Here’s a question bloggers frequently hear: why are recipe blogs so long? Bloggers understand your frustration, but there may be a few things you don’t know.
We get it. I promise. You’re looking up a recipe for chicken on Google. You find one that sounds perfect, so you click it. Or maybe you just stumbled onto it in Facebook or Pinterest or Twitter.
And it’s this massively long article! Why? It must be at least 500 words! And all these pictures of how to make it! Why don’t they just put the recipe right up at the top so you don’t have to wear out your little scrolling finger?
The short answer
The short answer is: you’re getting the recipe for free, and we need to earn a living somehow.
That’s not to say you deserve to be bored with irrelevant stories about the blogger taking the dog to the vet. You’re right to want everything in a blog post to at least have something to do with the recipe.
Most people have one of two impressions of bloggers:
1. You can’t make money blogging, so we must just be doing it as a hobby, like this happy fellow.
2. Or that we do a little bit of typing, stick our big smiling faces on social media, and easy peasy money comes flying right out of our laptops at us, like this!
So let’s take a look at reality.
Bloggers need to make a living
Many bloggers are actually making their primary living – and even supporting families – by blogging. Most aren’t getting rich.
So how does that tie in to the long recipe posts? Basically, we don’t make money unless we write long posts. Wait, what?
You’ll have to read the long answer for the rest of it.
If you don’t care and just want your recipes quick and easy, please bookmark Cooks.com. This is a very simple short recipe site that’s been around for decades and no longer ranks highly in Google and doesn’t show up in social media at all due to lack of pictures.
The Longer Answer
Before we get into the mechanics of why people format their recipe posts this way, let’s establish one thing. You are getting recipes for free, but for the blogger, they are not free. And blogging is not just a hobby, and even if it was…
Blogging Costs Money
First, the blogger bought the food. Spent labor hours cooking it. Took photos of it most likely with a camera (DSLR or smartphone) that cost several hundred bucks.
Maybe the blogger used a special photography lighting kit that cost anywhere from $50 to $1000. And then they spent a lot of labor hours writing the post and editing and uploading the photos.
Then there’s the cost of the hosting for the blog, which can be anywhere from $10-500/month, depending how much traffic the site gets. There’s the cost of the domain ownership, which is usually around $30/year because you want to also own the .net and .org to protect your tradename (each domain registration costing about $10).
There’s the cost of paid plugins we use to run features you like on our sites – that’s anywhere from $10/month to maybe $50/month.
Then there’s the cost of maintaining an email newslist. The services that do this have skyrocketed their prices in recent years (which is part of why I don’t have email lists anymore). This costs anywhere from $30/month to upwards of $1000/month.
So how do bloggers get paid?
Many bloggers do this work full-time. At the very least, in the case of a “labor of love” hobby blogger, we want to get reimbursed for our materials and actual expenses.
Running ads is one way to do this that doesn’t cost visitors a thing. Just like broadcast TV commercials.
Ads don’t pay a lot, though. For your single pageview when you got our recipe, we got a fraction of a penny. One of my sites gets around $9 for every 1000 ad views and another gets around $20. Many sites get more like $2-4 per 1000 pageviews.
Longer articles help us earn more with ads, because they allow for more ads to be shown to you.
And we need Google and social media to send us thousands of visitors, or we’ll be taking in less than we’re spending to bring you recipes at no charge.
Google and advertisers prefer the long posts
You’re not going to believe this next part, but it’s actually the public’s fault. Oh, yeah – Google bases these decisions on how site visitors behave. And Google is how the vast majority of people find internet articles, followed by social media.
Years ago, you could just go to little recipe sites and get the recipe with little or no introductory commentary. Then bloggers who had fans started writing longer recipe posts to appeal to their fans.
These fans actually liked the long commentaries and the big process photos showing how it’s done. And the videos showing how it’s done.
Google could see people were spending time on these posts, enjoying them. And so Google’s algorithm recognized a genuine reader preference for long posts with lots of pictures.
Over time, most of the sites that got straight to the recipe lost rankings while the blogs with long posts flourished. Again: go give Cooks.com some love. Anyone can upload recipes there, and there’s very little commentary on any of them.
Sorry. Believe me, I know how you feel. It was much easier for me when I could write a short article and it would rank in Google, and I’d get the same revenue per page for showing 3 ads as I now get with far more ads.
But complaining about those days being gone won’t bring them back.
Can’t you make money some other way?
You may be thinking I’m wrong because you’ve seen sites at the top of Google – or in your Facebook feed – whose recipe article was short and to the point.
I’m betting they were big corporate sites attached to magazines or cable networks. Those guys have other ways to rank in Google, and they don’t need to make money from ads.
They have serious money to throw at this, and we can’t compete with them directly. Writing longer articles is one tactic that works for small bloggers who aren’t connected to anything famous.
Sometimes bloggers do find other ways to make money. For example, some manage to write cookbooks that actually sell for decent money. But most don’t.
I hope this has cleared up the question for you of why recipe blogs are so long. We don’t do it to annoy you or because we love talking about ourselves.
And someday there may come a new way of making money online or getting found by visitors, and this could all change. I’ve got my fingers crossed – like I said, I miss the days when you could put up a concise text post with no photography and actually make some money.