Bloggers Unite! Braving the New Frontier

by Marla on March 17, 2010 · 21 comments

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For some reason Phil Collins came into my world the other day.  The song “Easy Lover” was on the radio.  Not only did I listen, but I turned up the volume really loud and sang at the top of my lungs.  No, the kids were not in my car.  They can handle the country music, but this my friends was something that could be traumatizing for them later in life.

Easy Lover

I am easy.  I admit it.  Swoon me with my favorite products, books & travel opportunities.  Chances are I will give you a piece of me & some chatter on my blog.  Thankfully I am at a stage in my life where I am very comfortable in my own skin.  I can look in the mirror and say “I like me.”  A very different take from my teen years, or my 20′s.  That said, watch out….I am not hungry to promote and chat up anything that comes my way.  In order to review your product, book, gadget it needs to be something I believe in.  I might be an easy lover, but a discerning easy lover.

Sexy Blog Posts

I always like a sexy post, one that will land me on Tastespotting, Foodgawker and Photograzing.  I love playful, colorful, captivating photos and graphics.  I used to design for Disney, a rainbow explosion of color was part of my day to day life.  I loved that job and guess what…. it made money, lots (did I mention I loved it?)

These days I blog about food and a healthy lifestyle for a living and I make virtually NOTHING.  Did I mention I love it?  So much.  I feel very fulfilled creatively.  I love my blog friends and the huge community of folks that read FFC.  I get a kick out of “knocking” on my blog buddies “doors,” stopping by and grabbing a virtual bite & and a laugh!

5 Friendly Tips for Seducing Bloggers

I am always inspired by Cheryl’s posts.  She is sharp, witty and full of information.   This post she wrote is simply titled Tips.  If you are a foodie blogger or any blogger that gets asked to review products this is a must read.  Cheryl is a seasoned writer who isn’t afraid to speak her mind.  She writes with conviction & humor and she is direct and to the point.  I met Cheryl very briefly last year while I was stuffing my face at Blogher Food.  Elizabeth Falkner had prepared a gooey, decadent, flavor explosion chocolate cake in a box.  Any opportunity to eat great cake is welcomed over here….but to eat it wearing gloves was a whole other story.

{The New Frontier} Bloggers the HOT Media Sources

As bloggers we are the new frontier of media.  We wear many hats.  From advertising & marketing to PR, graphic design, food photography & styling….we are covering it all, most times for FREE!!!  As bloggers we are exposed to everyone that is online (which is just about everyone these days!)  The whole world is our audience!  Our traffic is growing by the day and happily so.

The recent article in Forbes sums up how valuable bloggers are becoming.  In this article (yes I said Forbes, you know the money mag) eight of the very best food bloggers are profiled.

Home on the Range with the Pioneer Woman

These gals are on the cutting edge of the new frontier.  They landed spots on Forbes because they are hard working, ambitious women.  Their blogs are wonderful and these women serve as ambassadors for this online portal.  They are templates for success.  There are loads of  talented bloggers out there.  They work just as hard as the chosen eight and are building traffic by the day.  It is a fascinating time for business.

Real Estate:

As bloggers a lot of us are building our very own “brands.”  We love traffic coming to our blogs.  When we choose to talk about you that means we are providing you with Real Estate on our blogs.  Does anyone out there live in their apartment or house for free?  I know we sure don’t.  That said, brands enjoy your cheap real estate for now.  I bet very soon that will change.   We might be on the other side of the tracks now, but buyer beware we are the new Madison Avenue.  The price tag to live on our blogs is gonna change with the times and those times are changing quickly.

Reviewing products:

So you want a blogger to review your stuff?  You want to be promoted?  Please look carefully at who you approach before you ask us to promote you.  On my blog chances are you will be ignored or rejected if you offer me Maple Syrup that has 15+ ingredients.  I promote healthy whole foods.  Maple Syrup to me means syrup that comes from a Maple tree not from a factory.  Maple syrup does not equal High Fructose Corn Syrup with artificial maple flavor.  Someone else might be glad to promote the factory version, just make sure you do your research before anyone time is wasted.

Building Brands:

I recently posted a page to govern and suggest the ways I will work with brands on Family Fresh Cooking.  We all want to be loved, right?  As bloggers and brands we are trying to form bonds and unions that last longer than a single blog post.  As bloggers we need to lay down our ground rules so companies know how we are willing to work.

Recently I was sent samples from a company and I was asked to post a review.  After that review they would maybe send samples for a giveaway. Um, no.  I might be easy, but not that easy.  If I say yes to reviewing your stuff that means I like it and am willing to support it.  That means you (company/brand) need to swoon my readers and myself with the aforementioned products.  That real estate that I spoke about above doesn’t come for free (unless I make that choice.)  You are certainly not going to get my virtual real estate 2X without some kind of investment.  If you want me to believe in you, you need to believe in me.  Done.


