Food Blogging for Money, Passion and a Living

by Marla on September 17, 2010 · 72 comments

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Summer hiking photo with girl on log

I love blogging about food. I choose to do it. I want to do it. I crave it. It thrills me to no end. I am passionate about helping individuals and families make healthy food choices. It is so fun to encourage folks to get homemade meals on the table. Please accept this diversion in my usual programming to bring you this message:

Food Blogging for Money

OMG!! Did I just utter those 4 words? Do I dare want to blog out of love and for a living? Sure, why not. Perhaps I am bringing up a steamy subject. This hot topic is discussed non stop with bloggers these days. We all have different goals, wants and needs. A bunch of PR folks and brands think it is cool to consistently ask for bloggers to promote them for free. A bunch of us think that is not OK.

“Free” actually costs us bloggers money. Blog posts cost in time, expertise, commitment, ingredients, camera gear, memory chips, care for our children. Catch my drift.

Pot Stirring

Does this post stir the pot? Yup. My goal with this post is to share my voice. Those of you who know me, know that I am not afraid to do so. As a blogger I stick up for my peeps. I cheer you on and help you out, we do it for each other. I help you catch waves, and you help push me into great ones too.

Money tree

Marla’s Top 10 Bad PR Requests

Daily I am bombarded with e-mails from PR folks, some offers are super cool, exciting and appropriate. Some I latch onto right away. Others, not so much. If you have a PR pitch here are a few tactics that don’t work for me:

  • Don’t send me a letter addressed to “Maria” please watch your spelling-my name is M-A-R-L-A.
  • Don’t ask me to share with my readers your press release for your thing that only serves to benefit 5 people of the world.
  • “To whom it may concern” gets an immediate delete.
  • A letter addressed to one of my blogger friends & sent to me is a bad idea.
  • If you specifically ask for me to include one or more of your products in my recipe post then you will need to pay for that. Feel free to request my rates.
  • If you ask me to talk you up on Twitter or Facebook, again, you will need to pay for that.
  • Even though my blog name has “family” in the title it does not mean that I have a pet. The PR person that invited me to check out a new line of dog toys was a little off base.
  • I do not promote coupons for 5 cents off a $1.oo item. There are other bloggers that do. Please find them.
  • Know who you are talking to. I am not in the business of promoting pharmaceuticals or dog toys. I write about food, great food, whole foods with lifestyle stuff thrown in the mix.
  • If you have a great event coming up that you want me to write about then you need to invite me. I might be able to make time to travel to it, but I don’t have time to write about your press release that refers to this particular event with no invite.

Let’s throw in one more not so good tactic in for a grand finale:

  • Offering up a whopping .000001% of a dollar to put your ad widget on my sidebar gets an automatic “filter to spam folder.”

Summer mountains in Colorado

Some Do it Right

A few brands & PR folks are doing things right, they understand how to work with bloggers. I have great relationships with many PR folks and brands. We need to keep open lines of communication and continue to find great ways to work with each other. If you need bloggers to hold your hand and show you the ropes just ask us, we love to share our creativity & ideas.

Sharing the Love

I blog because I want to and need to out of drive & passion. Here is the deal, if you ask me to promote you, you might want to promote me. Ya think? I might talk up your brand because I choose to. I might talk up your brand because you sent me something to try and I liked it. After a while of hand holding and proving our deep love to each other we need to move on to the next level of the relationship. Bloggers are your spokespeople, ambassadors and your greatest voices. We respect you, please start respecting us. If you are not in charge of cutting checks, then please be our advocates with those that are.

Open Forums

In upcoming conferences, lectures, workshops and conversations bloggers are going to be having very open conversationsabout monetizing. Some are going to come back to PR folks and brands with rates for recipe development, travel posts, links, tweets, Facebook posts, giveaways, photos or what ever else we feel like charging for. Of course in day to day conversation, casual references will be made about things we want to talk about. What needs to change is the expectations that bloggers owe brands their time, energy and commitment for free *remember “free” is not actually free for us.

Paid Blog Posts

The formula is very simple. If you can get something for free than go for it. Right? Not so right. Each blogger is a unique brand and each one is worth more than a few coupons or cans of something to collect dust in the pantry.

Blog posts take a really long time to create. Between the recipe development, photography, writing, editing & graphics-we are a one stop shop. Bloggers are the editors in chief of our own publications. In corporate offices many folks get paid to develop a recipe, style it, shoot it etc. Lots of money rolls around for those projects. So when we ask to get PAID for a living, you might want to reconsider saying there is NO money in the budget for bloggers.

