Jun 05, 2014 • By

Food blogging best practices

An epic bonanza of fun, information and pampering – it’s not every day in the life of a food blogger, but when you’re at the top of your game, it happens.

Take, for example, the two days of info-packed adventures to create, inspire and delight, recently experienced by the top bloggers from our PlateFull Ad Network and PlateFull Co-Op.

Sixteen bloggers representing both PlateFull entities received tours of General Mills headquarters with special appearances by the Pillsbury Bake-Off team (bearing delicious treats), the Betty Crocker Kitchens team, staff from our Photo Studio and more.

One lucky blogger, Laura Powell of Real Mom Kitchen, even won a trip to this year’s Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest in Nashville.

Laura Real Mom Kitchen

The PlateFull Ad Network features 150 bloggers with food expertise. It was created nearly six years ago to provide the General Mills brands access to top tier, high-quality food sites for their digital advertising.

The network provides bloggers with quality General Mills ad units on their blogs. Bloggers also create original content that runs on their own blog as well as General Mills websites.

platefull ad network

Formerly known as MyBlogSpark, the PlateFull Co-Op was relaunched in late 2013 with a new direction and more authentic engagement and relationships with bloggers. The Co-Op features more than 600 bloggers who have lifestyle blogs and provide the General Mills brands with product reviews and authentic product integration posts.

The PlateFull Co-Op is currently invite-only as the team builds out and develops relationships with top bloggers. Food bloggers can apply to be part of the PlateFull Ad Network, but the team is selective on when they grow the network.

“We only expand very deliberately and carefully, with the fill rate for the existing sites in mind” says Julie Hewitt, who helps manage our blogger programs. “And we’re not expanding at the moment.”

platefull blogger

“General Mills takes a unique approach to media and we see the value in working with influencers outside these walls,” Julie says. The bloggers at this event “engaged with us the most over the last year. We put out more than 300 pieces of recipe content and over 5,000 product engagement posts over the last year, and these were the top participants. They’re active and putting out good work consistently.”

So, what does it take to become a top PlateFull Ad Network and PlateFull Co-Op blogger?

PlateFull Ad Network bloggers Paula Jones of Bell’alimento, and Susan Whetzel of, shared some best practices.

* Be authentic. “I’m a mom. I make the things you can make being a mom,” says Whetzel. “I’m not going to pretend we don’t make food from a box.”

* Get serious. “We’re professional bloggers, we do this for a living. It takes between six and eight hours to develop a post,” says Jones. “It’s hard work and you’ve got to be willing to hustle.”

* Share the love. “Be nice. Do your job, partner up and send things to your friends. You don’t have to give something up to help someone else out,” Whetzel says.

* Be strategic. “Remember, ‘no’ means not right now, not ‘forever,’” says Jones.

And, be grateful, according to Malia Noelle Smith from Forever Family Food.

“We really feel appreciated, General Mills gives appreciation and gratitude, not everyone does that.”