Hello, hello! Last week I posted my first new recipe in quite a few months and I think I own you an explanation of where I’ve been lately. The truth is…
I was sailing to Tahiti by myself when a big storm hit. My ship was taking on water fast. With only seconds before the ship capsized, I grabbed the few remaining sweet potatoes I had onboard and dove into the water. When I came to, I found myself marooned on a deserted South Pacific island where I survived by farming those sweet potatoes and drinking coconut water for several months until rescue arrived just last week.
It was a harrowing adventure, for sure, but we don’t have time for that story. So instead, I’ll just tell you the truth: I needed a bit of a break from recipe blogging! After 6+ years and 300 recipes, it started to feel like an endless stream of monotonous recipes that weren’t adding a lot of value. So, I took a break to gain some perspective.
In retrospect, I think a break was a really smart decision. Stepping away from blogging gave me a lot of new clarity and helped me see what was / wasn’t working and how I can retool, revitalize, and ultimately relaunch One Ingredient Chef as something much more focused on helping you make a plant-based lifestyle easier and more delicious.
Below, I just want to lay out some thoughts about the past, present, and future of One Ingredient Chef and the world of recipe blogging at large – what’s going well, what isn’t, and a handful of things I plan on doing differently moving forward…
One thing that really tripped me up with 1IC in the recent past is this question: if there are a hundred thousand recipe blogs, what unique value does this particular one have that you can’t find anywhere else?
It’s a good question because without that, what’s the point? There are probably a hundred good vegan-focused blog posts a day, so you might as well just read Cookie and Kate or Chocolate Covered Katie or something.
After reflecting on this quite a bit, I have come to realize even more clearly that my purpose with One Ingredient Chef is to help you make an unprocessed, plant-based lifestyle easier and more delicious.
That is what I can deliver better than anyone. The One Ingredient Diet concept is all about this goal. Whole, unprocessed, “one ingredient” food simplifies this lifestyle and (surprisingly) makes food more delicious as well. Each of the 300+ recipes I’ve made have tried to drive this point home.
But, I think there is a lot more that I could be doing in service of that mission, and the rest of this post is about the small tweaks coming to the “new” One Ingredient Chef that will help you make a plant-based lifestyle easier and more delicious.
More Focused Recipes
Recipe blogging is about getting as much Pinterest and Facebook traffic as possible. Why? Because traffic = money. This leads bloggers down a really narrow road. We’re always chasing new ideas that are flashy, clever, and have really enticing photos (at least 35 of them per post). It’s a pattern that works to get clicks and make money.
The question is, is that model helpful for you guys, the readers? I don’t think so. It’s kind of mindless, actually. “Pumpkin Spiced Air-Fryer Roasted Almonds for Halloween” (with 15 photos of the nuts inside a tiny pumpkin, of course) really aren’t going to make a difference in your life. It doesn’t make an unprocessed, plant-based lifestyle easier or more delicious.
If you are into that kind of thing, great. You have hundreds of places to find it. But moving forward on 1IC, I want to bring you guys mostly “staple” recipes that are the holy grail of plant-based cooking: fast, healthy, unprocessed, and super delicious. I don’t care about making them extra flashy or clever, and I don’t care about reaching a certain quota of posts per month to get more traffic. I just want to give you guys the most useful content I’m capable of creating.
Another issue that turned me away from blogging is that 99.3% of recipe bloggers seem to spend most of their time talking about how adorable their kids / dogs / husbands are and what cute things they found at Bed Bath & Beyond last week.
Me? I like training for ultramarathons in the mountains…
If I’m using my phone, it’s more likely to check the trail maps in Sedona than to check my Facebook comments…
I spend more time than I care to admit in Big Sur looking for the secret waterfalls and chasing after the turkey vultures…
I’m more interested in pursuing my creative passions like painting, making music, and developing apps than finding the right props for my food photos…
Because my interests are so broad, I didn’t feel like I fit into the mold of a food blogger, I don’t identify with that crowd, and that disconnect is one of the big reasons why I lost interest. But now, I see how there is actually a really important message behind my own story –
Everything good in my life is empowered to my unprocessed, plant-based diet. None of the things that make me “me” (like running, a love of nature, creativity across many mediums, etc.) would be possible without my health and diet at the center of it all.
