Sep 062011

Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen (left), says that absolutely, bloggers should charge for recipes. That's Kate McDermott of Art of the Pie in the middle and me on the right. (Photo by Lora Giorgi, Cake Dutchess)

What a difference a year makes. Last year at The International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC), Amy Sherman of Cooking With Amy got a ton of push-back on our recipe-writing panel when she suggested food bloggers should get paid for recipes.

Even I wrote a conflicted piece on giving recipes away for free, which continues to be one of my most-commented upon posts ever.

This year, at IFBC in New Orleans this past weekend, Deborah Perelman of Smitten Kitchen stated, firmly, that bloggers should not give away recipes for free because companies make money from them. There was silence. Hobby bloggers occupied half the room.

And then a woman in the audience, from Wilton, said her company pays for recipes, and that bloggers should always ask for payment. Shauna James Ahern of Gluten-Free Girl, also in the audience, tweeted: “Love hearing @thesmitten, @katemcdermott, and @diannej encouraging women to advocate for themselves when charging for recipes. #IFBCNOLA.”

That’s an improvement over last year, when people talked about giving away recipes for “goodwill” and “connection.” But complicated questions remain about who is asking for these recipes, what you get from giving them away, and what should you charge or not charge in each case. Let’s look at three examples:

  1. Company or corporations: These firms have budgets to pay for work.The rate is anywhere from $250 to $600 per original recipe, according to recipe developers I spoke to when doing research for the IFBC panel. Groceries for testing are never included in the price, and the company will probably own the recipe. Some companies want to pay you in goods. If so, the goods should be worth more than the fee to make it worthwhile.
  2. Cookbook author. If an author wants to put your recipe in her cookbook, charge him or her a nominal fee, unless it’s for a charity you deem worthwhile. But how much, and what if they say they can’t pay? Decide if it’s worth it. An obscure book with a small publishing company might have few readers. On the other hand, it doesn’t cost you much for a recipe already published on your website to appear in a book. And on the other hand, if you believe inclusion would be prestigious, such as in the Food52 cookbook, then you might find it worthwhile from a credibility standpoint.
  3. Company website. If someone offers to post a recipe from your blog for no pay, should you do it? I’d prefer that the answer is no, but I’ve worked with beginning bloggers who have given away content from blogs because it’s good for their credibility and creates incoming links. I don’t like it, but I understand. I just hope it’s a short-term philosophy that bloggers can use as a stepping stone to paid work.

The best approach, the panelists said, is to ask, “What is your budget?” Sometimes after saying no, companies come back with a budget. This moment can be the turning point for many food bloggers, who thought of themselves as hobbyists, and then find that people are willing to pay for their work. And they should. Just because writing recipes is your passion doesn’t mean you should do so for free, outside of your blog.

What is your experience? Has anything changed from last year? Are companies still asking for recipes for free, or is it more common to offer payment now? Are you at the point now where you won’t give away any content for free?

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For more posts about IFBC New Orleans and recipe writing, see:

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  88 Responses to “Getting Paid for Recipes, One Year Later”

  1. I’m with Deb and Amy… don’t give it away! As you mentioned, start out by asking the company what their budget is. Sometimes, there is no budget (since – I feel- many companies try to take advantage of bloggers and get them to create for free), but many times there IS a budget… or they suddenly have a budget when they said they didn’t have one in the first place. The bottom line is, always at least ask. You won’t start getting paid for the recipes you write unless you start treating yourself like a professional! The next step is deciding what you’re willing to do and for how much.

    • Hey Lori, you were one of my first commenters on the post last year. You’ve been doing this for a while. Can you say what you have charged for recipes, as a range? I gave a pretty broad range in the post. It’s always good to have confirmation.

      • Yeah, that range seems right. In the beginning, I think I’d create a recipe for about $350. I’ve done them for less too, depending on the brand and the work involved and the opportunity. And I’ve done them for more too! I’d say the typical offer comes through at around $500 per recipe these days (from reputable, big companies), but you can always negotiate!

