10 Tips for Growing Your Food Blog.

10 Tips to Help Grow your Food Blog from sallysbakingaddiction.com

 

It’s been a while since I wrote a post on the subject of blogging, so I’m taking the opportunity of me-having-no-sunny-days-to-photograph-a-new-recipe-for-you to crack an egg of knowledge about growing a food blog.

For the record, I do not consider myself a blogging expert. God no. Not by any means! In fact, I learn something new everyday and there are still a billion things I don’t understand. I simply want to share a few things I’ve learned that have helped me gain and maintain readership.

Anyway. You have a food blog, you’re enjoying it, but you’ve reached a plateau. You aren’t seeing those numbers increase as you hoped. Today I’m sharing tips to engage your readers, keep them coming back, getting exposure, writing the best possible content, and how to turn your food blog into a fun, inviting community.

 Be Extraordinary

 

1) Connect with people. Isn’t that what blogging is all about? Making connections. I can’t tell you how many readers have emailed, tweeted, and messaged me saying that they feel I’m their friend. In a totally not-creepy way of course. I try to style my writing and social media posts in such a way that I am talking to a friend. What I type is exactly how I talk in real life. Run-on sentences, non sentences, and exclamation points. I try to talk to YOU.

Because “you” is one of the most powerful words in the English language.

Put your readers in the situation, make them imagine they can do exactly what you’re doing. Reply to comments, ask them questions, be interested, and encourage action. I like to frame my posts and recipes around starting a thought-provoking conversation. I had absolutely no idea how to do this when I first started a blog. I either (1) wrote way too much or (2) wrote 1 sentence and then left you with a recipe. Both types of posts even put me (the writer) to sleep, so I’ve tried to find a style of blogging that encourages conversation between me and you – while keeping everyone interested.

Think of your blog more as a community, not a website.

 

2) Be there for your readers. This idea bounces off #1. I wouldn’t have a blog without you, my readers. When you have a question, I try my hardest to answer it. (Though I am only 1 person and this is becoming difficult to manage – I try my best to get to you all.) Offer your readers alternatives to ingredients, take their suggestions, listen to them, offer giveaways. They take the time to read your blog, so take the time for them.

A good example of this tip: last year, I started receiving many comments and emails from non-US readers (who make up a huge percent of my traffic) about adding metric measurements to my recipes. Though it took quite awhile, I’ve slowly been adding gram measurements. I’ve received so many thank yous for this and nothing is sweeter than waking up to an email saying “thank you – I can now understand and make your recipe!”

To grow your food blog, show thanks to your readers.

Wherever You Are, Be All There

 

3) Content is king. Produce the best quality content you can and write about what you love. Readers can tell the difference when someone writes about a topic because it’s their life and they love it, compared to someone who writes about a topic because it’s a chore. There’s no magic formula or trick here, just write about what you are passionate about. I genuinely love being in my kitchen, rainbow sprinkles, baking oatmeal cookies, and eating apple pie, so they’re easy to write about.

Also… try to say something new and different. Break the rules and differentiate yourself from other bloggers. Have your own style and stick to it. And don’t be afraid to get personal; a little vulnerability makes you human and makes connecting a little easier (see tip #8).

I always say this to myself before I sit down to write a blog post: “am I in the mood to write right now?” Because if I’m not, I’m sure as hell not going to write something interesting. Readers can tell if writing is transparent and empty. This is why my posting schedule can be random during the week. Though I post at least 4 times per week, the days vary. If I’m not in the mood to write something good on Wednesday, I won’t post on Wednesday. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forced myself to bake something and shoot it “just because I need a recipe for the blog.” And those posts are always so dull and forced!

I could go on and on about the importance of creating quality content, but for now you can read a lot more about it here. Always remember that the photography brings readers in (see tip #4), but the writing makes them stay.