Our Expenses:

With my huge love of my new job I am spending much more $$$ than I make (remember I earn virtually nothing.) Conventions, seminars, camera equipment, travel…guess what, it all costs money!  I know a lot of my blog buddies would agree that our expenses rack up.

“Big Brand” Companies Please Remember:

If you are gonna try to swoon this blogger here are a few Tips of my own:

  1. My traffic is building everyday.  I am no longer a newbie shooting photos with my iPhone.  I love posh hotels, expensive restaurants, unique travel opportunties and yes, cash to feed and shelter my family.
  2. I WANT to build relationships with brands, so feel free to contact me if you feel we would suit each other.  Please make sure you have looked at my blog before you approach me.  My time & space is precious and so is yours.
  3. Occasionally I will speak about brands because they are my “go-to” products of choice.  When I find something I love I want to shout it from the roof tops with my readers.  That said you guys might find items with no giveaway attached to it.  Again this is my real estate and I will decide who gets to “live” with me.
  4. Companies, if you talk about us or link to our blogs, please let us know.  Chances are we will be thrilled to know you are reading  us.  I was just linked to online Glamour Magazine.  Guess how I found out?  Through my wowzio Live Activity Feed widget.  Had I not seen that feed chances are I would have missed that kind link to my Skinny Citrus Soda post.


Bloggers:

  • We are part of this new frontier together guys.
  • There are no secrets, we need to share & exchange info on these topics to grow.
  • We are like a team, lets encourage each other to always do our best.
  • We need to clearly define our needs and work as a group to prosper.

Important Resources:

The sites below are run by pioneers in the food blogger universe.  They are wonderful places to visit to get inspired & learn blogging etiquette.  They provide wisdom and a wealth of inspiration for newbies and seasoned bloggers.  You can easily interact with the communities on these blogs as you would any other.  If you guys have any other helpful blogs please mention in the comments section so I can add them to this list.

Food Blog Forum: Jayden Hair: Steamy Kitchen & Todd Porter/Diane Cu White on Rice Couple

Food Blog Alliance: Elise Bauer: Simply Recipes

Posts:

Tasty Touring- Pitching Food Bloggers: My Point of View


Related Posts with Thumbnails

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 FoodFitnessFreshair March 17, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Bloggers are the next “it” form of journalism. I love the style and voice that you can put into a blog and share with others, and the whole community of people blogging opens you up to! I hope this trend continues to grow.

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2 Astra Libris March 17, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Thank you for all the fantastic blogging tips! I truly admire your beautiful, artful blog!

SO awesome that you used to design for Disney!! :-)

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3 Kathleen March 17, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Really great post. I’m with you. I hope some day my blog starts making some money!!!

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4 marla March 17, 2010 at 6:38 pm

I am so happy that you guys are enjoying this post. It is weird to switch gears from writing recipes, a fun change though!

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5 Cara March 17, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Oh Marla, this both depresses and inspires me! I confess to often feeling anxious and frustrated about my blog. I’ve been at it 3 years, and I feel like it’s taken me a long time to build my photo and writing skills. I feel like I’m getting better lately, I’m proud of my work and trying to promote it… and yet, I just don’t seem to have the traffic and comments that I see other bloggers with (what I consider) equivalent content getting. I can’t seem to figure out if I have the right audience for my content because the posts that get the most comments always surprise me (while some that I am very proud of get the least!) I’ve never been asked to review a product, so I’ve never even had to worry about how to respond! On the other hand it is inspiring that so many people are doing well, and I hope that if I just keep at it and trying to learn and apply more, I’ll get there.
Marla Says:
Cara, you have wonderful recipes and your spirit is awesome. I always love reading your blog. It is so hard not to compare ourselves to others. We all have our own take. I too am surprised at which of my posts get the most traffic, funny huh!

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6 Lori @ RecipeGirl March 17, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Bloggers need to stop advertising products and developing recipes for free. Too many bloggers are wooed by free ‘crap’ and get so excited when XYZ company says, “Hey, why don’t you create a recipe for us & we’ll feature it on our site?” It would be best for bloggers if we all viewed this the same way… these companies are looking for free advertising. One little free item sent your way and they’re virtually guaranteed an advertising spot on your site (on the internet) forEVER. Companies have money to pay for advertising, which is exactly what we’re doing when we write a post mentioning a product. Ask for compensation!

Marla says:
Lori, you said it girl!! Things need to change in the blogosphere. Thanks for such a vocal statement. I don’t want to be a push over as I tend to be now. You are so right the companies have the dollars!

I appreciate you taking your time to share your thoughts. I am learning more each and every day. What started off as a hobby is obviously now a full time job. I want to be on the frontlines of this biz. I will be attending the Food Blog Forum event next week and I hope to learn some things about monetization. Honestly, I just don’t know where to begin…what fees to ask for etc…

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7 A Canadian Foodie March 17, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Great tips – and great links… wish there were more hours in the day… this is just one part of my life, but it could consume it if I wasn’t as careful as I am!
:)
Valerie

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8 sophia March 17, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Marla, I’m bookmarking this. Especially as a journalism major, I’m learning how much bloggers are shaking the journalism world as well. The media is certainly changing…it’s almost scary, but very very exciting for us bloggers who have gained new-found powers and opportunities and network at our very fingertips!


