I tried long and hard to write something for my dear friend Renita Mascarenhas (twitter: @renita_m). But, like Kotler used the 4 P’s to describe marketing; I would use two P’s to describe her Passionate and a Perfectionist (to the point where many a times I tease her “the female Aamir Khan”. The fact that her blog’s name is Culinary Zeal should tell you a lot. Renita is passionate about baking and her speciality is the good ol’ Red Velvet. After the awesome post on taking good pictures by Namrata Jain,I felt it would be nice to do a post on food blogging as well. So, I requested Renita to speak to you on what goes on behind managing a food blog. I’m sure both readers and my blogger friends would like this one :).
(Grab a cup of coffee if you please, this will take a while. 🙂 )
My journey as food blogger started off a bit…umm…should I call it like a “Leap of Faith”? I don’t remember clearly if I wanted to be a ‘Food Blogger’ back then. I gaped at the amazing food photographs I saw online, I wanted to learn to cook different cuisines, I wanted to share my ideas, my recipes. With tons of enthusiasm I decided to start blogging…*sigh* and then I actually learnt about Food Blogging!
Food Blogging = Cook/Bake + Write & Click pictures + Post
Done! See, so simple right? Or maybe not…
Sometimes the cake gets burnt, sometimes your camera acts pricey and nobody even warned me about writers’ block! Welcome to my world of Food Blogging 🙂
Ok so I don’t mean to scare you off! I am going to share with you a few things that I learnt along the way (read mentally preparing you :P) So here’s Food Blogging 101 – Creating a food blog, maintaining it, some dos and don’ts and the way forward.
Creating a Blog:
1) Registering: All you need is an email ID to sign-up on a blogging platform like Blogger/Blogspot, WordPress, Tumblr, etc…Each of them do have their differentiating factors. As a beginner you need not worry about all that, as and when you evolve you can compare features and shift base (yes, most allow you to import all your previous posts too.)
2) Christening: The name of your blog will go on to be your brand, so get as creative as possible and select a name for your blog (even hound friends and family for suggestions if need be!) Keep it simple (so that it is easier for people to understand when they ask you what your blog is called); let it convey what your blog is about. Coming up with a name is not easy, I chucked out 10-12 names before I settled for Culinary Zeal. Even if you do manage to come up with a brilliant name, it might not be available, so always have a backup or 10 more!
3) Avoid identity crisis: To build your blog’s identity, consider getting a logo designed. It is also nice if you can get a domain name and link it to your blog so that instead of, say yourblog.wordpress.com, you can have yourblog.com. The blog can be like your own website, so cool right? Right!
If you are a techie or can get some help with coding, you can buy hosting and get the blog customized. If not, either learn about it else don’t bother, just Keep Calm and read the next step 🙂
Maintaining a Blog:
1) What to share: In the world of food blogging, I was like Alice in Wonderland, totally lost! That is till I figured out what I wanted to write about. What is your blog about? Baking, vegan recipes, food photography or restaurant reviews? No, you don’t have choose just one. But identify where your strengths lie and leverage it rather than trying to do everything. Build a niche. This is only meant to give you a direction and not to be restrictive. Try a lot of things, after all experience teaches you what no professor can. But that does not mean you have to blog about everything you try.
2) Getting Inspired: Content is a challenge every blogger has to deal with. It’s like a big wall that you need to climb. I told Elson I can’t write this post because I don’t know what to write…and look at me going on and on and on… Sometimes, you just need time and space to come up with something worthwhile. And like Elson says, look around little things in your day to day life can inspire you. For example, I got the idea to write this post when Shanti (Riot of Flavours) was discussing with fellow food bloggers about the process to register a domain name.
3) Prose & Pictures: Different bloggers have different writing styles, identify your style. Writing style…err what it ez! Let me explain, check out these blogs Nonchalant Gourmand by Nikhil Merchant and The Purple Foodie by Shaheen Peerbhai Kiswani. See how these bloggers have their unique style of writing? While Nikhil elaborately builds a story connecting with the recipe shared, reading Shaheen’s blog is like reading a letter from a pen friend. The manner in which thoughts/ideas are shared is a reflection of the blogger’s personality too. You can get as elaborate or as specific to-the-point as you wish. And how you present your story, that will be your style. Also spare a thought for those who will be reading your posts (your target audience) and write accordingly.
Pictures make a post interesting. They can sometimes convey effectively what you would otherwise struggle to explain with words. Not every post needs pictures though. Like this one.
4) Get some visibility: When you start off, no one knows your blog exists. Share it with family, friends, and friends of friends (the more the merrier!). Twitter and Facebook do help a lot to spread the word. You can also get listed on sites like IndiBlogger, blogadda, PetitChef, The Daring Kitchen, etc…
5) Monetization: Once you have established yourself as a Food Blogger, you can look at generating some revenue out of it. While one way is having Ads displayed on your blog, a lot of bloggers opt against it to keep the blog clean and to avoid distracting the readers.
Dos & Don’ts on Food Blogging:
• Blogging is about adding some value, if you are just going to replicate something that already exists, spare yourself the trouble!
• Plagiarism is a big No No! There is just no excuse for that.
• Ask for permission to use material and always give due credit (while using images, recipes, content, etc)
• If you are writing for the purpose of getting freebies, I will judge you!
• Be unique, be yourself.
• Stay open to learning – from books, online sources, friends, (also network with other bloggers… xoxo for my food blogger friends!)
The way forward:
Food Blogging need not be your destination. It is a great stepping stone for future ventures as well. Perzen Patel (Bawi Bride) caters Parsi cuisine, Amrita Rana (Life Ki Recipe) conducts food workshops and also provides consultation as a food stylist while Kalyan Karmakar (Finely Chopped) conducts food trails. Going forward, here are a few things you can consider:
• Catering for events
• Selling (gourmet/organic/home-made) food products
• Conducting food workshops/customized classes (Take-home chef’s)
• Taking up food writing/ food photography/food styling assignments with food magazines, restaurants, etc
• Conducting food trails
• Authoring cook-books
Too much of gyaan there, I don’t know about you, but I am 3 cups of coffee down!
So I’ll just leave you with some ‘Food for Thought’: Don’t participate in a race if you don’t enjoy running.
A Big thank-you:
- To Elson, for pushing me to write this post and believing in me, even when I myself did not.
- To all the Food Bloggers mentioned in this post, for allowing me to use their names, their blog names and blog links.
- To you, readers, I know it was a lengthy post but I hope you have found it meaningful.