Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Top Ten Food Blogging Tips


Certainly food is a big part of food blogging. The recipes and photos we post are what draw people in. There's more to it. That's what I'm learning. I consider myself a newbie. My blog is about 2 1/2 months old. I'm hitting the point of where the newness is wearing off. It's gone from "this blog is merely therapy for me" to "this blog is feeling more like a business".

Both are fun, one is more helpful to my emotional status and the other feeds my entrepreneurial spirit. How can I make this better? What's my ultimate goal in doing this blog? Who do I write this for? Is this crossing over from a fun, therapeutic food-sharing session into gotta-get-more-followers-and-get-accepted-on-photo-sites-pronto! kinda of session?

I'm finding the latter to be true. I could lie to you and say, "oh, the numbers don't matter. I write for myself and if no one reads it, who cares." LIE. I probably started out saying  that, but once your in and you are spending hours on photos, recipes and just ideas in general, you want some one to read it. And not just your parents and some good friends. You want to reach others. You want others to see your hard work, appreciate it and tell someone else. Like anything else you love, you want to see it grow and get better.

SO! What's a girl to do? I searched the Internet for ideas. I was looking for blog building tips for just food bloggers. It was hard to find. More for blogs that were news oriented, not along the creative lines of a food blog. I believe we are a different species. Food bloggers are intense passionate bloggers. We love our food, love our recipes and love our photos and cameras.

Since I didn't find much out there on food blogs specifically, I did find other info that was good across the board for any blog. I've compiled a few things that I currently do and I find helpful. If your a newbie this is for you. If you are not, I appreciate any wisdom you can bring to the table.

1. One of the first things I did was get into online blog communities. Foodbuzz.com being one of the first. I joined a few others, but the issue here is to be selective. I found that I'd rather be apart of a few that I can dedicate some time to, rather than joining a bunch (and having copious amounts of badges for communities I never commune with on my blog). The blog communities don't really work unless you can invest time.


2. I got myself some business cards. Totally old school and originally I thought the idea was dumb. My husband mentioned it after he saw me writing down my blog on a scraps of paper and handing them out to people I talk to. Hmmm, what's dumber of the two? Scraps of paper or business cards? Much easier to carry a business card than scramble for a shred of my grocery list and a sharpie. Also, a business card gives the impression that you've got it together and you "must be doing pretty well" if you've got a card, right? I've made my share of business cards over the years and I always come back to www.printsmadeeasy.com./

3. Talk to people! I happen to be a "people person". I will talk to anyone. I like finding things in common with others and it happens most at the grocery store. I mean, we all love food, we are all at the grocery for the same reason, what a perfect time to invite them to my blog! I've gotten a really good response.

see the smudges on the screen? Yes, little monkey fingerprints.

4. Leave good comments on other's blogs. We all know visiting other's blogs and leaving a comment opens up your name to others, BUT if you leave a comment like, "this looks amazing. yum." your probably not going to get too much interest in your comment from the author or anyone else. Be sincere. I like to comment on something personal they put into the post, because I know how much I enjoy those comments. It says to me "wow, they actually read the whole post!"

5. Be real in your postings. I find the blogs I am most drawn to are ones with which I can relate. I like mommy blogs, foodie blogs and any kind of arty blog, but if the author seems stiff or seemingly has too many walls up, I don't usually continue visiting the blog. Why? Because humans are curious. I want to feel the warmth of your creation, not the cold perfection. Tell me about you, why YOU love this or that. How something makes you feel, what's funny about the situation you were just in or how much you hate your pasta machine. Tell me. That keeps me coming back and that's how I try to write.

6. Create a brand. You are the brand. If you want to sell your blog you've got to sell yourself. I like to see the author's face. Put your name out there. Not just some covert operational name, like "captin'crunchkaos". I try to use either my blog name or my real name. Something people can connect the two. If you have 20 different user names, no one is going to recognize you right off the bat.

7. Photos. Okay, we all know food bloggers love their photos. We've all been rejected by submission sites and some, ehmmm...are still waiting to get accepted. Regardless, photos make a huge difference. I know for me, when the photos aren't good, the food doesn't look appetizing. When the food doesn't look appetizing, I don't want to stay. The rules of food photography are (as I have most recently learned) 1. use natural light, 2. never use a flash, 3. you probably won't (with some exceptions) get on food photo submission sites if you don't use a DSLR.