  2. Have things changed in the last year? I don’t think so. I still have just as many companies asking me to do things for free as I did before, but the paid opportunities come along too. The good news is that my PR company friends tell me that companies are beginning to realize the value that bloggers can bring to the table- that they have the ability to reach a whole lot of people with one blog post (for minimal cost to the company). Hopefully we’ll start to see some significant changes eventually!

    • It sounds like they HAVE changed, a little bit. You are getting more paid opportunities than before — but that might also be because you’ve been working at recipe development; and because p.r. people are starting to get a clue about audiences. That might mean they’re just more interested in product placement, though. Okay I said “a little bit!”

  3. The adage “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free” comes to mind. We all need to charge for our milk, unless we want to be the whores of the blogging world. Even if you don’t mind prostituting your wares, the companies will eventually want to “settle down” with a nice blogger, and you can bet it won’t be one who gives it away to every Tom, Dick and Harry, because there is an implied sense of quality and legitimacy in a recipe that comes from someone who understands it is worth more than a link exchange and a handshake.

    • Very clever. Your point seems rather quaint for a modern girl such as yourself, LInda. But I do appreciate the idea that quality and legitimacy are worth more than a link exchange and a handshake. Bloggers just starting out, however, may not agree.

  4. You know what else I see a lot of, Dianne? Recipe “contests.” This is another way some savvy companies solicit free recipes from many people and offer a prize (whether a gift card, small appliance, or monetary prize) to a single winner.

    Bloggers may not realize that their chances of winning are small, and that the contest’s fine print may allow the company to re-purpose the recipe however it sees fit, in perpetuity.

    Bloggers should do what they want, but they should always be aware that subtle factors at play may not always be in their best interests.

    • Yes, I wondered about putting contests in there. Good point about the fine print.

      Now, Food52 is a contest site with no pay. But a lot of bloggers and other kinds of recipe writers like to apply. Is that site no different from the rest? Is there a prize?

      • Hi Dianne — I was sorry to miss IFBC but pleased to have a taste from you. Contests are a complicated question. Before I was writing about food professionally, winning a couple of contests helped to build my confidence. (and netted me a fancy microwave oven and a few other plum prizes) Now, with several books under my belt, I don’t need them in the same way, but I have entered a few where I hoped I had a chance of winning. That was the case for me with Food52, where I won one of their contests (and still get comments on the recipe I submitted over a year later, which is heartwarming). The prize was fun though not equivalent to getting paid, but the visibility for my books and web site were probably a good value compared to paid advertising.

        • IFBC was fun, Jenny! A lot mellower than some other conferences I’ve been to, with spectacular food.

          I can see why you would enter contests before you became a professional cookbook author. Those contests are geared to amateurs and food bloggers — and, I suppose, professional contest competitors — and they’re a good way to establish credentials as a potential cookbook author. Now that you have a line of books behind you, it seems odd to enter. Surely your books speak for themselves in terms of ability and success.

    • I agree with Cheryl about the recipe contests. Years ago, before food blogs, I entered a recipe contest with a well-known soup company. My recipe was rather specific and I don’t know that they took my recipe exactly, but within a few months of the contest, they came out with the same name soup that I had entered. Of course I did not win the contest, but I had signed away all my rights to the recipe as part of the terms of the contest. After seeing that, I decided not to enter these contests again. This is how companies come up with lots of new creative recipes for FREE!

      • What a terrible story, Lisa. I suppose you could have been honored — which is apparently why a lot of people do it. And felt like you had more credibility. But I think you’re within your rights to feel taken advantage of. Sadly, these kinds of contests are still going on all the time.

    • I think most recipe “contests” are a complete cop-out. It’s a quick way to generate a lot of recipe content for a company in a short time with a little investment. I’ve been blogging for almost a year and the only contest I’ve participated in was for a local CSA organization cookbook. I’d be interested to see what other bloggers think about this!

