On making a living as a food writer

On making a living as a food writer

misty beach 2

Every time I come out here, life pulls into sharper focus – it becomes more clear what I want to do and why I want to do it – why it’s important – and then I go home and it kind of collapses into the day to day minutae. One of the things I always seem to struggle with is how to make a living – while maintaining my integrity. I know I’m not the only one.

So here I am in the midst of a blog redesign – still, because for years I’ve been trying to figure out how to do things better, what the right next step is, how to stand out from all the sameness yet maintain familiarity, worried that if I do take a sudden jag, people will lose interest. (And if they do, isn’t it my own fault for being boring?) As always, my blog keeps getting back-burnered for actual work deadlines – I have to answer to editors, publishers and producers, not so much to myself.

But I’ve finally (!!) hired someone to do it. It’s anxiety-inducing to choose someone to come up with a design that defines you, and to tinker with the back end so that you don’t lose all your stuff. But I’m struggling myself to determine what kind of content I want to produce that people will care about – and how to organize it all, and are blogs really dying? But even if they are, from now on and forever people will always get recipes from the internet, right? Until something comes along to replace the internet? This is why I’ve asked for advice from friends and readers, because they see it all from an audience perspective, and really are the only ones who matter. But one recurring comment makes me bristle each time I hear it: No ads!

And I get it, I do. I don’t love ads – least of all the ones that pop up when you open a page, or blare weight loss promises with distasteful images, and I don’t like the look of blogs that have dedicated every square inch of space to Google Ads either.

But. I’m a food writer. It’s what I do – it’s my job. I’ve wanted to be a food writer for as long as I can remember – since telling my grade 3 class I wanted to be the food editor of Canadian Living when I grew up. I love doing it, and would love nothing more than to be independently wealthy or financially supported enough to be able to write about whatever inspires me that day or week rather than what I’m assigned that pays the bills. Because this work -and Mike works with me- pays our bills. I’ve never relied on my blog to pay the bills, but here’s the thing: it costs me $3000/year for web hosting – I pay extra to have a dedicated server so that it loads more quickly – and I’m paying $6500 to do this redesign. So that’s $10k so far this year that I’m forking out to just keep this blog out there, which I’m happy to do, but I don’t think it should mean compromising my integrity to offset some of those costs.

As it stands, the only ways to do that – by selling ad space or creating sponsored content – are frowned upon by many. (And it seems to be more so in the food blogging world than in fashion, travel or design blogging.) In the past, content like this could only reach the masses through traditional means – recipes and photos and essays and kitchen tips were only available in newspapers, magazines and cookbooks – all of which you’d have to pay for, and most of which also ran ads because subscription revenue is never enough. You don’t hear complaints about Bon Appetit or Lucky Peach running ads. No one thinks less of me when I get paid to write stories for print magazines (which themselves run ads and charge for issues), and if I were to bind all these recipes and photos together in a book, print copies and charge $40, it’s considered a (huge!) success, not a sellout.

Create custom content – sponsored posts – and you risk being labeled a shill. Of losing your integrity in some peoples’ eyes. (And this makes sense from a journalistic standpoint – a professional journalists’ code of ethics stresses autonomy, but most have staff jobs and salaries so that never the two shall meet. But what about being wined and dined by restaurants, PR agencies and tourism boards? And of course the publication itself still has advertisers to keep happy. There are so many grey areas these days.) Sponsored content has become the way to do things in the advertising world – I don’t think I write for a single print publication that doesn’t offer custom content, or native content, or whatever term they’ve come up with to distinguish advertorial from editorial. Buzzfeed is often held up as the standard to which we all should aspire – a digital magazine with an entire team dedicated to creating custom content for their advertisers in much the same way ad agencies do, in a way that fits with their own publication.

I vacillate between thinking that carefully curated box and banner ads are the most inoffensive – people are used to seeing them and blocking them out, right? although those who work with ad networks say it’s becoming impossible to make a living that way anymore anyway – and sponsored posts, which I reason at least provides the opportunity to produce content in my own voice that I think might have some value to my readers. But these days a lot of people feel deceived by sponsored posts, and again the writer loses credibility.

So traditional print media outlets are starting to fold, largely due to lack of advertising. (Where are all those ad dollars going? Digital has finally surpassed print, TV and radio in terms of ad spending – but my understanding is that it’s mostly going to Facebook and Google.) That means big staff cuts, slashed freelance budgets, editors getting back into the freelancing pool, and overall fewer publications to write for. (If Gourmet can’t make it..?) Online publications generally pay a tiny percentage of what print magazines do, and there are often those willing to write for free, or almost, for exposure (something I’m not against). Of course the concept of working “for exposure” goes beyond writing; at my first home show appearances in 2002 I was paid $2500; nowadays a few celebs are paid as a draw – the rest come on their own dime, and some chefs actually pay to participate as a promotional opportunity. I guess my point is, even the option of subsidizing your blog with columns, other paying gigs and cookbook royalties (a few dollars per book) is more difficult than it used to be. (Maybe it’s my own fault for not being a self-promoter – which is a big part of the game these days – my new web guy was shocked to hear that I have 7 cookbooks and don’t promote or sell them on my own website. But that’s just me.)

As usual I have more questions than answers, and I often think the solution is – or comes from – better understanding. What do you think about it all? I’m going to the beach.


About Julie

93 comments on “On making a living as a food writer

  1. Bernice
    March 24, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Hi Julie. Great piece. Hmmm maybe I need some beach time to clear my thoughts?

    I am also surprised that you don’t promote or sell your cookbooks on your site. How do you feel about doing this? While I find ads annoying (especially the pop up ads) I do recognize for some that they are a necessary evil.
    I think it’s different if you are selling your own work…you put a lot into your blog and cookbooks over the years, why not combine the two?

