Blogging, Featured

16 Things Nobody Told Me About Being a Food Blogger

January 12, 2017

I am not an expert on Food Blogging. Heck, I’ve only been at it for a year. But in the last 12 months of crafting, cooking and creating I have learned so many things! But here are 16 Things Nobody Told Me About Being a Food Blogger. Things I’m going to tell you.

And I’m sorta mad about half of them! Ha, not really, but seriously, consider this post a favor to you newbies.

If you just started a blog, or thinking about it, give this list a good read.

 

Hello to the food blogger! If you are thinking about being a food blogger, just started, or really just need some honest advice, we've got you covered.

This post contains affiliate links to products on which we earn a small commission. Buy This Cook That only promotes companies and products that we have used and love.



16 Things Nobody Told Me About Being a Food Blogger

1. You have to learn photography. Quickly.

I honestly thought I could be a food blogger, make some recipes and post them on the internet. You know, social media style.

Wrong.

While some food bloggers have success with dim lighting and iPhone photo shoots, I have found the vast majority of successful food bloggers take amazing pictures. I had to jump right in and try to learn the basics of photography very quickly. My first major expense? A DSLR Camera.

I was not satisfied with my phone photos, so I bit the bullet and purchased an entry level Canon Rebel DSLR Camera.

Actually, I purchased a camera kit.  It came with a camera bag, SD card to store my photos, cleaning supplies and a lens or two. (I am currently saving up for a prime lens. No one told me about that either. So write this down…you want a prime lens.)

I also enrolled in a basic digital photography course from a local art school, purchased a tripod and acquired some basic lighting. Honestly, the photography course was probably a waste of time. (They mostly talked about wildlife and family photography…not bad, because I learned some basic digital photography terms.)

Most of what I have learned came from online resources. However the tripod and lighting are a MUST.  Here are links to what I am currently using. Very pleased.

 

UPDATE: I just invested in a Prime 50mm lens.  WOW. The picture quality is amazing.

Great investment well worth the price if you are serious about creating beautiful food images for your blog. I got mine here, from Amazon.

 

 

Although I still have a very (very) long way to go with my food photography, the difference between day 1 and now is astonishing.

 

Hello to the food blogger! If you are thinking about being a food blogger, just started, or really just need some honest advice, we've got you covered.

 

For those considering starting a food blog (or those just getting started), there are TONS of online resources to help you. My favorite is Food Photography by Nagi at Recipe Tin Eats. WOW. I still crack this book open and try her suggestions every single week.

It is only $29. So skip your iced coffee for one week. And get this book. 180 pages that will teach you how to be a food photographer, from someone who taught herself.

 

Hello to the food blogger! If you are thinking about being a food blogger, just started, or really just need some honest advice, we've got you covered.

 

Food Photography

 

Our pictures aren’t perfect, but they get better and better every week. And I am proud of that.

The biggest help, though? Practice.

 

 

2. Weight gain.

This is probably not an issue in the food blogging niches of healthy lifestyle, clean eating and Paleo.

However, in the line of home-cook, family favorites, tailgate classics, Southern recipes and whatever I feel like cooking and eating, the pounds will pack on quickly.

I have found myself cooking even more than usual. And I cooked a lot before the blog. Now that I actually have a food blog, I am constantly cooking yummy food to have consistent and frequent blog posts.

And guess who has to eat this food? Even the recipes that don’t make it to the blog? Yep. Me and the family still eat them. Not much goes to waste here.

The only advantage to the weight gain of a food blogger is the actual real-life experience of making some healthy recipes, trying to lose the weight, and then having that experience for blog material. Yay. (Where is my sarcastic font?!)

 

 

3. Your friends and family get tired of hearing about your food blog.

Sure, they think it is pretty cool. Maybe.

But if you want my advice as a relatively new food blogger: after the first couple of weeks, don’t bring it up. Let them bring it up.

I know, I know, you get super excited over the latest food trend and want to talk about your take on an old recipe. You are ga-ga about your new camera and want to show your husband every single shot of that perfectly roasted sweet potato you cooked. Yay, you got 10 new followers on Pinterest while you were sleeping last night. But trust me, Sally at the office doesn’t give a rat’s ass.

