Sep 132011

Goldman's Notting Hill Brownies. (Photo by Ryan Szulc.)

Eight years ago, Marcy Goldman stopped giving recipes away for free on her website, Better Baking.

Everyone was vacuuming up my recipes and putting them on sites like, sometimes changing the headnotes, sometimes not,” she told me in an interview. “It was irksome.”

“Cookbook editors were asking if the recipes for forthcoming books would be original or could they expect to see them on other people’s websites. Plus I felt like my recipes were my children. I felt proprietary about them, both as a chef and a writer.”

So she put her recipes behind a wall, and charged for them. Readers can subscribe to the website “magazine” for 1 to 4 months, for $5 to $20, to access more than 2500 recipes. Or they can buy one recipe at a time from the recipe archive.

I spoke with Goldman, a four-time cookbook author and longtime freelancer (The New York Times, the Washington Post, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Cooking Light, Eating Well, and the Los Angeles Times Syndicate) about the philosophy behind her online recipe business and recipe writing:

Q. Tell me about your decision to start a website that you call a magazine, where people pay you to access recipes. As you know, this is not the usual model.

A. There’s different realities. I just keep doing what I’m doing and I’m still afloat.

When I first started (charging for recipes) there were few blogs, but people thought recipes should be free online. Then came food blogs and glut of free recipes from sites like I used to get hate mail that said, “How dare you charge?”

Q. I read that you have 20,000 subscribers and 1 million visitors per month. Is this true? Let’s see, 20,000 subscribers who pay $5 = $100,000. You’ve made that much from the site?

A. No. I have 18,000 people who read my free newsletter. A tiny percent are subscribers. I get 40,000 visitors per month to the website.

Q. How’s that working for you financially?

A. (Laughs.) Enough to fill up my car with gas once a month.

Q. Why do you do it, then?

A. I never thought of charging for recipes as a moneymaker. I do it more to protect my life’s work.

Those who paid for recipes in the beginning stopped because you can get everything free on the Internet. I think it’s helped me with book sales, though. And I can see what people are choosing. They babble about low-fat, vegan, gluten-free, but they’re downloading the double chocolate torte. Ten to one they go after the decadent recipes.

Q. No offence, but why should someone buy your recipe for Belgian Waffles when they can find free Belgian waffles recipes online by the dozens?

A. Do you know how many Belgian recipes I tested — all those eggs, all that butter — to get the definitive recipe?

There’s a huge scope in my recipe archive, and the headnotes are indicative. It’s not just Banana Bread Version 1, 2, and 3. My headnotes are extensive. Companies have approached me to just buy the headnotes!

(For an example of a voracious Goldman headnote, see this one for Caramel Cake.- DJ)

Goldman calls this "My Trademark, Most Requested, Absolutely Magnificent Caramel Matzoh Crunch." (Photo by Ryan Szulc.)

Q. How many free recipes appear on your site? I found a few on your blog, and I see four of your best recipes on your site.

A. I give out 2 to 5 recipes once a month. I Twitter a new recipe once a week. That’s kind of generous. On September 1, 2300 people downloaded my free Caramel Cake recipe.

Giving away recipes doesn’t bring you anything. I do it because it’s a tough economy, and I want to develop a following.

Statistically, Rachel Ray and Martha Stewart have the most free recipes online and the highest cookbook sales. They’re also A-list celebrities, so the machine that drives your awarness of them drvies sales.

I don’t think offering more free recipes would make me more popular. I’m a writer who happened to become a wonderful pastry chef, versus a pastry chef who can write a little bit. As a writer I always know there’s higher ground to go to.

Q. What do you say to food bloggers who give away free recipes, week after week, and want a book deal?

A. I think they have a higher chance when buying a lotto ticket. Do it anyway, but in conjunction with maybe apprenticing at a restaurant, doing a food show on a local radio station, selling cupcakes to your local coffeehouse. All roads lead to Rome.

I’ve done the math. The bigger reward has come from writing a proposal and a cookbook, or writing recipes for corporate customers.

The whole point is bringing my expertise and teaching people. Maybe I’m a bit of an elitist. I listen to Jaques Pepin, because the guy knows his stuff. Plus, I’m in my early 50s,and bloggers are at a different level of discovery because of their age.

I feel irritated by food bloggers because they adapt other people’s recipes. It would be demeaning to me to take someone else’s recipe. What if it took 5 to 10 years of distillation to produce that one amazing recipe, just for some blogger to dismantle it?

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  114 Responses to “Selling Recipes Online for $2.49 Each”

  1. I have a food blog to share my cooking experiences and kitchen memories, which include recipes. I do this happily and freely, not really caring who might enjoy them – or not. Charging for a recipe means something different to me than a food blog, which Ms. Goldman acknowledges in her description of a “subscription”. Feels kind of like folks who refuse to share a recipe, simply not my style.

    • Yes, she does not call it a blog. In fact she has a separate blog page that is different from the magazine. Perhaps her approach comes from always being paid for her recipe development work in the past, and trying to find a way to keep it that way.

  2. I’ve been thinking of this topic for quite some time now. I’ve had many friends (with good intentions) recommend that I start charging a subscription for my recipes. I see their point. It makes good business sense, but wouldn’t I be considered a snob? And what about being a part of the blogging community? If I all of the sudden only allow “members” on my site is that really being part of the community? I don’t know. I think it’s fantastic that Marcy is charging for her recipes. I applaud her courage to do so, even when others sent her not-so-kind messages. I’m actually intrigued, and now want to pay a subscription to have access to her recipes.

    It makes me wonder which direction bloggers will go. In a few years will a subscription be the new norm? I obviously don’t have the answers, but think it’s a great topic to discuss.

    • Wow, Carrie, this is quite a different comment from Liz’s. That’s what I love about this blog.

      As you read, people think Marcy is a snob, and they have expressed outrage at her idea. So it’s not for everyone. And it’s not a big moneymaker. That’s the question, for me. If you put all your recipes behind a firewall, how will you get enough people to pay? You can see how well tested her recipes are, and how much work she puts into the headnotes. Still, not enough people are willing to buy them.

      • Good question. I have no idea how you get enough people to pay especially when there are so many other free recipes out there on the internet. I enjoy that I have so many recipes for free because the motivation of my blog is to help others (this is why when my friends told me I should charge I told them I couldn’t do it). If I charge an entry fee, how much is that really helping and serving those around me? But again, I do think it’s great that Marcy stepped out on a limb and decided to do things her way. We are all so different and that’s what makes life interesting!

        • I suppose that people want your recipes badly enough to pay for them. That is the case with Marcy.

          There’s no law that says you must give out free recipes all the time on your blog. If it bothers you, you could give out fewer. I don’t think there’s a model for paying for a blog, but people do charge to deliver recipes through programs and through newsletters.