Please do not use the excuse that a “paid” post is not a valid post. I applaud my blog community when they are able to score a paid gig. It means they can put some money towards paying doctors bills, insurance, school tuitions, rent, mortgage and grocery bills. Kudos & bravo to them. I also gain much more respect for the brand that knows to pay for hard work.

Blog post about Monetization

My Promise to My Readers

All that said here is what I promise to my readers on a daily basis:

  • I blog, create recipes, write about healthy food & make it look pretty because I love to.
  • I choose the content I post in this blog.
  • Sometimes PR folks & brands contact me, other times I contact them. I post about material that I find relevant to my blog.
  • If I happen mention a brand for no $$$ it is because it is a product I believe in. It makes my world better & it might make yours better to.
  • I have made great leaps in my social life, career path & happiness through my blog. I will continue to give %1000 daily.

Times are Changing

The times are a changing. Brands, products, ingredients, whatever you want to call them need to consider the following. Bloggers are brands too. We help build you up, you need to help build us up with more than just free stuff. Life costs money ya know? There are many nice perks of this job, one of them includes travel. We need to consider this: Who puts the kids to bed at night? Who drives them to school? Who feeds them? This costs money folks.

I have been invited to attend some wonderful opportunities lately, but some companies cannot find it in their budgets to cough up some child care let alone compensation.

Be Strategic in How You Swoon Us

A lot of us have paid our dues. Sure some of us have not been at it as long as others. That’s cool, it does not mean that our voices are not loud and clear on the air waves. If you look at just numbers & statistics that’s OK too, but maybe not in your best interest. One blogger may have 100,000 views a day, another 10. 1 out of that 10 might be Oprah Winfrey. Get it? Don’t undervalue us just from a score. Think outside the box.

Stuff Happens

I am building a career with no boundaries. In the past year I have made gobs of AMAZING blogger friends, daily I help people get healthy homemade meals on the table, I have a wonderful literary agent, have 2 book proposals in the works & have learned from the besthow to take dang good pictures. I love my job.

Thanks

Thank you for letting me share. I look forward to the upcoming months of discussion on this topic. If you are a PR person, a blogger, friend or someones grandma, please share your thoughts on this topic. We need to learn from each other.

To my dedicated readers, friends and PR folks that I work closely with-you know who you are & I love you! Back to regular recipe posts on Tuesday & boy do I have some yummy recipes coming your way.

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{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kate @ Savour Fare September 17, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Bravo Marla. I would add to your list “Don’t ask me to “compete” for something by developing original recipes and writing posts” — I saw a particularly egregious one today. I’m not developing ten original recipes and writing ten posts using your products for the chance to win something.

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2 Marla September 17, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Kate: great to see you as the very first to comment on this post. 10 recipes & 10 posts…geesh! That’s about 10 weeks of work.
I can’t wait to hear more stories from you guys, I bet there are some doozies!

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3 Sadie February 5, 2012 at 7:22 am

This is a great post. And I agree with the first comment about “competing”. I did that once and it was a total flop (even though I won). I felt used. It was a big mistake. They need to COMPETE for us. Sigh.

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4 Miri Leigh September 17, 2010 at 2:34 pm

I applaud you for posting this, Marla! I personally don’t use my blog as a money-earning tool because I still have a good-paying day job. But if I didn’t have that job, it would be a different story. Whether you’re posting as a professional or a hobbyist, it IS very time consuming and must be taken seriously by all parties involved. You’ve written very wise words.

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5 Marla September 17, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Miri: You are right, our little gal is an adventure seeker like her mama! She keeps us on our toes. We started her skiing at 3 and now she is unstoppable! She had so much fun taking us on that hike. It is one that she did with summer camp in Telluride & she couldn’t wait to show us those fallen trees. It was quite the obstacle course. Glad you like this post & understand the serious conflict some are in as full time bloggers.

