There are TONS of tips out there on blogging. Write quality content, don’t make spelling mistakes, be authentic….but what are the APPS we use? What about all the technical stuff? How the heck do I ever make money blogging? Here are my Top Secret Ninja Tips for Food Blogging as well as some tips from a few of my successful blogging friends.
Let’s start with the basics. How do we even get started with this crazy thing called blogging? What IS a blog?
According to the on-line dictionary a blog is the following:
noun: blog; plural noun: blogs
a personal website or web page on which an individual records opinions, links to other sites, etc. on a regular basis.
verb: blog; 3rd person present: blogs; past tense: blogged; past participle: blogged; gerund or present participle: blogging
add new material to or regularly update a blog.
“it’s about a week since I last blogged”
Ok great. So lets get on to……
I’ll start off with Joanne Bruno who writes Eats Well With Others. Fabulously funny, Joanne adds humor to her innovative dishes. A girl after my own heart, she has multiple passions. Not only is she has been a featured blogger in Cooking Light, she is a marathon runner and MD/PhD student in New York City!
Start out on WordPress! My biggest mistake was to start out on Blogger and then it was expensive and really stressful to have to switch after almost five years of blogging. WordPress offers much better SEO tools and helps make your blog look more professional!
Alissa from Connoisseurus Veg Alissa is a yogi-artist-intellectual property attorney that just so happens to also be a food blogger! She shares TONS of delicious and easy plant based dishes. I am always astonished at what she comes up with. Whether you are new to eating healthy or an established health nut, you will enjoy her blog!
My number one tip for anyone that wants to start a food blog is to just do it. I literally decided to start a food blog one day, and was photographing my dinner the next night, despite having no idea what I was doing, getting frustrated with my camera, my food and the entire process of writing down every step of my recipe. I did this because I knew it would be easy to talk myself out of it/procrastinate/try to learn everything before getting started, but the truth is, the best way to learn is by doing, and getting started without hesitation will get you started on your learning journey faster than anything else. (My first post, by the way, is still up there and it’s pretty bad, but who cares? Lots of food bloggers can probably say the same.)
Web design: If you use Blogger or WordPress you can find lots of free and inexpensive templates online. It’s relatively easy to learn to design your own as well. If you want help from someone who really knows what they’re doing, check out Etsy (that’s what I did) – there are lots of talented designers on there that can help you for a reasonable fee.
Ok so now I have a tip for ya! My first and most FAVORITE secret of my Top Secret Ninja Tips for Food Blogging is how I have grown my email subscribers from 1,000 to over 1,000 within a matter of months is a little plugin called Squirrly.
A Plugin is sort of like an app on your cell phone. You can search out there for something that would be handy, find a good fit and plug it in! Not only have they helped me generate TONS of new traffic from Google. I can also make money now as their affiliate. This is one way you can monetize your blog. Remember the old catch 22. How can I get experience if the only businesses that are hiring want experienced workers? This solves that. They grow your traffic and you recommend them because they grew your traffic and then you get paid. WIN WIN WIN.
Instead of buying Photoshop, I use a website called PicMonkey for $30 bucks a year. SUPER user friendly and SO fun!
Be SURE to invest in a digital SLR and great light source such as a Lowell ego. The camera I have is a Canon 30D body that I got refurbished off ebay for around $300 and I bought a new lens separately. Since I mostly shoot at night, I finally caved and bought a Lowell Ego light for around $100. Those two tips helped me revolutionize my photographs.
Susan Voisin, FatFree Vegan Kitchen Susan writes a revolutionary blog that features DELICIOUS plant based AND fat free recipes. Why did she become Vegan? To better her health and the health of her family. In fact, she lost over 100 pounds by changing her lifestyle! For any delicious low fat, vegan recipe under the sun, she is THE resource with over 1400 recipes!
My tips would have to do with photography: Find a window with bright but indirect natural light, and set your camera and a table up there–even if it’s in the bathroom! Natural light looks so much better than even the most expensive photography lights. Don’t forget to use a reflector, a simple piece of white poster board, on the side opposite the window to soften the shadows and even up the light.
What does she do for photo retouching? Her answer: I use Lightroom to do most of my photo editing and then resize and save in Photoshop because I like the control it gives me over file size and quality.
From Cara Lyons, Caras Cravings Fabulously creative dishes and a personal friend of mine. She loves lifting weights and anything with pumpkin (need I say more?). She has been featured in Clean Eating Magazine and Southern Living and is a writer for Gluten Free Magazine. I’m so proud to call her my friend!
I am absolutely going with photography on this one! After all the time you spend developing a recipe and lovingly arranging it on a plate, it deserves more than a poorly lit phone pic. You don’t have to spend a ton, but definitely invest in a good light source. With great light, even a moderate camera will take better photos. Edit to brighten backgrounds and enhance colors, but don’t go crazy with filters. Save those for fun candids on your instagram account!
