Something James Oseland, editor of Saveur, said when he delivered the keynote at the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) struck me as strange. He said, “A food blog should not be a popularity contest. Blog because you love it, because you have to.” Then everyone applauded.
I bet food bloggers applauded because they are so sick of feeling like they’re in high school again: checking their Google rankings, embedding SEO links, worrying that no one will comment on a post, wondering when they’ll be popular enough to be invited on a press tour or get a book deal. Wouldn’t it be a relief if food blogging was not a popularity contest?
But of course it is. The bloggers who draw the most readers get the biggest book deals and the most opportunities and the most money from ads on their sites. That’s how it works. We need to get over it.
And I don’t see that these things are mutually exclusive anyway: I blog because I love doing so, and I blog because I must. I love having a forum to get my ideas and opinions out. I love hearing from all of you and having an intelligent discussion. On the other hand, I blog because I must: it was how I figured out what to write about in the new edition of Will Write For Food; because I want to be on top of new ways to write and communicate; and because it’s a great way to reach potential purchasers of my books, classes, and coaching services.
Did any bloggers ask Oseland, “Do you work because you love to or because you have to?” No. Because it would be a dumb question.
Kirsty Melville, president of the book division of Andrews-McMeel Publishing and a speaker at IFBC, asked my readers a question in a similar vein on my last post about giving recipes away : “… What do you want most: Money, fame or happiness?”
“The argument that one should never give away recipes for free suggests that money is most important, which is fine,” she reasoned. “During the SEO session many IFBC attendees were adamant that they weren’t interested in traffic or making money. They just wanted to create great content and be part of the community, indicating that happiness was on top. Participating in a book like Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook or the one from Food52 (or giving your recipes to a magazine) may bring you fame but not money (or fame in the short term, leading to more money in the long term). In the end, just like in the game, we each have to figure out which is most important and then make decisions that will help us achieve it.”
Well yes, I suppose it’s best to figure out what matters most. I know fame and money are fleeting, and happiness is all that matters in the long run.
I don’t know about you, but I want all three. Why should we work just for love, anyway? What’s wrong with the money and fame to go with the hard work? Tell me.