So, you want to be a blogger?
I’ve been getting many emails from new bloggers and those that want to start blogs asking for tips and guidance. Rather than email every time, I thought it better to write a post about it. And here it is.
First things first. The anthropology of food blogging! We’ve been around for a little while now and some patterns exist. Food blogging is a broad field comprising two very different types of blogs and within this a sea of individuals. There are grey areas of course, and sometimes some overlaps, but generally they are split into two – the restaurant bloggers and the cooks.
The restaurant bloggers often don’t cook (although some do) and they eat out a lot. They tend to be urban, where most restaurants are. They vary from those focussed on geography (like the restaurants of a particular city area) to those that collect the high end restaurants, visiting the worlds 3* restaurants for example.
The second area is the cooks. These tend to be enthusiasts who like playing in their kitchen, writing recipes, obsessing over cookbooks and cooking for themselves and for friends. They aren’t tied to geography, or anywhere, they generally can be found in a kitchen or exploring food non-specifically elsewhere. This is where I started and mainly reside.
Food (well EAT like a girl :) has always been the focus of what I write here, and it’s where my passion lies. But it’s all encompassing. It’s what I eat at home, see in markets, reviews of restaurants that I like and want to recommend, and increasingly, (and very happily) the food that I see on my travels. I adore travelling and I get a buzz from all of the new foods that I encounter as I do. I love to recreate them at home, then go and find some more.
So, blogging about food – the practicalities. What should you do if you want to start one, or are a new blogger finding your feet? Here are my tips.
The first question really is WHY?
It’s an important question. You probably won’t make money, most don’t. In fact I don’t know anyone who makes more than a small amount of money to fund their habit through advertising. These have generally been blogging for a while. Some make the crossover to food media and earn a living that way, but there are no guarantees, and it’s an increasingly crowded field. You really need to have a passion and a burning desire to write about food and to blog, and that should be the only driving factor.
The most important thing (and it’s really obvious) is: write what you are passionate about. You can’t really write anything interesting otherwise, can you?
Write as often as you want, there are no rules regarding frequency of delivery, but if you are trying to write every day and delivering half hearted posts as a result, well no-one will read.
It may seem a cool occupation, and there are a lot of fun aspects, but the reality of it is, that it’s you at home in front of your lap top, cooking at home. It’s a solo occupation. You have to really love it to do it, and do it well.
FIND YOUR VOICE
Be as independent and individual as you can be. It’s a cluttered landscape but indivduals do stand out. Give yourself time to find your voice, don’t expect to be perfect straight away (or ever!). It takes time to build an audience too so don’t fret too much about that.
Photos aren’t absolutely necessary (as the lovely Simply Splendiferous illustrates) but I like to include them and they are a key part of my blog. If you choose to include them, and can, invest in a decent camera.
An inexpensive Lumix (with the excellent Leica lens) is a superb start. Portable and sharp they are superb value for money. Panasonic Lumix FS 30 (currently a bargain £130 on amazon) is compact, has a wide angle lens and an impressive 8X optical zoom. It will do everything you need. My second camera for the blog, and one I used for well over a year, was an earlier version of this camera.
You could of course spend that little bit more and get the even better Panasonic Lumix TZ8 which offers a wide angle lens but a better one, an excellent 12X optical zoom and is currently 42% off on Amazon at only £174.90).
Should you want to get more serious, I would highly recommend the Canon EOS 500D. If you are photographing food at home invest in a macro lens like the inexpensive Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 II Lens, again reduced by almost 40% on Amazon. I find this really good for food photos at home in daylight. Most of the food photos I have published in the last 5 months have been taken with this lens.
You can of course spend a lot more and get more, I have chosen to start small and add more lenses when I can. I also buy on Amazon or in second hand camera shops as they tend to be a lot cheaper. That way I have more money for food & travel :) If you are starting out, it’s probable you have similar objectives.
I find Twitter a fantastic resource for meeting other bloggers and sharing information. Set yourself up on there and talk to other food bloggers, it can be a lot of fun. Don’t expect everyone to follow you back automatically, most won’t. Talk to people, let them know you are there, but never ever spam. Spam? Don’t send people your links directly, never send auto dm’s. People will unfollow/block if you do. Just normal friendly conversation is all that’s required.
Always write honestly, and carefully, when reviewing. We may not be bound by journalistic codes (yet) but I do think we should at the very least, consider them.
It’s just a blog after all. A little creative expression, entirely your own, if it’s a labour of love you’ll adore it. Don’t take it too seriously and enjoy it. Otherwise, why bother? Life is short, after all. :)