With over two billion active users on Instagram, it's no surprise there is money to be made. And food blogging is one of the most popular ways to do it.
But how do food bloggers make money on Instagram?
There are quite a few ways to earn an income on Instagram as a food blogger. Here are 18 of the most common…
How Food Bloggers Make Money on Instagram
1. Affiliate Marketing
Food bloggers make money on Instagram by recommending other companies' products and services. This is called affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing works by partnering with other companies to recommend their products. In return, you get paid a commission when someone buys those products through an affiliate link.
An affiliate link is a link with a unique identifier specific to you.
This is great for food bloggers who love creating content and would rather save time recommending other people's products rather than creating and selling their own.
The challenge with affiliate marketing is that social media platforms like Instagram don't like it. It's not that they have anything against affiliate marketing. It's just that their platforms get overrun by spammy affiliate links when they don't moderate them.
And because moderating requires a lot of resources, affiliate marketing becomes a costly pain for them.
To get around this, food bloggers (and other influencers) use Instagram to drive traffic to their personal blog or website where can post as many affiliate links as they want.
This way, they can also work with any affiliate programs they choose. And they don't have to worry if it has been blacklisted by one or all social media platforms.
An example of how an Instagram food blogger drives traffic to their website or blog would be posting a meal prep video with instructions to click the link in their bio for more detailed information. That link will take you to their website.
Or they may demonstrate a recipe and recommend visiting their site to get the recipe details.
2. CPA/Lead Generation
Lead generation is similar to affiliate marketing. The difference is that food bloggers get paid for generating leads rather than sales.
This is generally easier because followers don't have to buy anything for the food blogger to get paid. Instead, followers only have to perform an action, like signing up for a newsletter.
The downside to lead generation is that it usually pays less than sales-based affiliate marketing.
Online lead generation is often referred to as CPA marketing, or “cost-per-action.” Companies pay marketers (in this case, food bloggers) when a follower performs a specific action. Actions include filling out an application, signing up for a free trial, or joining a free program.
When this happens, the company acquires a name and an email address (a lead).
Lead generation can pay anywhere from fifty cents per lead to hundreds of dollars depending on the action performed and what the company offers.
For example, a single email to a supplement company may pay anywhere from fifty cents to a few dollars. On the other hand, a follower filling out a detailed wellness retreat application would pay significantly more.
CPA links are similar to affiliate links and are best not posted directly on Instagram but on a website you're sending your IG traffic to.
You can also include these kinds of links in the description of YouTube videos.
Therefore, using the same strategies you'd use to send your Instagram audience to your website, you could also send them to your YouTube channel.
3. Recipe Development
Brands pay influential food bloggers to develop original recipes using their products as ingredients.
Another way food bloggers make money with recipe development is by creating recipes with unique and hard-to-find ingredients. It could be an organic ingredient or one produced by a limited number of brands.
Because these ingredients are hard to find in local stores, people are more likely to buy them online through the food blogger's affiliate links.
In addition to promoting other people's products, food bloggers can also make and sell their own. A cookbook is one of the easiest products to make for a food blogger.
They would simply compile their recipes and images from their blog (on their website) and put them in book format.
It could be a hardcover book, ebook, or both.
A food blogger's cookbook will often contain exclusive recipes unavailable on their website or social media pages. It may also include additional pictures, meal plans, discount codes, etc.
Another strategy to increase book sales is to offer signed copies or access to an exclusive group on Facebook, Discord, etc.
5. Display Ads
Display ads are another popular method that food bloggers use to make money. While you can't put display ads directly on Instagram, you can put them on your website. And like affiliate links, this is another reason to encourage your followers to visit your site.
One way to put ads on your website is with Google Adsense. As your traffic grows and your blog becomes more established, you can apply to ad networks like Mediavine, AdThrive, or Ezoic.
However, Instagram allows in-stream video ads, and I'll discuss those further down the list.
Another way that food bloggers make money with ads is through YouTube and podcasts.
Whether your ad revenue comes from your website, YouTube, or a podcast, the great thing is that its passive income. Once you create that content, as long as people still view it, you earn money without additional effort.
This is why many food bloggers are on multiple platforms and social media sites. They build out their ecosystem by linking them all together. This creates a network with several entry points and allows followers to move efficiently between each platform.
And with each platform, they can monetize their content in unique ways.
6. Local Food Services and Sales
Successful food bloggers can leverage their online celebrity and offer local food services and sales.
For example, you're already cooking and experimenting with recipes while taking mouth-watering pictures and videos of your creations. So why not use those to promote local services like event catering, luxury picnics, custom cake sales, baked goods, etc.
