What’s Going On With Food Blogging?

March 4, 2015 | By | COMMENTS

For as long as I’ve been a food blogger (more than a decade), I’ve been an open book; sharing major life events as they’ve happened–moving to California, getting engaged–and pretty much treating you, my faithful audience, like a close friend I could trust. Then, sometime around October, something happened that I didn’t feel comfortable putting out there because I didn’t understand what was happening while it was happening and now that it’s happened I still haven’t quite processed it. To make it brief, food blogging as a career (at least for me, but others too) became impossible.

How so? Ad companies are no longer interested in the ads that you see above you right now and to the side. They’re interested in the ads that get integrated into posts; the ones that so many of you have complained about me doing in the past. Sponsored content. And I reached a point, in October, where it was no longer a choice; my contract, with a guaranteed CPM (that’s how much I got paid per thousand clicks) expired and, going forward, the only way I could make money was to do more sponsored posts. I told my ad company that I didn’t see how this was sustainable; after a certain point, you start to lose your readers’ trust. In December, I said that I didn’t want to do any more sponsored posts. Last week, we parted ways.

This story will resonate for anyone who, like me, made a career out of food blogging over the past decade. It’s a rough transition; this sequence of events sent me into an existential crisis that resulted in me leaping on to a whole new career path in November (one I’m really excited about). Too soon to talk about that, but the takeaway is that I realized I could no longer rely on food blogging to be my sole source of income. That sentence is funny to re-read because could anyone ever really rely on food blogging as a sole source of income? Well, at the beginning it wasn’t clear; and for a while, it seemed possible (supplemented with book deals and TV shows and magazine columns, if you could swing it). But now the writing’s on the wall: to do this full-time, you’ve either got to be wildly successful or you’ve got to be a shill. I’m not the former, for a while I was (uncomfortably) the latter, but now I have to stake out a new path as a food blogger and that’s what I’m trying to figure out.

Funny enough, the answer might be staring me in the face. The blog itself, and the history of the blog, is one of passion. If money had been my motivation, I could’ve chosen a far more lucrative career path (whoa: is that a law degree in my closet? How did that get there?). That said, a person’s gotta pay the bills, so how I reconcile that fact with my desire to keep this thing alive is a saga that’ll be on-going over the next few months and beyond. The hardest part has been keeping all of this from you, my loyal readers, because you’re the whole reason this thing works in the first place. Thanks for being patient during this bumpy period; I promise to keep you all in the loop from now on.

Your pal,
Adam

Tags: , , ,

Categories: Blog Business

  • WendyR

    Your blog is one of my favorite parts of the Internet. I totally understand that making a living off of a blog, especially now that the blogosphere is so crowded, is much easier said than done. I’ll be glad to read your posts whenever you do have time for them, and I hope you do keep us in the loop. Especially about wedding planning, please. :)

  • AlyssaJ

    Boo, this makes me sad! But, I totally understand. Agreed with WendyR – I’ll be happy to keep reading your posts however frequently or infrequently you are able/want to make them!

  • Suzanne

    Adam, I’ve really enjoyed your blog over the years. I’m going through a transition with my business now too, and I understand how tough it can be. I wish you all the best and will be watching to see where you go!

  • a fan

    Kudos to you for not being that shill! It has been driving me crazy to see lots of other blogs I read (lifestyle in general, not just food) devolve into that and I applaud you for your integrity. You have earned a lifelong fan in me for doing so. I have stopped reading those other blogs because of their choice (which I get, is a hard one.) Anyways, congrats on the new chapter and I hope you keep writing here when you can.

  • Sara

    I have been reading and enjoying your blog for over 10 years. I selfishly hope you still write here a little but wish you the best with whatever your next chapter is.

  • AG

    Cheers for your honesty.