8. Keep writing. Try to post everyday or 5 days a week is good. The only exception here is not to blog just for the sake of blogging. If I really don't have it that day, I mean really don't (as in yesterday), I won't blog. I want to give my best. If I know the post will come out sounding more like Debbie Downer than Rowdy Ramona over a vegetable lasagna, I won't do it. Some days, like today, I need a break from writing out a recipe and write about something more left-brained.


9. Keep and idea journal. I love journals. I mean, I'm a journal nut-job. My favorite brand is Moleskine. I carry one with me everywhere I go. EVERYWHERE. I could be sitting at Chick-fil-a while my children are emptying their energy levels in the play area and get the best idea for a post! What do I do now? Tell myself to remember? Ha! No. That's like telling a tired mommy to remember to paint her toenails...it's not going to happen. It's also great to have ideas stored up for those days when you've drawn a blank. Your journal will be there for you will lots of great ideas.

10. Relax. I tell myself this quite often. As much as I want my blog to grow, I don't want to grow into an obsessed blogging fool either. Balance is key with all things in life. I try to give myself some grace if maybe a post I thought was fantastic didn't get more than 3 comments, or if I just didn't have it in me to post that day or if my pictures turned out to be crap, whatever the reason, remember to relax. It's okay. Oh, and to remember that my family is far more important than any of this blogging stuff, but it sure makes for a happier mommy when I do it!

Let's turn this list of 10 into a list of 20 Top Food Blogging Tips! I will update this post as the ideas roll in. Don't leave me hangin' my long-time food blogger foodie-rific (too much Barney, sorry) friends! Please send me your suggestions to help out us newbies or any bloggers, really, with your experience. I want to hear your favorite tips, techniques with writing, submitting stuff, photos, favorite cameras, etc. Share, share, share!

A personal question (not that kind of personal question): I want to know, for my DSLR (that I have yet to purchase) what is the best lens to use for food photography? I'm looking at a 1.4/50mm lens. I don't know squat about lenses but I've been told this is a good one. Any other suggestions or am I on the right track?

Cheers, my lovely dears! I appreciate all your help and support.

50 comments:

  1. I love this post!

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  2. Hi Lauren,

    I think it's decent advice you're getting on the lens. It partially depends on whether you shoot Canon or Nikon. On Nikon, I would get the 50 mm f/1.8, because it's cheaper and slightly sharper than the f/1.4. Might not be the case with Canon, since people are recommending 1.4. However, it's important to note that the differences on both cameras is likely very subtle.

    I also really love the Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 macro (which Nikon calls "micro"). I would definitely check out the Canon equivalent.

    Is your camera body going to have a full-frame or an APS sensor?

    -Ben
    http://www.youfedababychili.com/

    P.S. This OpenID thing is killing me! Won't recognize my wordpress identity. :/

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  3. Great tips, I try to do most of the things you're talking about, although I put 3-4 posts per week.
    Also I usually try to take step by step pictures but my kitchen is so dark and I can't use natural light so the pictures come out crappy bu only those step by step. When I take a picture of a final dish I always take it next to the window or at the balcony. I'm thinking about buying some kind of white light to my kitchen so the lightning will look a bit more natural.

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  4. To Lauren, I have the same problem with open ID, wordpress won't recognize my ID because I do my own hosting not on wordpress.com so I have to log in with google account.

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  5. Yum, this looks good. Ok ok just joking.

    I think that it is great to have a blog but it also kind of annoys me when people do act like it is a business. I lose interest once it becomes too slick. I rather be more like a voyeur looking into some ones life rather than reading too thought out prose. Also, I like the pictures to feel less slick than many of the ones I see. I want to see what it really looks like and not just some photoshop version of the food. I also hate artsy takes on food. It is food for gods sake, not a da Vinci.

    Just my thoughts. I like your blog a LOT. Don't go too "posed" on me.

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  6. Hi Lauren, I enjoy your posts and think you write about your experiences honestly and have a dry sense of humor that I enjoy. Your business cards are so cool, I would like to have one! I also should say I like your food photography, I think you have a nice style and You make recipes that I like and would make myself at home. My best tip for blogging, make a post that you love, enjoy reading and looking at the pictures. Now I have to go or I'll be late for Pilates, all the best, Patty

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  7. Great post Lauren! =)

    I, too, am very new to the business of blogging, and definitely had that moment of "is this just for fun? to attract more local business? or to share my passion for food with other foodies out there in the world?" I'm not sure if I ever really consciously answered those questions for myself. What I can say is that, as is the case with most everything else in life, do what you love to do. Follow your own passion with reckless abandon, and people will be drawn in by the energy of it.