(Speaking of Pinterest, you should totally follow us …click here!)

Stop bringing up your affiliate links, your commission, the 10 cents you earned on Google Adsense.

Learn to enjoy your little victories alone. In your head. A great outlet for sharing your successes are blogger networks and groups on Facebook. I love the Food Bloggers Sharing group and Blogging Over Breakfast. From my experience, the blogging community has been extremely supportive and motivational.

When a friend or family member asks you about your latest food project, however, let it loose. Ramble on forevah about the new sauce you made or who that famous chef who just retweeted your recipe. 🙂

 

4. Not everyone is going to like your food.

My family is my guinea pig. I make them taste everything.

Warning : they aren’t going to like everything you make. Same as before. It just hurts a little more now. No one told me this.

Food blogging has been an unexpectedly personal experience for me. I take it very seriously, and I want my family and friends to love every single dish I prepare. When they don’t, I want to know why.

I want my 10-year-old to explain to me why the balance of flavors is off, as if she were a judge on Chopped. When my husband says “It is pretty good.” I’m like “What the hell? What does pretty good mean? Is it good or is it bad?!”

Problem is, not everyone can explain it. And you have to be able to handle the critique along with the praise.

Don’t take it too personally. Just make some notes, learn from what is a hit and what isn’t…and at the end of the day, if you love the recipe someone out there in blog land will love it, too.

Or …not.

Try our Favorite Cast Iron Skillet Recipes!

 

 

5. Hello, tech support?!?!?!

Holy cow there is a lot of tech involved in being a food blogger. I mean, I kinda knew that before I started, but I really had no freaking idea it would be this much.

You instantly become a web designer, technical support, graphic artist, photographer, code writer, master carpenter, social media guru, marketing manager, copywriter, recipe developer, professional shopper, coupon queen and font master. OVERNIGHT.

The world of food blogging is a LOT to digest. You have some options:

  • Reach out to all of your friends and family that have any of these skills and beg for their help.
  • Learn how to do it yourself.
  • Pay someone to do it for you.
  • Have a less than satisfactory blog. (The truth hurts.)

I have mixed and matched and pieced and patched my blog together. Without some of my friends, I would be nowhere. (You know who you are!)

I spend money on certain subscription programs that help grow my blog:

But mostly, I have learned how to do a lot of things on my own. Thank you Lord for the internet. Food blogging is a lot of hard work. I am not joking. If you are getting into blogging thinking it is an easy way to make money, you are 10000000% WRONG. Don’t do it. That’s the wrong reason.

If you want to have a food blog, you should love (or somewhat like) these things:

  • Cooking and eating (kinda goes without saying, but you’d better LOVE it with all your heart).
  • Writing, editing and typing.
  • Taking pictures and editing them.
  • Social Media. (All the social media. You don’t have to be everywhere at once, but you do need to have a social presence on all major platforms. You can focus on the ones that drive the most traffic {Pinterest and Facebook for me}, but you need to have a good working knowledge of them.)
  • Marketing.
  • Communicating with people.
  • Learning new computer skills.
  • Long hours.

If you have a problem with any of the above…food blogging might not be for you.

 

 

6.  Playing with Fonts is addictive, but kind of a waste of time.

No one told me how many gorgeous fonts there are in the world. I mean, I knew there were some, I’ve seen them on Pinterest. But oh my word there are so many free and low-priced programs that let you create and design pretty graphics using the most amazing fonts in the world.

Canva is the BEST for creating professional looking graphics, in my opinion.

I could spend HOURS playing with different fonts and colors, making cute little graphics for my blog and social media. And I have. Literally. Hours upon hours.

Waste of time.

Don’t get me wrong, having a professional graphic is important on getting people’s attention. This is what helps drive traffic to your blog. However, you can totally over do it. If you are spending more than 15 minutes ok, ok, 30 minutes on a graphic, you are wasting time. (I am guilty guilty guilty.)

 

Hello to the food blogger! If you are thinking about being a food blogger, just started, or really just need some honest advice, we've got you covered.

 

But you can squander a lot of precious time tinkering with fonts and images. Time that should be spent creating kick-ass content for your blog readers.