Do What Makes You Happy

4) Food photography. This bounces off of #3. We all eat with our eyes and I can say with 100% confidence that my blog did not start to grow until I saved my money, bought a fancy camera, and actually learned how to use it.

Photography is what draws in the crowd. Readers can’t touch, taste, or smell the recipes you are sharing. They can only see it. For this very reason, eye-catching photography is essential to growing a food blog. Bad lighting, bad set-up, bad composition are all turn-offs. And I write this knowing that I have some extremely ugly food photos on my blog (I cringe looking at them!). Big, bright, crisp, make-you-want-to-reach-through-the-screen photographs create the most visual appeal for my readers.

Here is a lengthy (um, super lengthy) post I wrote about food photography, including all the equipment I am currently using. And I try to break it down in everyday language because all that fancy razzmatazz and verbiage is confusing.

 

Food Photography Prop Buffet Table

 

5. Let people follow you in their own ways. Give your readers lots of easy options for following your blog the way they want to. Whether that’s via email subscription, on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, etc. Include links to all of your social medias in an easy-to-spot location. Mine’s in my header. With an arrow. Hard to miss. However… this can get a little tricky because you don’t want to desperately bombard your readers with ways to follow you.

 

6. Pinterest. If you follow me on Pinterest, you know I’m obsessed with Pinterest. Maybe a little too obsessed. Anyway. Pinterest is the easiest way to get your content out on the internet. Facebook has recently changed its means of sharing and your content is not being shown to a majority of your readers. It sucks. I’ve run many charts examining this and I’ve found that only 5% of my Facebook fans actually see my posts. Isn’t that horrendous?! If I want that percentage to increase, I’ll have to pay some big bucks for my content to be shared. We’re talking over $1,000 per day. Ludicrous.

While I still share my recipes with my Facebook fans, I know that my time is much better spent sharing my recipes on Pinterest. Join group boards, share each others’ pins, and just have fun. I’ve even had companies find my blog through Pinterest. Crazy, right? So don’t underestimate this jackpot at your fingertips! It’s a wonderful way to share your amazing blog content.

I love this incredibly informative article from Love Grows Design Blog on how to increase Pinterest following. So many helpful tips.

Every Accomplishment Starts with the Decision to Try

 

7. Be clean and consistent. By this I mean have a clean, sleek website design. (Purr Design designed my blog.) A design that is easy to read, navigate, and explore. Clutter detracts from your content. If your food blog is your career, then there is really no way around displaying advertisements. But try to keep them off to the side and avoid pop-ups if you can control it (sometimes you can’t)– those ruin a reader’s experience.

As for consistency? Get on a posting schedule. Whether that’s posting everyday, 3 times per week, once per week. I’m an avid blog reader myself and knowing when to expect a new blog post from my favorite blogs makes it easy to follow along.

 

8. Be a real person, not a robot. Can you relate to a robot? And as a blog reader myself, I don’t really find interest in reading something without personality. Enthusiasm is infectious, after all. So don’t be afraid to get a little jazzy! Show your readers that you’re human, just like them. We tend to gravitate towards those who are like us.

Sometimes you need to share your vulnerability. Rather than only sharing the ups, be honest about mistakes you’ve made. What are your lovable traits and individual quirks? Illustrate them on your blog through your writing and make your readers feel as if they really know you. People are curious by nature and by allowing readers to get even a small glimpse of the author behind the blog, I feel as though we can all really connect.

Of course, it is not in everyone’s blogging style to get personal and there are some things I am extra cautious about when mentioning my home and loved ones.

Just do what comes naturally to you. 

Be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you someone else-2

9. Time management. Something I’m absolutely horrible at, but have been forced to improve. Keep a tight calendar. List everything you need to do to stay on top of your schedule and then spend the most time on what is most important.

Do not sit down at your computer without a plan. 

For me? Creating new content is the most important, then keeping readers engaged, then social media sharing, then side projects like freelance, and then admin (updating posts, making sure things are running smoothly). Determine what is most important and then spent the most time on that. Without neglecting the rest, of course.

