Why the ads came down

Stella knows a good thing when she smells it.

Any excuse to use my dog in a food photo. Again. But no one loves food more than she does.

A friend and I were discussing food a few weeks ago when she mentioned she was “over” a lot of food blogs. I immediately understood what she meant; it’s become harder and harder to find ones that don’t get on my nerves after a few months.

Full-time blogging is becoming a viable career, and bloggers are becoming more and more focused on “branding” and posts that come off as press releases. I had a full-on unsubscribe fest last week when a blogger I follow made up too many words (“Yumm-o!”) in a post that was also sponsored by a major corporation.

Food bloggers started as people who were passionate about food and wanted to share their best recipes. Most had day jobs, and they weren’t trying to make money with their websites. Reading those blogs felt like a friend had invited you to dinner, or had passed along a recipe to help you impress that guy or to get through a hard time. Olga from Sassy Radish, Deb at Smitten Kitchen and Molly from Orangette unwittingly impacted my life in major ways through their food writing, because it was so honest and personal. They write from the heart.

I love bloggers who get excited about ingredients and make what inspires them, rather than developing a recipe because a company sponsored a post. The ones who just want to feed you good food, not those who have latched onto a diet craze or are trying to generate clicks. The ones who are not selling a new cookbook — or e-cookbook — every month or so.

If Stella wrote a food blog, it would be titled “food my dad cooks and doesn’t let me eat” and would mostly feature ribs.

Two years in, I’m still struggling with what kind of food blogger I want to be. Do I want to cook and write full-time? Of course. Am I jealous that some people get paid to do something in which I have to invest money? Always.

But more than that, I want to share recipes with integrity, that people like me (with full-time jobs, responsibilities and occasional trouble “adulting”) can enjoy. I want to tell you about my favorite spiralizer without making you wonder if I’m getting paid for it, to share stories about my life that don’t involve sponsored trips to blogger conventions. I want to post a recipe without wondering how it will affect my “brand.” Shouldn’t my “brand” be about good food?

So I’ve taken down affiliate links and ads, and I will continue to reject requests for “branding partnerships” and sponsored content on this site.* As a matter of transparency, I’ve made about $13 from Google Ads over the past two years, and it’s yet to have been paid out.

This site is never going to be a money-maker, and I’ve decided to accept and take advantage of that fact. Maybe I’ll post a little less frequently now that I’m not actively trying to build traffic and enhance SEO, but at least when I post, you’ll always know it’s because I was inspired.

* Full disclosure: I sometimes work for a company, eByline/IZEA, that hires me to write sponsored posts for newspaper websites across the country. Those articles never appear on this site, mostly because they tend to be about mattress companies and backyard play equipment.

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