We can fight about who deserves to be president, but maybe we can both agree that Derek Ramsay's peaceful marriage shouldn't be reported alongside the SONA in a national media outlet.
If only it were so easy to do.
Companies that produce content—like ABS-CBN, Rappler, or Pepper—have long survived by getting eyeballs and selling them to advertisers. The more people see the stuff we make, the better we do. Conversely, if we fail to generate those precious hits, we're done for. Who wants a billboard in a ghost town?
So we're all incentivized to get hits. This means we're never going to see the end of clickbait, sensationalism, and fake news until we figure out how to make money outside ads.
We've been thinking about how to reduce our ad dependency for years. Relying on ads makes it difficult for us to produce great, honest content. If we want to recommend a wonderful brand that's competing with our client, we kind of have our hands tied.
On top of that, ads encourage us to spam digestible content too. If you find that we've been farting out instant noodles day in and day out, now you know why. Easy, safe content (they're not all bad though!) get all the hits. The opposite applies too. We lose money everytime we make challenging, creative, or in-depth content.
Because of this twisted misalignment, you'll find that most media companies have their own interests clashing with their readers. What's good for them (eyeballs) is bad for readers (poor content). This is why everyone likes mocking the media: railing about journalistic integrity on one hand, and shilling papparazzi photos on the other. It's not wrong to say we're hypocrites.
We're hoping Pepper Plus sets us on a new path.
This is our way of escaping the eyeball prison. Though it probably won't let us go that easily. So right now we're just really trying to alleviate some of the pain, like walking with one crutch instead of two. The less reliant we are on ads, the better.
What does this mean for you?
You might think we're a blog or a recipe company, but we see ourselves as a "cooks' solutions company." Our mission is to solve problems for cooks. Sounds dull, but we find it exciting.
Here are some problems we want to solve:
- How to cook x in the Philippines?
- Can you trust a recipe?
- Where to find x ingredients?
- How to make money from home cooking?
- Which products are the best?
- What kitchen products should I invest in?
Right now the most obvious thing we're doing is localizing and testing our recipes. Most recipe sites write for Americans. They don't work here. So we're trying to do a better job making it relevant and easy for Filipinos. (You can read about our cooking philosophy here.)
In our journey to help raise the cooking IQ in the country, we recently added Chef Notes. These are small bits of more technical content you learn at culinary school but adapted for home-cooking. We're hoping they'll help explain some cooking concepts better when you read our recipes.
One thing we've also noticed is the entrepreneurial drive among homecooks. We did a survey with you guys and about 70% said that they've either sold or want to sell food. So we're introducing all-new courses to help with that.
And finally, we want all members of Pepper Plus to get access to the best and most affordable kitchen goods in one roof. So we're also trying to grow Pepper Shop.
We're nowhere near where we want to be. But just to get you excited, here are some ideas we're toying with:
- A dynamic, live graph tracking food prices across all groceries
- A Wordle-like food game
- A marketplace that lets you sell your homecooking to your neighbors
- A directory of product reviews that lets you know which grocery products you should buy
- An annual Disneyland-style cooking fair to showcase your food
We have so many dreams and ideas but we can only do so much at the moment. We're a tiny team (less than 10 people as of writing!) and we need to stay focused with our content and the shop.
If you're still objecting to paid content, that's understandable. But if you're on the opposite end and genuinely excited about what we want to make, then consider supporting us with Pepper Plus!
We're always a work in progress. If you have questions or suggestions on how we should shape Pepper Plus, just send me an email: [email protected]. ✌️
Thanks for listening and see you around!