Ummm so I recently completed 18 months as a food blogger. Thats ONE and a HALF Years which is 6 months more than a year and 6 months less than two years. Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! I had to pinch myself, multiple times. Because this life as a food blogger still feels like a dream.
I mean how good is sitting in my pyjamas all day and thinking up crazy ways to make food! It's freakin' awesome! But it's also been tough in parts, has included long hours, and days when I wanted to give up. But looking back, I'm so glad I didn't.
When I wrote about the 6 things I've learnt in 6 months as a food blogger a year ago, I didn't think you guys will like it so much. But since then I've had so many of you write back and tell me how helpful you found that post. And so I decided it was time I put my thoughts down again. This is going to be a fairly long post so maybe grab some coffee, settle in to the couch and put your feet up?
Build Quality Content
Yes, it's all about the content and always will be. This should be the one thing you shouldn't ignore. It doesn't matter if that content is short or long or video or text. It counts. Because people are always looking for good content. And that's how they will find you, and most importantly, stay. Think tips and tricks to make something better, or a traditional recipe and how to adapt it to modern times, or a simple video to show people how it's done.
Don't know how to? Here's a great infographic to get you started!
Just Creating Great Content Isn't Enough
When you've spent so much time building quality content, why are you so afraid to promote it? The web is so saturated now that it's important to go out there and shout about what you've created if you want people to see it. Everybody knows Facebook and Twitter but here's a quick list of ways you can give your content an additional boost:
Pinterest is a mammoth and in my opinion becoming saturated but a platform that must not be ignored. Here are 9 ways to drive traffic from Pinterest.
Start submitting your recipes to food photo sharing sites (if you don't already) which can help you get traffic and rumour has it are also used by large content curators like Buzzfeed to find new content.
Join Facebook groups like the FBC Social Sharing where other bloggers collaborate to share each other's content.
Focus on StumbleUpon which can be a great source of traffic if used strategically. I've seen a couple thousand page views coming from the platform in less than a day when used properly. I highly recommend this resource by Joanne Greco who is a SU expert and has been helping bloggers with SU for a few years now.
Don't Ignore SEO
If there is one thing you shouldn't ignore when you start blogging is SEO. This is something I just couldn't understand when I started blogging first. And I'm still far from being an expert but in very simple terms, focusing on Search Engine Optimization will help you rank better on Google Search. In my experience, people who come to your site organically (through a search engine) tend to stay on the site for longer, probably because they've been looking for something and you've got something they need. This effectively translates into more page views per visit and helps reduce your bounce rate. The simplest way to start optimizing for SEO is to find the best keywords before you post a recipe, and here's a great resource by Wicked Noodle that helps you do just that. Here's another fantastic article which deconstructs SEO for food bloggers.
A Good Camera Lens Is Important
I know tons of bloggers and photographers who insist that you don't need great photography gear to take beautiful pictures. While I partially agree with that statement, I think it's the lens that does all the magic. You can work with an old camera body, but spend the moolah on buying a good lens. I highly recommend a 50mm Prime Lens if you are just getting started. It's a great lens for any new food blogger/photographer and here's why. However, if you are an intermediate or advanced photographer, check out the Sigma 50mm F1.4 ART Lens and the Canon 100mm Macro Lens. Lenses can be a huge investment which is why it's important to get the hang of your camera and what you want to achieve before investing into one. Here's an example of a picture of the same recipe taken with the camera kit lens (before) and when I redid the picture recently using the 100mm Macro (After).
Get Your Sleep
This is sooo important in my life! I can't do without 7-8 hours of sleep and you shouldn't either. Nothing and I repeat, nothing is worth losing your sleep over except when you've just been face to face with PoY. Nah, kidding. No matter what happens, wrap up work, eat dinner with your family and get your sleep guys. Don't let anything get in the way of you and your snooze time.
Treat Your Blog As A Business
When I started blogging, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Expensive camera equipment, props, background boards, design softwares, scheduling apps - there is no end to the list of expenses every month. If you want the blog to be more than a hobby, it's really important that you start treating it like that. I've recently started using Wave Apps and Toshl to keep track of incomes and expenses and generate invoices. It was a revelation to see in black and white how much I was really spending. I'm also slowly going to start keeping a portion of the income aside as savings. These are small things, and most of you may already be doing this, but just writing them down and maintaining your books can make you realise how important they are.
And It Is Possible To Make Blogging Your Full Time Career
I'm a living example of how this is possible for any one to do. I'm not going to pretend like it was easy. Nor am I going to tell you that it's super difficult. Let's say, somewhere in the middle. How did I do it? I have a full blog post coming up about how to monetize a food blog, especially if you are based outside the US, but I think my biggest inspiration and learnings have come from Pinch of Yum's Income Reports. I would recommend, go back and start reading from the first report. The amount of information and the wealth of ideas in those reports is absolutely insane! Recently, I've also started following income reports from Homemade Hooplah and Jessica Gavin who are more relatable at this stage of my blog. If you are looking for things to do TODAY to improve your blog's income or traffic, you must check them out!
Be Wise About Taking The Plunge
While I strongly advise everybody to go after their dreams, I also know how it's not easy. After all, someone has to pay the bills. I suggest keeping your full time job, but making the blog a priority. Once you start making at least half your current salary, then decide if you feel like taking the plunge. And trust me, you will.
That's pretty much it from me folks. What do you think? Do you have anything else you'd like to add to the list? If you liked reading this, please share it with your other blogger friends.