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graphic for top 10 tips to grow your food blog including a graphic of a cupcake, camera, and computer


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.

Side note: I do not consider myself a blogging expert. Gosh no. Not by any means! In fact, I learn something new each day and there are still a billion things I don’t understand! It’s a journey.

So, 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.

black forest cake batter in a glass bowl

1) Make a Connection

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

2) Be Present

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. Offer your readers alternatives to ingredients, take their suggestions, listen to them, offer giveaways, start a Facebook group and participate in the conversations. They take the time to read your blog, so take the time for them. I remember one email I received the other week: a reader emailed me about a specific recipe and I replied with my answer. She said she was so impressed with my timely and in-depth reply that she would visit my blog more often now that we made a connection. To grow your food blog, show appreciation to your readers.

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 that’s why I write about each.

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 not going to write something interesting. Readers can tell if writing is transparent and empty. 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!

4) Food Photography

This bounces off of #3. We all eat with our eyes and I can say with 100% honesty 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 internet users.

Here is a lengthy food photography page, including all the equipment I’m currently using. And I try to break it down in everyday language because all that fancy razzmatazz and verbiage is confusing.

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, etc. Include links to all of your social medias in an easy-to-spot location.

6) Pinterest

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.

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.

7) Be Clean and Consistent

By this I mean have a clean, sleek website design– 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.

My website has gotten many facelifts over the years. I began with sweet Lindsay from Purr Design in 2013. She’s made several design updates over the years and I highly recommend her talent and services. She designed my logo! In 2018, I launched a major redesign with Southern Web, who is also my monthly tech support. There are so many talented website designers and helpful tech support teams. Do your research to find a good match.

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, in today’s world, privacy is important to protect ourselves and loved ones. Share whatever you are most comfortable with– you can still be relatable even if you don’t share pictures of your children or home. Just do what comes naturally to you.

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, not consuming other content out there. I try to avoid getting lost on Instagram because it’s not healthy for my productivity. Determine what is most important and then spend the most time on that.

10) Work Harder Than Everyone 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.

Thank you so much for being here! xo

More Food Blogging Advice

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

Reader Questions and Reviews

  1. #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!

  2. 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 🙂

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. I’m curious.. at what point, or how long rather, were you able to leave your career to start blogging full-time?

  6. Hi Sally, I used to try your recipes before and now I am coming back to your site to get some ideas for developing my own blog that I started last week. Thank you for sharing your tips- they inspire me a lot!

  7. This post is absolutely wonderful! I felt like you were really talking to me 🙂 I follow your blog and came across this post, i have been searching for a days trying to find out how i should display my content before i start sharing, this will defiantly help. Thank you again!
    Lots of Love ♥ AnnaLisaJ. 

  8. Thank you for this!! Super helpful tips–I’ve been looking for real tips laid out in a simple way, and you did it so well. Keep up the awesome work! 🙂 

  9. This is so helpful, as a relatively new blogger these tips are really useful! Thanks for reminding me to be patient! Blog growth can be so slow!!! 

  10. It’s funny how these tips are still so useful in mid 2016! I especially love the tips surrounding how important it is to be real when writing your posts, and basically not sound mechanical – which I find a turn-off in blogging. Although, I have to admit, I do find myself guilty of it at times, and just have to stop writing and come back later, with a fresh mind, and a different interpretation of the post! x

    Good luck to everyone who is reading these tips for their own creations – I’m sure they’re all wonderful and I hope you see the progress and growth that you all deserve!

  11. Love the tips! I’ve been blogging for a year and getting a bit desperate – but surely I’m not giving up and I will try my best to implement your tips on my blog! 🙂

  12. Hi, Sally. I started my food blog a few weeks ago and am already seeing a bit of traction thanks to your tips — I hope it can continue. 🙂

  13. Thank you so much for all your amazing information! It is so helpful to me on my food blog journey! You are inspire me so much!! Thank you, thank you!

    1. Hi Sally I found this to be such a genuine, useful post.

  14. Hi Sally, thanks for the great tips in this article. I’m only just starting out with my blog and know that my food photography skills leave a lot to be desired! It can be daunting getting a new blog off the ground, with so many things to think about and to learn; articles like this are a real help to newbies like me.
    BTW, the link ” how to increase Pinterest following” in point #6 is no longer working (DNS error).

  15. Really loved your tips 🙂 Thank you for sharing. By the way, you are the first person, which I met, who also uses the saying “if you can dream it you can do it”. Good luck!

  16. Sally, this was just what I needed tonight! I was feeling a little discouraged since my followers haven’t been growing as consistently as I’d like for them to be. It’s hard to stay motivated when you feel like no one cares or reads your content. But you’ve given me hope to keep going and be consistent even when it’s a little discouraging. I started blogging a few months ago, and it’s easy to see other people’s stuff and feel like I’m getting no where, but love that you said it takes time! Very encouraging again!

  17. Thanks for the tips Sally. I’ve been blogging only 5 short months and feel the pressure that I’m not growing fast enough even with 750+followers. you are so right about it being hard work. I needed the encouragment. I spend so much time trying to get good pix and writing good content. Always second guessing everything.
    My tips: do your best..strive for excellence
    network with other bloggers. We help each other with advice and resources.
    Stay focused. There is too much to do.
    Be yourself. 

  18. Wow, such a lot of good information. I’ve had my blog for a little over three years – first started just to put my family recipes up – and at the beginning of this year decided to really work it. It’s been tough and discouraging at times, but I’ve done a TON of research into everything from photography to ads. Still have such a long way to go, but see my followers gradually increasing. I do giggle at my beginning photographs and like you, am keeping some up to remind me of the journey. Thanks for this and your other super useful articles on blogging. I really enjoy your site, too!!

  19. I’ve had my food blog for one year’s a lot of hard work for sure! I think one of the most important things you can do is consistently improve your content – photography, writing, and connect with your readership. Have high standards..push yourself’ always do your best..always.
    Learn, learn , learn!

    My photography has improved dramatically after buying a DSLR, new lens and ebook with practice! My page views went up, up.

  20. “Food blogging is the hardest thing I’ve ever done”. Girl, you said it! I’ve had my baking blog for 6 months now and it’s been so difficult. At times I just want to cry because I’m not as successful as I want to be. I’ve gotten so discouraged at times that I seriously think about just quitting and deactivating my blog. But then I visit beautiful, successful blogs like yours and remember why I started. Because I love to bake and I love to share that love with other people (even if barely anyone ends up actually seeing it). Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for writing this post. It’s very refreshing to read about how we as bloggers should connect with our audience, because after all they’re what this is all about! You are so encouraging and such a lovely, wonderful person.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Jacy! Share your passion and speak (type!) from the heart and the rest will follow. good luck! 🙂

  21. ” Work harder than everyone you know”. True every word. thank you so much, I’m looking forward to your next post

  22. This was really interesting to read! I love the range of posts, there is really something for everyone, great post!