I am by no means an expert when it comes to food blogging. However, it seems to be growing in popularity more and more, so I thought I’d share a couple of things I’ve learnt so far...
1. Photos are one of your best assets. Put in lots of photos – they add visual appeal to your blog, are great at illustrating what you’re trying to say but can’t find the words for, and provide something memorable for visitors who are only there for a quick visit and don’t have the time and/or inclination to read what you’ve written. Don’t be intimidated by the photos on other people’s blogs – your photo-taking skills will improve the more you try. Plus, digital photography means you can take loads of shots and then pick and choose the best ones for your blog. Don’t worry if you don’t have Photoshop – you could start by playing with the basics of light/dark and contrast in Windows Photo Gallery, which is really all I use. Here’s a quick look at the difference it can make (though I realise that the ‘after’ photo here is by no means brilliant):
Here’s a close-up…
2. Illustrate cooking/baking methods. This point is kind of related to the one above, but a bit more specific. Although photos of your finished product are definitely a must, photos of the method you used to get there are optional. However, readers seem to love method photos (even if/when some readers tease you about them) – it’s probably the one thing on my blog that more people compliment, and comment, on (to me, not on the blog itself) and that has been a big encouragement for me to keep taking method photos, even though they seriously add on to the amount of time it takes to cook/bake whatever it is I’m making and to write the blog post.
3. Use social networking. I’ve not really got into Twitter yet, and only joined it recently (on which note, if you’re on Twitter, I’d love to link up with you – you can find me here), but noticed a huge leap in the number of page views on my blog when I started posting links to it on Facebook. Do it, if only to boost your ego and make you feel like someone other than your immediate family reads your blog!
4. Network, blog-style. Comment on other peoples’ blogs, even if you don’t know the blog authors personally. It is a huge encouragement to them (as you’ll find it is to you when people comment on your blog) and a great way to interact with other bloggers and share ideas/insights/experiences. It also gets knowledge of your blog out into the wider web, meaning it might increase your readership (which, as with social networking, means you get an ego boost!). A blog-roll is also a great idea. They are normally located in one of the side-bar of blogs, and provide a place for you to share links to the blogs you enjoy reading – kind of like a personal recommendation. If your readers enjoy reading what you write, they might also enjoy reading what you read!
5. Consider using a blog-writing programme. I started off writing blog posts online, in Blogger, but have since discovered Windows Live Writer, which is a programme that came as part of the Windows operating system on my computer. I know some people are happy writing posts online, but I thought I’d share what works for me, in case it will help others. This is what Windows Live Writer looks like, with this post in progress:
One of the great things I love about using a blog writing programme is that you can write posts offline (which is great if you want to work on a post but either have no internet connection or have only a slow one at that moment). Another thing I love is how easy it is to include photos – you just copy and paste them straight in. Editing options for photos in Windows Live Writer include page justification (left, right, centre), changing picture size, and running various actions to achieve different effects (I don’t tend to use the effects much but they are fun to play around with). You can also write for/publish to a number of blogs in Windows Live Writer, and just choose which blog a particular post is for when you start writing. If using a blog writing programme sounds like the approach for you but you don’t want to use Windows Live Writer, I’m sure there are other programmes out there, and I think you can also write and publish blog posts in Word 2007 (though I’ve not tried).
6. Post regularly. People read blogs for entertainment, and they read food blogs for inspiration. If you have no new content on your blog, it won’t provide any entertainment or inspiration for your readers (read that, moving on…). Regularly doesn’t have to mean frequently, though it should be fairly frequent. I really admire people who post every day or every few days, but am not sure that I could manage that. I aim to post at least once a week (though not always food posts), and sometimes even manage more than that. Aim for a minimum number of posts within a set period of time, particularly when you’re just starting and getting into the habit of blogging, but make it realistic for your life and other commitments – for example once a week, once a fortnight, or once a month. Regular posting also has the added advantage that you’ll probably enjoy it more. That has definitely been my experience - as you’ll see from this blog’s archives, I had it for quite a while before I started posting regularly (which I started at the beginning of this year), and since doing so, I’ve enjoyed blogging so much more than I did before, and also seem to have more ideas for posts.
7. Enjoy it and don’t base your enjoyment on your audience numbers. This point is particularly relevant when you first start out blogging. Although the nature of blogging is such that blog authors usually expect an audience, there may well be many days when you have no page views other than your own. If you let the number of page views or comments determine how you feel about blogging or about yourself, you’ll probably feel pretty down. Blog first as a hobby and second for an audience – that way your enjoyment and enthusiasm won’t depend on uncertain responses to your blog or particular posts, and you’ll probably be more motivated to post regularly.