January 2021 marks Diversivore's Fifth Birthday!
This is going to be a big year, so we're going to kick it off by looking back at the most popular posts over the last 5 years, and by looking ahead to some big developments coming soon!
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In a wonderful, remarkable coincidence, the beginning of 2021 actually marks two milestones for Diversivore - the site's 5th birthday, and it's ONE MILLIONTH page view.
In the grand scheme of food blogging, one million isn't all that many; plenty of blogs will pull in a million views a year, and the big guys will pull in a million per month. I'm nowhere near that point (which is probably good, as the hosting costs would kill me), but I'm thrilled to be where I am.
Diversivore started out as an idea that I just couldn't shake, and it's grown in ways I don't think I could have predicted. I've never aimed to hit a certain number of posts, followers, or views. Instead, I've always aimed to create the kind of content that I wanted to see more of on the web. This has meant focusing on the three E's: enthusiasm, exploration, and expertise. I've worked hard to create a place that encourages people to try new foods, new ingredients, and new ideas with confidence. The approach has been labour-intensive (to say the least), but I do it because it's the kind of content I want to read. I didn't know where this would take me back in 2016, but I'm feeling pretty validated these days. Over the last few years, Google has begun prioritizing the kind of content that they feel delivers the best, most reliable, and most usable information to readers. This has been implemented through a series algorithmic core updates that determine what results are returned to users on the web. I'm pleased to say that these core updates have consistently driven more traffic to some of my most detailed, intensively researched posts. Of my one million page views, nearly three quarters have come in the last two years, and almost half came in 2020 alone. I started this website because I was tired of scraping ten pages for the culinary information I needed. I was tired of being unable to find the content I wanted, so I decided to create it myself. It's amazing (and frankly a little unbelievable) to know that this decision has led hundreds of thousands of people to come see and learn from my work.
Diversivore has taken me places I never expected to go - both figuratively and literally. In 2017, I stood on stage in Toronto to accept the Taste Canada Award for best general blog. In 2018 I was invited to Japan for an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience. In 2019 I somehow managed to publish over 20 recipes (including some of my biggest hits) while simultaneously welcoming our third child into the world. Still not sure how that one came together. In 2020 - well, it was 2020 so I barely left the house... but I also saw more people visit my site than ever before, from every corner of the globe. I've travelled across Canada to attend and speak at conferences related to food, agriculture, and even genomics. I've met dozens of other bloggers from around the world, and I'm delighted to call many of them my friends today. But as amazing as my adventures have been, some of the most remarkable experiences continue to come in the form of the comments that I get from readers. It's always nice to get a little thank you, or to answer an interesting question, but once in a while a truly special comment will come along that just makes my day. There's something indescribable and wonderful about knowing that something you've created has changed another person's life for the better. Connecting, educating, and inspiring people reminds me of connecting with students in the classroom again. I don't know that I'll ever get used to it. Diversivore would be nothing more than my own little culinary diary without you all - so thank you for reading along with me.
The Top Ten
I'm excited to say that some huge things are coming this year. Diversivore is poised to explore new horizons and grow in a big way - but before we get to that, I thought it would be fun to look back at the ten posts that have been most popular on the site since launching back in 2016.
Let's start, shall we?
Back in 2015 when I was building Diversivore, I put together 10 or so posts so I could get a feel for formatting, designing, etc. This was one of those first 10 posts. Since then, I've kept it up to date with some new information and (most importantly) new photographs. It remains one of my all-time-favourite comfort food recipes, and it's wonderfully easy to make.
I'm pleased to say that this recipe is poised to become more important in 2021, as I'm finally (FINALLY) going to be publishing my kimchi recipe. It's taken me a few years and a lot of research to really nail it, but it's now one of my proudest creations. Stay tuned!
with Vanilla Sauce
I love to make desserts, and you lovely folks seem to love making them too. Swedish apple cake is a really fun, really unique recipe - part pie, part cake, and entirely delicious. The vanilla sauce is a really interesting component too, as it's thickened potato (or corn) starch, giving it a wonderful creaminess without loads of fat.
I've planned out quite a bit of 2021, but I'm not sure about cake ideas yet. Kind of seems like I should do one though, doesn't it? I need an excuse to buy more vanilla beans anyway.
Japanese Garland Chrysanthemum Salad
I definitely didn't expect this recipe to be as big as it is! Shungiku (garland chrysanthemum) is a delicious and very distinctive Asian green (read more about it here), and not terribly well-known by most English-speaking cooks. Basically, it's precisely the kind of ingredient that I like to write about.
