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What Makes a Post Freshly Press-able? A Recipe For Attention

Every day, 19 WordPressers are featured on the Freshly Pressed section of WordPress.com. And every day, many more wonder, “What do I have to do to get Freshly Pressed?”

Well, it’s time to reveal what the folks who push the launch button are thinking. Each week, a member of our editorial team will do a close-up on one post and why we thought it was Press-worthy. We hope we can provide insight into the process and give you tips and tools to make your blog the best it can be.
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Yesterday on Freshly Pressed we ran this recipe for Brussels Sprouts with Pistachios and Lemon, from Jen and her blog Lattes and Leggings. We love to read food blogs and we browse dozens each week. Here is why this one made the cut:

The recipe was unique and interesting.

The brussels sprout is one of those vegetables that is mostly hated and only loved by a dedicated few. It has some of the same traits as cabbage: swampy green, easily made mushy, and a tendency toward a sulfurous taste. But Jen made it look and sound delicious, instilling a brightness and freshness when paired with the other ingredients.

Generally when it comes to recipes, we look for something that stands out, using foods we don’t often see or in ways that are not typical. It can be about foods that are healthy and make eating right easy, or on the other hand, dishes that are so decadent and rich that our eyes get hungry just looking at them. Of course, it takes more than the food to catch our eye, as the next item shows.

It got personal.

Jen gave us more than a look at a recipe. She gave a look into her life. She talked about the Met, finding restaurants, and anecdotes about Italy. She just shares herself:

We stumbled upon Cotta Osteria in the Upper West Side. I’ve walked past it a million times, but never thought to try it. As soon as I walked in the door I knew this was going to become my new favorite wine bar.

She tells a tale, which leads to her love of brussels sprouts, which segues into the actual veggie recipe. It is wonderfully done and an enticing read. I plan to actually try making this myself later this week. With extra lemon.

The images were large and colorful.

Images help to break up text and make an article easier to read. With posts about food and eating it can be especially crucial: The visual of a prepared dish is important to enticing the reader, to make them imagine both the flavors and the experience of devouring it. And for a recipe, images illustrating each step help the readability of the post.

Jen also used large photos so a reader can easily see the details and not have to stop and squint to make things out. The ability to click through the images to even larger versions is also a wonderful feature. Of course, the design that Jen’s blog uses allows images of such large size.

Overall, the post was easy to read and so you just enjoy the content itself–the lines and photos of the food.

So what did you think of this pick? Of this recipe?

For more on our Freshly Pressed content, check out last week’s Freshly Press-able post, the roundup of July’s top 10 posts, or read So You Want to Be Freshly Pressed?

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  1. I loved that post — because I love brussel sprouts! But also, as you noted, because there was more than “just” a recipe. And it made me drool…

    😉

    I’ve also noticed some trending topics, so I’m guessing the team chooses from particular tags. For example, I’m seeing a TON of “writing” posts, and more recently, posts tackling gender issues. I’m not sure if that’s intentional or just indicative of the ebb and flow of water-cooler topics that might be trending on a particular day.

    Thank you for clarifying what once was only a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, surrounded by a giant bubble of the expansive unknown!

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  2. I loved the post because as you say “it is more than just a recipe” I love the personal touch.
    the pictures are also great as they break up the post and overall it is well layed out which makes it more digestible (pardon the pun) to read…

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  3. Jen’s post showing up on Freshly Pressed inspired me to go home and take photos of my brussels sprout plants in my garden. I ended up taking photos of everything back there. Her recipe actually got me excited about all of the sprouts that were going to be ready soon, and how I would prepare some of them. Until Jen’s post, I hadn’t really thought much about how I would cook the sprouts. Now, I can’t wait for them to be ready for the harvest! Great pick – and thank you for choosing it!

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  4. What do I think of the pick and the recipe?

    Charlywalker said it all extremely succinctly.

    But:

    1) the photos are good.

    I started reducing my photos in size after advice on WP forums that it slowed down loading times. I do like to enlarge the pix when I am looking at other blogs, but tbh these are good enough at the size on the post.

