My Top Food Blogging Tips

May 16, 2014

My blog-versary seems like a good time for reflections and putting down on paper some of the most important things I’ve learnt in my two years of blogging. This is of course a personal reflection of my light bulb moments and by no means a bible of information so I’d love to hear from you if you are a blogger… Did you have some light bulb moments in your early years of blogging? Do you agree or disagree with any of mine?

vintage tea set
1. Join and be active on Twitter

Seems like an obvious one but I resisted Twitter for so long thinking it would only fuel my already out of control social media addictions. When I eventually gave in and joined Twitter about a year ago I was utterly amazed at not only how much this increased traffic to my blog but also all the connections I made and the opportunities that came my way from those connections. My blog would not be what it is today if it wasn’t for Twitter.

2. Learn to use Twitter properly

This is not to say I know everything there is to know about using Twitter properly; far from it. But personal experience can at least dictate what not to do. Number one rule is don’t use Twitter just for strategic personal gain. What I mean is, don’t get on Twitter just to promote your own blog posts over and over (or Facebook posts or Instagram posts or events or giveaways). That kind of transparent behaviour isn’t going to win you any fans and will get you labelled as a spammer. Be genuinely engaging and make connections but don’t do it for selfish reasons. Answer questions and join conversations. Promote other people’s blog posts but also be selective about what you tweet; re-tweeting or sharing ten people’s blog posts in a space of half an hour isn’t the way to engage.
 

3. Buy a DSLR and learn to use it properly

Buying my “plastic fantastic” 50mm f/1.8 lens and learning how to use it properly by doing this photography course were two of the most important things I ever did for my blog. I regularly look back at my blog posts from early days with bad iPhone photos and cringe but they are staying on the blog for the purpose of staying authentic. This is not to say every blogger must use a DSLR. Not at all. My friend and amazing blogger Megan uses her iPhone to take ridiculously fantastic, artistic and creative food photos. If you are going to use a smart phone use it properly. There are so many filters and apps out there to touch-up photos and make those ugly yellow photos taken in dark restaurants look a hundred times better. Despite how good your writing style might be, if your blog is full of bad photos (specially bad food photos) it’s not going to keep people coming back. A photo is worth a thousand words but a good photos is worth a million!
 

4. Invest in a clutter free blog design

I’m still not happy with my blog design but it used to be much worse. So much worse! There’s nothing worse than stumbling on to a blog where there’s so much colour and clutter with advertising banners this way and that way. Clean layout, a simple colour palate and minimalism beats any fancy-pants graphic work any day.
 

5. Post regularly

It took me some time to figure out how often is too often and how often is not enough. There is a fine line between being dormant and bombarding your readers with blog posts and making them run the other way. I’ve been sticking to three posts per week for the last six months and that seems to do the trick as far as getting regular and consistent amounts of traffic to the blog and engagement on social media. I firmly believe that if you want your blog to grow, at least one post per week is a must. There are thousands of blogs out there for your readers to choose from. If you don’t provide fresh material it won’t take them long to cheat on you and get cosy with some other blogger. 


6. Plan your content

I used to wing it all the way and write about whatever and whenever. This is fine and I know this is how most bloggers operate. But having worked out that three posts per week is my sweet spot, to maintain that I can’t wing it anymore. I now plan my blog content at least two weeks ahead based on my social calendar. This is specially important when I have lots of dining plans or events to cover. I don’t like to do too many back to back restaurant reviews or posts of the same category. Variety is the spice of life, right? Not only do I think my readers will lose interest if I hit them with posts of similar nature back to back, I think I would get bored writing them. So I plan ahead and mix things up. 


7. Edit, edit and edit your posts before hitting publish

This may be my neurotic personality speaking but over time I’ve got into this habit of editing and re-editing each and every blog post half a dozen times before I hit publish. Why on earth do I do this? I’d like to think I have good reasons. For example, when it comes to writing restaurant reviews I used to write long yarns about what happened from the minute I walked in to a restaurant to the minute I left. If these details are extremely interesting or juicy then that’s fine. But most of the time they are not. There’s nothing worse than having a reader click through to your blog and leave after twenty seconds because your long-winded story bored them so much. So I write a post and edit it and edit it till I’m only left with what is absolutely necessary. I still haven’t mastered the art of concise blogging but it’s a work in progress and I’ve gotten better over time.


8. Go to a blogging conference or a workshop

There’s nothing better than a room full of passionate bloggers to inspire you and amp up your blogging mojo! I’ve only ever attended one blogging conference so far (Eat.Drink.Blog 2013) and that was an amazing experience. I learnt so much, met so many awesome bloggers and came away from that weekend with a head full of inspiration. If you’ve never attended a blogging conference and think it’s just for hard-core bloggers then think again. I was really intimidated about going to EDB13 because even though I got selected to attend, I felt like I was way out of my depth as I was such a newbie to the world of food blogging. But one thing I learnt was that no one was there to judge and food bloggers in general are a genuinely awesome bunch of people! 


