After reading some tweets this weekend that referenced our fledgling website, we felt compelled to write this blog post to address the following issues:
1. Why we started MakeMeDrool.com
2. What our goals are for the site
3. How we’d like to move forward from here
Let’s take it from the top...
Why We Started MakeMeDrool.com
We’re both food bloggers.
You can find Monique’s blog here: www.ConstrainedCooks.com
And George’s blog here: www.TastyGoodTimes.com
We both love food - cooking it, eating it, reading about it and writing about it. It’s our passion!
As we were sitting around chatting one day we got onto the topic of what we enjoyed about food blogging (and more importantly, what we didn’t). During our multi-hour conversation/rant, we stumbled onto the idea of creating a recipe search engine that focused on content from independent food bloggers (versus Google’s newly launched Recipe Search that favors monstrous sites like AllRecipes or Epicurious).
We thought it would be a great way to help smaller, up-start bloggers out there (like us) generate some traffic and provide consumers with a great way to surface some of the best recipes on the web.
We launched the site a couple of weeks ago and only have a few hundred recipes posted at the moment.
What Our Goals Are for the Site
We’re trying to serve two different groups of people:
- Other Food Bloggers - by sending them targeted traffic
- Foodies - by helping them find the best recipes the web has to offer
Here’s how we’re currently attempting to accomplish our goals:
- Content Acquisition
Before we can create a great recipe search engine, we need content to actually search through. We kicked around a number of ways to do this.
We first thought about going the Digg/Reddit route and allowing users to submit content which other users would vote on. But we decided against that as it seemed like it would tip the scales in favor of the large food sites (which defeats the purpose of MakeMeDrool.com).
So we ultimately decided on finding sites that had RSS feeds setup already and simply pulling in their feeds periodically.
We both go through these feeds each day to try and find the recipes that make us drool :)
- Content Indexing and Publishing
Now, to be very clear, we are NOT republishing entire blog posts, recipe details, etc.
We’re taking a brief excerpt of the post (a sentence or two at MOST), a single image and then manually adding tags to the post (e.g. ingredients, time to cook, etc.).
We believe this is within “fair use” of the US copyright law - plus it seems pretty close to what sites like Digg, Foodily and even Google currently do - but we don’t want to “lawyer” the situation to death. The spirit of the site is the most important thing to us and if we’re hurting other small food bloggers through our efforts, we NEED to know so that we can change up our tactics.
Once we finish categorizing and tagging a recipe, we publish it to our site. If it's a recipe we really fall in love with, we try to give it prime placement on the homepage.
- Sending Traffic to Bloggers
Now that we have content indexed on our site, we provide a pretty basic search interface for users. They can browse different categories of recipes from the homepage (and in the near future, users will be able to perform a standard keyword search to find recipes they might like).
As you can see we try to give proper credit to every blog that we collect recipes from:
A user can either click the blog name (in this case, Big Girls Small Kitchen) or click the “View full recipe on blog” link to get to see the original blog post.
If a user clicks the image or recipe name, however, they go to a recipe “summary” page on MakeMeDrool.com.
Again, to be clear, this summary page does NOT show the full content of the recipe, it does not show how to make the dish, it doesn’t even show the quantity of ingredients necessary to make the dish.
Here’s why we did it this way...
Based on feedback from initial user testing, we found that people wanted a little more information before jumping off the site and reading the full recipe. They wanted to know if they’d be allergic to any of the ingredients, they wanted to know if the dish was a “quickie” recipe or an all-day affair, they wanted to know how many people it served, etc.
That’s what led us to create the summary page, which still contains prominent links to the actual recipe on the original blog. We also feature other recipes from that blog on this page to further increase the chances of a user visiting.
Again, our goal is to provide a great experience for the user but to also send as much traffic as possible to food bloggers.
As you can see, because we’re serving two different groups of people, it requires a careful balancing act to get the design and interactions of the site just right.
We’d like to think we’ve developed a pretty elegant solution to these tough problems, but we’re in the very early stages of this idea and we went into it assuming it would take us a little while to get it just right.
In the end, we tried to build something that made us happy as two foodies and food bloggers, but we also realize that just “scratching our own itch” might not work for everyone.
So what we’d like - in fact, what we’d LOVE - is if we can begin an open dialog with any and all food bloggers willing to share their thoughts and ideas with us for how we can make this site better.
We both live in New York City and make frequent trips to the West Coast (Monique’s family still lives in San Francisco) so we’re always up for grabbing a cup of coffee or a bite to eat. Or if you’d prefer to just correspond via email or telephone, that’s fine too.
Here’s the best way to contact us:
Monique: Monique at makemedrool dot com
George: George at makemedrool dot com
Or just post a comment below. Looking forward to hearing from everyone!