  2. Jennifer
    March 24, 2015 at 11:57 am

    I don’t mind ads, Julie. If it means I get wonderful free recipes…no problem. As long as they don’t overcome the real content I’ve come to your website/blog for.
    And, I would love to see your cookbooks promoted here!
    Enjoy the beach, you do great work!

  3. Dianne Jacob
    March 24, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    Thanks for the links, Julie, and this thoughtful post.

    I think of blogs as similar to magazines, where I worked for years. Magazines have ads and so do I. The problem is that the ads don’t pay much unless you have huge traffic, so we need a new model. Magazines also have sponsored content, not written by the editorial staff (if they’re doing it right), so I do not write any.

    And yes, in your redesign, please add a tab to list your books for readers!

  4. Beth C
    March 24, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    hi Julie, Great post. Very difficult and complicated issues.
    I didn’t realize you have 7 cookbooks! I own “grazing” and know about a few others but 7! I’m probably going to buy a couple now that I know. Maybe you should consider putting even a small link somewhere on your blog.

  5. Trevor Nawalkowski
    March 24, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Hi Julie,
    I read and follow you because you are not boring and bring such a unique and fascinating perspective on food, kitchens, kids, life.
    Personally…I’d like you to make money from your skills. I’d be happy to see some “column 3 targeted ads” just like Facebook or Google, that have the potential to help you pay for this blog AND make money.
    I can tune those ads out when I want to. If I do look at them, it’s my choice. And hey…targeted ads are great – they are usually about what I just google searched anyways.
    Make a living Julie! Be here tomorrow and 10 years from now! Anyone who begrudges you that…?

  6. Darlene
    March 24, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Hi, Julie,

    I definitely think you need to promote your cookbooks on your blog! Definitely, absolutely! 7 cookbooks? That’s just amazing and wonderful and why not promote them.

  7. Carla
    March 24, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Thank you for saying this, Julie. As a beginning writer, working for peanuts (or free) is something that I struggle with and there aren’t too many mentors who will say to new writers, “hey, here is a way through this” so it’s difficult to know which way to go. There are fewer and fewer publications that will take freelancers (even the newspapers are tending to use ‘in house’ writers, but how did these writers get their start, eh?) and it is a complicated issue. I have mixed feelings about blogging and writing for content mills. Such as life in the Arts world nowadays. So I appreciate your honesty and if your post sheds a bit of light on the issue, then that is fantastic. Keep up the good work–I always get so hungry reading your posts!

  8. Trinh
    March 24, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    That’s the problem with this day in age…people want want want…all for nothing. They don’t want ad, but want all the recipes for free. It’s just not sustainable. Don’t feel bad about the ads, I venture to loads of food blogs that have ads and it never bothers me. I do go to a gossip blog that has ads that pop up or blast audio/video, which are super annoying but that hasn’t stopped me from reading it either.

  9. Candace
    March 24, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    I see your dilemma – there are many food blogs I have stopped going to because the ads were so obnoxious – either covering half the page or coming up and blocking out actual content or with really rude taglines or topics. Having said that, more subtle and non-obtrusive ads have their place and I say if certain types of ads would be acceptable to you then you have every right to use them and recoup your costs. I also think you should promote your cookbooks on your blog – that is a service to your readers as far as I’m concerned!

  10. Wendy in CO
    March 24, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Yes, have ads, by all means. You need to be able to make money somehow! But speaking for myself alone, when a website has autoplaying audio or video, I almost always close it immediately, especially if it’s loud. I often browse the internet in bed and sites that make noise wake my husband. Also, sites that suck up all my available memory get closed, just so that I can use the computer. (Yours is not one of these, btw.) I totally understand the need for revenue and respect the fact that you have to make your own decisions. This is just intended as feedback on this one person’s needs. 🙂

  11. Susan
    March 24, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Unfortunately ads are a way of life now. I can read blogs and ignore them so I don’t see why you don’t have some that appeal to you and can help pay for the site. I enjoy reading your blog and make many of your recipes. I also am surprised that you do not have your cookbooks on your site. You should be proud of them and let people know about them.

  12. Emerance Baker
    March 24, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Have been following your food blog as soon as I found out there were such things as food blogs. Your recipes are excellent and well described good directions etc. What I really love is that you are gloriously Canadian and talk about things I can relate to. Advertisements are simply necessary and while can be off-putting when they seem random and unrelated, I’ve found some of the best Canadian online companies through other bloggers and their blogs. Canadian content is harder and harder to find even in magazines. As we all know that Canadians also sell stuffs online to other Canadians, I would love to see more of what you are already doing. Love the kitchen reno by the way. as I sit in my little log cabin with stove envy 😀 All the best. Emerance

  13. Heather
    March 24, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Hi Julie –
    Great post and I think you’ve articulated well the conflict you feel to have ads or not to have ads. I’m all for them, and for sponsored content. Especially if the product is one you might use anyway, if it’s organic to your brand let’s say, then it shouldn’t feel like ‘selling out’ to you or to us. If The Pioneer Woman can rep butter on her site why can’t you?
    Thanks for all the recipes and stories you’ve shared so far, your writing style is as enjoyable as your recipes are tasty. I too, hope that you’ll consider that link to your books on the site’s redesign. Seven books!
    My best to the Tacofino truck.

  14. Della
    March 24, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Although I find the pop up ads annoying, especially the ones you cannot skip through, I have never stopped reading a favourite blog because of ads. I don’t mind sponsored posts, either. I like to hear another opinion on a product or service.

