Getting Paid For Your Work

strayedtable-2221

I have been writing recipes for the local papers now for over two years and thought it might be time to start getting paid for my work. I put a lot of effort into writing recipes weekly with my readers in mind taking the photographs, testing and of course spending money on ingredients.  It all kicked off with submitting a recipe a week to the Range News which is based in Maleny. At the time I was more than happy to do it for free, I was practicing my skills as a recipe writer along with improving my photography.

After a year I asked the editor of the Range News if I could get $30 a week to cover my costs for ingredients used. The response was ‘that particular paper did not pay anyone for there contributions’. A few months later I was in down town Nambour and had a flick through the local rag and stumbled upon my recipe. Ok. One I was never asked if they could publish my recipes elsewhere or was I getting paid for this paper. Turns out the recipes were getting published in the free weekly press right across the Sunshine Coast, from Caloundra to Buderim, Kawana to Maroochydore. That is six free papers that are filled with advertising that is paying for someone.

To top it off it turns out that the Sunshine Coast Daily uses my recipes occasionally in there Sunday paper. This is a paper you actually pay for and nobody asked if it is ok to put my recipes in this paper either. Its great publicity for myself, yes and my blog. Guess What? My blog brings in a total of -$35 a month. I pay for it all. I do not make any money out of it at this stage. People print out my recipes and go if they miss them from the paper. I don’t have a cookbook to sell, I promote other small businesses by letting people know where to buy local sustainable food. What is in it for me. Apparently nothing.

So what does a girl do after getting an email like the one below?

Hi Lizzie,

 Firstly, let me apologise for taking such a long time to get back to you. I’ve been standing in as acting editor for xxxxxxxx while he’s been on leave for the past five weeks and I needed to get my head across your contributions and how they were used.

 Having now spoken both to xxxxx and to our advertising manager, xxxxxxx, we don’t think we will be able to pay you for your recipe contributions. The main reason is because we are having to seriously cut back on our contributor budget in challenging times (particularly in the community titles, which operate on very tight budgets).

 The other reason is that we hoped that by including a link to your web page each time we publish one of your recipes, we would be helping to promote your business as an in-kind deal. In a way, it could be seen as advertising space that would cost a couple of hundred dollars if you were to pay for it. xxxxxx tells me she has had a number of her advertising clients who were keen to submit the recipes the way you do, but up until this point we had resisted that because we liked having your contributions (as well as the spirit behind your Strayed Table philosophy).

 So given all that, we felt we couldn’t make payment part of the arrangement. I understand if this means you feel you can no longer contribute recipes, although I think that would be a real shame. So I’ll leave the decision up to you, but I wanted you to know where we stood on the issue.

 Thanks again for getting in touch, and for going to the trouble of submitting your recipes.

Here I sit with a heavy heart, not knowing what to do. Should I keep contributing to the paper, just to see my face in print each week for nothing. Or, should I ditch it and hope that the loyal readers from who I get emails from on the occasion know how to read a blog and stay in touch? What would you do? 

I would love to hear your thoughts about my dilemma. I guess I have all the time in the world to write back to the Sub Editor of an APN paper, after it took them five weeks to get this lovely email back.

Create Your Dream Biz Online

35 Comments

  1. Lizzy!!!!
    I’d be pulling the pin. It’s different if you are sending recipes off your blog (marginally), but this is an outrage. Especially as you are out of pocket. And especially after TWO YEARS! You need to read this. http://diannej.com/2014/7-outrageous-requests-to-a-food-blogger/

    Mel xx

  2. Sounds to me like a syndicated column, which should be a little bit of a money spinner for you, Lizzie. Sad reality these days is that even accredited journalists are losing opportunities to have their work published, as the print media situation worsens. I know a few people who have had paid regular gigs pulled from under them. I think this group should have asked your permission before they shared your work across their stable… I hope you won’t mind me saying that it’s a pity you wrote for free from the start, as this set a precedent… I guess you now need to look at whether their publishing links back to your blog has actually increased your readership, and then make your decision from there. Best of luck with it.

    • You know Lizzy – you might be right, I should of asked for money in the first place instead of getting good experience. I should of been getting paid a nice figure for them using the recipes in each paper. I look forward to seeing how it will effect my blog too.

  3. This really sux. I’ve only just started reading your blog but I love it! The recipes I’ve read are obviously carefully written and the photography is gorgeous (I wish I was half as good!) Save your time, money and energy and get started developing your own kick-ass project! You’ll find a way xx

  4. I’m really glad you wrote about this, Lizzie. Too often these types of conversations take place off-line because people are too scared to actually talk publicly about the dollars and cents involved in this freelance food writing/recipe development world. Kudos to you for having the guts to name names and be upfront about your situation.

    I usually try not to give other bloggers advice (except in the occasional blog post – totally contradictory) but you’ve asked for it so here are my two cents: pack it in. You are doing the work of a professional and yet they cannot pay you for it. The fact that times are tough is not your problem. The fact that they have already syndicated your recipes to five other newspapers — including a paid one — without your consent is not OK, either. That’s actually really not OK.

    “In a way, it could be seen as advertising space that would cost a couple of hundred dollars if you were to pay for it.” This makes me really cross. Exposure doesn’t pay the rent. Exposure doesn’t pay the bills. Exposure doesn’t pay for recipe costs. Would any of those staffers be happy to be paid in exposure, a link to their blog or free advertising? No? Then why do they think it’s OK for you to accept this?

    You are worth more, Lizzie. The fact that you have successfully held this position for two years without any payment (!!) speaks to your commitment and your dedication. So don’t be afraid to walk away from this to pursue other, better opportunities. Let them get their free recipes from some PR firm or food company. Or some less experienced blogger who is happy to do it for the ‘exposure’. You are worth more.

    • Thanks Christina, yes I probably should not of done it for years, I did love it but I also had other paid work to cover my costs. Now with no income I thought it time again to ask for some payment. The syndication was exciting at first but then you realize that its just free content for them to fill papers. I think I am worth more and now its time for someone else to fill my shoes.

  5. Are you a member of the Australian Society of Authors? Check out their website. The ASA is a professional organisation for authors and illustrators. They have good information about the issue of getting payment for work you’ve done and copyright. With the experience and exposure you’ve gained from this unpaid gig, you may find another publication would be interested in accepting your contributions with payment. Good luck.

    • Thanks Debbie, I have tried that avenue several times and no publication wants to pay. They like the syndicated recipes of Maggie Beer, Jammie Oliver or any other celebrity chef. Not real local cooks talking about local produce.

  6. I hate to say it because I am a huge advocate of paying writers for content except I don’t think you have much to stand on in this situation. As they mentioned, they could be giving the recipe space to advertisers that may even pay for the privilege of having that space, and if not, could be sourcing free recipes from restaurants or PR agencies etc (I work for a magazine, it’s not difficult). I think the question that needs to be asked is why you thought it was worth doing it the last few years for free, and if it is not worth it any more or that reason hasn’t resulted as you thought (ie you thought it would give your blog a bigger profile than it has) then stop. If you enjoy it and you would be doing those recipes for your blog anyway, then you may as well continue.

    • Rachel, I wanted to gain more experience as a writer and photographer to kick off a writing career. It turns out that yes your right people would much rather use free content. So I guess packing it in will be the answer. Exposure was never the real goal and I am sure it wont effect my blog.

  7. Lizzie, I read your blog /facebook often and I never comment. But I have to say something here – you are worth so much more and this paper has indicated that it wants something for free.You are a talented writer and their reply shows no understanding of the hours you are putting in and the preparation it involves. Take this opportunity to put all that energy into opening another door , either by way of writing your own recipe book from the work you have accrued ( surely if they have not paid for the recipes, then they belong to you) or by finding a magazine or newspaper that is willing to pay for your work.This is a time to say ‘I AM WORTH IT!’

    • Thanks Kim for your support. It might be time to get that recipe book happening. Its just such a costly endeavor to self publish, might need to look at some options.

  8. I am a web Development student and what they are doing while technically legal, is not necessarily ethical, however the free paper is a good way to promote yourself …though they are breaching copyright laws by using your recipes in the other paper, the Sunday paper, if you didn’t Authorise the use in that paper….and you can claim a fee or reimbursement for using it….. check the agreement you would have probably signed for use of material submitted by you.

