Every Monday, the Breaking Even blog looks at a individual, business, or website promoting itself in interesting ways online. Have an idea? Do tell!
When I first began my blog in 2007, it was a hard choice between whether I would be talking about money or food. I decided that talking about money would force me to learn more about it but I still love food, follow several food blogs, and overall am interested in food-related issues.
My friend Sarah tipped my off to Foodista, a website startup from a few former Amazon.com employees. It was seeking to be an open source food encyclopedia, not just of ingredients but of recipes. Being the good friend that I am, I followed Foodista’s progress throughout Sarah’s internship there but continue to keep in touch now. (Sarah had to return eastward to finish her MBA.)
Foodista has done a few things well that I’ve noticed:
Foodista has a specific enough focus that it isn’t doing too much but a broad enough concept for it to grow.
As a website, you don’t want to pigeonhole yourself but you do want to give potential visitors an idea what they’ll find in relation to content on your site. Foodista tackles the expected ingredients and recipes but also discusses techniques of food preparation and cooking tools, which is less commonly found information. Having the focus of food (and food in the title of their domain name), however, gives potential web visitors an idea of what this site will be about. (If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, click here for an example of a much less clear website.)
Foodista allows users to submit content… without logging in.
As a web person constantly exploring new things, having to register for every website is a pain. Sure, it gives the website publisher/owner my contact information but for many people, having to register to do something simple like look around or even comment can be a deterent.
Foodista allowed me to upload my two fiddlehead pictures last spring with absolutely no issue. It also effortlessly connects to accounts you may have on other sites, like Flickr or Facebook. If I use the site a lot, I will no doubt create an account but for now, I feel the pride of being slightly famous in my own head, in relation to cookable ferns anyway.
Foodista features user content in a real way.
I did notice that HGTV for example, talks about their Twitter or Facebook fans on their television commercials in a way to me that still makes it about them. (My bad paraphrasing: “See, a real person likes us, and here’s us giving them a shout out, hoping they will be excited to be a 10 second part of a 30 second commercial.”)
What I want as a blogger is an inbound link off a powerful website or for someone from a company I respect to talk to me, whether it’s on my website or Facebook page or wherever I happen to be. For example, when King Arthur Flour responded about my blog post on Twitter to their followers and directly to me, that felt like a very real acknowledgment.
Foodista publishes a food blog of the week on the front page of their site. It seems counterintuitive to send visitors off your website but trust me, the good feeling you give a blogger by doubling (or more) their traffic will come back at you tenfold as they tell all their readers and real life friends about your site and how you linked them. It also makes people who produce content much more enthusiastic contributors to your website.
Foodista has also been running a contest where food bloggers can contribute to a cookbook they are going to publish (and more shy users can vote on the recipes).
So way to be, Foodista! You seem to walk the line between having a website that appears to have well done (and seemingly edited) content while still making it feel that users outside of your company can (and do) participate enthusiastically.