Being a food blogger isn’t easy and I’ve put together a list of 6 things I’ve learnt as a food blogger. I wish someone had told me these when I started out!
I’m interrupting the regular programming and dishing out something a little different today. Usually, when I write a post, it doesn’t take me too much time. I start typing once I have an idea and it’s as easy as telling you stories about my life (read: how I cut Denver’s hair and managed to get away with it or how I want to lose weight and FAIL every day). But this is different because I want to say so much and it’s about my journey as a blogger so far.
This post is really a way for me to chronicle what I’ve learnt as a food blogger in the last six months and in the process, if the things I’ve said here make sense and can work for you – use them.
Maybe that sounds crazy because HELLO! my friends know how loud I am. But what I mean is, find the voice that’ll speak to your readers. I loovvve blogs with a personality.
Consider bloggers like Deeba Rajpal of Passionate about Baking who weaves beautiful stories with her words, Mandy from Lady and Pups who is funny, witty and sarcastic and has a knack for making you laugh or Prerna from Indian Simmer who has wonderful stories about her family and takes you back in time. I go to these blogs as much for their writing as I do for their recipes and photographs, and that’s what makes them special.
The difference between a recipe site and a blog is that a blog has an individual voice. So go find YOURS. It won’t come easily but start sharing your life with your readers slowly. Give them a chance to know you, and they’ll start cherishing it.
There have been days when I’m down in the dump because a post I wrote didn’t get much traction or didn’t get X number of comments. I haven’t been lucky enough to have a post go viral yet, but you gotta keep trying. One day you wake up and realise someone picked up your post on salad dressings, linked up to it and you have 500 hits in an hour (BIG number for me at this point) or that a brand like UB City featured you on their Facebook page. I promise you things will happen because each of YOU have talent and google is our friend 😉
Here’s a picture by Moz that keeps reminding me not to give up, every time I think about it.
Print this and paste it on your desk. Look at it everyday and think about why you started in the first place.
I’ve made some wonderful friends in the last six months. We pat each other on the back when something awesome happens, and share secrets about creating background boards. We also crib about low traffic and exchange virtual hugs when things get lonely. Remember to mingle. We are all in the same boat, and it helps to know that you aren’t the only one.
So leave a comment when a blogger friend writes a post, or just say hi once in a while. Give each other a high five or a bear hug. When you start reaching out, you’ll realise how helpful these new friends are.
Are you still using your phone to click pictures? Or that ugly feature called FLASH? If you are serious about food blogging, invest in a basic DSLR and stop using flash. Your readers can’t taste or smell your food. Photography helps them come to your blog and then they stay back for the recipes and writing.
People may have told you that phones can take good pictures and I don’t disagree. But a DSLR makes a huge difference. Start small, and once you get the hang of it, buy a good lens, experiment with manual controls and before you know it, you’ll start loving it.
Chances are you are either using blogger, wordpress or tumblr to host your blog. Since I’m being honest with you, I have to admit that I hate this part of blogging. I wish all the administrative work like plugins, page design, widgets would automatically figure itself out. But it doesn’t. And it’s up to YOU to figure it out. So don’t run away from it. Once you take some time to get to know the platform you are using and understand all the wonderful features it has, you’ll be able to use them to your advantage.
I’ve also recently come across a new platform called Cucumbertown and the best part is that it’s built specifically for Food Blogging. So if you are still in the woods and hate all the technical work, look them up, because the BIGGEST advantage – you don’t have to do any of the dirty work. It’s built in such a way that you concentrate only on what you know best – creating recipes and beautiful pictures. I’m almost thinking of switching over to Cucumbertown myself.
When I started blogging, I would check my traffic every day. Let’s be honest, the growth was miniscule. I cribbed about it to Denver and my friends and to pretty much everyone who would be willing to hear me out. And they all said – forget traffic and build content. I didn’t get it then, but six months into blogging, I know what they mean. There is a REAL person visiting your blog and if you don’t have useful, engaging content, why should they stick around? Think about your readers when you write a post and build a recipe. Write about things that are going to be useful to them. One of my most popular posts is still Homemade Cream Cheese. Why? Because it solves a problem. Buying cream cheese in India is expensive and we all love cheesecakes right?
If you’ve stuck around so far, I have one last piece of advice.
BONUS CHANNELISE THAT JEALOUSY
It’s not easy being heard as a food blogger these days. We are multiplying at the pace of India’s population. And jealousy at another food blogger friends’ success is natural. But it’s also self-destructive. So channelize that little devil and do something positive. Every time you feel jealous, reach out to the blogger. Leave a comment on their post or send them a virtual Hi-Five. Tell them how much you look forward to their posts. Make them happy. And see the magic. Life will suddenly start looking better, and you would have made a new friend.
Gosh I can’t believe I actually wrote all that down. I really want to hear from you about this. I’ve been talking all this while, so tell me what you think? Do you do any of this already? Did any of this make any sense? Do you have anything else to add to this list?