by Lynn Kerrigan
If friends and family consistently rave about your culinary creations, it may be time to share your talent and make extra income by selling your recipes.
First let me tell you where not to try to sell recipes-recipe chain letters. If you ever place a classified ad to sell a recipe, you'll be flooded with these get-rich-quick sucker opportunities. These chains feed on people's dreams of making money for little effort. They don't work. Don't try them!
You've seen classified ads selling recipes in the back of a variety of magazines and wondered, why don't I do that? Isn't that a great way to earn money for my recipes? The answer is yes and no, but mostly no.
Most classified ads of any type won't produce results unless they run issue after issue because potential buyers of your product must see the ad repeatedly. Customer recognition and acceptance takes a while and it's a significant part of what makes mail order selling successful. So the first strike against a classified ad as a vehicle for selling recipes, is that it's going to cost a lot because it has to run a long time.
Then ask yourself this: If a person can go to the library and take out hundreds of recipe books for free, or get thousands of free recipes from food associations and companies, why would he be likely to plunk down $3-$10 for a collection of your recipes? What makes them so unique?
The problem with classified ads that cost anywhere from $1.50 to $25 a word is that you must be brief so you don't pay hundreds of dollars for an ad that may bring in only a handful of sales. There's not much space for a description of the unique properties of your recipes if you're economizing for maximum profit. Of course, none of the magazines are likely to tell you this. They cull thousands of dollars each year from hopeful people placing recipe selling ads. Sadly, the majority of these people end up losing money.
On the other hand, if you gather your recipes into a recipe booklet, you're cooking on the right burner. A booklet is easily and inexpensively produced at home or at a copy shop. If it's thoughtfully created you may have a winner like Cynthia Hillson did in 1985 when she self-published a little booklet called "How To Feed Your Family of Four On $45 a Week." It included many cost-cutting recipes, instantly gained national recognition. And sold 6,000 copies in six months.
The secret of creating a cook booklet that will fly out of your hands is to make it one-of-a-kind. Obviously you wouldn't gather all-ready published and readily available recipes and expect the public to clamor at your door.
One of the easiest cook booklets to sell could incorporate the history of your community together with historical recipes handed down from generations of area residents. This type of cook booklet is always a winner because it not only offers something for avid recipe collectors but for Americana lovers as well. A friend of mine once made a tidy profit by creating a Community Christmas Recipe-Remembrance Book. She searched the local newspaper archives for interesting anecdotes, stories and recipes about her town's past Christmas' and added some of her own favorite holiday menus. She sold 5,000 copies that holiday season.
Many women's and/or culinary magazines buy full fledged articles with recipes and pay a decent price. But if you aren't an experienced food writer you may want to gain expertise and work your way up by breaking into smaller markets. Parenting magazines can always use tips, recipes and hints on how to create good tasting lunch box meals. Senior's publications can use articles and recipes focusing on the special dietary needs of their readers.
Many magazines offer cash or gifts for favorite recipes, original recipes or recipes that need making over. No other writing is involved. Here are just a few:
Vegetarian Gourmet pays up to $15 for original vegetarian recipes. Include your name, address and a personal anecdote about the recipe (no more than 35 words) and send to:
Vegetarian Gourmet Recipes
2 Public Avenue
Montrose, PA 18801.
Home Cooking magazine pays $25 each issue to one winner for their favorite recipes. Contest is ongoing. Submit to:
306 East Parr Road
Berne, IN 46711.
Each issue of Taste of Home magazine sponsors many subscriber contests, and one is for recipes. Prizes include cash, a free dinner for four at your favorite restaurant, cookware and cookbooks.
Send recipes or cooking tips to
New York, NY 10019.
Items used in the Quick Cook section of this magazine earn the donor $50.
For a chance to win a free cookbook or other kitchen gift, send fat-laden recipes you'd like lightened-up to the following:
Fast & Healthy Magazine
200 S. 6th St., 28M7
Minneapolis, MN 55402
RX For Recipes
Eating Well Magazine
PO Box 1001, Ferry Road
Charlotte, VT 05445-1001
Lighten Up Editor
Cooking Light Magazine
PO Box 1748
Birmingham, AL 35201
Yankee magazine needs "Recipes with A History" along with a little story about where they come from and what they mean to you. Pays $50. Send to Recipe with A History,
PO Box 520
Dublin, NH 03444.
Real money can be earned for your recipes via contests. Payoffs today are so big they can mean the difference between barely surviving to financial prosperity. Consider the Pillsbury Bake-Off 1996 prize of a cool million and you may never be the same again. Even the National Beef Cook-Off's $25,000 top prize is nothing to sneeze at. Next month I'll tell you the ten secrets to winning recipe contests.
Many people have such a large store of recipes that they can easily start a recipe search service. Most recipe searchers charge $1-$2 for each recipe. If your recipes are organized in a filing system that is cross referenced by ingredient or better yet, entered into a computer database, you can locate and print out recipes in minutes. Although you won't get rich with a search service, it is a useful little business that can bring in extra income and could be a side dish to some other larger culinary related business.
Finally, you could start your own recipe newsletter and sell your recipes each month through the mail. The ins and outs of newsletter publication are too lengthy to go into in this small article so I'll cover this subject in a future column.
Next Month: Ten Secrets For Winning Recipe Contests.
Text Copyright 1996 Lynn Kerrigan. No portion of this article may be reproduced for publication without express, written permission of the author.
Page Copyright © 1996—the electronic Gourmet Guide, Inc. All rights reserved.
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