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6 Miri Leigh September 17, 2010 at 2:36 pm

BTW I love that picture of your daughter on the fallen tree — she looks so brave and tough! Those qualities will take her far in life, no doubt. Obviously, she takes after YOU! ;)

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7 Selena Cate September 17, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Well ironically I read this post and I’d love to have it be bothersome to add some offers to my junkbox. :-) Well hopefully a year from now I’ll be in the same boat. I see that you have linked to BlogHer Food. Are you going? I’m and hopefully for both of us it will be far more inspiring than last March. Let’s meet up if you have the time and are going. xoxo Selena

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8 Marla September 17, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Selena: So great to hear from you. I am looking forward to seeing you again. Yes, BlogHer Food will be waaayyyy better than the experience we shared this past March. BlogHer is a wonderful group of creative people with so much collective wisdom to share. I am speaking on Friday 10/8 at 10am on the Vocation Panel “New to Food Blogging? How to Stand Out in a Crowded Blogosphere.” Please come join us if you like. There are so many amazing panels. See you soon! Here is the link to our session:

http://www.blogher.com/breakout-session-one-vocation

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9 Rosa September 17, 2010 at 3:48 pm

A great post! When you are a blogger you get many stupid requests and people trying to rip you off. So annoying.

Cheers,

Rosa

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10 Esi September 17, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Great post Marla. I’m extremely picky about companies I choose to work with and don’t just sign up for anything. Pr people need to realize this and know who they’re targeting.

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11 Amy September 17, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Unless I really want a specific product, My response always is “I’m not taking product reviews at this time, but my advertising rates are quite reasonable…blah, blah, blah.. Then I give my current rates. I either make money in the process, or never hear from them again. Truly a win-win, right?

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12 Marla September 17, 2010 at 5:29 pm

Amy: Yes, as soon as I give rates many run in the opposite direction. You are right, the partnership was not meant to be if that is the case.

Esi: Your blog is wonderful & I can tell how mindful you are as to which products you choose to talk about and promote.

Rosa: Yup, annoying would be the word :)

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13 Nicole, RD September 17, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Preach it!

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14 nicole smith September 17, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Wow – what a well-written and helpful post! I am fairly new to the world of blogging, and information like this really helps me navigate through the murky waters and steer my blog in the direction I want to go. Thank you Marla for standing up for bloggers everywhere!

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15 Katie @ goodLife {eats} September 17, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Bravo, Marla! I couldn’t have said it better. I’ve had some really good experiences with brands…and also some bad ones. Just this week I was pitched to review a totally random art site. How does that have anything to do with food blogging? Anyway, Can’t wait to finally meet you at BlogHer Food this year. Just a few weeks away!

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16 Erika - In Erika's Kitchen September 17, 2010 at 9:05 pm

Marla, I love that you speak your mind – and that you do it on behalf of the whole food blogging community. You are a force to be reckoned with for sure! Glad I’m on your side!

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17 sweetlife September 17, 2010 at 10:06 pm

great post, at the moment I blog for pure interest, maybe when I have more time, I will go full force, very true..one post does take time, some of my posts take days, I hate to put out pics I am not happy with..

sweetlife

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18 Anne September 17, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Wow, thanks for taking the bull by the horns and being so clear about it. It’s nice to know where people like you, who have blogs where many people read and who are potential advertisers for firms, stand. :-)

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19 Angie's Recipes September 18, 2010 at 12:46 am

Thanks, Marla, for sharing this “making-me-smile” entry! :-)) Some food magazines wanted to published some of my recipes and photos…and they didn’t even want to send me a free copy of the magazine..don’t get me wrong, I didn’t ask a whole year of magazine…I just want a copy of the editorial on which my recipes and photos were published. Well, I guess they thought they did me a favour to publish my recipes.

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20 Dan @ Uncornered Market September 18, 2010 at 4:07 am

Your bullet list of impersonal, thoughtless, irrelevant example pitches resonates with so many of us. “Know who you are talking to.” — this is the fundamental missed point of the people (bots?) sending this junk. Unfortunately, blogging and social media have both enabled some to further discount the person on the other end of the pitch.

Regarding “paid posts”, I think there’s a difference between when a company pays you to mention/link to them within the context of a story (in your case, a recipe) and when the company pays you to drop a sponsored/paid post written by them into your blog/RSS stream. The first example shows a balance of pragmatism, creativity and integrity. The second example: opportunism that over the long haul will likely drive away readers.

In any event, happy eating!

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21 Marla September 18, 2010 at 5:30 am

Dan: Gosh I never thought that folks would drop a paid/sponsored post written by the company into the RSS stream. That goes out of my comfort zone. Not sure I have received any of those yet. Perhaps if I have I simply hit “delete.” I have gotten so good at ignoring stuff lately. Thanks for your thoughtful and articulate comment. I agree with the idea of posts that are pragmatic, creative and honest but not the simply opportunist.

Angie: Congrats on having some recipes published, but shame on the magazine who could not spend a few pennies to send you some free copies. Let alone pay you for your time and efforts. You are an amazing recipe and food blogger who deserves to be treated like a professional. I hope that your expertise becomes compensated soon.

