1. Tips and Tricks

Land your first recipe development job from home

If you’re always the one at the office party or cookout who’s always asked for your recipe, think twice before revealing your secret ingredients. You can be paid for that! Becoming a professional recipe developer is a fun and creative way to earn a side hustle or even start a new career. Recipe developers work for a variety of companies, from newspapers to magazines to food brands. They are mostly paid by freelance positions and recipes. Most food companies today are looking to connect with their customers online and offering recipes featuring their products is a popular choice. There are literally millions of recipes out there and someone had to come up with them. For you, this means an unlimited amount of potential gigs. Not all of them pay well (or at all), so finding your niche can be a little difficult.

When I started my first regular recipe development job, I had absolutely no training in culinary arts or journalism. I didn’t even have any experience with other companies! You don’t have to be a really famous food blogger or even have a large audience to start pitching your recipe writing services. All you need is a love for cooking and a little perseverance. Here are 5 steps to get you started

Start a food blog

While you don’t need the prettiest or most popular food blog, you do need some samples of your work. Setting up a blog is a cheap and easy way to accomplish this. Not only is it a living, breathing portfolio of your work, it’s a way for potential clients to find you. Aim to have about 10 recipe posts ready before launching your blog. You’ll want a rich sampling of different foods. If you’re interested in going with a specific niche like slow cooker recipes, feel free to stick with it.

If you already have a food blog, make sure you have a “Hire Me” page on your main menu. All this page requires is a picture of you and any services you wish to pay for. Some examples include original recipe development, food photography, food styling, social media management, etc.

Break that camera

To really stand out to potential clients, you need to include pictures with your recipes. It doesn’t matter if you came up with the most delicious lasagna in the world. If the dish looks blurry and gray in the picture, no one will be interested. We eat with our eyes first, so images are important. That being said, don’t drop thousands for the best DSLR camera. You can still take beautiful, bright, clear photos with a point and shoot camera or even an iPhone.

Start by looking at popular food blogs or Pinterest for inspiration. Note your favorite colors, dining space and styling. Always aim to shoot in natural light and have fun with it. Once you’re happy with your images, use a free service like PicMonkey to edit them There are tons of YouTube videos to teach you exactly what to look for

practice and practice

As with any skill, the only way to get better at cooking and photography is through practice. Pinterest is great for recipe inspiration. If you are at a restaurant, look at the menu and try to recreate the dish at home. There are thousands of food bloggers out there, so you need to hone your skills to stand out.

When writing recipes, try to keep the instructions as simple as possible. Limit each step to no more than 2-3 sentences. Always proofread your work to make sure the recipe flows and you’re not jumping from one task to another and back again.

Start pitching

Now that you’ve built a solid portfolio comes the fun part – pitching! It’s helpful to remember that pitching is really a numbers game. The more you pitch, the more jobs you get. In the beginning, I would recommend pitching 10 companies per day. I know that sounds like a lot of work (and it is!), but it’s the fastest way to get your new career up and running.

If you’re not sure who to pitch, think globally and act locally. Start by pitching local newspapers, magazines and companies in your city. My first recipe development job was with our local parenting magazine, and the editor loved that I was a local mom. I have worked with them for years now.

Another way to get noticed is to contact the local press. Morning news shows often have cooking demonstrations and you never know when they’re looking for new talent. Email producers to all news outlets to start building your resume.

In your pitch, introduce yourself and mention why you want to work with this particular company. Give them a real compliment, like reading this column every Sunday or cooking with this product every week. Then provide a link to your blog and explain what you had in mind for this company. Always keep the focus on the needs of the company and how you can meet them.

Always follow through

When sending a pitch, the most important step is the follow-up. When I was first starting out, that was my biggest mistake. When I didn’t hear back from a company, I just assumed they weren’t interested in me.

The truth is people are busy, especially editors. They may receive hundreds of emails in a week or day, so don’t assume that one unanswered letter has anything to do with you. Keep track of your pitches so you can send friendly follow-ups regularly.

After I send a pitch, I always check-in 1 week later, then 2 weeks, then 1 month, and monthly after that. I aim to keep following up until I get an answer I keep this email short and friendly. I want to be noticed, but not to be a stalker.

Landing the task of developing your first recipe is the hardest part, but following these steps will get you there. Once you get your first one, the next one will be much easier. As soon as you start building your client base, companies will start coming to you!

Carrie Madormo is a freelance health writer and recipe developer, as well as a registered nurse. Her work has been featured on Livestrong.com, MetroParent and The Healthy Moms Magazine. She shares her tips for building a freelance career from home on her blog, Healthy work at home mom. Carrie lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and 2 children.

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