Allrecipes is a lot more than a recipe site; it’s a social network for food lovers. Since its inception in 1997, the publisher launched 38 successful cooking-related sites before combining them all to form Allrecipes. It has a two-decade-long journey behind it which shows us how a small site can grow up by leaps and bounds to become the largest food website on the internet.
During all these years, Allrecipes has implemented many unique strategies that helped it grow faster than its peers. The graph below shows the exponential rise of the site in the last two decades. It’s one of the best publishers if we want to learn the art of winning a niche.
Monthly Unique Visitors
How it all started?
Many successful companies have a common story – an entrepreneur faces a personal problem, finds its solution, recognizes a business opportunity in the solution, and then capitalizes it. Something similar happened with Allrecipes as well. The idea of starting a recipe-sharing site stuck with Tim Hunt, a UW anthropology graduate student when he couldn’t get his mom’s homemade cookie (Src). He started the experiment with CookieRecipe.Com and found that there’s a lot of desire among cooking enthusiasts to share their favorite recipes with like-minded people. CookieRecipe became an instant success.
But CookieRecipe was dedicated to only one type of food, the need for expansion was obvious. So the creators of CookieRecipe kept spinning off new sites – Cakerecipe.com, Chickenrecipe.com, Pierecipes.com, Beefrecipe.com, and so on. The total number of sites reached 38 when the publishers consolidated them into AllRecipes.com around 2001.
Where are they today?
Today, Allrecipes is the preferred recipe source for 85 million home cooks (Src). Its visitors are consuming 3 billion pages annually. It has 19 global sites that are serving in 24 countries in 12 languages. 95 Recipes are viewed on Allrecipes every second.
I. The Seed Money
The Seattle based Allrecipes had a humble beginning. Its initial funds came from angel investors. Its target audience was the busy home-cooks, and the site offered them a community where they could share their favorite recipes and cooking experience with other cooks. With consistent growth, the site became the preferred recipe and cooking resource for its audience.
“The cooks who come to Allrecipes.com aren’t coming to romanticize recipe pictures, they’re coming to find tried and tested recipes they can make for their families that night.”
The users submitted their recipes, which were reviewed, evaluated, and made better by the editors. This process made sure that the content on the site always had the best quality. The content kept evolving as the users suggested tweaks in the recipes through comments (Src).
(Allrecipes presenting itself as a network of recipe sites in its early days in 1998)
II. New Fundings and Further Growth
At the beginning of the year 2000, Allrecipes successfully raised $2.5 million (Src). After the funding, it hired Bill Moore, top talent from Starbucks who joined Allrecipes as the CEO of the company. The website was receiving 900,000 unique monthly visitors during that time and it was growing at a rate of 20% Month-on-Month.
Later, in the same year, Allrecipes raised $6.5 million from multiple investors in another round of funding. Mind you, that this was the period of the dot-com bubble when no one was ready to bet on online ventures. It was impressive to see that a content-based website was approaching profitability while growing with its 50 employees during this time. (Src).
It reached close to 1 million monthly users without any marketing budget at all. Doing so was not easy because it was the early 2000s when social media sites like Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist. But the nature of the content was such that people wanted to share it. The tradition of sharing recipes with your friends and family is age-old. The email was the best way of sharing content during this era, and it gave the necessary push to Allrecipes for rapid growth.
Allrecipes made recipe sharing easy for its visitors.