The Ask a Manager kitties try SHEBA® cat food

And now a break to talk about a sponsor…


When the lovely people at SHEBA® approached me about writing about SHEBA® entrees for cats, I was hesitant at first. I’m protective of my kitties and probably more rigorous about what I feed them than about what I feed myself. SHEBA® won me over when I learned two things:

1. SHEBA® Entrees are suitable for all life stages of cats, which has become a necessity now that we’re a household with a kitten and two cats. When we adopted Olive this past fall, we tried to feed her kitten food while feeding Sam and Lucy adult food, but it was impossible to prevent them from eating each other’s food. (And that’s bad, because kitten food can make adult cats fat, while adult food doesn’t generally have enough nutrients for kittens.) When we switched to all-stages food that all three of them could eat, our lives got a lot easier. And so did the cats’ lives, since they’re no longer being shooed away from each other’s food bowls. They love this, and now have a complicated system of rotating bowls mid-meal that they seem to have coordinated amongst themselves.

2. It’s formulated without grain, which we’ve been transitioning the kitties to. (I’ve read enough pieces from veterinarians pointing out that nature designed cats to survive almost entirely on meat, with any grains coming only from whatever’s in the stomach of their prey. And apparently a diet heavy in processed grains – i.e., many commercial cat foods – is thought to contribute to a bunch of feline health problems.)

Because SHEBA® met those standards, I took the plunge, feeding them the chicken pate, salmon pate, and tuna cuts entrées. The SHEBA® Pates are made with meat as the first ingredient, including real beef, poultry or seafood and don’t contain grains, corn, gluten, artificial flavors or preservatives. The result has been a round of gluttonous meows for more. They’ve all been known to scarf down a new food eagerly for the first few days and then suddenly turn their noses up at it when it continues to appear on their plates, but they’ve been happily eating the SHEBA® entrees for a while now.

If you have cats, see if they like SHEBA® as much as mine did. (And because they stand by their product, the SHEBA® brand promises that your cat is guaranteed to love it or you’ll get your money back.)

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Sheba and BlogHer. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

{ 247 comments… read them below }

  1. Dana*

    Wow, this kind of blatant shilling is NOT what I read your blog for. I read the whole article hoping that this was some kind of satire.. but you seem to be serious. I know you need to make money from the blog but cat food? That’s not a subject related to management in any way at all!

    1. Anon*

      As soon as I saw this post I knew some people would be all over it complaining.

      I personally think that it’s great that AAM is getting sponsors. She toils away with all our questions, girl needs to make a living!

      You go AAM! (this was a spin on the classic you go glen coco)

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I was waiting for the complaints as well. Also, I hate to the typo person, but there’s a typo at the very end (the “Thisi s”).

        I’m never crazy about sponsored posts, but I totally understand you need this blog to be a moneymaker (and you clearly labeled it). Alison, I might disable comments the next time you do a sponsored post.

      2. Anon2*

        Seconded. It says it’s a sponsored post and..we read for free, so, an occasional sponsored post is fine with me.

        Plus, maybe one day it will be something I’m glad to hear about!

        1. Victoria Nonprofit*

          I actually usually enjoy the (management-themed) sponsored posts – I learn from them much as I learn from the rest of the blog.

          1. Anon*

            TheSnarkyB posting here – I don’t want the name to save on this computer if someone else were to comment on this site.

            Vic Nonprof, are you referring to the posts that direct you to another page, but are still AAM writing about management/work/etc?
            I wouldn’t really agree that this and those have anything in common, for the sake of comparison.
            I also didn’t love to see this post on here but I’m glad you’re snagging sponsors, AAM, and I’m glad you’re getting support that you can put in the bank. Additionally, it was very easy to scroll past. (Thank you for labeling it the way you did.)

            That said, you tend to announce paradigm shifts (for lack of a less dramatic phrase) to the community in a stand-alone post. I.E. “Hey y’all, there will be sponsored posts once a month from now on. I know this won’t be universally popular but I hope to bring good products to your attention while making a living for myself…” (etc, etc, etc).
            If there was one of these, I missed it. But if there wasn’t, it would have been appreciated.

            1. Anon*

              Though also, I see indications in this thread that this isn’t the first sponsored post, so I guess it wasn’t a surprise to anyone else.
              (Yet another indication that these posts are rare!)

            2. Victoria Nonprofit*

              No, I was referring to the posts that are tagged “sponsor” (I think there’s a total of six). This is the one I had in mind:

              I thought that was really interesting! It’s not my field, so it’s not relevant to my work life, but I thought the concept was cool – putting into action the advice that Allison gives about asking applicants to demonstrate their skills.

              1. Anon*

                Yeah, that’s the kind of sponsored post I’d expect to see. And it’s much less intrusive to me than this one because it is thematically relevant.

                1. Anonymous*

                  This site provides A LOT of content, which you’re reading for free. Why do you feel you have standing to decide what kind of posts can and can’t be run here?

      3. Ginjury*

        Agreed. With the amount of relevant/useful content Alison posts, do you really think she should be doing it without any sponsors?

        Also, while I understand that cat food isn’t relevant to workplace issues, there is frequent enough mention of her cats, that I think it is somewhat relevant to this blog.

        Needless to say, if you only want to read workplace advice, don’t read this post.

        1. Chinook*

          I am grateful that AAM has a way to support her blogging by doing sponsored posts because it means that there are posts to read.

          My only complaint – I was hoping for a gif or video of the kitties eating (maybe with wagging tails? Or do only cats raised by dogs wag tails?). Maybe next time she can offer to add kitty videos for an extra cost to the sponsor (to pay for the “talen” of course)

          1. Jessa*

            This, the post totally needed more Olive and all (I apologise I forget the name of the other two lovely kitties.) I have no problem with sponsored posts and given that I’d like to get Parker off some of the more grain loaded brands, I might try this for her. I trust Alison that if she’s writing a sponsored post, it’s actually true and something she researched/actually used.

        1. MW*


          Imagine working for the $$$ and not for love and peace of heart and living off of angle dust and ambrosia.

          The post is labeled sponsored content at the outset and at the end. That’s fair. Everyone has the option to skip a post if they don’t want to read it.

    2. Just Another Reader*

      Seconded. This is embarrassing for AAM. Sponsorship is fine, but at least make it vaguely, mildly, 1% relevant.

      1. Kelly L.*

        I actually kind of like that it’s not relevant to workplace issues at all. Like…if she were doing a sponsored post for a fancy resume paper, and then started recommending that everyone submit their resumes on paper for every job, that would make me side-eye the advice, but cat food isn’t going to affect workplace advice at all.

        1. MW*

          Yep. I don’t have cats, but as a regular reader of the blog I’m not surprised in the least that she was approached by a cat food sponsor. It makes sense to anyone who reads the blog more than once a month.

        2. Nancie*

          If I fed my cats wet food (the adorable little weirdos won’t eat it) this would be very relevant to my interests.

        3. Woodward*

          I agree. I don’t have pets but I think AAM’s sharing of her cats occasionally is fun! I thought cat food totally made sense as a sponsor.

