Food bloggers get a lot of hate for not "just posting the recipe" and instead writing long stories with lots of photos in the body of their posts. Oh and the ads! The ads are the worst right?
We've all seen the memes about food bloggers.
And while I'm not disputing that they're funny, they are also disheartening for food bloggers like me. So I want you to understand why we write posts the way we do.
Other bloggers have written similar posts but none of them cover everything I wanted to say in the tone I want to say it. For instance, here's a funny satirical post that's a little aggressive but spot on.
So here are some things we'd love for you to keep in mind when you complain about how we write recipe posts.
1. You get to read our recipes for free.
While it is free for you to read our recipes, it is not free for us to write them. In 2020 I spent over $25,000 running Barley & Sage and many bloggers spend much more! Some of the many cost involved in running a food blog include:
- Small business fees -- If you didn't know, most food blogs are actually small businesses. This blog is officially run by Barley & Sage LLC and I have to pay yearly fees to be a business and also these fun things called taxes.
- Web hosting fees -- I have to pay yearly for my domain name, web hosting, branded email address, etc.
- Blog theme and plugin fees -- Unless you are a web designer by training, if you want a professional looking site that is functional and runs well then you'll have to pay for a theme and different plugins. I spend almost $1000 a year just on my theme and plugins.
- Cost of ingredients -- For most recipes, I have to test them multiple times before they are ready to be posted. Since I develop recipes from scratch, there is often some trial and error when making sure everything turns out perfectly. You don't want to see our grocery bill for two people. You just don't.
- Cost of camera gear and photography editing software -- Nice DSLR cameras, lenses, external hard-drive's, tripods, lighting equipment, etc are expensive as hell. And then there's also the monthly subscription to Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop that are pretty necessary.
- Education -- I love cooking and baking but when I started this blog I knew nothing about blogging or photography. So I invested in different online courses to help myself stand out from the crowd. The most expensive thing I've invested in this business is Advanced Foodtography School which comes with a hefty price-tag. But it's also the reason my photography has gotten so much better and has led to more business opportunities.
- Props and kitchen equipment -- Just ask Kyle how many thousands of dollars I've spent on props to make my photos look amazing. I try not to think about it honestly.
TLDR; it's extremely expensive to run a food blog and constantly create content that we then put out into the world for readers to consume for free.
2. We monetize our blogs through ads and affiliate marketing.
Since food blogs are so expensive to run, we have to make money somehow or else we couldn't afford to keep creating content. The two main ways bloggers make money is through running ads on our blogs and using affiliate marketing.
- Running ads -- Honestly, I also hate the way ads make my site look. It looks so much cleaner and prettier without them. But unfortunately ads are a necessary evil in the online world. But what you might not know is how little ads pay us. It takes thousands of individual page views for me to make $1 off of ads. So longer posts equal more space for ads which equals a few more hard earned cents.
- Affiliate marketing -- If you don't know, affiliate marketing is where we provide a link to a product and if you purchase that product via our link, we get a small commission (at absolutely no cost to you). Everyone approaches this differently so I can only tell you what I do. I'm an Amazon affiliate, so in most posts I link to different products in the body of the post. I personally only link to products that I actually use because it's important to me to maintain the integrity of my blog and never recommend something just to make a buck (lol it's actually pennies).
3. We have to write posts with Google SEO recommendations in mind.
This is probably the most important reason that blog posts are so long and I really hope it helps clear up any confusion.
There’s a joke that goes something like, “Where’s the best place to hide a body? On the second page of a Google search.” That’s because like it or not, Google has a monopoly on what people see.
So despite what you may think, there are actually a lot of blogs that "just post the recipe." But you don't see them because they're buried on the 10th page of Google.
Google uses SEO (search engine optimization) which is an algorithm to rank how useful content is and how well it answers the question people are asking. So if you search for "sourdough donuts" Google will decide what posts meet that search criteria best and if you do a good job, you'll end up on the first page of Google results (the holy grail). Google does this a few ways:
- Keywords -- Keywords are the main way that Google can determine what your post is about. So if my post is about sourdough donuts, I'm going to talk about sourdough donuts, sourdough starter, tools for cutting donuts, how to deep fry donuts, how to make homemade donuts, etc because that's the only way I'm going to rank on Google. And if I don't rank on Google, no one will ever find my recipes so then what's the point?
- How long someone stays on your site -- The longer someone stays on your site, the better Google thinks you answered the question. So longer posts and more scrolling equals more time. The current SEO recommendations say you should have at least 300 words of text (but more is better).
So long story short: long posts full of relevant keywords is how we get our recipes to rank on Google so that you can actually find them.
4. Not everyone has the same set of cooking/baking skills.
I consider myself a very experienced cook, but plenty of people are not. Most of the time, my main recipe card is just the bare bones, what you need to know to make the recipe. So if you're an experienced cook or baker, you'll have no trouble following along. But not everyone has the same level of experience in the kitchen, so the bulk of my blog post text is usually filled with tips and tricks, process shots, a deep dive on specific techniques, or product recommendations so that anyone can feel confident making the recipe.
For example, my homemade sourdough bread post is almost 3000 words. But there is literally NO "story" at all. The whole post is just an extremely detailed step by step guide on everything you could ever possibly want to know about sourdough bread. I poured my heart and soul into that post because I have so much knowledge and love of sourdough to share and I want anyone to be able to confidently bake sourdough.
5. We're creatives and we're proud of our work.
I can't speak for all, but most blogs start as hobbies. We blog because it's our creative outlet and we love it. But as I stated above, running a blog is expensive which is why most of us move to monetize our blogs. But at its core, this blog is a labor of love and passion and artistic expression. I love to cook, I love to write, and I love to take photos of food.
While I do everything I can to keep my readers in mind and create content that you want to see, this is still MY blog. If I don't create content that I love, then the reality is it's not going to be very good. So when I create content I love I want to show it off. I work my butt off to take gorgeous food photos, so I'll be damned if I don't include all of them (sorry not sorry). And as I said already, with more complex recipes I try to incorporate process shots to help explain different steps.
But what if you really don’t want to scroll for a recipe?
Hey, I get it. I really do. I used to have this same complaint before I started blogging. So here's what you can do:
- Jump to recipe -- Most blogs (but unfortunately not all) do have a handy little "jump to recipe" button at the top of every post so that you don't have to scroll. Sometimes it's subtle (like mine) but you can always just always look right above the first sentence in a post.
- Buy a cookbook -- Remember the days back before food blogs when people had to actually buy cookbooks? If you really hate the way we write blog posts, I'd encourage you to just invest in some cookbooks from cooks/bakers you love. It's a really great way to support their work and then you don't have to scroll through stories and ads.
- Find a different site -- If you want to exclusively use blogs that only post the recipe, no one is stopping you (except maybe google since those sites are harder to find). However, I'd really love if you continue to use my site despite the post text and ads.
- Just scroll -- I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but it's really not that hard to just scroll to the bottom of the page. 🙂
Please just be kind.
Sometimes on the internet, it’s easy to forget that there’s a person on the other side of the screen. There is someone who has spent countless hours creating content for you to enjoy. Someone who has given up their weekends, their free time, and a piece of their sanity to turn their passion into a business.
I know that this post doesn't make the situation less annoying and I'm sorry about that. But I hope you remember that I am a small one-woman business just trying to make a living doing what I love.
I love to discuss things like this, so please feel free to leave a comment with questions or email me directly at [email protected] (please note that comments that do not contribute to a productive conversation and are just bullying will be deleted).
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