This is a follow up article for the how do I start a blog and make money online series that we have been publishing on this site to help users get started and create a successful blog.
This article is for those that like to “play” in the kitchen, for people that enjoy preparing meals and testing and trying new ingredients. There is a way to make money online with a recipe or food blog, and in this post I will provide a somewhat detailed overview of that process along with some relevant tips and tricks.
Documenting the process
First, you might want to commit to coming up with a recipe each day. You have to prepare meals every day anyway right? Fast food, delivery, and take out is primarily unhealthy and expensive. People want to learn ways to eat at home cheaply, conveniently and healthfully. Your “job” could be to share your approach. It could be fun and rewarding.
Perhaps you have a speciality that you can create a weekly recipe for, such as a flavored hummus recipe.
Now, it’s important to jot down the steps and the measurements for the recipes. For the enthusiastic, filming and taking photos of the process will bring you steps head of anyone else attempting the same.
Starting a recipe blog
The simplest approach is to get a domain name, some cheap shared hosting (both can be purchased from HostGator), and to install WordPress (which is free).
Then, your best bet would be to purchase a premium WordPress theme that leverages “Recipe semantic markup.”
To keep this article succint-ish, I will just say that recipe markup will enhance your recipes within search engine results, bringing in more traffic to your web site.
Monetizing your recipe web site
Now for the making money part. There are numerous ways that the web site can generate a revenue. I will go through the main ways here.
For each recipe that you publish you should link the ingredients, and equipment used, to their own pages on your site.
For example, create a separate page for a blender which reviews the blender that you use. Also, for each, or most of the ingredients, having their own page which details their health benefits, origins, or other interesting information is beneficial for the sites visitors.
Then from each of those pages you can (and should) run a geo targeting script that determines the country of the visitor. Then you could link the visitor to the appropriate Amazon web site for their country: Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, etc.
And, if you become an associate (or affiliate) for those Amazon sites, you get commissions for any purchases made.
Why use Amazon?
Amazon is a widely known, widely trusted online store that sells a wide range of products. Also, when linking to Amazon with an “affiliate link,” which is simply a link accredited to you so that you get commissions on sales, you will also be rewarded when Amazon up-sells to the customer.
Since there is a wide range of products available on Amazon, and Amazon offers free shipping on purchases over a certain amount, customers often fill their baskets with other items, items that you will get commissions on as well if you reffered the customer to the site to begin with.
Amazon has a lot of upsell methods in place including the “customers who bought this, also bought…” followed by a list of other related items.
Sure, the commission percentage isn’t as high as when promoting digital items as an affiliate, but the high trust factor and the commissions awarded for extra products make it worth the efforts.
Commissions for small appliances, like juicers and blenders, can generate amounts between $10 and $30 or more which isn’t bad at all.
Taking it all even further
Besides doing the above, you can really knock this money making idea out of the park by performing some of the following tasks:
1) Social photo sharing: Including your original photos on social photo sharing sites like Flickr and Pinterest can bring traffic from different sources. Embed the photos from those sites into yours to increase page load times and reduce bandwidth usage.
2) Social video sharing: In the same way as with photos, creating unique videos and posting them to social video sites like YouTube can increase exposure and bring more traffic. Also, embedding videos into recipe pages increases the value of the page from both visitors and search engines perspectives.
3) Recipe book creation: You could benefit immensely by adding your recipes to a stand-alone document as you go along.
If you have the time and gumption, it would be valuable to include each recipe into its own document, including links, and exporting it as a PDF file.
You can do this using free tools. OpenOffice.org Writer lets you create PDFs and retain hyperlinks. Most “free” software will not let you keep hyperlinks in tact in the exported PDF unless you pay for an upgrade, but OpenOffice does.
Each of these single-recipe booklets I would share on PDF sharing sites like Scribd and SlideShare.
Also, I would add related recipes to a larger PDF book. Then, you could either sell the book after ‘x’ amount of recipes are included, or “bribe” people with it to get them on your mailing list, or simply share it like you did the single-recipe booklets.
Then, of course, create a booklet with all of your recipes, and either share it, give it away to subscribers, or sell it. You could post it on Clickbank for example and let other people sell it for you and give them commissions for doing so.