  5. Interesting, but not surprising that the topic is still hot a year later! I’ve worked for Southern Living and Cuisine at home as an intern, developing and testing recipes. I know how much work goes into each recipe – time, cost of ingredients, etc. I have done a number of recipe development for cookbooks, and unfortunately those were not paid, but the food of cost was covered. I also do recipe testing on regular basis, and once again without financial compensation. I’ve used this as a way to build my pantry, spices, and oils cabinets. I have a on-going contract with a national magazine where I actually get paid for both the recipe and the cost of food, and it’s nice to have a by-line. I hope my future has a lot more paid recipe commissions! :)

    • Hey, if you’ve got one commission from a national magazine, more can follow! Re developing and testing recipes for no pay, they should be paying you, because you are an established professional due to your work at SL and Cuisine. Please ask for payment next time.

  6. I’m so glad to see you writing about this topic again, Dianne. Finding opportunities for food bloggers to be paid for what they do best — scrumptious recipe development, gorgeous food photography and homespun food writing — is a subject very close to my heart. In fact, last year at this time I launched Kitchen PLAY as a way to connect more food bloggers with the brands who are looking to do just this: pay them!

    I think it makes sense to talk about sponsored posts in this discussion as well. Most food bloggers are more confident asking for payment when the recipe will belong to the entity that approached them (as this is a clear exchange of payment for services rendered). I sense that many of the same food bloggers have a harder time negotiating the requests they receive for writing sponsored posts (which can run from recipe development to product reviews to Twitter promotion and everything in between). Not to mention that there is still some stigma attached to sponsored posts (an ironic reversal of Salty Seattle’s analogy here: many feel that being paid to write a post is akin to prostituting one’s self or one’s blog.)

    I would encourage food bloggers to remember this: unlike any other category of blogger, food bloggers have a unique and marketable product (original recipes) in limitless supply. They create new inventory on a daily or weekly basis! Combined with the added value of their social media exposure, these assets make food bloggers and their work highly valuable, even when the suggested compensation starts out as a “link and a handshake”. Luckily, brands are beginning to realize this and are assigning more of their budgets toward tapping food bloggers’ potential.

    It is my ultimate goal to help food bloggers capitalize on the tremendous opportunity that awaits them in return.

    Casey Benedict
    Kitchen PLAY

    • Well, sponsored posts are a different subject to me, and come with a lot of ethical considerations. I wrote about the subject of sponsored posts here. I’m particularly opposed to Twitter sponsored posts, because there is no room in the 140 characters to say “BTW, I’m getting paid to write this.”

      But I digress.

      I like the tone of your last paragraph. I think the issue is that many bloggers start a food blog for fun, and then it doesn’t occur to them to ask for money when people want to republish their recipes or ask them to write new ones. It’s a learning curve that comes with a lot of complications. For example, I wouldn’t encourage bloggers to enter contests where they MIGHT get paid, after they have created a recipe and blogged about it. They have done the work and deserve to get paid right then.

      • Thanks for your response, Dianne. Two points I’d like to clarify.

        First, you seem to infer that recipe development alone–as separate from blogging–is a way for food bloggers to be paid for what they do. My experience with brands is that they are, in fact, eager to work with food bloggers specifically due to their platforms. An executive from Wilton (a representative of which you paraphrase above) once explained to me that her company has a salaried staff of recipe developers. Therefore, in her department at least, there is no need to hire food bloggers for this particular type of work. I wonder if the Wilton rep at IFBC was referring to paying for the entire food blogger package: writing, recipe development, food photography, Twitter, facebook, etc., the sum of which would be hosted on the food bloggers’ own sites. If so, these are sponsored posts. I bring this up to make sure we’re all talking about the same types of opportunities, as relatively few food bloggers (of the thousands out there) will be approached for a paid recipe development deal, versus those that will be approached with a sponsored post/recipe development deal.

        And as to sponsored posts, you write in your comment to me, “They have done the work (created a recipe and blogged about it) and deserve to get paid right then.” That, too, is a sponsored post, no? In any event, it sounds as though you are in favor food bloggers being paid to create a recipe and blog about it by the brands whose products they use, so long as there is transparency in the process.