  3. It is interesting to me that people who watch Food Network and go to the site and download recipes will still buy the magazine. What is the lesson to be learned here? We all still buy cookbooks and cooking magazines. Perhaps Marcy is on to something and time will prove her right. We do these different things for different reasons. How many of us sit in front of the tv with a pen in hand to copy down the recipes? Not too many I would wager, because we are seeking the entertainment element right then. How many go to the website and download the recipes? A lot more, I am almost positive. Now we are fairly into it and might, just might try the recipe. But then, how many actually go to the bookstore or newstand and buy the magazine? Obviously enough, because they are still publishing. And what makes us do that? Is it because now we have our memories of the show, the printed recipe and a “relationship” with the celebrity chef now that we have their pictures and words and recipes all in one place? I think Marcy will probably, over time, find that she is a niche publisher. Perhaps she can find another way to promote her “for sale recipes” just the way the shows promote the website which in turn promotes the magazines.
    I say, more power to her. Just because someone says so doesn’t mean you have to give your work away. I could just as easily call those who were belittling her the real cheap ones for not wanting to spend the money and asking for a handout. Who do they think they are to get something for nothing?
    It is an interesting conversation to have, even if it is only with ourselves. Go Marcy!

    • Thanks Karen. The Food Network magazine is doing extremely well, actually, with around 2 million readers. It grew very quickly. Cook’s Illustrated has its own cooking show. Maybe Marcy needs her own TV show, to push sales.

  4. Guess that my initial comment was washed out. I have strong feelings that if someone decides to blog about food, family and/or recipes that it should be an open forum for one’s guests to visit and “taste”. Frankly, charging for a recipe feels just like the woman who does my pedicures – we are old friends – who refuses to “give up” her salsa recipe.

  5. I think for bloggers to go behind a paywall would be tantamount to killing the blog. People are used to getting recipes for free…even if the blogger isn’t paid for their time and materials.

    Bloggers aren’t doing it for the money anyway (at least, I hope not!)

    Even she says she’s not doing the subscription thing for the money, but for the protection of her assets. More power to her.

    Thanks for bringing some light to this issue!

    • Well, some bloggers are doing it for the money and some are not. But the blogging model doesn’t lend itself to paying for content.

  6. Look at those gorgeous Notting Hill brownies in that top photo. I want them, badly.

    But if I pay $2.49 for the recipe, they’d better be just as delicious as they look — and more delicious than brownies from a recipe I could have gotten for free.

    • I get the sense that they are, after I Googled them. Rave reviews from everyone who made them.

    • Cheryl, we all want our money’s worth but how many cookbooks have you bought in which the recipes just don’t work? I have several that I now only use for ideas or have to spend the time redeveloping the recipes because they apparently have never been tested! So although I have not decided yet how I feel about what Ms. Goldman is doing, I know that whether free or bought, nothing is guaranteed about the quality or workability of a recipe and we all need to find and decide what actually works best for us. If she does have people who pay her for her on-line recipes (is it any different than someone paying for a cookbook?) then it must mean her recipes work!

      • Good point, Jamie. All recipes are not created equal. And when you think about it, $2.49 is not much to pay for a good one.

  7. Wow! this post has gotten me to think in lots of ways. For example, I often think of a particular variation, or extravagant recipe and tuck it in my back pocket to use for an eventual cookbook… but what if I had a section of premium recipes?!?!

    In a quote, Marcy mentioned that food editors wanted original recipes that had not been published on websites. So… does charging for the recipe keep it original or is it already considered published?!?



    P.S. I test all of my recipes three or more times in three different kinds of pressure cookers – not all “food bloggers” do this but the result has garnered me a following that tursts my recipes. Would they pay for tested, distilled recipes?!?! Hmm… you’ve got me thinkin’!!

    • That is a good question. I think as long as they were behind a wall, they would not be considered published. Most bloggers who want to write cookbooks keep certain recipes back for it.

  8. I found this interview a really interesting read, until I got to the final paragraph:

    ‘I feel irritated by food bloggers because they adapt other people’s recipes. It would be demeaning to me to take someone else’s recipe. What if it took 5 to 10 years of distillation to produce that one amazing recipe, just for some blogger to dismantle it?’

    And now I just feel sad. Surely bloggers are sharing information and knowledge by sharing recipes, ‘dismantled’ or not? Isn’t that the spirit of the thing?

    • I can see both sides. Bloggers want to pass on good recipes, and some cooks who stake their reputation on their recipes don’t want them messed with and co-opted.

      • Marcy’s last paragraph caught my attention as well. And no much because I am a food blogger. But because I am someone who prepares food A LOT. Mainly for my family. But also for friends. And sometimes helping out in volunteer functions that involve food.

        It caught my attention because when someone says they are ‘irritated’ and ‘feel demeaned’ I want to respect their feelings and better understand where it is coming from. Understanding them, helps me to improve what I do – particularly with the blog.

        So here is my conundrum.

        Changing recipes is second nature to me. I do it all the time. I never thought of it as dismantling. I never thought that the recipe author would only accept it being made only as directed.

        I change recipes for many reasons. Allergies. Dislikes. Super likes (that would mean ‘amp up the lemony’ for me). Digestive concerns (corn makes my mother-in-law fart). Limitations (vegans, vegetarians, Jewish, Muslim, etc.). Respecting what I have on hand (No Swiss chard? Beet greens might do.)

        I like to write about what I make. That happens through my food blog. I think I tend to praise good recipes. I do go on about the changes I made. I attribute.

        Marcy, help me. What am I balling up? How can I write better posts, in a way that is best respecting your point of view?

        [BTW, I have no issue with your subscription approach. It is your business to run as you see fit. The ‘snob’ and ‘how dare you’ comments are judgments that are out of line. If you really are that rock solid on your recipes, I would happily pay $2.49 instead of searching on my own, interpreting whether it sounds good enough, doing my own trial and error to get it my version of ‘right’. As much as I love to play in the kitchen, sometimes I need ‘perfect’ right away. My time is worth a lot of money to me. Not that I am suggesting you jack your prices. 😉 ]

        • Dear @ Amwaters and everyone,

          It is amazing to see ‘myself’ as my interview comments, sprung into another sort of ‘reality’, come to life on this awesome blog. Note to self: next time say less or say all – but I now recognize the impossibility of doing both or either effectively. I now understand why reality TV participants ‘see themselves’ in another reality when they see footage of themselves – it just plays out or in this case, ‘reads’ a little differently than one would like.

          Here’s the thing – ‘dismantling’ or analysing a recipe until you’ve either gotten at its soul or lost it – and chatting it up is something that some of the finest food magazines do as well as some bloggers. Often, it is superb food for thought, community, and a pathway to more culinary understanding and learning.

          But ‘dismantling’ is is an off-the-cuff and very loose term I used – and that said, taking apart, tweaking, reframing, or otherwise playing around with an original recipe (or original way of doing a classic) is an art form. It’s just not one of mine (art forms). I am not good at following directions, or maps, or even well-intentioned advice from best friends. As a baker and a person, I suppose I have a bit of a rebel spirit. I love the clean sense of adventure in creating recipes(and the experience, training, and instinct to indulge it) OR simply love finding a recipe’s roots and with some research (as a food historian, food chemist, writer, chef, and story-teller) discovering a way to make it better or easier for someone else to replicate. It bugs me like wild to see recipes that are unnecessarily complicated or that haven’t been adapted Example? In 2011, it is no longer necessary to mix a teaspoon of baking soda in buttermilk to ‘neutralize’ it. Once ,when soda was chunky and inconsistent in texture, sure – it made sense -it dissolved the soda which then was dispersed more evenly in the recipe. Now? Such a recipe directive shows an unevolved recipe (one that was passed on and just never adjusted). You should be aware all the bubbles of soda-and-buttermilk is a good indication of allot of that leavening powder bidding you adios. Of course, it is your great grandmother’s famous recipe and that’s how she did it – I would never even attempt to get in the way of tradition, nostalgia, and love).