        4. Kate*

          + 1 to Elizabeth’s comment. To all the haters out there, count your blessings. Yes it is a sponsored post and you might not love that. On the other hand, it is a sponsored post about cats.

          Cats with full tummies.

          Cats who let out rounds of gluttonous meows.

          Cats who have a complex system of rotating bowls mid meal.

          And there is a picture of said kitties.

          Just try to relax and enjoy the cats.

      2. Lanya*

        Sponsorship is fine, but perhaps a better way to go about it that would have been relevant to all readers might have been to interview Sheba executives on a hot topic, and include their name and a link in the post.

        1. PJ*

          A better way? Nah, I think this is fine. In fact, it touched on some points of interest for me, and I’ll be checking out this brand of cat food for my cat. Not interested in Sheba executives’ opinions.

          1. Anna (and lay off the bananas!)*

            Me either. As far as I’m concerned, a hiring manager is a hiring manager, no matter what their company makes. I’ll hold my complaints until Chocolate Teapots, Inc., starts selling Chocolate Catfood Bowls.

    3. TychaBrahe*

      I totally agree. You should write an e-mail to the blog author and demand a refund for all the money you pay to access her blog.

    4. Molly*

      I disagree. She needs to make a living, so why not a sponsored post? I skip posts that I don’t care about, so if I don’t want to read this one, then I could skip right by.

      She posts about her cats semi-frequently (they’re always the Open Threat mascots), so why not post about cat food? I know she loves cats, so it makes sense to me.

    5. Vicki*

      Skip this one already. The AAM cats are very important members of this blog family.

      I would suggest one tiny edit, however. In the disclaimer, I don;t believe all opinions are your own, Alison. Obviously, many of the opinions have come from the furry officemates.


        1. Laura*

          Seriously, I’ve had at least three different animal live streams up for hours (puppies, kittens, goats) during the day for general merriment and workplace stress relief.

    1. Windchime*

      I’m actually happy to see this sponsored post. I tried a different kind of “meat first” food for my very picky cat, and he turned his nose up at it. So I am probably going to give this brand a try and see if he likes it as much as Olive and Co. do.

    2. Kim*

      Why do some readers have a problem with a sponsored post? Do they also tear out magazine ads and crumple them in rage? Would they prefer to subscribe to this website for a fee (which it’s definitely worth, mind you)? It’s not like Alison’s touting a bogus product or service in the post (“Repair your credit in 90 DAYS!!”) I welcome the sponsored posts. Especially about cats. :)

      1. NoAdsPleaseI'mBritish*

        I don’t buy magazines, precisely because of the ridiculous amount of ads. I don’t watch tv because of the endless ads (I buy the shows I want to see on DVD). I use AdBlocker online. And wherever possible I subscribe to websites to avoid seeing ads. I’m happy to pay for content to avoid ads.

        I hope that answers your question satisfactorily. Am I allowed to complain now?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Why? It’s a clearly identified sponsored post.

      I publish 4+ posts a day here, free of charge. Occasionally — far less than once a month — I run a clearly labeled sponsored post, to help make the rest of it possible.

      1. Eric*

        There’s a huge controversy about sponsored content as it relates to the future of journalism, the traditional firewall between editorial and advertising, etc. etc.

        I’m not taking a position here one way or the other, just offering up an explanation as to why some people might be turned off by this.

        1. TBoT*

          While that may be *a* reason why people are turned off, it’s not really a *good* reason. Number one, Alison isn’t a journalist. She is an advice blogger. She is not reporting news or creating investigative reports. She is answering questions about the workplace based on her own knowledge and experience.

          Number two, most of the controversy has to do with people or publications who do not disclose when content is sponsored, or with publications allowing sponsors to influence the content that is ultimately produced. Alison has done neither. She disclosed the sponsorship up front and at the end, and she made it clear that these are her own opinions.

          She’s been completely transparent about this, and she deserves to make money on her work. So, she’s done absolutely nothing wrong here.

          People need to remember that the existence of the Internet does not entitle them to ad-free, no-cost content.

          1. Jessa*

            Exactly. The issue is when reporters do not disclose connections. It’s like someone reporting about a school and not mentioning they have kids there. Alison hasn’t done anything of the sort. She always clearly labels any sponsored posts as sponsored, and always makes clear the difference between her opinion/research and canned text she’s given by the sponsor. She’s completely and transparently above board.

        2. ExceptionToTheRule*

          I wouldn’t consider AAM to be journalism (nothing personal, Alison). It’s an advice blog about workplace issues.

      2. mirror*

        I read this post through an RSS reader, and it does not have the lines:

        “And now a break to talk about a sponsor…

        This post is brought to you by SHEBA® Brand and BlogHer.”

        Instead, it goes straight into the article, which was a bit confusing and off putting at first. But, I figured it out and I’m neutral on the subject.

          1. mirror*

            I have the best, thanks :) just wanted to let Alison know that this is happening for some people and could be an explanation of the frustration. I see it as one of the characters of your police procedural suddenly talking about how much they like driving the new Ford escape as they are driving to a crime scene. That’s confusing and off putting, whereas a regular commercial break makes more sense.

            (I say this as a person who very much misses Google reader, and digg is the closest one to it. )

            1. RJ*

              I support this post unconditionally, but this comment reminded me that it does crack me up when Rizzoli and Isles are suddenly talking about their Dr Scholl’s for Her shoe inserts in the middle of a scene. :)

    2. k*

      Alison handled this perfectly — she was transparent and the post was clearly labeled. We get free content. It’s win-win. If you don’t like a sponsored post, it’s really easy to scroll down. You also have the option to give more substantive and constructive critical feedback about if you feel that strongly about sponsored posts. Alison’s content generates a lot of value for the people who use her advice — I know that even though I’ve never written in, I’ve benefited from learning better how to prep for interviews, handles tricky work situations, and so on. As long as sponsored posts are always labeled this clearly, and the majority of the content remains useful, I’m fine with it, and it’s a small price to pay for the value her other content generates.

    3. Kate*

      Really? Alison isn’t compromising her values at all. This sponsored post has to do with cat food and it is better that way. If she was buying ads for an HR related item that would raise my eyebrows more. Is looking at a cat photo and havinga little clearly labeled post so she can pay her bills and provide awesome free content really going to disrupt the blog’s integrity? No.

      1. Mallorie, the recruiter*

        I agree- I like that it’s about cats … It makes me trust her opinion even more than a sponsored post about something more career related would (though after years of reading this blog, I feel AAM would ONLY ever sponsor things she agrees with, so I would trust her opinion).

        And also, how are we not talking about the fact that the food is grain free?! I switched to grain free for my dogs and they are LOOOVING IT! (On a side note, I switched myself to grain-free over the summer and wanted to die…that lasted all of 3 weeks).

        1. PJ*

          Yes, the whole grain-free thing! I’m hoping it will help ease some of my cat’s arthritis. I went grain-free, and after the cravings went away it was RIDICULOUS how good I felt. I wish the same thing for my rickety old kitty.

