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Issue 014
Avocado and Skirt Steak Tostones
Avocado and Skirt Steak Tostones, via Delish D'Lites

Howdy — and thanks for reading another issue of Eats Index!

We have an important, though possibly subtle, announcement to make. We are tweaking our content a little bit...

Eats Index has always been dedicated to food bloggers — and that’s not going to change. Our newsletter has always brought you trends and news related to the world of recipe creation and publication. That won’t change either.

What is new is that going forward we will be a little more clear about ways to improve the business aspect of your food blog. We recognize that most food bloggers want to see an income from their efforts – and that can be challenging at times. We are here to help!

Of course, we’ll try to provide useful tips in our usual, fun and breezy style.

And if you have any suggestions or requests, please don’t hesitate to reply to this email and let us know!

Wall Socket and Plug

UPDATE YOUR WP PLUGINS, PEOPLE!

You probably know this already, but one aspect of websites that is most vulnerable to hackers is . . . wordpress plug-ins. You do know that, right?

News came out last week that a number of widely used WordPress plug-ins have loopholes that hackers could exploit. The list includes WP Time Capsule and InfiniteWP. People using these plug-ins were encouraged to update them immediately.

What this means for food bloggers:   This serves as a reminder to us all: stay on top of your plug-ins! Update them at least once a week. Or better yet, schedule a regular time each week to update your plug-ins.

(If you don’t handle the tech side of your blog yourself, then make sure your coders keep your plug-ins up to date. Best practice, too, is to back-up your site before updating.)

If you’ve ever had your site hacked, you know how hugely upsetting that can be. It’s worth putting in a little time to avoid that unpleasantness!

Woman with lots of personality

PROBLEMS WITH YOUR PERSONALITY

    Getting your personality across, that is

What is your site’s “secret sauce?” That is, what makes it special — and different than any other recipe blog out on the internet?

Here is a quick list of what food blogs generally have to offer:

• Recipes that help home cooks create delicious meals
• Beautiful photos to accompany the recipes
• Information about the dish, its ingredients, its origin, etc.

It’s really in that third area where food bloggers can distinguish themselves. Nice photos and recipes are pretty much basic requirements these days. But your recipes can be enhanced and enriched via the words you write to accompany them.

Consider Ree Drummond, the very successful blogger behind Pioneer Woman. Anyone can share recipes for casseroles and cakes, as she does, but it is Ree’s unique story and perspective that has made her site a household name.

On the other hand, as a food blogger, you have to know that some people don’t like all the “extra stuff” on food blogs. They only want the recipe.

And other people are okay with a little background and perspective. They don’t mind skimming the introductory section, but ultimately they just want to get to the meat of the post — the recipe itself.

As mom used to say: it takes all types!

As we have written previously, where there is a need or a trend, businesses appear. We therefore want to make you aware of Clipdish. This new app for iPhones is all about stripping away the “stuff” from a post – and retaining only the recipe.

Clipdish’s website sums it all up: “Stop scrolling. Start cooking.”

And: “Use ClipDish to save your favorite recipes from the web, minus all the extra stuff.”

What this means for food bloggers:   How can you stand out when people are “clipping away” what you’ve written?

We’ll be honest: it is difficult.

First off, though, you can make sure your background and introduction paragraphs are short and to the point. People are more likely to read what doesn’t ask too much of them.

Here at Eats Index, we think it’s very important to write your drafts many days ahead of publication. We suggest then – every twenty-four hours or so – that you read through your draft, looking to improve it.

With our newsletter, we strive to produce sentences that are concise, clear, and enjoyable. Those three things are our priority — and we would like to suggest that they be yours as well. Every time you read a draft, focus on concise, clear, and enjoyable.

Another way to add a little personality is via the recipe instructions. This, too, requires a fine touch. You definitely don’t want to make the instructions unclear – and you don’t want to be distracting.

But you could consider adding just a little personality, like “Chop the onions finely, being careful to keep fingers and other valuables away from the blade.”

A further idea would be to communicate via your headlines and recipe names, which apps like Clipdish can’t delete. Again, be careful to communicate clearly and accurately when injecting a little personality. An example (which we’ve mentioned before) would be “Better than a Boyfriend” Brownies from Fork in the Kitchen.

Finally, you could add a little personality to your photos. Some bloggers add graphic text to their photos with the dish’s name. This is another opportunity for you to “own” the space — and not made anonymous and generic.