Erika: By now my friend you know me quite well & yes, you are always on my side! Looking forward to hearing you speak at Camp Blogaway next weekend. You are a pro-blogger that we could all learn a lot from.

Anne: Yes, it is always fun when you think one thing & then your peers share what is really going on behind the scenes.

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22 bunkycooks September 18, 2010 at 5:33 am

Hey Marla,

Great post. This reminds me of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman! Remember the scene where she talks about taking charge of what she does and who pays, etc.? Anyway, I have recently turned down some offers that I would have probably accepted early on because they were totally one-sided to benefit the company. I think as time goes by and we all start to realize that giving everything away for free does not benefit anyone that this will turn around.

Keep enjoying what you do! That is what’s most important.

Gwen

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23 Marla September 18, 2010 at 9:15 am

Gwen: Love your reference to Pretty Woman, so true! Amazing the things we accept when we first started blogging and they are no longer acceptable now. Gosh, the stuff we have learned in such a short period of time.

Jenny: You are a phenomenal blogger. I am so happy we are such great friends. I have learned so much from you since we met last spring. I love that we can share biz stuff openly and honestly with each other. To listen & share is the best way to grow.

Josie: I had a lot of fun with that photo & graphics! Glad it made you laugh.

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24 Jenny Flake September 18, 2010 at 6:46 am

Standing ovation girl! This post says what all of us bloggers who work so hard at what we do want to say. Thank you for putting it all into one place. Very well done! See you Monday!! xoxo

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25 Daydreamer Desserts September 18, 2010 at 7:09 am

Loved you post Marla,way to put the cards out on the table! By the way, your money doesn’t grow on tress shot totally made me laugh, so true! Keep up the great work, you are amazing! :)

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26 Jennifer (Savor) September 18, 2010 at 9:19 am

Who-hoot Maria (Kidding!), love that you wrote this – I was thinking all of this last night!

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27 Kim September 18, 2010 at 11:03 am

Hey Marla!

Thank you so much for the insightful post. I’m still (maybe will always be?) a hobby blogger. I look forward to the day the first PR pitch, be it real or spam, makes it into my inbox. In the meantime, I still do read every word about what you (and other credible bloggers) who work with PR people, because if and when that day comes, I’ll be “armed” with good information. So thanks. :o) Definitely filing this away in the “save for future reference” folder.

See you Monday night, and again on Saturday!

[K]

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28 tasteofbeirut September 18, 2010 at 1:07 pm

I enjoyed reading every word of your post which was so informative and at times felt like a rant; a rant that I would start if I was inundated with requests for promotion of products without any compensation! but I am not, so this is something I am living vicariously through you. Excellent thoughts and I agree with you totally.

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29 Marla September 18, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Joumana: Thanks for your response. It is great to be prepared & armed for the day when you do get all kinds of requests, both good and bad ones.

Kim: It will be great to see you two times next week. Our event at Blackmarket Bakery with Rachel will be a blast & we will learn loads at Camp Blogaway. I can’t wait to see the Viking Showrooms and spend time with all of our friends.

Jennifer: I think this subject is on the tips of everyones tongues these days. Glad to hear you like this post.

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30 Barbara | VinoLuciStyle September 18, 2010 at 1:56 pm

This does seem to be a hot topic recently…maybe made hotter by the chances so many bloggers have had of communing with each other at different events but it’s sure been all over the place.

I started a food blog in 1995 as a recipe repository. Period. I would get occasional comments from people outside of my family and friends and was always surprised and delighted but for many years, it was just a convenience for me. Yes, that has changed as food blogging has turned into it’s own cottage industry and it’s interesting to see how it’s growing and where it will continue to go, for me included.

But…if I could make a comment on a comparative I see that is frustrating? I got into this community because I love to cook and enjoy sharing that love with others. However, professionally I develop websites for a living and have been since doing that very first one back in 1995. I have owned my own firm since then and do feel I have a wealth of knowledge in this arena.

As a result, I have become a trusted professional resource for many bloggers and have found an unexpected and yes, very beneficial result from my foray into food blogging, both economically and with the friends I have made with clients…some I even see in the comments about this topic!

While food bloggers are making a rightful noise about their right to be paid for their expertise, how many also expect free advice or help from other industries that are a necessary part of their business succeeding? Want to know how many DM’s or emails I get EVERY day asking for help? When asked if they would like to schedule a consult…oh, no, they don’t want to PAY for my time; so I know all about running the other direction at the very mention of rates Marla. How many tweets do you see constantly in the public stream asking for help with an issue that I know for a fact would take experience and time to rectify? I saw a tweet the other day from a food blogger wanting to trade a product for web services; it was all I could do to not reply and say I would check and see if my bank would accept that product as part of my mortgage payment!

Yes, you have hit a nerve, but in as much as you are being applauded for openly speaking on this very topic in one realm, it seems the right forum for me to speak of the same issue but putting (some) food bloggers into the hot seat if looking at it from my perspective.

This is not meant to be a diatribe against the many for the faults of the few but I do think an opportunity for me to state the obvious. Sometimes you have to give what you want in return and in my experience that certainly means expecting to pay for professional services in building your business wherein you expect to be respected and paid for yours. Fair enough?

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31 Maria September 18, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Great post Marla! Thank you for putting this out there! It is about time bloggers get recognized, appreciated, and compensated for all of the hard work!

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32 Lentil Breakdown September 18, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Lots of good food for thought in which you’ve clearly and cogently thought about. You go, girl!

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33 FoodFitnessFreshair September 18, 2010 at 3:36 pm

I really enjoyed reading this post. I love your blog…I definitely foresee it going somewhere and hope one day you do get some bucks for all your time spent. I’m all for bloggers getting paid if they truly do deserve it. I think many of us have dreams of our blogs one day launching into a business. Because while yes, blogging is definitely a passion and huge hobby of mine, it takes up a significant portion of my time. I’m a student, a yoga teacher, a freelance journalist, a college kid, a person…and a blogger. I’d love to one day get paid for my work. And have the time to really devote towards enhancing my blog into something career-worthy. There’s definitely a fine balance between PR and journalism though. I hate when PR reps give me free products and expect me to automatically review their product in a positive light. For me, blogging is all about speaking my mind and being honest, to myself and my readers!

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34 Kathy - Panini Happy September 18, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Great post, Marla! I find myself going over these exact issues in my mind on almost a daily basis. For pay or not, is it the right thing for me and my blogs to post about XYZ product/service? Is it relevant and timely? Assuming it’s a fit, then I have to evaluate whether it makes sense to me from a business perspective. I look for opportunities that will bring direct (valuable) benefit to my readers first and foremost – their increased engagement with my blog and overall increase in traffic in turn benefits me.

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35 Marla September 18, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Kathy: You bring up the interesting point of engaging our readers with relevant material. I think it is great to establish a relationship with brands that draw our readers in via giveaways, reviews etc. The problem lies when PR people and big companies expect that once a relationship has been established that we should continue to promote their products and services for minimal to no pay. In the past when I did design work for clients I was always paid for the first sketch or concept and anything else that the project entailed (even when the program was cancelled.) The “trial period” was a trusted relationship between myself and the company. All they needed to see was my portfolio of past works to figure out my style and work ethic.
Our blog posts more than reflect our capabilities and how we work. There should be no unpaid test drives. That might not be a realistic view in this day in age but I think in some industries it is standard. Companies need to look at the resume/blog/portfolio/etc. & trust, respect and pay the person they want to represent them.

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36 Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella September 19, 2010 at 3:27 am

Great post Marla. That top 10 list of PR mistakes really rings true here in Australia too. The worst thing is when a PR signs you up to receive press releases or a business does so. I don’t sign them up to my newsletter and I think they’d be quite annoyed if I did so.

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37 Joanne September 19, 2010 at 5:27 am

I love this post Marla. You tell it like it is, and I gotta respect that. Thanks for standing up for our rights as bloggers. I hate it when companies try to take advantage of us and i’ve had quite a few try it on me. But I know all the time and energy that goes into each one of my posts and I think that i deserve proper compensation for it. And so do all the other bloggers out there!

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38 Sarah @ Mum In Bloom September 19, 2010 at 5:44 am

Thank you for this post. I’ve never been approached by PR people, but have marked my blog as “Ad Free” anyway and turned of the Monetize function. I couldn’t find a way to advertise with integrity so I don’t.. yet. I’d like to, but am not sure how to so I’m waiting patiently until I figure it out. I learned alot from your post and appreciate your courage in having your voice heard. Thank you :)

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39 Marla September 19, 2010 at 6:12 am

Sarah: We all need to find what works for us as far as ads go. Through trial and error over here, we add some and then take them away. The nice thing is when all of our hard work & daily online costs can be buffered. Every little thing counts. Running a blog gets more and more expensive the more popular it gets-with hosting costs, administration and of course our time investment .