  2. Zee*

    I feel like the tone of the blog is offset by that post, and I embarrassingly thought you might have been hacked. I recommended your site to a friend today and the first post she saw was this post. She wrote, in chat: “Is this a blog about pets?” Obviously not all of your visitors are first timers, and as a fellow monetized blogger, I support native advertising and sponsored posts but I feel like sponsorships and products should be in line with the blog’s material as your past sponsored posts have been. It’s always appreciated (and indeed, required) when a writer labels their sponsored material.

    1. KellyK*

      The cats are the stars of the open threads, though, so it is kind of relevant.

      And honestly, with the low volume of ads here, I wouldn’t complain too much. If sponsored posts were daily or weekly, I’d want them all to be related to the topic, but for such a rare interruption, it’s not such a big deal.

      1. Chinook*

        I have to agree that I am surprised by so many people thin the cat food is off topic. Have they not heard about the PIP Allison was put on a few months ago demanding more cat photos. Personally, this not only goes beyond expectations (only thing better would hhave been a video) AND she has a business case for doing it – making money so we can enjoy her advice.

        AAM, I can’t speak for the others, but I think we can safely put your PIP in File 13. Congratulations!

    2. Confused Anon*

      I thought it was a hacked situation at first as well. I haven’t been reading here for too long, so maybe this happens often enough that most people expect it, but it really threw me. It seems so out of place, and so sales-y and fake.

    3. Vicki*

      She did clearly call them the Ask A Manager kitties and very clearly labeled it “a break to talk about a sponsor”.

      The front page of shows 10 posts. Surely your friend knows how to scroll.

    1. Kathryn T.*

      Me too. I presume that’s supposed to say “This is a sponsored post, but my opinions are my own, etc. etc.” That’s what I’m used to seeing on sponsored AAM posts.

  3. Victoria Nonprofit*

    I’m amused and delighted that Sheba’s marketers somehow ferreted out the cat content of this mostly-not-cat-focused blog. Hee!

    That being said, I hope this unrelated content is an anomaly. The blog is a commercial enterprise, sure, but the reason it’s valuable (and monetizable) is because people trust the content. One post (over the course of years and years of great content) on cat food is no big thing; if sponsor posts on topics unrelated to the core content of the blog become more regular that would be a problem for many readers.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Sponsored posts have always been rare here and will continue that way. They may sometimes be unrelated to our main themes, just like is true of sponsors on radio and TV and in newspapers. (Cats are something of an occasional theme here though.)

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I actually think the cats (and their food) are reasonably on-topic, considering all the coverage they get on the open threads, both in the pictures and in the questions and comments we instigate. I think they provide some of the trim for the main content, and trim can add to how nice the rest of the package looks.

        1. Jen in RO*

          Alison is the one who introduced me to the concept of all-ages cat food, so I am definitely interested! Having an adult cat and a kitten was very challenging at first and all-ages food was a life (and weight) saver.

    2. Kelly O*

      I just wish Fizzy wouldn’t turn her nose up at the “good” stuff. Every time I get her “good” cat food, she won’t touch it, but as soon as I grab the Meow Mix, she is halfway through the bowl before it’s poured.

      Well, either that or actual people food. She LOVES that Sarah is in this “I’m not eating dinner because I can” phase, because inevitably the plate will wind up unattended and she can score some pot roast/pork tenderloin/turkey/chicken/whatever while we are explaining that no, you may not wear all your socks at once.

      1. Diane*

        My neighbor’s little girl, age five or so, went to the grocery store with me and loudly pointed to the Meow Mix: “Daddy says that’s kitty crack cocaine!”

      1. Esra*

        So rare, they’re usually the worst roommates ever.. Ten years and he hasn’t done the dishes or picked up the dustpan once.

      2. Josh S*

        Well, that’s a first. A cat that actually contributes to the household.

        As always, I don’t mind the sponsored posts. The only thing that caught me a bit off guard was that it felt like the ‘voice’ of the post was different. It just didn’t quite sound like the usual Alison, and made me wonder if there was some marketing copy that got tossed into the post.

        It’s clearly marked as a sponsored post, so I don’t care much either way, but it felt funy to me.

    1. KLH*

      It makes me imagine a set of questions answered by questions.

      “Dear AAM, the human left and did not request permission. How do I handle this? She did send someone to feed me and clean the box, but I was not givent he opportunity to vet their grooming skills and belly scratches before hand. Is this legal?”

      1. beck*

        Yes! “My human keeps insisting that the only animals allowed on the table at dinner time are the ones being eaten.” I feel this is an unreasonable requirement and I’m being discriminated against- what are my options?

      2. Yup*

        LOL. “We’ve had several performance conversations in which I made my displeasure clear by peeing in their shoes. Do you have any suggestions for holding them accountable? I hate to move right into the vomiting phase of discipline.”

      3. Fiona*

        Or have regular questions ANSWERED by the cats.

        “Dear AAM, my boss called me an idiot to my face. Is this legal?”
        “Dear LW: Yes, this is legal, because all humans are in fact idiots.”

      4. anon in tejas*

        Dear AAM,

        My Team is having an issue. Each member thinks that they are the boss. First, there is a quiet woman who works from home a lot. She says that she runs the show. Also, there is a loud and obnxious canine. He thinks that he’s top dog, because he’s in everyone’s face all the time. I’ve tried to remain calm and detached, and assert an aura of superiority, but it’s just not working. Please help.

        a Cat

        P.S. Please don’t tell me these are just red flags and I need to look for a new job. I was recently rehomed, and I’ve gotta make do with this motely bunch. Although, firing is still on the table.

      5. KC*

        Okay, so based on this premise (and everyone else’s amusing replies), I think we should have an all-cat AAM for…April Fool’s Day, perhaps?

        1. Anoners*

          Omg yes please! It could be fictional workplace issues, but instead of humans, it’s cats! I’d read that.

          “Florence won’t stop batting MY yarn that I brought to work for MYSELF. Is this legal?”

      6. KellyK*

        Dear AAM,

        The humans have brought not one, but two, dogs into my house. One dog is easy to bully and can be ignored, but the other insists on sniffing my butt and chasing me. He also spends an inordinate amount of time invading my personal space (which the humans call “the kitchen”). I’ve tried to politely explain, using my claws, that his behavior is inappropriate, but he persists. How can I get through to him? Ideally, I’d mail him to Abu Dhabi, but he’s a 55-pound pit bull, and so far I haven’t been able to locate a large enough box.


        1. Jessica (tc)*

          “And even if I did locate a box large enough, all boxes are reserved for me to sit in, on, or around.”

      7. Elysian*

        “Dear AAM:

        My hu-manager has recently taken to spraying her/my work space with disgusting orange-scented perfume. Just when I thought we had cleared the air on the issues of microwaving fish and opening cans of sardines without giving me any, she comes in with a battalion of citrus to assault the giant scratching post she likes to sit on. I understand her desire to mark her territory, but this is too much. Is it legal?”

      8. Kelly O*

        Dear AAKM (Ask A Kitty Manager),

        Despite my insistence, my human refuses to pet me constantly. I have tried all the usual methods of expressing how unacceptable this behavior is (i.e, urinating on the clean laundry, hand-scratching, head-butting the laptop screen, and even simply crawling in their lap immediately between their face and whatever they feel is more important.)