Going plant based 10 years ago was the best decision I ever made. It helped me become a much better version of myself.
I feel like my health / diet / fitness level is currently the one area that is strongest in my life. Health is probably a 9/10 for me, and it gives me so much more energy and opportunities that I wouldn’t otherwise have. Part of that is just good fortune, I’m sure, but another part is the healthy diet and lifestyle choices I make.
I’m always peaching about how “food is power” and that “it can transform your life for the better.” I would love to show you more personally how that is so true in my own experience, because it absolutely is true for me.
It isn’t very natural for me, but I think it may be helpful to bring more of my own journey into this project; to share why I’m so in love with plant-based food, what I’m doing/learning about health, and how this spills over to enhance everything else in my life.
More Healthy Lifestyle Content
While I plan on continuing to do recipes, of course, I also want to start creating content that goes beyond recipes.
One of my favorite hobbies is studying nutritional research and finding ways to incorporate more healthy habits into my own diet through recipes, kitchen hacks, or whatever.
For example, I think my article The 8 Healthiest Foods to Eat Every Day is one of the best things I’ve written in years and I’d love to create more along those lines.
I have some really cool ideas for hybrid content that includes nutrition research with recipe / meal inspiration to help you understand the fundamentals (i.e. why berries are so good for you) and put them into practice through the foods you eat (i.e. here’s the 10 best recipes to get more berries in your diet).
That, in combination with more of my own personal experiences (see above) might be a really helpful addition to this website and I plan on experimenting more with those types of posts in the coming months. Be sure to leave me comments on new posts to let me know which types of content are / aren’t resonating with you!
More Real Value, Less Ads
A few years ago, some innovations in advertising really changed the game for food blogs and now many of them make tens of thousands of dollars a month just from these annoying display ads.
I mean, what’s not to love about generating thousands of dollars in passive income without having to lift a finger? …Well, I (like you) find them obtrusive and misaligned with my mission. Worse, I don’t even have any control over which ads are shown (did you hear that El Pollo Loco is having a sale this weekend?). They don’t help you make plant-based living easier and more delicious, so why are they here?
Personally, I think this is the lowest quality way to monetize a business. It’s like phoning in the responsibility of generating revenue by giving all your power to corporate AI robots who have no interest in your site or your message. It’s yet another reason why recipe blogging seems so *eye roll emoji* these days.
There’s got to be a better way…
Wouldn’t it be great if I could make sustainable income from One Ingredient Chef in a way that is actually HELPFUL to you instead of a way that is distracting from the very mission in the first place?
I can’t say that I have 100% of the answers yet, but I am hard at work dreaming up new products, services, and other income models that can more than make up for some or all of the ads while actually providing real value to you.
Some things I’m thinking right now:
- A private plant-based membership group to provide coaching / support on this journey, if there was any interest in that…
- Products and courses to help those who are new to plant-based eating transition to a more unprocessed diet…
- A recipe app. I also develop mobile apps in my spare time and I’ve been putting together a prototype for a plant-based recipe app which would feature most of my blog’s recipes plus some new ones.
- In general, I think there will be some really exciting opportunities to use technology to pave the way for a more plant-based world and I’d love to explore what that might mean.
Those are just a few ideas, but ultimately I think products along those lines could be much more meaningful ways to generate revenue than ads for Nordstrom’s latest shoes… so I’ll keep you posted on all this as it develops! 😉
I’ll finish this by saying that the #1 thing that brought me back to blogging is that I want to be helpful. I want to provide as much value to you guys as I can, and I think there’s a lot of really inspiring ways for me to do that.
I started this relaunch by asking myself how I can use my skillset to serve you guys best. What I outlined here are the answers I’ve gotten to that question (so far). I’m sure there will be much more to come, but I think more purpose + more focused recipes + more me + more real products are the immediate next steps for One Ingredient Chef.
Thank you guys for all your support over these years. None of this would be possible without you and I’m looking forward to bringing you much more in the future.