        Thanks for the lively discussion!

        • Yes, good points, Casey. I did not know that about Wilton, so I wonder what she was referring to?

          Working with bloggers based on their reach is a different thing. I’d prefer that companies buy an ad, as I’m not a fan of sponsored posts. However, yes, if someone was to write one, I like the title “Sponsored post” as the headline, and then an explanation of what that means. And I’d like the blogger to be paid for it vs. entered into a contest to win.

  7. I do some recipe testing/adaptation/development for a health food company and they pay me per recipe, plus the cost of the ingredients (I collect the receipts and they reimburse me the full amount). It’s a small company, and the pay isn’t the best but it’s a good starting point for someone who, at the point of accepting the contract, had been food blogging for less than a year. I took it for the experience and the extra shine it will give to my resume and portfolio. They also allow me the flexibility to do it on my own time outside of my full-time work without imposing strict deadlines on me, which is nice.

    • Very good. That sounds like an excellent plan to get experience, get paid for your work, and raise your credibility as a developer and tester.

  8. Very helpful discussion. That’s the thing I love about food bloggers, always willing to help and share!

  9. I have to admit I’m stunned and confused! I have recently started a food blog over two months ago, and I thought the purpose was to share recipes!? If I didn’t share recipes, I don’t know what the point would be? I’m not a natural writer, so writing about food probably isn’t going to be good enough, but I love to cook and experiment which is what I wanted to share… Okay, so I’ve had no offers from companies asking to use my recipes, that’s fine, I didn’t even think that happened (which just shows how immature I am in this world of blogging), but am I just selling myself short?


    • No no, not at all, Kimanh. You are sharing recipes with home cooks. That’s what bloggers do.The question comes when a company, website, book author, etc. wants one of your recipes and what to do about it. Since people are usually paid for their recipes in these situations, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be as well.

  10. It’s funny how your opinion changes the longer you blog, and the more popular you get. It’s hard to find the balance between the desired self publicizing and being taken advantage of. It appears that although there are less bloggers out there now than there used to be, the ones still doing it are serious and have clout. It then comes as a great shame to those who put great amounts of time and effort in to see others giving away similar work for free. It doesn’t matter if your blog is food, fashion, photography or fathering, the information you provide there is not supposed to move anywhere but your site. This is an issue that faces us all – to those who are getting paid: good on you. Everybody just steals my stuff. Ahhh what a topic

  11. I agree, when someone else is profiting from your work, you should be paid!

    So here’s another twist on that question — someone is looking to write a magazine profile about me, and they want to include some recipes. I’m guessing in such a scenario, it’s not standard to be paid, but maybe I’m wrong. Thoughts?

    • Correct. It’s not standard to be paid, because it is considered promotion. But you probably have a say, if you want one, on how many recipes to give the magazine, and which ones.

      • Yes, I imagine I’ll be choosing which recipes to give them. On another related note, yesterday I turned an offer for “exposure” (guest blogging for a for-profit site) into an offer for real work (photographing recipes) merely by replying and offering myself as a freelancer. So yes, it works!

  12. This is exactly the position that I am in!! I keep getting asked for a photo or recipe here and there for this publication or that. I write for an upstart online magazine. They will be publishing a cookbook and have asked for photos and recipes to be included. I have done all of this for free. I am embarrassed when family members ask if I am getting paid and I say “no”. I can’t wait to back and read everyone’s comments. Please keep more dialogue coming on this topic!

    • See! I’m not the only one who says you should be paid. Even your family is telling you. It’s up to you to start saying, “What is your budget?” and, “No.”

  13. Fascinating discussion. It makes me think we need a food blogger union…united we stand! Power to the food bloggers!

    DianneJ: Would love to see some conversation about what makes a food blogger. I believe it’s original content, but I’d venture to say the #s swing to posting established recipes by chefs and cookbook authors.

