I’ve developed a few recipes with several brands that have become annual favorites around holiday time when I look at my search referral traffic, but I’d really like to learn how to do it better at Developing, Writing, and Optimizing Recipes on Your Blog with Jennifer Perillo.
Jenny is a professional food writer, and she’s just going to jump into the heart of recipe development.
Know Your Audience
- What is the skill/comfort level of your readers?
- Is budget a factor? (Example: Your audience may not be the type who can afford to add truffles to everyday meals, but that’s more of a 4-star restaurant anniversary indulgence. Consider kitchen appliances your readers may or may not own, as well.)
Food Trends: Do or Don’t?
- Change is good if you stay true to yourself and your message.
- You don’t have to be everything to everyone.
- (No one in this room pumps out content for content’s sake, but makes content that is personal to them.)
- “Life is short. Use the damn butter.” vs the dietary approach where you want to limit fat content.
- Dairy-free recipes seem to be a trend now, and if you happen to create these recipes for your own family’s dietary needs, it makes sense and feels natural to share them with your readers. It may be inauthentic if your readers have come to expect ice cream recipes, etc. though.
Adapting vs Developing
- What’s the difference between adapting a recipe and creating a new one? Adapting is when you take an existing recipe and change things up, like adding a new flavor, swapping out dark chocolate for white chocolate, etc.
- If you’re taking a recipe and making it gluten-free, having to change up liquid ratios and such, that gets closer to developing your own recipe.
- Attribution: give credit where credit is due. A popular and generally acceptable way to do this is to link back to the recipe that gave you the idea for your recipe and talk about how it inspired you to create your own version. This is more an ethical thing than a legal thing, as ingredient lists can’t be copyrighted. But you want to be a good social media citizen and be open about your recipe inspirations before readers start saying “This looks a lot like a recipe I found in…”
- Cooking is a passed tradition. There really are no new recipes out there. It’s a matter of putting your own spin on things.
- Standard cookbook permissions: You can reprint three recipes and three images from a single printed cookbook as long as you credit them appropriately without asking for permission first. (Who knew?)
- How many times do you make a new recipe you develop before you publish it? There’s no set number…just whenever you’re happy with the results! If you feel any hesitation, you should probably give it another try. Skill level can affect this a lot.
Recipe Writing 101
- Metric vs volume measurements. Where are your readers located? If your readers are mostly from the U.S., we use volume measurements like cups and teaspoons. In the rest of the world, they use metric measurements with a kitchen scale.
- Saute, simmer, and sear, oh-my! Do your readers know what all of these cooking terms mean? (This is where my Asperger’s comes in handy, because I do tend to describe cooking techniques and what the food should look like at each stage.) Keep your audience in mind; I know I’m not writing for experienced cooks, but for relative novices like myself. If you are writing for experienced cooks, don’t overexplain.
Feast for the Eyes
- Strong visuals help promote your work on social media.
- Tag brands you normally use to get their attention.
- Garnishes, plating, and tableware can make a big difference when people are searching for recipes online. Black bean soup is pretty ugly, but some garnish and a beautiful tablecloth can make a big difference. But if you do add garnishes, be sure to include that in your recipe, even if you tell them the garnish is optional.