  15. Sarah
    March 24, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Great post Julie.

    I’ve freelanced as a side gig for nearly 20 years now – starting at age 17 for the Calgary Herald, getting paid in movie passes. The idea that you can keep subsidizing your blog with other paying gigs means a continued reliance on a dying industry.

    I only know a handful of freelance writers in Calgary that I think probably make a good living (i.e. one they could support their family on if their partner wasn’t working). The most successful ones have also added social media consulting, corporate writing, etc., to their freelance resume.

    You have a captive audience who likes you. Offer them more of you! Tell your readers about your books, your courses, your speaking fees to come speak at their event. Create new custom products they want. I buy a lot of cooking e-books – check out Oh She Glows (http://ohsheglows.com/2014/01/28/the-bonus-recipe-bundle-is-here/) for an idea of what I’m talking about.

    In conjunction, use blog sponsorships, promoted posts and advertising when you feel it aligns with your personal brand, and ignore the haters. Put Philly cream cheese in your recipe. You make money to keep giving me awesome recipes, I know I can use whatever damn cream cheese I want.

    I made your sausage tortellini bake for guests on Saturday night – it will kill my hostess street cred if you ever stop blogging.

  16. Sara
    March 24, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    I’m not against ads as long as they don’t interfere with blog useability. Like off to the side.
    And I personally like sponsored context because it often exposes me to something I’ve never seen and I love having a first hand account of if the product it any good.
    Maybe when you post recipes you can mention if it is in one of your cookbooks. I get most of my recipes from Pinterest these days but I still love getting a new cookbook to flip through and if I see a recipe I like I may be inclined to buy the book to find more.
    Just some ideas…I am by no means a writer or blogger. Just a recipe lover!

  17. Michelle
    March 24, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    I am absolutely in support of ads (if at all possible, of the non-obnoxious pop up in your face kind) and think sponsored posts are totally a-okay, as long as the transparency remains there about who has funded the post.

    I regularly (obsessively?) come to your site because I love your product – your humour, your openness, and your recipes, which can always be counted on. I don’t have to pay anything for all that awesomeness, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paid for producing it. If the cost for me is to have a few ads on the side and companies promoting their products through you, seems like a very fair price to pay!

    You rock, so do whatever you need to do in order to pursue what you love and make a fair wage doing it! I will keep coming back for more!

  18. Misty
    March 24, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    Julie, you have loads of authenticity and integrity. It will continue to shine through even if you decide to get paid for your work. And you deserve to get paid for what you do because you work hard to give us, your readers, delicious recipes presented with incredible food photography and written descriptions.

  19. Heather
    March 24, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    Hi Julie,

    I think it’s great that you’re discussing this issue openly. You should absolutely gain an income from the blog. I personally have no problem with ads of the non-pop-up variety, and I think if they were targeted to your readers, they could be of great interest. Not sure what your breakdown is between local and non-local readers (I’m a Calgarian), but I think you could be running ads that speak to both. Something like Silk Road Spice Merchants, where they have a local store and a mail order service, or Bernard Callebaut or Rocky Mountain Chocolates, which are found all over western Canada.

    I’m also not opposed to sponsored content if it’s classy and clearly identified as such. For example, if you did a week of recipes with the weird and wonderful stuff you can buy at Silk Road, I’d be totally into it. If you tried to convince me you can do miraculous things with Campbell’s soup…not so much.

    There will be some people who say horrible things no matter which way you attempt to monetize your blog. I follow another blogger who put her blog behind a paywall, and people were furious for a full year afterwards, leaving nasty comments on her Facebook page. Screw those people – how would they like to not get paid for what they do? I have every confidence the majority of your readers will keep following.

  20. Carol
    March 24, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    I don’t mind advertising, as long as they’re not “pop-ups” that I have to click on (hate those!). I actually enjoy sponsored posts, when they’re a product that actually aligns with the philosophies of the blog – while there is undeniable bias from being sponsored, at least you’re getting a “review” outside of a traditional ad space. While you may risk losing the ad-haters, we all gotta make a living!

  21. Cory Lievers
    March 24, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    I just enjoy your articles, pictures, recipes, etc. So no matter what happens and how it looks, I’ll still be on the site. 🙂

  22. Jo-Anna
    March 24, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    Oh Julie this is such a fantastic post…I get it all. Blogging is a fantastic job, one we love dearly and want to keep going. But to be able to produce fresh content that our readers come to us for, requires money. It just does. Like you said: there are hosting fees, supplies to buy…it’s a fact of our blog lives. And the truth of the matter is that jobs pay. We don’t expect Drs not to get paid, or authors, or dentists or teachers or service staff. We deserve to get paid for our hard work, just like every one else. And your readers who love you and your content, of which there are many, will come back time and time again regardless if you have ads or sponsored content on your site. Or at least they should. 🙂

  23. Evelyn
    March 24, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Your blog is my GoTo site. But I still grab my cookbooks when planning a dinner party. Advertise and sell your books!

  24. Kristy
    March 24, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    You work hard on this blog, you deserve to be paid. You are worth it and your content is worth it, let go of the guilt. Do what you need to do to support yourself and your family. Wishing you all the best!

  25. Cynthia
    March 24, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    This is a wonderful post. I do not mind ads and if they pay the bills use them. There will always be people who live in lalaland and think others should work for nothing, something they would never subject themselves to. And for gosh sakes start promoting your cook books, they are great. Be proud and loud about your talents. I have been reading your blog for years and check for new posts everyday. Thank you for sharing your talent for cooking, writing and entertaining.