  • DJ

    I’m really sorry to hear that this happened, but think your instincts are right. Over the past year, I have gradually noticed blogs that I once loved for interesting, novel content turn to “listicles” and canned “fixes” for over-inflated problems (not to mention the super cheesy stock photography!). My reading time is really limited, and I have started weeding out blogs that have upped the quantity at the cost of quality. Most of all, I wanted to thank you for your work on this blog and say how much I have appreciated your voice and perspective. I hope your new endeavor is also something where we can follow along vicariously, and wish you all the best.

  • Mike L

    I had a feeling this is what was going one when the pace of the posts started to wane. You have become such a friend to us through your amazing body of work you produced over the past (more than a) decade. I do hope your new endeavors provide a source of income you richly deserve and that you can keep posting once in a while to keep us updated on you and Craig. Bonne chance, mon ami!

  • efrompdx

    Adam, I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for years. I will continue to read whatever you write. It’s been a pleasure. And, I have even tried some of the recipes!
    Carry on doing what’s best for you.

  • http://staceysnacksonline.com Stacey Snacks

    Adam, good for you that you have made a full time career from blogging all these years…………I have been working for food all these years! I hope you are not going away from that Piglet nonsense, which I could not believe escalated to that level. Please continue to write and blog, I really enjoy your site.
    Good luck!

  • Christine

    Fascinating to read, though understandingly troubling for you. It is so scary to have to reinvent yourself. I have been through this over the past four years myself, and the first year or so was stressful as I thrashed around being over reactive. I am a firm believer that when one door closes, a better one can open, and that has definitely happened to me.

    It so pisses me off to get to the end of a post and read “sponsored by Electrolux “. Makes me wonder how much is compromised to get this sponsorship. I never click on ads, but that is my choice. Plenty of people do, but to get to the end of a post and see the sponsorship makes me feel really conned.

    Will be very interested to keep reading your posts. I love your bad, unslick photography and your great sense of humour. Just keep writing dude, try not to stress, and look for those cracks if new doors opening.

  • http://www.looselogic.com/ Rob

    I appreciated that you made it clear from the very beginning of each of those posts that it was sponsored. I never felt as angry about it as others, and am bummed that this will probably mean a lot less blogging for you in the future, but I’ll be excited to see what comes next!

  • Jill Donnelly

    I have been wondering what the next revolution of the internet will be. I’m old enough to remember the world before internet, and have been an early adopter of almost all media, until the last few years. With the onslaught of click bait sites in our midst now I keep thinking we’re ripe for another evolution. I’m glad you are being thoughtful and it sounds like maybe even finding another passion? Life is about change. I just really want to keep you in mine. So don’t go away!

  • Dana @ Foodie Goes Healthy

    I totally understand your predicament. I respect your integrity. I hope your next incarnation is phenomenal. I really enjoy your blog writing, your sense of humor, and your food sensibility, so I hope you can continue to share your talents in some format. There is a lot of similar talk like you have described on the Facebook group Food Blogger Friends, so request to be added if you’d like to read the chatter from other bloggers (very big in readership to small). The main message is to diversify the income stream. Can’t wait to hear what you’ve worked out to do next. Best of luck, Dana

  • Deb

    I hope you never stop writing, Adam! And I look forward to whatever your next project will be.

  • Eleana

    I’ve read your whole blog. Twice. I hope that you still keep it up, even if you don’t post as often. Good luck with your new path in the meantime! Xoxo

  • http://www.bakelovegive.com/ kimberly.ann

    I commend you for sticking to your gut. I admit I’ve done some sponsored posts here and there, but only for brands I already use and trust. I’ve been very selective and often question the “could I be making more” and quickly move on to remain authentic to myself. The most ridiculous that I’ve seen growing in popularity is the ads placed OVER photos. I’m sorry, but I do not spend hours styling, shooting, and editing photos that I am genuinely proud of to have them covered by obnoxious print and stock photography. I’ve always wondered how much those bring in to get someone to cover up their hard work, but then I realize I don’t want to know. No amount of money is worth hiding my work behind someone else’s promotional material.

