I started blogging because I had something to say. I wanted people to rethink their assumptions about kids and food. I wanted to encourage people to speak up and advocate for change in their own back yards and well beyond. It sounds corny, but I wanted to help make the world a better place. Four years later, I’m proud of what I’ve built, and gratified by the impact it’s had. But I want to do more. I want to be able to spend more time on this blog and related projects, and less time on the other writing I do that pays the bills. So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about this often controversial thing called “monetization.” The right ways, the wrong ways, the reasonable vs. obnoxious ways. And you know what I’ve decided? There is absolutely nothing wrong with bloggers wanting to make money.
Are there wrong ways to do it? No question. Can it be taken too far? Without a freaking doubt. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done at all. I came to blogging through journalism, so I’ve long been wary of the blurred lines in the blogosphere. But, because I’m a freelance journalist, someone who is paid for my work, I also know that writing has value and should be valued. And I think there are ways for bloggers to keep it real while also keeping it solvent.
So this week I’ve started dipping my toes in those waters. I’ve signed up as an Amazon Associate, which means I’ll get a small commission on sales I refer to Amazon.com. I’ll also start using other affiliate partnerships, some new and some I’ve had awhile but haven’t maximized. (See below for a two-day 15% discount from PlanetBox, one of those longtime affiliate partners.)
This whole affiliate-marketing thing is strange for me. It’s basically like a commission-only sales job, and the things I promote get free advertising even if that doesn’t translate into immediate sales, so I need to see if this is viable and sustainable. But affiliate advertising is a good place to start, first, because it’s easy, and second, because I have total control over what I promote. Many bloggers use ad networks, which I’m exploring, but I need to make sure every single ad is something I’m comfortable with. Same goes for display ads and other kinds of sponsorships. I’m researching all the possibilities and will see where I land.
Which brings me to this. As I start adding monetized elements to the blog, I’ll do so with these tenets in mind:
- I will promote only products, services, companies and organizations that I personally support and value, or that I feel will be relevant, and of benefit and interest, to readers.
- I will always be transparent about these relationships. (Not only because disclosure is federal law — because it’s karmic law.)
- I will not let these relationships influence my writing or presentation of information through Spoonfed, its social-media channels or related projects. There’s a saying in journalism that the perception of bias is as much a problem as actual bias, so I recognize this is an imperfect pledge, but I assure you that perception will always be top of mind.
- I will not go overboard.
OK, now let the affiliate marketing begin!
Anyone who’s followed my lunch pictures on Facebook knows I’m a longtime fan of PlanetBox lunchboxes. We have three: a Rover that has seen us through four years of school lunches (like the one below), a Launch my husband packs for work, and a Shuttle for snacks and travel food. I can wax rhapsodic all day about these things. First, they’re stainless steel, so I feel good packing in them and throwing them in the dishwasher. They’re one piece, which makes for easy clean-up (see: dishwasher). The lunch-tray design shows all the food at once, but the compartments stay separate, and there are lidded leakproof containers for things like yogurt, salad dressing and messy fruits. (The Launch also has an optional glass insert that can be removed and heated.) But probably my favorite thing about PlanetBoxes is that I can easily pack what I call “snacky lunches”: a little of this, a little of that, in small portions, with great variety, in a way that’s attractive and thus appetizing.
PlanetBoxes aren’t cheap, though given how long they last and how versatile they are, I think the price is fair. Still, who doesn’t love a discount, right? (Especially from a company that rarely offers one.) For the next two days (ending at midnight PST on Tuesday, Oct. 21), use my PlanetBox affiliate link and the code Spoonfed2014 to get 15% off lunchbox kits. That includes the Shuttle, Rover or Launch in Basic/Standard, Plus or Complete sets (but not individual items).
Look at that. I wrote a promotional post and my head didn’t explode. LOL.
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same, but I will receive a small commission to help fund the work of writing this blog. Please know that I link only to products I value and support. Thank you!
Copyright protected by Digiprove © 2014 Christina Le Beau
I like the affiliate marketing. It’s useful to me to get recommendations from bloggers I trust and I love the occasional promotions. No worries.
Btw, the candy thing is weighing a little heavy on me as we are about to head to Disney for Halloween. I see a LARGE gingerbread house in our future!
Thanks, Jessica. I’m glad to hear that! Have fun at Disney, and bring a BIG bag to tote back all that gingerbread-house loot. 🙂
Bloggers have been a wonderful resource of education, recipes and lifestyle information in a more intimate setting. We feel we can get to know you grow to trust the information they share. I find your transparency and your values in accepting sponsorship refreshing! Stick to those tenets you have set for yourself and you will do fine.
I have recently unsubscibed to a number of “healthy” bloggers as they have taken on sponsors that in no way reflect the goals they have so clearly and consistently written about. (Examples: A recent post by a “healthy and real food” blogger posted a piece where she had been wined and dined by a corn growers association and shared how she now believes that GMOs may not be so bad after all. Another accepted a sponsorship from a major food brand and shared recipes in how to include some highly processed bottle of junk and it’s not so bad to include these things in feeding your family). It really bothers me that bloggers are letting themselves be USED by the corporations and industry that cares little to nothing about our health and well being. In my opinion, bloggers have done us a tremendous service by getting the truth out about our food supply and how to eat healthy. Now that the giants in food and chemicals have recognized this, they are turning to bloggers to change our perceptions back to their favor so we will buy their junk again. I understand the need to make a living, but I do not understand giving up your principles in order to do it.
I hope that bloggers understand the great role they are playing in educating and influencing how we eat, how we shop for food, and what to demand from the food industry. It would be great to see you band together and pledge to shut out this kind of sponsorship in order to be classified as a healthy food/lifestyle blogger. Bringing us information on products like PlanetBox is useful and right on target with your values. Keep up the good work!