Whether you’re a good cook — or just like good food — a site for home chefs is offering to help you make some extra money.

Glendale, Calif.-based DishDivvy invites California cooks to sell meals for pick-up and has just launched an affiliate program that pays both cooks and clients for referrals. In doing so, the site is capitalizing on trends that give ordinary people a chance to make money by monetizing their cooking skills or their friends.

Extra income for cooks

In addition to DishDivvy, four other sites — Shef, CozyMeal, Tastemade and EatWith — all allow both professional and amateur cooks to market home-cooked meals to customers in the U.S.

By and large, the chefs determine the menus, schedule and the price of their offerings. The sites simply take a commission either from the cook or the client to pay for marketing and payment processing.

The pandemic gave these operations a shot in the arm. As restaurants shut down around the country, dinners turned to local take-out and delivery services. That fueled rapid growth in both revenue and interest from chefs. DishDivvy, for instance, experienced a four-fold boost to revenue and an eight-fold increase in chefs offering meals over the past year, says CEO Ani Torosyan.

Extra income for influencers

Meanwhile, realizing that you’re more likely to put faith in word-of-mouth recommendations from people you trust, advertisers are increasingly turning to “influencers” to market their products.

Who are influencers? At one time, they were mainly actors, reality stars and athletes. However, as advertising dollars poured into this market, influencers were redefined more broadly. Now, they’re often ordinary people who simply have sway over a group because of their community connections or passions. They can be scientists, stay-at-home moms, school kids, bloggers, members of a local PTA or charity.  In other words, they can be just about anyone who has a smart phone and a social media presence.

“You don’t need to have a lot of followers, you just need to be authentic and have an engaged audience,” says Eric Dahan, CEO of Open Influence, an influencer marketing agency.

Open Influence finds lucrative advertising deals for influencers with thousands of followers on social media platforms. However, sites like Heartbeat and Koji can help so-called “mico-influencers,” who have as few as 500 followers, secure small-dollar advertising deals in their local markets.

DishDivvy program

Combining local influencers and local food seemed like a natural fit for DishDivvy, says Torosyan. After all, the focus of the site is to allow local cooks to sell meals to people who live within a few miles of them.

When cooks register on the site, they provide both their street address and their prospective menus. Assuming they’re accepted through the onboarding process, which requires a license and a kitchen inspection, they can start offering meals. Potential customers see locally-offered menus and prices. Click on an individual meal and you’ll also get a map that tells you just how many miles you’d have to drive to pick it up.

With this hyper-local focus, the best spokespeople for the site are friends and neighbors, who are willing to tout their favorite meals on local social media channels like Facebook and Nextdoor, Torosyan says.

Both cooks and clients can participate in the referral program. It’s based on a point system that values each referral purchase at roughly $3. Chefs also earn points for getting five-star reviews and uploading new menu items.

“We were paying Facebook for referrals,” Torosyan explains. “Why not reward our cooks and our clients instead?”

To be sure, the income you can earn from both home cooking and referrals might not replace a full-time salary, but the money does add up. DishDivvy affiliates typically earn $100 to $250 per month, while home cooks can earn $2,000 to $3,000, Torosyan says.

“There’s really no upper limit,” she adds. “It’s all about how active you want to be.”

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