Other examples include jams and jellies, salsa, dips, pre-mixed spice packages, gourmet olives, pickles, and so on.
The list of potential products you can package and sell locally is endless.
7. Private Label Products and Supplements
If you like having your own branded products but don't want (or have the time) to make them, you can sell private label products.
These are products you buy from a supplier and sell under your own brand name. Sometimes referred to as white label products. They are popular among food bloggers who focus on health and fitness and sell supplements.
Private label products can be sold locally on sites like Facebook Marketplace. However, they are often sold to more hardcore fans who are connected to the brand in some way. It could be a follower or someone who joins a membership and is part of the influencer's community.
So although followers may have come from Instagram, they usually purchase from a website or platform to which the blogger's Instagram bio is linked to.
8. Courses, Memberships, and Meal Plans
Food bloggers also make money online by selling courses, memberships, and meal plans.
There are several different types of membership sites available today. Some offer monthly subscriptions, while others require annual fees or one-time payments.
An example of a course would teach you new cooking skills. It could be specific to healthy meals or ways to entertain at home or focus on the cooking process in general.
These cooking courses often include communities where foodies share recipes and tips.
Meal plans are another popular item for food bloggers to sell. In addition, some food bloggers sell bundled ingredient packages to go along with their meal plans.
9. Sell and License Photos
A signature characteristic of food blogs is that they have great photographs. Food photography is a serious skill. It's a skill some food bloggers cash in on.
Some food bloggers get so good at food photography that taking pictures of food becomes their primary source of income. They can sell and license their photos and teach food photography through online courses and coaching.
There are many ways you can become an online coach. For example, you may become a nutrition or cooking coach as a food blogger. You can also coach others to start their own food blog.
And as mentioned above, some food bloggers get so good at some aspects of what they do, like photography and videography, that they coach others in those specific areas.
11. Brand Sponsorships and Collaborations
Brand collaborations are partnerships between brands and bloggers. These partnerships usually form when brands reach out to bloggers with large followings. Bloggers might also reach out to a brand, but that's less common.
These collaborations are very cost-effective for brands.
Consider the cost of a 30 or 60-second television commercial. The production alone can cost several thousand dollars or more.
Then, to air that commercial, TV stations charge anywhere from $5 per 1000 viewers in smaller local markets to $20 to $ 30 per 1000 viewers in larger markets.
So, a commercial viewed by 10,000 people can potentially cost anywhere from $50,000 to $300,000.
Compare that to a food blogger with half a million followers. They may charge as little as $10,000 to produce and publish a sponsored post or video.
That's a fraction of the cost.
The brand will reach a larger audience, and the people they reach are also specifically interested in food and cooking (which is why they follow that food blogger).
That's not the case on TV.
People watching TV often ignore commercials while playing on their phones or fast-forward the commercials if they can. And most who do watch the commercial have no interest in what the commercial is about.
So Instagram influencers (as well as bloggers, YouTubers, etc.) are an essential source for brand exposure.
12. Local Restaurant and Cafe Reviews
As a food blogger, local restaurants and cafes will often hire you to review their menu items, which is mutually beneficial.
You can build up your reputation as someone whose opinion is valued. You may even get free food.
In turn, the restaurant gets exposure to your online audience and the benefit of being reviewed by someone with credibility.
It's a win-win.
13. Restaurant Client Services
Not only do restaurant owners hire food bloggers to review their restaurants, but they may also hire a food blogger for their services. A food blogger will likely manage a restaurant's online strategy and grow its following better than they can.
- Influential food bloggers not only have a following (that the restaurant can tap into), but they also have a unique set of skills. From online marketing skills to photography and videography ability that grabs attention, a food blogger's services are valuable to a restaurant. Some of the things a food blogger can help a restaurant with are…
- Growing its social media presence and engagement
- Attracting new customers
- Drive traffic to the restaurant's website and generate leads
- Increase food sales
- Promote loyalty programs
- Improve the restaurant's image and brand
- Promote the restaurant's participation at events such as food fairs.
These things can change the entire trajectory of a restaurant's future, and many restaurants (not all) are happy to pay a food blogger to help them. And for a food blogger with a passion for food, it's a dream job.
14. Instagram Shopping
Instagram has its own shopping platform. Therefore, a popular food blogger on Instagram can also sell branded merchandise such as those made by a print-on-demand (POD) company.
POD products are generally everyday items a blogger can add their logo to or a message. Apparel, coffee cups, coolers, stickers, tote bags, etc.
These products are usually ordered online, printed by the POD company, and shipped directly to customers. They are effective for bloggers because no inventory is required, and they don't have to worry about shipping.
