How to promote a food blog?
I hope this is not against CH's policy, but I couldn't find anything in the rules about it, so here goes. I'm going to be totally original and start a food blog - you know, talk about things I cook and eat. I know you've never heard of such a thing before, so this must be exciting for everyone.
Anyway I wanted to ask those who have food blogs how they get traffic? Do you allow comments? Do you allow advertising? Do you promote or advertise your blog? Do you have any advice? What sort of traffic do you get? I am definitely NOT trying to promote my own on here, as I only have one post so far and I'm not terribly happy with it yet. Just wondering about the experiences of others who have tried and failed, tried and succeeded, or just keep trying for their own amusement.
Spam every site around.
Everyone else does it.
Short of that, many have "connections".
If you can get "connections", you're in.
Self promotion rarely works. Martha Stewart and Mario Batali come to mind, but that's not a blog world.
SPAM. Yep. Spam every site you come across.
(just don't send Spam email, NOBODY likes that)
Sad but true, I think. I belong to another online food community, and they get several spams a week - just one-time posters "tell me what you think of my website!" types. I don't want to do that or be that person. You see them here from time to time, but not as often. I think I'll just remain non-famous and blog for my own entertainment. And my mom's - she loves my blog.
I'm new to the food side of things, but I've been a financial blogger for a few years now. There really isn't much difference when it comes to the type of site you are developing, as the same basic principles apply to all websites.
First, you'll want to have a sign-up box for newsletters/email notification/contests/updates/etc. Ask anyone who is successful in building online properties and they will tell you that their email list is the number one asset they own.
As far as comments, like others have said you absolutely need to allow comments. Without comments, people will have no reason to feel invested in your site. Maybe even more importantly, comments help build a community and when you have a community those people will share your site with their own friends and family.
Don't worry about advertising for the first 6 months to a year. Sure you can throw up some affiliate links and adsense blocks, but with no traffic, you will see no benefit. And, if you have more space taken up by advertising than by great content, people won't stick around.
If you want to drive traffic, you should first worry about building out the site. Make the navigation user-friendly. Use quality imagery. Write for the readers, and not for the search engines. Develop engaging content. Create a facebook page, google + profile, twitter account, pinterest account. Sign up on technorati. Get an email service for collecting addresses and sending mailings (MailChimp offers a great free service for limited subscriber counts).
Then, when all of that is done, and your site is a nice size, start talking to your friends and family. Tell them about what you're doing and ask them to share it with their own friends and family. Get them to like your social pages/profiles. You have to realize that it will take some time and effort.
I just "opened" my food and photography blog to the public, and obviously do not have much experience here, but I do get quite a bit of traffic through foodgawker and tastespotting. Depending on the post, I now get from 100 to 300 hits per day through these sources. They are picky in terms of photos they accept, but once you get in, it is a very neat way to start building some visibility.
Also, a nice overview of what it takes to build a digital reputation for your blog can be found here http://www.launchgrowjoy.com/30-ways-...
"Do you allow comments?"
Most definitely, however be sure you install some good spam blocking plugins (if using wordpress)
"Do you allow advertising?"
I do. I belong to Google Adsense and also Amazon Associates (so I can promote, for instance, cookbooks if I'm reviewing them or sharing my results from trying out a recipe in one). At first I tried being in some of the blog networks but honestly didn't find that worked as well for me (they tend to limit what other ad programs you can be in quite restrictively, or having to have their ads be the only ones placed "above the fold", etc.
"Do you promote or advertise your blog?"
To an extent. I tweet new posts and share on Facebook (I have a page dedicated to my articles/writing for various platforms). I include links back to my food blog when I write related articles or recipes elsewhere. Share blogroll links with other local food bloggers, etc.
"What sort of traffic do you get?"
Not huge - maybe 300-500 hits a week at the moment and it depends on how much time I've been putting into keeping it updated. When I make sure to update at least 2-3 times a week, even small posts, traffic is much higher than if I only post every two weeks or so. Local restaurant reviews & food media talk tend to generate the most interest; recipe posts and talk about gardening, not so much.
"Do you have any advice?"
Hah. So much. Basically don't look at it as a huge money-making endeavor unless you're really looking to devote yourself to it full time and/or have some really unique point of view. However, if you enjoy writing about food, go for it! The best thing for me has been networking with some other local bloggers in our little South Jersey area and also occasionally getting invited to restaurant openings and special events. That's probably been the best reward as far as I'm concerned :) I actually do make a part-time living writing on-line content but my food blog is just a small part of my endeavors to contribute to that.
I would definitely say investing in a good camera and working on your photography techniques is a big part of having a successful food blog.
Also, learning about Google optimization, keyword research, etc. is important if you want to try to draw search engine traffic and not just hits from direct promotion of your blog.
Wow - thanks so much for the advice (and thanks to everyone else who responded too!). That's a lot to think about. So far it's something I'm doing for me, not for fame and fortune, which may be what keeps me sane. I don't know yet what sort of investment this will be time and money-wise, and I'm still working out some kinks with the title, hosting site, etc. I really appreciate all your input.
I forgot to mention above how I found most of the food blogs I read. I found them mostly through Pinterest. All of them have really good photography, so if you have good photography, your best bets for getting more traffic are getting your stuff on Pinterest and probably Foodgawker.
I also found some through other blogs. Some because they made a recipe they found on another blog, so gave credit there with a link where you can click through to the other blog, some because they have "affiliate" blogs.
Yep, Pinterest is definitely a huge traffic draw if you use it well, describe your pins so that they come up in searches, etc. Pinterest image search results are often much better than Google image search, so I do think a lot more people are turning to Pinterest when looking for recipes these days. I know I tend to find more interesting results that way myself.
I've come across a few food blogs through Twitter, and largely that depends on how much time you want to spend engaging with others on Twitter. Food fans do tend to follow back pretty generously. The trick is to talk to people as people, taking an interest in others and not solely self-promoting. If people like you they will follow through. Just following local food-oriented businesses and showing interest will get you interest in return.
Also look to your local geographical area for blog groups, or associations, or what-have-you. St Louis, for instance, at one point had the Food Blog Mafia collective, which helped individual blogs share exposure. But there are also purely local groups that offer support. Establishing yourself as a living person and not a cookie cutter food blog makes a world of difference.
This blog might be helpful: http://profoodblogger.com/
This blog also posts their income results every month and how they got there: http://pinchofyum.com/category/making-money-from-a-food-blog They are the creators of the blog listed above as well.
I also created a Pinterest board when I was thinking of starting a food blog, with lots of different sites with blog info: http://pinterest.com/julieanneco/blog...