 

10.  Work harder than anyone you know. If you’re looking for one simple way to increase your blog following – I’m sorry to say that there is no shortcut. You have to implement all of these tips and you have to do it by working your butt off.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it. Blogging is hard work. You are a one-person-show. A writer, a cook, a photographer, an editor, a question answerer, a social media mastermind, a computer whiz, a fast typer, and you have to be this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Food blogging is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Blog growth is slow, but when you start to see your readership increase, the momentum will build and the writing/interaction becomes easier. So stick with it and don’t lose hope. Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, which will help you stay focused. Don’t be a sellout – it’s easy to spot those who are only in it for the money. Sort of like what I was saying in tip #8. Be enthusiastic, be passionate, be real.

My dad always told me that no matter what I do, work hard and be irreplaceable. Stand out from others and show your worth. I know it sounds so cliche, but if you can dream it you can do it.

Work hard for what you want

 Thanks for reading, I tend to ramble… a lot.

Here are more of my rambling thoughts and posts about blogging:

 

Q: Do you have any tips on growing a food blog?

 

 

   

133 Responses to “10 Tips for Growing Your Food Blog.”

  1. #
    61
    Ladyposted July 30, 2014 at 10:28 am

    I actually want to start my own food blog, however, I am not tech-savvy and have a lot to learn. I love to cook and bake and have great ideas, but it seems to be a lot of work to get started. I love your blog and your pictures are beautiful. What advice can you give someone like me who loves food, but lacks the knowledge of blogging? Any advice would be appreciated.

    Reply

  2. #
    62
    Norma | Allspice and Nutmegposted July 30, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    As usual, Sally you provide good information here. I’m really grateful for all that you do. Love your blog.

    Reply

  3. #
    63
    Alexe @ Keys to the Cucinaposted July 30, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Great tips Sally! I’m going to check out that Pinterest article now, thank you!

    Reply

  4. #
    64
    Amy @ Amy's Healthy Bakingposted July 30, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Sally, this is phenomenal! I’ve been waiting for your next post in your Blogging series, and this was totally worth the wait. So many awesome tips! I feel like I’ve been at the same plateau for a few months now, and it’s been frustrating. Nothing like waking up to the same numbers (or eep — even lower ones!) that can bring a person’s mood down. So I really admire how you can stick with it and keep going, even when you’re sleep-deprived and testing the same recipe for the 5th time and planning a wedding in your nonexistent spare time. You’re my biggest blogging role model Sally, so thank you for being incredible and inspiring!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on July 30th, 2014 at 7:30 pm

      The sweetest comment in the world Amy, and thank you so much. Look how far you’ve come! Your blog is beautiful and I know how very hard you work. Keep that passion!

      Reply

      • Amy @ Amy's Healthy Bakingreplied on July 30th, 2014 at 8:02 pm

        Aww Sally, thank you so much for your kind comment! You’re the sweetest blog friend I could ever ask for. :) (Hopefully we’ll be able to say “real life friend” at some point too!)

  5. #
    65
    Stephanie @ Girl Versus Doughposted July 30, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    Once again, you’ve created a gem of a post here. Even after blogging for almost 5 years, these tips are oh so helpful, Sally. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on July 30th, 2014 at 7:28 pm

      Congrats on almost 5 years Steph! So incredible.

      Reply

  6. #
    66
    Paulaposted July 30, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Thank goodness for rainy days because they bring rainbows. This is a rainbow. Great insight and tips!

    Reply

  7. #
    67
    Karen @ The Food Charlatanposted July 31, 2014 at 2:14 am

    #10. Oh man. You just inspired me to go to bed! (for real. sometimes you just have to give up…for the night.) Thanks for the great reminders Sally! Love hearing it from someone as positive as you :)

    Reply

  8. #
    68
    Mary Francesposted July 31, 2014 at 9:16 am

    #1 is HUGE. I believe community is possibly the biggest part of blogging! And totally agree with avoiding the computer if I’m tired or uninspired. It wastes time and leaves me frustrated. Thanks for posting Sally! You are so many blogger’s role model, it is a treat to see behind the scenes! PS you have the best quote pics!