    To Snippets: I know the magazine/cookbook. I was one of the original contributors. I’ve pulled back recently because not only is there no reimbursement, there was no increase in traffic. All the comments went on the mag’s website.

    • Joan,
      So funny to hear you mention that we need a food blogger union… that was actually a serious discussion that I had w/ some other food bloggers at a conference not too long ago. It would be great to create something like that and to set standards for those of us in the industry who love what we do but who also treat this as a business. The problem is… would that limit us in exploring creative ways to work with companies… and in how much we’d get paid? Maybe we just need to set some sort of industry minimum!

    • Yes, that idea was generated, on my blog. Here’s the link to the post I did on Maggy Keet’s idea to form a union.

      What makes a food blogger? Someone passionate about food who writes about it, from his or her own experience, on a blog. Yes, definitely original content is mandatory. But not all food bloggers write recipes.

  14. I would like to offer some perspective on recipe development fees. $500/recipe is not too much to ask, depending on: 1) your credentials and experience); 2) the value to your client; and 3) the type of recipe (a smoothie vs a cake, for eg). I’ve been a test kitchen professional for many years, having worked for a major food company for 12 of those years soon after college (food & nutrition degree). I’ve been consulting for a long time, and blogging for 1-1/2 years now. A very long time ago, I hired food consultants for $400-$500/day. So, the point of my comment here? In general, serious experienced food pros are not well compensated for recipe development , esp considering the kinds of salaries that exist these days. Unless you’re a chef with some prominence or a TV personality, the food business does not pay well. That’s just the way it is. But that does not mean you shouldn’t ask for more.

    • Thanks for your perspective, Rita. Bloggers have some added value that could work in their favor. Sometimes companies want bloggers to put the recipe on their own blog, to reach their own readers. So that’s got to be worth more. But then there are ethics considerations about saying you were paid to write the recipe.

  15. I remember this exchange of opinions at last years IFBC and I have seen a big change in companies paying for blogger services since then. Although I do not post many recipes these days, I have found many creative ways to ensure compensation for product & brand promotions.

    I’m looking forward to IFBC SanMo and seeing you there.

  16. I am a relatively new ‘serious’ blogger and have been wondering about websites that encourage you to share your recipes. Surely they’re getting a whole lot of content without doing anything and getting the ad revenue, but if I’m not getting the traffic, should I do it for the links and to become more well known?

    • That is a good question that many beginning bloggers wrestle with. You have to decide if it’s worth it to you to give them free content in exchange.

    • Almost all of those sites are building databases for search engine results, encouraging users to submit recipes they like (from wherever they want) and most take no responsibility when a user posts copyrighted content, word-for-word. And they won’t remove it, nor it is often properly attributed. I assume most of the users don’t realize they are doing it when they contribute to them, but getting them to remove content, or even acknowledge the source, is virtually impossible. So it’s one thing to give them your own content (which I don’t recommend) and it’s another to assist them in building a database, which includes your recipes (which I don’t recommend either.)

      • David, I take it you have contacted recipe database sites and asked them to remove your recipes and content. What a drag to have to go through that.

        Are you opposed to photo sites such as Tastespotting as well? It is basically a huge database, as you have described.

        • I don’t really go around looking for sites that steal content and photos, but often readers or other bloggers will point them out to me and send me links to them. (When I find them myself , I contact the bloggers and point them out to them, too.) But these large sites will just take content and reprint it word-for-word. Or in other case, they act as “recipe boxes” for folks to ‘store’ recipes – and people cut and paste recipes and keep them in there.

          Of course, recipes are meant to be shared, but like published books, web content is copyrighted and I believe that unless you’re going to substantially change a recipe and modify it, it’s best to just link to it rather than take someone else’s words and/or photos. When I was a wee lad in elementary school, we learned not to reprint or copy printed content and I’m still amazed that people (ie: adults) – and large, highly profitable websites – don’t realize that. I’ve written letters to some of those large food websites asking them to either remove content that’s been reprinted word-for-word, or at least acknowledge the source of the recipe, and only one responded in kind and removed the content. Another one, a very (very) big one threatened me with legal action for requesting they acknowledge the source of one of their recipes, which was mine. (Nice!)

