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. 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

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'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.
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