          If I have any (real) unease about taking things apart and observing what makes them tick or how to add/change/adapt a recipe, it’s only that there is so much adventure out there – for all of us – i.e. to create something new or is our own trademark. But it is with great humility to food bloggers, of every level, who create community, excitement, and discovering in a recipe that draws everyone’s attention to it – that they can create this clamour about existing recipes from their best friends or Gordon Ramsey – with their own gifts of cooking skills, writing prowess, and that same passion I have (but in a different way) to share. My only other point about dismantling (and this is highly personal) or chatting on about one recipe is that resistance I have in analysing too much and forgetting – only where there is ‘plenty’ can we even enjoy such ‘foodie inquiry’. It’s almost a luxury – but yes -it is part of gastronomy – this exploration of food …so there you go.

          I read somewhere that officially – if you change 7 ingredients (is that possible? My Matzoh Buttercrunch only has 3) the recipe becomes yours. Or if you changing the wording. But some people’s ability to re-create even a Tollhouse Cookie can be as inspired as Shakespeare’s use of language. Everyone has the same vocabulary to some extent – but only Will managed to re-write the English language in such a way that it is a whole new level of the game. (You can say the same of Chet Baker’s version of I’ve Never Been In Love -it becomes a whole new song). As you say too -sometimes you can crack the code of a new recipe in one try or it might take ten – but as my art teacher once said: quantity is not insurance of quality – You might be (on different days) a Rembrandt or a Picasso – but still both – masters. (Not to mention the accidental, instant discoveries in food and all else. For that – read the book Mauve – about how ONE colour changed the world)

          My litmus test about all things in the kitchen and life is this: intention. What is my intention?
          Do I want to create something original? Do I feel I’ve discovered a new technique that recasts an old recipe and makes it totally new? Do I want to celebrate another author’s brilliance? Do I want to bring people to the table, anyway I can – with my or anyone’s else’s recipes and have them find joy?
          Do I want to share but also earn by my craft and training?
          (And remember too – I am split between being a chef and writer – two different professions strangely fused in the art of food writing and cookbooks)

          Bottom line: you know -we all know – when we’ve created something new or magical and can call it ‘ours’. Or call it a ‘chunks’ of ours – just as each explorer found bits of North American and have their place in history -it’s part of a continuum for the most part.

          Again, regardless of any of my comments or views, check your intention in your endeavour.
          We all know when we are contributing in a way that resonates with some positive, unique, authentic part of us -and there are a zillion ways to do this in food.

          With warm wishes,

  9. … I find kind of weird to feel that someone is not recognized by his/her work… Of course that the aim of a blog is to share freely your experiences. Although sometimes it is really a business I don’t think it is correct to charge your recipes… of course I understand that it is not her blog and if somebody wants her recipes then you just have to by the magazine, like many other magazines, no? and this I find it more that fair!

    • She calls it a magazine, and since you have to buy a magazine to get the recipes, it’s a system we’re familiar with. And of course, she does share many recipes for free as well.

    • Hi All,
      No one has to ‘buy’ my magazine to get recipes – The newsletter and its free recipes are always free.
      You just sign up to be on the mailing list and that’s the easiest way to get the free recipes or my baking tips or updates about product reviews and all else. If one chooses to purchase a recipe or pay $5 for unlimited access to 2400 original recipes (which is what -2 cents a recipe?) -they are welcome to do so. I would remove that option but for the loyal nucleus of BB fans from 1997 who request I leave it online as a resource.

  10. This is such a thought provoking piece! I admire Marcy for having the insight and the guts to make her model work for her. However, it’s not for me. The image that I’m trying to brand is as much about my writing as my recipes. Furthermore, publishers will still give food bloggers contracts to publish cookbooks. Those bloggers are like us and willingly share their work on their blogs free of charge. In the hopes that my ultimate dream comes true and I’m able to publish a cookbook, I am holding back some of my recipes which will not be published except in the cookbook.

    As to Marcy’s comment, “I feel irritated by food bloggers because they adapt other people’s recipes. It would be demeaning to me to take someone else’s recipe. What if it took 5 to 10 years of distillation to produce that one amazing recipe, just for some blogger to dismantle it?” (1) Are there really any original recipes out there? (2) If you’re confident in your recipe being the best thing there is in this world and you’re given the proper attributes by the blogger who “dismantled” your recipe, where’s the harm?

    Thank you kindly for this thoughtful article, Dianne.

  11. Well now I feel thoroughly deflated and not sure I should bother posting an update on my blog if my chances of getting a book deal are as unlikely as winning the lotto!
    Besides that, the idea of paying is something Murdoch is trying to do with his newspapers, I’m not sure its a great success (with or without his reputation being sullied by phone-hacking). I’m glad if people just want to use my recipes, but then I’m small fry (with little chance of getting any bigger by the sounds of things…..)

    • Check out my post. Many bloggers have won the lottery, Angela.

      • Thanks Diane, I will! I guess we all have different aspirations for our blogs. My aim isn’t to write a cookery book, `but to use the blog as a platform to show my writing and to pass on what I find interesting about where I live. I’m sharing recipes that people in my market (in Provence) have shared with me, so its more a case of refining and passing on than coming up with original ideas.

        • Nothing wrong with that. In fact, a cookbook based on recipes people at your Provence farmer’s market have passed on to you sounds like a great idea.

    • HI Angela,

      Love your posting. My website, 15 years later- has never demonstrated it’s ‘worth’ – per se. But to be honest, I once believed someone/the powers that be woujld see such a great site and presto! Hollywood here I come.

      So – I am not too far different than you insofar as what garners a book deal or column or show may not be my website or a blog. It’s taken 30 years of freelance feature writing, teaching baking, consulting, giving speeches on baking and a ton of other things inbetween that are not too glamourous.
      It is also a fiction that all ‘cookbook authors’ are having an easy time. It was never the case in the past and certainly now, between blogs/websites and A-List food network stars and icons – the average cookbook author (which I am proud to be ranked – but that is how publishers categorize the middle ground that is most cookbook authors), is generally cobbling a living. The same might be said for all mid list creative sorts.

      Now this is the thing: if you do anything in life, blogging for a cookbook deal or plastic surgery to land a husband :) – I would say, it’s not about results and pay-off. I write and bake because I would do it anyway. I feel about words and wheat as I do about air, water, music and my three sons. I’m smitten. Book deal or not. I have a yearning to share what I know not only about recipes – but about life (much to the chagrin of my website visitors)

      Speaking of which – an average book deal is 10k – 35K or so. The time it takes for the average book to get from concept and writing to Amazon’s store? 1-3 years. So, that’s not a huge salary, all things considered (which is why whoever described a writer as an acrophobic with a working spouse wasn’t too far off; as a single other/author, I’ve written cookbooks in tandem with a ton of other things, done all at once). Overall, if you do the math (and this is factoring in a ton of self publishing sites as well) one would do better to go to Staples, print and bind a great family recipe collection and sell it online, via a great blog.
      It is not glamourous but it is practical, fun, and more ‘cookbook deal’ than one would think.

