Since 2012, blogging has been transforming the world of publishing. Over 60% of businesses have a blog now, and social media (including blogging) is included in most marketing department roles. Some agencies (magazines in particular), have stopped all print versions and are now solely web-based blogs. In the past few years, there have been many success stories of food bloggers who became household names – with big-time, high-earning deals with ‘Saveur’, ‘Food Network’, Food.com, ‘Chopped’ and many others.
So how do you go about being a food blogger?
First, you need to understand the harsh realities. There are well over 42,000,000 blogs on the internet, with 25 billion shared page views a month. That may seem like a lot of money-generating traffic. But – upwards of 81% of bloggers never make more than $100 from their blog. Food blogging has become the ‘pro sports’ draft of the internet. Based on the statistics, your chances of making any kind of real money are approximately 6% or less. That being said, a handful do make enough money to take care of their families (not ‘rich’). Being an entrepreneur takes more than passion – it takes hard work, long hours and patience. Most successful food bloggers started because they loved what they were doing and they wanted to share it with the world, not because they were looking to make a quick buck. Generating income from your food blog will not be quick nor will it be easy. It’s a 24/7 job, and statistically speaking, most bloggers won’t last four months.
Food blogging may look easy, but it’s is more than making a cake and posting pictures of it on your blog. There needs to be a constant interaction with your readers. Readers (and the subsequent traffic) are the primary reason for blogging – you want people to read what you’ve shared. You should communicate directly whenever possible. Answer questions in a timely fashion, and professionally. You may not be able to answer every single person within ten minutes, but you should make an effort to connect as much as possible, whenever possible. Avoid negative comments and emotional outbursts – they do nothing to further your goal.
Food blogging is also about developing your own recipes. This means you design and test recipes in your own kitchen until you have the best possible recipe to share. Every single day your world revolves around food, in much the same way as a professional kitchen. Except you assume the role of every person – including the dishwasher. Do not steal or ‘borrow’ other people recipes or images. Not only is it bad form and unethical, but it could very well land you in the middle of a lawsuit. Recipes and images are considered intellectual property, and therefore are the sole property of the owner.
Another must-have skill is with food-styling and photography. Obviously food blogging is visual – if the recipe is great, it won’t matter if folks can’t get past the picture. This will involve investing in a quality camera, lenses, lighting equipment and photo editing software as well. That aside, classes that teach the proper usage and handling of the camera and equipment (beyond the automated settings) are important. In addition, you will need to collect and store food props – different plates, servers and linens to style your food with interest and complements.
The business side of blogging is of supreme importance. Blogging is a small business like any other and you should treat as such. Marketing and advertising are of supreme importance, especially social media. The key is to not only have a steady group of regular readers, but to drive new traffic to your site and page regularly. You can also set up accounts on additional sites like Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and more, to help drive traffic and build your brand.
Most importantly, though, is the content. Successful food bloggers write amazing content regularly. If you need help in the writing department you should consider classes at your local community college or university, or even online courses. This will help give you the tools you need to make your blog the best it can be. Utilize tools such as spelling and grammar check to help polish your work. Ensure your content is engaging and fluid, and that your customer base (your readers) will understand it. If you can get to a point where you have multiple articles written – schedule them in advance. This will take the pressure off as you move forward.
Lastly, study some success cases. Learn how they started, grew and developed their blogs. Review the mistakes they made and learn from them. Apprentice yourself behind the scene – study, evaluate, and take notes. Determine what your weaknesses are and shore them up with classes and additional education. Don’t quit your day job – it will take time to prepare and launch your food blog as a business. Expect to be in it for the long haul, not the overnight sensation.
Food blogging is a passion, not a job. Preparation, research and patience will help keep you in the game; hard work will get you to a point where you are earning income.