Let me state up front that I don’t consider myself an expert in the field of food blogging. I have learned many things the hard way, and continue to do so! But if I had a nickel for every time someone asked me how to start a blog, or how to grow their existing blog, well… I could retire comfortably to some villa in the South of France.
So I thought I’d write a series covering the basics of food blogging from my perspective. This post will be sort of a high level intro, and then I’ll break it down to some specifics in a few other posts.
First off, let’s talk about why you want to start a food blog. If it’s because you think you are going to sleep in every day, work from home in your jammies, and make some easy money, let me just give you some tough love right up front. WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE! THAT IS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! There. I said it. Except for the jammies part, that really does happen…
Seriously though, let’s get real for a minute. There are thousands, upon thousands of food blogs out there, and most of them don’t even cover the costs of running their blog. And yes, there are costs. It costs money to host, money for ingredients, money for props, money for a decent camera (if you intend to get serious about it), money, money, money, money.
The pennies you make per thousand page views do not even begin to add up until you start hitting the 100,000 pageviews per month mark (which only about 1% or less of food blogs actually do) – and even then you are barely covering your costs if at all. And IF you get to the point where you are making some meager income off of your blog, trust me, your chances of getting rich or becoming the next Pioneer Woman are about the same as winning the lottery.
Now I’m not saying it’s impossible for you to achieve success and make money blogging. But it’s important that you have realistic expectations going into it. Blogging is definitely not simply a matter of “if you build it they will come.” There is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into promoting your blog and growing your readership, all of which takes a significant amount of time and effort.
Food blogging especially is competitive in the sense that you have to distinguish yourself from among the thousands of other bloggers out there in order to get page views and loyal followers. To do it professionally (read: make a living) you have to wear MANY hats well, you have to work HARD -and even then there are no guarantees.
For the amount of time you’re going to spend, it would likely be more profitable to get a job flipping burgers at your local fast food joint – you’ll make more per hour, trust me.
So…after that downer of a reality check, you’re probably wondering why on earth anyone would want to start a food blog at all! And the answer is simple. You have to love it. You have to love food, cooking, and feeding people. You have to want to spend long hours in the kitchen perfecting a recipe, and then photographing and writing about it – even though only your parents and best friend might actually read it.
If that, accompanied by endless piles of dirty dishes, and a kitchen that perpetually looks like a bomb went off in it, sounds like the best day ever to you, then congratulations, you are the perfect candidate for food blogging.
It’s also important to note, that even though your blog may never turn an actual profit, there are many gratifying aspects to food blogging that have nothing to do with money. For one thing, you can meet some really great people out there on the interwebs – members of the blogging community, fellow foodies, loyal followers, etc. It’s a wonderful and supportive community for the most part. It’s also thrilling when someone comments or emails to tell you that they tried your recipe and they loved it – seriously, that never gets old just so you know!
A blog is a great place to catalog your recipes, stories, and anything else you personally want to put out there. So please know that I’m not discouraging you from doing it. If it’s something you’ve been kicking around for awhile, you should absolutely take the plunge and give it a try. Just be sure that you are clear on how much time you have to put into it, and what you are expecting to get out of it. If you go into it with your eyes wide open, you may find, like I did, that food blogging is a great way to share your love of food and cooking (or whatever else you’re passionate about) with the world. And if you can make some money doing it, well that’s just icing on the (low carb) cake!
So if you’re still with me, next week I’ll be covering some basic instructions on how to get you blogging ASAP! Part 2 Choosing a Platform for your Food Blog.
Meanwhile, here are some links to excellent posts for beginning food bloggers, as well as some books that you may find helpful if you’re looking at food blogging as more than a part time hobby.
Bloggers Beware, You CAN Get Sued for Using Pics on Your Blog
Recipe Attribution (using someone else’s recipe? How to do it right)
What to do if Your Content is Lifted (Or why you shouldn’t lift content!)