  26. Lee Ann
    March 24, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    Long-time reader (both blog and books) and first-time commenter. As a writer and editor, I truly believe people should be paid for their creative endeavours. Producing high-quality prose, photography and recipes is not quick or easy work.
    And as someone who is trying (aren’t we all) to gracefully navigate this digital world, I am coming to realize advertising is a big part of it-just as it is much of our lives. If this is how you can get paid for your work, you should do it.
    Finally, I echo the comments of others: Promote your books on this site. People who come and love a recipe or two want this information.
    Thank you for your work.

  27. ER Nurse Jennifer
    March 24, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    You website is part of my morning routine and I would hate to see it go.

    I’m 100% for adds and sponsored content because it means you are getting paid.

    Please do whatever you need to do in order to continue blogging.

  28. Kiara
    March 24, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    Do sponsored content that speaks to you. Local cheese or grains from a farm you love. Have ads that resonate with the people you hear from.

    I’m the girl who goes to the restaurant and asks the waitress to recommend the best thing. I’m the same with food blogs – I trust your expertise and I actually click on the links you provide! I make your recipes! I will use the butter you recommend as best, and I am happy if you get paid for that.

  29. Sue Hyslop
    March 24, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    Do what you have to do Julie — just so you keep sending us your wonderful, chatty comments and great recipes. Of course you should be making money for all the time , effort and expertise you share with all of us. I do agree with those who expressed a dislike for the pop-up ads.

  30. Melissa
    March 24, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Yes! Please put your cookbooks on your blog! I have come here more than once looking for a list of your books only to remember they’re not here. Nobody would begrudge you your books! They’re part of YOU! And that’s the whole reason people come here!

  31. Merry120
    March 24, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    Do what you want. Make money. It is yours to make. We will all still read. I find that most of the people calling bloggers shills are other bloggers. Ignore them. You are you and you will do what is right for you and your blog. The end. 🙂

  32. Wendy
    March 24, 2015 at 4:51 pm

    I have no problem with promoting your cookbooks, or having ads, as long as they are true to you. What I personally don’t like are the blogs that almost insist you like their page before you even read the blog (are they really that insecure that they don’t think you will love it enough to want to like their page afterwards?), or the ones that are all Amazon affiliated links. I am not a fan of Amazon (it is killing local and small businesses), sometimes I wonder if the recipes are just designed to use the largest number of Amazon products, regardless of how good the recipe is.

  33. Jennifer
    March 24, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    I think that you definitely be promoting your books online, I think that readers understand that blogging takes time and money. Why pass up the opportunity to make money for work that you are doing. You may lose a few readers but if you readers are loyal they will stick around and hopefully buy your cookbooks.

    Go for it, if you decide it is not for you then change it but you won’t know how it will go until you do it.

    Good luck and much success.


  34. Heather
    March 24, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Do whatever it takes to get paid for what you do! I’ll still read. =)

    I echo the comments about selling your books.

  35. Sarah
    March 24, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Julie, your blog has been almost exclusively my go-to for years for all kinds of recipes and for your open, down to earth nature. Until reading your post today, I hadn’t realized that maybe one reason I like your site so much is that there are no ads. But thank you for discussing the issues at hand, very well put. Most certainly you must include ads, preferably not popups and on the side where I can choose to ignore them. Yes, do promote your books and link to all other writing and engagements you have going. I would buy e-books if you make that an option. And please keep your current main-section style of photos/writing/recipes, I really like it!

  36. Denise
    March 24, 2015 at 5:58 pm

    Julie, I follow your blog mainly because of your writing style…and I am thinking that won’t change whether you are sponsored or not. While ads are annoying, I understand the need to monetize your “product” in some way. My feeling about sponsored posts is as long as it is clear that it was sponsored, I would not be put off by it. It is the hidden sponsors that make me feel somehow cheated. I would encourage you to do whatever it takes to continue to do what you do best… write about wonderful food in a way that makes me feel like I am chatting over coffee with my BFF.

  37. Libby Roach
    March 24, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    I`m in the same boat, okay, I`m in a canoe mostly and yours is like a luxury liner, but still- it`s a process. It`s interesting, your point about paid for writing articles, that are paid by revenue from ads, so having a blog in my mind is like skipping out on the middle man.
    I hope you find an answer, I`m not running ads but am considering a shift of sorts.
    Keep your chin up, you do good things!

  38. Lanis
    March 24, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    Keep up the good work Julie and please sell your books through your website! Ads are fine we just really appreciate your honesty and hard work.

  39. Michele
    March 24, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    As a brand new blog reader (can I say again how much I love your blog…), please advertise and sell me a cookbook!! PLEASE!! Unfortunately, I think that a lot of women (and men, and children, and everyone in between) undervalues their true worth. We are afraid or a bit reticent to put a financial value on our skills, experience, knowledge, and the joy that you bring to your readers. I have enjoyed your visits to some spectacular places, and afterwards searched unsuccessfully on-line to locate/order items you mentioned (YEW albacore tuna), or beautiful crafts made by artisans during the holidays. Not only should you recoup your blog costs, but you must also reward yourself and your family for all of your hard work, time and effort devoted to writing a blog that so many of us enjoy. So, advertise and continue your great work…

  40. stacey snacks
    March 24, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    Hi Julie,
    Adam from Amateur Gourmet just wrote a similar post about making a living being a food writer and ads and not becoming boring, when there are SO MANY food blogs out there now to choose from…..

    You are never boring, I like consistency, and don’t love change (I AM boring!)…I haven’t changed my boring blogger format in 7 years, and probably won’t, why spend $ to not make any more $.

    I never mind ads, I think you should be compensated for your hard work.
    Yours is one of my favorite sites always, no over-styled photos, or pretentious content with silly trends.
    Just real, true food that I have made successfully over the years and will continue to do so!