    Reply

  9. #
    69
    Austriaposted July 31, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Hi Sally,
    So i’m not a food blogger, just a peds nurse who loves to bake, run, & do yoga. But i enjoyed this post, as i do all your posts. I don’t even remember how i found your blog but i’m sooooo glad i did!! You have a wonderful writing style, the pics are always amazing, and the recipes always so clear & easy to follow. I’ve learned so much about baking form your blog! Of course your book is phenomenal as well! Just wanted to thank you for everything. I have an addiction to Sally’s Baking Addiction…..:)

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on July 31st, 2014 at 7:43 pm

      Thanks Austria! Sounds like we have baking, running, and yoga in common. Thanks for the sweet comment and I’m glad you found my blog too!

      Reply

  10. #
    70
    Kate @ Diethoodposted July 31, 2014 at 10:43 am

    Awesome, very helpful tips! I practically live by these! :) The last one, “work harder than everyone else”, is #1 on my list. I work non-stop on zee bloggy and it pays off. There’s no shortcuts.

    Reply

  11. #
    71
    Sydney @ Tastefully Frugalposted July 31, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Thank you for the great tips! As a newbie blogger I am trying to absorb as much information as possible and apply it as I can. Love your blog and all your amazing recipes… and photos :)

    Reply

  12. #
    72
    Alvia Jayposted July 31, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    I Always look forward to your blog post and this one was quite inspiring…xx Thanks Sally xx

    Reply

  13. #
    73
    Kaitlyn @ birchtreebakingposted July 31, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Thanks so much for this awesome post! I reached a plateau recently, and I hit it at the same time blogging is going to be more difficult as I’m heading off to college in a few weeks. But you have inspired me to keep writing! Thanks so much!

    Reply

  14. #
    74
    Michelle @ The Whole Food Habitposted July 31, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Thank you so much for this post!! It’s upbeat, and honest, and something I seriously want to print out and hang on my wall. As a new blogger, it’s hard not to constantly compare yourself to others, or think that you’re not doing enough, but nothing makes me happier than working on it, so I know I’m on the right path. Thank you for the inspiration Xo

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on August 1st, 2014 at 8:31 am

      Don’t get in the comparison trap! I did the same thing. You can’t compare yourself and your blog to those who have been doing it longer. It’s apples and oranges. So just continue to work hard!

      Reply

  15. #
    75
    Erica @ The Crumby Cupcakeposted August 1, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    This is a great read, Sally! My blog is super new (like, a month old), and I did a ton of research before I launched it, so I knew what I was getting myself in to. I love coming across articles like this, for the fact that they either reinforce something I’m already on track with, or maybe I learn something new! It IS a lot of work, but if it’s what you love to do, it’s more fun than a chore. And it’s harder than ever to make your mark on the blogging world with the daily influx of new bloggers, but nothing beats the thrill of a new comment, a shared Pin, an accepted FoodGawker image, or a boost in page hits. It’s been totally worth it so far, I wanna stick around! ;)

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on August 1st, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      I love your attitude Erica. Keep doing your thing and work hard! Keep that passion.

      Reply

  16. #
    76
    Maggieposted August 2, 2014 at 1:26 am

    I couldn’t agree more with the points in your article and your blog is a great inspiration for me. My blog is still quite new, only about 1 year. At first I was wondering why I have so few readers, although i worked really hard. But gradually I start to realize the real meaning of creating great content. I really like your tips about writing. This is the most difficult part for me, because English is not my mother language and I was not good at writing itself in the first place.
    “the photography brings readers in, but the writing makes them stay.” – love this sentence and I will use it as my new motto from now on :)

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on August 2nd, 2014 at 7:52 am

      Thanks Maggie! And it really does take time and patience. It sounds like you’re working hard too. Good luck!