      You should not feel deflated. What I meant about winning the lotto odds are: you are more powerful than you know – more directed and talented than you can imagine. Blog because clearly, all of us love communicating and sharing but self publish, open a bakery, teach inner city kids cooking – there are so many choices and options to do what one loves and do well at it. And there is a broad spectrum of how to say it is or was a ‘success’. “Cookbook or book deal’ is only one outcome. Blogging is only one route. You don’t have to wait (in this life and in these times) for anyone to bestow anything on you. Recognize and invest in yourself. And furthermore, if you do a self published book and it takes off – the chances of Random House knocking on your door only increase.

      You are as ‘big’ and special as you think you are. And if no one (and trust me, when I was but 12 years old, and published a street newspaper called the Goldman Times) ‘read me’ – I would do the doing anyway. It’s about us hearing our own voice and echo.

      I do what I do because I have have a calling for it. I would do it anyway.
      And trust me (speaking of small fry), enough editors, publishers and agents have called me ‘small fry’ or encouraged me to write like this person or that – You have to learn to tune them out.

      So if you have a passion, think big from the inside out and don’t let anyone (even me) stop your passion or curb your destiny. Ultimately, you are the captain of your ship.

  12. I think whatever Marcy feels comfortable doing is up to her. Sure food bloggers give out free recipes but she has the right to do what she wants regardless of criticism. If it doesn’t work to her benefit she’ll make changes.

    It’s interesting because I teach culinary classes. The recipes that I post on my blog are all simple while I save the complex and more involved recipes for my classes. Occasionally I will post a photo of a menu that I teach. It never fails someone will write asking for the recipes. When I tell them this is one I teach in my class they always say they don’t live in town. I mention they can purchase the menu with recipes and detailed instructions for a fee. I never hear from them again. I do feel bad but I have no idea where these people live and my culinary classes are my business. I prefer not to give those recipes out for free. I suppose in some ways that’s how Marcy feels.

    • Yes, exactly. You don’t have to give someone those recipes for free. It is up to you what you choose to give away on your blog.

  13. I think this is great! Good for her. I have an online subscription to Cook’s Country because I trust the integrity of their recipes and this isn’t any different. If her readers trust her to that degree, so be it. True recipe development is a skill and there’s nothing wrong with being compensated for it.

  14. I so enjoy your blog Diane. I stumbled upon your blog after buying your “Will Write for Food” book. My husband and I have a sheep farm and sell our lamb meat at farmers markets. I had to learn how to develop recipes – so many people do not know how to cook lamb and it was hindering our sales. Your book has been extremely helpful.

    In my real life , I am a handknit designer and knitting and embroidery book author so I am coming from a different industry – although it is one that is also highly populated with women. I have been designing knitwear for over 30 years – for the past decade or so as a freelance designer and author.

    In the handknitting industry, we also have a similar problem with so many knitting patterns available for free on the internet. (Before that, knitters photocopied patterns out of books.) Now it is just so easy to get something for free on-line.

    That said, I do not give my designs away. I sell them to yarn companies and magazines and I also self-publish them on my website (selling them through Paypal and Payloadz). My patterns are beautifully photographed and laid-out in Adobe Indesign and they take a huge amount of my time.

    Knitters will buy patterns – and you don’t even need to be well-known for people to buy. If something is original, clever and beautiful they will pay for them – just like they will pay for books. They also download free patterns. How many of those patterns get knit? It is hard to tell. Those same knitters probably cook and bake. I do not know if they would buy recipes.

    I think it will take more recipe developers and cookbook authors selling their work in order to make this a trend. I look forward to seeing if the food-blogging industry goes this way or not. I am very interested in Marcy’s magazine subscription and I hope it works for her and continues to grow.

    Thanks so much for so many thought-provoking posts. My very best from a sheep farm in western Massachusetts.

    • Wonderful to hear from you, Kristin. Thanks for the kind words.

      It’s fascinating to read about parallels in other fields. It seems crazy to object to paying $2.49 for a product that has taken someone several hours to create and perfect, but I also understand why they would, given how many free recipes are out there. I imagine you don’t sell your patterns for that low a price either, yet I don’t see how she could charge more.

  15. It’s discouraging to me to hear Marcy–whose cookbooks I own and love–say that she finds individual bloggers who adapt recipes to be “irritating,” though at the same time I certainly understand and sympathize with her frustration over having her work co-opted into any of the giant recipe-aggregator sites that cannibalize without permission and often without regard to proper attribution of any kind (this, of course, happens even to those of us with food blogs who are neither professional chefs nor published cookbook authors, and I know from personal experience just how upsetting it is).

    My sense, as a food blogger who does indeed adapt recipes frequently but who also goes to lengths to provide complete attribution and to recommend the books of chefs/cookbook authors whom I admire, is that published cookbook authors these days must receive some of their most valuable advertising through the informal work of casual food-bloggers. I certainly don’t view Marcy as a snob, and I cringe at the notion of using someone’s recipe without making every effort to give credit where credit is due (I typically go so far as to explain in my posts exactly what changes I’ve made to every adapted recipe I use, and I always reword the recipes and their directions to reflect exactly what I did when preparing it). I believe in “blogging with integrity” and I hope Marcy’s irritation does not necessarily extend to every food blogger out there who adapts recipes; some of us are more conscientious than others, and many of us are very cognizant of the need to clearly and accurately provide full and proper attribution in every post where recipe adaptation occurs. I have never had a cookbook author request that I remove or alter a post, and a couple of significant cookbook authors (Tish Boyle, Nancy Baggett) have left positive and encouraging comments on my blog. Maybe food bloggers in general–and giant aggregators in particular– just need a serious lesson in the ethics of what constitutes proper use and/or copyright infringement?

    • Maybe they do, Jayne. I have tried my best to foster that kind of conversation on my blog.

      As for free advertising, I met a food blogger recently who was publishing recipes verbatim on her blog, and thought she was providing free advertising, so why would any author object? It’s an evolving field, and we’re still figuring it out.

  16. I started to write a comment last night, but decided to put it away for a few hours and digest over what I’d read… mostly because Marcy’s last comment felt really insulting to me, both as a food blogger and as a recipe developer.

    Kudos to Marcy for having the guts to take such a big step to protect her intellectual property, and for standing strong when challenged on her stance. However, I wish she could have stuck with advocating for her approach without putting down the entire food blogging community in the process.

    Granted, there are many many blogs out there written by cooks who freely borrow recipes from other sources (and who don’t always properly attribute the source, for that matter). But to extend that accusation to food bloggers in general discounts those of us who devote much of our time, love and energy to creating well-designed blogs full of attractive photos and original recipes. By the same logic, we could just as easily say that all journalists use illegal wiretaps, all actors will eventually divorce, and all politicians are Sara Palin.

    I understand the source of her irritation, but I think it’s completely misdirected – the real culprits here are the big aggregators who benefit from user-submitted content without validating ownership or copyright. We’ve ALL been there. We’ve all stumbled across someone borrowing our recipes and photos without giving credit. We’ve all submitted DMCA notices to a big site, only to be get a form letter response from their legal department indicating that “recipes are not protected by copyright”. Directing that frustration at the community as a whole isn’t productive, and it tears down what we’ve worked so hard to build.

