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I’ll Huff and I’ll puff: a cautionary tale

Submitted by on March 2, 2011 – 2:58 pm4 Comments

If you’ve read any of my previous editorials, you know that I consider myself to be an avid supporter of food bloggers. While I have worked to create opportunities for fellow bloggers over the past few years, I am always aware of the larger issues that bloggers (and food writers in general) face as sources of income seem to wither away in front of their eyes.

So, it may come as no surprise that I recently announced my intention to stop clicking links that lead me to one of the biggest offenders in the “write-for-free” conundrum many food bloggers face. What did come as a surprise was the Twitter conversation that unfolded.


What strikes me about this conversation, more than anything, is that there is always (okay, almost always) a real, live person on the other side of the Twitter feed. To my discredit, I did not take the time to formally introduce myself to the person at the Twitter helm for @HuffPostFood. I wish I had, because my next question would have been “Do you get paid to do what you do?”

What do you think? Should writers contribute (donate) content to profitable online publications for free? Have you or would you? Where do you draw the line?

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  • Laura says:

    My husband suggested recently that I try to get food blog content onto HuffPost. His reasoning is that exposure, and in the case of the HuffPost exposure in big numbers, may translate into future organic traffic, which may translate into advertising revenue. While this may be a nice opportunity, I still feel that HuffPost makes money on the backs of writers who essentially donate their time and content, and this just seems wrong.
    Laura´s last [type] ..Whole Wheat Gingerbread Pancakes

  • Casey says:

    Hi Laura,

    Thanks for weighing in. I do understand the allure of traffic, and there are plenty of platforms that offer traffic in exchange for little or no money, beyond HuffPo. It’s a debate that’s been circling in the food community (and probably beyond) for quite a while now: to work for free because at least it’s work or to demand to be paid because if we don’t, we’ll never make any money. Some gratis work may be part of paying one’s dues. But with thousands of writers working for HuffPo, it seems that we’ve all been drinking the Kool Aid. I’m just not sure why!


  • Coming in via Food News Journal and what a great post! It’s a huge topic right now, giving away content and not to give away content. There are even those who believe that one shouldn’t be giving away posts and recipes on their own blogs for free.

    I can see both sides of the issue. Starting off as a freelance writer can be tough. Getting your blog or business noticed can be tough. Being able to say that you write for X company will and can help you leverage more opportunities.

    That said, people should be noted and compensated for their work somehow other than bragging rights. Where to start and how to go about that, I’m not sure. Payment seems the easiest way to handle it.

    HuffPo could do a tiered system. If you’re just starting out, you get X amount of money. Once you’ve been doing it for a while gaining experience, you get a raise. If you are also contributing elsewhere with writing, then you can get more because now you are more valuable.

    Nice topic!
    Andrea (Off Her Cork)´s last [type] ..Hiking Day

  • Casey says:

    Hi Andrea,

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I think it’s an interesting notion you point out: many of us give away content and recipes for free on our own blogs. I sense that will change in the not-too-distant future as well. Which makes the discussion at hand all the more valuable. After all, whether consciously or not, we are already shaping the business model within which we work. Why not aim for a more profitable and fair system?


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