      Reply

  17. #
    77
    katieposted August 3, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Great post Sally. You are solely responsible for me starting my own food blog, I found Sally’s Baking Addiction about one year ago and said “I want to do this!” and a year later I’ve finally have gotten my tiny blog started!
    Great information on writing, I feel as though my photos are getting much better but that my writing could use some work. Sometimes I struggle with , should I share that my kid has another ear infection and that my baby kept me up all night or just talk about the food? I want to be reall but don’t want to come off as negative or complaining too much. Any suggestions?

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on August 3rd, 2014 at 7:46 pm

      Hey Katie! Congrats on your blog. That’s so exciting! I would share what you are comfortable with sharing. I try not to complain too much. Always try to stay positive if you can.

      Reply

  18. #
    78
    ashley - baker by natureposted August 3, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Put simply, I <3 ALL of this. P.S. I'm in philly for the month! Would love to see you! xo

    Reply

  19. #
    79
    Joannaposted August 3, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Great tips and ideas! Shall we add oprimism and endurance? That internet thing is a biiiiig place, so let people take their time to find you :)

    Reply

  20. #
    80
    ellie | fit for the soulposted August 4, 2014 at 3:01 am

    These are such great and practical tips, Sally! As always, I love your transparency and willingness to share all your knowledge. I think it’s awesome that you stay humble while not making this whole blogging thing be such a “mystery”–as if only certain people can practice it successfully, do you know what I mean? :) Thank you so much and have a blessed day!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on August 4th, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Of course I know what you mean. And I am always happy to help! What good is my experience if I can’t share it with others? I found it hard to find helpful sources when I first began.

      Reply

  21. #
    81
    Catposted August 6, 2014 at 11:14 am

    Just like to start by saying how much I love your blog! I also follow you on twitter, ingstagram and twitter.
    I started my own food blog in March and have been trying to improve it and increase the number of people who look at it each month. The tips in this post are so informative and helpful. I have already used some of them and made changes to my blog already.
    I’ve started using Pinterest and love it! I can’t believe I didn’t have it before!
    I’m also going to speak to someone who can give me some tips on how to photograph my food better.
    I did have one other question – I have quite a few people looking at my blog (quite a lot for me anyway!) but not many people leave comments. Is there anyway to encourage people to leave comments? Any help would be appreciated!

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on August 6th, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      Hi Cat! Congrats on your blog and thanks for following my social medias! I suggest writing your posts in a conversional tone and perhaps asking questions at the end. That helps start a conversation. Also, comment on other bloggers’ blogs, which may help readers click over to yours or have bloggers click over to yours and leave a comment.

      Reply

      • Catreplied on August 6th, 2014 at 5:20 pm

        Thanks :)

  22. #
    82
    ali graceposted August 6, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Hi Sally! First – Happy virtual wedding shower day! :) I loved looking at all the recipes.
    I’ve got a question for you. How do you recommend getting involved in group boards on pinterest? I’d love to join in, but haven’t had much luck yet. Any tips?

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on August 6th, 2014 at 4:23 pm

      Hi Ali! First, try to grow your following. Pin a nice variety of things you generally love and follow others. This will bring more followers. Then, start your own group board, invite people to join, and ask to join others. Hope that helps!

      Reply

  23. #
    83
    mila furmanposted August 8, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Oh Sally…as always great post! I so love your how to blogging series…I have this horrible habit actually of comparing myself! And they I just get down on myself because I feel like my growth isn’t fast or my numbers aren’t high :( It’s sometimes a tough game to play! But I am trying to stick through it because I genuinely love it! And how right are you that our posts on FB are not getting circulated to people…bastards!