    I have been so humbled and touched by the wonderful support I have received from the foodie universe, and surprised at the camaraderie. We are not in viscous competition with one another. We are all just passionate food people looking to share our own inspiration and ideas with the world. Meaningful comments are definitely key (which isn't to say that I am not also tickled when I get ten comments that say "wow. delicious."). And unfortunately for our little world of food blogging, pictures are paramount. A DSLR will certainly hedge your bet toward producing fabulous photos, but they are certainly not a prerequisite. Some of my favorite bloggers, who have what I consider to be some of the greatest pictures use point and shoots just like me, and some who have professional cameras produce lack luster photography. It is still all about the time and energy you are willing to invest in learning how to use the camera that you do have, and finding a post editing software that you can use effectively. If there is a blog that you find especially inspiring, drop the author a line and ask them for advice. I have found that most all of the foodie bloggers out there are tremendously supportive and gracious to us newbies.

    I used to feel a strong pressure to post every single day, and I did for several months. But I am realizing that it is ok to give myself a break now and then, when I am otherwise too busy with work to devote much attention to it. Post only your best stuff (which isn't to say that you can't/shouldn't post about your kitchen failures as much as your triumphs... we have all been there, and it makes us human. In fact, I find, like Julia Child's old cooking shows, making mistakes is often even more inspirational... it makes us feel like, hey even I can do that.)

    Gawd. Could this comment BE longer? Shut up already, Jacob. Jeesh =)

    Thanks for sharing your tips!

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  8. Hi Lauren

    very nice job with your top 10, I have been toying with the idea of business cards too, yours look great!
    as for a lens I shoot with a normal lens, and I think the big difference will be using a macro lens, I do think that is a must, I am saving for a good macro lens now. Also stay with the same brand lens as camera you purchase, off brand lenses are ok, but I think for close ups with food you need a quality lens. Also research the lenses when you get close to purchase, some are made with plastic parts which aren't always bad but something to consider.
    I am having my trials with the food picture sites too...sigh.....
    hope your having a good day!
    Dennis

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  9. Hi Lauren,

    I think this was a really great idea for a post. I think I started blogging just around the same time as you so it is good to see where we both are at this point. I just recently got business cards too! Yours are really nice. I do, and try to do, everything on your list. You are right, we invest too much thought into our blogs not to want the whole world to see them.

    I post 3-4 times a week just because I'm in the process of looking for my first real job and I try not to let my newly found food blog obsession take over that. I am always stressing about how many hits I get and what I can do to get more people to actually like reading my blog and want to come back. It is only a little over two months. While we all imagine and want this great response asap, it takes time. Your blog is awesome and people love it. Whatever your doing, keep it up!

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  10. What a great list! Really helpful and yes, the 50mm will work well. I'm still trying to learn more about my camera - there's too much to learn. The business card idea - have been meaning to but never get around to it, so you're prompting me too. Yours are so cute and I am hating writing them on my other business cards. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. I heart lists almost as much as you heart journals so I'm a total fan of this post. I find #4 to be particularly relevant. If someone comes by and leaves a genuine comment, I'll totally visit their blog and will likely continue visiting it. On the other hand, if someone leaves a vague and generic comment, I know that person is on a commenting spree simply in hopes of driving traffic back to their blog and that's just not cool. Blogging has to be genuine (like your posts about your agony with photo submission sites) for me to be interested!

    PS: I saw your Project Food Blog profile and was a fan! :)

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  12. I really enjoy your blog. And, I was shocked to read that you've only been doing this for a couple of months (clearly I have not gone to look back at all of your posts...my bad)! I also think that your 10 tips were wonderful. I'm in the constant struggle of trying to get my blog out there (business cards are a fabulous idea!) and also make it look better. Here's a question for you: How do you make the time to take such great pictures before you eat the food and with little ones? If I manage to get dinner on the table for my husband, my toddler, and me, then it seems like there's only about 5 milliseconds to take a picture. Thus, many of my pictures are really suffering. Any thoughts?

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  13. Thank you for this post--While I've been blogging for close to 6 years now, I only joined the ranks of food blogging about 6 months ago, so this list is most helpful. I'm glad you touched on the idea of using business cards--I've got some too, although I've been too self-conscious to give them to anyone but friends or family! I know I need to get over that...And I've been working on joining a couple food blog communities, although I don't want to spread myself too thin. It's hard enough trying to blog a couple times a week, in between work, my toddler, and life in general!