Joanna: I have noticed that you are very careful how you discuss brands on your blog. I never feel a sense of “pushing” or promotion. When the right opportunities do come your way I will salute you!

Nigella: PR folks do that stuff in Australia too? LOL I drives me batty when someone adds my name to their subscription list. I think it is illegal to do so, non?

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40 A Canadian Foodie September 19, 2010 at 6:15 am

I have this kind of information on my ABOUT page. You may want to add yours there, too. I usually do not do promotions as most interfere with my life and make this hobby “work”, but, if they are something I would do anyway and believe in, I PROMOTE for free. I will do, and have done, paid writing, but not on my site. However, I do take free stuff that I review, again, if they are something I would do anyway and believe in. That is just me. I have never seen a paid post. Not that I am aware of, and I understand that in the US you have to claim upfront that the post is paid. But, I have never seen this at all.
Anyone requesting anything from me, must have read my ‘about me” page, as all have been done with grace. However, I have received hundreds of “please link me to you and I will do the same back”. These, I just delete.
Great, thoughtful post!
:)
Valerie

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41 Sara September 19, 2010 at 7:57 am

Marla, Thank you so much for sticking up for us bloggers. It’s about time that the blogger community gets respect & monetary reward that it deserves! You are the Best! :)

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42 Cookin' Canuck September 19, 2010 at 8:18 am

Fantastic post, Marla! This can be a really touchy topic and one on which you get a huge variety of opinions from bloggers. In my opinion, it comes down to the fact that we should each value the product that we produce. This means being compensated appropriately and not letting PR folks take advantage of us. At the same time, we need to keep in perspective why we starting doing this – for the love of food and keeping our passions alive.

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43 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. September 19, 2010 at 9:15 am

Great post! I don’t think we bloggers can explain how much time and effort we put into blogging and each post. Just cleaning up after a photo shoot is a ton of work (ask you mentioned on twitter yesterday). I think this is a timely situation, and I’m not sure where it’s going to go from here, but I think PR and brands are going to have to step up to the plate to work with people like us. Great insight and love your passion and drive!

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44 Maris (In Good Taste) September 19, 2010 at 9:29 am

Hi Marla! As a PR person and food blogger (I know there are others but gosh, sometimes I feel like I’m wearing a scarlet letter) I do agree with some of your points. I receive bad pitches daily but I also sit in on brainstorms with busy (and some of the smartest) PR people who are confused and bewildered by bloggers – a new sector of media with different rules that the media we’ve always worked with. There is an understanding in the PR world that says to “treat bloggers like journalists” when in fact, we are not all trained journalists. We are utilizing a different type of media. We started doing this out of love and even if blogs have evolved into a lucrative platform, most of us didn’t start out that way. And we are not getting a paycheck from a publishing company to deal with lousy PR requests.

What I don’t agree with is the “time away from my family” line because IF we are blogging for money, it is a job. And 99% of jobs require time away from family but people do that if it’s what they need to do to support themselves. Bloggers are in a very unique position of doing what we love and have the prospect of making money and I think it’s very, very easy for anyone to get caught up in that idea (myself included).

As far as the little errors – mis-typing your name, sending an email with a forward on it, etc. I chalk those up to human error. Just like there are bad doctors, bad lawyers, people in any industry that are bad at their job, there are bad PR people. I have sent the wrong email to the wrong person before because we’re all human and make mistakes but being conscientious, I immediately realized it, sent the person and email saying “I am so sorry! I know you’re Kristin and not Cindy…” or whoever and people appreciate when you’re being honest.

Gosh, I could write a book on this but it’s such an interesting topic. A lot of push-pull out there and thank you for taking the time to explore it!

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45 Marla September 19, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Maris: I am so happy to hear from a person that works in PR. Neat too how you cross over into the food blog world. I love your blog {In Good Taste} You are a very smart gal with great enthusiasm. I look forward to learning more from people like you as time goes on. You should be sitting on a panel at BlogHer Food!
I am not sure I understand your response about “travel & time away from my family.” All of my jobs have always been from the home & “freelance.” Even when I worked for Disney, I worked from home and made excellent money. If we travel to support a brand then the same compensation that would be given to a full time employee would be acceptable. Companies pay their people whether they are in house or not, on the road or in the cube.
The little errors: Of course there is room for mistakes. We all make them. Again, there are many brands & PR people that I have strong relationships with. Some I would even consider good friends. I ignore a lot of misspellings & other small details when I know the intent is sincere.
I would love to be a fly on the wall during one of your PR brainstorming sessions-as would many bloggers.