    Reply

  24. #
    84
    Anthony Lloydposted August 9, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Re-Tweeted to my followers on Twitter.

    I’m not going to name other blogs but I like this one because everything, other than content, is on the right side.

    Many blogs have so much clutter on them they’re hard to read.

    Thanks for the tips.

    Reply

  25. #
    85
    Natashaposted August 14, 2014 at 12:43 am

    I especially love your point #8! Sometimes I feel like I use way too many exclamation points when I’m blogging, but then things just seem so bland without them. I also agree that showing your ‘vulnerabilities’ can be a good thing. I don’t think constantly griping is good anywhere, and especially not on a blog, but I think I find constantly upbeat, fake-seeming blogs even more annoying.

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on August 14th, 2014 at 2:58 pm

      I agree, Natasha! I’m a pretty happy person, but there are days I’m just not as excited or things aren’t going right – and my writing definitely reflects that. But hey, we’re all human. It’s always best to just be real… you know? You’re doing a great job.

      Reply

  26. #
    86
    Katrinaposted August 17, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    Thank you so much for the tips!

    I started my blog in May, and it has already been more work and more rewarding that I could have ever imagined! I have learned that a love of baking isn’t all it takes to start a blog, I have to also learn to be a photographer, writer, and a website tech! It has been quite the learning experience, and I have found that I am always researching additional ways to improve and grow my blog.

    Thank you so much for sharing this information, you truly are an inspiration!

    Reply

  27. #
    87
    ChiChiposted August 20, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    I have been doing a lot of research about starting a food blog. I live in England and I am a student. I love baking and cooking for my friends and of course myself! I am quite nervous about starting a blog as I am a student but I have been motivated by this post.
    Your blog occupies a soft spot in my heart ( I really mean it) I always go back and forth between blogs and each time, I find myself on your blog. You are such an inspiration!! I have been taking lot of recipe ideas from your blog and I plan to start my blog before the year runs out!
    Thank you for your time and effort and for making cooking and baking easier for so many people.
    Keep up the good work.

    Reply

    • Sallyreplied on August 20th, 2014 at 6:12 pm

      Thanks ChiChi, this was so nice to read. Really, it was. Thank you so much for following my blog! Best of luck as you start your own.

      Reply

  28. #
    88
    Deniseposted August 27, 2014 at 1:43 am

    Thank you for the great and practical tips *smile. I started with my food blog last year, as hobby and it has been quite a learning journey. Recently I discovered your blog and I just can’t stop reading you, you are such an inspiration.
    You rock girl !

    Reply

  29. #
    89
    Dorcas@feelgoodfoodblogposted August 27, 2014 at 7:52 am

    You are so right, Sally. Blogging is quite a lot more work than I expected but I am really having the time of my life. Thank you for your Blogging Tips as I’m just starting out on my blogging journey and am implementing your tips quite successfully. Best to you!

    Reply

  30. #
    90
    Valerieposted September 28, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks for the great tips! I blog about weekly meal plans and about everything I like to cook, which is everything BUT Baking but I’m very new at it and not able to monetize at all due to my contract at my day job. I’ve seen some Pinterest Food Blogger groups but there hasn’t been much info about how to get invited… any ideas?

    Reply

  31. #
    91
    Madisonposted October 1, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    This is seriously some of the most helpful info I have read on this topic! I recently started a blog and have been searching for ways to get myself out there and interact with my readers more, and this post has given me some really great tips! I actually went and pinned all my posts to Pinterest as soon as I read that tip, it’s a brilliant idea! Thank you so much!

    Reply

  32. #
    92
    Chef Jayposted October 2, 2014 at 4:26 am

    Hi Sally,

    I have recently started my food blog, and i’m still getting the hang of things. I wonder, how long did it take for you to grow a wide reader base? I’m worried that even if I keep on writing, no one would read my blog. I would love to get some advice, but i definitely bookmarked this page for future reference!

    Reply

Leave a Comment