I have found that using Canva is such a time saver for me. They have pre-made professional templates that you can customize with just a few clicks.

Plus, Canva saves all of your blog colors in your portfolio. This helps you create a consistent look.  They also have FREE tutorials on design basics such as how to use colors and fonts to create beautiful images. Canva offers  a free option, but once you really get going I recommend their basic package.

But, if you can’t give up the fonts (me.) Creative Market is the best place to get weekly fonts. (And images, stock photos, graphic elements and more. Love me some Creative Market.) They also have lovely templates, stock images, logos and more.

 

 

 

7.  Twitter isn’t worth a major time investment for my food blog.

It took me a long time to figure this out. Twitter is my FAVORITE social media platform. I love it more than Facebook, more than Instagram, and yes…I love it more than Pinterest. (So by all means, follow us on Twitter.)

But that’s personal. This is about food blogging and driving traffic to your website. And Twitter (in my experience) drives virtually NO traffic. (Twitter, I am patiently waiting for you to prove me wrong.)

So should you even have a Twitter account for your blog?

Yes. Open an account, set up your profile, and tweet to help spread your “brand”. But don’t spend a lot of time thinking up material. Just recycle what you use on your blog and other social media platforms. I use these two programs to manage my twitter:

  • Hootsuite : This is a scheduler.  I spend an hour a week scheduling tweets, about three or four a day at various times. I post recipe links to my blog with images.
  • Tailwind: Wait, you just told me Tailwind is for Pinterest. Yep, it is. However, when you shedule your pins, there is a little checkbox with the little blue bird on it. I sporadically check that box, so when my pin posts, it also tweets it. Two birds with one stone.
  • Social Oomph: Every time someone follows me, this program sends my new follower a nice hello greeting. Just make sure your greeting is genuine. Some people aren’t fans of the auto-greeting…but I want people to have the chance to get the free e-book to see what our blog is all about.

UPDATE : I have since canceled my subscription to Social Oomph. Great service, but as I started receiving more auto-follow messages, it seemed less genuine. So I terminated it. (Social Oomph does other things besides auto-responding, so give it a look to see if it meets any of your needs.)

The only other time I spend on Twitter is when I am on the toilet. True story. I read, reply and retweet to kill the time while being productive.

Here is a breakdown of Buy This Cook That’s SOCIAL TRAFFIC from 2016. Twitter is like crickets. So use your time wisely.

Hello to the food blogger! If you are thinking about being a food blogger, just started, or really just need some honest advice, we've got you covered.

 

 

8.  There are a TON of people who want you to pay them to show you how to blog.

Once you create your food blog name and set up your food blog domain, mysteriously you will start to receive endless offers of how to make money blogging.

Then, once you start joining groups and researching “how to do this” and “why should I do that” you will give your email to get free information. And then the sales pitch starts.

“55 Ways to Make Money Food Blogging only $19!”

“Join Our Entrepreneur Pinterest 10 Step Course for only $97!”

“Go from Zero to One Million Views in 3 Months for only $299!”

This is very, very tempting. Especially when you are unsure of what you are doing, and desperately want to succeed.

Proceed with caution. Do your homework. Reach out to others in your blog network and ask for their feedback on the programs.

DO NOT GET ME WRONG. There are SO MANY valuable PAID blog resources out there worth every penny. But be smart with your money. You can quickly rack up a huge pile of expenses before your own blog has earned a dime.

My advice is to think about what you need the most help with. What will help you drive traffic to your website. What will help the long term success of your food blog. Spend money on these things. (But try to find the info for FREE first. it takes a little more time, but it is probably out there.)

Wanna know my favorite? Gina at The Shabby Creek Cottage. She is a food, crafting, DIY amazing goddess-type blogger. She also gives FREE 411 on blogging. She’s been at it for almost a decade, she speaks on your level, and she is the real deal. Check out her site. Sign up for her list. Find her on Facebook.

I can give great reviews to the following paid resources that I have purchased and use all the time. They have been such a great source of information, I would recommend them to anyone who has a food blog.