Marla says:
Sophia as students you guys are on the front lines of the changes going on. The power is fun isn’t it!

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9 shelly (cookies and cups) March 18, 2010 at 5:46 am

I agree with the free reviews and recipe stuff! I have been asked to review products for free and it doesn’t seem right. The company gets free advertisement and I get a box of cereal…hmmm, what’s wrong with that picture?
I do enjoy companies who would like to give my readers something of value, but reviews of snack food is not on my agenda!
You go girlie!!

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10 Gaby March 18, 2010 at 7:26 am

Marla – this is fantastic! I loved reading every line of this article. Its totally true and we need to stick together so we can all move forward and have success! Thanks again for writing it and I can’t wait to see you next weekend for the Food Blog Forum! xo

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11 Cheryl March 18, 2010 at 9:03 am

Marla, thanks for your kind link and for taking the bare bones of my original post in such a new direction. As an aside, your design skills are really impressive. It’s so nice to see a blog that looks completely different from all the other food blogs out there.

Rock on.

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12 Faith March 18, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Wow, Marla, how amazing is it that you used to design for Disney?! That sounds like so much fun! :) I love your philosophy and outlook on blogging. I completely agree, I can’t promote a product that I haven’t used or don’t believe in. And when I review something, I like to include the good, the bad, and the ugly so people can get the whole picture!

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13 Cooking with Coley March 18, 2010 at 6:22 pm

As a PR-practioner by day, I can attest to this being a very relevant issue in the industry – even on the company/PR/marketer side. The truth is, the companies (PR reps, etc.) should encourage transparency and not expect any less. If a company wants and expects guaranteed coverage or a positive review, then that’s what we call “pay for play.” As you note, a company should be willing to pay up for placement, or allow the blogger/writer to be the final judge of whether it’s coverage-worthy.

I think you do a great job of capturing the sentiments of the blogger side, and I’ll be sure to use this post as a proof point for my colleagues.

Marla says:
Thanks for the perspective from the PR side. It is great to know we have folks on that end routing for us!

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14 Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) March 18, 2010 at 6:44 pm

Hi Marla I think this is a great post and although I totally agree with all the commenters before me on principle…after one spends thousands of hours blogging, developing, creating, thinking, making, doing…and it’s all volunteer work, if some company wants to hook you up with xyz product and features your recipe on their site, it’s better than the alternative, which was working thousands of hours for free. We all do this b/c we love it, or we wouldnt do it, but we all, I think, hope there’s a payday of some sort at the end of the rainbow. And til then, it’s nice to get a free this or that. Perhaps others aren’t swayed but given my reality$$, I am. At least I am honest. If they can volunteer their time for free and do it all for free….then that’s awesome for them! I can’t, so I take samples. And until Random House calls me for my book deal, I’ll keep on :)

Marla says:
Oh Averie, this is why I love you! Strong guns in the arms and wonderfully powerful words. Your honesty is what draws me to you. Heck, we all love free things….especially our favorite products that companies send us. I believe like everything in life there is a balance we will find in this industry. If you add up all the goodies we acquire during the year quite a bit of money in the form of products does come our way. I am not expecting every endorsement to be paid for in cash, but certainly a good portion of them should be. Time will tell. For now I will attempt some bigger “partnerships” and see what happens along the way.

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15 sweetlife March 18, 2010 at 7:36 pm

I agree I am a newbie but any post takes time and I often stress about each pic..mine are not that great. I love blogging because I can choose what to make and who to support. great post

sweetlife

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16 Heather @ Get Healthy With Heather March 18, 2010 at 11:04 pm

I could totally see you designing for Disney. Your energy and creativity always amazes me!

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17 Joanne March 19, 2010 at 4:05 am

I love this post. I’m always interested in learning how to “network” myself better and there are so many opportunities out there as a blogger that it’s hard to keep track. Thanks for being so forthright about all of this!

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18 Brandie March 19, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Thanks for this, Marla. I’m saving it to read more carefully later, but the parts I did already read are just the kind of thing I need to learn more about. I’m such a newbie at it all, but I’m totally loving all the learning I am doing. I share a lot of your same thoughts.

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19 newlywed August 25, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Thank you SO much for taking the time to write this very helpful post. I am relatively new to this, and it really is so very helpful.

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20 Nicole, RD September 9, 2010 at 3:46 pm

Interesting post! Blogging is expensive and the return is very small! It’s the love for blogging that keeps me going!

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21 Jennifer @ Maple n Cornbread October 1, 2010 at 4:53 am

This is REALLY great info!!! A lot to take from this, thanks!!!!

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