A great deal of the traffic driven to this recipe comes from people who have grown the plant themselves and are looking for recipe ideas. It's also a great winter recipe, as shungiku is particularly nice in cooler months. The goma-ae dressing is delicious with a variety of greens, and a great introduction to working with some important Japanese ingredients.
Universal Chinese Greens Series - Part 1
My Universal Chinese Greens series was one of my early efforts to combine recipe content with a culinary tutorial, and it's been a popular one. Stir-frying is a nearly universal in its appeal, but tricky to master - especially when it comes to delicate green veggies.
I'm excited to say that 2021 will see some wonderful new Chinese recipes on the site. I'm also happy to say that the Ingredient Page guides, which feature many different Asian greens, will be expanded in the year to come.
The only cocktail to make the top 10 also happens to be one of the easiest drinks to make. It's also one of my favourite pieces of writing on the site, as it explores the fascinating and unexpected overlap between cocktail culture and the history of firearms in Japan. Of course I know that many people are jumping to the recipe in order to make the cocktail, but it's still fun to know that some people are stopping to enjoy a strange slice of culinary history.
Two features related to this post are in the pipeline for 2021. First, I'm pleased to say that I'll be adapting my longer culinary history & culture posts into a new section of the site (lots more to come on this). Second, after a few years of testing, I'll be sharing my recipe for umeshu (Japanese 'plum' wine) this spring!
Taiwanese food is very important business around here. My wife is Canadian-born Taiwanese, and her parents live just down the street from us, so we eat a lot of Taiwanese food. Tea eggs are so wonderfully universal in Taiwan, and they're actually quite easy to make. They're also a fantastic recipe for learning about Chinese spices.
This was one of the first recipes I did with BC Egg, and they've been a fantastic partner and friend of the site for quite some time now. I'm delighted to announce that more wonderful egg recipes will be coming throughout the year.
with 4 variations
Expect to see this recipe in the #1 spot in no time. Apparently the world was screaming for an adaptable, easy-to-follow savoury pancake recipe, because this bad boy has single-handedly driven a massive amount of traffic my way over the last year. I've been making this pancake recipe (in sweet and savoury variations) for so long that I can basically do it with one hand tied behind my back. Turns out that this is a useful skill to be in possession of, as I frequently find myself making it with a curious toddler in one arm.
I don't have all that many breakfast plans built into the year at this point, but it is one of my favourite meals. Any requests?
Chả trứng hấp
I'm so, so happy that this post is as popular as it is. This recipe made me see just how many English-language readers there are in the world who are looking for this approach to cooking.
My goal was not to put my own twist on this; I'm not Vietnamese, and I didn't have a wealth of personal experience to build off of. Instead, I did the best I could to thoroughly research, develop, and test a recipe before loading it up with tips, tricks, and extra information. As a teacher, I often found myself in the challenging situation of having to teach subjects that weren't exactly my specialty. I've always done this by first approaching the subject as a dedicated student. I work as hard as I can to build my skills while simultaneously cataloguing the challenges and complexities that I encounter along the way. Then, I return to the subject as a guide - honestly, and without the pretense of mastery. I'm proud of my effort (I'd never publish it if I wasn't), but the finished result isn't the most important product; instead, the real value comes from knowing what other learners are about to encounter. When I write a recipe like this one, the goal is not just to create a list of ingredients, but to guide readers along and make the process manageable.
This recipe gets a lot of feedback - often from people who grew up eating it, but never found out how it was made. These readers are the most important litmus, as they know what they want, but they don't (yet) have the guidance to get there. I'm never going to take the place of learning a recipe from a friend or relative, but it's very satisfying to be the next best thing. It's a pretty remarkable feeling to know that you've helped somebody connect with something they thought they'd lost.
The original Diversivore guide! There's more than meets the eye to this one. On the surface, it's a list of the important Mexican chilies and their basic uses, but most of the varieties also connect to individual guides that explain their use in greater detail. This post convinced me that there were plenty of people out there just like me - dedicated to learning more about cooking, and determined to dive deeper into the subject matter.
The most recent core updates have bumped this guide back to a very prominent spot in the search engines, and it's enjoying a renewed wave of traffic. I'm looking forward to publishing more guides in a similar vein over the next year.
We love our noodles.
This is the uber-guide recipe on Diversivore. There are only five ingredients (including water), but there's a great deal of complexity in transforming these simple components into great noodles. This recipe attracts some of the harshest critics in food blogging - the project-loving home cooks that don't hesitate to take on recipes that take hours, or even days to finish, and even longer to master. So far, they're a pretty satisfied bunch. Thank goodness for that.
The top 9 recipes from the last 5 years. Because you can't fit 10 into a square without some very weird editing.
I've got a lot of irons in the fire. A lot of balls in the air. A bunch of eggs in a bunch of baskets. I'm busy, is what I'm saying.
