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Why Food Blog’s Can’t Just “GIVE ME THE RECIPE”

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Dear Reader,

I’m writing this to you in response to a LOT of social media memes, reels, and angry, ugly comments I have seen lately and I just wanted to take a few minutes to clear some things up and explain the world of food blogging to you.

Have you ever wondered why food blogs can’t just give you the recipe like allrecipes.com and instead have to write a long amount of text? Have you ever seen those memes about annoying food blogs are and wondered why food blogs are the way they are?

Well, pull up a seat, because I’m about to answer ALL your questions!

woman sitting at table with laptop and cookbooks and holding  a mug of coffee

Why food blogs write the way they do.

One of my main reasons why food blogs are written the way they are is because of SEO and Google. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and its basically how we tell Google what our sites and posts are about and helps Google to decide what content it should show in search results, and what order that content should appear in.

Basically, Google is the King and food blogs are the lowly peons just trying to appease it. EVERYTHING we do revolves around how Google shows our content.

In the past….

About 10 years ago, when blogs were rather new and just staring out, they were mostly journalistic style and becoming a thing after MySpace and TypePad, they were very much story based. And Google really wanted to see the length of text that you added – they thought the more you wrote, the better the post was, and so that is what they showed in search results.

Back then, no one cared about traffic, the thought of making money from your site was non-existent. Blogs were about community and story telling. The recipe was secondary. People visited your site to know you, to know your story, to see what you were up to, and would leave comments all the time. It felt like you were friends with everyone.

But now…

In the last few years, Google (and blogs) have really moved away from this and the entire world of blogging has changed. Blogs are now careers for people, and the sense of community is entirely different. It is now less about the community and the narrative and now more about how we, as bloggers, are “authorities” on a specific topic. Gone are the days when you posted anything and everything you wanted because it was your online journal. Now each blog has a specific niche and a specific audience and a “thing” we are known for.

Google is now prioritizing “helpful content” – which is really better for you because NOW everything we write in a blog post is meant to help you succeed in making the recipes. We include information on substitutions, tips and tricks, alternative directions, etc. so that you can re-create the recipe we created for you.

Google doesn’t tell us specifically how it chooses what to show in what order for search results, but Google DOES give us specific guidelines to follow. So just like you have guidelines that you need to follow at your job, so do we.

And just like in your career, there are people who are better at it than others. Some people are just starting out and some have been doing it for years. Some people are privileged with disposable income and some are hoping to one day quit their job so they can work on their site full time. Some people can work on their site for 60 hours a week and some can only sneak a few hours a week to it.

But you can tell when a food blogger is doing this because they love it and they care and they want to share their recipes with you and your family and make an impact on your life. We aren’t doing it for the money (I mean, YES we want to get paid for our work, but we didn’t start this as a way to get rich quick).

Note: We WANT you to be successful at making a recipe. We WANT you to like what you cook. We WANT you to come back and leave a 5 star review. We WANT you to like our site so much that you recommend it to friends and help support us. Everything we do is to help you enjoy our site and recipes to the best of our ability so you will come back.

But what about posts that are still filled with stories?

I know that I just said that we don’t write these story based posts anymore, but you can still find them out in the world. There are three reasons why you might run into them:

  1. Once you earn the coveted first 3 spots in a search result, you don’t want to touch a post and update it, or Google could randomly decide that your post is no longer the best one. Even if you update it to remove the rambly story about your grandma and input helpful information. So because these top posts bring in about 80% of our income, we leave them be until Google drops them on their own. Out of the posts that we write, only 20% of them bring in about 80% of our traffic, so if we loose a search result ranking, this can make a big impact on our income.
  2. The post just might not have been updated yet. Look, the big older sites that have been around for a while have A LOT of posts. I have over 600 recipes at the time of writing this. I have been going through them and updating them, and deleting some terrible ones, but even that has taken several years and I have more to do. It’s a constant balance between updating old content and creating new content (which Google wants to see you are adding new content consistently – again, Google is King to everything we do).
  3. The person might not want to. Maybe they really enjoy writing stories, maybe their site purpose is different. Maybe they are creating it as a keepsake for their family members. At the end of the day, it’s not our decision how someone else runs their business. Can you imagine how it would feel like if I walked into your place of work and went “Man, I hate this, it would be so much better if you did it this way instead!” Omg that gave my anxiety just trying that, LOL! I would never!