  • The Ultimate Blogging Handbook – Just a Girl and Her Blog – after my domain purchase, this was the very next thing I bought as a food blogger. I don’t regret it. Abby and Donny explain blogging from top to bottom in easy to understand terms, complete with specific and detailed how-to’s on every step. Amazing resource.
  • Affiliate Income – Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body – Purchase #2. I figured since I am a small blog with just a little traffic, I should maximize every opportunity to earn money. No, I didn’t start a food blog to make money, but I definitely want to cover my expenses. Tasha’s guide shows you how to do that, and more!
  • Food Photography – Recipe Tin Eats – Oh.  M. Gee. This book was a blog changer for me. My traffic increased in just a week or two after using it. Nagi is brilliant, and can explain food photography so well. Buy it. Now.

 

9.  Running a Food Blog is hard if you have (undiagnosed) ADD or focus issues.

There are SO many things to do if you are a food blogger. Nobody told me this.

Now that I am living that food blog life, it is very hard to stay focused.

You can be in the middle of writing the best recipe ever, then you remember you forgot to schedule your pins for the week. So you jump over and do that. Then, you get an email from foodgawker telling you that your recipe has been accepted and will post soon.

You are so stoked over that (more on foodgawker later) that you go submit three more. But you haven’t edited those pictures for foodgawker, so you open up Lightroom and get to tweaking.

Then you are like “oooh this is a great shot, this would make a fantastic pin”, so you start fiddling with those damn fonts again and …oh crap, now it is 1 am and you have to go to bed because you have a REAL JOB to go to in the morning.

And you never got that awesome recipe posted.

I’ve had to fight this constant need to jump from one project to the next. I make lists. Then I go back and organize my lists. I have lists on paper, on my laptop, on my phone on random post its shoved into my pockets and purse.

I’ve tried using calendars and organizers. They help somewhat.

So guess what? What you have is a fly by the seat of your pants blogging style that works for me. Find your own methods, and do what works for you. Just be prepared for overload and after all, this was your idea!

 

10.  I’m totally embarrassed about handing out business cards for my food blog.

What tha….? What is this? You mean the thing that I spend countless hours on, cooking the perfect meal, crafting the perfect words, playing with the perfect fonts and…I don’t want to tell someone about it??!?!

A real person?

Oh my word, what if they ask me “What is a food blog?”  “Oh, you having a catering business?”  “You should start a restaurant instead.”

Facepalm.  And I have beautiful custom business cards printed by Moo.

I am literally terrified of handing out business cards to generate traffic for my blog.

So I leave them randomly. In restaurants with my big tip (I figure that someone might be likely to check the blog out if I am a good tipper.).

In dressing rooms at clothing stores. Shrug.

Mail them with my bills that I sent through snail mail.

I will literally shout from the top of my lungs on the interwebs about Buy This Cook That. Tweet like a maniac, Pin like no one has ever pinned before. Facebook my face off. But you ask me to hand out a business card to a real life human…forget about it.

 

 

11.  No one told me that I needed a “niche”.

So since you didn’t tell me…I’m just going to pretend like I don’t know!

What the entire hell?  I mean, food. That’s my topic. Why are you going to make me pick a niche? I don’t want to just do Southern food.  I don’t want to just do foods that start with the letter B.

I love food. All the foods. So that’s my niche. Blogger Police, please drop your weapons.

I may change my mind later.

 

 

12.  Why didn’t you guys tell me that Google runs the world?

If you expect to get ANY kind of traffic, pay your respects to Mr. Google.

Either learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO), find a good program that will help you do it (Yoast is my fave), or pay someone to do it for you.

And post to Google Plus. I was a total bonehead and didn’t post to Google Plus for the first 6 months that I blogged. Because I don’t like it. I don’t like it and I don’t get it. However, I am trying very hard.

But that’s personal. Your food blog is your business. Your passion. You want it to grow and thrive!  If you want Google to find your food blog (and therefore humans that read), play by their rules. 

Go ahead and set up Google Adsense and Google Analytics, too. Day 1.

 

 

13.  Food looks terrible under kitchen lights. How. Freaking. Ironic.

I wish I had known this. I wish when I clicked the submit button to being a food blogger a pop up had said “Hey, before you get serious about this…you can only shoot in daylight. But not in broad daylight. And not outside. And not between 11 and 3, and not on your crappy looking kitchen table with those horrid overhead kitchen lights. And most definitely not in your bathroom even if it has the best window.”

