Friday, April 15, 2011

There's No $$ in Blogging! (Not Much Anyway)

Last Wednesday I had the honor of being a panelist on the subject of Food Writing for Table Talk, an event put on by the Sacramento Press and the Sacramento Bee. I, obviously, represented food bloggers, there was an Elite Yelper, Micah, and also Niesha Lofing, staff writer for the Bee. Towards the end of the panel we got into a little discussion on advertising, whether you make money at blogging, and how do you handle getting freebies and does it bias what you write. 


Anyone who has read my blog a few times knows that I am very open about any of my sponsorships, getting freebies, etc. For one thing, there is now an FCC rule that we must disclose when we write about something that we might have received a deal on. Besides that, though, I've got nothing to hide.  Here are a few examples of how I handled it.

Crockpot Wednesday: Fragrant Long-Life Brown Rice with Sweet Potatoes 
I was contacted by the California Rice Commission and asked if I might consider doing a post about their rice. I said I would be happy to if I could find one that would fit into my Crockpot Wednesdays. They sent me some brown rice and some information about the rice that is grown in California.

Drewski's Hot Rod Kitchen
He recognized me from Saturday and said they had listened to my suggestions. They insisted I try the tweaked version on the house
Disclaimer: I have a trade deal with Yogurtagogo because I truly do love their yogurt.

Every blogger handles their situations differently. There are bloggers out there that won't write about anything they got for free as a matter of ethics. I don't know if it's a cultural, social, or family thing, but I was raised as a bit of tightwad. I'm always on the lookout for a bargain or a discount. I love Groupons and half price deals. So if your company wants to send me free stuff, as long as it's something I'll use and like, I'll take it. (I won't take any alcohol products because I don't drink any, so that would be pointless.)

Now sometimes I can get into a bind where I get a free sample and I'm not impressed with it. That happened a couple of months ago after the Fancy Food Show. I got sent a cookie dough sample that was supposed to be oh-so great because it was all organic. It didn't taste or act as anything different than my own cookie dough. And because I bake, I couldn't justify pushing it when I would never buy it myself. So I just "forgot about it".


Most bloggers use ad bars from Google or Amazon to help generate a little revenue on their sites. The thing is, you need to have a decent readership to make anything. I've been doing this for three years and I think the most I ever made in a single month from these ad bars might have been about $15.  Poor Girl Kimberly has a much larger readership than I do. She has tens of thousands of hits a month versus my mere thousands. Still, she can't survive off of it. She can sometimes make a couple of hundred dollars a month - enough for her to pay some of her bills. To be able to actually survive off your blog you need to be in the millions of hits per month. A local example of this is the Simply Recipes site. 

Sometimes you are able to find a sponsor that will actually pay you cash for a spot on your blog. For me, it's usually more trade. For instance, Red Lobster paid for my conference fee last year so I could go to the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle. It wasn't much, a few hundred dollars, but it was money that I didn't have. And I've mentioned in the posts about the laser lipo that I got a significant discount on the procedure in return for writing about the experience and the ad placement.

Bloggers will generally tell you the same thing - we do it because we love it. For the most part, it's fun. It's definitely rewarding. I've made so many new friends, contacts, relationships both business and social. Many of my current friends were met in some regard to this blog. I'm able to express myself in my own way with my own words. And if I get a couple of perks from it, well that's nice too.
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