Updated 20 January 2015 after an observation from my sister and an e-mail from a Chobani representative.
My sister pointed out to me that they did pin my post to one of their Pinterest boards, so there was a share.
A representative from Chobani e-mailed me about this article and my experience with the #MadeWithChobani campaign. She was very polite, and I was happy to see that the social media department at Chobani is involved enough to notice what people are saying online. Because of her very polite and genuine e-mail, I have returned the link to Chobani to the doughnut post.
I was also offered compensation in the form of free product. I feel like I would be trivializing the work and time investment of my fellow bloggers if I accepted compensation because, to my knowledge, no other blogger participating in the #MadeWithChobani campaign was offered even a coupon.
Would I work with Chobani in the future? Perhaps. The staff I’ve communicated with has been great, but I am happy to wait for an opportunity where all bloggers invited to participate are being compensated appropriately for their time, effort, professionalism, and creativity.
Value yourself, value your work, and value your TIME. That was my personal mantra, or so I thought. When I sold a tangible product, that was easy. I knew how much each recipe cost and approximately how much time went into each. Blogging isn’t quite like that and I learned a very hard lesson recently when I worked for free.
Here’s the thing, right now this blog doesn’t generate income. It’s still growing and is very much a labor of love, compensation comes from the joy I feel when people make my food and enjoy it, share with friends, hang out with me on social media, etc. And this is perfect for a baby blog, making steady progress and growing a beautiful community of people who love great food.
Will I look forward to the day the blog generates income? Yes, because it does cost to sustain the blog, in time and resources, and this is my business. I should have remembered this when a representative from Chobani contacted me to make something for their #MadeWithChobani campaign.
It started well enough and I did ask about compensation. They cited no budget, not even for comps, and while I didn’t believe that for a hot minute, I researched a bit and saw some established bloggers participating. I thought maybe this was part of the “initiation” for new blogs. You do some promo work in exchange for social media shares and likes to gain followers. So I agreed, and created a fabulous recipe for baked gingerbread doughnuts (click here to get the recipe), using their product which I *purchased* and gave them a post feature complete with a link to the Chobani yogurt website, hoping I would get shares and advertisement for my blog in exchange. I am trying to grow readership after all. Would you like to know what I received for purchasing their product, the time I spent developing the recipe, access to my existing network, and *my word*, my personal endorsement of their brand?
Nothing. Absolutely not one share from the company, not even a re-tweet, re-pin, Facebook share, or even a like. I am not a cheap billboard. When I work with a brand it’s because I like the company and I will be honest about the products. I value my readers too much to tout a product if I don’t actually personally recommend both the product and the company producing it.
I would no longer recommend Chobani based on business practices. I opened up about my experience in a food blogger group and other bloggers told me this is their new marketing strategy. Chobani is preying on food bloggers with the promise of “exposure” to give them free marketing. Want to know something Chobani? People die of exposure.
It’s not like the company doesn’t have a marketing budget either. Other bloggers in the same group spoke of attending conferences where Chobani was a major sponsor, or local events for bloggers sponsored by Chobani. I’m saddened that we so easily forget our value sometimes, and for me, this was a lesson I will not soon forget.
I may be shooting myself in the foot a little with this post, but I can’t stand by silently as large companies take advantage of passion-preneurs. There are many wonderful companies out there, that have excellent relationships with bloggers, and I look forward to working with them. As for Chobani, they continue to solicit food bloggers worldwide to work for free, and I removed their link from my doughnut post.