    Keep up the great work!

  41. Julie
    March 24, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    Agh! Thanks for all the awesome feedback.. I wish I could reply to each comment separately! something for the redesign… 🙂

  42. Laureen
    March 24, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    Julie, I really enjoyed reading your article, there are so many aspects to the whole food blogging thing. I find its always a dilemma to figure out what the right path is.

  43. Jeanie Lai
    March 24, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Hi Julie,

    Thank you for your honesty and sharing with us, your readers, all the thoughts that go behind blogging. This post was very enlightening.

    To echo a lot of what has already been said, I had no idea you already had 7 cookbooks out! (I only own “Spilling the Beans”.) I don’t see anything wrong with promoting your books on your website. If I like your blog recipes, I want it to be easy to find your cookbooks (I still prefer hardcopy cookbooks… old-fashioned gen-Y that I am…)

    As for ads, I agree with you that they are so commonplace that many people block them out automatically.

    I enjoy your writing style and I come here for your posts. Keep up the good work!

  44. em
    March 24, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    I’ve enjoyed and cooked from your blog for ages. I don’t object to ads in the least and think you should feature your books prominently. What drives me nuts is anything flashing or moving in my visual field when reading or an “X” that won’t close.

  45. Julie A
    March 24, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    Do what you have to do, Julie! We support you. And by all means, promote your books – you work hard and you absolutely should make the most of this wonderful platform you’ve created. Thanks for your honesty in this post – it’s precisely that authenticity that has attracted this audience, and we’ll be there wherever you go from here!

  46. kelly
    March 24, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Hi Julie. Great post. I totally agree with those who say you should promote yourself more. Check out some that include a subscription too. As you continue to build your audience you can create meal plans for a monthly price. People will pay, you will expand your readership and gain new respect with a different business model.

  47. Alex
    March 24, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    I love you Julie Van Rosendaal.

  48. Jo
    March 24, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    If this is a voting thing, I say yes to promoting your books, even if it is a bibliography line on the side (I have one of them, but didn’t know about more). I say yes to promotional posts as long as they are clear, and it is something you personally like or an honest review. No to pop-up ads.
    When I read your recipes on the blog, I feel like they are really do-able by real people, and you don’t need all the fancy equipment and years of culinary school behind you. Thanks for all the hard work.

  49. Jackie H
    March 24, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    Please consider promoting your books on your web site. You could even link to a book when blogging about a recipe. I am all for reading about sponsored blogs especially if they are Canadian products. Maybe you can promote some companies that only have exposure at farmers markets or food events. Next time you are on the West side of the Rockies check out Edible Canada in Granville Island in Vancouver. They gave made a business out of selling and promoting Canadian products in their cafe and store. I go there again and again to discover new Canadian products. I would also look towards the Wheat Board and the Alberta Beef association for sponsorship opportunities. That way you are promoting Alberta as well as a product 🙂

  50. Lauri
    March 24, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    Put a link to your cookbooks!!!

    I generally bypass sponsored posts, but I also understand that web hosting costs money & I have enjoyed your recipes. I certainly don’t begrudge bloggers that subsidize their costs.

  51. tami
    March 24, 2015 at 10:52 pm

    I can’t believe you don’t have a section for your books! I think an Amazon link is warranted. I don’t mind ads, as long as they aren’t across the top of the page, slow the page down, pop-up or play audio or video automatically.

    Sponsored content doesn’t necessarily bother me – I like opinions of people whose work I like. I also don’t mind affiliate linking on sites – like if I want to buy a platter which appears in a food pic.

    I’m in the US, and one of the things I like about your site is it’s Canadian character. it’s one of the reasons I read your blog.

  52. Shannon
    March 24, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    Hi Julie, I dont usually write on blogs, but I felt it important to let you know you are doing an outstanding job!!!
    Be true to yourself, stay the course, follow your heart, what you write, of the food part of your life and other antidotes of your life is beautiful.
    You are the only food blogger I follow, enjoy the journey…:)

  53. Carolyn
    March 25, 2015 at 1:21 am

    I’m not a fan of pop-up ads or blogs that make it difficult to navigate because they have so many other ads. I appreciate knowing when I’m reading sponsored content before I start reading it. But, I understand that you and other bloggers have very real costs for providing content. Have you considered a crowd funding campaign to offset some of your costs?

  54. Alison
    March 25, 2015 at 6:52 am

    PLEASE! Don’t quit the blog! Yours is both entertaining and informative, and despite lots of browsing is “go to” blog for recipes. I agree with the above comments, bring on the advertisements if need be! It would be great if we could buy your books through your website- I own most of them , but love to give them as gifts. It would also be great to know how to hire you as a speaker? Don’t be shy about promoting yourself. I also loved your recommendations on appliances etc when you remodelled -any chance the manufacturers would pay for advertising? I’m sure it’s difficult to get ad revenue these days, but I have no problem with it if it helps your blog to continue. I’d even pay for a subscription to your blog-for me, it’s like reading a magazine, and I refer back to old posts constantly. Good luck! I also love hearing you on CBC and hope to see you at Xmas in November!

  55. Alicen
    March 25, 2015 at 8:41 am

    I check in on your blog every morning because I don’t want to miss anything you might have posted since the last time I checked. I really enjoy your writing style and the ease of the recipes you post. I honestly had to go check a few other blogs to see if they have ads because I tune them out so well. Ads along the sides of the pages don’t bother me at all (I don’t even register them apparently), only something that pops up and I have to find the silly little x to get rid of it. Please keep writing, please add links and information about your books, and carry on being yourself! You are doing a fantastic job and you should be compensated for that in some way.