So why do we do all of this to appease Google so it will show us in search results? And why do we want you to come back?

Because that is how we get paid. Because when you scroll through our site, you get served ads, and those ads are how we make our income.

Why do I need ads?

This site is my business. It is my job. I love it, but just like you, I don’t work for free.

I do give you access to my recipes for free, but it isn’t free for me to run this site. Every month I have expenses.

  • I pay for the groceries I use to test and create every recipe, and for photos and videos.
  • I have to pay for my website domain and hosting and all the “pretty” parts of my site – I spend between $2,000-$3,000 every year on maintaining and running my website. That includes things like the jump to recipe button, my recipe card, nutrition information, how fast my website loads, stuff like that. All of that are paid tools to make using your user experience better. So if you see a site that doesn’t have these features, it’s probably because they can’t afford to purchase them.
  • I use quite a lot of websites and tools to help me run this site – including a project management tool that helps me keep track of tasks for all 600 of my posts, my email services, the PO Box the government makes me rent in order to send emails to you, photo and video editing tools, and services to help schedule content to social media. I spend about $2,000-$3,000 a year on this.
  • I have four women that work for me to help me run this website. It’s a group effort and I would not be able to do it without them. This is my full time job, and I still don’t have time to do everything that goes into running a website. They help me do all the things that I can’t get to in a day – including helping me with Facebook, Pinterest, my email newsletters, and more. They all work full time jobs but help me on the side and I love that I can help support their families this way. I spend around $7,000-$8,000 a year on this.
  • This doesn’t include anything extra I want to spend on like courses and education, conferences, if I want to buy new backdrops or props for photos, photography and video equipment upgrades or replacements, etc. This varies each year depending on my goals for that year.
  • Taxes. I save 35% of all my income for taxes.
  • My own paycheck. This is my job, and how I make my money to help support my family. Supporting a food blogger having ads on their site is no different than supporting your friend who has an Etsy shop, sells Pampered Chef, or runs her own photography business. I pay myself 30% of my generated revenue, and everything else goes back into running this site.

My revenue breakdown ends up looking like this:

  • 25% expenses
  • 35% taxes
  • 30% paycheck
  • 10% savings for unexpected expenses like a course I want to take or if I drop my camera and have to replace it.

Running a website is expensive. It is a part of running a business and that is expected, but these things need paid for because they make my website a better experience for you.

Ok, soooo how does a food blog make money?

I’m so glad you asked! Each blog is different and has a different business plan based on what they want to do and what is right for their site. Just like any small business, our income fluctuates from year to year, and even season to season.

Personally, my business plan has several diversified income generating routes – ads, products, affiliate income, sponsored work, and freelance work.


Did you know that you have to qualify for ads? Before you can start to work with an ad management company you have to meet their requirements, which rely heavily on pageviews. So until you are getting a certain amount of traffic every month consistently, you don’t qualify.

So all those thing I mentioned above that I pay for every month? If you aren’t making any money on your site you have to pay for those out of your pocket until you have enough consistent traffic to get ads. (Wanna know what that threshold is? It is 50,000 visits to your site every month. It takes most blogs YEARS to get to that level.)

Ads make up the vast majority of my income every month. Every site has a different set of guidelines for how many ads they display and where. And guess what – the more annoying the ads are, the more they pay out. We try really hard to balance the ads so that they are not intrusive, but its definitely one of those fine lines we balance.