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46 Diane {createdbydiane.blogspot.com} September 19, 2010 at 10:23 am

Great post Marla! All the info in one place. Love it!

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47 Mags September 19, 2010 at 4:28 pm

Amen. Well said!

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48 FOODESSA September 20, 2010 at 8:32 am

Thank you Marla for being so outspoken…this will certainly enlighten many.

Ciao for now,
Claudia

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49 Nancy@acommunaltable September 20, 2010 at 10:45 am

Great post Marla and a great conversation. Like every business, PR firms are no different – everyone always want to pay the lowest price so I am not offended by it. I think each blogger needs to decide for themselves what they are willing to accept and then negotiate from there.

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50 Angie September 20, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Great post, I’ve read pr people talk about how outrageous mommy bloggers, not that that’s what we are, just a comparison, can be. They say when I pitch to so and so magazine, I just send a press release, and they want press releases to get content. Then the pr people say we are unprofessional untrained idiot wannabe journalists who don’t know how to just say thankyou for free product or information, giving us content to write about.

Where the misunderstanding comes, I think is with monetization. In a print magazine or newspaper, the advertising space sells for x amount of dollars, then the publication is sold to the consumer. For a full page ad, in a magazine, with x amount of sales, you’ll get x amount of dolllars. The cost per impression in print is much much higher for advertisers, and it should be, the value of a print ad impression is higher.

With our publications, they are free, we get no money to sell our content. Our advertising spots are much much cheaper. Your blog may serve the same amount of ad impressions that a magazine which supports employees. But we don’t even get enough money for groceries, somethings gotta give. Money has to be collected from pr people and companies. Expenses have to be covered.

Maybe these pr people need an economics class :) They’re mostly working women seeing us all as kept women eager to get attention, and that’s efin bs, that’s just from my impression talking and meeting with them. I have the same motives you do, and completely agree, those bloggers who just do it for the “love” are just mad about their contracts with okay, I’ll stop.

Angie

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51 Marla September 20, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Angie: WOW!!! Love what you say here. It is well thought out and I agree on the “kept” concept. They need to learn the harsh reality that we are not “kept.” I do not consider myself a mommy-blogger. I am a hard working professional with a great deal of drive & discipline. Blogging is not just a hobby, nor do most of the gals that I know do it just to score free stuff. Does not matter if you work from home, on the road or in a cube-everyone is worthy of a life and the right to support it. xo

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52 Matt Kay September 20, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Amen.

One thing I would like to point out is that while many of your blogger friends and some that are new to your blog – like myself – have read this post; those PR folks that are guilty of the charges you’ve outline above sadly will not read it.

Many times I experience “drive-by” requests. Someone from company xyz finds food related blog with pictures of products on it. They don’t go any further than that and immediately send an request to “sell their product”. They don’t do any preliminary research to find out if the lollipops that they see on a site are an affiliate link, something that is handmade and shipped or if it’s simply an article about lollipops.

I find that 90% of the time when I respond to request that were made this way by replying with an insertion order… I never hear from them again. Go figure.

Great read.
Matt Kay

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53 Faith September 21, 2010 at 5:31 am

Great post Marla! As passionate food bloggers we put so much time, effort, and energy into what we do and we deserve to be treated as professionals.

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54 Brad Fallon September 21, 2010 at 10:38 am

Thanks for bringing up this subject – everyone is thinking it but you had the courage to honestly share about it. Bravo!

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55 Heather September 22, 2010 at 7:17 am

Bravo Marla!! I’m giving you a standing ovation right now! Fantastic post! Thank you for putting it out there and bring light to everything. It is about time bloggers get recognized, appreciated, and compensated for all of the hard work!
Can’t wait to meet you at BlogHer Food. It’s amazing to think it’s only a few short weeks away.
Thanks again! Fabulous post!

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56 Marisa September 23, 2010 at 7:30 am

Great post and agree with you 100%! It’s time we blogger’s stood up for ourselves. It’s too easy to allow PR people to bully you because it’s “just a blog”. Things have changed, and blogs (and the online media in general) are becoming much more powerful, sometimes even usurping traditional print media.

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57 Jean at The Delightful Repast September 27, 2010 at 7:46 am

Hi Maria (just kidding!), Hi Marla, Wish we’d had a chance to chat at camp Saturday. I’ve only been at this 7 months or so, but I’m here to stay. I’ve a lot to learn about the blogging biz. Glad you mentioned “contests.” No, thanks, I won’t be working hard for a company for a chance to “win” something.

