Lange has published her own cookbook. Her son is following in her blogging footsteps and she concentrates on "family-friendly" recipes.

"I've always stuck with that theme and it seems to be what most people are looking for these days," Lange told CNBC.

Lange's main source of revenue is through ad networks. She also contributes to Parade magazine's food blog.

"I get paid by page impressions, so when traffic is high, I make more money. I work on contract with a few brands, developing recipes for them and promoting them via social media," she said.

Stats: Facebook: 873,000+; Pinterest: 346,700+; Twitter: 41,800+

'PeaSoupEats'

For Áine Carlin, author of the "PeaSoupEats" blog and "Keep it Vegan" cookbook, the one thing that brought in a big audience was turning vegan.

She's just completed her second book and told CNBC that blogging tapped a demand "almost like reality TV."

"We are all a bit curious about how other people live their lives and blogging feeds directly into this fascination," Carlin said.

"I can interact with people in a way that wasn't really possible before … I love responding on Instagram and live to see photographs of dishes people have recreated of my work. It makes it worthwhile," she later added.

Carlin noted that different social media platforms had distinct promotional purposes. Her future focus? YouTube.

Stats: Pinterest: 222,500+; Instagram: 3,840+; YouTube: 1,336

"The London Foodie"

Meet Luiz Hara, a former investment banker turned trained chef and author of "The London Foodie" blog, which also covers hotels and wine tastings.

'Stonesoup'

Jules Clancy previously working in product development, but since 2010 the food science graduate has made a full-time living from food blogging.

Her "Stonesoup" blog is "all about simplicity" and features recipes with only five ingredients.

Boosted by the blog's success, Clancy has branched out:

"I sell my own products, mainly ebooks, online cooking classes and membership to a weekly done-for-you meal planning service," she told CNBC.

Stats: Facebook: 11,000+; Twitter: 5,002


'The Pioneer Woman'

One blogger who started small and capitalized elsewhere is Ree Drummond of "The Pioneer Woman."

A blogger since 2006, country-dwelling Drummond's "cowboy-friendly dishes" landed her a show on Food Network. Several cookbooks and an online cooking community, "Tasty Kitchen," also followed.

Stats: Facebook: 2.8 million+; Twitter: 606,000+; Pinterest: 536,300+

Tips for aspiring food bloggers

Despite the success stories, the proliferation of blogs can make monetizing tricky.

"There are millions of food blogs these days and it becomes harder and harder to stand out," warned Quinn.

Carlin emphasized the importance of a strong identity.

"Having a unique voice is the most powerful tool any blogger can bring to the table… outweighing cool design or impressive images (although important)," said Carlin.

"Building an audience takes time so be sure you're doing it for the right reasons and enjoy."

—By CNBC's Alexandra Gibbs, follow her on Twitter @AlexGibbsy.