  • srh

    Totally been a lurker for years, but have found your information on restaurants and many of your recipes invaluable (people rave about your best ever chili recipe still). I am so sorry that you can no longer make a living doing this work, but I do appreciate all the information you have shared (as did our NJ friends who we finally took to Prune on your suggestion, one of the coziest/nicest meals we’ve shared with them).

    Thank you!

  • http://spontaneoustomato.com/ Allison (Spontaneous Tomato)

    To echo some other comments, this makes me sad for you too, but also all of my favorite food blogs are the passion projects (like yours!) that don’t do sponsored content posts. I admire you for sticking to your guns like that.

  • Priority Food

    Ack! Here I am just starting out and I read this. Well, that’s like me, isn’t it? Well, you wouldn’t know, but I’m ashamed to say, it is. I appreciate, though, reading this, no matter how difficult you may have felt it was to share. It’s always best to be honest– transparent, isn’t that the new buzz word? I also think that life nowadays requires us to jump from one thing to another, and be quick about it, because technology moves so fast. I think you’re lucky to have had ten years. I doubt anyone will get a decade at anything from here on out. It’s exhausting, but we all must make a living, mustn’t we? Thank you for this work you’ve put out here. I’ve always enjoyed following along, and I hope I get to still, but then we’ll see won’t we?

  • Ruchira

    Adam, have deep respect for you. Being an editor, what you describe really resonates with me. But I do hope you continue to write, even if it’s not as frequent as earlier.

  • Alexsulliv

    Keep writing, if only for your own enjoyment and to share your trips. I’ve always enjoyed your writing and being open, I hope to see it continue however (in)frequent it is. Thank you for sharing you, with us!

  • Kiara Sexton

    Please do sponsored content! But choose brands that really resonate with you! Awesome craft foods, specialty ingredients, farmers, producers!

  • Molly

    Love your blog, and cookbook. The world changes (is changing), and you will continue to do what you love in some format or other. Hope you keep us readers in the loop. If you ever end up in nowheresville Charlotte, NC, let me know!

  • Anonymous

    I have been a silent follower of you for a few years–this is my first post. Thank you for being honest with us, the audience, and more importantly, to yourself. You are the amateur gourmet. Not the foodblog slut. I wish more had your principles.

    Good luck on the transition

  • Keith

    I have not been following you long but I will miss you. Good luck in your new venture.

  • http://cookingwithamy.blogspot.com/ Amy Sherman

    Adam you have proven that you are smart and talented and I have no doubt your next endeavor will be a success.Thankfully there ARE other ways to make a living than ads and sponsored posts. I’m living proof of that.

  • http://cookingwithamy.blogspot.com/ Amy Sherman

    Adam you have proven that you are smart and talented and I have no doubt your next endeavor will be a success.Thankfully there ARE other ways to make a living than ads and sponsored posts. I’m living proof of that.

  • Julie Ruble

    I continue to be hurt and frustrated about bloggers tearing down other bloggers for doing sponsored content. I don’t do much and I have no problem with people making their own choices. But for instance, when a brand of butter I love wanted me to develop recipes for them, that was a win-win for me. I could share what I loved, get paid for my work, maintain my personal ethics.

    What I really miss about food blogging isn’t the CPM — it’s the solidarity and support. Unfortunately, there’s so much cattiness, shade, and division now. I hate reading a blog I admire and finding I’ve been reduced to a shill for making a different choice than that blogger despite having a strong code of ethics that I follow.

  • Julie Ruble

    Also… I guess here’s what’s going on in my heart. I feel discouraged. I feel like to make people happy, I have to work for free. I’ve worked my WHOLE LIFE to become a writer and get paid for my stories. I found a way to make that happen — an HONEST way to get paid to write; sorry, pardon me while I channel Virginia Woolf here for a minute — and now I feel pressure to sacrifice that meager pay because of the perception. Really, ouch.

