6 Powerful Tips on Food Blogging from my Favorite Bloggers
Hello, hello! Greetings from sunny Portland, OR.
Since my last post on blogging was such a hit, I’ve prepared another post, full of powerful food blogging tips. This time, I reached out to my favorite bloggers to get the best advices on various aspects of food blogging: traffic, monetization, food photography, writing, SEO, and staying creative.
You know, the blogging community is just so wonderful. And this little project proved that everyone in the community is ready to lend an advise, help, encourage, educate and support each other. I couldn’t be more grateful for these amazing bloggers who took the time from their busy schedules to contribute to this post.
So, without further ado, let’s get started.
~ Growing Traffic ~
Nagi Maehashi from RecipeTin Eats had grown her blog from 0 to 1 million page views in 8 months. She is smart, talented and incredibly generous person. She is here to share her tips on growing the traffic to your blog.
“My number 1 tip for bloggers who are in their growth phase is to select a niche and do it well. “Own that space”, become known for it, position your blog as a real source of recipes in whatever niche you select. By doing that, you will build a reputation and people will remember your blog as a source for many party food recipes, or whatever your niche is.
This doesn’t mean you are pigeon holed forever. Build your blog off your niche then gradually expand into other areas. It also doesn’t mean you can’t ever post other recipes! It’s good to change things up – keeps both the blogger and readers interested. But just mostly post recipes in the niche you have selected. Watch as your reputation grows, return visitors increase and your mail list grows.
This is how I approached the growth of my blog when I started out. It is a basic business strategy that I learnt from a young age in my former life in corporate finance. It’s universal and applies to billion dollar conglomerates as much as it does to food blogs.
There are 227 million blogs in this world and this is my key tip to make sure your blog stands out. I’ve written a post about this which you might find useful it you want to know more.
If you blend in, you’ll get ignored.
If you stand out, you’ll be remembered.
Do something different. Take a risk.
MAKE YOUR BLOG STAND OUT.”
~ Food Photography ~
Nicole Branan from The Spice Train is a professional food photographer. She also has a beautiful food blog where she shares delicious recipes and mouth-watering photos. She is here to share a few tips on food photography.
“Creating a food photo is a very complex task and I always find it helpful to break it down into a few individual steps: the story I want the photo to tell, the prop styling, the food styling and the lighting.I always start by creating an imaginary story around the food I want to photograph. For example, is my dish being served in a fancy restaurant on an impeccable tablecloth or on an old, worn table in a rustic farmhouse? Is it served for breakfast or as an afternoon snack? Answering questions like these beforehand gives me guidance throughout the whole shoot because it helps me figure out which props to use, how to shape and direct the light and even how to style the food.
The prop styling is one of my favorite aspects of creating a food photo. I’m somewhat obsessed with props, in fact, I’ve written a whole series of blog posts about my props. You can find it here. You don’t necessarily need many props but the props you use need to work well together and support the food and your story without distracting from it.
Food styling is an art in itself and if there is one thing I’ve learned about food styling over the years it is that it always pays off to really get in there and get your hands dirty. Place every little item on the plate with intent and leave nothing to chance.
Just like with food styling, don’t leave anything about your lighting to chance, take command over your light as much as you can and shape and direct it until it looks the way you want it to. Really make the light your own, diffuse it, reflect it, block it and don’t let it jerk you around!
Learning food photography, prop styling and food styling is a long and never-ending process and it won’t happen overnight so don’t be hard on yourself if you’re not progressing as fast as you’d like. Practice makes perfect, so just keep at it!”
~ SEO ~
Bjork Ostrom from Food Blogger Pro is my SEO guru, He explains the most confusing concepts of SEO in plain English that even I understand. So, naturally Bjork was the person to reach out to on this topic.
“SEO is the ultimate blogging yin and yang. It’s science and it’s art. It’s computers and it’s humans. Google is a computer that uses formulas, but those formulas are constantly trying to figure out what type of content humans like the most. So when you’re getting started with SEO, always think first about what people like, not what Google likes. In the long run you’ll be in a much better place if you create “people first” content. This is important because Google’s job is to find the best content possible, the content that they think their users will appreciate the most, and display that at the very top of the search result page.
With SEO, your job is not to think about how Google thinks. Your job is to think about how humans think. What do people like to read and share? What problems can you help solve? What’s something that people will think is funny? Create the best content possible to make your blog or your website an awesome place for people to come and consume content. The more you do that, the more trust that Google will have in your site, and the more trust Google has in your site the more likely it is that your content will show up higher in Google search results.
That being said, it’s important to do your best to clearly communicate with Google. You want to give Google lots of tips about the subject of your content and remove as many road blocks as possible. Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide is a great place to go to learn the basics of the technical side of SEO.
So, in summary, the steps to rockin’ SEO on your blog look like this:
(1) Think first about the people that are reading your content while also (2) applying basic SEO optimization techniques and (3) continue to do that over a long period of time so you’ll (4) eventually get to a place where you’re getting lots of high quality and free traffic from Google.”