          Sites like Tastespotting are just linking to sites, not reprinting anything. And the photos are ‘thumbnail’-style, meaning they’re meant to be a preview of someone’s post and they have a direct link to the site where the recipe appears, which is absolutely fine.

  17. As a new blogger and someone just starting out, I’m not sure what to do about this debate. I post recipes on my blog to get readers in and to help get new traffic, so the idea of getting money for them seems so far away. Your article did get me wondering about blog and payment etiquette. I know Blogger offers the chance for you to post a little “Google Checkout” shopping cart on your blog so that people can give you money for reading your blog. I’ve seen one blog who does this and he has a comment that asks that if you like the blog then you can buy him a cup of coffee.

    Is placing an option for people to donate to your blog okay? Does that look bad to readers? I’m not sure what the rules are for that sort of thing.

  18. Hi Dianne, thanks for replying to my question! I’m new to your blog, and appreciate it so much!

    • My pleasure, Kimanh. I try to reply to all comments. I figure if you took the trouble to post, I should take the trouble to respond.

  19. Well, I give away the recipes that have already been published on my blog – as long as there is clear citation of my website and ask for pay for “commissioned” or exclusive recipes.

    One company was going to use a large portion of my re-worked published recipes in their cookbook. But when it came down to the small print that they could share my recipes with anyone, anywhere and not be bound to give me credit the whole thing fell apart. They were already getting my recipes, which are tested by myself several times even before being published online then by my readers who tried them and commented, expertise and know-how… enough is enough.

    I’m not a doormat!



    • That sounds logical. It’s one thing to have a company repurpose a recipe that’s already appeared on your site, and another to create a new recipe just for them. Re the company that wanted your recipes, it sounds like you read the fine print –good thing!

  20. Great post Dianne, and loads to think about. I don’t think many companies pay bloggers here, aside from those who choose to do sponsored posts. I’ve been approached by companies asking me to look at their products, but with no offers to pay me for my time or intellectual property. For small, local companies who are trying to get a leg up, I don’t mind helping out – it is what my blog is all about, after all – but I’m less interested in becoming unpaid advertising for larger, established, non-local brands.
    I’ll be passing the link for this post on to a blogging friend of mine – we had a discussion about recipes and sharing them just the other day!

    • Thanks for letting me know about this discussion Amanda! I’m finding it all so interesting. Don’t know how much it applies to me… Although my blog is 2 1/2 yrs old, I haven’t had much interest from ‘sponsors’, only had a couple of freebies with the hope I’d do a blog post/recipe about them (which I did)… I have had a couple of my recipes printed in cookbooks, but haven’t been paid for them in cash, just in cookbooks, etc. One was a competition that included the proviso that I take it off my blog – probably wasn’t a great idea to enter that one in hindsight. Oh well, I hope I’ll at least get lots of traffic from it. I’ve also contributed lots of recipes to magazines for free, but they’ve been ones already on my blog, and I figured it would be good for exposure.

      Yeah, I’m pretty naive about the blogging world, sponsors, getting paid for posts and all, so this article and the comments have been an eye opener! It would be great to be paid for all the time I put into the blog.

      Thanks Dianne for your great article – I’ll be back to read more! Sounds like I need to ‘get wise’!! :-)

      • Yes you do, Jo! I hope this post and some of the others on my blog give you pause the next time people want to get your work for nothing. It’s different if you have already run the recipe on your blog, although I think you should be entitled to some form of compensation. What I was talking about — and what Amy mentions — is being asked to create an original recipe. Surely you would ask for payment in that case.

    • Thanks Amanda. Re the smaller companies, maybe they don’t realize that they could pay you for recipes that live on their own websites? Sometimes it’s a matter of bringing it up.

