In Protection of Lengthy Meals Blogs
Search for a recipe online and you are sure to come across a long blog post that goes with it. In many cases, the only way to get to the recipe itself is to scroll through hundreds of words describing the dish, its method, or a tangential story. This path of greater resistance has encouraged many recipe readers to throw up their hands in frustration.
“Why are food blogs like this?” they want to know. “Why can’t you just give me the recipe ???”
The truth of food blogging is that it is a tremendous amount of work (for some a work of love, for others a sustainable form of work that seeks to repay dividends in the form of income, and for many – a combination of both). And this model of monetizing this work requires … well, words.
Just ask Erin Clarkson, author of the popular baking blog Cloudy Kitchen, which she started 5 years ago. Clarkson’s platform sees roughly 400,000 views per month, but its content isn’t as loose and free of fantasy as many might think. The creation of a single blog post can take several days.
There’s the misconception, says Clarkson, that she’s just “whipping out the cookie recipe and posting it on the internet.” In reality, the opposite is true. The recipe is “tested at least three or four times, and that’s before I make it for the last time.” The shoot itself takes a whole day. “And then you have to do all the research for the blog, write the actual blog post, and create headings with the right keywords.”
Clarkson noted that the keywords are part of what is causing the blogs to show up in Google in the first place. Without them – and without this additional working level orchestrated by the author – these recipes would not turn up in a search.
The same users who complain about long top notes (also known as descriptive text before a recipe) owe the same top notes for the existence of the recipe.
Longer blog posts, says Anne Murlowski, who started her Rocky Mountain Bliss blog in 2013 and receives around 30,000 views a month, “demonstrate expertise and the value your website brings to a reader.” however, compensation. “To get real income from just impressions on a blog, you need to get hundreds of thousands of views per month.” The presence of search engines, which depends on word length, is, according to Mulowski, “the only real way that people can do this.”
While many bloggers would like to deliver shorter posts that go directly to the recipe, Google is more likely to include posts of around 1,000 words, and those words make up the rest of the intense work – recipe development, photography, and even the research for the writing itself – possible. (That means none of the cost of getting the ingredients, a built-in expense when it comes to food blogs.)
If a post is longer, it has “more chances of ranking for related keywords,” says Rebecca Swanner, founder of Let’s Eat Cake, which generates over 100,000 views per month. Without visibility, these recipes can easily fall into a vacuum and never be seen or recreated by their intended audience. And for the blogger who created them, it means that the work that went into developing, testing, and photographing these recipes would not bring any financial return on that work.
Blog posts that are too short run the risk of readers leaving or bouncing off the post very quickly, says Monique Volz, founder and CEO of Ambitious Kitchen. Readers are “more likely to visit a blog when it has more content.”
According to Volz, whose blog welcomes millions of visitors each month, good blog posts are resources that help readers “be creative, fix potential problems, provide answers to frequently asked questions, and even include custom video content.”
That said, these recipe headnotes have a purpose. April Blake, author of the 10-year blog The April Blake, says bloggers “try to put useful information before the appropriate post. Sometimes these are substitution suggestions or a suggestion not to submit anything, ”or maybe, she says,“ it’s a tip that using a wok will give the best results. ”
Blog authors optimize recipes through design. If you’re cooking, you don’t want to read the “If this, then this” troubleshooting paragraphs. You want to clearly see what step you are on and what step is next. The information contained in the top note will therefore contribute to the execution of the recipe.
Bloggers want their readers to be successful. They want positive feedback on their recipes, and the only way to get good feedback is to write thorough, complete recipes with lots of tips that anticipate foreseeable pitfalls.
“Baking is a science,” says Erin Clarkson. “I will often go into a lot of details in the first part of the recipe.” Clarkson tries in her posts to “pack as much information as possible” to avoid confusion when it comes to the recipe itself. So try not to scroll past this valuable information as it can help you.
Of course, some food bloggers also use anecdotes in their work and tell stories related to their recipes. There’s a place for that, says Darien Gee, founder and recipe creator of the Friendship Bread Kitchen blog. Longer narratives, she says, “give readers a chance to get to know you, the person behind the recipes, and that relationship grows fans.”
This content, according to some bloggers, is an important tool in developing a cultural connection between writer and reader, a connection that reflects “their interests and values” and encourages people to return to the site, as Gee says. “Food is personal,” added Monique Volz. “It’s full of memories, nostalgia, and emotions, and I think sharing those things with a recipe is an incredible experience.”
When it comes to running a food blog, the workforce is plentiful. And readers benefit from this work by learning new techniques, new recipes, and new approaches to cooking that they may not otherwise have come across.
The relationship between blogger and reader – in a world where blog posts are long – is mutually beneficial: everyone gets what they need.
The natural evolution of complaints about blogs recently came to a head when a company called Recipeasly, which promised to streamline food blogs, got into trouble at launch, BBC News reported.
When one of the website’s creators, Tom Redman, tweeted, the website was designed to “contain your favorite recipes, except with no ads or life stories.” What Recipeasly actually did was delete the author (and the author’s work related to it) from the work.
This online explosion helps summarize the key argument why food blogs exist in the first place, and why they are as useful as they are. What may be considered impractical for one person is necessary for another person.
Furthermore, the work that goes into food blogs is really work. It’s a love work, but it’s still work, and the crescendo of complaints about that work resulted in Recipeasly at a tool that could easily cause financial and career harm to real people.
“Recipe bloggers don’t need someone to come in and take them and take them away from their work,” says Erin Clarkson. Clicking on a food blog is actually a choice. The writing, she says, is the “important piece of information about the recipe,” but when all the work of wading through someone else’s work is too much, there is actually a solution to it. “Invest in some cookbooks,” says Clarkson. “No scrolling or advertising there.”
Hannah Selinger is an IACP-nominated food, wine, travel, and lifestyle writer based in East Hampton, New York, where she lives with her husband, two sons, two dogs, and two turtles. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Eater, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The Cut, and others.