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?
The answer is yes, although perhaps for different reasons than were in place a year or two ago.
Though Foodgawker and Tastespotting may not be putting up the same numbers they once did, the quality of those visitors has improved. Now, it’s not just about the quantity of the referrals you are getting from these sites; it’s about the quality. Foodgawker and Tastespotting give you the opportunity to get your blog seen by the right people, even if it’s not getting seen by quite as many people.
As the overall quality of the photographs on these sites has gone up, the major food porn sites have become an easy-to-use resource that’s frequently tapped into by journalists, other big-time food bloggers, serial Pinners, publishers of cookbooks and major online portals such as The Daily Meal and Huffington Post. Any time a writer is looking for a source for quality ideas or photography, Foodgawker and Tastespotting are still one of the first places they turn. Any time they want to see a quick sampling of the best photographs of “Beef Stroganoff” from around the entire food blogosphere, they can use these sites. Any time a blogger has been tasked with writing a roundup of the “10 Best Margarita Recipes” or “20 New Approaches to Deviled Eggs,” these sites are a major starting point for that research.
If you maintain as large a footprint as you can in these sites, the chances are good that your photo and post will be included in a roundup of recipes by a major website, will be adapted for use on another website (with a link back to your original post, of course), or even for use in a cookbook or eBook. In short, the “tastemakers” that you want to see your content (that is, those that will share it, repurpose it, or otherwise help promote it) are still using Foodgawker and Tastespotting. And that means that you should, too.