    But it’s as Marcy said… all roads lead to Rome. It’s up to us to decide why we blog in the first place and what matters most to us… and for me, the sharing of knowledge and love of food matters far more than the occasional inconvenience of filing a cease and desist when my content is abused.

    So there’s my $0.02… I’ll give it away for free this time, though. :)

    • Thanks for speaking up, Isabelle, and for free. There’s no question that the sites that steal recipes are culprits. And that some food bloggers cut and paste freely, which is wrong.

      Re adapting recipes, I suppose every time we riff on a pre-existing recipe and publish it, we are taking advantage of someone else’s knowledge and experience. The question is about what kind of damage we are doing in the process.

      • I think it’s a good point, Dianne.

        I think the real long-term solution to this problem lies in teaching misguided bloggers to understand the impacts of using someone else’s recipe and on how (and when) to provide proper attribution, so that we can minimize that kind of damage.

        There’s certainly been a lot of great discussion on that topic here, and other resources for bloggers… hopefully we can keep it going. Plagiarism and copyright infringement is a problem for anyone who generates original content of any kind. The only solution is education – everything else is a temporary band-aid.

  17. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with Marcy’s approach, but I have to say I don’t see why she keeps doing it if it is making so little money. I get the idea of wanting to protect her life’s work, but I think it is a little obsessional. People re-publish recipes from Herbivoracious without my permission and in violation of my copyright frequently, and yes, that is annoying (and illegal). But the annoyance of that is so completely trumped by the community and opportunity (including a book deal) that has come from having it be a free and open blog – and it makes more money too.

    That said, if you really want to charge for recipes online, I think you’ll make way more money by selling eBooks. That is what all the bloggers in the “make money online” space do – they give away some info and sell eBooks of their “special reports”, and it seems to do well. I don’t think there is any reason it can’t work for recipes if they are promoted correctly.

    • I think you’ve given her a free idea, Michael! Maybe she could make more if she packaged her recipes that way. Brilliant!

  18. I find this topic quite interesting. I have a food blog and have gotten a book deal because of it. But, I still had to write a proposal, etc., and get an agent. Writing a blog is one way to get noticed. Also, publishers want to see on online presence–a platform. They want to see that people will read and use your work. And they want to see how you write recipes and how your readers like them. I am thinking that not many unknown folks have a chance in Hades of getting readers on a closed site, much less a book deal. I think the current system will not favor this model for everyone. There are just too many free sites out there. I know that I bypass any site that calls for membership to access recipes. They are not appealing to me. I will and do buy cookbooks by the dozen.

    I agree with Michael. The approach listed here seems strange given that she is not making money on it–which kind of seems to be her goal. And, I too like the community I have as a result of my blog. There are many reasons to blog and share recipes, not just making money on it.

    On the other hand, there are folks on eBay who steal recipes from open sites like AllRecipes and sell them for $2.00 a pop. And people seem to be buying them. So who knows what will happen?

    • Wow. I did not know about that on e-Bay. Fascinating, Jeanne!

      Your model is different from Marcy’s. She’s a print freelance writer and cookbook author who entered the online world afterwards. She was accustomed to getting paid for her work, and had a different mindset.

      It’s kind of strange that we will buy cookbooks and pay for recipes that way, but not pay for recipes online. It makes no sense, but I have also done the same.

    • Dear all,

      The goal was not to make money – the goal was indeed to protect copyright – Most months, all the recipes are all free for the month and then retired into the archives.
      Ages ago – writers of all sorts of content wrote for print newspapers. All of their works (this is writers worldwide) was dumped into huge data bases (we didn’t even know there was an Internet on the way).
      Now, the electronic rights suits are just beginning to be settled – and courts have ruled in each suit -globally, for the writers.

      It is not about 1-2 recipes being taken and put elsewhere – putting a value on recipes sort of prevents the bigger offenders (as the print newspapers were, and nowadays, larger sites) from scooping up acres of work (be it recipes or music).
      There is so much complexity to all of it I could not begin to share it all. But it is about free will and free enterprise.

      BTW: No one has to pay a cent to be on my mailing list and receive my monthly magazine and free recipes so I am not sure about the comment about not ‘joining a site that calls for membership to access recipes”. The monthly free recipes are free each month they are featured – and some are always free and bonus ones – also – always free.

      I think as Dianne mentioned – for those of us who were in print and writing professionally before the internet – our perspective is different. But if someone charges or doesn’t for their work – I am, as a consumer – free to choose if I purchase or not.

      I also – speaking randomly, tend to trust blogger recipes over corporate site recipes. I like a voice and author with my recipes – i.e. a real person.

      • Marcy:
        Please forgive me for the tone of my original response to this post. I was on my iPad at the time and it turns out that one cannot shift up and down through the comment box–so I couldn’t go back and edit what I had written. I agree–the model you are using is just fine and does much to subvert the folks who are stealing recipes from the more free sites. And I think it is different for you–as someone who already has a following and a known name–than someone who is starting from an unknown status.

        I think this is an issue that falls into the larger “how can we protect our recipes if we can’t copyright them” issue. We, as a food community, need to figure this out more definitively, I think. Of interest: as a (new) cookbook author, I am now more interested in protecting my recipes and the creative work that goes into them. The difference is: now I am a professional. I no longer want to give everything away, willy-nilly. I have now moved into a different category and have a commodity (skill at developing recipes) that has been recognized as valuable (at least by my publisher) that I want to protect. So, this topic has many complicated angles. I am still trying to figure out what this means for me and how I want to proceed with my blog.

        I also trust blogger sites more than I trust the big random recipe sites. And I trust certain bloggers over others because the recipes I try work and are good.

  19. I know! The eBay thing boggles the mind because the folks buying the recipes are already online, so they theoretically have the resources to find free recipes.

    Also, you make a good point–if you already have your foot in the door of cookbook publishing, it is hard to understand how hard it is to get s book deal these days without having an online free recipe presence.

    Part of the appeal of cookbooks, at least for me, is that I can look through them before I buy them. I don’t buy them sight unseen. Also, I still like to go through cookbooks as books. I read them, use them for reference, plan future meals with them. Not the same with a recipe site.

    • Maybe you don’t, but but a ton of people buy cookbooks from Amazon, sight unseen. And many of us never try more than a few recipes. So maybe in the end we’ve paid a lot more than $2.49 per recipe.

  20. Hello all,

    I wanted to firstly thank Dianne Jacob for hosting me ’96 so to speak ’96via this great and gutsy interview that now appears on her fabulous blog.

    I feel I would like to clarify a few points –

    For one thing, I am characterized by all who know me ’96 as someone who would give away the farm if I could. Imperfect and human I am, but I would not consider a lack of generosity one of my flaws. That said, as a writer, as well as a baking creator, I do think my work, and those of people who have chosen to make their living and support their families by their craft, passion, expertise and training – (whether they be brain surgeons, social workers, pilots, or teachers) ’96 should be judged for earning a living. No one thinks a dentist should be free nor do we expect free lawn care or tutoring services. But somehow, and this is a long standing issue for anyone in a creative endeavour, we flinch at paying for intellectual property ’96 which recipes (to me at least) are. I consider a great recipe I create and write up as culinary haiku. This is true of Julia Child, James Beard et al – or simply the way MFK Fisher could describe a slice of bread. Great recipe writing is also how we transmit our heritage and culture.It’s just that whether one is Martha Stewart, me, or Jane Doe ’96 there is a certain democratic, wild west feel to the Internet. But we all, talented amateurs and professionals both, in the same web and blog pool. It doesn’t make one better necessarily but the foundation and goals the various types of contributors is quite different.