4) Enhance recipe posts: Besides embedding multimedia into the posts (your unique photos from Flickr or Pinterest, and unique videos from YouTube) you can also do a write up for each post.
Rather than just including: Equipment list, ingredient list and procedure, also write something about the recipe. It could be anything including: the nutritional value of the main ingredients, reviews from family members on the taste, your motivation for creating the recipe, a vivid description of the taste, smell and texture, and how it feels in your mouth, and so on.
Just focus on creating unique valuable content always. By content I mean: the recipe itself (cite the inspiration if relevant), the written content, and the multimedia content.
Other ways to make money on a recipe blog
Besides sending customers through the Amazon sales funnel and getting commissions, and possibly selling your recipe books (either in digital, print, or both), you may want to consider other avenues for generating income.
You can consider selling advertising space with services like AdSense (for contextual and retargeting ads), or BuySellAds and BuyAds (for banner and Twitter advertising), or even independently.
Also, touched upon above was building a list and offering a recipe book as an incentive to join the list. Then you could send out a newsletter, which could simply be a collection of the recipe postings from the previous week to bring readers and customers back to the site.
You could also make announcements of new books, new products, or events that you have a connection with (either hosting yourself, selling yourself, or that you are an affiliate for).
Crowd recipe publishing
At some stage, even very early, you may want to open the doors to let others share their recipes on the site. This could keep you from having to publish every day, but also expand the audience.
Additionally, if your site is on a specific theme (discussed below) you might want to turn on WordPress MultiSite and let others blog about other aspects of that theme.
As an example, if your recipe site caters to recipes that are “autism” (i.e dairy and casein free) or “diabetes” (i.e. low sugar) friendly, a new blog, or family diary blog, on any of those topics can further expand the site.
Cater to a particular pocket of people
With web sites, it is often best (perhaps always best) to not try to cater to everyone. You can devote a recipe site to a specific audience and only create recipes that they would find interesting.
If you follow a particular lifestyle, like vegan or raw foods, it is that much easier. Simply, documenting what you do daily is the easiest approach.
To brainstorm ideas for a “pocket of people” here is a quick process to run through, with an example. This process can help you come up with a domain name, a tag line and the overall theme for the recipe or health site.
Tip 1) Visit Google and type in a phrase and watch what comes up from Google Suggest. For example: I began typing “what can I eat on…” (without the dots) and many things came up including:
what can i eat on the caveman diet
what can i eat on a low carb diet
what can i eat on the daniel fast
Another example: Starting with “recipes for…” came up with:
recipes for those with acid reflux
recipes for those with gerd
recipes for those with high cholesterol
recipes for people with high cholesterol and diabetes
These are examples of what people are searching for within Google. This represents a pocket of people that you can easily cater to and rank high for in the search engines to get traffic – traffic that can become customers.
Your site can quickly become the “go to” authority site in one of these niches because of low competition. In general, large food and recipe sites will have a page or category catering to these niches and that’s fine. But developing a site devoted to them will stand out in the search results.
You might have heard it already, but “there is money in the long tail”. Think about how many people are in the world!
Tip 2) Picking one of those phrases can become the “tag line” for the site. In WordPress, to edit the tag line, you will go to Settings > General.
Now, from there you can create a nice 2-word punchy domain name that represents the site. You may or may not want to include the word recipes, it really depends on your future goals. The days of exact-match domains are gone, so don’t worry about matching a keyword for the domain. Create a brand instead, something that will be easy to remember, and be simple to build a logo around at some point.
Let’s say we went with the first result “what can i eat on the caveman diet” for the tagline, here are some ideas for domains:
...and so on
There you have it. You have a domain name, a tag line and theme for your recipe site. Now, adding content on a regular consistent basis is key. It could be recipes all the time, or a mix of recipes and stories and other related content.
Perhaps the categories can be: Recipes, News, Diary
Even if you are not an authority on the topic (yet), and perhaps you are just in the process of learning about say “foods that I can eat having crohns,” you can document what you learn/do as you go, building out an authority site, and making money in the process.
Who knows, your healing story can save a person’s life, and make you money at the same time. That’s not greed, that is leverage my friend.