Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thoughts about sponsored posts on Veggie Mama



I write about a lot of food on this here blog. I write a lot of recipes including this food. It makes up 99% of what I write, and 150% what I think about. I write what I like, and what I use. And sometimes, people want to pay me to do that.

I say "no" a lot. I say no to things I'd never use, things I don't think any of you care about, things that are impractical, things that don't fit in here (contact lenses anyone?!) and things that are just far too expensive for me to honestly be able to convince you you need. My writing skills aren't good enough to explain how spending $800 on a juicer would enrich your life!

However, stuff's been turning up in my inbox lately that I'm getting excited about. Stuff that I think is a good fit, and that you will like. I'm acutely aware of the uproar lately on sponsored posts on blogs and before I go any further with these things, I want to know - what are your thoughts? Yes it is my blog, my piece of online real estate, and I can do with it whatever I like. And I will. But if it's something you feel passionate about, I want to know.

Before you tell me, I want to guarantee you three things:

1. There will always be something in it for you - whether it's a new recipe or a giveaway, a discount or something else I can cook up (heh). I have a minimum price that all giveaways must reach, so it won't be anything like a box of the latest muesli bars or a packet of stickers. I'd just feel strange saying "I got sent this thing and it was good. The end."

2. I don't "review" as such, so anything I decide to take on board will be something that I truly like and think you will too. If I try it and don't find it useful, I'll turn it down.

3. While the post itself will be sponsored, it will read exactly like a normal post, except there will be more specific information about the product and how it is made or what makes it special, and links to more information. It will never be a recycled press release, and if I don't get to write it in my usual style, I won't do it. It will also be clearly marked as sponsored right at the beginning so you can click away if you're not interested. I've been very transparent on this blog so far and I'll continue to do that. I'll probably also continue to word my disclaimers like a drunken uncle.

They're also going to be pretty spaced out. I don't like reading four sponsored posts in a row, so I wouldn't have it here. Basically, anything that makes me feel icky is out. You all have your own likes and dislikes about blogs and their content, and I hope you always find what you like here.

I don't foresee anything changing much, but I want to hear your thoughts. I'm pretty tough, so be honest!

<3 VM xx

PS I have pledged to give a portion of any proceeds this blog makes to Foundation 18. It is a wonderful organisation helping Indonesian children to be housed and fed and schooled when they otherwise would be suffering in poverty. It is currently funded solely by Cate Bolt and her family, and donations. If you'd like to help, or sponsor, they'd be more than grateful.

62 comments:

  1. I say go for it !!

    You should be able to make money from what you are so passionate about. For me it just makes sense.

    I appreciate that you're planning to do the disclosure at the top of the post. That way, if I'm not in the mood, I can opt out

    Go for it!!
    Make your difference and a bigger impact on the world ;-)
    And love love love the support for Foundation 18.
    K x

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  2. Yes! That is exactly how I roll on my blog. Readers first. I'm sure you will have full support :)

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  3. Rachel from Redcliffe StyleJuly 5, 2012 at 8:15 AM

    You have obviously thought it out and I think your sponsored posts will be good. I look forward to reading them and checking out the giveaways. I love that you are donating to charity too. Rachel x

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  4. I LOVE the idea of donating a portion of proceeds to Foundation 18. LOVE IT. I too am in the same place VM - in the past I've nervously dipped my toe into the sponsored (and occasionally monetised) blogosphere but it hasn't felt very comfortable. But recently some things have come along which I think 'fit' and are pretty cool. Slowly slowly is - for once - my motto. Onward!

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  5. Sounds good to me! I'm happy to read/write the odd sponsored post but don't like to see a blog full of them!

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  6. Get it guurrll! (That's how you use that, right?) (I'm so not hip) (Do people still say hip?)

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  7. Mademoiselle SlimaliciousJuly 5, 2012 at 8:30 AM

    Great idea to give some of the money to charity! If I ever get paid for any of my blog content I'd like to do the same thing! I think blog readers love giveaways so it would be a good thing to host some here.
    What I find 'dodgy' is when 5 bloggers host the same giveaway at the same time! But it does happen sometimes, even too me, because none of us are unique enough to the eyes of some PR agencies.
    Also I find that many of my international readers are left out because most giveaways are open to Australian residents only (often due to postage cost). There are things that need to be considered but keep in mind you can't please everyone.
    You're doing a great job, keep going! xx

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  8. I totally agree with your approach, sponsored posts done well are one of my favourite ways to find out about new stuff.  Looking forward to seeing what you will be sharing!  Tatum xx

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  9. I love anything you have to say, so bring it on xx

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  10. Tanya_blogreaderJuly 5, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    You have obviously given this the consideration it deserves. Sounds great. Since Feb I've started reading blogs And I've stopped buying magazines (seriously you guys shit on them). On Monday I donated $240 to World Vision(because of Eden) which is the $30 a month I would have spent on mags. I value the blogs I read and am grateful to be be able to keep spreading the love. Foundation 18 will be next to benefit because of bloggers like you. Thankyou.