~ Writing ~
Sally Quinn from Sally’s Baking Addiction is one of my favorite bloggers. I love her writing. And she is here to share her advise on writing aspect of blogging.
“Content is king. If you don’t produce quality content– both writing and photography– the readership likely won’t come. A blog post should be like having an engaging conversation with someone. Make your readers feel involved by writing in an inviting, enjoyable tone. Add some personality, be yourself, and just have fun. It will shine through in your content. See more here.”
~ Monetization ~
Lindsay Ostrom from Pinch of Yum is talented, kind and incredibly fun blogger. I came across her blog over a year ago through their income report posts, and has been hooked ever since. She is here to share her advise on how to monetize your food blog.
“If I had to pick one thing that has been the most important thing over the past three years, I’d say grit. And when I say grit, I guess I just mean the ability to finish each day a little better than before and continue that day-by-day progress over weeks, months, and years. You have to be able to push through the self doubt, the lack of inspiration, and the challenge of the daily grind and continue to show up every day, ready to do it again, and this time maybe just a little bit better than before. It sounds easy, but anyone who has been blogging for any length of time knows that when you actually sit down to do the work and there are a million and one things in your way, it’s more challenging than it sounds. This concept of grit is especially difficult when combining a creative process (food blogging) with a business mindset (monetization) because you might find that you have grit when it comes to one area, but it’s easy to get discouraged on the other areas. (To read more about grit, click here.)
On a practical level, know your strengths and weaknesses and build a team around that. For us, ads are a huge part of how we monetize Pinch of Yum, but ad optimization really isn’t my strength, so Bjork does a lot of that – and if I didn’t have Bjork doing that, I would hire someone to do it. When growing a business, at some point you have to acknowledge that while you can probably do more than you think you can do, you personally cannot do everything. Building a team to support you in your areas of weakness is key to winning the daily battles and keeping the grit factor going strong.”
~ Staying creative ~
Heidi Larsen from Foodie Crush is one creative blogger! Each and every post on her blog is so creative and fun, as she always puts her spin on everything she creates. Just take a look at this Kale Caesar Salad, or this Grilled Cheese Breakfast Sandwich. I’m so happy she is here to share how she stays creative all the time.
“I honestly can’t say I have the magic bullet to creating new ideas because I’m befuddled myself most of the time. There is so much creativity all around us, especially with other bloggers, that it’s easy to get into the comparison trap and feel like what you’re doing isn’t going to measure up. That’s probably when I feel most uninspired is when I critique myself too hard.
When it comes to recipe creation, it’s paramount to remind myself what sort of recipes are bringing people to my blog. What style of cooking are they looking for? Family-friendly, mostly healthy, often splurge-ey, mostly simple but with a flavor twist. I have to say would that be something I’d want to eat? That has to be a big part of the content equation.
Really, some of my favorite recipes, and those of my readers, are for good, comforting, easy meals. When I’m stuck on what to create I go to my collection of cookbooks. Some of my favorites are the cookbooks I grew up with like my mom’s Junior League cookbooks that are collections of the members family recipes (and give me the challenge to remake healthy and without condensed soup!), Barefoot Contessa for her style of easy recipes and Donna Hay everything: recipes, food styling and photography.
But even more than cookbooks I go to my magazines. I have years and years of magazine tears that I’ve kept and refer back to, as well as old issues of food magazines categorized by month and seasonal holidays for easy reference. The recipes are inspiring and I keep tons of photography samples of styling, format etc., too. Over the past year I’ve become a fan of the special interest publications from Cooking Light, Sunset and Better Homes and Gardens where recipes of a particular category are all published in their own newsstand editions. I go to them to see whats seasonal, trending, etc.
One of my super secret inspiration spots is…dare I say it? Diners Drive Ins and Dives on Food Network. I know! I’m often working on the computer with episodes running in the background. It’s the unique local fare that catches my attention every time. I can’t say I’ve actually made anything from any of the shows but I have a ton of scribbled recipe notes to decipher. Probably why I haven’t made anything yet.
To get out of a funk, select a category. Say, chicken. Now, write down at least 10-15 recipe ideas using chicken. Narrow it down to what’s seasonal and what sounds good. Then, look, you should have at least 3 recipe ideas you can create. I have one notebook I keep just for ideas. I write them all in that one place so that, now, 3 years after starting my blog, I can go back and see what ideas I had and didn’t make. If they were good then, I’m betting they’ll still be good now.”
~ ~ ~
That is it for today. Special “THANK YOU” goes to Nagi, Nicole, Bjork, Sally, Lindsay and Heidi for taking the time to share these tips.
And thank you, my dear readers, for tuning in today. I’ve learned so much from preparing this post, and I hope you all find it helpful as well. Have a great weekend!
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