Food is everywhere. Take a quick scroll down your Facebook feed. Open up Instagram. Take a peak at your Pinterest boards. Everyone is sharing recipes and pictures of their dinner.
My mom and I have a food blog, where we post recipes and food-related stories. That’s what we wrote about in our mother/daughter food memoir, so it was obvious for us to blog about food. But did you know you don’t have to write about food in your books to get in on the food buzz? Everyone eats, so regardless of what you write about, you have that connection to readers. Hey, we both eat. What do you know? Maybe we have something else in common. That’s why first dates and client meetings and mixers are almost always food-centered. It’s guaranteed common ground. Even if you hate the food, you have something to talk about, right?
If you enjoy cooking, a great way to add new interesting shareable content to your blog is to post an occasional recipe. It’s also nice to get all your favorite recipes in one spot online so you can pull them up at the grocery store or on vacation, or easily share them with your family and friends. Next time someone asks you for your pasta salad recipe, the one you bring to every church picnic, you can let them know it’s on your blog. You can even hand them your business card with your blog site on it. If you’re shy-by-nature like I am, it’s an easy, subtle way to share about your books. The card gives them a place to go for the recipe, but also tells them you are an author and speaker. It might just be the events coordinator at your church clamoring for your recipe, and now she has your speaker card and a personal connection to you. See how that works?
Original recipes and pictures make great unique content. But don’t worry if your famous pasta salad isn’t your own recipe….unless of course, you’ve been claiming it as your own all these years. If you made a recipe that is not your own, but you really want to share it on your blog, you have a few options:
- Write a post about the recipe, including your own pictures and descriptions of the cooking process, then provide a link to the actual recipe. Food bloggers love this and will often share your post on their networks and you don’t need their permission.
- If you really want to post a full recipe on your site or if it’s from a cookbook, you can ask the author for permission. Keep in mind you’ll still need to take your own pictures unless the author specifically gives you permission to use her’s.
- Make a modified version of the recipe. The Food Blogger Alliance industry standards say this:
- If you’re modifying someone else’s recipe, it should be called “adapted from“.
- If you change a recipe substantially, you may be able to call it your own. But if it’s somewhat similar to a publisher recipe, you should say it’s “inspired by“, which means that you used someone else’s recipe for inspiration, but changed it substantially.
- If you change three ingredients, you can in most instances call the recipe yours.
As bloggers, it’s all about connecting and building a network of like-minded virtual friends. Copyrights on recipes are difficult to claim, but I like to err on the side of attribution. If I took inspiration from a blogger, I at least acknowledge that they had the original idea and I include a link to their version, even if it became something quite different. When adapting a recipe, be sure to write the directions in your own words. They are technically the only part of a recipe that may be covered by copyright laws.
I rarely post a recipe that I merely modified. It just feels wrong to take someone else’s creative content. In that case, I might link to the blogger’s original recipe and say, “I made So-and-So’s recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and boy, were they delicious. I used almond milk for the dairy milk and used cinnamon instead of nutmeg.” I’m still giving my readers value, a yummy adaptable recipe, and networking with another blogger at the same time. Win. Win.
Food is meant to be shared. Just keep these guidelines in mind. Then cook, share, repeat.