Is Food Writing a Dismal Way to Make a Living?

Your career ladder. Do you know what's on the other side?

Recently Amanda Hesser, co-founder of Food52 and a former New York Times food writer, said in Advice for Future Food Writers she could “no longer responsibly recommend that you drop everything to try to become a food writer.”

“Except for a very small group of people (some of whom are clinging to jobs at magazines that pay more than the magazines’ business models can actually afford), it’s nearly impossible to make a living as a food writer, and I think it’s only going to get worse,” Hesser concludes.

To which I would say, for most of us, it has been nearly impossible to make a decent living as a food writer for several decades. But here’s the thing: we’re still at it, enjoying ourselves.

And that’s our dirty little secret. Food writing is fun, no matter how much or whether we’re paid.

Hesser’s article offers lots of good numbers on what food writers make. Now, here are my three tiers of how to categorize ourselves. Recognize yourself in any of these?

Tier 1. Employees at national publications and big web names (5 percent)

These food writers and editors make a high five-to-six-figure living at a few big newspapers and national magazines, with expense accounts and excellent [Read more…]