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Whether you’re just starting out as a food blogger or you’re looking to fine tune your blog in 2017, this anatomy of a successful blog will give you direction.
Before you even begin writing, it’s a good idea to think about how you plan to organize your food blog. Organization includes broad choices like niche as well as the finer details of your posts like sub-headings and lists.
To differentiate yourself from the thousands of other food bloggers, focus your offerings on a culinary field and an audience that you know well, for example, 30 minute meals for busy moms or plant-based diets for the veg-curious.
Read our recent interview with Friendship Bread Kitchen founder Darien Gee if you need inspiration.
Be sure that your blog’s navigation is easy to find and follow so that readers won’t stop at one post. Most readers are accustomed to a navigation bar at the top of the page, and it’s a good idea to yield to convention on this matter to avoid frustrating readers.
Select a limited number of intuitive, broad categories so that readers who are browsing can select the topics that most interest them at the moment, whether that’s desserts or main dishes.
Use tags to drill down into the specific details of posts, such as vegan, dairy-free, or diabetic-friendly. As with categories, it’s a good idea to limit the number of tags that you use to avoid overwhelming readers with choices. Make a note of which tags are most used and adjust based on your findings.
If you’re a chatty blogger with lots of interesting narrative in each post, consider breaking the post up with helpful sub-headings so that readers can skip to what most interest them.
When it comes to instructions and ingredients, stick to simple, concise, easy-to-follow lists. Do not be afraid to break instructions down to their most incremental elements.
Make often-overlooked elements of the post like time requirements, quantities, and tips easy to find and follow using callout boxes.
Despite what you may have heard, there is no minimum word count required by Google for your blog posts to be indexed. Google looks almost exclusively at the quality of your content, which means that you should take time to finesse those posts.
If you’ve decided on a niche, keep your blog posts focused on topics relevant to that niche to avoid confusing readers and search engines.
Unlike other lifestyle bloggers, food bloggers don’t necessarily have to include a significant amount of narrative in posts. Many of your followers may only be interested in the recipe, and scrolling through a lengthy story could put them off.
However, a concise, compelling backstory about the dish can really help readers to connect with you. If you want to include a bit of storytelling, consider relevant topics like the food’s historic or cultural value or your own personal connection with the recipe.
You can establish your own unique voice even in a short post through word choice, tone, and style. Don’t be afraid to loosen up and let your personality shine through your posts.
The best way to convince someone that they want to prepare your recipe is to convince them that they’ll want to eat it. That’s done through sensual sensory language. Describe the texture, the taste, the aroma, and the colors of the food to make your reader’s mouth water.
Can you imagine trying to put together a complicated IKEA purchase without those little diagrams? No, thank you. Most people prefer to have images to go along with instructions. That holds true in the kitchen where there’s a lot at stake, like hangry people with no dinner because some poor cook ruined the recipe.
Some of the most effective and popular food bloggers choose to include an image with each step. It’s not necessary to go that far, but you should take time to carefully style at least one gorgeous image to accompany each recipe. Be sure to add your blog name to it and size it appropriately for social media sites that are popular amongst the foodies.
Finally, take time to read through each blog post to check for typos and grammatical and spelling errors. If you’re not confident in your editorial skills, try using a plugin that can help, like Wordy or Proofread Bot.
Finally, what’s the point in having a food blog if you’re not going to connect with your audience? Interaction is key to building a successful, far-reaching site.
The first and most important interaction that you have as a blogger is delivering goods to your audience in the form of compelling posts. Darien Gee of Friendship Bread Kitchen suggested in a recent interview that new food bloggers should try to “front load” their blog initially with several dozen blog posts. When first-time visitors come to your site, you want them to know that you’re serious about this. The more content you have, the more reliable you seem.
Moving forward, it’s a good idea to create and maintain a regular editorial schedule that your readers can look forward to. Two to three blog posts a week demonstrates to your readers that you’re in it for the long haul.
Providing readers with an easy way to subscribe to your site is another critical interactive element that every blogger should use. Once readers are subscribed, you’ll be able to interact beyond your blog, taking the conversation directly to their inboxes.
When readers comment, take time to respond personally. Answer questions in the comment section and then use those questions as inspiration for future posts. Above all, thank readers for taking the time to comment.
Whether you like it or not, social media is here to stay, and it’s hard to gain traction as a food blogger if you’re not putting in the time on social sharing. If you don’t want to get bogged down with a dozen social media sites (and who does?), choose one or two and post daily. Pinterest and Instagram are the most effective social platforms for food bloggers due to the highly visual nature of the sites. As with your blog comments, try to engage with your social media followers when they ask questions or offer input on your posts. Take advantage of popular hashtags like #foodporn, #instagood, and #yummy to extend your reach.