What do you think about this challenge? Do you have ideas about getting your personality into the limelight when people are trying to shuffle you offstage?

Woman blowing magically into her hands

SPECULATIVE KEYWORDS FOR THE FUTURE

Okay, prepare to get annoyed, because what we’re about to say is not going to be very popular: we took a vote here at Eats Index, and we just don’t like Game of Thrones very much.

Yes, we know the HBO show was a cultural phenomenon. But we found it violent, oversexualized, and . . . boring. We are ready to receive your hate mail now.

HBO has officially announced a Game of Thrones prequel, titled “House of the Dragon,” coming 2022. GOT fans rejoice!

What is our point in telling you this?

Well, today you can google hundreds of Games of Thrones-inspired recipes. Just a small sample: Honeyed Chicken from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen and Baratheon Boar Ribs from The Starving Chef blog. You can also find tons of GOT recipes on Pinterest and in blog round-ups.

But how many “House of the Dragon” recipes will Google show you today? The answer: zero.

There are no House of the Dragon recipes, because the show is not live yet.

This brings us to our point: what we call “speculative keywords.” These are keywords that are not currently being searched, but are likely to get a lot of clicks in the future.

Do you think that people will be searching for House of Dragon recipes in a couple years? We’d bet a lot of money on it.

Speculative keywords are opportunities for food bloggers. You can absolutely plant your flag in this type of area now.

As an example, you could create a dish that could be served by the character on the new show. You could present your recipe as a celebration of the announcement. By being one of the first, you could rank for this search term when people actually start typing it into Google. Consider it an investment that will pay off in the future.

To be fair, not all investments pay off. That’s true of all investments, isn’t it? But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try – not trying is a guaranteed way not to succeed!

Of course, if you rather dislike Game of Thrones as we do, then this new show idea is not for you. However, what is coming in the next few years that you do like? How can you use speculative keywords for your own blog?

A related idea is to ride the wave of a new trending diet. Michelle Tam did that with the paleo diet in 2010 – and grew her blog into an empire that includes both books and products in grocery stores. (Her blog is Nom Nom Paleo – you may have heard it.) By getting in at the very beginning, Michelle was able to carve a solid place for herself.

As if you don’t have enough on your plate, we’d like to encourage you to start thinking about what you can add to it for the future! Are you up for it?

Hand holding leaf

SUSTAINABILITY AND YOU

As you know, we follow trends here. One clear, ongoing trend is what we call “sustainability and environmentalism.” We think this trend is a good thing.

This decade will see a noticeable reduction in disposable products and packages. That is, we all will be creating less trash. The use of landfills will slow, at least a bit. Again, we believe this is a good thing!

And of all the segments of the food industry, none may be better poised to benefit from this trend than food bloggers. That means you!

Promoting sustainability could be a significant factor in your blog’s future growth. It is something that people are interested in – and that you could easily address.

Restaurants and food delivery have a hard time providing sustainable meals, compared to home cooking. Think about all the plastic forks, spoons, and straws that restaurants bring into the world each day. Think about the plastic bags and food containers!

Compare that to the amount of packaging required to get fresh, supermarket ingredients home. Yes, there is some disposable packaging involved, but it is much less than what restaurants and delivery services require. Further, at home most people use non-disposable silverware and plates.

Home cooking wins every time when it comes to sustainability! It’s not even close.

At the same time, there is still progress to be made in this area. Food providers can be encouraged (pressured?) to reduce packaging and to ensure that wrappers are recyclable, sustainable, etc.

Again, you and your blog can lead the way. We see this as a real opportunity and positive for both you and your blog – and the world as a whole!

You can encourage your readers to purchase sustainable products. Indeed, you can educate them as to what is sustainable and what is not!

This needn’t take over your blog, nor become its main message. Rather, you can work it in, along with your usual offerings.

You can focus on recipes that incorporate sustainable ingredients, such as fresh produce. Most of your ingredients already qualify, right? As just one case in point, look at a Pop Tart (perhaps not the most gourmet example, we admit.)

Pop Tarts are individually wrapped inside another box. Simply put, there is a lot of packaging.

Compare this to a bag of flour, which people could use to bake multiple batches homemade Pop Tarts (like these from Butternut Bakery) or plenty of other treats — all requiring just one package, not many.

What do you think about this trend? Does it speak to you?

Should we get off our sustainability soapbox now? And by the way, is our soapbox recyclable??


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