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  14. For all of us new(ish) bloggers, this is very on point. I am guilty of sometimes just commenting "oh my GOD this looks good" but that's because it's what I am really thinking! And like Culinarian, I have the problem of not having time to take any good photos before the food needs to be eaten. With my baked goods, it's easier, I can save some of the best for pics, but entrees are made to actually feed my family. That's a frustrating thing for me. And the obsession with getting more readers, it's an easy trap to fall into. I don't have time to post more than 2-3 times a week, and I just have to hope that the people who like my blog don't mind!

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  15. I love that for every rule there's the exception. My favorite blogs, Lottie + Doof and 101 Cookbooks, each post maybe once a week. Sometimes less.

    I love blogs that are commercial-free and clean of badges. That's my personal preference. I want to hear the voice of the author, not the author-as-shill for some company or another. Again, my preference.

    We all have our different motivations for what we do. I attended the Wine Bloggers Conference this year, and was somewhat put off by arguments over what a blog "should" be. It sounded like an enormous argument over art. Face it, some people love the Red Square and some people just don't get it. Your audience finds you at least as much as you find it.

    Very few of us ever really make money at this gig. If I get a free case of wine, some bottles of juice (hasn't everyone by now??) some good books, comped invitations to nice events or dinner at a winery because of this, that's terrific by me. Some bloggers are seriously looking for income, and I'm glad that I love my day job and can avoid that pressure.

    Content creators... That's the term I'm learning to adopt to loosely define bloggers. We get to say what content we publish!!! Yeah!! Well written, poorly written, gorgeous photos, crummy photos, controversial or sweet, it's all mine to say!!! Hurray!

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  16. Nice Job Lauren! And is that the ring you mentioned in the email~! ooo so pretty. Happy Anniversary! Love the photo of you hehe (=

    With regards to the business cards...did you know that in the Foodbuzz resource center you can get free ones? Called Moo Cards. Not as cool as yours but you can get them. The Foodbuzz resource center has a ton of helpful tips. Take a look.

    Camera Yes. The 1.4/50mm is a great lens, as we discussed. And I highly recommend it. Its great in low light. Thats the only lens I use (= Originally I bought it to take photos of my son bc it doesn't require flash (flash being bad for babies eyes).

    There are sites called pro-blogger and other sites that help with blogging tips. ( I have to visit myself to get some tips too).

    I read a lot of mommy blogs and they have really, I mean really good advice. And there are plenty of resources that you can read up on. You just have to find the ones that you like. Merely asking people for advice does nothing. Research is key...check out Serious Eats, not just to put photos on Photograzing but for the resources.

    Also "like" your favorite chefs, bloggers etc on your facebook page so you can get idea's and learn from them. Observation and reading is so important. If you look at my progression, wow you can definitely tell that I have learned throughout my blogging. From photos to even writing.

    You make really good points. For me blogging is really fun and i'm not looking to make a profession out of this. I just love my blog. And of course it makes you feel good if you get readers. But you have to be resourceful. Look at your market. Who are you appealing to? Get your name out there.

    I never cooked much until I started my blog. Blogging encourages me to cook more and be creative. If you can't enjoy what you love then why do it?

    I'm a mom first, blogging for me is a creative outlet. To fill in the time when I'm not spending it with my son. Food blogging....everything has already been done in my opinion. Its the visuals first then the content. Unless you're some super chef coming up with new recipes that no one has ever tried, then you must do something to make yourself stand out.

    Have fun and most of all enjoy your children!

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  17. Oh... one more thought. I'm coming to believe that the best posts come from authors who actually get out from behind their computers and live a little. Coming back to the keyboard with something cool to say, in terms of observations, research findings and experiences, means more to me as a reader than to read something thin and lifeless every single day. I just don't have time for those posts, and quickly learn to avoid those blogs. Again, just my preference.

    It's amazing how much we all have to say on this topic, isn't it???!

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  19. Wow! thank you all so much for your input!
    I want to respond to each of you, so here goes:

    Ravienomnoms: thank you so much!

    Ben: sorry about weirdo open id thing. But thank you for your input. Great stuff. I got a little lost on the techinal camera jargon, so I commented on your most recent post with more questions. BTW if you have not checked out Ben's blog www.youfedababychili.com you must! Great photos, great writing and just one cool daddy.