    The problem in the negative perception about putting a monetary value on recipe might be three-fold:

    1. We consider food and recipes as part of the common table ’96 so to speak. Food, is first and foremost, about nurturing, sustaining ourselves. It is about culture, community and breaking bread; it’s about about sharing and hospitality ’96 so it rubs most of us the wrong way to perceive of recipes ’96 a hybrid domain of amateur cooks and bakers, as well as chefs, something to ’91sell’.

    2. We all somehow expect the “web’ and its content ’96 to be free ’96 whether it is music, art, videos or….recipes.

    3. Recipe creation and documentation ’96 in itself something that is a hybrid thing. (it takes a chef/food sense as well as a communication expertise ’96 great recipes, well crafted, well documented work for everyone. Bad ones? Never fly out the kitchen). When I offer something like Notting Hill Brownies ’96 I didn’t just invent it yesterday ’96 I studied years at pastry school, baked/experimented since I was 7, ran wholesale baking companies and delivered brownies and carrot cakes until I was too pregnant to bake and deliver, and have written about food for 20-30 years. So that Notting Hill Brownie represents a distillation of flour, butter, study, trial, error, instinct and yes ’96 magic . It is some equation. That equation also includes my somewhat motherly care in making the recipe as trouble-free as possible, knowing great bakers and newbies alike will make it ’96 I want success for everyone.

    True, recipe creation is not world peace nor rocket science but it is (to me) something of value. I do what I do as a result of passion, trending, luck and some ability. I take pride in being a baker.

    But if you read about copyright law, for example, you will see that a ’91recipe’ ’96 cannot even be copyrighted ’96which says something about how we view food creation. (Plus this brings to the table another issue ’96 the first Tollhouse Cookie? That’s original. Years later ’96 David’s, Famous Amos, Mrs. Field, Levain Bakery Cookies et al? New stuff? Probably not? But re-crafted, tooled and concepted until they are cookies that each and all (to me) are another state of the art deserving of their due. I’ve had recipes of mine presented at the Smithsonian ’96 simply because they became so famed ’96 almost cultish (Caramel Matzoh Buttercrunch) that they changed the very way people celebrate with food, at their table.

    As a baker ’96 I wish I could give away my recipes and all I bake. Perhaps one day I will again.

    As a writer, I am balky about people borrowing my works, planting it everywhere and anywhere without credit.
    If I were a Food Network star, fashioning cookware for Cuisinart, or endorsing spatulas, had a ton of commercials, magazines, a show etc. ’96 then ’91giving away’ my recipes would be seen as part of platform and I would rest easier ’96 aware that I was earning my keep ’96 so to speak ’96 via other related revenue streams.

    But I am a writer, baker and publisher. My recipes ARE the main event. My website is not a vehicle for a baking show or a magazine called Marcy Bakes ’96 it is the ’91source’ product. Most online magazines for example, such as Epicurious, began as online promotion for the print life of Food and Wine, Bon Appetit et al. This is not the case with Nor is there evidence that if I give out all my recipes freely, someone is motivated to purchase one of my cookbooks.

    Now ’96this all said ’96 I give away a ton of recipes all the time ’96 and invent new ones just for my visitors and fans, freely, and for the sheer joy of it. I’ve never refused anyone a subscription for free ’96 I often gift subscriptions and recipes. And I have also, for years, and in this economy in particular, I’ve spent hours and hours, mentoring home bakers setting up their first retail baking operation.

    More than that ’96 I am accountable for all my recipes. If you have a concern or simply need baking help ’96 whether you follow my work or not or subscribe – I have been more than delighted, for 15 years online, to offer and share free baking expertise, directly from me/my kitchen …to anyone who has ever emailed me. Surely that ups the value of that $2.49 per recipe ’96but more than that ’96 speaks to my generosity and commitment to my readers and their success in baking.

    I share the craft via information I’ve never seen anyone else do ’96 Because those trade secrets are precious ’96 and freely given.

    I appreciate the lively debate on this blog concerning my work. I do think however, there is a sense of , as Oprah once put it “how dare she?”.
    How dare someone honour their work? How dare we say ’96as women, as foodies, as anyone : I have a value?
    How dare someone go against the trend of expectation?

    But I can understand the comments ’96 and respect them. And perhaps it will help me evolve how and what I do.

    Whether you buy my books or anyone else’s, from Jane Austen to Julia Child (two of my heroes), nothing beats a book. Online, I can offer fun things like The Help’s Caramel Cake but in a book, between two covers, is where I can share my baker’s soul ’96 with a wealth of information that only a book can host ’96 versus a website. A book is a beautiful thing. (but sure, I love having all my own recipes, via my website, handy on my Iphone so when I visit my brother in the country and they ask for my ‘apple squares’ I just click away and find the recipe online. But I also love my own messy, greasy, cookbooks in my kitchen, open at such recipes as Notting Hill Brownies, Lawsuit Muffins and Majestic Honey Cake (also free this month at my website)

    One last comment – I never meant to put down all food bloggers. There are inspired food bloggers (and also in the venue of scent/perfume – blows me away – the talent out there. I am awed by the talent pool, energy and inventiveness (not to mention the food photography). I just think whether we are pros or not – website hosts, authors or bloggers – the idea of any one act any of us doing resulting in a huge result or reward is not always that likely. I encourage everyone (myself included) to a) do all things within the domain of their passion or pursuit and b) to be as original as they can – It’s flattering to have people bake my recipes – but I am thrilled when someone sends me their own recipe (which yes, I try – I love learning and love other people’s food).
    Trust your own original culinary footprint –

    Marcy Goldman

  21. If Marcy’s managing to sell her recipes, then great, more power to her. It’s shocking people would send her insulting e-mails — people clearly feel a misplaced sense of entitlement, and she doesn’t owe any recipes to anyone. Those who say they blog only to share recipes with online friends — great. That’s not everyone’s goal.

    But this isn’t a model that would work for everyone. She can sell recipes like this because she has an established print reputation. For most of us, our blogs are our primary platform for building a reputation that may lead to future opportunities. Either way, I think it’s good news for all of us blogging to know that there are multiple potential models for making money, even if the sums are modest.

    As for the inordinate amount of attention her last comment is getting, sure, it’s understandable that she’d be upset if she feels that someone is belittling the effort she puts into her recipes. But since we don’t all have identical taste buds, perfect recipes don’t exist.

    • It’s a good point that she is already established, while most food bloggers began as newbies. Regardless, a quality recipe is a thing of beauty, regardless of where it appears and whether it’s free or costs money.