  56. Odie
    March 25, 2015 at 9:16 am

    I’m not opposed to ads, per se, but I really find it annoying when there are so many animated ads and it freezes up my computer, or there are multiple pop-up ads. You definitely have a right to do what you need to to make a living.

  57. Julie Freedman Smith
    March 25, 2015 at 10:03 am

    You have spent a great deal of time creating a wonderful following – people who trust you, people who care about you and your livelihood, people who love your food. We want you to have success so that you can continue.
    You are the go to website when I need a recipe for anything. I know I am not alone.
    If others choose not to stay with you, that’s on them, not on you. Go for it!AND Thank you!

  58. Meta4
    March 25, 2015 at 11:25 am

    We LOVE you Julie,
    Bring on the ads on the sidebar. We all love your recipes well written blog and Tweets.
    We all need to make money, life is expensive, we all understand.(I hope I write for everyone when I say we)

    There must be many, many stores/specialty food sellers in Calgary and western Canada who would love to advertise, have links in your blog.
    Go for it Julie, I will still check your blog first thing in the morning while drinking my coffee.

  59. rea
    March 25, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    you need to get paid for your work so ads are the way to go. i would think that your work mission would direct you to the type of ads you want on your site. good luck!

  60. DN
    March 25, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    Definitely use the ads!

  61. Jocelyn Colquhoun
    March 25, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    Hi Julie, I love your blog and check it most days. It’s my favourite and the site I check first if I’m looking for a recipe. You cook how I like to cook – great ingredients and not too fussy! I think if you do what’s best for you it will be what’s best for the rest of us in the long run. I don’t think you’ll loose anyone with a bit of advertising! Good luck.

  62. in Ottawa
    March 25, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    Hi Julie, I love your blog. It is the first food blog I ever followed!! You taught me how to grow potatoes in a garbage can!! I would definitely still keep coming back if there were a few ads. I think people throw the “NO ADS!” exclamation out there too easily because they forget the number 1 rule of economics…”There’s no such thing as a free lunch!” …or in this case, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch from dinnerwithjulie.com” 😉
    Enjoy your vacation.

  63. Annick
    March 25, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    I have no suggestions of solutions. Being a stay at home mom, I am not in that world. They only perspective I can give you is being a returning visitors.

    When you post on Facebook about your new book, I realized you had written books. They are now In my Amazon wish list for an order. So you should definitely sell your books on your site!

    My husband buy me some cook books that are recommended as being a reference. And I continue to favorise your recipe because they are good and works for somebody who cook with little ones around her legs.

    What I am saying is this : whatever you put on your site, you’ll be my go to references for every ideas I would like to pursue, because what you do, you do it right. And at the end of the day, that is what matters!

    Good luck.

  64. La Cuisine d'Helene
    March 25, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    I don’t like Ads at all and did remove Ads from my blog last September and I am so happy I did it. I prefer to do sponsored posts, once in a while, and I will disclose it. I work only with companies that I have been buying their products with my own money and that my family enjoys. I only publish recipes on my blog that we love and that other people love. If my family does not eat it I will never talk about it. When I started blogging in 2006 it was for me and my family. I wanted my kids to have recipes of the meals we enjoy together when they are older. I will continue to post recipes for them. When people think that blogging is a job I reply that it is a passion for some people. If I wanted a job I would have stayed with the Public Service and make a ton of money. I am happy to be home and to continue to do what I like every day. I could not see myself unhappy at work.

    And I think that you should talk about your books because I love them, I have them on my bookshelves and I hope other people will buy them.

  65. Bonnie
    March 25, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Julie as a long-time reader and fan I would have no problem with side-bar ads. The sponsored posts do not bother me in the least. But please no pop-ups. I’ve always wondered why you aren’t selling your own books and promoting classes and appearances on the blog. Looking forward to the new design.

  66. Anonymous
    March 25, 2015 at 8:42 pm

    Karan @ q:52pm hit the nail on the head. Use your blog to promote YOURSELF. We are here because we love you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished to be able to know where that magazine or article was! I see you take photos for an “upcoming article”. Can they pay you to link to the magazines and websites? That’s what we all want….. More of you!

  67. Anonymous
    March 25, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Sorry! That should read Sarah @ 1:52


  68. Rose
    March 25, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    Hi Julie,

    Agree with the majority here! I too wish you would’ve posted your appearances. I saw, after the fact, that you had been to a cooking type event in Vancouver. If I’d known, I’d have gone to see you as I live here. Funny thing:….. After you’d been here, I DREAMED I’d seen you and some friends dining out. I approached your table to say hello but your friends tried to keep me away from you so you wouldn’t be pestered, but you were gracious and said it was no problem! So funny! That was a few years ago. Keep up the good work and thank you for all the great ‘go to’ recipes I use.

  69. e
    March 25, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    hi julie,

    i’ve been reading your blog for a few years now.

    we live now in a world where labels run everything. even when we aren’t searching for one, even visualized colours where your eyes travel so you catch these small details, count for something.

    sometimes we have to catch up before we become washed up. i hope that isn’t your consensus to it all. but i think it’s best to have someone to delegate and trust this all to. as you are only one person, and one person can only do so much.

    your step back shows a lot of strength in what you do. it shows that you have seams that are too great to be bound and tied. you have ideas that will fuel more amazing thoughts, memories and recipes. but just someone to relay them with and for you.

    it takes time to trust that person, but trust in yourself that you’re doing the best thing for yourself, passion and your family. even if its 10K. (scary digits may i add), this is how the internet presently works and how it may shape up in to something different. different is scary. but you wouldn’t invite it, if need be.

    take it from a professional labeller, they are just labels. you get to decide where they get implemented. creative control is marvellous. especially when you get to do the creating more. that’s how i see it.

    you’ve got your box. you can think in that box, outside of it, or how to reconstruct, paint, or just leave it as a box.

    the beauty of all this? it’s yours.