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58 Andrea DiGeronimo September 29, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Marla,

I don’t like this post…. I love it!!!! In addition to great recipes, photographs, information…. etc your writing skills, wit and tongue are as sharp as your knives. That personality that I love shines through like the sun. Ditto on the Bravo!!

xoxo, Andrea

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59 Alta October 7, 2010 at 11:20 am

This is great, Marla! I too am selective and try hard to protect my “brand” as a blogger. I don’t support my family with the blog, but that, to me, doesn’t mean I should treat my blog any differently than you express here. Thanks for sharing!

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60 Michelle (What's Cooking) October 10, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Thanks for a great post, Maria. I mean Marla. Kidding :-)
I know what you mean – I recently turned down a conference because I would have had to pay out of my own pocket to make their conference better. It’s also about what reflects upon our brand. Stand true to what you believe in and that helps all of us to not under-cut each other! I am so glad we connected in SF! xo

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61 Lesley Miller October 11, 2010 at 12:34 pm

HI Marla,

Thank you for taking time to talk to me last week at BlogHer after your panel on Friday. I really appreciated your feedback about the PR/blog community, and I also found this post to be right on target. I’m sending it around to my co-workers just in case they need an extra reminder of how to approach bloggers.

Thanks,
Lesley

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62 Melanie:::Adorkable October 13, 2010 at 1:49 pm

I have been blogging (lifestyle and food blogs) since 2008. I love this advice. I’m wondering, though, how I can get the PR other blogs get? What avenues do I need to take? Do I just wait? Who do I pursue? Anyone out there have any help for me? Thanks and blessings!

Melanie
adorkable-me.blogspot.com
adorkablerecipes.blogspot.com

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63 Megan October 15, 2010 at 6:47 am

Great post Marla, You came through loud and clear!!!

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64 Efi October 22, 2010 at 8:41 am

You are right about everything.

Best thing happened to me: a PR guy invited me to participate in a conference in Texas. He said he couldn’t cover my hotel expences, only my travel ticket. The thing this guy didn’t notice is that I come from Greece…
Imagine if I had accepted his offer and he had to tell his boss that the company must compensate me with 2.000 $ …hahaha

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65 Kirsty Hall January 20, 2011 at 6:08 am

Great article, thanks. This ties in to some similar conversations we’ve been having over in the craft/art community, specifically on Diane Gilleland’s Craftypod blog recently.

I once got a PR pitch about a new crunchy snack. Just one teeny tiny problem – I’m an art blogger. Now artists like crunchy snacks as much as the next person but they clearly hadn’t bothered to even glance at my site. I just laughed and hit delete but on a more serious note, all this stuff takes up our precious time. If companies can’t be bothered to target appropriately, what are they saying about their level of respect for us?

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66 Mike@The Culinary Lens July 22, 2011 at 6:15 pm

What a great post. I am a newbie for sure and have barely found my voice yet let alone a way to monetize. But this post is a great example of how willing I have found people in the blogging world are to share their knowledge. Thank You

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67 Marla July 22, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Hi Mike, thanks for stopping by & welcome to the wonderful world of food blogging. There is an amazing, honest & great community of folks out there. Folks who really want to help each other. This biz is evolving by the day & had grown in leaps and bounds since I wrote this post. Brands still need to come around, but more and more are as they see the influence we have in the marketplace.

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68 Jodi August 10, 2011 at 11:00 am

Great post, Marla! Also, thanks for linking to mine. It’s the most popular post I’ve ever written! Definitely a timely topic that lots of folks are interested in discussing.

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69 Johanna M. Cook September 17, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Marla

Thank you so much for this!! AMAZING!

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70 Kim Bee November 16, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Marla this is such a great article and I am thrilled I found it. I am fairly new to blogging, feeling my way through as I go. To date I’ve not monetized or taken anything for free. I know the day is coming when that will change. Yet I have no idea how to go about it. I really would love to go to a blog conference to learn more. I am starting to get emails now and to date have turned them all down as they don’t feel right. I think part of the problem is many of us do not know how to go about marketing ourselves and there does not seem to be an industry standard to which we can look to for help. People like you help tremendously by showing us the way it should be done. I really appreciate you writing this. I am off to read some of the related links.

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71 Marla November 16, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Kim, I am so happy I could be an inspiration and a help yo you guys! You all are to me as well :)

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72 william November 28, 2013 at 10:31 pm

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