Or with a table lamp.

Or an LED flashlight. Stop giggling. I’m on a budget!

If you are a food blogger that has a real day job and can only cook and shoot on mornings, evenings, and weekends when the lighting is perfect…BUY SOME FREAKING LIGHTS.

Otherwise you will be chasing the sun and trying to beat the clock. Then when daylight savings time hits…forget it.

I ended up buying two Lowel Ego Tabletop Lights and I love them. The best deal I found was on Amazon. Most of the time I only use 1 during a food photoshoot, but with the help of Recipe Tin Eats Food Photography book, I will soon be improving my photography by using 2.

Wish me luck!

Fresh Finds Under $50

 

 

14.  foodgawker is a love / hate relationship.

Before I became a food blogger, I LOVED foodgawker. I mean it is only THE most perfect place to find delicious and beautiful food on the internet.

I would sit in my most comfy chair and browse through my phone for hours, thinking “Ooooh that pudding is pretty!” or “That cake is amazing looking.” or “Those are the most beautiful nachos I have ever seen in my life!”

Think classy food porn.

Then, I became a food blogger. So I thought my pictures were good enough. And I submitted some recipes to foodgawker.

And I waited.

And waited.

DENIED.

What?????

What do you mean my composition is awkward? My images aren’t too dark?!?!  Who the hell do you think you are this is the most beautiful thing I have ever cooked in my food blogger life and you are telling me it is crap?!?! (And by the way what is composition!?!?)

“I hate you, foodgawker.”  Oh, the heartbreak. The agony. Meanwhile, I submitted some recipes to Food Lion. (Hey, they are a legit site!!!)

So I kept trying. I worked on my composition. I did some reading. Purchased Nagi’s  Photography book. Learned from my fellow food bloggers on Facebook social groups. And kept trying.

Finally…one day…I figured it out. I found the way to the heart of the foodgawker people. And they have been accepting my pictures ever since. Yay!!  Love love!

UPDATE: Remember the love-hate. Well…I have to confess, lately I have been a little on the hate side with foodgawker. Sure, I am still getting accepted on a regular basis. What drives me nuts is that great images are also getting shot down. How do I know they are great? Because they have accepted others very very much like them.  I have decided that for now, I am not going to focus on foodgawker. Why? I love my look.  I love my photos. And for some reason I take it too personally when they shoot me down. I don’t need that negativity right now, so I am on foodgawker-hiatus. My energy is better suited to growing my blog in other ways. Peace.

 

15.  Child Labor doesn’t work.

You know your teenage child, the one who is always on Instagram and Snapchat? They don’t want to do your social media.

“Ewww.” was the response after I got all excited and asked my daughter to take over my Instagram account.

“Uh…no” is what I got when I begged her to Pin some of my recipes to her boards.

“Mom, just…stop.” when I said “Hey, start me a Snapchat account”.

I thought it would help, and I was bummed for a few weeks that she didn’t have the same interest I did in growing the food blog. So I did it myself.

Yay me!

In hindsight, it wasn’t my target food blogger demographic anyway.

 

 

16. Being a Food Blogger is absolutely one of the best things I have ever decided to do.

Well, you guys couldn’t exactly tell me that, now could you?

I am glad I took the leap to be a food blogger.

Every morning, every night, every weekend I get to work on sharing what I love with people. With food lovers and families and people like me. I love this work and I will keep working hard, keep reaching out, and trying new things to be a better food blogger every day.

