Recipe Training

Requirements For Submitted Recipes

To start, you’ll want to look at a few examples of recipes that I’ve got on this website:

The recipes and photos that you’re working on need to match or surpass what’s currently on the site. Use these existing recipes as your benchmark for quality.

So here’s the whole process in a nutshell – you:

  • bake up the recipe
  • take pictures along the way
  • do a little write up for each step.
  • and upload them to the site.

Then I take your recipe, and make up a comic for it. Then it goes public.

Everyone has their own baking style, and I want you to be able to explore your own style and express yourself! If you’d like to do something daring or artistic with your photos – please go ahead and do so! If it works, then it’ll work! I very much appreciate people who try to push boundaries in their art.

To reiterate, each recipe you make needs:

  • ingredients
  • directions
  • high-quality photos (with a description for each photo)
  • natural sweeteners (no artificial sweeteners)
  • proof reading so it’s free of obvious grammatical errors

How To Take Great Food Photos

If you’re already a great photographer, you can skip to the next section: “How Recipes Are Submitted”.

For great food photos, you’ll absolutely need a DSLR camera (Digital SLR) – unless you’re some sort of purist who still uses film, which is fine by me as long as the photos are great. But I digress.

If you don’t know about DSLRs, they’re the black cameras with the giant lenses on them. They look like this:


A great starter DSLR is the Canon t2i (picture above). You can find them on Craigslist for around $300. There are upgraded versions (t3i, t4i, t5i) that are slightly better with some more advanced features. These go for a bit more used though.

If you’re at a point where you’re ready to get a camera even better than that, then you’re probably ready to start researching on your own.

I just want to give tools to those of you who are new to all this, but want to start doing food photography.

Once you’ve got a decent camera, you’ll want to start reading some food photography tutorials to learn how to take some great photos!

My favourite food photography lesson is from She teaches all you need to know, from:

  • photo equipment
  • camera lenses
  • camera settings
  • positioning your food
  • using the right dishes
  • lighting
  • backgrounds and backdrops
  • post-processing

It’s important to note that there are some quality standards on here (if you didn’t notice already). You’ll want to make sure your photos are at around a similar quality to those in my peach cobbler or oatmeal cookies.


How Recipes Are Submitted

The initial assignment is paid, though often some work is required to get all the formatting done. Once you’ve done one recipe though, formatting the rest of them is super easy.

You’ll be able to submit your recipes directly into the WordPress website after I create a login for you – I’ll need your email address in order to do so (your login details will be sent automatically there when I create your username). Photos are also uploaded here, where they can be compressed quite easily with a plugin I have running on the site.

You’ll want to name your photos the name of the recipe (ie. “sugar-free-raspberry-jam-001.jpg”) and reference the photo names within the recipe document.

Photos should be uploaded at 1500px wide in JPG/PNG format.

By default your DSLR will take pictures at around 5000px wide, so they definitely need to be resized. The program “Shrink O’ Matic” is a good choice for bulk resizing/renaming images quickly. Feel free to use what you like, but if you conform to my suggestions you’ll find that you’ll get things done quicker.

Once Hired: Recipe Submission Guidelines & Training

It’s great to hear that you’ve decided to start some baking for us.

Although we all love baking and taking fun and professional photos, in order to make it profitable for you (and for me), there is a process that you’ll want to follow to make your recipes & images usable, as well as speeding up any silly administrative tasks like compressing images.

I’ve created this list to help you understand your responsibilities when submitting recipes. It’s all easy, and it saves us both a ton of time if you read through and make sure your recipes/photos follow these guidelines.

This training is also in place to make sure our recipes and photos are KILLER for our wonderful visitors – which is the #1 priority.

It might take an extra 1/2 hour now to learn the guidelines, but it saves hours and hours in the future (for you AND me)!

It also saves you from having to do corrections. If a recipe isn’t up to standard, then I will ask you to fix any issues.

