Editor’s note: The following is a guest post written by Margareth Koller Prisching, a colleague of regular Media Research contributor Wolfgang Granigg. 

Today, ichkoche.at can be presented as a digital success story of the Styria Media Group AG. Over the years, ichkoche.at got to know its digital community, understand its needs, and serve exactly those needs.

Ichkoche.at was founded in September 2007, as an Austrian digital cooking portal with its headquarters in Vienna. The site was re-launched in 2011.

In December 2012, ichkoche.at served an audience of 1,306,777 visits a month (according to ÖWA), making it the preferred Austrian cooking portal.

The cooking portal offers more than 12,500 recipes, ranging from sweet, traditional Austrian desserts such as sachertorte to Indian chapati to fiskbullar (Norwegian fish dumplings).

Ichkoche.at also offers a digital magazine that covers topics related to cooking, including fashionable table decorations, nutritional information about various ingredients, and book recommendations.

The user can also create his or her individual digital cookbook, which constitutes an individual collection of recipes from the cooking portal.

How did ichkoche.at get from the collection of digital recipes to real-life cooking classes? The ichkoche.at team wanted to create even more relevance for the cooking community and to serve its special needs even better.

Different methods of interaction and various new services with additional revenue potential were analysed. The idea was that enhanced community services that satisfy the needs of the cooking community might also lead to high monetisation potential.

So the decision was made to offer cooking courses.

As a next step, a kitchen had to be located, as well as a successful cook, who would fit the youthful image of the cooking portal. In October 2012, the first cooking classes were offered.

The team at Ichkoche.at renovated a stylish, 170-square-metre show kitchen in the heart of Vienna. The kitchen serves as a home for the cooking classes, but can also be rented out for parties or events.

Ichkoche.at also hired a handsome, successful, modern cook, who was willing and able to teach modern, international cuisine.

In the first three months, 45 cooking events with 567 paying guests took place. For 2013, 230 cooking classes are planned, about four a week. They range from beginner’s cooking, to specialised lessons such as bread-baking and introductory Asian cooking.

Twenty-nine courses already are sold out, and 72% of the reservations were made by people who directly accessed the ichkoche.at page. Only 9% enter the booking site through search engines.

The success of the cooking courses demonstrates the importance of understanding the needs of the community you serve. With its cooking classes, Ichkoche.at found a niche for which an audience exists.

By filling this niche, Ichkoche.at was able to unlock new revenue streams and write the opening chapter of a continuing success story.