  70. Julie
    March 26, 2015 at 12:44 am


    Sorry for my slow replies… I’m in Tofino with critically slow internet, and although I tried to get as much work as possible wrapped up before we left, I’m still writing and shooting and editing – and as you may have heard on Twitter, have all been varying degrees of sick and I’m still trying to pretend we’re on holiday. So now W is in bed and I have a glass of wine by the fire and am reading through all these lovely comments. I wish it was set up so I could reply to each one – that’s on my redesign wish list ?

    Diane – you’re so right, we need a new model. I’ve had an idea for years, but everyone seems to disagree that it’s a good idea, which makes me think maybe it’s not. I’d be curious to hear what you think!

    And yes, I agree about pop-ups and requests (or demands!) to like!/share!/sign up for a newsletter! and ads with sound that automatically comes on – that drives me crazy too! I’d never opt for those, so no worries there. A few of you suggested running ads for small local food companies – which is a GREAT idea – but my audience is so spread out… crazily enough a fairly small percentage are in Calgary, although it is the majority. About half my audience is in the US. So that’s something else to figure out. Also – it would be great to do sponsored posts about local cheese or farms I love, and I try to integrate those into my content on my own, because those are the producers who don’t have the funds to hire PR companies and have big marketing budgets. Perhaps that’s the turn-off when it comes to advertising on food blogs – most of it is Big Food.

  71. Julie
    March 26, 2015 at 12:46 am

    Also – it’s so interesting how many of you reacted about the cookbooks, when that was sort of an afterthought! And yes, that’s my own fault.. I’m not very sales-y and as I may have mentioned, a terrible self-promoter 🙂

  72. Cath in ottawa
    March 26, 2015 at 3:54 am

    I love this thread – I am a longtime reader and rare commenter but I check your blog every day and it is my go to for things like what the heck do I do with the pork belly from my meat CSA?! I am fine with ads and agree with others on sponsored content – if bloggers are super upfront when they are doing it and aren’t telling me why I should bake with processed cheese spread, I am good! For what it is worth, I would also pay to subscribe to online classes on given topics – I did one that beautythatmoves did on whole food kitchens a few years ago and loved it.

  73. Jan @ Family Bites
    March 26, 2015 at 6:58 am

    I’m so glad you finally wrote this. It’s like three years worth of our Skype conversations packaged neatly for all to read. Everyone is right: get promoting those books you wrote with links for where to buy them. Also, I’ve always said that if you want to know which direction blogs are heading take a look at what the lifestyle and design bloggers are doing, and right now they are featuring a ton of sponsored content but it’s done so well that no one seems to mind. The one thing I do notice is that instead of just putting a disclaimer at the bottom of each post, the design bloggers usually say something like “thank you for supporting that brands that make writing this blog possible” which I think is awesome. They acknowledge at the beginning of the post that the content is sponsored and at the end they thank the readers, and in between they create interesting content that sometimes seems better than what they usually write. Something to think about it!

  74. Cathy D
    March 26, 2015 at 9:36 am

    Oh Julie my dear friend.

    What a well written and thoughtful post. I say this with great love (and you’ve heard me say it before, ha) you are indeed a terrible self promoter 🙂 I think you’ve built a shining personal brand over the years by just being you and doing what you do so very well.

    You have been doing great work on sponsored content, I think it’s here to stay and people have come to accept it and even, expect it. I think the sandwich approach (hey, you’re a food blogger) to articles is key, the idea of “thank you for supporting the brands that make this possible” on both ends. Your audience is so spread out that makes it a challenge as to exactly the right brands to work with, but that will come.

    And for the love of….YES talk about and “sell” your books on your blog, LOL. And ads too. If people are offended by a freelancer running ads to assist in delivering all this great content, they should then be offended by every single other ad they see on a daily basis. Geesh. It is a difficult balance though, without question.

    There are SO many amazing things you do and never talk about here. Perhaps I’ll start up my own “Here’s What Julie didn’t tell you about Julie beyond Dinner Blog” 🙂 🙂

  75. Susan R
    March 26, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    The decision to host ads vs sponsored content vs both vs whatever model is next…
    Personally, I think as long as an author is open about it being a sponsored post, I think it’s fine. I ask my friend who is a mechanic where to buy a car, my neighbour is a drywaller and I asked him who NOT to hire for an electrician.
    Why wouldn’t I ask you about the best appliances or where to get great spices? I might not want your opinion on who is going to win the Stanley Cup, but if it’s kitchen- or food-related why would I not want to read that?
    Ads, on the other hand, can’t keep my attention and often bear no resemblance to the blog hosting them.
    Good luck. Navigating the new journalism while creating the paradigm as you go…..

  76. Meaghan
    March 26, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    You have such a lovely voice and an obvious passion for food writing! I love your blog and look forward to reading it on a regular basis. You deserve to be compensated for your hard work and I expect that your dedicated readers will understand the circumstanses and continue to enjoy your blog regardless of ads or sponsored content. Good luck:)

  77. Kristi
    March 26, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    I always enjoy reading your blog. Thank you for all your hard work! My family has enjoyed every recipe of yours that I have made. For ads, I don’t mind them unless they are popups. It pays the bills! Can’t wait to see your new design!

  78. Martine
    March 27, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Hi Julie,
    You and Erica of NW edible life are my go to places for how to do stuff around home and garden. Erica sells pdf e-content to help fund her site. An idea? Love your stuff, your recipes are always doable, and practical. Your storytelling makes me smile and keeps me a tiny bit connected to Calgary, a place I used to call home. Cheers!!

