Do you write for food? Have you ever done a post simply because a company sent you a free sample, or promised you one to give away? I want each of you that has done this to stop for a minute and ask yourself, if it was really worth your effort.
I ask this question, because as a new blogger I was so eager to be liked by my readers, that I thought give away’s were the answer. Every company that came down the pike that offered me product was promptly answered with an enthusiastic Hell Yeah!
But after awhile, I started to see a pattern, bloggers like myself that were too new to know better, or just so anxious to find that magic bullet that would propel them to the next level were simply being used. When you stop and think about it, we really are being used when we agree to write a blog post for a box or two of cookies, and if you don’t think you are, your only kidding yourself.
To better illustrate my point I thought I would come up with a few Truths about food blogging (but remember they’re what I perceive to be the truth)
1. Blogging should be fun! For as much work that it becomes, if it’s not fun find another hobby (or business)
2. If someone told you they were getting rich blogging, they lied! While you can make a supplemental income, the few that do make it to the big league are few and far between. (this is why it needs to be fun)
3. Your time is valuable! This should really be number one, because if you don’t value your time and your hard work, no one else will!
4. Food doesn’t magically appear in your refrigerator, you have to spend your money on it, So don’t give your posts away! (if food does magically appear in your refrigerator or cupboards please send me detailed instructions on how you got it to do that)
5. You are special and companies will want to feature you using their products, because you write well, take good pictures, and make kick ass dishes! ( but the PR people who do the minor giveaways know what their target market is, and they will always prey on the new overly enthusiastic bloggers, or bloggers looking to increase their readership)
6. The Truth is, doing giveaways will only temporarily increase your readership, and actually in the circles we run in, most of the increase will come from other bloggers. (I’ll let you in on a little secret…shh….while I dearly love all my fellow bloggers, they’re my friends, my inspiration, and my support system…..but they aren’t the readers we’re looking for! You want regular every day people to read your blog, those that will actually make your dishes, and tell their friends about you……real people, eating real food! And sadly these people will more than likely never hear about your give aways}
7. Stay true to your voice, that’s what’s going to increase your readership. (the only people that really benefit from give away’s are the winners, and the Companies that got all that free advertising from you)
8. Remember Number 3, that should have been Number 1, well I’m going to tell you again because it’s that important. Your time is valuable, you should be paid for your work. The people asking you to do the give away’s aren’t working for free, so why should you?
Okay, that’s about it for this list, I mean I could go on, but those are what I consider the most important points for you to think about. Now I’m going to add a little disclaimer in here, because there are always exceptions to the rule!
These truths don’t apply to give away’s that have true value. If Kitchen Aid, Villeroy and Boch (or only in my dreams Viking Range) approach you, that’s a whole different story, major players in the industry pick the cream of the crop to represent them, and they’re giving you merchandise that has value, so in essence you are being paid for your work. The other exception to the rule is that every now and then you find a company that you really like, and that really likes you, and it’s almost like your going steady, because you develop a relationship with them and enjoy working with each other…….should you still be paid, yeah you should, but sometimes your happy just being part of the company, they may feature you, use your recipes, and promote you. If they do all that for you, again there’s value there and its a fair trade. I have a relationship like that with Chobani, they’re really nice people and I truly like the product and enjoy working with them, and they send me product without any expectations.
So you say okay Chef, you tell me, my time is valuable and I should be paid, but no one’s offering to pay me, what I do I do? Well, let’s look at the reason why companies aren’t offering to pay for your services or the advertising that you do for them, and I think you know why, because when we start out blogging we’re so desperate for attention and so grateful to anyone that wants to give us anything, that we jump on the chance…….and that’s why they don’t offer to pay for our services. Why should they, when we’ll write for food.
How do we stop this? Again, you know the answer…..we stop working for free. When I get those emails now, and they don’t come as frequently as they use to (remember they want the overly eager new bloggers), I thank them for their kind offer, but explain that if they would like me to review they’re product and write a blog post about it, that I will send my rates. I also offer ad space on my blog on a monthly basis. Now you’ve set the tone, most won’t return the email, and some will ask for your rates. Now here is where I wish we had set rates, that would make life so much easier, (mine run from $50 -$150 a month) I wouldn’t set them too high at first (not that your time is less valuable when you start, but you have to crawl before you walk), and for me it also depends on what the product is. Remember to not only charge for your time, but also for other ingredients you will be using, heck even if they sent you a visa gift card for $100 that would be the cheapest advertising they would ever do (except your free posts)
Think about what ads cost in newspapers and magazines, they are very costly, so asking for compensation only makes sense. While were on the subject of blogging for food, the same holds true for your images. The elves didn’t leave that new camera with the macro lens, or those photo lights and all the props you’ve acquired, so if someone wants to use one of your images in a publication or for advertising, charge them!! Give them rates for a one time limited use of your image, I would start that at around $125 and that’s still cheap. Remember if it was that easy to get the picture they wanted, they could take it themselves.
Now we do have exceptions as before, if they give you credit and it’s in a publication that’s going to really get your name out to the public, and increase your readership, then that’s a pretty good trade. Everything is negotiable , just remember that you deserve some type of compensation for your work even if it’s in the form of a trade of services.
So once again I ask you…….Do you write for food, and do you think you really should? Think about it, just remember if you want people to see value in what you do, you have to first place value on it yourself.
This is the busiest week of the year for me at school, that and the fact that were all exhausted has made for a very interesting week, I could tell you soooo much more, but I think I signed papers saying I wouldn’t divulge that information….lol Hang in there with me please, I promise some very tasty posts next week!
See you soon!