    The choice is yours maybe with draw your recipes for awhile and see if your own blog can now stand alone or if the public calls for your return to paper…

    Maybe its time to put a recipe book together and self publish and promote it, as an alternative and project to consider 🙂 need help please don’t hesitate to email me 🙂 good luck

    • Thanks Helene. The great thing with your comment is that no agreement was ever signed. I agreed to supple a recipe and photo to one free paper in the town that I lived. So maybe this is where I went wrong.

  9. I think what’s happened to you is exploitation. The letter written to you is insulting and patronising. I hope the next time you write for a newspaper or any other publication you get paid.

  10. Could you offer paid advertising on your blog in line with your content? Is this something the organised housewife does (might be worth chatting to her perhaps), I think you should try and put together a book to offer to your subscribers as well – that is your income? Even just a seasonal / mains / desserts / entrees / party series of PDF’s. As for the newspaper sharing your recipe – might be worth talking to a legal representative regarding copyright – but not sure how you would fair given your recipes are freely available online – maybe charge a small fee for your recipes? But then there are other websites like bestrecipes and taste that offer recipes for free ?

    • I have tried in the past to get advertisers on board but most are hesitant and are not willing to spend any money – maybe I need to think bigger brands instead of local businesses that I want to support. I think a book might be my solution for money.

  11. That’s a shame Liz. I think your contribution is definitely worth keeping even if they don’t. It makes the Range News worth a read. If you don’t think you are getting as much benefit as you were initially, then it’s not working for you. Pull the pin. Don’t look back. You’ve created a lovely niche for yourself. You’ll do well. Perhaps you can create a local publication for local home grown and home cooked with real people contributing from the local community. Good luck.

  12. I’m from Maleny and the recipe section in the paper was one I turned to to see what you wrote after trying a few of your quirky and homegrown-ingredient recipes (loved the zucchini chocolate cake & tumeric cake). I also followed your blog from seeing your column in the paper – though probably see it mostly when it appears in my FB newsfeed (another issue for the blogger).

    I used to work as an editor and writer in Hong Kong for a parenting magazine for 2 years, so understand the dilemma. It’s true there are many people willing to write for free initially thinking that it will lead to paid articles (probably rarely does). But as a reader, one thing I hate reading more than anything are articles that look like an article but turn out to be a plug for a business or worse a paid advertorial – I usually skip reading anything that is identified/labelled as a paid editorial – just feel that it is untrustworthy and biased. Further my hate of advertising is such that when I read a newspaper (and the local one in particular), my eyes only scan the top part of the paper for real articles. I actually have to retrain my eye to look down if I want to read an advert but only do this if I’m looking for something specifically at a particular time. So, real content like your recipe column are the only bits I really value and read through. In my view, this is the point to emphasize if you want to argue your case further. Otherwise, think whether the recipe column has enhanced your professional profile in other non-monetary ways before giving it up. Then if you do decide to move on, maybe one thing you could consider is whether it is worth self-publishing a recipe book as the ‘eat local, organic’ movement swings ever-upward.

  13. Im so sorry this has been happening to you! I think they’re taking advantage. You’d be better spending your time creating your own ebook for people to buy rather than giving the newspapers your work for nothing. I know I’m an avid buyer of ebooks. I think it’s a fantastic way to support people like you and also saves space on bookshelves! I think creating food is an act of love and openness, and if you continue doing it, your food will be touched with negativity. You won’t feel the same about doing it any more. Good luck and thank you for your hard work.

  14. well, i think if you’ve done it for two years, it’s time to pack it up and give the baton onto someone else who is ok about not being paid for their contribution. I recently pitched some articles for my local paper, and was told no money could be offered. I went ahead, and they had the audacity to credit someone else’s name as the author and photographer! When i questioned them, they admitted it was a mistake, but given I wasn’t paid, I should have at least had the credit! Walk away…focus on other stuff xx

  15. Hello Lizzie, I attended one of your workshops last August, and believe you are a very resourcefull young
    lady. Don’t let this beat you. Use the experience to make you a stronger person from lessons learn’t.
    I have often read your article in the local Maroochydore paper . Just shows you’re writing must be pretty good for them to want to use your work, without your knowledge. I always read what you are up to on your blog and look forward to hearing how this all works out. I wish you all the best