    Magda: I run into the same problem with step-by-step photos! Ugh! it drives me crazy. the lighting in my kitchen is terrible. Much of the time, if I think the step really needs to be photographed I will take the entire cutting board or bowl over to my little "studio" aka foamcore board on my dining room table, next to the window and take the picture. Its such a hassle though, so I rarely do that. I like your idea of getting some lighting. I saw something so cool on bakeat350.blogspot.com the other day. It's a light just for our situation. I will put the link up!

    Janis- girl, I love that you just tell it like it is. Refreshing. Listen I hear you on the "slick" thing. I know, it can come across as cold. I feel it too, BUT with that being said, I cannot help myself from adoring the beauty of food and capturing it. I'm an artsy girl, so I do love an artistic photo. I can't help it. But I do like softness and homey-ness too. Don't worry, no "posey" here, just maybe a poser?;)

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  20. Patty- I think that is some of the best advice, to write and blog about what you LOVE. It will come through and others will love it too. Girl, I wish I was going to pilates. Hmmph. Lord knows my butt needs it.

    Jacob- Love that you are long-winded! Foodie after my own heart! I agree with you, the food bloggers I have "met" are so sweet. Really, sometimes I feel as though I am writing for a bunch of cheerleaders, so much encouragement and positive outlooks. What an amazing community. I agree with the flops. Flops happen. It does make it all the more appealing to the reader to see that it happens to all, it's okay and it's just how it goes down in the kitchen sometimes. Julia Child has inspired so many of us. I love that the cooking channel plays her reruns. thanks Jacob for all your help!

    Dennis-so good to see you! I appreciate your info with the lenses. I am so nervous about buying the wrong one. Plastic! yes, that is something I had not considered. I've been looking at everything online and I may go into a camera store to hold and fiddle with a camera/lens before I buy it. Thanks!

    Marisa-thank you so much! yes, we are fellow newbies. I love that. I love that others can relate to the lulls and frustrations and the triumphs of blogging! It's so hard to tear myself away sometimes. I have two loads of laundry staring at me yet, I can't seem to stop. good luck on job hunting Marisa! Thanks again!

    Belinda-cool! thank for confirming the 50mm. I've been looking at a lot of photos of people using that lens and I think that's what I want. Just going to keep an open mind and eyeball to see if anything else jumps out at me. Go for the business cards. I think I spent $30 for 100 custom, double-sided, round corner cards. Not bad.

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  21. Lawyer-Hey girl! thank you so much! Well, I know, #4 is important and I am guilty myself of doing the quickie comment. But I usually do that when I am exhausted and just want to give quick shout-outs, but I would rather wait and do some quality commenting. Still can't believe you were hanging with Gordon Ramsey...so cool.

    Culinarian- Thank you so much! I would have to say on photographing in a time crunch with hungry kids, is to have your set up (mine being foam core board "studio" step up and ready on the table by the window) ready before you cook, so that you can just plop it down and shoot. Also, I'll throw a few bits of food at the toddlers to keep them happy. Somedays, I feel as though I work at the city zoo at feeding time, rather than at home:)

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  22. Rachel- I hear you on the getting out there and giving out your card thing. It was a fear I had to get over as well. When I had my hairstyling business, I was at a salon that got no walk-ins and was in a secluded, high-end area of Houston. I had no one. So I went everyday to the streets. I went into businesses, talked to people on the streets passing out coupons, gift certificates, practically begging them to let me do their hair. I was so scared I wanted to pee myself. But like most things, the more I did it the less scared I was. It was one of the best things I learned out of having my own business. If you believe it's important and worthy others will too. That's my two cents:) People like it when you are confident about what you love. P.s. mom groups are such a great place to hand out cards. They love recipes and food stuff. Who isn't looking for a new, refreshing recipe?

    Carolyn- I understand. Really. My toddlers keep me crazy busy, but my time to blog is morning, before they get up, nap time and after they go to bed. But I always have to leave time for the hubs. Us mommies have so many hats to wear and faces to clean. Anyways, I agree with what you said. 3-4 times a week is what you can do, so great! It's about having grace for oneself. I'm always working on that one.

    Love you all. I have such warm fuzzies right now.

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  23. To Pam and Lisa- Well, I am smooshing you too together in one big thank you comment. Both of you have been super supporters to me. People, just read what they have to say...wealth of info and done with such class. These are some intelligent, warm ladies, that if I could visit any of my blogger friends, these would be the two. Doesn't hurt that they both live in two of my most favorite places...Oregon and D.C. So with gushing aside, I really appreciate all that you both have to say.

