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One year ago, on a quiet weekend in April, this gal started a blog. My husband graciously created a WordPress account, blog logo, and bought a domain. Sunday morning I sat down, took a deep breath, and wrote my first ever blog post, “A Defining Moment”. I clicked the little red publish button, and suddenly the whole world could read my thoughts. Slightly scary, yet incredibly empowering.
Over the next few weeks I wrote more posts, photographed recipes using my trusty iPhone, and shared stories about my quest for simplicity and natural living. My passion for sharing life via this wonderful world of “blogging” was ignited. Friends started to read my posts, and share with their friends. Slowly over time ten readers turned into twenty, and soon hundreds.
Three months into blogging I discovered the wonderful “c” word, community. I joined a blogging network and connected with fellow like-minded natural bloggers. Together, we shared posts, along with tips and practical advice. As I connected with bloggers and improved my writing and photography, I watched my blog flourish and reach thousands of people. The network I loved so much crumbled, but my blogging friendships and connections continue to grow.
One year later I’m still passionately blogging. Blogging is now a full-time job. I spend a lot of time (40 hours plus) developing recipes, eating (huge perk), writing, and interacting with readers and bloggers. I also make money as a blogger.
I regularly receive questions from new bloggers, just starting out on this great journey of blogging, wondering how exactly this thing called “food blogging” works. In celebration of my first year of blogging, today, I’m sharing my top ten tips for food bloggers.
Top Ten Tips for Food Bloggers:
1. Blog about your passion. You may have many passions in life, but pick one (or two, if related). This passion should be your blog’s focus. Without passion, blogging will quickly turn into another “job” (one that pays nothing in the beginning).
2. Focus on your content, not numbers. In the beginning very few people will read your blog. Your focus should be on writing and photographing great content. Without great content your blog simply won’t grow. So, write, write, write. And don’t forget to include great photos.
3. Always look for areas to improve. Blogging isn’t about perfection. At first your pictures and writing may be awful. It’s okay, blogging is about starting where you are and improving, daily. Read books on writing, recipe development, and photography. I share my favorite blogging books and resources below.
4. Be consistent. If your blog is meant to be a family resource, writing once a month is great, but if your goal is reaching others and building readership, consistency is key. Decide on a blogging schedule (I want to post two times a week, on Tuesday and Thursday) and stick with it.
5. Learn how to use your camera. Photos make a blog worth reading. When I started blogging I used my iPhone for photos. After studying my favorite blogs, I realized good photos are essential. I picked up a good camera (this one), nice lens (this one), and Pinch of Yum’s food photography book. I also invested in food props (dishes, backdrops, and utensils), and a good editing software (Photoshop). My numbers and reach improved with the presence of high-quality photos.
6. Connect with bloggers. Connecting with bloggers allows you to work together, share posts, troubleshoot, and develop friendships. How does one go about connecting with bloggers? Comment on blogs, join a blogging network, attend conferences, and begin interacting with bloggers on social media.
Note: Please genuinely connect with bloggers. Don’t stop by a blogger’s FB wall, “Hey, I wrote this awesome post, will you share it?” Instead, stop by and genuinely introduce yourself.
7. Don’t compete. There are a lot of bloggers online. Don’t let the numbers or success of other blogs frustrate you, just do your thing. Write about your passion, share your experience, connect with your readers. Blogging is not about competing, it’s about connecting and sharing life.
8. Follow other blogs. Blogging can be draining. While I love what I do, there are times my inspiration is zapped. Regularly reading inspiring blogs keeps me from feeling drained. Some of these blogs are real food and health related, some are lifestyle.
9. Don’t focus on money. Do not start a blog with the purpose of making money. If your goal is money, there are far easier ways to make a buck. Start a blog because you have a passion, and a desire to share life with others. As your content and readership grow you can think about monetizing, but money should never be the driving force behind your blog.
I’m a firm believer in full-time bloggers having the opportunity to make money. Blogging takes time and can be expensive. My monthly expenses include: email service to reach my readers, hosting, food costs for recipes, food props, an assistant to help with social media, books, traveling, and more.
Here’s how I make money: ads (I’m very picky about the kind of ads placed on my site), working with companies I genuinely love and believe in, and affiliates (such as Amazon- for products I use in real life and highly recommend).
10. Take a break. Unlike an 8-5 office job, the online world never sleeps. I can blog, reply to comments and emails, and check social media, 24/7.
I have a set schedule for blogging. I work on my computer Monday-Friday 9-12, and in the evenings when my kids go to bed. On the weekends, I spend one day cooking and photographing. Stick to a schedule and know when it’s time to take a break.
My Favorite Blogging Resources:
- Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob
- The Recipe Writer’s Handbook by Barbara Gibbs Ostmann and Jane L. Baker
- Tasty Food Photography by Pinch of Yum
- Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardin