10 Tips for Growing Your Food Blog

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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?

190 Comments

  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. Hi Sally! I came across your blog a few months ago in search of a decent red velvet cupcake recipe and I’ve been coming back since! I’ve really enjoyed looking through your recipes and the photos are beautiful. Good work! Your blogging tips in particular have been really helpful as I started my own blog a year and a half ago but got busy and lost steam. Having read your posts, I was encouraged and inspired to pick it back up after a year, dust it down and give it another shot. So thank you for the advice, tips and contagious passion!

  4. Hi Sally, thank you so much for posting this. I’ve only been following your blog for a couple months now, but what makes me stick around is how genuine your writing is. (Well, that and all the sugar of course!) Like you mentioned, I love how consistent you are in your posts and your schedule. I can always expect at least two new recipes from you every week — something I look forward to! As a new blogger, these tips are absolute gold and I will definitely attempt to implement them as I go forward. I agree very much with number 10! I didn’t realise how difficult food blogging was until I gave it a go! It’s hard work, but it’s also fun and very rewarding. Looking forward to your next blogging post and the next recipe! Thanks for sharing your love of baking with us. 🙂

    1. So wonderful Amanda. I’m so glad you find this post helpful! I’ll be sure to post more blogging tips posts in the new year. One of my goals!

  5. Hi Sally, I just came across your blog recently looking for some holiday inspiration. I’m not much of a baker. Yet. I just started a food blog and I have no idea what I’m doing! Your advice is wonderful and so helpful. I’m feeling inspired.
    Thanks!

  6. Hi sally, I was trying to learn some tips on using my DSLR camera and I stumbled onto your website. Over the next few days, every time I search for something photography related it brings me right back to you. I’ve enjoyed this article, as well as, your one on photography which I read last night. I’m still trying to get going in the right direction but appreciate your tips and direction. You’ve really got a knack for re-energizing me when I was feeling a little lack-luster.

    Thank you!
    Ronda

  7. Hi there Sally, I have been an avid reader for a year now and I have been reading all your posts on blogging and it has been so helpful. I have just recently started a blog to practice my writing & photography (mostly of food and me eating) and your posts have really helped me understand a lot about the blogging world. I am most certainly planning on keeping my blog true to myself, remembering to keep an open mind and always looking to grow and learn.
    I am about to attempt your easy (from scratch) cinnamon rolls for the easter holidays, wish me luck! I will be sure to post my results and link the results back to you. Thank you so much for inspiring millions of people everyday. We are all glad you love what you do so much, my poor boyfriend’s waistline is expanding by the day! x Lynnette

  8. Sally!!!!!!!!! I wish i could hug u for this post. As much as I have seen dozens of posts on food blogging, before I start surfing the net for blogging tips, I think what new am I going to read that I havent read already. Girl, wasn’t I so so so wrong. What great tips, thanks for sharing it with the world.. 

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

  10. Thank you so much dear Sally.. You are an inspiration and a real guide!! Need to follow all the steps, especially step no: 4.. I am not at all satisfied with my pics.. I think I need to work on that .. Hoping to be a successful blogger like you some day☺️

  11. Sally…Your post is really so real and honest – and like you say, you really manage to connect with your readers (in this case – me). Thank you for saying that food blogging really is the hard to do (while not impossible), because sometimes I think I’ve really reached a plateau and don’t know how else I can grow my blog! But thank you for this post, I really need to start building a community, and consistency in blog posts.

    cheers from Buenos Aires (another non-US reader!)

  12. Sally I love reading your blog, how I wish I can write good content like you, your blog inspire me a lot and you are the best. I started my food blogging this year and like you said, its NOT an easy job at all, I Kept on reading and doing research all the time. Anyway I thank you very much because your blog help me also.

  13. This was so helpful and encouraging! I’m day two into started my new blog and I’m already having a hard time but this gave me a boost of confidence. Thank you!

    -Mercy 

  14. Hi Sally, I really like this post and I found it really useful. I run a small blog since 1 year and I am trying to grow my readers even though it is very difficult, as you also said. I tried to think about what you have written and I think I need to improve point number 1 and point number 10. I need to upload posts more frequently and I have to improve my writing in a way it looks like more a conversation.
    I was also wondering where you get all those so nicely written images. I love them. You do them yourself?

    1. It certainly IS difficult, but an exciting journey. I use Adobe Lightroom to edit my photos and sometimes I like to add words to my photos– for this, I use Picmonkey.com.

  15. 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!

  16. 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. 

  17. Sally, this advice is amazing.  I have neglected Pinterest completely in my “marketing” of my blog and it never occurred to me what a powerful tool I was overlooking until reading this.  Tonight I will devote some time to developing my Pinterest presence!

    I never realized how much work food blogging is until I made the decision to get serious about it with my new blog.  I’m putting in TONS of work and still feeling a bit amateurish.  I’m sure it all comes with time.

    Cheers from Almost Kosher.

  18. This is definitely the best article on this subject that I’ve come across.  For me the hardest is connecting to people, because it sometimes makes me feel like I am a creepy stalker and it takes a lot of time. Writing style is also an issue. I’m in blogging for only two months now and I’m not a native speaker (I’m writing in english). Writing like you’re talking to your friends is the best advice I’ve read so far. Thanks for that, Sally. I’m applying it in my next post.

  19. This is a great read. I find you need to put in the work and be authentic. Also remember when PR companies send you press releases, don’t just write about product to keep them happy. Make sure they send you the product. You don’t work for them; I think they forget this. Your time is just as valuable as theirs is. In addition, don’t sell products, stand behind them. Your readers will appreciate you for telling the truth. 

    It’s a lot of work, but rewarding as time goes. 

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