        Is this even legal? What are my rights and how do I explain them simply enough to pass along to this clearly less than intelligent team?


  4. KellyK*

    My cats are the same about new food. When we used to feed them dry kibble, canned food was The Best Thing Ever. Now that they’re on wet (partly for weight control, partly because our senior kitty needs a lower protein diet than the kibble), it’s all we can do to keep them out of the dogs’ kibble.

  5. EM*

    I don’t particularly mind this kind of post, but I strongly encourage you to go raw with feeding teh kittehs — it’s the best diet they can be on!

    1. Goofy Posture*

      I have no problem with the sponsored posts myself, but looking at Olive’s expression, she seems ambivalent at best about them. In a perfect world, AAM would turn them into brilliant parody posts as discussed above, but I’m happy for her to spend her energy on the main content! I send everyone I know here – to the point that I have friends ask me for workplace advice by saying, “What does that blog say about this?”

      I feed my kitty Nature’s Variety Instinct kibble because I just can’t stay on top of the dishwashing required of wet food (plus I travel frequently) – but I do care about the quality of her diet. I have learned that the flavor matters, though! The rabbit meal does NOT agree with her digestive system.

      1. PJ*

        I invest heavily in small paper plates. Costco has a great deal. I just toss the plates after each meal. Much easier than washing those smelly, icky dishes. Much easier on my mom, too, who has to take over when I travel. Get paper plates!

      2. Windchime*

        My kitty has his own set of little white saucers. After his meal, I just scrape it clean, rinse thoroughly, and stick it in the dishwasher with the other dishes. Because I have 8 of the little saucers, he gets a clean one for each supper. I usually only run the dishwasher a few times a week. Is that weird, to wash the cat’s dishes with mine? I didn’t think about it till just now.

        1. Anon E Mouse*

          Um, I feed my cats off my regular dinner plates. They go in the dishwasher. They drink out of my water glasses, too.

        2. Goofy Posture*

          Not weird at all! I don’t have a dishwasher or garbage disposal though. Plus I’m a terrible slob.

      3. Jen in RO*

        My cats have a bunch of plates I wash by hand before each feeding. I hate washing dishes by hand, but the cats’ are so small and easy to clean…

    2. H. Vane*

      For those of you with extra time on your hands, may I recommend Gulp by Mary Roach? It’s mostly about the human digestive system, but there is a chapter on pets, what they eat, and why they like modern pet foods. It’s rather amusing and there is very little grossness. It’s a very good piece of non-fiction.

    1. Dorothy*

      Clearly labeled as a sponsored post, and AAM is known to most regular readers as a cat lover. These sponsored posts aren’t a regular thing, either.

  6. Anon2*

    I’d like to add that when I’m sitting at home watching Castle or Brooklyn Nine Nine, I don’t start booing and hissing and tossing the coffee table because the McDonald’s commercial, Honda dealership, or yes, cat food commercial has nothing to do what what I was watching…..

    1. AdminAnon*


      And if it’s a commercial I don’t have an interest in, I use the handy fast forward button or do something else with that time….just like all of the complainers could do by scrolling right on by or going to another site.

    2. Elysian*

      Hulu lets your rate the commercials on whether or not they apply to you. I always rate the cat food commercials up, even though I have no intention of switching cat foods. My goal is to have ALL the commercials I watch be about cats.

      Apparently the rest of the Internet is catching on.

    3. Marmite*

      I don’t think it’s quite the same, TV channels are (usually) not exclusive to one type of content in the same way as this blog. You get some variety in your TV shows and you get multiple commercials covering a range of crap in the breaks.

      The cat food is more jarring as it stands out so much as one random unrelated item against a background of workplace themed stuff (especially for newer/non-regular readers who perhaps haven’t spotted the kitties in the open threads).

      That said, it’s really not hard to skip the commercials on TV or here. I personally hate cats (they always scratch or bite me, so I guess the feeling is mutual) and I totally would have just skipped this post had I not been curious to see what the comments were like!

  7. Sandrine*

    Wait, what ?

    With all the time and effort devoted to answering questions and delivering advice, people are not happy about one sponsored post every once in a while?

    Come on, guys, seriously ???

  8. Mama P*

    I’ve been reading AAM since 2008. I can’t tell you how much I have learned and gained from her. Out of all the monetized blogs out there, hers is probably the least annoying — she could have done SO much to monetize this blog but the impact has been so mild, overall. Yes, it’s a little annoying to read a sponsored post, but after she’s given us so much for free, I’m really appalled at the people complaining. Just skip and keep going.

    AAM you are the bomb. Keep being your badass self. I don’t say that to many people but mean it sincerely with you.

    1. Jessica (tc)*

      I agree — so much so that if she had some way for us to help sponsor the blog (monthly donation or something), I’d totally be up for that. I get so much out of this blog that I’m willing to give back!

  9. mina*

    This post is relevant… to me! I have two kittehs of my own. I’ve been feeding them grain free for years – first Evo, but they kept shutting down due to salmonella infection at the factory. For the last year, Wellness but honestly this is not cheap food. If I can get the same quality but cheaper, I’m interested. I don’t suppose there is any way to discuss this with the Sheba rep, is there? I bet they’d have more information. Feel free to pass on my email addy to them if you can.

    PS: I appreciate your blog very much, and if you can earn a few green papers here and there due to it, I’m all for it.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I feed my cats (all 12 of them!) Wellness and it’s not cheap at all. I’m looking for something less expensive and had no idea Sheba is grain-free. Actually, I started them on grain-free because one particular cat was having digestive issues and they seem to be less intense now.

  10. JMegan*

    Can I just say, my favourite thing about this post is not the cats, but the giant pile of books on your bedside table! :)

  11. AdminAnon*

    Seriously? Is there anything the internet won’t complain about?

    I came here to thank Alison for the recommendation, as one of my co-workers has been having the same issue with her feline friends. I just passed the link to this post along and wanted to express my gratitude.

    Honestly, I’ve been reading AAM since early 2010 and I love getting glimpses of her life (and the lives of her kitties). Plus, her posts are so well-written and engaging that I would probably read them regardless of the topic.

    The fact that we are given access to her time and talent for free on a daily basis is a privilege, and if the occasional sponsored post is the cost of that….well, it’s one I will gladly pay.

  12. Just a Reader*

    I don’t like it but I get the model. Although–I like this blog enough that I would pay for the content. It’s really valuable for career guidance and the entertainment factor and community are gravy.

    1. BN*

      Agreed. AAM’s blog has so few sidebar ads and is so clean that it is refreshing to read and (like another poster said in some other open thread) it doesn’t scream BLOG!!! when I have it open at work :)

      Also, I love Alison’s cats.

  13. Bookworm*

    Keep on keeping on, Alison! I love your blog (found this post helpful too), and your kitties are adorable :).

  14. Diet Coke Addict*

    Considering the huge, massive number of posts that appear magically through the interwebs for free to entertain us at our desks and on our couches, to complain about a very occasional sponsored post is quite rude. It’s a blog, it’s a clearly-marked sponsored post. No complaints!

