Woman smiling at the camera while petting a cat on a kitchen counter

Blogging Income Report & The Difference Between Affiliate & Sponsored Posts – May 2021

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In this month’s blogging income report, we’ll review my strategies from April, how much I made in May, my goals for next month, and the difference between affiliate links and sponsored posts.

Food blogging income report image with text overlay "$495 in May 2021"

Affiliate Links vs Sponsored Posts

Despite being two major ways to make money via blogging, I find that many people don’t know the differences between affiliate links and sponsored posts. So let’s break it down, briefly, and talk it over!

Affiliate links: earning a commission

Affiliate income is tied to links that, when a person clicks through and makes a purchase on a website, earns the partner/influencer a commission.

Oof, that was a challenging definition to scrunch down to one sentence.

Lots of ecommerce companies have some sort of affiliate program. In a way, it’s an extension of referral programs that many of us are familiar with: “Refer a friend and you each get $20 off!”

Instead, with affiliate links, the pitch is: “Refer someone and you make X% of the sale!”

This is a HUGE way influencers make money: they recommend a product and share a link that they earn affiliate income off of. Usually (in fact, I think it’s pretty much standard), the consumer isn’t paying anything extra to use an affiliate link. Instead, business is giving a share of their profit to the influencer, who has become a word-of-mouth marketing asset for them.

While some people make insane amounts of money through a combination of SEO, Google ad spend, and affiliate linking with less thought put into the product/company they’re sharing other than the comission fee, many bloggers and influencers try to affiliate with companies they know, like, and trust.

The biggest affiliate link provider: Amazon! I affiliated with them long ago and link to ingredients. However, I’m considering cutting ties simply because (1) it doesn’t make that much money for me each month and (2) I really don’t agree with Amazon’s business practices as a whole.

Otherwise, I am affiliated with a few other companies, most notably Equip! They’re my go-to protein company, so it’s 100% natural for me to recommend them. I regularly use an LOVE their dairy-free protein, so why not share that with the world and make a little money from that?

Sponsored posts: crafted with care

Sponsored posts, on the other hand, are usually one-off assignments with a set payment.

Bloggers/influencers will either pitch a business they want to work with or the business will reach out to them for a partnership. Often, in the food blogging world, sponsored posts involve an original recipe and/or posts on social media. The blogger/influencer and business will come to an agreement on a set rate for everything included in the agreement (for example, social media posts typically cost less than a blog post that will, in theory, gain more traction over time).

I’ve done long-term sponsored post partnerships in the past (with SunButter!) and one-off sponsored posts (for Active Stacks).

The differences between sponsored posts and affiliate links

Reading the descriptions above, I’m sure you can suss out the differences! But here are some main points:

Sponsored posts pay more at one time, but involve more work up front (developing a recipe, photographing a recipe, writing the post, etc.).

If a reader clicks through a link on a sponsored post, it doesn’t necessarily benefit the blogger UNLESS they’ve also set up an affiliate partnership. Instead, the payment is for the post, regardless of how well it performs.

Affiliate links provide an avenue for “passive” income. That’s income that happens looong after you’ve done the work of putting it in motion. For example, the affiliate income I’ve earned this month was through a post I made YEARS ago!

A sponsored post and an affiliate-centric post can look similar. For example: these SunButter Chocolate Chip Cookies were a sponsored post, but this post about Why I’ve Ditched Whey Protein Powder was a way for me to share affiliate links. I got paid for the cookies post in one lump sum, but I’m still earning commissions off the protein powder affiliate links.

Closeup of roasted sweet potato rounds on a baking sheet

The breakdown: how much I made in May 2021

Mediavine: 422.81
Amazon: 19.69
Other affiliate income: 52.50

Total: $495

The takeaways

On the come up!

This is a little over $100 improvement from April, which means we are slowly tracking upward towards my average before the rebrand to Chelsea Joy Eats.

We have a ways to go, though. A lot of the improvement was due to making a little more through Amazon affiliate linking — which, let’s face it, is kind of garbage compared to what the payouts used to be.

Likewise, I made a few more sales through other affiliate sources, which is awesome because those live in static pages that I don’t often update! (Scroll back up for how that all works with affiliate links!)

Checking in on my goal from last month:

To be blunt, I did a TERRIBLE job at keeping up with my goals.

I planned to build a “Work with Me” page — which I did, but the forms plugin I used caused my site to crash. In order to save my site, I had to use the previous day’s backup, which meant I lost THE ENTIRE PAGE I had worked on.

Annnnd this is why we create backups. Ha!

I definitely did not build up a month’s worth of recipes, and I didn’t refresh any old posts. I pitched one company for sponsored posts.

To be honest, I’m really feeling the grind of wedding season starting up (I’m a wedding photographer at Chelsea Joy Photography). I have a wedding each weekend in July, and there’s a TON of planning and prepping that goes into each wedding before it happens — and that’s not even touching on the post production work.

So, unfortunately, that’s caused me to ease back on Chelsea Joy Eats. Again.

Easy pulled pork in a tray and garnished with parsley, limes, and radishes

Strategies moving forward

Two new procedures I’m implementing with my photography business that will (hopefully) give me space and grace for Chelsea Joy Eats:

  • I’m outsourcing my wedding editing. This alone should save me approximately 60-80 hours PER WEDDING. Editing is honestly one of my least favorite tasks; it’s not hard, but it’s time consuming for me and I constantly return to photos to adjust them. I am paying about $200 per wedding to get this done, which cuts into my profits for the year but I am excited to have my time back!
  • I’m no longer taking on family photos and other portrait requests I’m not excited about. Instead, I’ve compiled a list of photographer friends who WANT and LOVE this type of work. I just don’t. The extra money is often nice, but I have SO much on my hands with weddings this year that I am just over it. I’d rather put the time and energy into building Chelsea Joy Eats!

I know those things aren’t directly related to this website, but those moves will indirectly impact the time and energy I have for food blogging.

As a side note I want to recognize how nice it is to be in a place that I CAN make these moves and potentially make less money on the photography side of things. For a few years, especially while we were saving for a down payment on our house, I took any and every photo opportunity that came my way because I felt like I had to to stay afloat.

This year, I have more than enough weddings on my plate to make up the difference!

In June, I have 2 main goals:

  • Post 4 recipes
  • Refresh 4 old posts

To give myself space due to wedding season, I’m keeping things simple. Just posting one new recipe each week and refreshing 4 posts should be achievable now that the wedding edits are moving off my plate!

Previous income reports:

Interested to see where we land for June 2021? Stay tuned for next month’s income report!

If you have any questions or have a topic you’d like me to cover in a future income report, leave a comment and let me know.


I'm Chelsea, the author behind Chelsea Joy Eats! I believe life should be full of flavor. I enjoy creating recipes that are nourishing, flavorful, and satisfying. When not experimenting in the kitchen, I usually have a camera, barbell, or mug of coffee in hand. My posts may include affiliate links, which means if you click through a purchase something, I make a small commission at no cost to you. It helps me fuel my coffee habit and pay rent!

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