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  11. Go for it Stacey, sounds like you're taking a great approach. 

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  12. Thank you - it's the only one that makes me feel comfortable!

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  13. This is the best comment ever! I've never been that motivated by a magazine article - but a blog post can make me move mountains. I hate most magazines because they're usually filled with crap some poor intern had to make up to go along with a paparazzi photo so I'm pleased you've given them up. I'd much rather read a real story any day.

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  14. Love seeing someone try something out before I spend my money! So I agree. I find them quite helpful usually.

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  15. Haha i'll never be able to please everyone, but the possibilities are endless and are changing every day. I hope you do share the love with charity!

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  16. Yes, I believe they do when preceded by "achy".

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  17. Neither - but to be honest, I've never really seen one like that!

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  18. for once, haha! Yeah I think it's been the best approach for me. That and very little has made me sit up and take notice thus far, but that seems to be changing. I guess with the slowly approach our readers have gotten to know us without any influence and we've built trust. And I know we'd never do anything to violate that, and it seems they know too xx

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  19. Everybody has been fabulous. This blog would just be a cookbook written in an exercise book if it weren't for the gorgeous people that visit it every day xx

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  20. haha how did I know you'd fall that side of the fence? ;-)

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  21. Incredibly supportive, thank you! Like I said, I don't see much changing. Except Foundation 18 will get a little extra on top of my monthly sponsorship.

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  22. You know, it might be useful to do some 'review' type posts too. I actually appreciate when bloggers try something out that is related to their blog but it turns out to be a not so great product or service and they are honest enough to tell us. I think you should earn money from your blog, if i don't want to read a sponsored post I can skip it! :)

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  23. Also "broken", "artificial" and "bursitis of the"

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  24. I've got no problem with sponsored posts. The income means you can create a bigger and better blog for your readers, and good writers with great ethics (such as yourself) always only choose companies that are a good fit for their audience. I see it as a win-win (and another win for charity!) :)

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  25. I'm a long-time lurker on your blog, and it's one of three that I click on everyday. It makes me happy to think that you'll be rewarded financially in a small way for the joy (and tastiness!) you give your readers, and extra happy that Foundation 18 will benefit too. Sponsored post away in your own fantastic style!

    Ps. Absolutely loving the kid food posts (we've just started solids in this household).  And your spinach, tomato and feta strudel went down a treat the other night.  Yummo!

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  26. This is a set up, right??? Lets tell Cate who thinks sponsored posts are the downfall of the "new media" that her starving orphans will get a share and see what she does... on her birthday of all days!! Oh the humanity!! Won't someone think of the children....wait, you are. Show me the money!! 

    Seriously though I think you're one of the few who get how to do it. Properly.

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  27. I would always be honest, and I don't love everything about everything. But most people don't pay for reviews, they just send one thing for you to try. That's really doing nobody a favour but the company that's looking for a free plug! Plenty of other bloggers do reviews so nobody will miss mine!

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  28. I love when they're like "Alice broke her good hip" like it's way worse than the normal breaking of a hip.

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  29. yes - MOAR people to indoctrinate with meatless mondays haha! xx

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  30. Oh hi Lurky McLurkerson! I've always given my recipes away for free, this just means I get to do more of that! You are very kind to be so supportive. And glad you like the kid food posts - it's been fun coming up with them :)

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  31. AAAAAUGHHGH HAPPY BIRTHDAAAAAY!!!! No, I happen to agree with you, but I think niche blogs like mine get off easier than others. And if I can do it "right", as you say, and also funnel some money where it's sorely needed then I will totally use this new media direction selfishly and to everyone's advantage, haha xx

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  32. 1. I wish I had your domestic goddess genes.
    2. As has been pointed out already, you're in the position where you can genuinely "sell" certain products - you generously share your recipes, your life and if you say these things taste good/better/make your life easier, I will believe you!
    3. I'm 110% behind  part proceeds going to charity. I've always said I'd do the same if I had the chance... so far, that's been about $10, lol, but maybe one day :)

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  33. This was very timely as I was asked to do my first sponsored post yesterday. Thanks fo giving me alot to think about! x

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  34. You know my thoughts :) I operate as above except I'm sponsoring Foundation 18 monthly. Oh, and disclosure: sponsored post on my blog today!