Frequent Mistakes (That You Should Try To Avoid)

Common issues I run into are:

  • the photos are underexposed
  • the photos aren’t color balanced (and are usually too red, or too blue)
  • the ingredients or directions are wrong. Sometimes an ingredient may be listed, but not even mentioned in the directions.
  • there are spelling/punctuation errors in the recipe.
  • the photos are the wrong size (they should be 1500 px wide).

Please double check any submitted recipes to make sure that you don’t make any of these errors. I edit every recipe, and I hate to have to ask you to fix something.

If you make a small error like a spelling error, that’s not a big deal, and I’ll just fix it. If it becomes a consistent issue though, then I’ll ask for you to fix it so that it doesn’t happen so often. My goal is to have an efficient team that submits publishable work the first time – but I realize that takes some time.

This page will teach you:

  • how to format photos
  • how to write the ingredients, directions, and the walkthrough
  • which sweetener brands to use
  • how to reference your images in the submission document

I hope we can work on many recipes together!

Let’s get started.


It’s not easy being sugar free though. You’ve got to be strict about only using a few approved sweeteners in your recipes. You’ll have to stick to:

  • Erythritol (any brand should be fine) – NOTE: Please try to make Erythritol the MAIN sweetener that you use. I get the least complaints from visitors about it, so unless another sweetener is needed, use Erythritol.
  • Stevia (only the “stevia white extract powder” from herbal advantage brand will do) – if you have to use another brand, please don’t show the label. Also, keep in mind that most Stevia brand are very diluted, while the Herbal Advantage is concentrated, so they don’t substitute well for it. If you use stevia, please get a brand that’s pure concentrated with no filler. The measurements, if concentrated properly, should be about 1 tsp. stevia PER 1 cup of sugar.
  • Agave nectar (volcanic nectar brand only – free shipping if you buy a gallon, it’s not much more expensive than the low quality stuff). If you can’t use Volcanic Nectar, please don’t show the label of the brand you’re using. We’re trying to move away from Agave on the site as some visitors have problems with it. Only use it in a last case scenario.
  • Coconut sugar (any brand should be fine). Same as Agave – some visitors don’t like this product so only use it if the recipe is un-makeable without it. I realize Coconut Sugar is a good substitute for brown sugar, and there aren’t many good substitutes for that out there.

You should already be used to baking with these types of substitutes (you do live and breath sugar free, right!?). We’ve got to stay away from artificial sweeteners entirely though, such as:

  • splenda
  • aspartame
  • sucralose
  • sweet ‘n low
  • any other artificial sweeteners

Submission Guidelines

Once you’re ready to start baking, I’ll create a username for your WordPress login. Your login details will be sent to your email.

Recipe tips:

  • When putting the ingredients into mixing bowls (and other such activities), take a photo of the ingredients being poured into the bowl. Do not simply take a photo of the ingredient on the counter – show some action!
  • Stevia Organic Extract Powder should be used for any recipes involving stevia – it can be purchased here: – regular store-bought stevia has fillers in it, and is not suitable for recipes on SweetSmarts.
  • Other sweeteners allowed include erythritol, agave nectar, and coconut sugar. Please try to use erythritol and stevia in most recipes, as some people have trouble with agave + coconut sugar, so I try to use them only if it’s necessary.
  • Ingredients/Directions are initially created as a “recipe” custom post. Please follow the instructional video on how to insert these.
  • The walkthrough should include all the directions, as well as some fun commentary to help make it more interesting for our readers. As a note, our demographic of readers is 80% women between the ages of 18-55

Once you’ve submitted your recipe, I may comment on your recipe for corrections.

As you do a few recipes, hopefully I will not have to make many comments anymore as we’re both on the same page. Following this page of guidelines will also cut down on the time we spend correcting anything. If you can become as efficient as possible, with minimal feedback required from me, you’ll likely get a bump up in pay for saving me management time.

Image Guidelines

Images should be taken in adequate lighting.

If the photos are taken during the day, make sure that they are well lit by a window. It’s best if the food is not in direct sunlight, though you may take creative license with that if you feel confident in your abilities as a photographer.

I highly recommend reading through this food photography lesson from It has everything you need to know about taking good photos.