    Pam, your blog for me, more than anything had been an oasis. I feel like (here I go gushing again, but who cares!) when I read one of your posts, I feel transported from my chaotic life to a quiet and relaxed place. I'm totally serious too. My favorite post, still, is "come to my garden". Love it. I appreciate your outlook and your advice is something I'm going to re-read. Kinda deep, girl. Have a glass of the Oregon wine for me, please?

    Lisa- Girl, if I ever come to D.C. again, which I hope for, I'm landing on your doorstep (with a call first of course). I feel like you have been such a great friend. I love how we share same views on feeding our kids and cooking. Parenting and just all that stuff. I would love for out kiddos to play. Your photos have inspired me so much. I love your styling and my favorite post has to be the Volt post. So great.

    Big hugs to you both!

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  24. I think you have a really great list started of things I wish someone had told me when I started this endeavor.

    However, I think that as time goes on, you can slow your posting down. First build up a small archive and then get into a regular posting schedule. I currently post every 3-4 days because not everything I make is particularly exciting and sometimes I just don't have any interesting stories or tidbits to share with my reader. I find stories about the food or the blogger really make me want to come back--it's that glimpse into someone's kitchen that makes it fun. So if I'm not amusing, I won't post.

    Also, if you can't invest in a really nice DSLR, learn to use your point and shoot! They all pretty much have a manual mode that allows you to play with aperture, lighting, white balance, etc. If you have lighting issues, build a light box. There are some very cheap options to improve photos.

    I also agree that comments should be meaningful. Although sometimes I am guilty of quick posts--but usually that's because I don't have much to say but I want to let the blogger know I read the post and enjoyed it and give them some encouragement to keep plugging away. So not every "yum!" comment is a spree. I think once you've made a habit of commenting on someone's blog, you can get away with those shorter comments without seeming lame.

    My #1 bit of advice is TWITTER. I resisted so hard but got one for the blog. It is a great way to interact with readers and other bloggers, find new blogs, get input, etc. It's really improved my readership. Just uh, keep in mind that it's for your blog, not your friends who understand that warped sense of humor...heh.

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  25. Great list, Lauren! You're amazing - you've been doing this for a couple of months and you're far more polished a blogger than most. I don't like reading most of the mommy blogs because they don't apply to me. But, I do read yours because I love your descriptions of your life. It reminds me a lot of my daughter-in-laws blog. I'm still chuckling over the blog where you ate the hurricane stash :-) One question -you mentioned that on Tastespotting you can see where your submissions are. I've not found that. Foodgawker, yes, I've seen all the rejections :-( but not on Tastespotting. Can you advise, please? THanks so much!! Kate (kateiscooking.blogspot.com)

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  26. I thought of one more thing... learn to use Stumbleupon. Add their toolbar so you can stumble your own posts and others you like. Every once in a while I'll actually get a hit on my blog from a stumbler. Thanks to Kathy for starting me on the stumble path :-)

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  27. I love seeing all of the thoughtful comments on this post (good tip!). I think that it is so important to take the time to truly read what people are writing. It shows that you care and you are interested...and it will increase interest in your work. I need to get business cards printed up...I've been wanting to do that for awhile and this post is serving as further motivation. Thanks for sharing!

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  28. Baking Barrister- yes, I meant to mention that as time goes on to let up on the postings. good point. I've read that many places, that a schedule is nice. Basically not bothering with the weekend because no one's really around to read. I've found that to be true.
    I've read that the best days to post are monday thru thursday.

    I forgot about twitter! Yes, I've done the same and I was reluctant as well. But I use it strictly for postings and rarely ever use it otherwise, maybe just to see what celebrity chef is doing what.

    thanks so much for stopping by! I appreciate all your help!

    Kate- Thank you for the nice compliments! I makes me feel so good. About the tastespotting: okay, here's what you do. 1. login 2. click on your username at the top. It will bring up your profile picture. 3. left top corner you will see "accepted, declined and pending". click on the tab that you want to see. 4. Not that it's any fun, but on the declined tab, you can see all your pictures (in my case... a lot) and read the reasons why they did not accept:( It took me a moment to figure it out, but once you get it's super easy!

    Stumbleupon! Yes, I signed up for that, then it fell to the wayside. I need to get back in there. Thank you for mentioning that!

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  29. Monet- Hey there! I love your blog by the way. Super creative writing! yes, do try out the business cards. People seem to like them. Did you see above where Lisa said you can get free ones from FoodBuzz? Cool! I'm going to go check it out myself! Thanks for stopping by!
    Cheers!