*NOTE: Google ALSO knows that ads are annoying and penalizes sites that have too many, or the ones that make your screen jump all around. But sometimes our ad agencies sneak stuff in because the more we get paid, the more they get paid. We are constantly adjusting our ads, and if you ever see ones that are obviously not where they should be, please just send us a nice note so we can fix it.

Do we control the ads?

Ads are placed by our ad management companies. We don’t say where each one goes and individually put each one in each spot. We can select a different “density setting” we want it to show and can select or de-select specific TYPES of ads, but the companies use tools to place them. We also are not in control of what ads you specifically see – those are generated based on your personal internet usage.


One of my goals is to have a fun selection of books and activities to help families explore the world of food together. I have already created several and have tons of plans to create even more.

These all take a lot of time to create. Not only do I have to create the material, test the material, but then design it, product it, market it… It takes a LOT of effort and hours. I also do in person cooking camps several times a year with. I come up with a plan each year for what I want to focus on because I have to balance this time with creating new recipes and updating older recipes.

Affiliate Income

Affiliate income is neat because it is an easy way to create a win-win solution for everyone. I recommend a specific product that I know and love already and use a special link to it on my website. Then when you click on that link and make a purchase, it doesn’t cost you anything but it gives me a small kickback. And I mean, small. Like 3% of the purchase of any qualifying items. (In all transparency, affiliate income is a super tiny fraction of my income – I usually make like $10 a month on it.

Sponsored content is another way that I make income on my site. A brand can pay me to use their ingredient or tool to create recipes and then I highlight that item in my photos and social media posts. I use this very sparingly and only for brands that I really value because I want you to trust that what I am marketing is a great product. I only do a few of these a year.

Freelance Work

In addition to sponsored work, another way that I work with brands is through freelance recipe development and food photography. The recipes and photography you see on brand packaging, websites, and social media are all items that I can and have produced.

But like I said before, about 90% of my income comes from ads every month. The ads are the best way that I can consistently get paid for the work that I do in creating recipe posts for you. Selling my own products is the next biggest income generator for me.

What goes into creating a recipe post

When you visit a website and check out their recipe post, you might give it a quick scroll and not think much about what it took to create. You are only thinking about dinner, you just want the recipe, I know, but so much work goes into every single recipe that I publish.

Here’s what it takes for me to create a typical recipe post:

  • Research – I first do a fair amount of research to make sure my recipe idea is a good fit for this site and the people who will make it. I also use a special tool to help me see what the search volume for that idea is so I can make sure its an idea others will want to make. This usually takes me 1 hour.
  • Developing and Testing – I develop all my recipes from scratch and test them between 2 to 3 times each (and sometimes more!) to make sure they work and that I get the result that I want.
  • Photography and Videography – When the recipe is finally ready, I cook it one addition time. This takes 2 to 3 hours to complete because I am taking step by step photos and videos the entire time.
  • Editing – Then those photos and videos need to be editing for lighting exposure and color corrected, resizing and compressing the images so they load correctly on the website when you view it, graphics for Pinterest made, and videos created. This takes me about 2-3 hours as well.
  • Writing and editing the post – Writing the post includes typing out the instructions, recommendations, tips and tricks, substitutions, all the information that I think someone should read in order to make this recipe successfully. This also includes linking to my own content that is relevant, other websites that are relevant, and then going back and interlinking this new post to older posts. (This is another thing that Google wants to see). This usually takes me 1 to 2 depending on the recipe.
  • Creating the post – It takes me about 1 hour to input everything into my website, add all the images and links, make sure the graphics have text for readers, and that everything looks good. This takes about 1 hour as well.
  • Marketing – Yeah, I’m not done the second that I push “publish”! Marketing is a HUGE part of running a website – and as soon as I hit publish I have to make sure that I either post or schedule this content to be promoted on Facebook, Google Web Stories, Pinterest, Instagram, You-Tube, TikTok, and Twitter. The experts say you should spend 80% of your time marketing the material that you create, and I definitely do not do that. That is where my VA’s come in and help me get all this done.

