Food For Thought

Food For Thought

Today’s post is not about food but about the food blogging life. It may sound like a rant at times, but I assure you it is not. It’s just an observation paired with a few questions I have asked myself.

First, though, a few basics about why I blog. I’ve said it many times before: I blog because I love to be creative with existing recipes as well as think up new ones, because I appreciate feedback, and also because since starting this blog I’ve gotten the photography bug.

By no means am I a professional cook/chef, recipe creator or photographer. These are all my hobbies, and I enjoy them tremendously.

I do not want to write a cookbook (hope I’m not going to eat those words in a few years….), I have no ambitions to make this blog pay for my hobbies through advertising (or any other way), and I have no plans to sell my pictures. Having said that, I don’t see why I should let anyone else – professionals – use my blog, my recipes or my pictures to make money. And this is what this post is about.

I have been approached – like I’m sure many of you have – by people and companies this past year that wanted me to do something for them. They made it sound, though, as if they would be doing something for me. Here are a few examples: there was a dairy company who asked me to create a recipe with one of their products, a health food site that wanted me to create a themed recipe for them, a high-end consumer retail company that wanted me to put a link on my website, and a PR company that wanted to use some of my pictures for commercial purposes.

After the last such request, I remembered this article I read recently, and that’s what made me write this post: Dianne Jacob’s 7 Outrageous Requests to a Food Blogger. Re-reading this article made me question the ethics of the requests I have received.

I know bloggers can benefit from getting exposure, but here’s something to think about:

  • The dairy company wants me to create a recipe with their product. If they’d asked this of a professional chef, I’m sure they’d have had to pay them, or at least supply the product.
    Not only do I not want to make money from my blog, I don’t want to spend money either to promote a company, nor do something for them that they would normally pay professionals for.
  • The same goes for the health food website – they’d have to pay a professional to develop a recipe for them. If I had done it, the recipe and photos would be on their website, worst case would be they then own my recipe and pictures, and in my experience not much traffic will come your way if they’ve already posted your content.
  • The American retail company wanted me to place a link to their coupon website because “…we’re sure your readers will benefit from this.” Seeing that I live in Germany (OK, so maybe I should think about adding this to my ABOUT page so people are aware), the European/worldwide readers, including myself, would not benefit from this. It’s just a way for the company to make (more) money.
  • The PR company wanted me to let them have some of my pictures for a case study in cooperation with a cookware company. Read: to make money using my pictures. I’m sure a PR company is fully aware of stock photography sites where they can purchase such pictures. It seems they think a blogger would be happy enough to give them away for free.

Those are just a few examples, and I’m sure many of you have made the same experiences. I know people might be easily impressed being contacted by renowned companies and feel honoured that they’re interested in their blogs, recipes and pictures.

A lot of bloggers want that chance to be offered a cookbook deal, increase their income through blogging, or just get noticed by the food world. But ask yourselves what your ethics are, and whether you agree with your (often hard and certainly time consuming) work to be treated like that. What I am certainly not saying is that I expect everyone to think the same way about all this that I do. Not at all. But maybe it’s some food for thought?

Here are some further links to interesting recipe articles by Dianne Jacob:

Giving Recipes Away a Big Subject at IFBC

Getting Paid For Recipes – One Year Later [The comments here are also well worth reading!]