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.