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.


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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