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  35. I am also a monthly sponsor, but wanted to do more. Haha we're ALL about disclosure!

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  36. Do it! Why the hell not! I don't see what the uproar is about. Maybe the 'uproarers' are people that have blogs that no one wants to sponsor? It's your blog, your time & as you said you'd keep it relevant than why not! I'm not into 'infomercial' type blogs that only seem to do product reviews & giveaways but one every-so-often is fine. Hell, I've even entered some giveaways & won stuff! xx

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  37. Go for it Stacey.  It works for Nikki on Styling You - I love her blog.  Make it work for you.  As long as you are true to yourself you cannot go wrong.  I love reading your blog and trying out meatless yummy recipes.  You can only go from strength to strength and this is a way to make it happen.

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  38. Clearly you've really
    thought about it and if there are things that fit, why not?! as long
    as you're transparent about it and don't become a PR machine (unless
    you realise that actually is your calling ;) Not all products and
    companies are bad - lots of them make our lives easier. It might be a
    bit out of character if you suddenly write about coke - but I can't
    imagine that happening.

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  39. Go for it!

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  40. Aww. Anything you did would be right (write!) in my book. I popped in to agree with the 'go for its' but also to say how delightful it is to read your blog posts about EveryDamnedThing you love. The passion is so lovely for your food, the experience, and the preparation…and when I see Veggie Baby (soon to be Veggie Big Girl) cute as all get out meals I just melt. A more loving prep of food I've never seen. You truly put something of your heart into your food…love your work, your smile, and of course, what I read! Denyse xx

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  41. I trust you wholeheartedly with sponsored posts. I love your blog, even though the closest I usually come to having a vegetarian meal is pigging out too much on the bruschetta starter and not being able to fit in my meaty main :)

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  42. Yes I find it strange that mostly the uproar is coming from people who don't read blogs! I'm trying to stay out of it, I find it vastly confusing. But figured I should gauge sentiment among the only people I care about - my readers!

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  43. Nikki has done it so well from day one. I'll always be true to myself - if I sold out for the almighty dollar I would have written that contact lens post haha! xx

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  44. I have a degree in journalism - I'd die before I sold out to become a PR machine! And you're right about products I don't use (or drink) - it just wouldn't happen xx

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  45. Oh Denyse your comments always make my day! Such thoughtful, considered, generous words. You make the blogosphere a brighter place xx

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  46. Noooooo I'm a failure! I haven't tempted you with *anything*? Good god woman, you'll have to come over for dinner sometime.

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  47. Do what you gotta do Stacey. I love your blog and I wouldn't not read it due to sponsored posts. Also, anything to do with Project 18 has my vote, both hands.

    You keep things real, that's what keeps me coming back. Also, you have a cute kid. 

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  48. Do it lady. I'll still be here. Stalking- wait, reading. And trying your recipes in my new kitchen. Looking forward to more veggie fun!

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  49. this reminds me of two J.Lo songs. I will spare you!

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  50. As a regular reader I appreciate you asking for input.  Im going to be brutally honest and say that I usually just skip posts from bloggers that are sponsored (meaning I just dont read them) because no matter how honest the blogger or how much I enjoy her content, the minute that shes writing the post for money its hard for me to believe that there is a way to be 100% honest and I have yet to find many bloggers that can really write a sponsored post that doesnt sound like a crappy commercial.  And if a blogger starts having too many sponsored posts, I usually just unsubscribe.  For me, as a blogger, I am passionate about writing and creating and sharing in this place for the sake of writing and sharing and creating, and not for making money.  I see so many good bloggers become nothing but hawkers for other people's stuff and I just ask myself at what point did they stop seeing themselves and their ideas as worthy of being their number one "product"?  In other words, if the voice of your page changes to fit sponsors, then its not really you talking anymore.  And maybe you could do it differently... but I think for a lot of us out here, and maybe we're just too cynical, but something in us just gets turned off when a post is wired around plugging a product for money.

    ALL that being said... Im actually not anti-advertising.  I think there is a place for tasteful, appropriate ads on a blog (somwhere on the sidebar), and by appropriate I mean something that fits in with the ethos of your blog and not 80 random google ads for crap no one needs,  but there is a difference in my mind between renting space to an advertiser you believe in and changing the voice of your blog to fit the agenda of someone else.  Does any of that make sense?

    At the end of the day its a tough decision and its probably easy for me as a smaller blogger to judge someone who is having a lot of offers from potential sponsors.  I just know that once I start seeing posts for coconut oil giveaways and cloth diaper insert reviews and posts all about recipes that can only be made with an 800 dollar juicer (as you point out), for me as a reader I just tune out.   But thats just me, and may sponsored bloggers do very well, and I wish yo all the best luck in trying to navigate these waters.  Ive appreciated your content up until now and I look forward to more good stuff.  God bless and thanks for asking for our opinion!