  15. Jennifer S.*

    People need to quit complaining. It’s a clearly labeled, sponsored post. This blog is consistently updated with quality posts daily basis for FREE! She has bills to pay and I agree with another commenter – the cats are featured frequently enough to make a sponsered post about thier cat food germaine to the blog.

    1. The IT Manager*

      People need to quit complaining. +1

      I didn’t read the post because I don’t have cats, but I was amused that someone managed to sus out the major, hidden sub-topic on this work blog – kitty cats.

      I don’t mind because AAM’s advertisement posts are very rare. TBH although I am a loyal reader, I would not be willing to pay for content so I am happy with this compromise.

  16. Tami*

    I read most of the ad for two reasons. One, blogs do not pay for themselves. Two, seriously how can you pass up a picture of an adorable Tortie?!?

  17. CaliSusan*

    And here I thought I was the only one with cats who randomly swap bowls throughout their meal :-) I thought they were weirdos. Turns out they’re just cats.

    1. Alicia*

      Yeah, I was surprised by that one, too. I just thought mine were weirdos. There must be some dominance heirarchy at play… or they’re just thinking “hmmm, how can we mess with the Momma human-cat”?

      1. Julie*

        Our dogs are absolutely positive that whatever is being offered to the other dog is better than whatever they’ve got.

        1. abby*

          Our cats do the same thing. They are fed the same food, always have been, but the male in particular is convinced the female is getting something better. So after he pushes her away, she finishes off his bowl.

          They are both little carnivores. They’ve been grain-free since about one year of age. Switched nearly a year ago to all-wet for feline health reasons. We’re currently experimenting with different brands to combat potential food allergies/sensitivities to chicken and fish.

          1. KLH*

            On YouTube there’s a video of a BBC documentary that follows 50 domestic cats in a small British village. They put trackers on them and some got cameras, and the idea was to see how domesticated cats behave, where they go, how much they hunt, do they fight, etc. What they found was that although each cat had its own territory, and multiple cats shared territory by adhering to different schedules, the cats would go into each others houses and eat each others food.

  18. Someone*

    Add me to the list of people who doesn’t consider this at all unreasonable – not that you need a list, but. :) I was a little surprised to see a cat food sponsorship here (I wasn’t aware that I should be watching for cats in the open threads, hehe), but so what? If it’s off-topic for your blog by too much, it won’t do your sponsor as much good as they hope, but it’s not going to hurt us. It’s clearly and politely labeled, and these browsers have this awesome scroll bar if we feel the need to use it. :)

    (I have cats: I read it through. Seems more than reasonable to do so, in return for all the advice and amusement you provide to us. I’ll have to think about whether I want to consider switching foods, though.)

  19. Para Girl*

    I’m a dog person but still read the post. I have no idea why, but the kitties are very cute and I wouldn’t mind seeing more photos of them. And I knew what I was reading because it was so clearly identified.

    It must be exhausting to carry around all the anger some of the Negative Nellies are lugging with them.

    And if people are so hugely upset by our dear AAM having a sponsor, then perhaps they should believe “advice is worth what you pay for it” and subscribe to something else. Me? I’m going to keep reading this blog – including the sponsored entries even when they don’t apply to me!

    So there, all you Grumpy Pants!!

  20. ExceptionToTheRule*

    Periodic, clearly labelled sponsored content beats the monthly brow-beating for subscribers or blatant guilt-tripping for donations that goes on in other places.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      We’ve had sponsored posts here for a few years. They’re just very occasional so they don’t stand out. (But I might aim for one a month this year.)

    2. Anonymous*

      Yes, that’s how “big” blogs are able to continue providing content that is free to their readers.

      1. RTF*

        Yeah. I don’t have any problem with it. There is no particular need for people to get upset and dramatic about it.

        1. Anon*

          Not to you, maybe. But if people ARE upset, telling them they shouldn’t care isn’t exactly going to help. And clearly some of us are.

          1. RTF*

            Look, my first reaction was ugh too. That is a natural reaction. It kinda sucks, but that’s life. It’s kinda like the YouTube ads before videos- you hate them, but you still sit through them for the privilege of watching a free video. We will all get over it and stop caring once AAM makes this a regular occurrence. If you hate the sponsored posts and ads, you can take your no-compromise attitude elsewhere.

            1. RTF*

              And come to think of it, this isn’t near as bad as the annoying YouTube ads, because you can skip the sponsored posts without even reading them. So it’s not too intrusive.

            2. Anon*

              Um, no. I don’t do that. Because the ads are too intrusive, so if a YouTube video wants me to watch ads, I don’t bother watching the video.

              Thanks for the advice, though. I’ll happily avoid this site in future, since apparently dissenting voices are not welcome here.

    3. Windchime*

      Perhaps you’d be happier at all those other career blogs that are so incredibly useful and yet have zero sponsored posts.

      I have no problem with seeing/reading a sponsored post once in a while. If it’s for something that I’m not interested in, I can skip past it. I can’t think of any other blogs (that are worth anything) that have zero ads or sponsored posts. Seriously, do people expect all of this amazing content for free?

      1. Anon*

        Good for you? Not sure why you being ok with something means I have to be, but whatever. I’m done with this site. Not because of this post, as annoying as it is, but because of the attitude of people like you.

        1. Windchime*

          Nobody said you had to be OK with it. But “upset” seems to be a really strong reaction to a post about cat food. Assuming you are the Anon above who said they were upset about it. Obviously you are entitled to feel however you want about it, as am I. I’m just confused at the strong backlash (not just from you) about *one* sponsored post in a sea of entertaining, useful, engaging content.

  21. The RO-Cat*

    Regarding the complainers: we had floods here, almost every year in the last decade. Villages were flooded, peasants stranded in the fields and most of the populace gathered at the village pub while the army built sandbag dams to protect whatever was left to be protected.

    The army then brought food, vital supplies for the isolated villages, and proceeded to hand it over. Free. As in “no money, no effort, just gather here”.

    Some people were still unhappy. “They could have brought some moonshine, damnit! How are we supposed to eat the beans? With WATER??”

    A bon entendeur, salut!

    1. Anon*

      I was really hoping you were just going to compare the complainers’ bloggy hardships with flooded villages and lay the most massive guilt trip.

  22. BJ McKay*

    I don’t have cats but I have noticed from reading your blog that you do and that you obviously adore them. I’ve also ascertained that you are principled and up-front. Because of your transparency, I’d consider buying this cat food if I was in the market for it. Looks like a great partnership for you and the company. Well done!

  23. Ella*

    Cute kitties! A sponsored post is welcome, sure. For that matter, kitties need food…

    Actually, I’d like to see a post sponsored by a tea/coffee producer. Bloggers need a cuppa… or two…
    (ps. what’s in you cup, tea or coffee?)

    1. Chinook*

      Oh no – don’t open that cup of worms. Deciding on what coffee/tea to make available is one of the reasons I would never want to be an Office Manager. The closest compromises I have ever seen are: you can bring your own kettle/machine/supplies or single serve machines with multiple options (but people will still complain about the wrong brand).