 

 

 


17 Comments

  • Reply Wandercooks January 13, 2017 at 5:00 am Oh Teri, I love this! Your humour is so infectious haha. We've definitely experienced all of these on multiple occasions - I just thank my lucky stars we've got TWO of us to share the load and keep each other sane. The best thing about blogging is connecting with others in our industry to learn from and support one another! To all the budding food bloggers out there - keep it up, keep learning and keep going! :)
    • Reply Teri January 13, 2017 at 1:48 pm Thank you for the comment, and I am glad you enjoyed it. There's probably another list in the works, like 23 Things About Being a Food Blogger that will drive you insane (i.e., your husband eating the "special cheese".)
  • Reply Stephanie@ApplesforCJ January 13, 2017 at 10:00 am Great Read Terri! I could so relate to everything you said here. Food blogging is a lot of work..nights..weekends, so you really have to love it. And that in my opinion are how successful bloggers make it. They truly love what they do and I can tell you do. Happy blogging Terri and I look forward to growing together with you and other bloggers I'v connected with :)
    • Reply Teri January 13, 2017 at 1:53 pm Thank you Stephanie! Seems like you and I are on the same path. :) Now if I could some how tap into morning work.
  • Reply Andrea Broom January 14, 2017 at 9:56 am Amazing read Terri! I LOVED it. I totally relate to everything here. Laughed so much about food blogging & ADD. That totally happens to me. ALL the time. Like I seriously have issues with that. You're right when people think food blogging is just cooking and uploading they are wrong, we food bloggers wear a million and one hats. When you love what you do though, there's no problem. I have to admit the best part of blogging is how you can connect with so many people. Keep it up you are doing an amazing job! :)
    • Reply Teri January 14, 2017 at 2:11 pm Thank you Andrea! Not sure what is the biggest problem, my (undiagnosed) ADD, or the dogs running under my legs during photoshoot. :) I appreciate your encouragement!!
  • Reply Zoe January 15, 2017 at 12:48 pm Every single one of these made me say 'yep, me too!' - love it.
    • Reply Teri January 15, 2017 at 7:59 pm At least I am not alone! Thanks for reading our post.
  • Reply Maryelle January 16, 2017 at 4:44 pm Haha, this post was awesome! This is my fist visit to your site but I will 100% be back. I'm in the very beginning stages of starting a food blog (like still have "under construction" at my url) so this was a huge help to me in thinking through what I'm doing. I've read so many places that you need to find blogger friends etc etc (still don't know how to do this exactly, help?) And after reading your post I finally found someone who speaks to me! I will be back again and again I guarantee because your writing is awesome! And your content is real and applicable. Can't wait to try your recipes!
    • Reply Teri January 19, 2017 at 12:59 pm Thank you Maryelle! I found most of my blogging friends through Facebook groups. Search Blogging over Breakfast. That’s a great one to start. Sometimes I just log in and browse old comments. Sooo many answers. Good luck. Keep in touch. I’d love to follow your blog when you get started.
  • Reply Teri January 16, 2017 at 9:59 pm Thank you Maryelle! I found most of my blogging friends through Facebook groups. Search Blogging over Breakfast. That's a great one to start. Sometimes I just log in and browse old comments. Sooo many answers. Good luck. Keep in touch. I'd love to follow your blog when you get started.
  • Reply julie at icanlivewithoutsugar January 28, 2017 at 3:30 pm Teri. I thought it was just me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for letting me know I am not alone. Now that I've found you how could I not sign up for your newsletter. I want to know more! Seriously great post!
    • Reply Teri January 28, 2017 at 4:16 pm Glad you found us Julie! Most of the time I ramble on about food. As I approach my 1 year anniversary of blogging I thought I would just let it all out. Lol. Well, most of it. I think I could do a whole series of these.
  • Reply Julie February 1, 2017 at 8:02 pm Omg I've been laughing the whole time I've been reading this. If the whole blog thing didn't have my husband thinking I was a certifiable lunatic already he's got further evidence now!
    • Reply Teri February 1, 2017 at 8:53 pm Your situation sounds like mine. My husband "You wanna do what?"..."Why are you standing on top of the table?" and "That tripod cost how much?!?!" Yeah, I have discovered we bloggers are absolutely nuts!! (And nobody told me that, either!) So glad you took the time to visit our website and read our post.
  • Reply Kelley@Miss Information February 13, 2017 at 1:57 pm Even after 6 years of blogging this all made me giggle! It's so true and who needs a niche I've always said I'm way to ADD for that - I can totally relate!
    • Reply Teri February 13, 2017 at 9:24 pm Thanks for reading! I'm thinking about rolling out Part 2, the Secrets Continue. Lol

    Let us know what you think! We would love to hear from you.