This is the first post in a new series from Bloom by Ren – which I’ll be adding to a bank of resources for food bloggers.
I wanted to kick things off with a post full of really great tips. Thank you to all my food blogging friends for their words of wisdom below.
Do you have a great idea for a food blog you’ve always wanted to write, but just don’t know where to begin? Well stop dreaming and get started, as I’ve teamed up with my food blogging friends to bring you the best advice to get things moving. I wish I’d had the benefit of this kind of wisdom when I was starting out!
I’m part of a very supportive and inspiring community of food bloggers, who between us have a huge amount of experience, so here are some tips from myself as well as some of the most successful and long-standing bloggers in the UK.
1. Your blog is your brand
Think of your blog as an extension of yourself – your voice needs to come through strongly from the outset, sharing your food philosophies and ideally, showcasing the kind of food you like to eat – rather than trying to emulate something else or someone else or a style of eating that isn’t sustainable. In many ways, your blog is your brand, even if you’re not ready to think of it that way – your blog is a platform created by you, showcasing what you chose to feature.
Although you need to have some idea of what you’d like to write about, I have always believed that you shouldn’t be afraid of tweaking or even of changing direction if what you are writing about no longer seems relevant. Don’t overcomplicate or procrastinate – make a start and try and write as regularly as you can, but write about what comes most naturally to you. What you don’t want to do is to jump about so much that you send out a confusing message of what your blog is about.
To grow an audience and to keep people coming back, try and work out, if you can;
- Who your readers are
- Why they read your blog
- How you can continually help them when they visit your blog
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If you can do that, and keep refining your skills, you will start to see an increase in engagement and readership.
These days, successful blogs are all about the community around them. Successful bloggers aren’t just blogging for themselves, they blog for their readers and in response to what their readers are looking for.
[bctt tweet=”These days, successful blogs are all about the community around them.” username=”@renbehan”]
As your blog grows and develops, you’re aiming to relax into a friendly writing style – imagine your reader as a friend stopping in for a coffee and a chat. Tell them about what you’ve been doing, let them in a little bit. This does not mean sharing every single detail of your private life, but rather, letting your readers know that you are real, that you’re there, that you’re reading and listening to their comments and that you’d like to connect.
2. Choose a name with longevity
When it comes to naming your blog, stop and think about whether the name you are choosing will restrict you going forward or whether it’s one you can grow with, because for most bloggers, the nature of what they write about does change over time, even if they remain in the same broad sector. I spent all of 30 seconds thinking of Kavey Eats, and for the first several years, it worked well for me. Now that I publish a fairly equal amount of food and travel, I wish I had a name that wasn’t so squarely tied to food, but feel it’s best to stick with it. Think too about how long it is, whether it’s easy for readers to remember, and check whether there are already blogs in your niche with the same or similar names, so you can avoid confusion or claims of plagiarism.
3. Go for a simple design
Natural Kitchen Adventures
When it comes to designing your blog and logo, simplicity goes a long way. You don’t need to work with an expensive designer, if you are just starting out, but do take some time to think about what works best on all the blogs you like reading (plain white background for example). Have a play with free software like Canva to create a simple logo using your blog name, and choose one of the smart, well designed templates that you can adjust yourself. I would also suggest you use a similar colour scheme, style and vibe across all your photography, it will help to bring consistency to the look of your site. I think it’s easier now with the wealth of resources than it was, say six years ago when I started!
Check out: these beautiful themes by Feast Design Co. *
4. Have a clear niche
Don’t just follow the herd. Have a clear niche that individualises your recipes and content from everyone else and try and stick to it as much as possible. Be the go-to person for that style of food, and you’ll soon grow a loyal following of people who trust what you’ve got to share. To write a successful food blog you need to have an infectious passion and enthusiasm for your niche, that not only drives you to create compelling content week in, week out, but also helps you stand out in a very crowded market. Don’t just copy what other people are doing, make your own mark and don’t be afraid to develop your own voice and visual style. Of course we all learn from each other, but don’t try to be all things to all people.
5. Get your social media organised
Friends Family Food
Get all your social media organised and make sure you can get the same username for everything and that it’s the same as your blog name. Even if you don’t use all the channels to begin with, it’s better to get the account so that no one else gets ‘your’ name. I didn’t do this and now my twitter handle bears no relation to my blog but it’s too late to change.