9. Read and comment on other blogs regularly

Reading in general makes you a better blogger but reading other blogs really helps you to get a good understanding of what kind of food writing works and what really doesn’t. This doesn’t mean read and copy someone else’s writing style, just learn and develop your own style. Once you come across a blog that you connect with leave a comment or two. Then click through to a blog of someone else who’s commented on the same post and do the same. The amazing blogs I’ve come across and the connections I’ve made as a result of doing this are hard to put into words.

 

10. Be yourself

Its all well and good to aspire to be like a successful or well established blogger but don’t play the competitive game of copying their writing, photography or Instagram styles. I can’t stress enough the importance of being yourself and writing your own opinions in your own style. Regardless how long it may take you to develop a strong readership when it does happen, you want to be proud of the fact that you got there by being yourself and at the end of the day it’s not the quantity but the quality of engagement you have with your readers that matter.

 

So that’s it for now but I’m sure I have plenty more light bulb moments to look forward to in the years ahead. I’d love to know your thoughts on this topic… How long did it take you to find your blogging rhythm? Do you have any nuggets of wisdom you’d like to pass on to a newbie blogger? 
  

8 comments

  • Alice Lau

    Wonderful nuggets of wisdom Rachi. If I stuck to even half of the points you’ve mentioned above, I’d be a far better blogger than I am. It shows in your words and vision for the blog, including your openness and that you’re unwilling to compromise.

    Btw, I sometimes wish there was a little more Bon Vivant in all of us :)

    • Rachi Perera

      Thanks Alice. Some of the things I’ve mentioned here are things experienced bloggers like yourself would’ve figured out many years ago so it’s nice to have you agreeing with my light bulb moments :) Oh and you are a fantastic blogger! We all have our own way of doing things. It’s all about sticking to what works for you!

  • Vanisha @ A Life Un-Styled

    Congratulations, once again, Rachi. What a wonderful journey it has been to be able to witness your growth as a blogger. I still read your blog with fond memories. Fond memories of our early blogging days and the beginning of our friendship. I have no doubts whatsoever that your blog will continue to grow and bring you much joy.

    As for your question about nuggets of wisdom, I think something that I’ve learnt and have come to value is giving credit where it’s due in the blogging world. If I got a post idea from someone, or learnt about a store that I ended up later working with through someone etc etc, always linking back and giving that person that little bit of credit. It seems really small, maybe silly, but having done things like that (out of courtesy) has resulted in many great collaborations and relationships for me and my blog xoxox

    • Rachi Perera

      Thanks so much V. On the topic of giving credit where it is due, I can’t thank you enough for all the guidance you’ve given me over the last 18 months. Had you not pushed me to get on Twitter who knows where this blog would be today! So a big thank you for that for starters. And thank you for always being there to answer my questions no matter how silly or trivial they may have been xox

  • thefoodmarshall

    Thanks for your great tips, Rachi, they’re really useful for a complete noob like me. I’ve just joined Twitter last week, and am realising that its not Facebook. I’m sure I’ll figure out how to use it soon. I know what you mean about editing. I edit my posts over and over and preview, then edit a bit more, I’m paranoid about bad grammar and spelling mistakes.

    As for the taking of photos with an iPhone, I couldn’t whip out a DSLR (even if I had one), as I’m still a bit embarrassed taking photos in restaurants. I have a friend who’s a chef, and he hates the blogger, he thinks every blogger and his dog is taking photos of his food. Not me of course :) How do you get past that?

    Anyway, I really enjoy your blog, you’re very descriptive in your stories, and your writing is warm and inviting.

    • Rachi Perera

      I’m so glad you found the tips useful and thank you for your lovely comments about my blog. Twitter definitely isn’t FB, it’s so much better for building connections. At first it can seem very daunting but you will get the hang of it soon and wonder how you ever lived without it! :)

      Very good question about whipping out the DSLR at restaurants without appearing like a total douche :) In fact I’ve had a lot of people asking me about this and also about other dilemmas of upgrading from smart phone photos to a proper camera. I’ve just started writing a blog post about it so watch this space… it will be up very soon!

  • Susie

    Such a great post thank you! Definitely something the newbie bloggers like myself can learn from.

    Susie

  • Annie

    HI Rachi, I’ve just spent the best part of 30 mins looking at your wonderful blogs about places to eat in Canberra.
    You have such an entertaining and approachable manner. Not to mention, your photos are mouthwatering and beautiful to look at!
    I so agree with your opinions on a number of restaurants you have reviewed.
    And I am tempted to go and try the ones I haven’t been to!
    Thanks for sharing how to blog better….. it is invaluable advice!
    Especially the Twitter thing…. I have avoided it for so long. ……..I’ll go and find out how it works now!
    Keep up the good work. I hope it leads to full time work in this area for you, as you obviously love it!
    I’m definitely going to be your follower!

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