Over the past year or so, I’ve read several articles about the importance of having recipes that can be printed, saved and “read” by search engines and Pinterest. After reading this post by Cassie, I decided that it was time to switch away from Recipage. Recipage had worked for me for years, but I was becoming increasing frustrated with the functionality of the site itself and Recipage no longer seemed like the most effective player on the block.
I decided to go with Ziplist because, if you’re one of the many people with a Ziplist account, you can now add my recipes to your recipe box. It came highly recommended from friends, bloggers and the plugin directory. I found it incredibly easy to use. But after falling in love with the plugin and corresponding with the people at Ziplist, I found out that my use of the plugin wouldn’t include an index of all my recipes until I had more page views. For me, having a recipe index was crucial and one of the most important parts of using a recipe service.
So I explored other options. Another internet search and several articles later, I settled on using the Visual Recipe Index plugin along with Ziplist. Using the following steps, I reformatted my recipes and created a recipe index.
An important note: You do not have to do all of the parts of the process I’ve outline below; either plugin will do its job independently of the other. You can use Ziplist to reformat your recipes, make them Google and Pinterest friendly, and allow people to save them to pre-existing recipe boxes without creating a visual recipe index (see Steps 2 &3 below). You can also create a Visual Recipe Index for any posts with recipes, even if you don’t use any recipe formatting tools (see Steps 4-7 below).
Now, onto my process!
Part 1: Get Ready
1) Download both the plugins
2) Create a list of all the recipes you want to reformat
I did this by going through my recipe index in Recipage and copying the list onto a document. I printed out the document so that I could cross out the name of each recipe as I completed the steps below. Depending on how you’ve categorized the recipes on your site, you may be able to click on the appropriate tag or category instead. You may also enjoy keeping a list on your computer; I just like to cross things out. The bottom line: you need a way to keep track of which recipes you’ve reformatted.
Part 2: Update each post that contains a recipe
3) Reformat the recipe using the Ziplist plugin
Using the Ziplist plugin is incredibly easy. After installation, a Ziplist button is added the editing toolbar for your WordPress posts. Click the button then just type or copy and paste your recipe information into the pop-up. After you’ve clicked “add recipe”, a Ziplist placeholder will appear in your post. According to the plugin FAQ, this is to keep you from deleting any of the coding when altering your recipe. Need to change something? It’s as easy as clicking the Ziplist button again. The full formatting can be seen when the recipe is posted or previewed. This process took a while for me, and I’ve discovered a couple recipes I accidently overlooked during my first go round, but it’s so simple I’m looking forward to adding more. (If all you’re looking to do is format your recipes using Ziplist, you can stop here!)
4) Set the post categories (If you only want to create a Visual Recipe Index, start here)
Once your recipe content is set, you’ll need to put your post into a category. The categories will be used to separate your recipes in your Visual Recipe Index. I used categories that I hoped my readers would find useful and that I knew I had multiple recipes for. You can use more than one category for each post, but they’ll be listed multiple times if you index both those categories.
5) Set a featured image
WordPress has a “Featured Image” space, located at the bottom right of the post editing page. In the past, I haven’t set featured images for all my posts, but the Visual Recipe Index pulls the images from this classification. The easiest way I found to set an image, after clicking the link, was to choose “Uploaded to this post” from the drop down menu in the Media Library; this will greatly reduce the number of pictures you have to sort through.
Part 3: Create Your Index
6) Use the Visual Recipe Index Plugin to create an index
You’re almost done! Create your index by going to your WordPress settings (on the left sidebar) and selecting Visual Recipe Index. The steps are spelled out pretty clearly and will have you create a new blank change, choose the categories you want indexed, and generate the code. All the categories you selected should automatically populate the page, like this:
If you’re missing pictures, it is probably because you didn’t set a featured image.
This conversion can be a pretty big process, especially if you have a lot of recipes. I spent the better part of 3 days last week making it happen, but I’m so glad I did. In the future, any recipes I add to categories already on my recipe index will automatically be added to the collection. Please, please share your thoughts, comments and ideas about the new recipe format and index. Also, in case you’re as horrified as I am by the terrible 2009 food photos, I plan to revisit and re-photograph some of those recipes. I may also add anchor links so you can easily jump to the recipe category of your choice, but I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance to make that happen.
Questions? Please ask them in the comments below and I’ll answer as best I can!