      Cat food, though, works.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      Dilmah — that’s the way to go! (Fair trade, doesn’t get bitter like cheap American tea, lots of flavor options, isn’t excessively expensive.)

    3. Jen in RO*

      Demmer’s tea for me! (Twinnings if I have to shop in a supermarket.) And any coffee, really, my cup is 3/4 milk anyway.

  24. Feed Fido*

    Sheba has some great coupons out there too! Oh and if you haven’t bought her book or paid for consultant fees, you’ve enjoyed and learned a lot here for free. And I say this as someone who sometimes thinks AAM is barking up the wrong tree (hee, hee). Sponsored posts are fine by me.

  25. Juni*

    I’m actually more concerned that you’re now cosponsored by BlogHer. Can you expand a bit on your relationship with BlogHer? There are a lot of bloggers uncomfortable with their business practices, etc.

    1. Stephanie*

      What are the issues with BlogHer’s business practices? (I couldn’t find any consensus after a cursory Google search.) Just asking out of curiosity.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      BlogHer has been my ad network for years, since I first started having ads. (They’re the ones who provide the ad banner on the upper right hand side of the site.)

  26. Another English Major*

    The sponsored posts are unobtrusive and are very easy to ignore if you want to. While reading this one I was hoping comments would be open so I could read/talk about the kitties. They are too cute! And I love that they are the open thread mascots!

    I don’t comment often, but I read religiously so thank you Alison for all the great advice you give!

  27. CollegeAdmin*

    I credit AAM with helping me get a job, and I know others have expressed the same sentiment. Considering that getting these jobs got us salaries, I think it’s safe to say that Alison has helped her readership earn AT LEAST a million dollars as a combined total per year. And folks are complaining about one sponsored post for her to make some cash? Get real.

    (And for reference, even though I could have obviously skipped it, I read the whole post. I don’t have a cat. I don’t like cats. I don’t really like animals in general. But I like AAM, and I will happily read a cat food post every once in a while to support her continued posting.)

  28. Julie*

    We have the same problem with our dog and puppy. The adult dog needs to lose weight, and the puppy needs to gain weight. I have to stand in the kitchen and watch them eat, or they will switch bowls partway through their meal. :)

  29. Elizabeth West*

    My tortie gets kibble most days and wet food twice a week, though I want to ask the vet about how often to feed it since she’s getting older. I spend bucks on the grain-free kibble and the Blue canned food. Darn cat eats better than I do. :P

    As for the commercial thing, I would love it if my blog got enough traffic for people to want me to write sponsored posts. There are posts here I don’t need to read now that I have a job (how to make a cover letter, etc.), although I also feel that Alison’s advice helped me greatly to get it. I still come in and read the comments on them. This is a short, unobtrusive thing and AAM doesn’t assault us with ads all the time. So a sponsored post is no big deal. Because kitty pictures!

  30. Del*

    I’m pretty intrigued with the idea of all-ages cat food. Our current cat population is spread out between 2 and 10 years, and we’re looking at possibly getting another kitten within a few months. (The roommate and I are well on the way to being crazy cat ladies, yep.) How does an all-ages food break down re: fulfilling nutritional needs?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Supposedly foods marked as “all stage” are indeed suitable for the nutritional needs of all stages of the life cycle, but I have to admit that I haven’t looked into HOW they achieve that. I am overjoyed at how much easier it is to feed them though!

      1. Annie*

        I’m a dog person, so I can’t speak for the specific needs of cats, but as I understand it the “all life stages” types of food are usually healthier for both adults and young dogs/cats than the specific foods formulated for different age groups, barring any kind of special needs. (For example, senior animals tend to have special needs, and pregnant/nursing animals tend to need extra high calorie/fat food.)

        Once puppies and kittens are fully weaned, there is no need for them to eat specially formulated food. Very young puppies and kittens do need more calories, fat, and protein (and some minerals) than adults, but after around 12 weeks their nutritional needs stabilize to about the same level as adults, although they do still need slightly more calories.

        Sheba cat food sounds pretty good, I would definitely give it a shot if any future kitties ended up disliking my usual go-to grain free food, Orijen. Thanks for the post, AAM!

    2. abby*

      I haven’t looked into how cat food fulfills the needs of all ages of cats, but I have exhaustively researched cat food because I have a cat with many issues. And this is what I have noticed. Most of the premium brands do not have different varieties for kittens. These are brands that are grain-free, mostly meat protein and fat, and low carb. The feeding instructions also advise feeding much more food to a kitten.

      I think this would only apply to a kitten that is weaned, one that is eight weeks old or so. Think about what kittens in the wild eat when they’re weaned – the same thing as their mom. Only more.

      My guess is the cheaper brands manufacture kitten formulas that are higher in protein and fat, simply because their regular adult formulas are so deficient that it would harm a growing kitten. And that would be a red flag for me feeding my normal, healthy adult cat.

  31. VW*

    I love the kitty posts — and was actually surprised to hear Sheba is grain -free. Like some other commenters, I’ve been using Wellness or Nutro for a while, but it gets pricey. Might have to check out Sheba now!

    1. abby*

      As noted above, I have a cat with issues and did click through to the Sheba website. Unfortunately, we’re dealing with potential food allergies to chicken and fish, so our options are super limited.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        My vet recommended “unusual” proteins paired with green pea when one of my boys was suffering with stomach issues. Duck, turkey, venison & rabbit were among the recommended proteins. Beware of rabbit though: it’s expensive, hard to find, and tends to come from China. I feed my boys Natural Balance both kibble & wet food – they have a limited ingredient formula that really helped.

      2. Annie*

        That’s tough to deal with, I have a dog with similar issues. I hope this isn’t stepping on any toes, but I recommend checking out Orijen and EVO if Sheba doesn’t have a formula that meets your cat’s needs.

  32. The Other Dawn*

    I don’t mind the occasional sponsered post. It’s not like there’s one a week. It’s more like one every few months, if that. I fail to see how this post is an embarrassment for AAM. Someone said it’s not related at all to the main blog content, but I’d argue she’s the manager of her cats’ lives, health, nutrition, etc.

  33. Feed Fido*

    Dear Olive, Sam and Lucy,
    I am single female millenial feline, two years old (24 in human), and I am wondering if my bulldog boss’s constant slobbering when I am in his presence is considered sexual harassment? I have been desexed, not that, that should matter.


  34. Nodumbunny*

    Dog person, allergic to cats, and I read the whole post. I echo everyone who’s said that Alison is providing very valuable free content every single day, post after post. The clearly labeled sponsored post every once in awhile is absolutely nothing to bitch about. Her blog=her way.

  35. Sparrow*

    I found this post informative! I have three cats and they get canned food twice a day. Like others, I use the Wellness brand, but it does get expensive. I did not know Sheba was grain free, so it’s good to know there is another option that I can pick up at my local grocery store.

  36. Mission Accomplished*

    SHEBA’s marketing team must be thrilled – everyone is talking about their product.
    I say Alison, do what you gotta do. No harm, no foul.
    Am grateful for your very helpful and insightful daily blog.

