Would you like to earn six figures annually
as a food writer?
I learned the secret sauce, which requires a lot of work, from MAKING FOOD WORK FOR YOU, a webinar created by the Symposium for Professional Food Writers, which featured Board Chair Andrew Schloss with Dianne Jacob, Monica Bhide, and Sandra Gutierrez.
I learned from all the participants but Schloss, who says he's earning six figures most years, was the most inspiring and on point.
1. Stop treating your writing or blog like a hobby and start treating it like a business.
"I find that many food writers don’t think of what they're doing as a business and that holds them back.” Andrew Schloss, cookbook author
Schloss has been a food writer for 35 years. He started out writing for newspapers then worked as a chef. News paper work led to writing books, he said.
"Over the years, I’ve earned about 100,000 a year most years," Schloss said. "It has gone up to $250,000 on a really good year and $70,000 on a not so good year."
"Because I view this as a business, I’m pretty serious about the money I make," Schloss said. In 2015, he made $153,000 food writing. "A lot of it was in investments and royalties."
Schloss freelances, which includes writing a food science column for Fine Cooking magazine.
"It's a really a matter of thinking of what you’re doing as products and getting enough products out there to give yourself a chance to have them pay off,” Schloss said.
2. Royalties: start writing and publishing books or other products.
Royalties (Don'tcha just love that word?) are generated by book sales. Schloss said he has published several books, which generate royalties.
"For me a good royalty on a book--I have some that are $20,000 and some that are $60 in a check or $100 in a check," Schloss said.
"Making money in books means numbers," Schloss said.
Schloss used the example of a company launching 60 products in a year. Maybe two of them are going to last and make money so it's a numbers game, he said. And so it is with writing.
"If I write one book, the chances that book is going to hit it and make money are slim," Schloss said. "But if I write 20 books, the chances of one being an earner are pretty good."
Schloss said he earns $20,000 for a cookbook advance so he tries to write one book a year.
3. Ghostwriting: don't be afraid.
"I do a lot of ghost-writing," said Schloss. "I no longer care if my name is on a book."
These days, a lot of publishers aren't interested in food writers unless they have a huge social media following. Also, book promotion is up to authors themselves these days.
Schloss said he doesn't do social media. He also doesn't want to do all the work involved with promoting a book.
"Because I’m old, I don’t do social media," Schloss said. "In the beginning I thought it was a joke so I didn’t do it and then by the time I realized it was serious, I didn’t want to do it."
4. Invest a portion of your writing income in stocks/bonds/mutual funds.
Schloss recommends investing a portion of your earnings in stocks or bonds or mutual funds.
"Because I’ve been doing this for so long, I’ve stockpiled money that now earns money," Schloss said. "I greatly encourage you to do that.”
On a personal note, I encourage you to do this too. Newspapering does not pay a lot but, when I was hired 16 (!) years ago, I started contributing to the company's 401(k) plan. The paper matched my contributions.
I've got a long way to reaching my retirement savings goals. However, I'm now earning in interest every month more than a week's paycheck without putting forth any effort. That's a really fabulous feeling. Especially when you have a month where you're wondering what it's all for. That interest is automatically reinvested in the retirement plan.
In all of the reading I've done over the years about making a living as a food blogger or writer, Schloss is the first writer I've heard recommend investing part of your income.
Tell me what you think of Schloss' advice. Is it feasible to earn six figures as a food writer? Leave a comment. What are you doing to make money food writing?