  • http://machetiseimangiato.com Rossella

    I’m an Italian foodblogger, a little one. As you I’m asking myself why I started blogging and what be a blogger means now. It’s time to take decisions, make choices, as you done. I really appreciated, loved your sincere post.

  • TIFFIN bite sized food adventu

    Thanks for sharing your story Adam. I understand how hard it is to balance the desires of your readers, your conscience and your chequebook. A truly heartfelt post. I look forward to what comes next. I salute and support you!

  • TIFFIN bite sized food adventu

    Well said kimberly.ann

  • Barbara

    I’ve read you for years and have your book…I can’t imagine you not being in blog form! I feel like I know you. I check virtually every day to see if you have a new post up, and live and eat vicariously through you! : ) Here’s to success in whatever direction you go. I wish you the best life has to offer, and my prayer is that you will continue to share it with us for years to come.

  • http://www.pharmaonlinerx.com/mens-health/30-caverta.html Jessica

    Hy…. Very great and informative blog post here. I will share your post with others. Thanks for sharing with us. Keep sharing more interesting things with us
    Malegra DXT

  • http://www.pharmaonlinerx.com/mens-health/30-caverta.html Jessica

    Hy…. Very great and informative blog post here. I will share your post with others. Thanks for sharing with us. Keep sharing more interesting things with us
    Malegra DXT

  • Jessica Jones

    Your blog is pretty much the only food blog I read these days. So many have been abandoned or become repetitive or I’ve just lost interest but you always kept me interested, Adam. I was one of those people not a fan of seeing sponsored content on your blog but I know how business works so I just skipped over those posts. I’m happy to hear you’ll no longer be doing those and proud to see you go the other direction and I hope we won’t lose your blog completely in the process. I love hearing about your life – be it food, family, your cat, your partner – so I hope you just keep writing. xoxo

  • Arlene

    Love your blog. No matter what decisions you make, even if it meant sponsored posts, I would support you and continue to read your column. You are genuine and funny. I wish you the best in the future.

  • Mel

    Yours is without a doubt my favourite food blog, and while I’ll miss it very much if you have to stop writing to begin writing a lot less frequently, please know that we’re all very very grateful for all of the incredible content you’ve produced over the years! Do whatever is best for you!

  • Erin B.

    You’re one of my “every day” blogs, and I’ve noticed that a lot of my other ones have been abandoned or have slowed and I wonder if this isn’t why. I’m sure that whatever you end up doing, you’ll bring a fresh and unique perspective that will ultimately lead to success. Good luck – and keep sharing when you can!

  • Sarah Beth

    Oh man. I had a feeling this was going on! This makes me really sad– I have been reading your blog since we both lived in Atlanta, many many years ago (though I think this is my first time commenting since your very short lived attempt at running a dating site, which I was really excited about and then you totally abandoned! like, 10 years ago.) I am so glad that you are taking a stand against the crazy-unnatural feel of those sponsored posts, but I am also really sad that this means that you might be leaving the blog world. where else will i learn how to, well, cook? good luck, and i hope whatever you do next allows you some time to keep up the blog, even just a little!

  • http://www.eatitatlanta.com jimmy

    Kudos to you for not going the sponsored content route, and best of luck in your adventures. I’ve always appreciated the personal nature of your approach to blogging, and hope you continue in some way.

  • JennyM

    So sad to read. I love reading your blog and enjoy the feeling you are genuinely sharing yourself with us.Thank you for being so honest in this post, and “telling it like it is.” Disappointed for myself, but excited for your new opportunity. I look forward to reading whatever you are able to share, whenever you can fit it in.

    If you have the time / inspiration, I would love to hear which food blogs you enjoy and consider are maintaining their integrity in this manipulative new world.

  • Steph

    Looking forward to reading about your transition. Best of luck.