  16. Hi Lizzie- I too have only just recently started following your blog ….and I really enjoy it! This post made my blood boil and I feel sorry for you. I agree with everyone else and I think it’s time to pull the pin on them. Although it no doubt helped with increasing your blog numbers in the beginning, after two years I would think your readership is the same week in week out. Your weekly piece was obviously popular or they would not have kept you on. I get so frustrated that these publications take advantage of good will. My mother in law recently wrote a half page article for their local country paper (not a free publication I should also add). The paper actually asked her to write it- it was not a paid job. All was fine, however, when the article was published no credit was given to her as the writer. She wasnt looking to be praised by the entire community but was very upset that the article was published and all her hard work was made to look like one of their journo’s had written it. Typical! Free labour, no credit! I think this is a chance to start working on your recipe book if that is what you would like to do. Get in contact with other foodies and like minded bloggers, businesses and Im sure the networking there will also open up lots of doors and opportunities for you. The great thing about blogging that I have noticed is that most bloggers arent threatened by each other and happy to help each other and spread the word. Good luck with it all!

  17. Jo @Countrylifeexperiment

    Hi Lizzie,
    I’m of the opinion if they don’t want to pay, then I wouldn’t do it. Your time is worth something. I’m sure you get the same emails that I do from companies who want me to advertise their products for nothing. They all say they will use their social media to give me “exposure”. What they are hoping is that I will use my voice and time as free advertising. No doubt you have a lot on your plate with a new baby, put your time into something that is going to bring rewards to you and your family.

    Just my humble opinion though!!

  18. Good heavens, how rude of them! They make it sound as if you have been getting free advertising from them all this time, and you should feel lucky they haven’t charged you! I would ditch them, and consider it good riddance to bad rubbish. Why don’t you put your recipes into an ebook? You could sell it off the blog and I don’t think it costs that much to set up.
    xx

  19. Katrina Zaslavski is the author of A modern woman’s guide to a Natural Empowered Birth & creator of a modern
    Pregnancy and natural birth & health e-zine. she is always looking for great writers and columnist. Paid &unpaid . It has quite an international following.:)

  20. That sucks. Sorry if this is repeating what others have said, I haven’t read through your comments yet, but why don’t you monetise your blog and that way you can be in total control of what you charge for posts. I’ve been doing some recipes and other things for a range of companies on my blog and getting paid for it. It feels great and it’s what I’d be doing without the money attached so it’s such a bonus. You deserve to be paid for your work:) x

  21. Sod them Lizzie. It’s taken me many years to realise that we have to charge a fair rate for anything we do if another person is going to make financial gain from it. If they don’t like it, then walk away. You have a value, just as everyone else does. If we all charged a reasonable rate then we’d be paid accordingly. I hope that one day you get a fantastic book deal and they come asking for a recipe from it.

  22. I note that the recipe pictured in the blog entry above (the Anzac biscuits) was published on your blog first before going into print (http://www.strayedtable.com/2014/04/24/dark-chocolate-macadamia-anzac-biscuit-recipe/) Essentially, you’re asking APN to pay for content that you first use on your blog. Fair enough it then appears in multiple APN publications (which they’re totally within their right to) , but it looks like you’re given a pretty good wrap for it (nice big pic, your name and face, link to your blog).

    Obviously you could have asked for payment up front but the answer then would be the same it it now.

    Personally I think you’re getting a pretty good deal – content you are writing for you blog is later getting reproduced in print. It’s not extra effort for you really. It is good advertising for you, and no doubt many would love something similar.

    Probably not what you want to hear, but that’s my two cents.

    • I write the recipes especially for the paper and then publish them the same date that they are published on my blog. However the story in each blog post is longer along with more photographs for each post. If I did not write the recipes for the paper I would not be writing weekly recipes each week on the blog.
      That particular paper had a huge spread, yes, not all papers do that each week, sometimes they are very small and sometimes the picture is not even evident. Thanks for your two cents.

  23. Oh Lizzie 🙁 I can’t help but feel you’ve been taken for a ride. Very unethical of the papers in question to have used you for so long and won’t pay you just $30 a week to cover ingredients.
    I would concentrate on your blog, and seek other avenues that do pay.
    Their loss.

  24. Have you thought about introducing yourself to another publication, with a 2 year track record behind you you have a decent resume to ask about being published elsewhere and being paid.
    I think the advertisers wanting to submit recipes is a little bit of bluff personally.

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