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Food Writers Have To Eat

May 16, 2012

One day I’ll take some time and figure out how to make money from this blog. In the meantime, I’m happy to trade my time and talents for food and fame.

It’s a pretty good deal. Last week I met up again with chef Noah Sheetz of the Chefs Consortium, and he handed me another box of delicious treats. In that box were eggs from unusual birds, notably wild turkeys and pheasants. There were also smoked sausages from unusual animals, like pheasants and deer.

So naturally I put the pheasant sausage on a garlicky white bean puree and topped the whole thing with a fried pheasant egg. You can read all about it, and my new found love for these smaller eggs here. There are even pictures.

I feel great about this partnership and the work I do for All Over Albany (for which I actually do get paid). But there is something else on the horizon that makes me a little uneasy.

Recently I was approached about writing a sponsored post on the FLB. And I think I’m going to do it.

My first reaction when I got the email was one of revulsion. My opinion is not for sale. The whole thing seemed cheap and tawdry. But I’m also curious by nature, so I inquired a bit more about their proposal.

The agency is just looking for a story on food and drink that’s relevant to their client. Within that story, they need to have two specific links. And that apparently is it. For this modest task, I could walk away with some meaningful operating funds to do something fun with the blog. It could be targeted Facebook ads or some new FLB merchandise. It could fund a prize to give away or bankroll the bacon cook-off I want to organize at Rolf’s. The options are great and varied.

So here is how I’m going to make peace with it.

I’ve insisted that the post be labeled as sponsored content at the top and at the bottom. The post will run on Saturday, and be posted in the Sellout Saturday category. The opinions contained within are my own.

Let’s consider this an experiment.

My bet is that I can come out of this with my credibility intact. The way to do that is to make sure the sponsored content is clearly segregated, and that I’m honest and up front about everything. So here is your first early warning. It may not even happen. But just in case it does, I want you to know how it’s going to work.

In other news of trading my time and talent for food and fame, I have just officially been announced as one of the three judges for All Over Albany’s Burger Lab at Central Steak this Thursday. I will be joined at judges table by DerryX and Janie from the ASAP Daisies.

Tickets are already sold out. But I hope you were able to snag some before they got gobbled up. If you are there, please make sure to come over and say hi.

For those who are worried about the effects of this competition on my reduced cholesterol diet, fret no more. I’m almost done. In fact, I’ll have my blood drawn that morning, so as far as my doctor is concerned Thursday night is off the clock.

So is the Tour de Hard Ice Cream.

I’ll end up getting my numbers back by the time I return from a summer vacation to Northern California at the beginning of June. The timing of all this just worked out very well. Vacation is still a few weeks off, but I do plan to keep on posting while away. Just please be patient. With the time difference I suspect posts will be coming online later than usual.

Thank you all for your patience and your trust. I promise not to abuse it.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 16, 2012 9:51 am

    I think it’s fine to do product or restaurant reviews so long as it isn’t overwhelming (every post would be annoying) and you are yourself. So you review a product that stinks and say, that stunk! Or you go have a new menu at a free lunch and think it’s blah. And if you had some sponsors who want to give you some dough for your very capable writing and consistent posting, I’m cool with it.

  2. Chris permalink
    May 16, 2012 10:27 am

    All they’re really after are the those two links – the quantity & quality of links going to their website will help them move up in rankings on Google.

  3. May 16, 2012 10:34 am

    Since you put it out there before you did it, I’m assuming you want all opinions, including those that dissent. I tend not to follow blogs that do for profit posts because I find it distasteful and unethical. It makes me have less trust in the blog writer. (In as much as I would trust any random blog writer.)

    It’s one thing if someone sends you a product and you choose to review it while disclosing that you received the product for free. That’s a little easier to understand and respect because no money changes hands and you are free to review or not as you see fit. Once money enters into the picture and parameters are set (as in, the article must include certain links) it becomes more of a slippery slope.

  4. May 16, 2012 10:43 am

    Fame? Or notoriety? :)

    This is something every blogger deals with. It’s just a matter of how you frame it (if you decide to take the gig, that is).

    On a somewhat related note… I typically have a ready stock of both pheasant and venison (in sausage form or otherwise), if you ever crave some.

  5. derryX permalink
    May 16, 2012 10:52 am

    I think the concept of sponsored posts really comes down to what the product is and what the company’s overall ethics are. I have no doubts that you’d give an honest interpretation of whatever it is you’re writing about, but I would probably hate if the partnership was between you and Monsanto or something like that, as, I’m sure, most of your readers would. I also trust that you’d be perfectly capable at recognizing similar situations and use your discretion to make sure it’s all about the quality.

  6. May 16, 2012 11:09 am

    I agree with DerryX – it’s probably best to evaluate opportunities on a case-by-case basis, and decide if you can live with what they’re asking. I’m in favor of making a living, but never if it compromises your values.

    I really just have one question:

    “So naturally I put the pheasant sausage on a garlicky white bean puree and topped the whole thing with a fried pheasant egg”

    Are you doing this just to get under my skin?

  7. Sandra Foyt permalink
    May 16, 2012 11:12 am

    I think it all comes down to serving your readers. If the content is of value to your readers, then it doesn’t really matter where it comes from. Note, however, that Google reserves the right to ding your SEO rankings if you include links on sponsored posts. But you can heed their rules if you set those links to “no follow.” Or ignore their rules altogether if you don’t care about readers finding your site via Google search.

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