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  51. Yes, you make perfect sense! And thank you so much for taking the time to give a thoughtful, considered reply. Especially because it runs counter to most other sentiment.

    I happen to agree with you to a certain extent about monetisation and sponsored posts. I do see people struggle to do them well and it does impact their readers. I was incredibly surprised to see the positive reaction to the one or two I have done in the past, which gave me hope that I might not totally suck at perhaps navigating these waters to everyone's advantage. That's half the reason I was so specific in my post about what would and would not change. And as for my voice - that's been exactly the same since I was 10, despite a journalism degree and a brief foray into creative writing trying to derail me!

    As I said, they would be few and far between, and while I have a wide range of readers (some of whom would be totally interested in coconut oil and cloth diaper inserts, I know I would be!) not everything I write now is to everyone's taste, so I can't expect to please you all with the sponsored post content! I do aim to have something for everyone though. And that brings me to why I started the blog in the first place, which as much as I'd like it to be for the sole reason of creating and writing and sharing for the sake of it, it really was mostly to have an online portfolio of food writing so I could break into the food journalism industry. When I abandoned that career track two months later thanks to snagging the job of my dreams, I kept the blog going. Two and a half years later, I'm not entirely sure why. What I do know is that it has morphed into something I could never have imagined and truth be told it does take up a lot of my time, energy, skill and passion. It is like a part-time job and if I can make it bigger than a hobby and have it be profitable, in a way that pleases everyone (without readers there'd be no point!), then I'm more than happy to see where it takes me and have you all along for the ride. I would never, ever be offended if one chose to unfollow me for doing that. Or for any other reason, to be honest :)

    The way I see it, I already talk about products I use and am 100% honest. If you look back at any of the companies I've worked with, I've been honest in my feelings about them. I only use Vitasoy soy milk, and Pureland Organic tofu and things of that nature, and I talk about them - not because they pay me (they've never heard of me!) but because it's what I use and recommend and it saves ten people emailing asking what sort I use. If I was to sell out for the almighty dollar, I would have written a post on baby formula, like I was asked to recently, and told you all to like it or leave. I guess my point is that I have a job I adore and this is for fun, which enables me to pick and choose and be snobby about who I choose to work with. But I'm interested to see where I can take this offshoot, even though it is going to be rather slow going as I do it with a great deal of thought and consideration.

    I really want to thank you again, and I'm sorry for the word vomit, but I value my readers and want them to know my thought processes and where they stand. I want to hear their opinions and concerns, and I want to have discussions about what they want to see here and what they don't. I totally appreciate you taking the time to let me know how you feel, and most of all for returning to read like you do. You guys make the hard work totally worth it xx

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  52. There is no way I could weigh in on this due to bucket loads of personal bias. Lots to consider in the comments below. I think you'll do beautifully, whatever you choose. Good luck. 

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  53. I appreciate all the feedback, and I also appreciate that you took my comment for what it was, honest but totally in good nature as someone who enjoys your blog very much.  I hear all of your points and i think if you really believe in the products, then God bless you as you venture forth into sponsored posts and just remember that YOU are your number 1 product, not any kind of soy milk (no matter how tasty!) and dont let anyone take that from you.  But that is meant as encouragement, not a condescending reprimand.  :)  Blessings as you move forward and Im certainly along for the ride.  

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  54. I've been pulling back on the monetisation thing for my blog because it just didn't seem worth it but now I've had a bit of breathing space from it, I think the answer for me is to just put a high value on sponsored posts so that I'm happy to work on them and they are a rarity. 


    I think you've got a great approach. Sometimes I find it hard because PRs are really generous with what they send and often after I try it I have to say no. Not going to write about it. Not going to give it away. 

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  55. It's hard to separate sometimes isn't it? from blogger to blog reader. Anyway I totally get what you mean and thank you x

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  56. haha thank you so much. I'm way better than soy milk anyway! xx

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  57. I think I've come about this backwards - I've had a ton of breathing space because there hasn't been anything I've been excited about so just didn't bother. For some reason I also never got flooded with product so was never really tempted. If they sent an email, I just said no... but I think I'm on a different email list to everyone else, as I wasn't getting a thing! But now stuff turns up in my inbox and I think I could really make it beneficial to everybody, but because they've been so few and far between I thought I'd better gauge the reaction haha. A lot of the stuff doesn't seem worth it, so I started with a really high price already!

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