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 full-time 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.
- 2. We monetize our blogs through ads and affiliate marketing.
- 3. We have to write posts with Google SEO recommendations in mind.
- 4. We are NOT posting our "whole life story" in every post.
- 5. Not everyone has the same set of cooking/baking skills.
- 6. We're creatives and we're proud of our work.
- 7. You are not entitled to our recipes.
- But what if you really don’t want to scroll for a recipe?
- Please just be kind.
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.
Let me say that again. You get access to our recipes for FREE but it is not free for us to produce them.
Since it's not free to produce recipes, most bloggers are actually small businesses and many even have employees!
For example, 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. We have to pay yearly fees to be a business and also these fun things called taxes. Also since I'm a small business, I have to pay for my own health insurance and retirement.
- 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, plugins, and website maintenance.
- 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.
There are so many other expenses that I can't even list here. But the point is, there's a lot more that goes into blogging that just slapping a recipe up online.
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. You might roll your eyes at the idea that we deserve to be paid for our labor, but it's cost prohibitive to not monetize. Meaning there would be almost no food blogs if it was solely done by hobbyists.
The two main ways bloggers make money is through running ads on our blogs and using affiliate marketing.
Listen, I understand that ads can be annoying. I wish I could afford to not run ads on my blog. But they are the best way for me to earn money while providing my recipes to you for free!
What most people don't know is how little ads actually pay. It takes THOUSANDS of individual page views to make a single $1 in ad revenue. So the reality is, longer posts equal more space for ads. But most bloggers don't write long posts just for the sake of making them long. We try to provide helpful information and photos that the ads can be dispersed between.
Also most professional bloggers, like myself, only work with reputable ad companies. That means our ad providers work hard to limit anything spammy or scammy. Occasionally something slips through the cracks, but I try to make sure you'll never be served spam while on my website.
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). But if you don't want to purchase items through affiliate links....then don't. No one is forcing you to.
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. Or they're from a massive corporation that can pay to be at the top, not individual small bloggers.
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 "black forest cupcakes" 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 black forest cupcakes, I'm going to talk about what is black forest cake, the special ingredients you need for black forest cupcakes, my tips for how to decorate cupcakes, how to measure flour so that your cupcakes aren't dry, 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 often 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. We are NOT posting our "whole life story" in every post.
There's this old, tired misconception that all the text in a recipe post is some long pointless life story. But that is just simply not true. As I stated above, the majority of the long text you see on food blogs are relevant tips and tricks for making the recipe.
Now back in 2015 when blogging was relatively new? Yes there were a lot of life stories in food blogs which is where the joke originated. However, if you're reading a recent, up-to-date blog, that's just not the case.
For example, in my recipes the first paragraph is always just describing the actual recipe so that I can use some main keywords. Then if it's a recipe that has significance to me (like my chocolate crinkles that we made every Christmas when I was growing up), I might write 1-2 sentences about what makes it special to me. But THAT'S IT! So if 2 sentences at the beginning of the post are triggering to you....I'm truly sorry but I'm a human, not a robot.
5. 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. And if that's the case, you can use the "jump to recipe" button at the top of the page and skip past all the text and ads.
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 macaron recipe posts are often over 2000 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 making macarons. I poured my heart and soul into those posts because I have so much knowledge to share and I want anyone to be able to confidently bake them!
6. 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 eventually 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).
7. You are not entitled to our recipes.
Honestly the entire point of this post is to underscore the fact that you are not entitled to our recipes. So whining and complaining about how food bloggers don't "just post the recipe" is endlessly frustrating for us because at the end of the day, food bloggers do not owe you an easily accessible recipe.
This might sound harsh and you might disagree. But you are not entitled to my knowledge and expertise that took YEARS for me to acquire. You are not entitled to the recipes that I spent HOURS testing and perfecting.
I willingly provide these recipes to the public for free because I love doing it, but I'm allowed to want to earn money for my labor. I have no obligation to provide you with my hard earned knowledge at my own detriment.