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  30. Great post Lauren! I know exactly what you mean about being on the edge between a hobby and a business. Your tips were really helpful and I'll definitely be using some of them. Look forward to reading more if you add to the list!

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  31. The best advice I can give is stay true to yourself and write from the heart. Share personal stories because we all have a story we can relate to. Don't overthink what you are going to write just let it flow naturally. Anyone can post a photo and a recipe only, but without the human connection all is lost. It seems like you have learned alot and offer great tips, good luck and look forward to following your future posts!

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  32. This was very helpful information for me as I am about as far along in the blogging world as you are. I admittedly get discouraged sometimes because it feels like I'm not really getting any new people following. I did sign up for Foodbuzz and found it helpful, but I agree with you that signing up for too many sites like that can really consume a lot of time and energy (I'm still working full-time, and there are only so many hours in a day!). As for cameras, I love my Nikon D40. Unfortunately I have no insight about lenses, but the camera itself is super lightweight, and easy to use. Thanks for the tips!

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  33. sweet bella lauren, such a privilege to watch you continue to blossom day after day. Your tips are great, I think your genuine passion shines through with each and every post and that to me is the best tip to anyone, be real, otherwise, people will see right thru it. Continue to shine your light and be exactly who you are. I think taking advantage of the social networks is definitely an important component, yet being choosy as you so wisely stated. I myself have been in the photo dilemma, def struggling with my photos and submitting photos to some of these sites has on my list but I'm so limited with my totally cheesy camera that I need to wait on that - in due time....in any case, i climbed out from under the blankets to drop this comment, I somehow got sick too *sigh* this has definitely been among some of the most challenging weeks I've juggled. This too shall pass.......hope you have a stellar day, keep shining sweet bella

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  34. My camera is out to kill me. I'm convinced. I've been trying to figure out the settings, but man. I've got a ways to go.

    Your tip about branding at the grocery store is genius!

    The one tip that I would add to the list would be to strive toward building a community. Inviting comments, starting a newsletter signup, Facebook group, events, etc. The blogs that last are the blogs that have a family :)

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  35. Before my internet went kablooie yes, I typed kablooie, I went looking for ways to improve my blog, brand whatevah. I was soooo down when my internet was off for 17 days....yes I counted the days, at least I didn't count the hours..that you know of! I love your ideas for getting your name out there. I live in a m ilitary community overseas, so I am thinking of branching my blog out so military people know how to make home meals from scratch easily. People seem to stay stuck in the box, and I know there's so much more. Anyway, love this post! I love to read the whole post, too. Though I am learning to keep the chatter short as I seem to ramble, notice that? Haha. Love your blog!

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  36. I understand the bloggity crossroads you're at right now. My blog's been around for almost 3 months and I've started to notice a more businessy, planning side coming out sometimes when I'm thinking about what I'm going to cook that week.

    As far as tips for newbie bloggers go, my first piece of advice would be to pace yourself. If you adhere to a strict schedule (like I did), you run the risk of missing out on the fun of the blog, which is what matters in the first place.

    After that, I'd say just be yourself and don't take yourself too seriously. Some of my favorite photos have been mercilessly rejected from food sites, citing the dreaded "composition". Like I learned through years of AP English classes, judging a creative work is highly subjective. Just write about all the silly stuff that you don't think anybody cares about, because that's what people actually find incredibly interesting.

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  37. I love Top 10 lists and this one was really helpful! I'm pretty new to the Foodbuzz community and it's been great so far. Coming from a design background, I would add something about the overall layout and readability of the web page. Also a catchy blog title (tho mine isn't too exciting).

    Amy
    http://www.amykim.com/whatsfordinner

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  38. Thanks for this great article. I just want to point out (because I see people writing it everywhere) that a flash can be a good thing, if you invest in a high quality one. I have a fairly dark kitchen, and would never use my on-camera flash for light, so I'd be left with these low-lit dim images of food, which really looked washed out and lacked vibrance.

    I followed some wonderful advice from Deb at smittenkitchen.com (great photos), and bought the flash she recommended, which makes everything look like it was taken in natural light. I'm still practicing with it, but let me tell you...my photos have improved a lot. My website is www.winekitchens.com.

    Just wanted to share this piece of wisdom... Not all flashes are created equal.

