Traffic/Marketing

Photo courtesy Fridgg.com

If you’ve spent any time submitting your gorgeous food photos to the various so-called “food porn” sites, you may have noticed that there are just a couple of big players, and then a ton of copycats, very few of whom actually improve upon the formula. Most collect small-format, square photographs, and some include a few bells and whistles, like the ability to sort by “Most Popular” or “Most Viewed” submissions.

When we first discovered Fridgg.com thanks to a tip from a reader, we were pretty cynical; our bookmarks list already has a pretty full roster of sites to submit to, and we don’t get too worked up about adding a new one to the mix. After using Fridgg for just a few days, though, it was clear that founder Allison Day has no interest in running just another Foodgawker clone.

The first thing you notice is the photos themselves. Gone are the teeny tiny 25o pixel square mini-prints so common to these types of sites, replaced by larger-format, 3×4 ratio photos that really pop against the websites stark black background and allow submitters to include as much (or as little) meta data as they’d like. Perhaps even more significant than the photos themselves is how they get “promoted” to the front page of the site. The front page is populated with user-submitted photos that are chosen not by an all-knowing editor, but by a democratic process using secret algorithms (and lasers). Woah.

Intrigued, we stole a few minutes with founder Allison Day, to talk to her more about her vision for the future of Fridgg:

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As we’ve discussed previously in these pages, Foodgawker and Tastespotting (and indeed, all of the so-called “food porn” sites) seem to be at a real crossroads. During their heyday, an approved submission to Foodgawker or Tastespotting would add thousands of visitors to your daily traffic stats, or even more if your photo was voted up into “favorite” status for the week.

Now, however, the numbers have changed. With so much competition among food bloggers and the general skill level of amateur food photographers sharply on the rise, getting a photo published on one of these sites can be a major challenge. And even if your submission is approved,  the major sites now bring mere hundreds, rather than thousands, of new visits to your site.

My suspicion is that much of the traffic enjoyed by these sites has moved to Pinterest.

Pinterest has emerged with guns blazing, quickly rising to become the top referrer of new traffic to many food blogs, traffic whose flow used to be controlled by the major food photo sharing websites. All Pinterest did was democratize the process; instead of a bunch of faceless editors judging each of the gorgeous sandwich photos you  submit by an increasingly puzzling set of criteria, a photo’s success or failure is determined solely by users of the service.

So now that it’s harder than ever to get a photo published on Foodgawker or Tastespotting, and now that even a published photo is generating fewer visits than ever before, the question becomes: Does taking the time to submit your photos to the major food porn sites still make sense?

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There’s no doubt about it: Over the last year, Pinterest has exploded into the top referrer of traffic to many food blogs, replacing even Google and the so-called “food porn” sites as many people’s primary source of traffic. It’s more important than ever to perform a kind of self-audit to your website, to make sure that you are doing everything in your power to encourage readers to pin your posts, attract followers, and maximize your readers’ use of Pinterest. Over the last few days, we’ve completely overhauled the way we use Pinterest on our own websites, using the following ideas as a rough guide:

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In the last year, Pinterest has exploded into the number one referrer of new visitors to our blog. That’s right. Not Google. Not the so-called “food porn” sites (or their numerous imitators). Pinterest has taken the sharing of beautiful food photography and democratized it, wresting the power away from the editors of major photography aggregators and letting people decide for themselves what makes for a gorgeous food photograph, and what doesn’t.

A trick we use to gauge interest in a particular recipe isn’t just to watch the hit counter creep upward on each post’s “Pin It” button. Instead, we like to check in occasionally on a more top-down view of not just what content of ours is getting pinned, but what kinds of comments are getting added.

Here’s the trick: Type http://www.pinterest.com/source/YOURDOMAIN.COM into any web browser, replacing “YOURDOMAIN.COM” with your website’s domain name.

You’ll get a huge list of every photo of yours that has recently been pinned, along with the comments added by the pinners. This can bring valuable insight; often, Pinterest users will add a comment to one of your photos, that they may be too shy to directly comment on your post. For example, in a post I had written that didn’t seem particularly snarky (at least to me), a Pinterest user pinned the photo with the comment, “Ignore the negative introduction, and go right to the recipe.” This tells me that, at least to one reader, my tone may have sounded a little different than I intended.

Checking your unique Pinterest “source” page also provides a nice visual way to watch trends in your site’s Pinterest activity. Often, photos will be pinned in clusters, or you’ll see a Pinterest user methodically working their way through your site, pinning everything you’ve ever posted. It’s a new way to look at user movement that can become addicting to watch. Give it a try!

We’re big fans of both Tastespotting and Foodgawker, the so-called “food porn” sites that aggregate some of the best food photography from around the world of food blogs. The largest sites receive thousands of photo submissions per day, and with good reason; having a photo featured on Tastepotting or Foodgawker can bring thousands of new visitors per day. Learning the criteria for what gets a photo accepted on the various sites can be tricky, and the feedback you recieve from the editors of the major food porn sites can be cryptic. Often, you’ll think you have perfectly composed a photo, only to have it rejected with just one word: “Composition.” Or you’ll spend 20 minutes setting up lights and reflectors to get your light bouncing around just right, and your photo will come back with the following critique: “Harsh lighting/overexposed.” Sometimes, Tastespotting will reject a post that Foodgawker accepts. Sometimes, Foodgawker will hate something, but Tastespotting will love it. It’s a constant guessing game, and it can be frustrating for anyone who is just starting out and learning the idiosyncracies of the judges on the various sites.

Fortunately, the success of Foodgawker and Tastespotting have spawned dozens of clones, who may be a little more eager to view and publish your photo submission. Some are just getting off the ground, and are happy to have your photos filling out their websites. No matter what, they all represent opportunities to get traffic coming back to your site, and should be a part of your arsenal if you are serious about getting the word out about your website.

  1. Bakeolicious
  2. Dessert Stalking
  3. Dishfolio
  4. eRecipeCards
  5. Finding Vegan
  6. Food and Fizz
  7. Foodepix
  8. Foodieview
  9. FoodPorn
  10. Food Porn Daily
  11. Foodspreading
  12. The Hot Plate
  13. Kitchen Artistry
  14. Knapkins
  15. Liqurious
  16. Opensource Food
  17. Photograzing
  18. RecipeNewZ
  19. Refrigerator Soup
  20. Savory Sights
  21. Tasteologie
  22. TasteFix
  23. TasteStopping
  24. Tasty Days
  25. Tasty Kitchen
  26. YumGallery

Do you have a favorite food porn site, not listed above? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll make sure to get your favorite site added to the list.

An Introduction to Pinterest

In a world where every day it seems there is a new platform, new gadget, or new item to constantly update, it is important to know your strengths and put your time and attention into the tools that will really help to build your site.

In the last year and a half, I have watched Pinterest take over my Analytics. It is not the only site that sends a lot of traffic my way, but it is a force not to be ignored. After watching the numbers skyrocket for a while, I created an account and some boards, and now make Pinterest one of my daily stops in my normal blogging routine.

First, I check out the main page and re-pin things I find interesting. Next, I always add my own latest post. I find people who only pimp their own sites annoying, but I do need to get my own link in there. One pin can lead to hundreds. I have a specific board for my site that people can choose to follow, and won’t pin my own items onto many of my other boards unless I feel they are very specific to that board. Another bonus in setting up a separate board just for my blog? It’s really easy to see a collection of my images at a glance. Don’t be the pinner that only pins their own things though. That’s not fun for anyone.

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