10 Tips for Growing Your Food Blog

Top Ten Blogging Tips on 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.

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.

How to make Black Forest Cake cake batter

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?

189 Comments

  1. Thank you SO much for this post!!! I am “fresh outta the oven” with my new food blog (I greatly enjoy yours, by the way) and struggling greatly to find how to gain subscribers, maximize my page views, etc. etc. etc. You’re not kidding when you say it’s hard work and very time-consuming…AND I’m not even getting paid for it!! BUT…I LOVE IT!!!! And hopefully, maybe someone out there is reading it! Thanks again!!

    1. Hi Jenny. Don’t apologize. No questions are silly when you’re just beginning. When you type in your name to leave a comment you can type “Jenny @…” and whatever your blog name is. Then make sure you type in your blog URL where it asked for the website.

      1. You’re AWESOME!!!! Thank you so much for the super quick response!;-) That’s great to know. Just figured out how to add the picture (gravatar, I think it’s called). So much to learn!

  2. Oh my gosh, Sally. I have been waiting for another post in the blogging series for a while. I agree with everything you said! Thanks for sharing these awesome tips. You are truly an inspiration to me! 🙂

  3. You are right, useful tips and thanks for great post. I think well done designed and finished blog are too important, If someone are interested, I know some guys who are perfect with it, and experienced. Ann

  4. Thank you so much for this wonderful post! I have been blogging for a little under a year. I have had my ups and downs with blogging but I am slowly regrowing my readership. I wish more bloggers would talk about how hard it is to blog, it is by hard work that your blog will grow.

    1. Allison, food blogging is incredibly challenging. There are so many factors to think about, so many skills you need to master, so many directions you’re pulled in. If there were 10 of me, I would *maybe* call this job easy. That’s how challenging I find it. It sounds like you’re passionate and determined, two characteristics of success for sure.

  5. I love your blog Sally! Love your photography and your writing style – it’s so enjoyable to read. I love seeing a new post in the morning, I read it while I drink my coffee and it’s a morning treat. New recipe + coffee makes a good morning!

  6. Sally, thank you so much for this post! As I learn about food blogging and ways to grow my blog this post is like a gift from heaven.

  7. Is it wrong of me to hope you have more cloudy days so that you will share more tips with us?! So wrong I know. I stress over cloudy days myself. But I LOVE reading your tips. You are such an inspiration and set such a good example for connecting with readers. Loved this post Sally, thanks so much 🙂

  8. Great tips Sally, thank you! I love how you emphasise the importance of hard work and passion – and they both shine through in your blog!

  9. Food blogging is tough and challenging! That’s why I love it! Thank you for the great tips! I am still working on the time management part since blogging isn’t my full time job and I have other obligations to juggle.

  10. You are a hard worker and deserve all good things! I love your blog and bought your cookbook, this is really due to your responsiveness to me as a reader as I wanted to support you. I have commented several times or asked questions and you are always prompt to respond. It doesn’t go unnoticed! Keep up the good work! I’m sure you and your recipes inspire people on a daily basis 🙂

  11. I loved reading this Sally, as I do with all your blogs. I’ve studied all your other “how to” blog/photograph posts as well as following your wonderful recipes. I love your writing and I’ve made so many of your recipes which have worked beautifully. I have your danish pastry in the freezer for my next treat! I’ve been blogging for just a tiny bit over 3 years and the growth of my blog has been painful. BUT with as you say – a butt load of work – this year has brought regular readers, regular comment writers, an engaged Facebook following and a couple of very big names in English baking/cooking equipment companies have sort me out to review their work and run giveaways on my blog. I love writing and love creating recipes myself and am learning with every photo I take. All of the stuff you’ve mentioned is what I do already apart from engaging more on Pinterest. I’ve a demanding job in the Real World (boo hoo!) so it sometimes limits the time I have available to devote to my blog – you are so right Slaly – it is a lot of work! But I love it and that’s why I make time when I can and keep on writing. If you build it, they will come, right? 🙂 x

    1. Congrats on a great year Jo! And being contacted by big companies is awesome. I hope you’re proud. And I love that Danish pastry recipe. Hope you love it as much as we do! I like what you wrote “if they build it, they will come” – so so so true.

  12. I love this post. I’ve toyed around with the idea of starting a blog. I absolutely love to bake and take recipes and make them my own, so why not? This post helps inspire me to get it done! Keep being awesome at what you do! I love reading your blog and trying out your recipes. 🙂

  13. Thanks for being so generous with your experience. What first drew me to your site was your gorgeous photography. I know how important it is to have appealing pictures (I have a friend who runs a little bakery out of her house as a side business that I think she wants to grow in time, but all the photos she posts on facebook of her creations are unappetizing and are more likely to deter than increase interest.) and I’d toyed with the idea of starting my own food blog over a year ago, just for fun. But I didn’t want to post ugly food. I wished I could have pictures like yours and was about to email you to ask what types of equipment you used when I noticed that delightfully thorough, helpful post you wrote on food photography. I was impressed by your willingness to share what you knew; a lot of people guard all their secrets, thinking the best way to stay ahead is to never help anyone else. I guess that works for some people, but a little kindness feels so much better.
    After I came for the pictures, I stayed for the rest. I love trying your recipes and reading your funny anecdotes and shout outs to Friends and so forth.