I've got loads of new recipes planned for 2021 and beyond, and a bunch of new Ingredient Pages and educational guides. I've also got many more posts related to my time in Japan that I'm looking forward to sharing with you.
That's the stuff that's made Diversivore what it is over the last five years, but there's more in store. I'm pleased to say that there are some other brand new developments on the horizon for this year, and I can't wait to share them with you. 2020 threw a monkey-wrench into a number of my plans - something I'm sure many people can sympathize with - but I'm finally getting my ducks in a row now. Before these idioms get any further out of hand, let's take a moment to tease some new stuff, shall we?
It still feels a bit odd to say that this is my job. I left teaching - a job I adored - to take care of my kids. I had some business models in place when I started Diversivore, but there was a lot of guesswork involved too. I decided from day one not to have ads on the site, so I wasn't entirely sure how the financial side of things was going to come together. While I'm not exactly going to be retiring any time soon (and if I did, I'd probably still just want to keep doing this), I'm excited to have some new financial developments on the horizon.
First let me reaffirm one thing: no ads! None. No banners, no roll-overs, no auto-playing videos... nada. Based on the comments I've gotten, this sits pretty well with y'all.
I am delighted to say that there are now a couple of options that will allow you to directly support Diversivore. The first one is quite new, and I'm very excited about - the new Search Engine PUBLC. The site operates on a decentralized Web 3.0 model to share the majority of profits with content creators like me. The details are fascinating but a bit complex, so I'll jump to the nitty gritty: if you register as a user on PUBLC and you click my content on the platform, I earn money. Respectable money, no less! The system is very new and I'm thrilled to be heavily involved with it at this early stage, and I really hope to see it take off. PUBLC has the potential to completely change the business model of the web, and to reward people directly for creating good content. As a user, you're not putting any money in either - simply click the content you like (from me, or from anybody else on the site) and the creator earns money.
Looking for another way to support Diversivore? Check me out on Buy Me A Coffee! You can make a one-time donation, or you can set up an annual or monthly payment. I'm in the process of setting up some bonus behind-the-scenes stuff for anyone looking to support Diversivore on a regular basis, and I'll be updating you all with more about this in the future. I'm not planning to put important content behind a paywall, but I do like the idea of treating my fans to extra content, and giving them the opportunity to have a say in the kinds of projects I take on.
As I mentioned above, 2020 put a bit of a kibosh on a number of my plans, but we're rolling with the punches and moving forward. I'm excited to say that this year is going to bring some updates to the site design, and some new sections to explore.
I can only give you a few little teasers here (expect individual announcements for any big launches), but here's a few things to look forward to:
Book reviews and recommendations!
New ways to explore the site!
Other stuff I have to be purposefully vague about!
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Wow Sean, I just love your enthusiasm. Your posts are always so thought provoking and informative…they are some of the very few I read on a regular basis. Post research also has to be one of my favourite parts of food blogging. I don’t know if anyone bothers to read it, but it’s satisfying knowing that I did my due diligence to provide as much info as possible.
Congrats on one million and I’m sure the second million is soon to follow.
I just discovered your website and I am very impressed. Is there anyway I can look through the blog chronologically, or in any sort of order? Working from home has me digesting content in a weird way. Thank you.
Hi Jesse! Absolutely you can – thanks for asking. It’s not super clear at the moment, but I’m working on redoing some of the site organization this year. For now, you can check out the posts in chronological order here. Cheers!
Congratulations! Blogging is definitely a marathon and five years is such a big accomplishment. I’m definitely interested in your YouTube channel!
Happy Anniversary! Glad you’ve stuck to it and give it the attention for your creative outlet! I love that you’ve shared your early top 10 oists!!
Congratulations on your 5th anniversary, Sean! I’ve always been impressed by the content you produce and all the knowledge you impart about your ingredients. I look forward to seeing what you’ve got up your sleeves for 2021!
Congrats on your Blogiversary, Sean! Wow -it’s been quite a ride for you, with lots of success that’s well-deserved, I might add. I have always enjoyed your down-to-earth, honest writing and how you delve so deeply into the ingredients and methods, as well as the uniqueness of your recipes. And I think it’s really cool that you don’t do ads! And as a fellow food blogger, I appreciate your kind approach and support in the food blogging community. Cheers to many more wonderful years of food blogging!!!
Bravo. You’re genuine and I suspect that is the reason for your success, apart from the being fun, knowledgeable and informative bit. I’ve enjoyed and appreciated our interactions and truly wish you the very best.
Thank you Alex. That really does mean a lot to me. I’ve always been happy to chat with you through social media too. Here’s hoping our paths cross out in the real world some day! Cheers.