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?
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.