  37. Lucy*

    I will say – AAM is one of the least obnoxious when it comes to ad placement and sponsored posts. There were a few times where an ad popped up right in the reading space and would not go away… I emailed her a screenshot and she was responsive and took care of it.

    She doesn’t want to ruin our reading experience, guys. But if you’re unhappy, form a line to receive your refund.

  38. Ask a Manager* Post author

    It’s been interesting watching these comments today. I really appreciate the support from so many of you — thank you!

    For people who are less delighted, maybe it’s useful to realize that if this site was purely a hobby for me, I’d do 3-4 posts a week, like I did in the early years. The fact that there are now multiple posts a day (4 per weekday, generally) is directed connected to the fact that there are ads in the righthand column of the site and occasional sponsored posts; that’s what allows me to maintain this frequency of content. I am paid for doing this blog partly in the fulfillment it brings me and partly in the revenue it raises; they’re both part of what makes the site possible.

    So far, the sponsored posts have been less than once a month; I may try to increase them to monthly in the future. They may or may not be related to our main content here, because that is the nature of many sponsorships. However, I have turned down and will continue to turn down sponsorships where I can’t truly stand by the product.

    Sponsored posts will always be clearly labeled, and — like everything else on this site — they will always be optional to read.

    I am working from the assumption that people will simply scroll past anything that doesn’t interest them, particularly if you’re only asked to do that one time per month — which is one out of every 90+ posts here, roughly.

    Regardless of where you stand on this, I’m glad you read the site.

  39. Digophelia*

    I see people complaining about this, but it is clearly labeled that it is a sponsored post, therefore it is up to you whether or not you read the post. I think she does a wonderful job of giving advice, which is free, if there happens to be a few sponsored posts, so be it, don’t read those.

    I found this post helpful; I have cats and their health is important to me, so hearing reviews about healthy/good cat food appeals to me as a reader.

  40. Another Sara*

    I just wanted to add my voice to the many commenters that think a) Alison is awesome, and b) I think it’s amazing that you can support so much wonderful content with so FEW sponsored posts. It’s such a great, non-invasive alternative to banner adds.

    Furthermore, this post is just as relevant to my life as the job-related posts! I’ve been interested in finding low-grain or grain-free food for my kittehs, but every time I go to the store I am completely overwhelmed by the options. It’s tremendously useful to have a recommendation from someone whose judgment I rely on in other areas.

    So, thank you for keeping me sane at work for so many years, and now for giving me cat-related suggestions too!

  41. nyxalinth*

    My cat won’t eat the good stuff, she likes Friskies, in a pouch. Not the canned, no way! I might try her on a bit of Sheba. Only one grocer in town carries the Friskies in the pouch, believe it or not, so if she’ll also eat Sheba it would be great. at least so far as dry food goes she is much more open to other stuff, so I make sure to give her stuff like Blue Buffalo and Iams.

  42. As a professional marketer*

    …I’ll offer only that advertorial promotions (which is what the cat food blogpost was) are an iffy tactic. I’ve purchased a few advertorials on behalf of prior employers and concluded that authentic content is a better value. However, they may work for Alison and her sponsor. It depends on their business goals.

    Those who argue that the blogger “deserves” to make money are missing the point; the question is whether the blog owner deserves the audience she’s targeting, and whether that’s the right audience for the sponsor. One user’s view (so take it for what it’s worth): much of the value of advice columns is in the comments, so if the ones in a management-oriented blog are of the fangirl and “I just love kittehs!” variety, I’m going to lose interest in a hurry.

    That said, I’m probably not the sponsor’s target audience, and it’s the sponsor who’ll have the last word. I’m a blogger myself, but the purpose of my blog is to promote my professional services, so I can’t even think of third-party ads—they’d destroy my credibility. I’d be interested to see how it works for an ad-driven site though. It’s worth testing to see what the results are.

  43. teclatwig*

    Hm. Well, I tend to skip over any posts that are just teasers for articles posted elsewhere (I am an advice column gourmand; the Intuit, etc. posts do not satisfy that craving), so seeing a sponsored post that is so CLEARLY marked (thank you, AAM) means I just skip over it too. No sweat.

    I will admit that I was initially surprised to hear that the sponsor was cat food, but it didn’t take much thinking to work out that this is because AAM’s kitties are characters on the blog, so to speak.

    All that said, I am desperate for a meat-only food that my kitties will eat. I have one cat who turns her nose up at everything but Friskies (and only a few flavors of that!). Now that I know Sheba is a meat-base alternative, I plan to buy one of each flavor next time I go shopping.

  44. Brigitte*

    I’m surprised by the responses here — namely how few voices there are saying they don’t like sponsored posts and how much they’re being silenced by other commenters.

    In a magazine, you wouldn’t see an advertorial like this authored by an editor or a columnist. There’s a separation of church and state between advertising departments and editorial.

    On the other hand, in radio, you often hear the host “reading a message from our sponsor.” But those hosts don’t actually write the messages.

    Why? Because it’s impossible to accept payment to produce an opinion and be unaffected by the fact you’re getting paid. I think that’s, in part, what people react to when they chafe at sponsored posts. According to studies on how payment influences behavior, the claim that you’ve sold space but it’s still simply your thoughts and opinions can’t be 100% true — and it opens the door ever so slightly to other unconscious concerns about integrity.

    The other reason people are wary of sponsored posts was also been touched on in the comments. Traditional media knows their editorial space is what retains readers’ trust. So inserting advertising into a space otherwise reserved for news or opinion takes a tiny chip away at readers’ trust and loyalty.

    Instead of comparing an ad during a tv show, it would be more accurate to reflect on how you’d feel if you read an advertorial in the op-ed section of a newspaper. A blog is like a column — it’s traditionally known as editorial space. Breaking that barrier is, in some small way, breaking a contract with the reader.

    It doesn’t have to stay that way (although many of us would like to increase the barriers between advertising and editorial not break them down) — but I hope this helps to explain why people react strongly to seeing sponsored posts.

    1. Mama P*

      Brigitte – I found your post thought provoking and think you make valid points in a general sense.

      However, AAM’s site isn’t a magazine and it’s not traditional media. We don’t pay to read it. I think that’s a critical difference here. Also, I constantly come across “Special Advertising Section” placements in magazines these days, that are designed to look like articles for the magazine, but are absolutely placements by a paid sponsor and you can tell right away.

      I’m not sure your radio distinction holds either. I have encountered many a radio disc jockey read a promotion for a product designed to sound as though they are just opining on the airwaves as part of their morning.

      Regardless, I think two points are relevant for me: (1) after six years of reading basically every AAM post, I think my sense of her and trust in her approach is pretty solid. My assessment is that she isn’t going to try to sell me cat food she doesn’t actually think is good. That said, if I’m skeptical, I can completely ignore the post. What’s relevant is that in her other posts *she’s not trying to sell me anything.* There is no loss of trust here because I’m not relying on trusting her integrity to make choices or purchases within my life otherwise. I simply enjoy reading her column because it’s educational.

