I’ve got some pretty stellar food blogging tips for you today my friends! While ohksocialmedia is only a year old, I’ve been food blogging for far longer. My food blog, She Eats, has been an on-going project for the past four and a half years. She’s my baby. And she’s also become relatively successful in the blogosphere. I’m proud to say that at this time, I’ve published almost 600 posts, receive quality engagement on each one, generate over 25,000 monthly page views, and this past Fall I was invited to speak at the Food Blogger’s Online Summit. While I’m not in the same success universe as some of the food blog giants who get like, a million hits a day, I’m doing not too shabby.
I’m not bragging. Okay, maybe I’m bragging a little bit. But it’s just to show you that I’ve been around the block a few times – in more ways than one (ow ow!) – and would like to share what I’ve learned with you so you can save some of the pain and time I’ve spent and apply these lessons to your blog. And while this list focuses on food blogging tips in particular, the ideas can be applied to all blogs, in any niche! You want your blog to be successful? Here are 10 ways you can do it.
1. Do it. And do it in the best way that only YOU can. In other words, be yourself.
There are almost 21,000 food blogs out there; suffice it to say you’re unlikely to post anything truly original. That being said, your voice is unique – so creating posts that are in your voice, from your perspective is what makes it different. So pull on your big girl panties, lace up your boots and get to!
***Super valuable “you” strategy: Imagine you’re speaking with your best friend. Be kind, thoughtful and assertive and your voice will shine through.
2. Schedule & Organization.
I know we all like to think we’re just eating lots of amazing food and jotting down notes on it and bam! Instant food blog success! Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Blogging is a lot of hard work that requires consistency and organization.
*** Super valuable organizing strategy: Organizing your posts by keeping a blog schedule and following a blog post checklist will help you get from blog post zygote to fully formed, totally visible and finely executed content!
3. Speaking of content, pick a niche and stick to it.
This doesn’t mean you can’t diversify or include personal details but focusing on one central theme will allow you to write better as well as give your readers a foundation from which to develop trust and familiarity.
At the Food Blogger Online Summit my good friend Ashley Srokosz of Love What You Eat pointed out that you may be an expert in a great many things, it’s unlikely you can market yourself in a way that highlights all your great many talents while proving to your audience that you’re really an expert in your chosen field.
***Super valuable niche strategy: Be passionate about something and run with it. For me, that’s writing about what I call “ethical” food and I’ve defined it in my tagline: “Real food. Locally seasonal. Bourbonator”. Already, you have a pretty darn good idea about the overall focus of my blog. Do the same and then keep that in mind when you create your content.
4. Shiznat takes time.
There is no immediate global success, despite what reality television would have us believe. It takes time to build content, develop your presence on social media and generate a following. Write because you love it and your niche, do research, create a plan and goals, execute and you’re already a successful blogger. With time, sooner or later, that success will translate and grow into an awareness about you, your blog and your message.
*** Super valuable patience strategy: Come up with weekly, monthly or quarterly goals for your blog. This could be to find X amount of new blogs to follow, gain X new followers for yourself, post on the same days each week, etc… And then make a plan of how you’ll do that. These smaller goals will make the larger one (ie become a world famous food blogger) much more manageable and timely.
5. Say things like “Shiznat”, “Bees knees” and “for reals”.
Seriously – for reals. When you blog or interact with your audience, write as though you’re writing for a good friend. Be human. Not only will Google reward you for this in SEO but giving your blog a human face (or in this case, voice) will give your audience something to relate to.
*** Super valuable “shiznat” strategy: Factor in your SEO stuff like keywords and alt-tags after you’ve written your post. This will help you write for humans rather than robots.
6. Get out.
Inspiration comes from experience – get involved in your niche’s community. Develop relationships in real life and then come back to write about it. You’ll have important lessons to teach through your writing as well as come up with fresh ideas for new posts. Plus, it’s good for your mind-body balance to move your body and social muscles.
*** Super valuable get out strategy: Schedule it into an alarm and stick to it. I make time to go to the gym every other day with an alarm clock and then I follow through. It doesn’t matter what’s pressing in that moment, it’s a hard appointment that I have to keep. Period.
7. Be social.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they’ll come. No one can discover your content if they don’t know it’s there. Four ways:
A. Spend 70% of your time promoting your posts and only 30% of your time creating them. My dear friend Joshua Sprague of Beyond the Peel advocates this and he’s right. You can double your traffic in a short period of time by switching your focus from creation to exposure. This doesn’t mean you create crap content – it just means you limit how often or long you create that content (ie blog posts), so you can spend more time promoting it.
B. While we’re on the topic of promotion: Get on social media. You don’t have to be on all the platforms, but spend a couple of hours to figure out which platforms will help you meet your blogging goals best and get on them. Actively. Correctly. Engage. Or, delegate and pay someone to do it for you.
C. SEO (for the search engines). This is an on-going process that requires work on your end. Ensure you have a good blog design on an SEO management system like Yoast SEO for WordPress so you can make sure your site speaks to the search engines as it should.
D. The most important aspect of social – make sure your audience feels valued. I cannot stress this enough. If someone takes valuable time out of their schedule to comment on a post, “like” an update, or shares your content, make sure you say thank you and validate what they’ve done! The fans who like you enough to engage with you deserve it. And if you foster this, your blog will grow.
**Super valuable engagement strategy: If someone likes you enough to do this for you, be sure to visit their blog (if they have one) and comment on a couple of their posts! And of course, be sure to follow all their social profiles too – this way you can continue to reach them and vice versa, building that relationship and thus your core audience.
8. Pictures matter.
In an era of hyper-image sensitivity (aka the age of Pinterest), you need good food photography skills. Nay, good photography skillz! You can get a crap ton (yes, a crap ton) of referral traffic from Pinterest with good images, while also receiving click-throughs from search engines by having decent shots. You don’t need an expensive camera for these, a point and shoot can work. Heck, I used my iphone for a very long time before I upgraded. But be sure that every single post has at least one good graphic or photo, both for pinning sake and image SEO.
**Super valuable photo strategy: The single best thing you can do for your images is to ensure proper lighting. Plan for good, clean, natural, indirect sunlight light when you take pictures of food. This means if it’s dark when you’re finished dish is ready, cook leftovers to shoot the next day or on the weekend.
9. Say yes. But say no, too.
As your blog grows you’re going to offer and be offered amazing collaborative opportunities. Go for it. Say yes. And enjoy the ride! But at the same time, know your boundaries – both time-wise and with respect to the work you’re willing to do. There’s nothing wrong with being generous and gaining exposure – you need it! But also know that there will come a time when you just don’t have the time or exposure just isn’t worth it.
*** Super valuable decisive strategy: The greatest myth out there is the myth of “exposure”. Don’t be afraid to do things for free. In the beginning, you will have to. But as your content, knowledge and influence grows, your work is worth what you say it is. At this point you should think about developing a media/press kit and setting rates for things like sponsored posts, advertising, freelance articles, other services, etc…
10. You aren’t Martha Stewart (thank god).
If you saw her food pictures earlier this year, you know what I’m talking about. But not just that – you aren’t perfect. And neither am I. We (and our food blogs) are all a work in progress – let your audience see that. It doesn’t mean you’re less qualified – it means you’re human. And people connect with that.
*** Super valuable imperfection strategy: Post about your failures. It humbles you, keeps us all honest and can serve as a learning point for your audience. Not to mention those posts are often the ones that get the most engagement.
Which of these food blogging tips is most useful for you? Have some more to add? Need help with a particular aspect of blogging? What is the most daunting for you? Share below in the comments section!