  22. This issue of recipes and intellectual property is such a complex one and, in relation to bloggers surely the decision to request payment, or indeed to buy a recipe from them, should be a personal one?
    One of my biggest pet peeves is un-tested or poorly tested recipes. I’ve got plenty of cookbooks that I’ve paid big bucks for, only to find that the recipes are inadequately tested and don’t turn out as promised without major tweaking. I’ve got no come-back against the author or publisher when this happens, so it’s money down the drain.
    At least if I was to buy one/some of Marcy’s recipes I would know that it was reliable and would have access to her through her blog if it wasn’t. She’s put the effort in and done the work on them, so I think she’s entitled to charge or not, as she chooses. Just as I am entitled to pay or not, as I choose.

  23. As a blog reader, I would be willing to pay $2.49 for a recipe from someone whose work I admire and trust. The rub is, however, that those individuals for me are few and far between because they must fit into the persnickety subset of foods and writings I enjoy. I know these individuals through their previously published work, so I have a history of paying for and finding value in their recipes. Most of these individuals are long time culinary professionals. I would rather spend a couple bucks on a recipe i feel I can trust, than waste ten or twenty on ingredients headed for the compost bin. I think it is great Marcy can make this model work. She is protecting her legacy while showing she values her work. I think it speaks to her professionalism. Her model may not work across the board, it may even be reviled by some, but it shows that are alternative models that work.

    • Well, I don’t know how well it works, since she doesn’t make much money from it. But she does have cookbooks, if you’re interested.

  24. This is such an interesting topic for debate! What is unique about so many bloggers is their motivation – it’s a hobby and an outlet for creative expression, which ultimately is why so many of them are willing to give their content or their recipes away for free. That being said, there are certainly bloggers who work hard to make a living at blogging – to develop a following, and earn enough to sustain themselves. Overall, not charging kind of sends a message to the people who could or maybe should (depending on your opinion) be paying for them that they don’t need to pay for them because they can always find someone else willing to do it for free. It creates quite a conundrum! I say good for her for protecting her work!

    • You have parsed the whole situation well, Jen. Once bloggers get a book deal, they may not be so excited about giving away free recipes. But yes, recipe developers now compete with bloggers who give their work away.

  25. I think if she wants to sell those recipes, more power to her. If she has worked so hard for the perfect creation, why not? People sell their recipes in cookbooks right?

    I am no expert on creating new recipes, but I like to show people how certain foods can be modified to be a little healthier, or even a little more to a person’s personal taste. Not everyone’s taste-buds are the same! I don’t mind if someone uses my recipes and modifies them AS LONG AS they are crediting the original recipe back to me.

    I had a newspaper steal my grilled pizza recipe ( and the only change they made was using from-scratch dough and adding pinenuts. Oh and how they got that recipe? I was asking someone in an e-mail if they were in need of any health-food bloggers on their website and listed that recipe as an example of my work. No response except for the recipe in the paper the next week.

    So I can see why she would want to keep her recipes to herself if she is working THAT hard on them! If you haven’t experienced this recipe thievery, you may not understand why she is doing this.

    • Wow. That is pretty pathetic of the newspaper, Amanda. Good point that it might take being on the other side of recipe development to understand it.

  26. What’s most interesting to me is the emotional language being used here: “snob,” “how dare she,” “refusing to share.” It’s fascinating that, for some people, this is an emotional issue, rather than a business one, i.e. “Does charging for recipes work?” Sounds like it does for Marcy.

    • Interesting point, Tricia. Maybe that’s because most bloggers do it as a hobby and not a business. I haven’t heard from many cookbook authors on this post — perhaps they would have a different perspective.

  27. Thanks for bringing this more unusual business model to us and of course, inspiring the debate that follows. It’s definitely a tricky one because at times, if you’ve really worked hard on a recipe and tinkered it can feel frustrating to see it get reproduced everywhere. Everyone has talked about the music industry, but in reality it’s much easier to “steal” or copy a recipe. I think it’s a hard balance because in many ways, cooking is a fluid business and as much as we come up with our own things we’re still borrowing from everywhere – things we eat in restaurants, meals we have at others’ houses, etc. It’s something I always struggle with because on one hand I think when people spend a lot of time testing they should absolutely be compensated, but on the other, with fair attribution I do think the spirit of sharing makes all of us stronger cooks and the recipes better. It’s an issue I go back and forth on and I admit that like another commenter posted, it can often be a more emotional issue rather than a financial one.

    • There is a huge spirit of sharing in the food community, agreed. But that’s different than ripping off someone’s work. I think it’s pretty easy to tell which is which.

  28. Have you ever read some of those recipes at sites like Allrecipes? The original recipe is never the recipe everyone uses, you have to weed through the comments and decide who added what with the best results to get a version that may or may not work for you. It kind of reminds me of the older women in our neighborhood when I was a child. My mom would never ask a certain group of women for their recipe because she knew they’d always leave out an ingredient or alter the recipe to be spiteful and guard their precious family secrets. Personally if there was a tried and true TESTED recipe for something I really wanted to make, paying $2.49 for a recipe is a heck of a lot cheaper than wasting money on ingredients for a recipe that may or may not turn out how you expected.

  29. Fascinating discussion. I love cookbooks. We have a bit of a book embargo, so now I “try” cookbooks through the library or a friend before purchasing. I also have a subscription to Cook’s Illustrated & their premium online.

    I also am holding out on giving a recipe for the first time in my life. I give a lot of recipes out and even on the hold out I gave hints.

    If she wants to put it behind a wall, that’s great. Try her books. If you like those recipes, then the $2.49 is just a bit more than a single brownie from a lot of coffee shops.

    • Very sensible approach, Ava. And good of you to mention that Cook’s Illustrated has a premium online service that people are willing to pay for — you’re one of them!

  30. All great comments and I’ve learned alot by reading this. I searched google to find out if anyone out there is charging for their recipes and am happy to have landed here.

    I’ve been posting recipes galore for the past few months (have been writing a book for years) for free, then decided to put them into “books” purchasable online…meantime continuing to post…daily! I have a handful of paying subscribers, and they are very happy with their books (I produce an online book every 2 months) – but in the past few days I have not posted a recipe…..low and behold, a non-paying customer emailed me asking me why I am not posting…

    I’ve been thinking about charging for the recipes for a while but have been affraid of losing my following… no longer ! These are MY recipes and they should not be FREE!

    Thank you – this is greatly appreciated ! (If you don’t mind I will share this article!)

    • Good for you, Lynn. Best of luck with the paying model. I hope it works. And yes, please do share this post. I encourage it.

  31. Hello I would like to know how to sell my receipt’s online Thank you in advance


    • Well Ilga, there’s no obvious answer to that. This post was about one person’s experiment. Perhaps you’ll have one too.

  32. Goldman’s last statement is very telling ( I feel irritated by food bloggers because they adapt other people’s recipes. It would be demeaning to me to take someone else’s recipe. What if it took 5 to 10 years of distillation to produce that one amazing recipe, just for some blogger to dismantle it?)

    “Well then”, just what does she think she herself has been doing for years? Goldman’s recipes are not original to her, she has been adapting and dismantling other peoples recipes to achieve her recipes!

    Take Goldman’s Notting Hill Brownies for instance, did she create the brownie? No she didn’t, because one of the first brownie recipes was in print in the Home Cookery in 1904, and I don’t think Goldmans that old is she?

    She adapted someone else’s recipe to her liking, and added a few extra names to it.