    OK., that’s the positive stuff out of the way. And the rest will be on my Clouds blog so I don’t offend any nice WP people 🙂

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  5. As a food blogger, I often struggle with how to balance the personal story with the recipe. Sometimes, I can easily connect an aspect of my life with the recipe I’m sharing, but sometimes it’s just a recipe. Other times, I hit the wall, and I can’t write anything. I’m sure sometimes my readers would love to skip all my childhood references and just get to the cupcake recipe, or whatever.

    daisy

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    1. I struggle with personal sharing too. I don’t blog to share myself online. I blog simply to inspire others to do something beautiful or different, by sharing what I’m doing . But I’m now aware the lack of being publicly personal doesn’t help build community or that “familiarity” (quoted because what’s shared could be real or great acting) that readers want to have with the blogger. Thus my blog’s growth may be stunted, unfortunately. That bothers me enough that I have been trying to inject more little stories here and there lately.

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      1. Same here for me. I am blogging about the Singapore mathematics and I believe that alot of parents and kids will like to know. But it is not personal and never. But in order not to make the subject too dry, I did link it with a family story and tried to share some local cultural to readers. Am I going to get pressed???

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  6. While I appreciate the rationale behind choosing which recipes to be ‘freshly pressed’, this particular one didn’t do anything for me. I guess tasting things is the only way I can get over my distaste for certain foods. Looking at their recipes is definitely not.

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    1. @Suparna Chaudhry: I seems that you might be in the minority about the “Visual” effects that a good presentation has on the culinary enthusiast. Great chiefs go to great lengths, to make a “visual emphasis”, a major part of the whole presentation, with quality foods coming in a very close second. I enjoy preparing food for others. Not only is it a great adventure in creativity; but fresh intense flavors, that can only come from a garden window, or back yard freshness, wows them every time. I would also remind, that the world of advertising is based on the “Visual effect” to trigger the other senses that would prompt a person to succumb to suggestion.

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      1. Douglas Carlton (@captincarlton) #
        @Suparna Chaudhry: (corrected version) It seems, that you might be in the minority about the “Visual” effects that a good presentation, has on the culinary enthusiast. Great chiefs, go to great lengths, to make a “visual emphasis”, a major part of the whole presentation, with quality foods coming in a very close second. I “enjoy”, preparing food for others. Not only is it a great adventure in creativity; but fresh intense flavors, that can only come from a garden window, or back yard freshness,” wows them”, every time. I would also remind, that the world of advertising is 99% based, on the “Visual effect” to trigger the other senses, that would prompt a person to “succumb to suggestion”.

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  7. Its good if you are into food. I like art among other things and usually skip the food blogs. Just me though others love them. Maybe you should divvy up the subjects and not give one too much attention.

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    1. Andreas, my thoughts exactly ! While I do like some of the content posted on the Freshly Pressed page, it appears sometimes that the sites featured are seriously limited by the interests of the few persons who select the posts. Nationality other than American, language other than English, lack of time, avoidance of controversial topics can be factored in for non-selection as well. The Freshly Pressed Page does garner one’s blog a lot of attention. Sometimes I see Blogs featured more than once within a short time frame, out of over 400,000 blogs that is ! Does not make much sense. But Congratulations to Jen on being Freshly Pressed yesterday, for the recipe above. It deserves it’s time in the spotlight.

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    2. I completely agree Andreas Moser. Get some politics posts in there and stir up some lively and respectful debate. I mean geez…it seems the freshly pressed people are overly sentimental when it comes to picking the same types of blogs over and over again. Even the ones which people might deem far too extreme politically are worth making freshly pressed.

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      1. so true! I’ve been blogging for three years now with different subjects, politics, food, health issues, travel, sadly though, in all of my 1000 blogs, I never had the chance to be included in the freshly picked. if all you do is review food and travel blog, then some people have all the advantage. I noticed too that you only featured just one blog from our country, the Philippines even if there are so many blogs promoting our wonderful tourist attractions. are you biased about Asian bloggers? just asking. i hope you would also feature blogs that give inspiration to those who need it. thanks WordPress.

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      2. i think there are just so many blogs and posts out there and only a few are chosen everyday…its doesn’t really make any sense to have such a small percentage on freshly pressed..why even have one at all is my question??

