How AmazingRibs.com Works
"Online ad rates are still declining." Fortune Magazine
I thought you might like a peek behind the curtain, a little "inside baseball" so you could see how we operate.
First of all, this is not a blog. A blog tends to be the work of one person, part time, really a hobby, and it is usually arranged by date, like a diary. This is a professional website, the product of a team of paid professionals, and it is organized by topic. Three people work for you full time on AmazingRibs.com. It is our job. We take it seriously. It is our mission to make you a better cook and have your family and friends worship you. If you spend any time on this site you can see that we work very hard to be factual, accurate, detailed, informative, and innovative.
Founded in 2005, there are now more than 1,000 pages on AmazingRibs.com at the time of this writing, some of them almost book length. And it is very popular. It ranks among the top 25 most popular food websites in the US.
You would be shocked if you knew how much this enterprise costs to run. Do the math in your head:
Content. I have a team of people smarter than me who help and you can meet them all here. There are three fulltimers, with full benefits, and at least three other freelancers who devote most of their time to us. It is worth noting that we are among only a few websites that actually pays its discussion moderators. Most other websites use volunteers.
Technical. On the tech side, we have a webmaster and four tech experts who keep us up and running and make the site safe and fend off Chinese attacks (yes, they have come after us).
Business. On the business side, consultants help with advertising and strategic guidance, reeling me in often. I have a great accountant and an attorney who speaks in a language I can understand.
Other expenses. We spend tens of thousands every year on grills, smokers, thermometers, tools, toys, books, food, and software. We have a big server, a backup server, and a lot of our data resides on servers distributed around the world so that if one goes down, there is redundancy. We underwrite real scientific research, and we own lab testing equipment.
How we pay for it
On the revenue side, we are a three legged stool, and all three legs keep us stable. They make a unique business model that allows us to pay people fairly and deliver great content.
1) Advertising. I'm old school. I actually went to journalism school and came up in an era when there was a wall between advertising and editorial. I do not like concealing links to ads in articles, and I don't even like placing ads within articles. So I confine all ads to the top and side of the page so they are not intrusive. If you look on the right side, a lot of what appears to be ads are really my recommendations of products I love that I know can help you become a better cook. Click on them and they take you to an article on this site, not to a manufacturer. Also, some of them are for charitable causes.
Neither do I sell ads. I don't even talk to the advertisers. I use companies called "ad networks" to sell ads. They typically take about 40% right off the top. Lately ad rates have been declining rapidly. Websites and blogs who depend on ads are hurting.
One more important thing: We do not accept sponsored content. Sponsored content is the way many websites earn money. A sponsor, let's say Big Grill Manufacturer, pays the site to write an article about them. Or perhaps to write about an event they sponsored. Or sometimes they have their own writers write an article on, say, cooking a steak, and the photos are all of their grills and the article drops their name prominently. Here's an example: Click the link to see what happens when you search for Grilled Ribeye with Knob Creek Bourbon BBQ Sauce. This stuff is, ahem, red meat, for sites like GrillingWithRich.
2) Affiliations. A big part of this site is our unbiased equipment and product reviews. We love playing with toys and we have no problem calling them the way we see them. Some companies, most notably Amazon, pay a finder's fee if a reader clicks a link on AmazingRibs.com and buys a product from Amazon. When we find something we like, chances are it is on Amazon or one of the other sites we are affiliated with, so we link to them. These finders fees are our largest source of income. You may have seen us say the following. "If you like AmazingRibs.com, please save this link http://tinyurl.com/amazingribs and use it every time you go to Amazon. It works on everything from grills to diapers, Amazon never tells us what you bought, it has zero impact on the price you pay, but has a major impact on our ability to improve this site! And before you buy, click our links. If the price is competitive, use our link. It helps a lot. If the local hardware store is cheaper, then don't waste money on our links."
3) Memberships. In July 2014 we launched the Pitmaster Club, a membership program. I call it "friends with benefits". We toyed with setting up a "paywall" like Cook's Illustrated. You must pay to get access to their pages. But we didn't want to lock away our helpful info where you have to pay to see it. We all get huge pleasure from the many comments we get telling us how much we have improved your lives. Helping you eat better really is our mission.
Members of the Pitmaster Club get a free temperature guide magnet, access to a members only forum called The Pit, monthly videocasts with top pitmasters, access to past videocast archives, they get their name thrown in the hat for monthly Gold Medal Giveaways of gifts worth up to $1,500, and 5% of the membership fee goes to support Operation Barbecue Relief, a 501(c)3 charity that brings mobile kitchens to disasters and feeds first responders and survivors great barbecue. Hence the name friends with benefits".
If you like this site we think you will love the Pitmaster Club.