August 14th, 2011

{news} This Post Was Brought to You By…

Rosie the Riveter

I love fall. For me, it still signifies new beginnings the way it did when I was in school. With fall fast approaching, the timing of this couldn’t be more perfect. There’s a new development—a kind of new beginning—on which I need to fill you in.

Moving forward, I will be working with brands in a new way.

Hmm. Was that anti-climactic? Given that I’ve barely worked with brands up to this point, I imagine it was. Maybe you don’t really care. Though I hope you’ll read on, I won’t be offended if you skip this post. Regardless, I feel it’s important to explain.

Over the last year, I’ve been approached by a bunch of brands and consider that a testament to the power our strong, passionate community. I haven’t been sure, though, about how to work with brands in a way that would be meaningful to me, to you and to them. So, instead, I’ve kept One Hungry Mama thriving on my own, by sheer force of power and conviction. And dough from freelance gigs.

I love writing and cooking for you. Nothing makes me happier than hearing that you’ve tried and loved one of my recipes. Though that’s enough for me in theory, in reality I’m ready to accept support from brands that I use and that I choose. I think that I’ve finally come up with a powerful and positive way to do it.

THE PLAN!
From now on I will be writing about products that I love that I find either on my own or through brands that reach out to me on Twitter and the One Hungry Mama Facebook page. With the exception of some seasonal guides (like my Back-To-School Lunch Gear Guide) or master lists (like a post about how to best stock your pantry), the only brands that will get airtime here will be ones that sponsor One Hungry Mama.

Added on 8/16: the words “sponsored” and “sponsorship” are used in all different ways across the blogosphere. Some folks distinguish between “paid” and “sponsored,” assigning the latter to posts that have been more directly overseen by the paying client. I am *not* making such distinctions. Here, “sponsored” simply means that I was paid by the company mentioned. For now, these posts will be fairly minimal and so I will disclose the details on a post-by-post basis.

To avoid confusion, any post that is part of a sponsorship arrangement will be prefaced by {sponsored} right in the title. I’ll also happily disclose my relationship with every sponsor in every relevant post.

In return for this total transparency, I hope you’ll consider the following before deciding to skip {sponsored} posts:

The OHM “Working With Brands” Manifseto
a work in progress!

I WILL NOT…

  • work for just any brand that pays. Trust me! And, if you don’t, I present the last two years as proof. One Hungry Mama has been completely advertising free and nearly marketing free the entire time. I’ve been offered paid gigs by brands that I don’t support and have turned them down. That will not change.

I WILL…

  • only work with brands on which I do research
  • only work with brands that offer me and my family value and that I believe can do the same for you and your family
  • only pass along products on which I, too, am willing to spend money
  • and, most importantly, only work with brands that make quality food and ingredients

The shift from being completely advertising free to taking on sponsors is not about money, but about valuing this space. I never want to give it up because I can no longer support it completely out of pocket and believe it’s fair to ask companies that I stand behind to help support One Hungry Mama in exchange for showing them love. And you know what? Any company that agrees to it—that is willing to support our demand for more natural packaged foods, for more home cooked meals, for healthier school lunches, for more consumer and government support for organic foods and farming—is pretty damn cool. Certainly worth writing about.

QUESTIONS?
I think I covered everything but, just in case, here are a few questions (with answers!) that might be lingering. If you still have questions or any other concerns, please give a shout. You can comment here or email stacie@onehungrymama.com.

1. What brands will I work with?
I can’t say for sure. Brands are always approaching me and, every once in a while, when I find something that I think is top notch, I may try to get in touch with the brand. Either way, every conversation begins with an explanation that I will never guarantee to write about something in exchange for a free product, trip, event or any other “swag.” If pay is involved, I will not agree to accept payment until I’ve done research on the company and can tell you why I think they fit here, with you and me.

2. You cook mostly from scratch—how does this impact your relationship with food brands?
It’s true that the number of food brands I’m willing to consider is limited compared to other bloggers and publications. I don’t really do juice, so there goes all those companies. I make cookies from scratch, so there goes a whole bunch of other ones. You get the picture.

