May 232012
 

Mark Scarbrough (Photo by Lucy Schaeffer)

I’ve been on a career counseling jag lately. With bloggers asking me how they can “monetize” their blogs at every turn, and established food writers lamenting the lack of work, I’m looking for ways to generate income on all food writers’ behalf.

Ever wanted to become a spokesperson, to supplement your writing? Lots of food writers do it, and some have been very successful. Here’s an interview with two writers who have taken that path.

Mark Scarbrough, with partner Bruce Weinstein, has published 21 cookbooks at six publishing houses with over three-quarters of a million copies in print. They have been national spokespeople and developed recipes for The U. S. Potato Board, JIF, Smucker’s, The National Honey Board, and Bacardi. In 2010, the California Milk Advisory Board sent them on a two-week, ten-city tour to promote their book Real Food Has Curves: How to Get Off Processed Food, Lose Weight, and Love What You Eat.

Amy Sherman is a San Francisco-based writer and recipe developer. The publisher of the award-winning food blog Cooking with Amy, she has also blogged for Epicurious, Glam and writes frequently for Cheers and Gastronomica magazines. She is the author of Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Appetizers and WinePassport: Portugal. Amy has been a spokesperson three times for two brands.

1. Let’s start with a definition. What is spokesperson work?

Mark: Bruce and I consider ourselves to be spokespersons whenever we Continue reading »

Aug 052009
 

images 18-55-03A while back I read a piece in the New York Times called “Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest.” It said that according to a survey by Technorati last year, only 7.5 million of the 133 million blogs it tracks were updated in the past 120 days. That means 95 percent are not active with any regularity.

Whoa. I’m trying for two posts per week. It’s only been a month since I started this thing, and I am still surprised by how long it takes me to write and publish an entry. Even if it’s short, it takes several hours. What I’ve learned so far is not to start a new post on deadline day, but to have some  ideas and maybe a preliminary draft in the hopper. (Of course, when I’m advising clients about starting a blog, I tell them to come up with a list of 10 topics before they begin. Easier to dish it out, apparently.)

Looking for inspiration, I asked some food bloggers about creativity and productivity. I started with Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen:

Q. Do you have an editorial calendar to determine blog posts?images 11-22-09
A. Absolutely. Mondays and Tuesdays are my highest traffic days, so I usually post Sunday night or Monday morning, depending how good the TV shows are on Sunday nights. I also find time to post Wednesday or Thursday. Twice to three times a week is my norm.

Q. How far in advance do you write drafts?
A. I don’t write drafts, unless they are recipes that I’m working on. Blogging is a spontaneous medium. I write exactly how I feel in the moment and I’d just feel strange if I was writing for tomorrow.

Q. How do you keep the inspiration flowing?
A. By having fantastic support group and friends like Elise (Simply Recipes), Diane (White on Rice Couple), and Bee ( Rasamalaysia). We’re always throwing ideas back and forth, listening to each other rant and rave, and teaching each other things. We’re a team. That’s important. Plus there’s a whole ‘nother side of blogging that isn’t talked about much: the “job” of blogging. My full time job is my blog, which is very different than 99% of others. The technical and monetization side of blogging certainly keeps me on my toes. Between those three areas, I get all the variety and excitement I need for the week.

Anytime I need inspiration or feel like I need a kick in the pants, I usually start a new branch or project. My newest one is Good Bite.

Q. How many hours per week do you spend on your blog?
A. You don’t want to know.

images-1 11-22-57Then I asked another veteran, Amy of Cooking with Amy, for advice. She said she’s almost always composing posts in her head. “By the time I sit down to write it generally goes pretty quickly. I also no longer beat myself up if I only get one or two posts out a week. I try to write something then save it as a draft and return to it later to edit it.” Sarah at Lettuce Eat Kale said she keeps an editorial calendar and planannehamersky_09032_0482s a month ahead. She posts three times per week. “The best advice I got,” she said, “Is post when you can, keep it fun. If it feels like a chore or burden or added stress, then step back and think about what your goals are. So far, I look forward to writing my posts.”

Now I feel more encouraged. It’s always satisfying to reach out an talk with people who know more about this than me. I also found a terrific article on ProBlogger, “Seven Ways to Keep Fresh Content Flowing. ” And I’d like to learn more.

What about you? If you’re a blogger, how do you keep the posts coming? Do you plan out an editorial calendar? Block out time in your datebook? Write lots of drafts and store them until ready? Please share your strategies with me. I’m the new kid on the block.