    So thanks for all you do. You’re doing a great job and I love your blog. 🙂

    1. Thanks Natalie! I’m so glad you enjoy reading (and commenting!) on my blog. I always love hearing from you. And I hope you learned a little bit from my photography post. If/when you start a food blog, I’ll be the first to read! xo

  14. Wonderful advice…thank you so much..your experience really speaks out.
    Just love your blog. ..:)

  15. Hi Sally, as one of your long time overseas readers I just wanted to say thanks for your beautiful posts. It’s great to wake up in the morning to an email about frosting and sprinkles and all things good in the world! Especially when you guys are in summer and we in Australia are battling through winter blues…

    When I first started following (wayyyyy back in early ’12!) and convinced my friends to too, we started a weekly “Sally Bake” roster and were the most popular department at work!! Everyone was always after the recipes… best cupcakes ever! You’re now my #1 cupcake go to gal! (Mutual love of peanut butter helps!)

    Keep up the good work – and the sprinkles and smiles! Just wanted to let you know it is greatly appreciated!

    Oh! And thanks for the metric measurements!
    xx

    1. You have been my follower since the beginning and that’s pretty freakin’ cool Belle, thank you! I’m so glad you enjoy reading my blog. I need to visit Australia one day! Your weekly “Sally Bake” is pretty much the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. Made my morning 🙂

  16. I first want to say THANK YOU SOOO MUCH SALLY!!! You are an inspiration to us all. I’ve been baking since I was kid and only this year have decided to start my own food blog because it’s truly my passion. It can be a bit overwhelming balancing a FULL time job and all the aspects you discribe of creating a suscceful blog. But the time is so worth it I was like a kid in a candy store for the first time when I got my first comment on my blog (little embaressing) I’m still working on balancing all the aspects you just suggested and I REALLY need to work on getting better photo’s. Just wanted to say THANKS!

    1. Not embarrassing at all, Brian! I remember my first comments too. And just keep pushing through. Working a full time job and handling a blog is extremely difficult, but it sounds like you can manage. Keep it up and good luck!

  17. Thanks so much for sharing these tips! I’m just starting to kick things off in this whole new world of blogging, and I’m trying to learn all I can! Your post is a super helpful reference for me, so thank you!! 🙂

  18. Hey Sally! Thank you so much for posting this! You couldn’t have posted it on a better day than today. This morning I was driving to work and thinking I must be crazy to try to keep up with a food blog when I barely have any spare time as it is. I work full time and commute to work 5 days a week so weekends are all I have, but I actually don’t even have every weekend to work on recipes and photography because my family lives an hour and a half away and my husband’s family lives 3 1/2 hours away so we spend many weekends on the road visiting family. Anyways, this morning I was considering giving up on the blog because it’s definitely a lot of work and it’s not growing much so I wasn’t sure if it was really worth it. Your post gives me hope so I’m extremely thankful you posted that! Thanks again! 🙂

    1. Jamie, yes I know what it’s like working a full time job AND running a blog. It’s nearly impossible! And your schedule is loaded. But who says you need to post something new everyday? I would start with once a week until you are more comfortable and can pick up the pace. It gets easier, I promise.

  19. I was just re-reading your old posts the other day and hoping you would write a new one soon! So glad you did! Informative and well written as always. Trying to find ways to break through a plateau…You are so right with #9. Why I only had an epiphany about this two days ago, I just don’t know. Juggling my real job with my blog that I want to become my real job needs structure. And hard work. Girl, you are dead on as always! Keep up the fabulous work! I truly enjoy each and every one of your posts whether I comment or not! 🙂

    1. Lindsey, I know what it’s like working a full time job and blogging. It is nearly impossible, but that’s what coffee is for right? Sounds like you are passionate and determined enough to make it work though!

  20. Thank you so much for posting this! I’m starting up my blog as well and I’m always perfecting every little thing – from photography to logos. Sometimes, I get discouraged because things don’t turn out the way I would like them to, but posts like these make me hyped to type up another post and blog on!

  21. Love hearing your take on this Sally! Your hard work and love for baking always shines through, and the photography…mmmmm 🙂

  22. I always love to read your ‘blogging’ posts, Sally! Thank you so much for this latest one! I particularly love the pretty quotes you’ve scattered throughout … so very inspiring! 🙂

  23. Oh, and I made your pizza dough last week … twice! It is now my go-to pizza dough recipe, so thank you very much for that too!

  24. This is such a great post! Just wanted to say that I absolutely love your blog – it’s amazing 🙂

  25. Thanks, Sally, for the encouragement. You’ve been an inspiration to us from the start. We’ve been blogging for a little over a year and are loving it, but yes…it’s a full-time job! I’m thankful for veteran bloggers such as you who are willing to encourage us and give hints. We love your cookbook by the way…it’s beautiful!

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