  • Maria

    Thanks for the honesty and keep us posted! We’ll follow where your content goes :-)

  • Sarah

    Have you heard of AdThrive? It’s an ad management company that has made myself and a lot of other bloggers (most of whom are not as influential as you are, including myself) a lot of money by managing DFP for sidebar ads – no sponsored stuff required. You should look into it ASAP!

  • Deborah Frazier Juckett

    I love your blog and hope you keep it up, however infrequent…..and I swoon for your bookcase.

  • Carol

    Just to echo what many others are saying: you have long been one of my absolute favorite food blogs. I would have never thought less of you for doing sponsored posts (although I may have taken their content with a grain of salt), but I appreciate your integrity. What I love most about your blog is your absolute realness. So much of the food blogs I see lately are all the same: pristine white kitchens/pictures of food with pristine white backgrounds. Everything is full of “health-washing” buzzwords, like paleo and kale and gluten-free or packed into mason jars and tied with ribbons. And yet anyone who cooks for themselves regularly knows that that isn’t reality for anyone except maybe Gwyneth Paltrow. Your food blog always spoke to me because you come as you are and don’t take yourself too seriously, while still being a clever and talented cook and baker. I am looking forward to see whatever is next for you and will still turn to you for recipe, dinner party and restaurant ideas with a dose of humor for as long as you are willing to provide them!

  • Guest

    oh I thought she had a great body http://golink.xyz/yR5Bq until I saw the last photo.

  • Tim

    go ahead and write those sponsored posts i will read them. Please dont go away you are my favorite.

    -Been reading your blog since 2008

  • Jessica

    I love your blog so much, if you created a donation page, I would donate!

  • Jessica

    I feel I need to add/reiterate/expand…
    There are websites that provide free content that I appreciate so much, that when they create ways to donate money, or pledge for certain creations, I’m willing to do that. Adam, I am willing to do that for you, and I bet I’m not the only one. I SO appreciate your openness and honesty. I don’t comment often, but I check this page every day because I feel like you are my internet friend. I have enjoyed watching your journey as a cooking professional as well. Please don’t go away!!!! What can we do to get you to stay?!?!?!?

  • rachel

    hats off. you should ask for reader sponsorship. it would be a like a pledge drive on npr but you would have to promise not to beat the dead horse.

  • Anonymous

    Adam, I have followed you for years and I will follow you for several more (amount unknown). I love your photos, your words, your cookbook, your instagram, your love for Lola and Craig. Thank you for your honesty. To SEVERAL more years.

  • Maggie

    Adam feels like a shill when he promotes products, and you don’t. The way I see it, his decision about what he needs to do to feel right with himself doesn’t say anything about what you need to do to feel right for yourself. Stick by your guns, and he can stick by his.

  • http://www.forkspoonnknife.com/ Asha

    Adam, Here is my two cents. Just food blogging was never self-sustaining. For a brief span of time, there was a window of opportunity to make a windfall through banner ads. But, not surprisingly, it becomes both commoditized and inefficient. I do digital strategy for clients and am also a food blogger. To be honest, I find ads loathsome from both points of view. As a company, they are lease efficient use of ad spend with minuscule ROI and it served its purpose when noone knew how to better target their audience. That is no longer the case. As a food blogger, I really don’t like random ads fighting for attention with my content. I do not expect anyone to click on them because the probability of relevance is less than 0.5%. That said I do believe doing sponsored posts is great thing for both parties. The onus however lies with the blogger in identifying relevant brands that you can genuinely endorse because you believe it and/or use it. That is a win-win-win for all. You get to work with who you care about. Your readers acknowledge that you are only telling them about products you would use yourself. And, the company, find a great way of engaging real potential customers. If you have readers who do not understand the basic economics of living, i.e. you need money to make that food that you write about, I would argue that they are not readers whom you are likely to build a long term engagement with. That is, they don’t care about you. So, do the nay-sayers really matter? The crux is in finding genuine partnerships all around….

