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Top Food Bloggers Share Their Ingredients for Success
Would-be chefs no longer have to rely on getting a book deal to share their tips and secrets with the world. The market for recipe blogs is booming, with hundreds and thousands of amateur and professional cooks alike taking to their keyboards to publish their culinary masterpieces.
But is it all as easy as cooking up a storm, taking a few photos and waiting for the hungry hordes to flock to your site? We decided to get the lowdown from three high profile bloggers. What makes for a great recipe blog?
Alexandra Azary of Bright-Eyed Baker says the inspiration for her blog came from her own love of food blogs:
After I got out of high school, I started baking for fun in my free time. Initially I just enjoyed trying out recipes I found online or in cookbooks, but as time went on, I discovered the world of food blogs and got really inspired by the idea of turning food into an art form, so to speak.
I finally decided to take the plunge and start my own blog, thinking it’d be fun to share the recipes I was trying out. Little by little I learned how to develop my own recipes and improve my food photography, and eventually my blog became a mini business of sorts.
Daniëlle Todd, a francophile half-American, half-Dutch cake lover who indulges her passion for French patisserie at Paris Loves Pastry, agrees that other food blogs gave her the initial inspiration:
When I caught the baking-bug, I would spend hours online reading baking blogs for recipes, tools, tricks, and inspiration. As my baking skills got better and better, I figured I could start my own blog. I had experience creating websites, so it seemed like a logical step to me.
Liz Berg admits to a lifelong love affair with all things sweet, and initially launched her blog That Skinny Chick Can Bake so she could post her own recipes somewhere. “I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes with friends and family,” said Liz. “Granted, I had no idea what I was doing or what it could become!”
Asked how, as a busy mom of three, she has found the motivation to build her hobby into a home business, Liz Berg explains that it has been a combination of pure love for what she does, and support she has found from the blogging community:
My love of cooking and especially baking keep me supplied with content. Plus, meeting and interacting with other bloggers has helped keep me sane if I’m ever overwhelmed.
My relationship with other bloggers is key. We share tips, encourage each other, and give feedback when asked. My real life friends encourage me, but only other food bloggers ‘get’ the challenges we face.
Asked about her own journey as a blogger, Alexandra Azary admits building a successful site like Bright-Eyed Baker is challenging. Developing a big audience takes lots of time and effort.
The tough thing about starting a blog is really just that ― starting. Things don’t take off right away and you can’t let that discourage you.
Building an audience takes time, but if you’re passionate about what you’re doing and sharing quality content, the audience will eventually come. And once that happens, and you get to hear from people who actually took time out of their day to try one of your recipes and share the outcome with you, it makes the work worth it.
But you definitely have to have a real passion for what you’re doing. Otherwise, it’s just work ― and a lot of it ― and it will be hard to stay motivated.
Daniëlle Todd says her own passion for food, especially pastries and baking, gives her all the motivation she needs to keep Paris Loves Pastry going. “I really don’t want to become another blogger who doesn’t update their blog after a while. I’m in it for the long run!”
Tricks of the trade
Asked if she has any secrets for which types of recipes draw more traffic than others, Daniëlle said:
For me, I often find that recipes from particular authors, such as Nigella Lawson, are a success. Vegan recipes get a lot of hits too. Not that it’s the reason why I post them. And I might think it’s because my photographs aren’t picture perfect and makes a reader think ‘Hey, that looks easy to make!’
Research SEO, or search engine optimization. ~ Liz Berg
Alexandra tries to keep her Bright-Eyed Baker blog fresh and interesting by making her recipes as unique as possible.
A lot of the posts I’ve written that have gotten the most traffic are posts for recipes that you won’t find tons of across the internet. Yet they are things that people are looking for.
For example, my DIY caramel sauce has been, by far, one of the most successful posts I’ve ever written. It’s a recipe for caramel made with just sugar and milk ― something you don’t see very often, and yet a lot of people want to be able to make caramel without using heavy cream or butter or some other ingredients that are going to add a lot of calories.
All you need is a few posts that really take off. But to make that happen you need to give people something they can’t find elsewhere.
Asked if she had any advice to give people interested in launching their own recipe blog, Liz Berg said:
Research SEO, or search engine optimization. Knowing how to format a blog post from the start will prevent having to backtrack to fix old posts.
Also, I wish I had worked on my photography before diving right in. A beautiful, in focus, well styled photo is what draws readers to the recipe.
For Daniëlle, bloggers should aim for quality over quantity, but also need to be realistic about the workload. “Really think it through. Do you see yourself blogging over the next 5 years? Do you have the time to do it? Otherwise it might be sensible just to read blogs, not write them.”
Give people something they can’t find elsewhere. ~ Alexandra Azary
Alexandra agrees that you have to treat your blog as your job if you want to make a success of it.
You should enjoy doing it for sure, but you should also realize that the more effort and consistency you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. It’s still hard for me to do this, particularly because I work full-time, but the most successful blogs are the ones run by people who show up every day, so to speak.
If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, don’t give up if things don’t take off as quickly as you’d expect. And if you’re not passionate about it, take a step back and evaluate why you’re starting a blog, because without that passion it’ll be hard to get anywhere with it. I truly think you need to be genuine to be successful in this world.