Running a food blog is a full-time hustle, and even the people who do it part-time work hard for the money. One of the ways they earn money is by developing recipes for brands.
If you’ve ever noticed that a blog post is labeled “sponsored,” it’s typically because the blogger partnered up with a brand (i.e. Kraft, Whole Foods Market, etc.) to develop a recipe in exchange for money. Bloggers may make anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than $10,000 for such jobs.
How they set their rate varies from blogger to blogger, but it typically depends on the scope of the project (i.e. is it one-and-done or a series?) and the blog’s traffic statistics. While the numbers sound promising, it’s not necessarily easy money when you consider the work that goes into it. We spoke with four food bloggers to get the scoop on how much they earn to develop recipes, as well as the costs stemming from it.
Amanda Biddle, The Striped Spatula
Amount typically earned for sponsored recipe development: $1,250 to over $10,000
Sponsored recipes per year: 6-12
Amanda Biddle created her blog, The Striped Spatula, in 2013 as a hobby and landed her first recipe for a brand in 2015. The hobby blogger-turned-entrepreneur now runs her blog full-time and charges from $1,250 to over five figures for recipe development. Rather than working with many brands throughout the year, she works with a few for long-term projects. Brands she’s worked with include Stonewall Kitchen, California Giant Berry Farms and Nielson-Massey.
“I do prefer longer-term contracts and ambassadorships to single posts, because they give my audience a better opportunity to get to know the brand over time,” Biddle said.
Biddle is a one-woman powerhouse. She does her own food styling, photography and videography, which means she saves money by not outsourcing those services. But she tests her recipes a minimum of three times before publishing them, so the cost of groceries can add up. The first couple of tests are about making adjustments to the recipe and the third one is when she refines it. “If the recipe still isn’t where I want it to be, I’ll keep testing until my tasters (friends and family) and I love it. I never publish a recipe that we don’t love or that I don’t feel 100% confident about,” Biddle said. She’s even tested some recipes eight times!
The work that goes into developing recipes is worth it for Biddle, though. Not only does she earn money for the recipe, but there’s ad revenue to consider, too. “When a recipe is published in a blog post, the ad revenue I make on the post in the long run can exceed the initial rate I was paid for the work,” she said.
Demetra Overton, Sweet Savant
Amount typically earned for sponsored recipe development: $500 to $2,500
Sponsored recipes per year: 25-30
Demetra Overton didn’t know that she could get paid to develop recipes when she started her blog, Sweet Savant, in 2012. Her first brand partnership was for Walmart and was unpaid, so blogger colleagues encouraged her to network and seek sponsored content. Now she earns anywhere from $500 to $2,500 to develop recipes for brands on her blog.
“I’ve been fortunate to have brands like Home Depot, Walmart and Vidalia Onion Growers ask me to work with them. I also pitch to my favorite brands to work with them,” Overton said.
Now, developing recipes is how she earns the bulk of her blog’s income (which doesn’t run ads).
One of the biggest changes in recent years for Overton has been an increase in video content creation. The charming blogger has built up her YouTube audience with 17,000 subscribers.
“Recipe video requests are way up. People love to see the step-by-step process of how a recipe comes together,” Overton said.
As an added bonus, she doesn’t need fancy equipment to film her videos. “Most of the video I shoot is done on my phone, a refurbished Samsung Galaxy Note 10. A phone with great photo and video capabilities is a fantastic investment.”
Liz Della Croce, The Lemon Bowl
Amount typically earned for sponsored recipe development: $5,000
Sponsored recipes per year: 24-30
It was three years after launching her blog that Liz Della Croce, founder of The Lemon Bowl, got her first sponsored post. She launched the health-focused recipe blog in 2010 and became a full-time blogger in 2013. Now she develops sponsored recipes a couple times a month, typically earning at least $5,000 per recipe, and works with brands like Sabra, Meijer (a supermarket chain) and Dole. She also develops recipes for social media-only campaigns.
Like most food bloggers, she spends time brainstorming recipes for brands that commission them from her ― but it isn’t too hard for her, because she likes to work with brands she’s already familiar with in the first place.
“By the time I’m getting paid and make something, I’m not starting from scratch because I cook with it all the time,” she said. “Like, a client of mine is Sunset Produce. So they grow cucumbers and peppers that I eat every day.”
She typically tests her recipes a maximum of three times. Her biggest costs are the photographer she hires to shoot for the post and the social media assistant she works with to promote the posts across different platforms.
Sues Anderson, We Are Not Martha
Amount typically earned for sponsored recipe development: $750 to $2,500
Sponsored recipes per year: 15-20
Sues Anderson has been running her blog, We Are Not Martha, since 2008. It started as a fun project with a friend and has grown into a full-time solo venture for Anderson.
“I started [creating recipes] pretty early on, but in the beginning I mainly worked for free product. As my traffic grew and my photography improved, I began charging brands for recipe development,” Anderson said.
Now she charges anywhere from $750 to $2,500 for recipe development. “Time is a big cost,” she said. “From developing the recipe to grocery shopping and testing the recipe to conducting photoshoots, editing photos and additional writing tasks, a lot of what a brand is paying for is my time. And if I’m publishing the recipe to my blog, they’re also paying for the audience that I’ve taken years to grow and nurture.”
Despite being a professional blogger, Anderson contends with something that many of her ilk deal with: being asked by brands to create recipes for free. “I always let brands know that because recipes take a lot of time to develop and this is my business, I can’t do it free of charge or for a chance to get paid,” Anderson said.