  79. Tricia
    March 27, 2015 at 11:13 am

    For the love of all that is holy: Sell ads! (If you want to.) Do sponsored content! (If you don’t hate the work.) Promote your books! (We want to buy them.)

    Anyone who looks down on those things must be fed on manna falling from the sky. I’m sure not.

    (I now feel bad that this was the first time I’ve been moved to comment on your blog, even though I’ve been reading for years.)

  80. Susan
    March 27, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    Hi Julie,
    I stumbled upon your blog years ago and it’s the one I always return to. I have 2 of your cookbooks- ( had no idea there are 7) and have also purchased the cookbooks as gifts for friends and family. Like others have already stated, you do need to make a living and ads are no big deal as long as the ads do not compromise your vision or the integrity of your site. It does make good business sense to promote your books and any other publication you contribute to! Enjoy the beach.

  81. Dana
    March 28, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Julie, I have been following you for years and wondered how you have managed to hold out so long. I appreciate your content and although I don’t exactly know the ins and outs of sponsored posts, I would like to hear your views on products and services that you support. I loved your post on the thermomix, I had heard similar rave reviews previously but never from somebody I related to so I was sold by your positive commentary. Good luck and do what you need to do. I will keep reading.

  82. Julia
    March 28, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    I personally think sidebar ads, particularly for items related to the topic of the blog, can be useful. They generate revenue for the blogger and they can potentially introduce me to products I’d like to try, or sales I didn’t know about. It’s more a question of tailoring the advertising to the target audience than anything else.

    What bothers me with regards to the “commercialization of blogs” is when the blogger starts talking about “their brand”, “their business strategy”, or “their sponsorship deals” on a weekly basis. Pulling back the curtain to show me the inner workings of your business model is kind of like showing me your underwear just because I asked you where you bought your cute purse; that’s not what I’m here for, and while I understand that it does exist, it should definitely stay behind the scenes and not become the primary topic of the blog.

    I’ve stopped following bloggers before because it became very obvious that they were more concerned with marketing strategies than continuing to provide the good content that got them readers in the first place.

    Julie, do what you’ve got to do. Just keep being awesome while you do it. =)

  83. Alan
    March 28, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    Hi Julie, we love your blog and specifically your content. We can always find what we’re looking for on your site. I’m also appalled that you don’t monetize your blog and struggle with that. I’m also surprised at the costs you quoted that you are paying for hosting, especially since the site loads so slowly.You can get better than this for a lot less on all aspects of your web business. Just though you should know.

  84. Amy
    March 28, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    I would be happy if you promoted products that you like to use such as ingredients, gadgets, small appliances, etc. and do not mind a few ads if they are not too intrusive. I love your salad, meat and veg recipes and find they almost always turn out really well for me so I check your blog on a regular basis.

  85. Kelly in NS
    March 29, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Hi Julie
    I will remain a faithful follower no matter what you must do, as long as it means you keep doing it! We would be lost without your wit and culinary wisdom.
    I am hoping to soon own all your books…started as a big fan many years ago with finding Grazing on the Book mobile!
    You are not being selfish by doing what is fesible to keep bringing us your blog! We are fortunate to have it!

  86. Kathy
    March 29, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    I came to your blog via CBC radio. By the time you figure it out… There will be some other option to think about. Do whatever it takes to keep going. This technology thing changes too fast to stay still.
    It really pisses me off that facebook and google get most of the ad $$$ when the reality is that No One Looks AT Ads on facebook or google or twitter. It’s all a big sham. Does anyone twitter anymore? Unless one is pissed off at Rogers or Telus or Shaw. It’s pretty good then.

    Every one knows them to be a necessary evil to get content free. But everyone hates them equaly for selling us out to the highest bidder…as in ad revenue.

    Don’t lose sleep over it. Just do what you have to do and don’t worry about it. By the time you pay for all your changes, there will be something or someway new on the horizon to consider

  87. Lana
    March 30, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Did you know that your blog was the very first one I’d ever read? After we met in Vancouver and you told me what you did, I got home and looked it up and was hooked. I will read your blog however it changes because it connects me to you, and it provides me with great recipes and food ideas that always turn out. I dislike pop-up ads but will still read this! Do sponsored posts, side-bar ads, whatever you need to do. And get your books for sale on here, too! Do you read “Momastery”? Her design is pretty cool with different tabs so if people just want to go straight to the blog, they can skip other things. You could have a tab for your books, a tab listing appearances, one for Instagram/FB, etc. All in one place 🙂 Again. Love your blog! Love you!

  88. Emily
    April 2, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    I don’t mind ads, and yes, sell your cookbooks here! I also don’t mind sponsored blogs as long as you actually like what you are endorsing. Think of it the opposite way, you are working for a particular company for free if you are writing about their product that you love and don’t get paid for it. It would be a shame to not share your creative cooking mind with the rest of the world for lack of funding.

  89. Heather
    April 8, 2015 at 10:45 am

    I don’t mind ads (although I hate popups) and I will even click on them if I’m interested in what it is and since this is a food blog I probably will be interested in it. You have every right to make a living from this! I also enjoy the sponsored posts. I don’t see what so different from an ad in a magazine. I probably wouldn’t enjoy them as much if it was say a sponsored post for a gaming console or something not really related but if it’s related to food, cooking, etc I like those! That’s why I read food blogs! Hope that makes sense!

  90. Robyn
    April 9, 2015 at 8:14 am

    I don’t mind the ads or sponsored content. My wish for the new and improved Dinner with Julie is an updated Recipe Index and a better Search function! I love you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.