Alissa at Connoisseurus Veg
Photography: I use natural light as much as possible. During the winter months this might mean photographing breakfast or lunch instead of dinner, making dinner early in the day, photographing it and then reheating for dinner, or when possible, photographing dinner leftovers the next day. For photo editing I use Picasa (free) and an old version of Corel Paintshop that has many of the same features as Photoshop but only cost me fifteen bucks on Amazon.
Create social media for your site – a facebook page, twitter and Instagram are musts. Check out Bloglovin – not really social media, but a great way for people to follow you.
I use a free application called “bufferapp” that lets me pre-load posts for facebook and twitter and disperses them intermittently throughout the day.
Vine is the next upcoming social media. Learn it!
Hosting/Website Design/Technicalities of blogging
I use ipage for my hosting. I get 24/7 service and it is very inexpensive. The 24/7 service is so, so, so worth it as you begin to compile hundreds of posts equaling LOTS of hours of work. Should your site go down for any reason, iPage will be there to help. I remember when I didn’t have anyone to go to after 600 posts and I went to post a killer blog post and my entire Blogger blog was GONE. It was like the bottom dropped out of my stomach. Not a nice feeling.
SparkRecipes is an easy way to get nutrition info onto each post. I encourage you to use the nutrient information. It just gets people thinking.
A great way to make a clean “printable” recipe is Google Sites. Yes I make a little site for each and ever recipe and link to it.
The recipe catalog page I use is Recipage (Also used by Angela Liddon at Oh She Glows. Thanks Angela, for this tip.) The hard part is having to copy and paste the recipe into yet another site, so I’ll admit, I’m a bit behind, but I like the clean format.
How to make money blogging
Some great ways to make money blogging are through affiliate programs for products and services YOU love and use. Honestly being passionate about these items is how you will make money. I have many affiliate programs through Amazon, PicMonkey, iPage, Squirrily and I can honestly say I love them all so much if I wasn’t married, I would marry them all and consider switching to Polygamy.
Alissa from Connoisseurus Veg
Making money blogging: Check in with lots of different ad networks. Find out how they pay and how much. Keep an eye on your ad stats and if your ads aren’t making money, try another network. Affiliate links are great too. I link my readers to Amazon for any hard-to-find ingredients and earn a commission when they click the link and buy something – it doesn’t even matter if they buy something different from what I linked them too, as long as they click the link and buy something within 24 hours without logging out of their Amazon account!
Building a following
You must have a way to collect emails. They are going to be your best and most valuable resource. These are people that love your content and will share information about you and your blog. Right now I use mailchimp but I’m looking for some other sources. Any tips for ME out there?
Alyssa Queen of Quinoa Alyssa’s drool-worthy quinoa recipes are both creative and inventive – how one person can create this many quinoa recipes is beyond me! She lost 15 pounds by changing her diet and feels better than ever – now she is helping us do the same! She is the creator of the cookbook Baking with Quinoa that features everything from Pumpkin Pie Quinoa Bars to Gluten-Free French Baguettes!
Alyssa Queen of Quinoa
Building an email list should be priority number one. As you’re growing your following and attracting new readers, you want to have an area where they can subscribe to your site for email updates. Once you have their email, you can work on building an even stronger relationship with them.
Another one of my great tips for food blogging is be sure to post your great photos to Foodgawker and Tastespotting to drive traffic to your site. Don’t be sad if they don’t use your first few photos. They have very high standards!
Alissa at Connoisseurus Veg
Building a following: Seek out different ways to promote your blog and share your posts. Foodgawker and Tastespotting are great, but there are lots of similar sites you might be ignoring. I also submit my recipes to Finding Vegan (www.findingvegan.com) and Potluck (potluck.ohmyveggies.com), both of which get me lots of pageviews and are easier in terms of getting photos accepted than Foodgawker and Tastespotting. The more exposure you get, the more followers you’ll likely get.
Consistency and Balance
Be sure to post regularly! Readers will know what to expect and won’t be surprised to get more than the usual weekly email or be looking for additional content if you decide to post monthly.
Janet from the Taste Space My friend Janet is a runner, biker and whole foods, plant based blogger. When I was changing my eating habits I happened to come across her blog and started printing out recipes that I liked. After about 50 recipes I figured I’d better stop printing and just meet this crazy-awesome girl! We have become friends over the years and she always impresses me with her creative Indian and ethnic dishes.
Janet from Taste Space
My biggest tip is to keep everything in balance, real life and blog. Blogging is a minor part of my life but one that I have streamlined to be easier. I use Picasa for photo editing. I schedule posts. This helps for my sanity and readers likely appreciate the regularity. I aim for 2-3 posts a week. My time is precious and thus I don’t have duplicating social accounts on Facebook, twitter, etc. It is all about your priorities. Hope this helps!
I hope you enjoyed my Top Secret Ninja Tips for Food Blogging. As I come across new and interesting information, I promise to update! A BIG thank you to all of my food blogging friends that shared their juicy nuggets of wisdom!
Me, the Food Blogging Ninja with Tips for Food Blogging
What are YOUR top secret tips for blogging (even if it isn’t food blogging?)