  21. I think it’s interesting that Wilton said they would pay for recipes yet at a Blog conference I attended in April, they very clearly said they will not pay for blog posts where Wilton products are used in the recipe. (It caused quite a debate at that seminar). It sounds to me like some companies talk out of both sides of their mouths and see what they can get for free. If they are able to get free press, more power to them– but as bloggers I think we need to stand strong on not giving away recipes, or content for free.

    • Interesting. Well, I can’t speak for Wilton, but I am not sure what you mean about “standing strong” on blogging, since it’s all about giving away content and recipes. Do you mean with company names in the posts? I’m with you on that one. No reason to mention a product by name, 98 percent of the time.

      • The point I was making is that bloggers shouldn’t be giving any content/recipes away for free when it benefits a large company ( like for example, Wilton). I don’t care how many free fondant tool kits I get, if you want me to push your product in a sponsored post, the company should have to pay for it. That’s what I meant by standing strong. If as a community we stop giving away sponsored posts for free, the industry standards will change.

        • Oh my. I didn’t realize people are doing sponsored posts for free. That is crazy. Or maybe, as you say, for a fondant tool. Definitely not worth it.

  22. Thanks for the post Dianne and for carrying the banner! While I wasn’t at the conference this year, from comments on Twitter it seemed the big difference was in the attitude of the bloggers. Last year many bloggers were in favor of giving away content in exchange for “exposure” a la Huffington Post. What frequently gets forgotten is that I was talking about being a professional recipe developer, and that food blogging can and does sometimes lead to professional opportunities. Professionals charge for their work. Period. Another important point is that giving recipes or content away for free undercuts professionals and sends the message to publishers and advertisers that it is just fine not to pay.

    • Yes, we were talking about professional recipe development in our seminar as well. Otherwise, there’s no way to get paid to give away your own content on your blog except for sponsored posts. It’s an education process, I think. At first, some bloggers might feel “honored” to have their recipes appear on company website, but I hope that as time goes on, they realize that they should be paid, regardless of whether creating the recipe is a hobby. That seems to the crux of the issue.

  23. I just finished reading the post AND all of the comments and I must say I learned a lot… now one question… I started my blog as a way to write my recipes so that my friends and family would not have to keep on asking me how do you do this or that, mainly as I had always done everything by eye, so this was my way of forcing myself in actually measuring ingredients. Since I started having a group of followers. Now my question for people as myself that is doing it for the fun and personal enjoyment, and not having a problem with sharing my recipes with the world, how can people as myself (especially those already with a larger follower group than myself can affect those that are trying to make a name for themselves professionally and get paid for their recipes? I am asking that as I am sure a few of us are in that category yet as fellow food bloggers I certainly would like to be a “bad example” to something you guys are trying to make become a norm which I would totally agree with.

    • That is exactly why many people have started food blogging, Sofia, so you are in good company. As for getting paid for your recipes, in the post I mentioned working as a recipe developer, which means that companies, magazines, newspapers and websites will pay you for your recipes. It is up to you to approach them with excellent original recipes that work every time.

  24. I’m curious. You mention Food52, “prestigious” and “credibility” in the same sentence. Then you go on to say in the comments “At first, some bloggers might feel “honored” to have their recipes appear on company website, but I hope that as time goes on, they realize that they should be paid, regardless of whether creating the recipe is a hobby.”

    Food52 would not exist without content created for free by others. Users do not get paid for the work they do: create recipes, test recipes others have posted, or have their recipes or recipes they have tested appear in Food52’s cookbook.

    Are you saying that Food52 should pay all its users for the content they generate? Or are you saying that Food52’s users should stop posting recipes for free?

    How do you rationalize the two?

    • Well, it’s complicated, Manisha. Typically, the people who win recipe contests are not necessarily food writers. They make it their business, often as a hobby, to enter and win contests. I don’t know what happens to those recipes after the contestants win, ex. who they belong to, whether the contestant is compensated. Most of the time there are prizes.

