BLOGGING 101: WHY START A FOOD OR AUTHOR BLOG?
This is the second article in a series about How to Start a Food or Author Blog
There are thousands of reasons to start a blog. For authors, they serve as a complement to their main activity of writing. For recipe developers, they can be a way of sharing their recipes and of forming a community with people, and eventually leading to a book or career change. A food blogger is merely someone with a food blog, no matter the motivation.
Making money should not be a main priority, as direct revenue is rarely a viable strategy given the millions of blogs and websites out there. We shouldn’t have any illusions about that. But blogs can lead to other activities that will make you money. Your blog also allows you to establish yourself in your field of expertise. You may get consulting work, offers to write for websites, or book deals. You may be asked to develop or test recipes, or get invited to talk at conferences or workshops about your specialty or about writing.
Blogging is a format to communicate your expertise, or your story (and often a blend of both). It can start from purely a hobbyist intention, or from a professional one.
Blogs give you the opportunity to regularly add content, and if it’s done right (with smart SEO), your content will be indexed by Google and other search engines. For recipe developers, this means your recipes get found and that you get more hits. For writers, it means your name and books can be found through your blog, which means there’s more chance of selling your books.
For writers, it can serve as an online presence, in conjunction with social networking. More and more, publishers expect authors to have the whole package, i.e. a blog or website and a large, engaged social network following. Your blog therefore serves as a marketing tool. You can use it to post your articles on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more, allowing readers to discover your work or anticipate a book that you’re writing. By establishing yourself in your niche, you find readers who are interested in your field. Potential readers can sample your writing online before buying your book.
Food bloggers often blog with a sense of community and a true passion for food and cooking. You want to share it with the world, and that’s a wonderful reason. Blogging serves as a personal journal of your cooking and helps build your confidence. It keeps you sane and balances out your life. If you want to become a food writer, food blogging is great practice. You can improve your craft, because you get input from fellow bloggers and readers of your blog, and you get better at it as you go along. All reasons are valid.
Blogs have actually become another form of social media. They get your name out in public and make it Google-friendly. If a potential publisher, editor, employer or other person of influence is looking for you, they will certainly search for you on the Internet. Your blog shows them that you are part of the modern world and that you realize the importance of Internet presence. It also shows them what you do and what you are capable of doing. Your blog is like a living, breathing résumé, an open portfolio.
Running a blog also makes you observe the world differently. It helps you understand things you might never have noticed otherwise, both about the world and about yourself. For example, when I started keeping a food and travel blog, I took to walking around with my camera. I soon had the urge to document my travels and meals through photos and in a way that was aesthetic and, coming from a family of visual artists, that I too suddenly had a visual way of expressing myself. It made me eager to share my travel and food photos, and it led to an improvement in my photo skills. That was an unexpected perk.
Blogging also forces you to take your readers’ interests and comments into consideration, thereby helping you fine-tune your writing and write better for your audience. If you’re not accustomed to writing, it helps you form your thoughts and become a better thinker, because the fact of putting words into post form does just that.
Running your own website can also give you a sense of purpose. You set a schedule for yourself, say once a week. All week long you’ll be thinking of what subject to cover, and taking photos for your post; of exactly how to express it, of your audience’s needs and interests; of what you yourself feel the need to say. You’ll be weighing it all because you want to come up with a finished product that suits both you and your audience, and which serves a purpose in the world.
Blogs are also test beds. They allow you to experiment, unlike a manuscript that you plan on sending to editors and publishers. You can try out different subjects and even vary your style to see how your readers react. I often think I know what I want to write about, and end up writing about things I never knew I knew.
Blogs are not written in stone. They can be deleted, modified, or suspended any time you like.
If you have time to handle comments, blogs can be a way of starting conversations about the subject you’re researching. Intelligent comments can often open your eyes to aspects of your writing or subject you hadn’t previously considered.
Blogs are also a way of meeting your people. When people have favorite blogs, they read them regularly, and the blogs become like old friends, like your favorite online publications. You can’t live without them after a while; they’re habit-forming. This often leads to real friendships. I’ve met readers of my blog from all over the world and it’s been rewarding to know that we met because of their appreciation of my work.
If you’re still interested in starting a blog, follow us in this step-by-step series. We’ll guide you through all the technical choices and strategies that will make it easy, fun and useful.
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About Jonell Galloway
Jonell Galloway grew up on Wendell Berry and food straight from a backyard Kentucky garden. She is a freelance writer. She attended Le Cordon Bleu and La Varenne cooking schools in Paris and the Académie du Vin, worked for the GaultMillau restaurant guide and CityGuides in France and Paris and for Gannett Company in the U.S., and collaborated on Le tour du monde en 80 pains / Around the World with 80 Breads with Jean-Philippe de Tonnac in France; André Raboud, Sculptures 2002-2009 in Switzerland; Ma Cuisine Méditerranéenne with Christophe Certain in France, At the Table: Food and Family around the World with Ken Albala, and a biography of French chef Pierre Gagnaire. She ran a cooking school in France, and owned a farm-to-table restaurant, The Three Sisters’ Café, with her two sisters in the U.S. She organizes the Taste Unlocked bespoke food and wine tasting awareness workshops with James Flewellen, is an active member of Slow Food, and runs the food writing website The Rambling Epicure. Her work has been published in numerous international publications and she has been interviewed on international public radio in France, Switzerland, and the U.S. She has just signed on at In Search of Taste, a British print publication, and is now working on a book, What to Eat in Venice.