Sometimes, a food blogger with a large following (with a history of merch sales) will buy in bulk and keep inventory locally.
Instagram bloggers can create an IG shop to display and sell their merchandise.
15. Drop Shipping
In addition to earning commissions through affiliate marketing, some bloggers go further and sell products themselves through drop shipping.
Drop shipping allows you to sell products online without owning or operating a physical store. Instead, you send orders to a manufacturer who ships them directly to your customers.
Like print-on-demand, drop shipping is another way to sell your branded products.
It's not as common as affiliate marketing because much more time and effort are involved.
While your profit margins are higher, you must also deal with customer support issues, invoicing, returned and damaged products, etc.
Many bloggers make it work and do it successfully, but it's a big step up from affiliate marketing because it often requires a team to handle many issues that arise when dealing with customers directly.
16. Sell Photos
There are a few ways that food bloggers can make money selling their food photos.
The first is submitting photos to a stock photography site like Shutterstock or Getty Images. When someone buys or licenses your images, you earn a percentage of the sale.
Another way is to offer specific photography services to restaurants, caterers, food delivery companies, magazines, grocery stores, and other food bloggers.
Food bloggers can also apply for in-house photography jobs with larger publishers and media companies.
17. In-Stream Video Ads
While pictures of food are great, those who publish food videos open the door to more income opportunities.
For example, Instagram food videos (or videos in general) that are one minute or longer can be monetized with in-stream video ads. Ad revenue is calculated per 1000 views or impressions (RPM) and varies significantly by the nature of the content.
Instagram ads are not necessarily a major source of income for food bloggers. However, display ads for those with their own websites are. Many food bloggers earn hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars daily from display ads on their food and recipe blogs.
And then there is YouTube. If you're already creating food videos, you can leverage your efforts by posting them on YouTube and earning ad revenue there too.
18. Live Badges
Instagram live badges allow followers to tip bloggers by giving them “hearts” during a live stream. Supporters can tip $0.99 (one heart), $1.99 (two hearts), or $4.99 (3 hearts).
To receive IG live badges, you must be at least 18 years old and live in a supported region. You must also have at least 10,000 followers and adhere to Instagram's content monetization policies.
Payments are made via direct deposit or PayPal.
How Much Money Can Food Bloggers Make on Instagram?
When compared to the amount of money a food blogger can make using all or some of the methods described above, the money they make from Instagram only is small.
In other words, food blogging across multiple platforms is very profitable. And their blog will earn the most money.
While Instagram is a crucial component of their strategy, the big money is made across all channels.
Instagram, of course, helps them attract and engage with new followers and to remain relevant.
The highest paid bloggers can make as much as $50,000 to $100,000 per month when all revenue streams are considered. Some earn more.
Of course, successful food blogs approaching six figures or more per month are outliers.
That doesn't mean other famous food bloggers don't make money. In fact, it's not uncommon for a food blogger to earn $5,000 to $10,000 per month. Those numbers are a reasonable expectation if you put in consistent effort over time.
How Do Food Bloggers on Instagram Get Paid?
Food bloggers get paid in a variety of ways. Depending on the monetization partners they work with, they may get paid through direct deposit, check, PayPal, Payoneer, etc.
Those who sell their own products locally or online may get paid in cash or through an online payment processor such as Stripe.
How to Build a Following on Instagram
Share Your Instagram Profile Everywhere Possible
To grow your followers, promoting your profile wherever you are online is a good idea. But, of course, this depends on who you want to see it.
If you don't want friends and family following your food blogging business or don't want to bother them on social media, it's best not to post on Facebook. At least not on your personal profile.
But platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Tik Tok, email, etc. are great places for cross-promotion.
If you have a YouTube channel, add your Instagram link in the description of each video. You can also mention your Instagram account in your videos.
Depending on your niche and your business, you might want to add your profile on your business card, notepads, and swag that you hand out to customers.
When promoting yourself in niches like van life, cars, or sports, stickers with your profile information can help grow your following.
Posting on Instagram daily gives your followers more chances to see your content. Especially habitual followers who check their feeds daily.
Posting daily helps also keeps your followers engaged and interested.
However, if you only post every few days or once a week, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle and forgotten. The algorithm favors those who post daily, or that seems to be the case. Of course, Instagram will never reveal exactly what triggers its algorithm.
They also don't share the number of people the average Instagram user follows, but we can assume a frequent user (the kind you're trying to engage with) likely follows a hundred or more. Some people follow thousands.
So you're constantly fighting for attention and to not disappear into the crowd.
Post Content Your Followers Want
You can post whatever you want, but what you want might not be what your target audience wants.