      (2) The sheer volume of free, constant content, relative to the actual sponsored content is so massive that I find it surprising people would make an issue of these posts. As she herself pointed out, the volume of content (and high quality content, I might add – she isn’t recycling here) would not be possible without some sort of revenue model. I’ve seen many, many monetized blog sites and I think she’s chosen pretty unobtrusive ways to go about hers. So to me, the relevant comparisons are to other monetized blogs and I think she’s chosen a relatively low-annoyance route.

      1. Anonymous*

        Mama P said: “I’m not sure your radio distinction holds either. I have encountered many a radio disc jockey read a promotion for a product designed to sound as though they are just opining on the airwaves as part of their morning.”

        Yes, the radio show hosts on Sirius XM do this all the time. I constantly hear Dr. Laura and others do ads during their shows for products based on what they say are their own personal opinions.

        1. TBoT*

          Podcast hosts do this, too. And YouTubers.

          My experience in publishing also doesn’t match up to a lot of what Brigitte is saying. Often, the same staff and freelance writers who write content for a magazine also write the advertorial material as well. Their byline just isn’t on it. That’s a lot shadier than a blogger disclosing everything from the get-go and putting her name to the sponsored post she writes.

          Magazines themselves, especially the entire “lifestyle” space, are also basically designed to create an environment that supports the ads. The copy compliments the ad placements. If you go out and pick up a magazine about fitness, food, fashion, anything like that, the articles are right in line with the ads being offered. That is also a lot more nefarious than a blogger who has established a reputation of her own voluntarily disclosing exactly what she is doing with a sponsored post, and deciding for herself where she is going to lend her reputation when she writes sponsored posts.

          On the church/state divide: A magazine has a staff of people. The editorial people and the ad people are separate departments with multiple human beings in the different roles. Bloggers are mostly flying solo and have to wear every hat for their blog. It’s just not reasonable to expect that a blogger who has any sort of advertising on her blog is going to be able to make that happen without ever interacting with an advertiser in any way, unless she limits herself to (much less lucrative) Google ads and the like. Blogs cannot, and do not, have the same advertising/editorial separation that a large-scale publication would. (And to repeat something I said earlier: An advice blogger is not the same thing as a news journalist or an investigative reporter.)

          In the context of a blog, Alison has done the exact right thing. She chose to do a sponsored post for a product she is willing to stand by. She disclosed the sponsorship. She wrote her own opinions in the post. Then she disclosed again. The people who are making the mistake here are the ones who seem to think that they are entitled to getting whatever content they want on the web, whenever they want it, without ever having to see advertising.

          1. Brigitte*

            To act like advertising is the only (and most lucrative) way a blogger can be compensated is misleading.

            Speaking gigs, book deals, consulting. That’s how a blogger of this caliber is supported — and it’s all a direct result of the traffic and trust s/he’s been able to earn.

            1. TBoT*

              I said nothing to suggest that advertising is the only or the most lucrative way a blogger can be compensated. I object to your implication that I’m being misleading.

              Speaking gigs, book deals and consulting are generally much more time and labor-intensive than putting ads on a site or writing an occasional sponsored post. There’s return on investment consider, and the question of what a blogger actually wants to spend time and effort doing.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yes. I have no interest in speaking gigs, I’ve already written a book (and it’s less lucrative than ads and sponsored posts, believe me), and I do consulting as my job, separate from the site.

                This is the model I’ve chosen. It works for me and for many other high-traffic bloggers. I continue to think it’s reasonable, as it’s quite easy to simply not read a post if it’s not of interest to you.

                1. TBoT*

                  I think it’s an awesome model. (And I empathize. Part of my job involves sponsorships, and no matter how we do it, people complain and accuse us of all kinds of wrongdoing, even though the ads are clearly marked as ads and have no influence on or relation to the rest of the content.)

    2. Spiny*

      That’s not true. Nearly every magazine has a section of products, websites, experiences etc that they recommend as fun, solving the problem of dry skin, that type of content. The publications are sent free products at the least to try (thus being influenced as you’ve outlined) and at most are paid to write about it.

      1. Natalie*

        Indeed. Part of the reason I love my favorite cooking magazine is that they don’t have advertising and when they review someone because they’ve been sent a free one, they’re very upfront about that. It lets them be as vicious as needed when reviewing a bad product.

  45. Eden*

    I’m purrfectly content to read as many sponsored posts as you need. The fact that this one is about a food I actually feed my cat is a bonus!

    It’s important for me to keep in mind that the scary hiring managers I’m sending off my doomed applications to are also humans. And frankly, I enjoy reading about other people’s cats.

    1. Jen in RO*

      Thanks for the link! This might be too much work for me, but I’ll have a read, maybe it’s easier than I thought. (For the record, my boyfriend cooks – I’d live on Chinese food otherwise, cooking bores me to death.)

    2. KayDay*

      One thing to be cautious of with homemade pet food (and this isn’t necessarily aimed at you, Lora, it’s aimed at anyone thinking about making pet food for the first time):

      It’s really, really important that you either do it right or stick to the pre-made stuff. In the “wild” cats would eat whole animals (brains, heart, liver, stomaches, bones)–since chipmunk brains are not easy to find commercially, the nutrients cats get from these parts (e.g. calcium from bones, fiber from the stomach contents of herbivores) absolutely MUST be added through supplements/extra ingredients. There are also some homemade-like frozen cat food that are available on line, but they are really expensive.

  46. Elkay*

    I want to point my vet at this post who suggested I feed my cats separately to stop the fat one eating the skinny one’s food. We laughed all the way home about that one. I want a video of the bowl rotations.

  47. Andro Selvin*

    I’m fine with this post. Everyone has bills to pay. She clearly labeled this, at both the beginning and end, as a sponsered post, giving the reader an opportunity to just skip it.

    As long as these types of posts remained a small percentage of the total posts, I’d be fine with it.

  48. Spiny*

    I appreciate that you have found a way to post more content as well as have the time to comment on posts- the comments are what elevate this blog.

    It doesn’t matter if it isn’t related to the theme- a clearly marked advertisement about a potential purchase that would require little money and an easy gauge of success is better than one about, for instance, a management seminar that is “on topic” but requires an investment of money and time and unclear return value.

    Cat food is small stakes. As long as AskaManager doesn’t get sponsored by Kia I think we’re good.

  49. Beth Anne*

    My cats LoVE Sheba cat food although they aren’t too picky lol plus there are always coupons n sales on Sheba cat food which helps me save money :)

  50. KayDay*

    How did I miss this earlier?? Best topic for a sponsored post ever.

    (and in general, I’m all for (occasional, clearly labeled) sponsored posts to keep the blog going, and the cats fed.)

  51. Susan*

    I used to feed my cat regular old 9Lives or something like that in a can. But then I got a roommate who started feeding them Sheba and the brats then turned their nose up at everything else. Yes, it’s a great cat food. Your cats won’t like anything else though. Try it at your own risk.

  52. Mel*

    Our one cat is kept happy with his toy mice, the other with her mom snuggle time each day. She DEMANDs it :)

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