  • Kirk

    I am sorry to hear of your struggles. The last couple of years reading your blogs has been fun and informative. I am sure whatever you choose to do next will be great. I have a blocker that won’t allow sponsored posts to load on my page, so I never noticed the significance. If you choose to leave bloggerville, I will miss you.

  • LizG

    I really appreciate the sincerity and honesty in your writing – Best of luck to you in this transition.

  • Angela Bond

    I very rarely comment, but I have been reading your blog for years and always look forward to seeing a new post pop up. But, change is a part of life, no matter how unwelcome it may be at times…and often, it turns out to be for the better! I can’t wait to hear what the future has in store for you, but I sincerely hope you continue to blog (for fun!?) so that those of us who love you can still be a part of you life. I wish you all the best!

  • tunie
  • Kim Broom

    Whatever you do next, it has to be involved with Food because that’s where you are pure genius. Best wishes to you!

  • Maggie

    I am sorry to hear about the realities of the food blogging business. I do appreciate that you declined the sponsored posts. They are just awful and I just stopped reading any blog that has them I’ve wondered why they seem to be more prevalent theses days. That being said, I really enjoy this space and hope there’s some way to make it work. Good luck!

  • Anonymous

    I have read your blog for a few years, and enjoy it very much (I even
    used your broccoli recipe for a catered event), and look forward to
    reading your work whenever you post it.
    I don’t do a food blog, but do publish a daily local news site. That site is, currently, my only gainful endeavor, so I understand where you are coming from. When I monetized my site I made a conscious decision to avoid ad companies, which works for me as I publish for local consumption. I make most of my own ads and banners, and if I find a real job again, it will be great extra income.
    To your point about sponsored posts: I consider sponsored posts the same as a celebrity chef hawking brand names (you know, like cheese and yoghurt). I feel that giving into sponsorships like that damages one’s credibility, and wholeheartedly salute you for taking this stand. Remember, Julia Child refused endorsements, and I would bet that if she were alive and blogging today, she would take the same path you are.

    Thank you.

  • http://www.savannabel.com/ SavannaBel

    I love your integrity, thank you.

  • Marcy

    I have always loved, and will continue to love, how very genuinely YOU you are. Props to you for following your heart. Looking forward to the next chapter.

  • Nicholas

    This makes me very sad. Just like many have said, I love this blog, cook from this blog and genuinely enjoy following your work. I hope that the new direction means more visabiliity for your great wrok.

  • http://bringbackdelicious.com/ Rebecca @ Bring Back Delicious

    Well I appreciate that you’re distinguishing yourself and not selling your soul all for the sale of promoting someone elses questionably good products. Be you!

  • MarryM

    Adam, Your writing does make you seem like a close friend kinda. I have spoken about you ‘Adam this’ or ‘Adam that’ which is cool. What a pleasure it is to check in with you on the web.

  • Alec Smart

    Throw it into Craig’s bum and everything will be OK. Why don’t you get a job at Subway if blogging sucks so much ? No sympathy here dude.

  • Chris, a loyal reader

    Thank you for being up-front with your readers (as you always are). Your blog is great and so are you. Whatever comes of this bumpy period, please know that what you have built here over the past decade is a wonderful source of fun, information, and inspiration. It is a true testament to your talent and you should be so proud. Best of luck as you continue to evolve, adapt, and grow. Many thanks and best wishes moving forward!

  • Chris, a loyal reader

    Thank you for being up-front with your readers (as you always are). Your blog is great and so are you. Whatever comes of this bumpy period, please know that what you have built here over the past decade is a wonderful source of fun, information, and inspiration. It is a true testament to your talent and you should be so proud. Best of luck as you continue to evolve, adapt, and grow. Many thanks and best wishes moving forward!

  • Elyse

    I am so sad to read this. I make so many of your recipes and I’m always eager to read your new ones. You’ve also been such an inspiration to me with my cooking. I hope we still hear from you and what’s happening in your life (and occasional recipes???). Will the blog go away? Should I start printing out recipes? Good luck to you and whatever you do next. Just don’t completely leave us!