So in all, a single recipe post takes me at LEAST 13 hours from start to finish, and that doesn’t include the testing of the recipe or the marketing part or all the time I have to spend engaging and active on social media in a day.

Other ways I spend my time:

In addition to creating the recipes, running the website and making sure that it is as fast and easy to use as possible and up to date, I also spend a LOT of my time helping readers. Here are other ways that I spend my time daily:

  • I run two different Facebook groups and spend time answering questions and helping readers with their sourdough starters and feeding their kids. It takes a lot of time to respond to new member requests, moderate comments, and answer all the questions, etc. I probably spend an hour a day in my Facebook groups.
  • Emails. I get a lot of emails each week asking questions about various recipes, or how to meal plan, or if I have recommendations about specific things. This also includes going though all the junk mail that I get, fielding requests from brands that want to work with me, learning new things, etc.
  • Social media comments. The thing about all the social media channels is… they want you to use them. So in order for what I add to it to be shown to you, not only do you have to engage with it so the algorithm shows it to you, but I also have to be active on the channel. So every day I spend about 20 minutes scrolling, commenting, liking, sharing, etc. I also get comments and messages with questions daily that I go through and answer. So this is another hour of my day for all the social media networks because I am active on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.

So…. Yes.

I have ads on my site. Because I work hard at this job and I deserve to be paid.

Every food blogger does. Because at the end of the day, we are all doing the best we can with the time and money we have available to us, and we are trying to do our best to share recipes with you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are more answers to other questions I have seen…

Why can’t you post the recipe at the top of the post?

Several sites have tried this and found that it doesn’t really help anything. People are confused and still have a billion questions about the recipe but instead of scrolling down they just instantly start emailing with questions about the recipe. Also, this affects the “bounce rate” of our website. Google tracks how many people come to our site, the amount of time they spend on the site, and how quickly the click out (or “bounce out” to go to something else. So if you are on a site for 2 seconds vs 2 minutes, that affects how Google sees our content and how they show our content in search results, which again, affects how much money we make.

I like to just use the “Print Preview button”

I have seen several people say this on social media and I just want to say… Please don’t. I know it’s a quick way to get straight to the recipe BUT you are bypassing all the information we put into the post to help you make the recipe. AND it doesn’t load the ads, which means I don’t get paid.

So I should use the “jump to recipe” button?

The jump to recipe button is there for your use. But it doesn’t load my ads. So I don’t get paid. The BEST thing you could do that would be the most amazing and helpful to me is just wait 5 seconds to make sure the page loaded all the way and then scroll down to the recipe card so that the ads register someone viewed them.

Whats the best way to share a recipe?

The absolute BEST way to share a recipe is to copy the URL and send that to a friend.

A note about Pinterest

I have seen sooo many people say “I found this on Pinterest!” and I just want to take a second to address that. Because yes, Pinterest helped you find it. But Pinterest is a visual search engine that helps you things that interest you. But the actual content you find there is actually hosted on individual websites like this one. Just like you like to be called by your correct name, so do we! Because word of mouth is so important. If you wanted to recommend a book to your friend you wouldn’t say “I found this book on dragons at the bookstore!” You would say the name of the author so they can find it.

How can I support you more?

The absolute best ways to thank us for our work (besides just scrolling through our work) is easy and means so much to us!

  • Rate the recipes of ours you love. This is another thing that Google takes into consideration when showing results.
  • Leave us a comment.
  • Engage with us on social media! Now only does it make our days, but (guess what I am going to say here…..) Google keeps track of our social media channels and how engaged they are, so the more “conversations” we have the more Google thinks we are experts and the more they show our content.
  • Share our blogs with your friends and family. Word of mouth recommendations are gold for any small business!

Have a question I didn’t answer? Leave a comment below and I will add it!

One Comment

  1. This is so informative. Thank you for taking the time to explain the whole process. You work hard and are so good at what you do. Thanks for sharing your creativity with the world.

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