The three most common questions I get from other freelance writers, food bloggers, friends, family, and the people I interview are:

1. How long does it take you to write a blog post?

2. How much money do you make blogging?

3. Have you gotten any great swag since you started blogging about food?

Answers to all three in brief, plus my public disclosure policy, below:

1. Some of my blog offerings can take an hour or so, but most of my posts are reported pieces or analytical stories that take much longer to turn.

Some folks say they can crank out a stellar blog post in 15 minutes; I don’t buy it.

2. Channeling Miss Manners here: What I earn directly or indirectly through my writing is between me, my accountant, and the taxman and nobody else, unless I care to share. It’s also rude to ask, though Miss M wouldn’t add that last bit because it’s rude to point out so directly when someone else is behaving badly.

3. Nope. And I don’t expect that my kitchen counter tops will sport the latest in modern American culinary equipment anytime soon. There are a few reasons why, and most of them relate to my very own public disclosure policy. But before I get to that, it’s also true that one reason you won’t see that stuff in my house is because nobody sends it to me.

And now it’s time to talk about my public disclosure policy: I want you, dear reader, to feel like you can trust what you find on this site. So I subscribe to fairly old-school journalistic standards in the way I conduct this blogging business.

That means no free lunches with sources for stories, no all-expenses-paid culinary adventures in exotic locations that I then blog on about without revealing who footed the bill, and no brand-spanking new food processors in my hot, little hands.

As I mentioned in a previous book giveaway post, I do pay for some of the books and films I review, some are given to me by food friends or colleagues, many come as review copies via publicists and distributors. I’m fine with that arrangement. I think most folks expect that writers who review material don’t pay out-of-pocket for it; an employer picks up the tab or the content producer supplies a complimentary copy.

That said, receiving a free book doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll review it favorably, or even review it at all. I write about the food books that are of interest to me, on point for my site, and I think might be of interest to my readers. I pass some of them on through giveaway contests because that’s a fun way to attract new readers and it’s good karma to share books.

If I write about someone who is a friend, I’ll let you know in the post. Some of the people featured in this blog have become friends, after I’ve interviewed them, the food world seems a very congenial, social place. In another lifetime, when I was an investigative reporter, I didn’t make friends with most of the folks I wrote about, because many of them were crooks, bigots, or otherwise bad guys and girls.

There is plenty of gray area in the blogging arena regarding free stuff. For the record, I do:

  • eat food at P.R. events, and accept complimentary chef tastings that come unsolicited from the kitchen (but pay for food I order at restaurants and cafes)
  • take home freebies, such as a water jug, at conferences I pay to attend, but don’t write reviews of such swag or about the companies who make these goodies
  • donate sponsored stuff, such as canned goods, from conferences, especially when the organizers, to their credit, make it super easy to do — that would be you BlogHer gals
  • pick up totes, USB sticks, pens, and other minor tools of the trade given away at food events (my son called dibs on the USB gizmo courtesy of Scharffen Berger chocolate)
  • accept samples of food products to try, but feel under no obligation to write about them

It’s an imperfect policy, to be sure, and I reserve the right to amend it over time as things shift in blogland. But, for now, it feels right to me and I can sleep at night.

— April 12, 2010

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