  • Molly

    What about a subscription for your readership? I’d pay an annual fee to read you.

  • WendyR

    I just want to also add that I think you’re right about there being some kind of sea change in the world of blogging right now. I’m noticing a lot more advertising (especially the obnoxious floating banners) and sponsored posts, even on sites that I think of as leaders in the world of successfully monetizing blogs – The Pioneer Woman, Serious Eats, etc.

    Also, I agree with the people who’ve suggested a pledge drive or subscription service. I generally hate paying for things on the Internet, but I’d gladly pay to read your blog, especially after how much enjoyment and cooking inspiration it’s given me over the years.

  • ellie

    Adam, thank you for so honestly sharing your thoughts and situation with us. As many others have said, I would gladly pay for a subscription or any way to keep you in my life! You are my first stop (and typically also last) for any recipe research or dinner ideas. You are real and authentic and I am so grateful that you don’t go on these sponsored cruises and write about how great the new Reese’s peanut butter spread is with a tiny little star at the bottom saying it was sponsored.

    That said.. Rancho Gordo should really sponsor you, because you have turned me and so many others on to them!

    I wish you the best of luck and hope that whatever you do, you will share it with your very loyal readers. I don’t know what I will look forward to anymore if not a new pasta recipe from you! (I share the same passion for the carb, and live off of your recipes).

  • Laura

    I have to say I’m quite gutted at this news. Your recent hiatus was hard enough! Saying that, I wish you all the best and will continue to check in every so often to see if there’s anything new. I’ll also continue to cook my way through your blog posts/recipes and hopefully visiting places and restaurants that you’ve highlighted.
    Cheers

  • http://www.snackingsquirrel.com Kelsey Taylor

    very interesting article piece you’ve written. you make valid points and it was a great read! thanks

  • Sarah Spigelman

    Bravo, Adam. This is why you will always keep your readers. I can’t tell you how inspiring I find you on a personal and professional level. Can’t wait to hear more about your future adventures :)

  • Anonymous

    Adam, I like all of the others commenting below, are sad to hear this news. You are my favorite blogger. You are smart, witty, funny, kind, snarky, honest and amusing. Mostly smart. You write beautifully and I hope that is part of your future plans. I will buy anything you write.
    I am not surprised with the changes in the blog world. Seems like the cycle is changing and eventually shutting down because, a sponsored blog is usually no longer a blog.
    My two daughters, 15 and 17, are into “you tubers” the way I enjoy blogs. It drives me crazy because almost ALL of them are sponsored. My girls think it is so amazing that their favorites are so successful… Duh…. they are sponsored. They wouldn’t do it for free and that trend will end so fast.
    This makes me think of the Kardashians… a bunch of media starved people that have actually had great success for doing, in my humble opinion, NOTHING. No contributing. No added value, other that allowing others to be voyeurs.
    You, on the otherhand, contribute. An amazingly fantastic cookbook. Insightful and interesting blog posts which inform and amuse. And, you worked hard (that law degree in your pocket???).
    So, good luck to you. I say it often and will say it again, I wish I could meet you as we are both here in LA. I am a tremendous fan and will welcome ANYTHING YOU WRITE.
    xoxoxo

  • Adero J

    I get your predicament. You definitely do not want to lose your credibility and readership. But, what if you actually use and like the brands you talk about? I have always recommended stuff that i like to anyone who will listen (food and otherwise). Recently I started a blog and have a product review page. I give my honest opinion about ingredients that I use and have personally tried (with pictures, prices and all). I don’t get paid (nobody has offered & I haven’t asked). But if I were in your position, I would take the offer only from brands that I truly like and use in my own life.If you are speaking the truth, I don’t see anything wrong in being compensated.

  • Peter

    Talk about late to the party. Just signed up, walked through the door only to find the bars closed and everyones going home.

