A former Bon Appétit food editor's new subscription-based business is a blueprint for anyone wanting freedom, creative control, and thousands of subscribers in just a month

  • After leaving Bon Appétit, food-media entrepreneur Molly Baz launched a Patreon page, Recipe Club, which offers subscribers a weekly recipe and other exclusive content for $5 a month.
  • The move is intriguing, as many food-media figures gravitate to video-based platforms, such as YouTube, to generate revenue. 
  • Baz's decision to launch a Patreon makes sense, she says, given the flexibility the platform provides, the creative control it affords her, and the relatively light lift it requires to maintain.
  • Baz is joined by food-media entrepreneurs Oliver Babish — of "Binging with Babish" fame — and Carla Lalli Music, also from Bon Appétit, in turning to Patreon to monetize their foodie followings.
  • Baz and others are creating a blueprint for other food-media entrepreneurs to follow, encouraging smaller food-media creators to embrace Patreon as their one-person digital storefronts.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

When food editor Molly Baz left Bon Appétit in October, she was certain of two things: She wanted to continue to develop recipes, and she wanted to avoid "going dark" until her cookbook came out in early 2021. So, she began evaluating platforms and business plans, trying to determine what move made the most sense for her, a recipe-developer by trade with a substantial following and limited resources. 

In early November, she launched Recipe Club on Patreon, which allows her to charge fans $5 a month for access to one exclusive recipe per week, photos of her dog Tuna, and access to a Discord server where subscribers discuss cooking and find community. Since then, though Baz declined to disclose specific figures, documents shared with Business Insider confirm that her Patreon has accumulated several thousand subscribers. 

The move was intriguing, as food media creators often gravitate to video-based platforms like YouTube, where neatly edited tutorials of chefs cooking through recipes can attract millions of views and generate advertising revenue. 

By setting up a Patreon, Baz joins Oliver Babish — of "Binging with Babish" fame — and Carla Lalli Music, a fellow Bon Appétit emigre, in treating the site as a home base and a tool for monetizing the followings they cultivated on ad-supported platforms like Instagram and YouTube.

For other food media entreprenuers, Patreon can serve as a launch pad to turn a loyal fanbase into a source of recurring revenue, even if they aren't yet an influencer. Baz spoke with Business Insider about Recipe Club and why she chose to launch a Patreon, a platform that she says is uniquely qualified to host food media entrepreneurs.

Patreon allows her to send a newsletter and publish a variety of content types.

At first, Baz considered using YouTube to get her new content out into the world, but the resource-intensive nature of planning, shooting, and editing Bon Appétit-style cooking videos discouraged her. 

She also flirted with starting a newsletter on Substack, but decided that the platform wasn't visual enough for food media and didn't allow her to customize her content in the way she wanted.

Patreon offered the best of both, in Baz's opinion. The platform allows creators to publish a variety of media, including blog posts, photos, and casual videos. Baz can also send out a newsletter through Patreon, so she includes the weekly recipe as a PDF attachment and categorizes them by tag, so subscribers can also easily archive and sort them.

"It was important to me that people would be able to archive recipes, so that they wouldn't have to sort through emails from a year ago," said Baz. "I wanted to give them as many points of entry as possible."

Patreon is a good "home-base" for creators with diverse project and content types. 

For creators like Baz, who have multiple projects running at the same time, Patreon acts as an all-in-one digital storefront. In addition to her Recipe Club, Baz is also promoting her cookbook, merchandise, website, and social media. Visitors to her Patreon page can find links to all of her entrepreneurial pursuits, gathered conveniently in one place.

Likewise, as Baz moves between gigs and experiments with different offerings, her Patreon provides her a steady source of revenue. She currently only offers one subscription tier, priced at $5, because she only has one core offering — her recipes — at the moment. But as she tests out new formats, such as podcasts and video, she can roll out new subscription tiers to match.

"With Patreon, I have the ability to expand into podcasting or video, so it supports the different pillars of my brand in a way that a singular newsletter could not," said Baz.

The flexibility of the platform allows her to add and subtract options as she needs, rather than have her revenue sources fixed in place. The site's polling and commenting capabilities also allow Baz to communicate directly with her subscribers, giving her another way of gathering feedback and improving her product offering.

"On Patreon, the river runs both ways. I can ask subscribers what kinds of recipes they want and then cater my recipe development to them," said Baz. 

The platform gives her control over her business' branding, practices, recipe development, and staffing.

Though Baz created her personal brand while at Bon Appétit, she is honing it on Patreon. The platform gives her complete creative control, which means she can tailor the language, the branding, the media — any component involved — to her liking. 

While this offers a clear appeal for Baz as a creative, she has also seized on this agency to be as environmentally conscientious as possible. When it comes to merchandising, for instance, Baz employs a method that only makes items to order, eliminating over-production; she has also insisted on a distribution system that groups all items going to the same location to ship in the same package, reducing costs and waste.

"It's a more streamlined, sustainable way to do merchandise, which is really important to me," said Baz. "I don't want to do this in a wasteful way."

Baz also hopes to expand her staff someday, but right now it's a family affair: her brother's girlfriend does the taste-testing, and her mom helps with copy-editing. In the coming months, she plans to hire both a culinary and business assistant, reducing the workload on herself so she can focus more on recipe development and the creative components of the work.

"I went from being one of several food editors at a magazine to being the editor-in-chief, food stylist, photographer, website-builder, and social media manager," said Baz. "I wouldn't have taken on all of this if I didn't really, truly enjoy every minute of it. I do. I just also know that I need to be mindful of my work-life balance."

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