In March, the Washington Post pulled the plug on Kim O’Donnel‘s long-time chat, What’s Cooking. Today, O’Donnel announced on her daily Post food blog that she herself is pulling the plug on A Mighty Appetite, effective on Friday.
The announcement officially ends O’Donnel’s 12-year run at the Post, the last three as the Mighty Appetite blogger.
The veteran food writer, now based in Seattle, won’t be without a home for long, however. On Wednesday, July 15, O’Donnel will launch her new column/blog, “Licking Your Chops,” on the online start-up, True/Slant, an innovative media business in which “Entrepreneurial Journalists” can brand themselves and drum up advertisers to sponsor their work (for which the writers receive a cut of the revenue).
O’Donnel is interested in the branding side of True/Slant more than the self-marketing side. In fact, she doesn’t plan to sell advertisers on her work. She instead will earn a stipend, which she labels a “big pay cut.”
The branding side of the equation is important to O’Donnel as she expands her freelance empire. She’s already hosting a new cooking chat at Culinate.com, and she’s close to signing a deal to publish her debut cookbook, which she describes as a “meatless guide for meat lovers.” It’ll include 52 separate meat-free menus, one for each week, so that “Mr. and Mrs. Sausage [can] take a pass one day a week,” she tells Y&H. It’s based on O’Donnel’s Meatless Monday series, which she launched last fall.
So what does this have to do with O’Donnel leaving the Post? Well, it seems that, as part of O’Donnel’s arrangement with the paper, she couldn’t promote her work in other media. True/Slant has no such qualms.
“I’ve found a new partner who is very happy to do that kind of stuff,” O’Donnel says. “I really want to grow. I was looking for a partner to help me do that.”
But there were other issues in writing A Mighty Appetite, O’Donnel notes. Its daily updates required a ton of time, despite the fact she was paid as a part-timer, and the column didn’t get much promotion on the Post‘s home page, which meant it was often buried deep within the site.
O’Donnel will have to pay a price, at least at first, for more control over her content and its promotion. She’ll sacrifice page views. She says that a Mighty Appetite drew between 100,000-140,000 page views per month. She knows that she won’t match those numbers at True/Slant, at least initially. “It’ll take time to rebuild,” she acknowledges.
But the change of pace will also give O’Donnel more time — to freelance elsewhere and to work on her cookbook. Her True/Slant column, which will also focus on recipes and mindful eating, will be published only three times a week.
A Mighty Appetite was published five days a week. “It was like you couldn’t have a weekend,” O’Donnel says, noting all the time needed to source recipes and test them. “After more than three years of daily deadlines, I’m a little fried.”
Photo by Karla McDuffie