But in the same way that you are not entitled to my recipes, I am not entitled to your views on my website. So if you don't want to view my website and support my work, I completely understand and you're welcome to search elsewhere.
I would encourage you to think of food blogs as an equal exchange. We are providing you with free recipes that we have worked incredibly hard on to make sure they will be successful for you. In exchange, we write our posts in a way that we can hopefully earn a few cents from the time you spend reading that free recipe. If you don't want to participate in that exchange, that's fine!!! Just please stop complaining about it and demanding our labor without being willing to offer us anything in return.
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 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 text 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).
- Go to culinary school -- If you really don't want to support professional bloggers or chefs, you're welcome to go educate yourself so that you don't need to rely on other people for recipes.
- 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).
Efrain Castellonese says
I just finished going through your article and I have to say, it was an undivided delight. Your writing style is engaging and illustrative, making me feel like I was right there with you on your experience. The picture you included were also stunning and really added to the overall quest. good-luck
I've definitely been guilty of complaining about this exact issue! I appreciate your article. I didn't really understand the need for a long post to a recipe. Now I get it. I am also a business owner and understand the cost to run a business. It all makes sense. One thing to mention... if you watch a cooking show you also get all of the same dialog, you're just reading it.
Kyleigh Sage says
That’s a great point about cooking shows!! It’s definitely less fun to read it, but it’s very similar info!
Hannah Joy says
Wow, thank you so much for clearing this up for me! I admit (very regretfully, now that I've read your article) that I have often liked, shared, and reposted memes like the one you showed above. Like many people who enjoy baking, I jokingly vented about the annoyance. I certainly won't be doing this any longer!
I also enjoy writing. I pour my heart and soul into it because it is my passion. After reading this article, I have gained an understanding of something that I had previously brushed off, something that is someone else's passion. Thank you for kindly showing me another perspective.
I love your recipes, keep doing what you love!
P.S. if I refresh the page dozens of times, will that get you more views per page? Just a thought.
All is true and on point 100%
Thank for sharing this with the world!
THANK YOU for saying everything I’ve had in my head as a food blogger these last few years. This post is perfect! You’re amazing - keep up the good work!
Hit the nail on the head here... I really enjoy reading the stories.
I need someone to explain things to me properly so I can understand what Im actually doing!
Completely agree with your post. I love it because I'm starting mine and it takes me a long time to put it together, think about what to write and more time to cook and take pictures. I particularly love reading long posts, they give me an air of a story. I really like your blog and the information you give in it. Those of us who are starting out serve a lot. Thank you!!
Absolutely loved this!! It resonates with me on so many levels. I love reading stories, even the long winded ones, ?. It helps me connect with the blogger. I do find the blogs that have an ad like every two inches very aggravating and I usually just click out. Maybe it's different on a computer, but 99% of the time I'm in my phone browsing. Great blog post,very well written!
Anthea @ Rainbow Nourishments says
THIS POST!! THANK YOU!
I love ❤️ what you do, didn’t know how involved it was, but glad you’re doing it????. Love your recipes ???
I loved this article! I was just speaking to another fellow blogger about this on Friday! Well said!
These are so helpful and important! This is by far the best post I’ve seen that spells out the exact reasons for stories and details (which I find extremely interesting btw). Thank you!!
Michelle | Sift & Simmer says
Absolutely on point, Kyleigh! It takes so much work just to put up a post, and I agree -- for experienced bakers/cooks, I'm used to just writing down my recipe in point form. But, when I get requests to post the recipe online, I have to remind myself that a lot of my readers don't have as much experience in the kitchen, which means that I need to detail every step. (Sometimes it comes back to haunt me, since something I would think is "common knowledge" gets repeatedly asked in the comments, forcing me to really break the recipe down to its bare bones).
Thank you Kyleigh! You’ve explained the issue so well. I’m going to bookmark this page so I can share it the next time I see someone posting one of those food blogger memes.
Thank you for clearly spelling out the whys for people that have no clue of the behind the scenes of a food blogger.
I kind of enjoy the stories to be honest... but I guess I'm odd.