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  39. Lauren
    Great top 10 list! I could completely relate to the business card idea. I too was writing down and my blog has a long name. People are impressed by the card and it leaves a memory with them. I did get a DSLR camera for my birthday or as I like to call it, "My big girl" camera - now I just need to learn to use it and graduate from my trusty point and shoot. Regarding your #8 point, blogging has sharpened my writing skills and I am thankful. I think that blogging is most successful when you have a passion for it, you write with your own unique point of view and draw your readers in. For me, it is a way to bring out my creativity and love for food, wine and entertaining. NICE JOB on your post!!! :)

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  40. Once again you hit home. I love how honest you are in your 'left-brained' posts. I don't have too much advice for lenses or blogging as I am rather new as well. I appreciate all your advice in this blog I definitely learned something and even though its not the personal comment, I LOVE your business cards. I have been caught a few times handing out torn pieces of paper as well. I know you can get close to free ones on vistaprint.com which I think I will go do now!

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  41. I'm so glad that I subscribed to the comments on this post! I took Debbie's (and your) tip on business cards and put some together over on vistaprint.com. They're on their way and I'm thrilled. :D

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  42. Happy to see another Moleskin buddy. They rule! Also another sharpie "pen" peep. Jim insists it's a marker, and even though he pointed to the word "marker" on it I still won't budge. It's a pen. It's my pen. Also the only one I can write with black ink with. I was so bummed when they started making them in China, they are all cheap feeling now. Oh how I was used the weight of that pen in my hand. I still have a stash of the old ones that I refuse to use. They will probably go dry before I give in.

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  43. What a wonderful post! Thanks for taking the time to put this together and share your tips with everyone.

    I've been blogging since December and just can't seem to build up any kind of a following, so I'm going to put all of these ideas to work!

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  44. Really great and helpful post. I've been getting the hang of food photography myself over the last year, and love the 1.4/50mm lens. It's great for portraits, too, for when you take the camera out of the kitchen! I know everyone feels differently about using a flash, but the Canon speedlight is awesome, if you're willing to make the investment (and you end up taking most of your photos at night). Thanks for the helpful tips!

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  45. Great post, Lauren! I LOVE the idea of carrying a journal around. I'm getting a new one today.

    About cameras, if you're like me and you have a point-and-shoot and there's no DSLR in your future, you can still get some pretty good pictures. Learn how to use the P&S in manual mode. I actually have had some photos accepted by foodgawker and tastespotting.

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  46. This was what I needed to read. I am feeling a little like, who am I writing this for? as well. But it is fun, too. It's kind of my outlet where I get to write about my struggle with food-- and how to find healthy things that won't break my Weight Watchers bank and also won't take hours to prepare, since I have a little one, too. Thanks for the tips!

    Liz, A Former Couch Potato
    http://aformercouchpotato.blogspot.com/

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  47. What great tips for new blogs - as someone who is cooking at 10 at photographing at midnight, I was thrilled to learn that there is a flash that produces a workable semblance of natural light! I visited smittenkitchen, and learned that its a Canon. My equipment is Nikon and I hope that flashes aren't brand specific (I am too much of a photo novice to know!). Fingers crossed!!!

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  48. What a great collection of tips! I just started my blog and have definitely faced some challenges. And I'm learning that it is hard work! I laughed out loud about wanting more than just your parents to read it...I was just saying the same thing to my husband. Thanks for the insight.

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  49. Just as I finished whining that I only got 35 hits on my blog today, I found this post. (And your blog, for that matter, obviously!)

    So, thank you for this advice. I have been blogging for about three months now and am still feeling like an outcast of sorts to the food-blogging world. And you're right - in the beginning, I was just excited to cook and write about cooking, and now it's more like, "I want to be a part of the cool-kids club! Look at me, read me, choose me!" Haha oh the tough world of a food blogger...

    Anyways, your tips really helped as I'm: a) Leaving a good comment (I think!) b) Determined to up my postings to at least 4 a week and c) Starting a journal. I already have a moleskin! And as a journalism graduate, I'm actually ashamed that I haven't been journaling this whole time!

    So thanks again! I look forward to reading your blog all the time :)

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  50. Lauren, I see you started in June and have 92 posts; I started blogging mid-February and have just 52! Obviously, I'm not following #8 (above)! I knew before I started that I would never be able to sustain the pace of daily (or 5 times a week) blogging and figured that once a week would be about right for me, a frequency I would be able to maintain over the long haul. So I post every Friday morning.

    Love your blog, just happened onto it today but will be coming back, for sure. Keep up the good work!

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