Tuesday, 17 May 2011

My ten rules for food blogging

If someone approached you and asked for advice on starting a blog, what would you say?  Here is my response in a top 10 list of rules for food bloggers.  It was written last year after navel gazing at the Eat Drink Blog conference but I have taken a while to publish it.

Food blogs mean different things to different people.  Some want money or popularity, to become a critic or a cookbook author.  Others want to connect with like-minded cooks or to be challenged to be a more daring cook or baker or to perfect their version of a recipe.  I just like recording and sharing recipes, talking and learning about cooking.  At the end of the post is a list of other food bloggers who have posted their rules.  As you will see, we are all different!

My Ten rules for food blogging:

1. Consider your name and your visual style.  Your blog title, the name you use for comments, your banner, your background.  Will people find it pleasing, entertaining, aesthetic?  Will they notice and remember it?  I googled my blog name before I settled on it.  I wanted to check that there weren’t too many other crazy people calling themselves Green Gourmet Giraffe. However I didn't realise how many Johannas were out there and since starting blogging have changed this to use JohannaGGG to identify myself.

2. Be yourself. Blogs are about celebrating diversity rather than being like every other blogger. Decide what interests you: recipes, reviews, vegetarian, gluten free, vegan, eclectic. Will your approach be personal, newsy, humourous, educational.  Find your niche. But be open to a shift in the focus of your blog over time.

3. Use foodie photos to illustrate your post.  One of the great advantages of blogs is being able to upload photos with great ease so that you can illustrate your post. We taste with our eyes, especially online.  Find your close up button and minimize your use of a flash. I am still waiting for someone to invent the scratch and sniff or lickable blog posts! (see Elise Bauer on photography)

4. Acknowledge the source of your recipes and ideas. Not only is it polite but it helps create to the web of ideas that is a great benefit of the internet.  How much you acknowledge has been mulled over by many people so don't feel bad if you are not sure.  If you don't know, have a look at how other bloggers you admire do it and read up on copyright law. (see Recipe Attribution by David Lebovitz)

5. Create and maintain an index.  I know this is not for everyone but I love lists and indexes.  An index is much easier if you organise yourself from the beginning rather than when you have amassed oodles of posts (as I found out the hard way).  It helps me find recipes when I want to make them again or link to them.  It helps newcomers get a sense of my blog.  It helps regulars to find recipes they remember reading some time ago.

6. Foster community and good will in the blogosphere. Be generous with your contact with other bloggers and/or readers. Have a blogroll (ie list of other blogs you read), respond to comments in your posts, visit others blogs, comment thoughtfully, join in blog events. This will also make people aware of what you have to offer as well as acknowledging their feedback and contributions. (see Lydia Walshin on comments)

7. Proofread your posts.  Read over your posts for typos and flow.  Correct mistakes even after posts have been posted. These posts will be around for some time so take advantage of the chance to edit them retrospectively.  (see David Lebovitz on Typos)

8. Remember anyone can read your blog, (unless you choose to have it as a log-in site).  Be aware of this with the language you use, the photos of people that you post and the comments you make. Are you referring to esoteric places or ingredients that others will not understand?  Will others in another place know how much a package is if you write in the ingredients "a package of x"?  Will your best friend mind you spilling her secrets online?  Is the content something you will be happy for your boss or your mother to stumble upon?

9. Seek help online.  If you are as technically challenged as me, then you might feel helpless when it comes to improving your blog.  There is help available online.  Seek for solutions in search engines.  Visit blogger forums such as Food Blog Alliance or ask other bloggers.  Often you will find someone else has already faced your problem and overcome it.

10. Don’t be too hard on yourself.  If you don’t have time for blogging, if you stop enjoying it, if it becomes a chore, why are you doing it? If you still want to do it but have limited time than chose a realistic amount of posting that you can do. Enjoy it!  Updating frequently is great, but these rules are made to be broken when happiness is at stake!

Other bloggers' rules:
For more advice, you can read my blogging reflections and resources post.

17 comments:

  1. Woo hoo - I'm not such a bad girl after all ;0)

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  2. Great post Johanna - some useful advice and great links.

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  3. i think you summed this up perectly! And I really love number 6!

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  4. Thanks for a very educational post Johanna! As a brand-new blogger, I'm sure this list (and the many articles you link to) will be useful.

    (And now I'm going to try not to get paranoid about whether I'm doing it wrong and the unfortunate fact that I am a very mediocre photographer...)

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  5. great advice johanna!!!

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  6. This is great - thanks Johanna :)

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  7. Thanks Johanna! This is such a helpful post, particularly for a newbie like me. The links I have visited so far have great information too!

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  8. Awesomesauce. I might take a cue from you and make my own list (credited back to you, of course!)

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  9. HI Johanna, thanks for the post. Looking forward to reading more thoroughly...trying to cook dinner and browse blogs!

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  10. I think this is an AWESOME set of rules! Especially being yourself and fostering a good community. I started blogging for the food but keep doing it because of the people I've "met"/"encountered" and to me that is the most important part!

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  11. These are great rules Johanna. I definitely agree with them, especially be yourself and recipe attribution!

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  12. great advice Johanna and after nearly 2 years blogging I think I'm finally able to tick off all of them :o)

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  13. Some useful pause for thought there, Johanna. A really helpful post.

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  14. Fantastic advice, esp about the lists and searchable wotsits (I am ALWAYS 'losing' recipes on blogs). Love the links too!

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  15. I really enjoyed this post! Thank you! :) (And it looks like you take a rather serious approach to blogging, as I do as well. I really appreciate that!)

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  16. Thanks everyone for your feedback - glad this post resonated

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