    She should ask herself this: were do I get the beginning recipes that I changed and now call my own?

    The answer is: she took them from someone else…………….

    • Of course there was the first brownie recipe, and many recipes followed. It’s one thing to change one ingredient, and another to spend hours in the kitchen trying to come up with something new.

  33. Good day,

    I hope my inquiry is not a bother. I am looking to buy original vegetarian recipes that I can post “exclusively” in my website. The recipe must be original and not posted anywhere else for this reason.

    Is there a chance I can purchase an original recipe?

    Please let me know how this can materialize.


    • If you’re willing to pay a decent amount ($150-$250), many food bloggers and cookbook authors would be delighted to create original recipes for you. You just have to find the ones who have recipes you like, and ask.

  34. I have sold recipes on eBay for a couple dollars each. People do pay for recipes believe it or not. If I was a massage therapist, does that mean I should give massages for free? If you have a skill or product, why can’t you charge for it? People pay to have resumes written for them, so those are just words on paper but useful words for the buyer. It’s all how you perceive what she is doing. If I were to sell recipes online, I would probably come up with maybe a monthly subscription around $3 and allow them access to all those recipes. That would give the buyer more value and probably willing to pay for it.

    • I had no idea you could sell recipes on EBay! Fascinating. But it would take a long time for individual sales to add up to anything. That’s the problem with Marcy’s model, even though she has a subscription model.

  35. I didn’t read every comment and I apologize if someone allready said this, and I don’t want to be rude, but. What te hell is wrong with you people? Why are you complaining about paying for the recipes? Is someone forcing you to buy them? While you already have “free” ones and the same ones on the net.
    You can have free apps for your iphones but you still buying some, you can have free tv, music and many other things but you still buying them if you choose to or if your “neighbor” has them. This woman is working for this and you are going to pay if you want it! If you don’t like it you can search elsewhere!
    Go create something instead of being leeches…

    • Well Mark, no one is forcing people to buy Marcy’s recipes, that’s true. And apparently not enough people are willing to pay for her excellent recipes for her to make a decent income from them. That is the point I’m trying to make. The model she’s tried is not terribly successful, but you have to give her credit for going for it.

      • I’m actually on her side. I agree that she should charge for her creativity, time, money and everything else she invest into her project (or job or hoby or call it however you like). I just don’t understand that egoism in people who think that it should be free. I mean the part, “Oh, she make such a good recipes and her meals are the best. But we WANT it for FREE or we will crucify her…”! Thats the “angry mob” part which I can’t stand.

        • Okay, thanks for the explanation. It makes sense. “Pirate her book?” Sorry Mark, I’m not with you on that one. Absolutely not. And no reason to curse. I took that out.

      • And yes, it’s hard for her i guess. But she choose to be pioneer in this, and to be one is always hard. Eventually it’s going to pay off. Either through money or through life accomplishment at some point, satisfaction is possible for everyone who strive to work and who love what they do…

        • Marcy is an accomplished cookbook author, so her career is already established. Being good at recipe writing has already paid off. But for many cookbook authors, it’s not a sustainable living.

  36. Hi I am creating a blog myself and even though I am not selling my recipes (they will be free) I do, however, have products, cookbooks, and magazines you can purchase cheap. But thats not why I am writing this comment… I love the way you set up your site and was hoping to link to your site as a referecne. Then maybe you could link back to mine. Please help me out.

    • Hi Myreon,

      The fact that you have left a comment means that people can click on your name and it will go to your site from mine. Congrats on setting up your new blog and best of luck.

  37. I congratulate Marcy for charging. I have seen photos of her recipes, and they look amazing! I have a food blog, and after three years of blogging for free I have three recipes that I charge for and will continue to add to this list.
    I first shared two of these recipes for free, but after sending numerous DMCAs to scraping sites and bloggers who copied them entirely, I decided to make them private and charge for them. I now have a third, and although I haven’t received any angry letters, I feel uncomfortable because of the whole blogging community etc. like Carrie has questioned. That is why I ended up here, and I have to say this post has help me understand it is OK, thanks Dianne.
    As for the question, why would your blog readers pay when the can get the same recipe for free elsewhere? – On every post we try to give our very best. We build an audience of loyal readers, people who cook our recipes and understand our writing style and recipe format. In my case I have build reader’s confidence in my recipes. I give out a lot of free recipes, tips and advice on baking, cooking etc, so I do think it is OK if I charge for a few recipes that I have now made exclusive since I also use them in my business. Instead of giving my business secrets for free, I charge a little. Readers who have tried your recipes will pay for it.
    I also would like to add that hopefully a recipe you sell is not a copy of something that is online. Although at time it could be very similar, it should be your exclusive recipe, something you have cooked since before food blogs. It should be a recipe you have prepare and tested many times, that includes your notes of triumphs, trials and variations before you share it or sell it… that’s what makes it different and valuable and why your readers will want it.

    • Hi Marie, I think it is fine for you to charge for your best recipes, particularly as you have explained them. The question of why your content should be free is a good one. I’d say it can be free if you have other ways to make money, ex. through ads. But there is no rule that says it must be.

  38. Hey guys,

    We created, an online marketplace we think you’d be interested in, given the topic.

    You can think of it as a sort of iTunes or Etsy for recipes. We’re in Private Beta right now, so if you’re curious about how it works, just request an invite. You’ll get an online shop designed specifically for publishing recipes, and lots of other features you can find out more about here:

    We started it because we truly believe readers want to reward good content. We always have, when given the opportunity. We’ve paid for music, graphics, books, fonts, even when they were made available for free. Why should recipes be any different? They’re pieces of creative content too, just like songs, code, or digital graphics. And food is such an important part of our lives.

    There’s no arrogance in acknowledging the value of one’s work and asking consumers to do the same. It doesn’t mean you’re betraying your followers, either. Free content and paid content don’t exclude each other. The Premium model has been a successful one for decades in the publishing business.

    Of course, we can only make an educated guess at this point, but we trust it enough that we’re willing to do the work and find out if it really works. All new ideas seem crazy at first, it’s just a matter of trying really. We’ve got to start somewhere, and we’re looking for people who are willing to try with us.

    Let’s do this foodies! 😀

    Yeah, we’re pretty excited about it. :) Hope you get excited too, and we’ll get to hear from you soon.

  39. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get several e-mails with
    the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?

  40. My mother has a folder full of old recipes. Are you interested in buying them from her?

    • Kare, most recipe developers come up with their own recipes from scratch. I am not sure who would buy your mother’s recipes, unless she was famous.

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  43. Please advise how I can contact you regarding a partnership to launch a new product? I am in need to 6 recipes.

    Thank you,

  44. I was excited to find this site. I want to to thank you for ones time just for this wonderful read!!

    I definitely liked every little bit of it and i also have
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  46. It is very good idea to selling recipe online.It is very simple and fast process.And i would like to thank you for having service like this.

  47. It is very good idea to selling recipe online.It is very simple and fast process.

  48. Marcy Goldman said: What if it took 5 to 10 years of distillation to produce that one amazing recipe, just for some blogger to dismantle it
    What a ridiculous statement!
    Let’s be sincere this is exactly what recipe writer has being doing for the last 100 years! they take a well know recipe and redo their own version with the exception of 1 every 1000 recipes are 100% originals.

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