Know your niche and know your audience. It sounds obvious, but it's often the obvious that goes unnoticed.
When you're immersed in your niche you know what people are talking about. You follow the chatter and see the content they are sharing. Not only Instagram, but also on other platforms.
You can also research your niche on forums like Reddit and Quora to learn more about your audience.
Use keyword research tools and Google Trends to find out what's current. Google and YouTube “autosuggest” is another way to see people's online questions.
Start by typing a common word or phrase in your niche and pay attention to the suggestions shown in the drop-down menu. Those suggestions are provided because they are what other searchers have been typing in.
You can also put your cursor before the word or phrase for more suggestions.
And then use all of that information to create posts your followers want.
Choose Popular Hashtags
Hashtags are a valuable tool when growing your Instagram following. Here are some tips to consider…
Use General and Specific Hashtags
There are two types of hashtags, general and specific.
General hashtags identify groups of similar topics. For example, #travel, #food, or #money.
Specific hashtags, on the other hand, are relevant hashtags. They better describe what your post is about.
For example, instead of #food, a specific hashtag would be the kind of food your post is about. It might be #pizza, #greensmoothie, etc.
Similarly, a specific hashtag for travel could be the location you are traveling to. It's good to use both types of hashtags.
Don't Overuse Specific Hashtags
Specific hashtags help you connect with people searching for those topics closely related to your post, but overusing them can appear spammy. Especially if they are not closely matched to the content of your post.
Choose Hashtags With Commercial Intent (When Appropriate)
Hashtags with commercial intent have a higher likelihood that someone searching it becomes a customer or a lead. These specific hashtags include words like best, howto, coupon, discount, cheap, download, etc.
They indicate that someone is looking to buy something.
Again, only use these specific types of hashtags when they are appropriate. And try not to overuse them.
Track Actions and Results
Keep track of the hashtags you've used in your most viewed posts. And which hashtags are associated with the most likes and shares?
Also, keep track of how they perform over time. You may notice that a hashtag that once worked well no longer does. It could be because of overuse or because the audience searching that hashtag is no longer responding to your content.
Or maybe it's being misused and irrelevant to your posted content.
Whatever the case, you can only increase engagement methodically when you know what works. And the only way to know what works is to track what you do and what happens when you do it.
Show Your Personality
A common mistake on Instagram is being too professional and as a result, boring. Save that for LinkedIn.
People scrolling their Instagram feed are not looking for “professional.” They are looking for fun. They are looking for personality.
That doesn't mean you need to be over the top or fake. It also doesn't mean you shouldn't be polished.
But it does mean you should be personable. Share stories and be real. Show them the person behind the brand, not just the brand.
You can share your process on Instagram, not just your result.
People want to feel connected to you on Instagram. They should have a sense that you go through the same challenges and struggles they do, so don't be afraid to be vulnerable.
Of course, you shouldn't share something that you're not comfortable sharing, but the closer people feel to you, the more often they'll consume your content and share it with others.
Post at The Right Time
While there is no perfect time to post, some times are better than others.
According to Influencer Marketing Hub, the best times to post on Instagram are:
- Wednesdays at 11 AM
- Thursdays between 2 PM and 3 PM
- Friday at 10 AM
But of course, you don't want to limit your posts to these days and times.
Influencer Marketing Hub has also compiled data from a handful of studies to identify engagement trends. They found that posting between 7 AM and 7 PM, Monday to Friday is the best time.
Having said that, each niche and audience is unique. Therefore, there may be specific considerations regarding posting times that are known only to you and your followers.
Follow, Like, Share, and Comment
If you want people to follow you, like, share, and comment on your posts, you should do the same for others.
Being an active participant on Instagram is one of the best ways to gain a following. The more
You should also tag others where appropriate.
Two important signals recognized by the Instagram algorithm are interest and interaction. When you follow others, tag them, and comment on their posts, you create an opportunity for others to show interest and interact with your Instagram account.
They may follow you, but you're also increasing the chance the algorithm will put a post of yours in their feed because they interacted with you in some way.
Is It Worth Starting a Food Blog?
If you’ve ever wanted to make money from food, food blogging is a great way to do it. It offers many opportunities for those who have a passion for food. Whether you're a quiet person who prefers to stay behind the camera or someone who loves the spotlight, you can turn your passion into a full-time income.
Also, if you own a restaurant, catering service, etc., food blogging can amplify your voice and your brand.
So yes, starting a food blog is worth it.
The methods and strategies listed here are simple to implement and flexible. Some food bloggers make money using all strategies, while others do very well with just a few. I hope you found this list of ways food bloggers make money on Instagram helpful if you're beginning your own food blogging journey.