6. Choose WordPress
The Crafty Larder
Go with WordPress. Self hosted. From the beginning. Blogger may seem easier but it’ll hurt you in the long run.
7. Join the community
How to Cook Good Food
I do think that good name, blog design and photography that is attractive from the start will get you noticed in this ever increasing world of blogging. Also, definitely be committed to making friends and meeting other bloggers as it can be lonely!
If you don’t know how to join food groups, try commenting on a few blogs, or following some of your favourites on social media and ask them whether there are any food blogging groups or circles that you can join in with.
8. Stand out from the crowd
Make sure you have a USP! The market for blogs is so saturated you need something to stand out. In my case it was my boat which now doesn’t work as we don’t live on it anymore.
9. Value your content
Helen Best Shaw
Fuss Free Flavours
Think about whether you can add more value to your posts by offering more than a simple review in return for product. For instance, from the outset, practice saying that you offer paid recipe development work and set out a rate – even if it is modest at the start. It’s true that everyone has to start somewhere (and that most of us do start by reviewing products for free), but if you have been blogging for a length of time, have established an audience or a following, then it is fair to charge a reasonable amount for your time if you are creating a post initiated by a brand. If you do wish to include product reviews as part of what you offer your readers, try and offer short, editorial style reviews, perhaps in a round up post and always disclose to your readers when you have been sent a product for free or when you have received payment for producing a post.
10. Just do it!
You’ll never know if you’re going to love it until you start, so stop talking and start doing.
So what now?
As Jane says, just take that leap and get stuck in! You can really over-think things like this and never get going out of fear of doing it wrong. But actually it’s pretty liberating once you publish those first few blog posts and start finding your voice.
Here are some great blog posts to read if you want even more advice
http://www.lovelyappetite.com/how-to-start-a-food-blog/ (UK perspective)
http://pinchofyum.com/resources/how-to-start-a-food-blog (US perspective)
I have always used the Genesis Framework and these themes from Feast Design Co. for my self-hosted wordpress blog*
*Affiliate theme link included
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Sally - My Custard Pie says
Finding a name you can stick with for the future… that’s such good advice… and one I rue every day too!
Elinor Hill aka Beachhutcook says
Lovely post especially the focus on finding your true voice. Also true that we are alone for a lot of the time! I love meeting up with other bloggers and find it hugely motivating. Elinor x
These are such helpful pointers, I could not agree more. It is important to stand out based on who you really are. Ones real personality is what will make a blog shine.
This is such a helpful post with some great tips! I think it really touches all the most important points.
Michelle @ Greedy Gourmet says
A wonderful compilation of useful blogging tips. I wish this was around when I contemplated blogging 10 years ago!
Ceri Jones says
This is such a useful post Ren, one I wish I’d read 6 years ago. Really sure this will be useful to so many people!
Kavey at Kavey Eats says
Great to see all these tips together, some great points. Hope it’s helpful to those starting out!
Super fab post, Ren. I have been at this as long as you have (you were about the first person I connected with!), and I made soo many mistakes. But no matter what you do, or how you approach it, looking forward to making your food, shooting it and writing it up should always be a passion. It is obvious that this is the case with you because it really shows. 🙂
Great tips and I agree with them all, especially standing out from the crowd. Everyone seems to have a blog these days and it’s so find out what makes your blog unique.
This is exactly what I should have read before starting my own blog and `I think so many new bloggers will find this post extremely useful. Thanks for including my thoughts on it and it’s hard to believe I’ve all been doing this for 6 years now and still have loads to learn!
Camilla Hawkins says
Great post Ren! Love, love, love the don’t follow the herd message, which I think is so important. Set the fashion, don’t follow it would be my advice or just do stuff that you personally love that seems “out of fashion” but chances are if you are passionate about something then there will be others who are too and they will find you particularly if what you’re blogging about is a bit more niche!
Sus // roughmeasures.com says
Some great tips here! I wish I had known all this at the beginning!
Katie Bryson says
Thanks for including my tip Ren, this is a super-useful resource for anyone starting out! Wish I’d known some of this when I’d started. I think Jane’s advice about just getting on with it is spot-on – you can really drive yourself crazy thinking about things and never actually getting around to doing it. I always seem to go around in circles with ideas, so this is a good reminder for me to pull my finger out this month!
This is a great post! Thanks! Wish I had this when I was starting out x