SIMPLY A SUCCESS
Elise Bauer is a food-blogging pioneer.
WRITTEN BY CATHERINE ENFIELD
PHOTOS BY RAOUL ORTEGA
If you’ve searched the Internet for a recipe, it may surprise you to learn that one of the world’s first, biggest, most well-known recipe sites in the world, Simply Recipes, is based here in Sacramento.
10 million visitors
Elise Bauer started Simply Recipes in 2003 — it may not seem that long ago, but for food blogs, it was a pioneer. Today the site receives as many as 10 million visitors a month. Over the years, Bauer and Simply Recipes have garnered recognition and awards; among them, The Daily Meal placed the blog on its list of 25 Top Food Blogs over multiple years, and named Bauer one of America’s 50 Most Powerful People in Food in 2012.
“Back then there were only a handful of [food bloggers], and we knew each other,” Bauer says. “We would link and comment on each other’s blogs. We would also have events where one blogger would pick a theme and everyone else would contribute. It was much more about having fun and the playfulness of this new medium.”
Back then, she recalls, there was no social media, no smartphones, and very little money to be made with a website.
After about 2006, food blogs started to explode: technology improved, making it easier to create blogs and cheaper to invest in equipment, such as cameras. Where there had once been a handful of food bloggers, now hundreds of people were starting blogs. Corporations started noticing and realizing they needed to have websites, content, and their own blogs.
A changing landscape
“Things have really changed from when people start blogs as a hobby, for fun, and to share what they loved to money-making businesses,” Bauer says. “Now people can get sponsorships, money, book deals, and even television deals.”
These days, she says, people no longer are willing to visit a blog every day. Rather, they want content to come to them in their social media feeds.
“Now it’s 20 percent about creating content and 80 percent marketing it,” she says. “You have to be really social media savvy. You also have to have a mobile-ready site.”
Bauer explains that food blogging takes a lot more skills and time than simply cooking and writing about it.
“It’s gotten overwhelming for a single person to do everything well,” she says. “You need to know how to write, photograph, do video, handle social media, maintain a website, and deal with legal issues such as copyrights. Many bloggers have started to farm that work out by hiring social media virtual assistants or photographers. But, of course, that means you have to have enough traffic to afford that.”
In 2016, Bauer sold Simply Recipes to Fexy Media, which also owns another well-known food site, Serious Eats. It was a way for Bauer to relinquish many of those tasks so she could focus on other pursuits. Fexy now owns the name, site, recipes, and all other intellectual property while Bauer serves as president and draws a salary. This new arrangement gives her the flexibility to manage her duties, with the freedom to enjoy her other pastimes.
“I’m looking forward to doing more with my love of Aikido, which I’ve been doing for 30 years now,” Bauer says. “I also want to learn new things and contribute more to the (Sacramento) community.”
Catherine Enfield writes her blog, Munchie Musings, and is on the advisory board for this year’s International Food Bloggers Conference.
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