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    3. THANK YOU! I also commented on the German FP picks which I mostly don’t like at all. Somehow my comment didn’t make it through, though. Happy to hear that you think alike. I also wonder why it’s always the same blogs being featured on the German page. Mostly I worry about the heaps of “messages from outer space”, which in my opinion don’t make a good read.

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      1. Exactly! It’s a lot of esoteric alien stuff. If somebody came across WP Germany, he or she would get a completely wrong impression of Germany, Germans and German blogs.

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      2. That’s right. Dumb thing is, I don’t have a solution either. I guess it’s all coincidence on the German site and not handpicked as they say. Cause if they had a native speaker selecting the German blogs all the ones with mistakes and misspellings would get sorted out, and it wouldn’t be that repetitive.

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  8. In all fairness: you will get criticism whatever you pick for FP, especially since 99% of the bloggers here will never get picked. So I understand it’s a tough choice, and somebody needs to make it.

    An interesting study would be to look at blogs that have been freshly pressed a year or two ago and see how they are doing now. Did they keep up the momentum?

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    1. This is an interesting question, and one that I’ve wondered myself. I’ve noticed that humor blogs seem to keep up momentum, but I’ve definitely wondered about some of the others.

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    1. You get an email from them, telling you that you’ve been picked and why they chose your blog. Then you scream a bit, email everyone you know, and calm down about a day later. All before it actually hits FP.

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  9. With all the recipes recently, that show how to eat more of certain unappreciated veggies, I’m left to wonder if the editor’s are fighting the same battle I am. The spare tire that isn’t space saving anymore, but has become a full sized spare tire. If so it means i’ll be introduced o even more culinary delights, so someone who lives close to their office, quick drop off a box of donuts.

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  10. It’s nice that WordPress provides guidance like this–it’s guidance that could improve a lot of the posts floating around out in the sphere. I think, though, that writing just to be “freshly pressed” is like writing a story for a contest–it takes away from the soul of the writing itself. Keep on writing in earnest and the rest will take care of itself.

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  11. It was great to read what your are looking for in a “freshly pressed” post. We were freshly pressed a little bit ago and didn’t even know it until a reader congratulated us on a job well done. I am sure it is a daunting job to choose just a few from such a large offering of possibles. Those of us who write because we love it appreciate the spot light so more readers can find us. cheers to the WP team.

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  12. I like this post. As a professional photographer, I truly believe that a pictures is worth 1000 words. Including great images of the end result is a plus with any recipe. A reat marketing strategy we learned many years ago. I hope many reading this daily post will simply understand that images can tell a story (good or bad) that words sometimes can not. Peace and Love. 🙂

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  13. Good tips.

    I’m thinking I must have been Freshly Pressed this spring, the number of followers jumped a ton in just two days. I went from about 12 followers to 75! But, I have to admit I don’t read my email thoroughly since it’s full of spam. I quick scan and bulk delete. So I don’t know for sure.

    I hope, like all bloggers, that people are interested in what I write, the photography I post etc…not very focused. In the meantime I just enjoy the adventure.

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  14. Thanks a lot for the advice. I’ve found that it’s a great experience to write about food and cooking, my blog, that is speciallized on books always give me the chance to cover any topic I like, and cooking is definitely one of the. So that, I’ve just post a comment onf Julia Child on her 100th birthday anniversary and all what she did to share her love for cooking..

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  15. I thought it was a great post! Made me want to go out and buy some brussels sprouts to snack on! 😀
    Love the “close up on the Freshly Pressed Post pick” idea. Thanks!

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  16. Having had the honor and great pleasure of being Freshly Pressed these last two days, I want to thank you so much!!! I mostly blog about fiber art which is a small, niche based sort of theme, so having all this publicity has been great fun. Lots of readers and comments and likes and even new people who are followers now. It puts a lot of pressure on me now to live up to their expectations. Thanks again – you all rock! ;-D

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  17. Actually for us geeks I’d like to know more about the process you use. Obviously you won’t reveal too much to avoid being gamed but perhaps some general outlines.