Images MUST be:

  • in focus.
  • named “sugar-free-recipe-name-001.jpg”. Use the Shrink-O-Matic (Windows, Mac) to bulk change your images. Be sure to use the hyphens (” – “), and not underscores (” _ “) when naming photos.
  • uploaded into the Wordpress site.
  • 1500px wide (Shrink-O-Matic allows you to resize the width of your images at the same time as renaming them).
  • processed for the web using the TinyPNG WordPress plugin. After you upload the images to “Media”, go back into media and check off all the images, and use bulk actions to “compress all images”.

Recipe Submission Steps:

Please use these guidelines EVERY TIME that you put a recipe on the site. It helps to make sure you don’t miss anything. I personally still use these steps every time I upload a recipe – and I’m the one that wrote them!

Recipe Addition:

  1. Go to “Recipes > add new”
  2. Name the recipe (Sugar Free XXXXX XXXX)
  3. Add the featured image as the main image for the recipe
  4. Fill in the ingredients. IMPORTANT: Make sure each ingredient is listed in the order that it appears in the directions.
  5. Fill in the directions
  6. Use the timer shortcode for bake time, or any other useful times – [[timer length=xxxx]9-12 Minutes[/timer]]
    1. For “timer length”, put the amount of minutes (choose the longer amount). Make sure to put the correct amount of minutes in between the tags.
  7. Click “publish”.
  8. Go to  “Recipes > All Recipes”
  9. Hover your mouse over the title of the recipe you just added. In the bottom-left corner of the screen you should seen a URL, and some numbers attached to it. (ie. post=1367).
  10. Take that number and put it into the shortcode on our new post: [[cooked-recipe id=1367]]

Recipe Post:

    • Go to “Posts > Add New”.
    • Give the recipe a title. Usually something like “Sugar Free Cranberry Almond Cookies”
    • Set the featured image on the right.
    • Set the full width header image (make it the same image as the featured image). Note: If no image selected, this will default to a pattern.
    • In the WordPress SEO by Yoast section:
      • Snippet editor: Leave the Title as it is. Set the Description to this example (change the recipe name):
        • Baking sugar free apple muffins? This printable recipe has oodles of photos, a comic with fun cartoons, and is diabetic-friendly.
      • set the “Focus Keyword” to the recipe name. Example: “sugar free almond joy cookies”. Make sure it says sugar free at the beginning.

Categories & Tags:

  • Set the recipe category (ie. cookies, cakes, etc.)
  • Create tags for allergy information:
    • dairy-free (check for dairy – butter is OKAY, almond milk is OKAY)
    • peanut-free (check for peanuts)
    • soy-free (check for soy)
  • Add additional TAGS:
    • “oodles of photos” – make sure this is plural
    • “no comic…yet”
  • Add sweeteners TAG depending on what is used in this recipe:
    • stevia
    • erythritol
    • coconut sugar
    • agave nectar

Insert Recipe Using Cornerstone

      • Open up “templates” and insert the MY PAGES “Recipe Template”.
      • Set the “[[cooked-recipe id=xxxx]]” shortcode to the right number.
      • Insert all the directions and the images (should take less than 5 minutes)
      • SAVE the page (it is now published)..
      • View the published page to verify that everything looks correct.


Each image needs an “ALT” tag that describes what is happening in the photo. An ALT tag is usually about 5-20 words long.

You can add an ALT tag by clicking the “edit” pencil icon in Cornerstone, and then typing in the field that says “Alternative Text”.

1 of the images should have the focus keyword in it. For example:

“all the ingredients required for my sugar free peach cobbler recipe”.

An image of the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl might have an ALT text like this:
“mixing the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl”

Simple, right?

The walkthrough should include all the directions, as well as some fun commentary to help make it more interesting for our readers. As a note, our demographic of readers is 80% women between the ages of 18-50

In the past it has taken up to 1 hour to get a recipe uploaded and formatted, so I’m very happy to say that these steps take between 10-20 minutes to follow, which is a great improvement in efficiency.

This completes the basic training for submitting recipes. Please let me know if I can help in any other way.