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Popular food bloggers do more than share recipes and snap photos. They gain the trust and loyalty of their readers by treating them less like an audience and more like friends. Once you’ve built that kind of relationship with visitors to your blog, your mailing list and your influence will grow exponentially. Here’s how it’s done.
This probably seems tricky if not impossible given that the whole idea of a blog is sharing your thoughts, ideas, and recipes. After all, people come to your blog specifically to learn your opinions on a matter, your take on a recipe.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of opportunities to listen to your readers on and off your food blog. You listen to them by noting which of your posts is the most popular and offering more like it. You listen by reading and responding to comments. You listen by connecting on social media.
As you listen, you learn more about your ideal readers’ interests, worries, and goals. As you respond, your readers learn the same about you. That’s the basis for a lasting friendship.
Bloggers who have made it big share one common piece of advice: be consistent in your sharing. If you write weekly for two years and then dip out during a stressful period, your readers will justifiably assume that you’ve abandoned your blog.
It’s not a bad idea to keep some backup blog posts in your rainy day cupboard so that you’ve got a Plan B if your routine is interrupted due to illness, stress, or vacation. Or consider asking a guest blogger to fill in while you’re out of the loop.
If you’re consistently present when your readers seek you out, they’ll persist in turning to you for guidance, entertainment, and companionship.
Nothing’s worse than realizing a person you’ve come to consider a friend is not who they seemed to be. The same holds true for bloggers, in general, and food bloggers, in particular. After all, your readers trust you to advise them in nurturing their loved ones and developing essential life skills.
Build and maintain that trust by being authentically who you are. Food blogger Jill Selkowitz, whom I interviewed recently, has built a loyal following based on her honest approach to cooking and blogging. She even offers her food photography unaltered to ensure readers aren’t disappointed when their efforts don’t match up to Instagram-worthy posts that are as much Photoshop and pho, as much filter as filet.
On the flip side of authenticity, it’s possible to share too much personal information. Most of your readers would love to know a little bit about who you are as an individual, and they’ll welcome funny and warm anecdotes about your life. They may even be moved by the occasional sad story. It shows you’re human.
But they won’t stick around if your focus shifts from cooking and from entertaining them to a daily list of complaints about your life. It’s a buzzkill and a bummer. A good friend knows the difference between sharing and burdening.
A good friend can brighten any day with funny stories, gentle encouragement, and mutual understanding. Bloggers can do the same. As you compose your posts, think about the mood that you want your readers to be in when they’re done reading it: happy, excited, and ready to cook.
Your best friends are the ones who love you where you are but encourage you to become a better version of yourself. As a food blogger, you’re in a unique position to help your readers become more confident in their cooking skills, and that has the potential to improve a person’s life in any number of ways.
They can eat healthier, cheaper, and more delicious meals thanks to your insights and experiences. They can make sure their loved ones are healthier, too, and maybe they can even win a few hearts and minds of their own with your perfect mac and cheese recipe. That makes you a BFF for the ages.