    I understand your position on not selling out. Here in the UK several vloggers have had their wrists slapped by the advertising standards agency for posting videos without telling people they are being sponsored. Of course the ad agencies were horrified that the vloggers had done this and it was nothing to do with them and did not condone what had been done. And if you believe that then I have a doll’s house and sand pit I will sell you as beach front property.

    Diversification is the big thing these days so maybe you can still write here and do other things elsewhere

    So Adam if you keep posting we will keep reading.

    Happy trails

  • Joel Springer

    You should check out the Andrew Sullivan essays on sponsored content. His blog has officially more or less ended, at his choice, about a year after becoming a self-sustaining independent blog with subscribers. Frankly after years and years of blogging his health began to suffer and he started to burn out (that is my take on it, anyway. One of the reasons he went independent was to avoid the onslaught in the blog universe of sponsored content that is made to look “real.” and he did not want to sell out (like so many major media companies have!!).

    Congratulations for not being a shill! I was frankly shocked at seeing you with sponsored content. I have been reading you since at least 2002-2003.

  • Anonymous

    I hope you keep blogging. I love reading your posts. Maybe you could have a tip jar?

  • Meghanssj

    Hi there Adam. I am right up there as a long time fan but I have to say, when I read this a few days ago, I thought it came off a bit “sour grapes” …especially on the tails of the Mimi Thorrison faceoff. I just think you were so lucky to get into blogging when it was new. As so many readers here, I know that ever making a red cent on my blog is a pipe dream. Those who have the tenacity to do it amaze me. Even if you do differentiate, your overall message was that to do sponsored content is to be a shill, which is too bad for other bloggers who might fill up the void you leave without daily innovative, insightful, authentic, relatable and useful content and who write a non-hustling sponsored post now and then to pay the bills. In blogging for work, as in any business, a person’s got to play ball on running water, if it is what you want to do, you have to adapt to a game with ever changing rules. You have opted not to play that game, and I think its cool and honorable, but there’s no reason to take a cheap shot at those who play the game a little differently than you.

  • http://www.amateurgourmet.com/ Adam Roberts

    Hi Meghanssj, not sure how I took a cheap shot at anyone; you’re not a shill if you do a sponsored post that you believe in, you’re a shill if you do sponsored posts for products that you don’t believe in so that you can pay the rent. That was the moral dilemma I faced as my relationship with my ad company ended. If you can do sponsored posts with integrity and support yourself doing it, I’m all for it. Best, Adam

  • Meghanssj

    You are right. Calling it a cheap shot was unsupported. Please forgive that comment. In my vocation, we experience the same tension between rainmaking and ambulance chasing. When you weave the pursuit of a calling or a craft together with drumming up money to make rent, that tension is bound to exist. Your readers all would have forgiven you if you had to hussle a few products, but if you have a new pursuit, I’m excited to hear about that, and to continue to hear about your adventures in eating and cooking, untainted by false testimony. I’m about to go read about wham bam cauliflower gratin right now.

  • Julie Ruble

    Again, I have no problem with people making their own choices. The way it was written here, “to do this full-time, you’ve either got to be wildly successful or you’ve got to be a shill,” does not leave room for the interpretation you generously give it. However, Adam has since clarified in other comments here (not to me) and in comments on another blog I read, and I appreciate that.

  • Nancy Baggett

    Funny, I came from the other side–never done sponsored posts, no ads, no revenue, no soul searching over my blog. But I’ve noticed that more and more tweets, FB links, etc., take me to sponsored posts, & it has annoyed me more and more. Just decided I won’t retweet any sponsored food post as I don’t want to send my followers ads–they get too many now. So, you are just part of a larger picture and trend–audiences are fatigued and hardened by being pitched, so sponsors respond by wanting you to be bolder, pushier, in short a bigger shill. Which can cause charmed followers to fall away. So it kinda does look like most are in for a downward spiral, doesn’t it?

  • BEEFCAKE!!!

    ugh, damn. That just really sucks.

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