After writing my post on Success, the following question bubbled up on Facebook:
"I hope you don't mind me asking, but does Happy Herbivore, the cookbooks and other spin-offs, support you financially or do you have to do other work? I hope the former"
I don't mind the question, it's something I've wanted to talk about, but haven't because here I go being controversial again!
Anytime I hear a blogger say they make a living off their blog I want to scream. I'll cut to the chase and say I sincerely doubt they really do.
Happy Herbivore has enjoyed over 2 million pages views since January 1st. Roughly 65,000 unique people visit this website every month. Let's be frank, that's a crap ton of traffic. (Thanks Herbies!)
Yet when I ran ads like many other bloggers, I only made a couple hundred bucks a month. That's a far cry from enough to live on. (I ultimately decided the ads were so ugly and annoying I'd rather just give up those few hundred bucks and remove them.)
Maybe other bloggers get boatloads of more traffic than me and maybe they have slightly better ad deals, but I just find it all suspect, especially after reading this article on Copyblogger, "Why You Can't Make Money Blogging." The article points out a blog got half a million visitors one day, and still, for the total month, the blogger only made $1,000 bucks in ads. Umm...
So as much as I love this blog -- it doesn't pay the bills. In fact it does the opposite. It costs a lot (a lot!) of money to run happyherbivore.com. I'd say somewhere North of $200 a month.
For the past four years (happy 4th birthday, Happy Herbivore!) we've ran Happy Herbivore at a loss because Scott & I wanted Happy Herbivore so badly. We both believed in what I was doing and the changes we could make... the people we could help... the talent that I needed to share.
That's why we're asking for donations with the Meal Plans. We're hoping with your donation we can offset some of the costs associated with running this website. Think of your donation as a tip, a thank you for our efforts -- and a way to support this community and website. All donations are greatly appreciated.
But what about my books?!
I got the deal for my first book, The Happy Herbivore Cookbook, in October 2009. It's October 2011 and I just saw my first royalty check last week. It's been two years -- two years! and I finally saw some money for my work --- and no, it wasn't a big pay day. While it was a nice little something, it is by no means enough to live on. At best it is the equivalent to a few months salary. Like I've said before, there is no money in writing cookbooks -- even bestsellers. I do it because it's my passion.
But there is more to the finances than that. When I was writing my first book, and my second, I had to take a leave of absence from work and for four months (twice!) I didn't make any money. Scott & I lived in a tiny -tiny- studio and gave up any unnecessary expense -- like cable -- when I wrote my first book. We were better prepared for the second (we'd saved up some money in anticipation) but still, it was rough.
I often look back at all we put into and gave up for Happy Herbivore. The sacrifices we made. Was it worth it? Yes! But I won't lie. There were periods where I wanted to quit. Give up. Surrender.
I'd worked so hard and for so long and I was so tired of being so broke. Maybe I'd had my go at it, and it didn't work, time to move on... but my passion kept me rooted. I would always remember why I started it all in the first place and then I'd put away my white flag.
I was committed to my helping others eat better and damnit, I was going to keep doing it - whatever the cost. I told myself that success is not given, it is earned, and I had to keep hustling. Keep trying. Keep working. Do what I do because I love it and because truthfully, I don't want to do anything else.
For four years I've worked 16 hrs a day, 7 days a week. I eat, drink and sleep Happy Herbivore... and that's one of the reason why I needed to go to Europe for a month... because it was getting unhealthy.
To finally answer the question: yes. Now, after four years of debt and struggles and financial crisis, yes, I am finally supporting myself with Happy Herbivore. It happened very recently - in the last month. I'm still making a very modest (very modest!) living, but it's enough that I no-longer have to work at another job full-time.
I'm still taking on some freelance assignments here and there, but I hope as Happy Herbivore continues to grow (with your help!) one day this will be my only job.
Allow me to close this post by thanking all of you. You made living my own dream possible. I hope to repay the favor someday.