    Obviously you’re not reading a million posts a day. I worked for the first-ever for-profit business on the Internet (before the Web) and we were processing about 5000 stories a day with semi-automated means and a few human editors. Later as our sources expanded and we started doing web crawler volume went through the roof and only automated techniques were possible for “picking” stories (in our case we were just putting them in categories and removing near-dups and spam and such).

    So I would assume you use some sort of statistical profiling to get to a candidate number of blogs. AFAIK you have no API that I could use for any kind of an analyzers and a scrapper is a bad thing to do so my analysis borders on being purely anecdotal whereas undoubtedly you have lots of data. But it appears that a significant number of blogs are started and not really completely launched, so those would be easy to ignore. There are a lot of marketing blogs but I’d assume these folks bypass your filters anyway or perhaps you’d toss them, so they probably do get included. So I would assume it is frequency, total number of posts, inter-post intervals, things like that to get on the short list.

    Now for the “newsy” type posts I’d suspect you’re searching, either widely or in your filtered lists, for timely topic keywords. I doubt it’s coincidence that a Ryan post is FP almost to the day after the announcement (or my Curiosity post). But the non-newsy ones are more intriguing since I can’t imagine search being very helpful.

    In our business we tried various tricks for analyzing the body for some characteristics of “good” or “interesting”. That would definitely be something to know if you have such techniques. Obviously spellchecker and grammar analyzers can do some rating, but then I see some very good posts that are sorta from ee cumings school and deliberately written in conventional style.

    Anyway these are the kinds of filtering steps that would interest me. I’d guess you turn over 50-200 posts to each editor and then use some consensus (or topical) methods for picking from the final short list (obviously that’s human judgment and not-gameable even if getting on the short-list would be).

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    1. The process isn’t some kind of closely-guarded secret, mainly because there is no process – at least, not like the one you describe. We’ve got no filters or statistical profiling systems set up, just a handful of staffers wading through as much of the blogosphere as it is possible to do each day without going a little crazy. We do search by topics to make sure we’re promoting diverse subjects/voices and posts on timely issues.

      These posts are the best we can do at getting you behind the scenes, because there’s not that much more to tell! Short list? We don’ need no stinkin’ short list.

      Happy to answer any other questions you have.

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      1. more politics please….you don’t have to avoid the controversial and thoughtt-provoking. I say this with respect of course and don’t mean to offend you. Also, fundamentally I think it is wrong to put out there the “format” of a post that is freshly pressed to give a people a feel for what your group thinks deserverving to be freshly pressed. There are hundreds of thousands of posts out there and only a few on freshly pressed everyday. Its a flawed system just by the numbers. You can never be objective and unbiased. This is not a competition and writing this post gives everyone the impression that is how you see it. How else are they supposed to take it? I liked this post, but that doesn’t negate the overall point that this practice is misguided and overwhelmingly subjective. There are too many food blogs on freshly pressed everyday. Visual appeal wins out too often over substance, and I am not degrading those blogs in any way, but the bias is evident and its inherently not fair.

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      2. I just have to say: I don’t think that you wade through much Fine Art even though it’s a popular subject. The Art that I see on Freshly Pressed is really bad most of the time. There are wonderful photos but most are used to illustrate another subject not art created to be the subject. As a visual artist I feel a little embarrassed to see poor representation in terms of quality even when I search the Art topic in the upper left of the main page. I am sure that there are many really good fine artist’s on Word Press You are just not seeing them and neither are we!

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      3. We typically include one or more posts focused on politics each day, especially as the US approaches a presidential election, and we work to represent both sides of the spectrum. But for every person who wants to read hard-hitting political analysis, there’s another who enjoys photography/memoir/fiction/name-your-topic.

        @Reflective Thinking, we’re definitely not trying to turn blogging into a competition – you raise a good point about the “best” language given the element of subjectivity in the process. It’s not at all our intent to give the impression that we’re playing favorites.

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      4. perhaps you are not playing favorites but nonetheless you can’t avoid the sheer pointlessness of advertising .02% of posts posted everyday. it doesn’t make sense and it’s inherently not fair. and it may not be your intention to create competition but that is inevitably what you are doing.

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