If you’ve been reading One Hungry Mama for a while, you know that I’m not crazy extreme. I have two small kids and know well the need for convenience. If, for example, I find a delicious packaged cookie made with just a few ingredients that I can also find in my kitchen, well that just might be a find I want to share. The bottom line is that I’ll only work with products that I’m willing to buy with my hard-earned money.

3. Will you ever post anything written by the brand or their ad, marketing or PR agencies?
Nope. The writing you read here will always be my own. It’s a deal breaker if the brand wants to dictate what I write verbatim. That said, if I’ve agreed to write about a product, I like it and will write good things that the brand will be excited about. They may even check my writing to make sure everything is actual and factual, which is okay by me.

4. What if I discover a killer brand or product that doesn’t sponsor One Hungry Mama?
If I find something that I love and think you’ll love it, too, I’ll let you know. If the product is not by a sponsored brand, then you’ll find me showing the love on Facebook or Twitter. Also, if you’re looking for a recommendation, you can always email!

5. Does that mean there will be advertising on One Hungry Mama?
Not sure yet. It’s possible that running an ad will be part of some sponsorship arrangements. None of this has anything to do with running an ad service on the site, though—that’s not what’s happening here.

11 Responses

  1. Cindy says:

    I’m currently in the baby stages of trying to figure all this kind of stuff out. It’s super to hear how someone else is thinking about things. I used to be completely anti-advertising. But lately it seems like it’d be nice to get a little help to pay for hosting, time, etc. It seems like it takes a decent amount of savvy and dedication to really pull together a plan that works and doesn’t pay peanuts. Seems like plenty of others have done it successfully. But honestly, most of the time I’d rather be baking. :)

  2. One Hungry Mama says:

    Thanks for writing, Cindy. I used to be completely anti-advertising too. And, actually, I still worry about advertising through services. I CANNOT work with a service that might serve me ads from… well, there’s no need to name names. The point is that there is a lot of packaged food companies that I cannot have here on OHM. I think of sponsorship more as marketing, and there’s a difference between the two. Not that I’m any expert—or even exactly right—but parsing the options out and not having a knee jerk reaction to all of it as “advertising” helped me get my head around things. Anyway, if you ever want to connect on it, drop me a line! I’m by no means an expert and just figuring it out as I go, but I’m happy to chat about whatever!

  3. LiztheChef says:

    I completely support your philosophy – best of luck to you and happy fall – won’t be fall in San Diego until H’ween…best, Liz

  4. Christina says:

    Right on, girl!! I feel the same yet I know NOTHING about his side
    Of the biz. Would love to learn more. I’ve always admired the way Rebecca Woolf of GGC handles Ads and paid sponsorship. She’s my blogon idol in so many ways but never knew how she actually did it. I guess the fact that her blog is uner successful is a start. I’m just a small fry for
    Now but would love the opportunity to shout out about brands I love in exchange for sponsorship. Wishing u much luck. You deserve it OHM.

    Xx
    C

  5. Christina says:

    Typing on iPhone while nursing=’s no bueno. Sorry for the typos. Grrr

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Sounds like a great approach Stacie. I really admire that you don’t want to advertise products that you yourself wouldn’t use. Also, I love that your opening up a dialogue about one of the great blogging mysteries.

  7. One Hungry Mama says:

    Thanks, C & Elizabeth—yes, this is one of the great mysteries, huh? When something is really confusing and complicated, I find it best to do what *feels* right and honest. Then, the fact that thinking about the “biz” part of this doesn’t feel so bad or overwhelming or like a waste of time. Would I rather be cooking and ignore that side completely? I think my approach over the last 2 years answers that! lol! But, now that I’ve got my head around it (for the moment), I’m looking forward to sharing good brands with you all. Cuz it’s not like my cupboard is completely brand free, right?! Anyway, I appreciate hearing from you!

    And, Liz… LONG LIVE SUMMER! :-) Thanks for your support! xo

  8. I love this blog, and all your articles, and I recommend your site often. I think you are right to try to find a way to make it sustainable while keeping with your values. (Something I grapple with, for sure!) Good luck and will keep checking in!

  9. One Hungry Mama says:

    Thank you Grace! xo

  10. Good for you, OHM! Keep making those power moves to the top (while keeping your feet firm on the soil), woman. :)

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