      Since Food52 is making money off the recipes on the site, they should pay something for them, particularly for those they put in their cookbook. I don’t think for a minute, though, that people will stop posting recipes because I said this. They are “honored” to be chosen.

  25. Thanks for your quick reply, Diane!

  26. Joining in the conversation – a year on…
    is the rate to write recipes for large companies still at 250-600?
    Would that scare the potential company away?? I know some US writers do it for 45 – which is mad!
    Any help would be great!

  27. Someone just referred me to this post because I was looking for information on what to charge a company who wants to have an ongoing relationship with me doing recipe development. As a relatively new blogger I don’t want to undercharge, but don’t want to overcharge either.

    Do you have any advice? The company isn’t that large, but has been looking for someone to do this for a while now. A friend of mine who’s a professional chef says I should charge $40-50 an hour and ask for a supply budget. Does that seem like a good place to start?

    I’m definitely going to start following your blog. :)

  28. We’re currently trying to encourage tomato themed submissions for The Tomato Anthology (due February 1st, 2015).

    We had to sort of guess at what a fair rate would be, so we started with a low guaranteed base offer of $5 with a potential for more based on Kickstarter performance (it’s a shared effort of two small indie presses). We’ve had very few recipe submissions. I’m not sure if that’s because the offer is too low or we just haven’t been getting it to the right forums/people.

    I’d love both thoughts on this and please share the link with anyone you think might be interested. It’s not a “cookbook” but a theme anthology, the recipes would be interspersed between stories, poems, and artwork.

    • You’re right, $5 is pretty low. Food bloggers will be the most interested in getting published, but they are tired of giving work away in exchange for “exposure.”

      • I understand that, and I’d like to pay as fairly as possible. The problem is there’s not a quick list of professional rates that I’ve been able to find. If you know of one, I’d love to see it. I’m thinking of adjusting it up, but just not sure how far. Do you have a range that you would consider fair?

        • I don’t. I suggest you contact other people who have written anthologies to see how they did it.

        • I don’t. There are too many variables — the experience of the tester, whether the client is corporate, the complexity of the project, etc. I’ve heard anything from free to $3000. The big food magazines might pay around $250, if that’s of any help.

    • A note on the Kickstarter, we are going to hold a Kickstarter (crowdfunding campaign) for the anthology this spring. While our main goal is to cover the costs of the initial print run and raise additional money to pay our contributors the highest rates possible, we also consider this a cross promotional opportunity to let our accept contributor showcase their other work and websites.

      We can further re-enforce this with featuring bios and links to our contributors on our facebook page:

      I thought information might be incentive for bloggers.

  29. Hi Dianne,

    Thanks for posting this article and thread. It’s incredibly useful. One thing I’m wondering, though, is whether the rates mentioned above include ownership of photography. I understand developing a recipe (and post) as one thing; but when the company ends up with the sole ownership of your photos, should that fall into a higher bracket of compensation? In addition to being a food blogger, I’m also a professional photographer, so I tend to think that yes, it should result in additional compensation (say an extra 20% from some of the rates mentioned above and at IFBC) if they intend to the sole owners of my artwork. But I’m not sure most companies see it that way. What are your thoughts? Am I being unrealistic?


    • Yes, if the company wants to own all rights in perpetuity to your photo, the price should be higher — and separate.

      • Thanks for the response, Dianne! I really appreciate it.

        I also wanted to let you know that your book has been invaluable to me as I’ve launched into this new career venture. It’s been like my little blogging bible for the last several months and I think it’s really made a difference in the way I think about both my short- and long-term goals as a food writer. So thank you for publishing such a thorough, informative, and relatable guide!

        As an aside, I’m also a former student of The Writing Salon (took classes from Junse in SF in 2013) and was excited to learn you teach there! I only wish I could have taken one off your food writing classes before moving to Portland a few months ago…I’m sure it would have been spectacular.

        All best, Brooke

  30. […] Getting Paid For Recipes – One Year Later [The comments here are also well worth reading!] […]

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