I know food blogs have been posted and analyzed to death and there are million favorites and unfavorites all over this board.
But here we go anyway.
I have had a food blog for about three years. I am looking at redesigning it, but I need feedback about what you like or don't like about the blogs you read. I would love some idea of what you think about the following?
Photos v. Copy
What's more important: copy or photos?
How important is it to you that the photos be beautiful (as opposed to good and descriptive)?
What do you think about using great stock photos for the basic raw ingredient instead of originals?
Do you like to see photos of the steps of a recipe or just the raw ingredient and/or finished product?
If you had to rate what you prefer to see in food blogs, how would these rank:
food or meals as they it impact real life?
If recipes are important to you, how important is it that they are easy to print?
Do you prefer notification of new blog posts by:
Finally, what about viewer involvement? Do you like to interact with the author of the blog and/or other readers? Or not?
Thank you for your time and any feedback you provide.
If you're good at telling stories through photos, use photos. If your photos aren't telling the story, use copy/photos.
Photos should be outstanding.
Always use originals if you want your blog to be original
I like to see video for steps and photos for ingredient list
Lifestyle blogging that includes food/travel/storytelling/food news/and fun tidbits
If a food blogger is consistent in their posts and provides some expectations for readership, they don't 'need' other forms of marketing/social networking...but if you don't have a lot of time to be scheduled...use social media.
Viewer involvement is important if you want an audience. If you are writing a food blog for yourself and people who already know you, then it's your call on readership.
Unless your blog is overwhelmingly niche--"How to Cook in a Wind-Powered House" or something--photo quality makes a difference. I hate to be shallow that way but photo quality is just about the only indication a reader has as to whether the writer is "dressed for work" so to speak.
Without one solid picture on the page it's hard to draw in a new reader, I'd argue. On the other hand, a rock-wall of photos to scroll down is a turnoff for me. Simply Recipes hits a nice medium for my taste with small clear photos; Pioneer Woman uses huge photos that turn into a huge scrollfest, and heaven help the mobile user.
With that in mind: I like printable recipes (or better, easy to Pepperplate) but I'm on a desktop; I don't know how it all works but having a mobile version of your site is probably more useful to a lot of users these days.
The food blogs I do read are in my RSS feed, though I do follow a few on Twitter. Also, none are blogs I read regularly. If a topic or recipe catches my interest I'll check it out, otherwise I'll clean out the list and move on.
I doubt reader involvement is nearly as important to readers as it is to blog owners, what with pageviews and advertising dollars. Unless I need a question answered, though, the writer has done their job by the time I get there.
I'm not a fan of rock wall photos either and yet Pinterest is incredibly popular right now. I believe websites like PW's and others have recently changed their own layouts to a rock wall like format as a result of the Pinterest popularity. Your thoughts?
I was standing in a fabric store check out line the other day and a woman started chatting with me about Pinterest and how inspiring the photos are...
Oh gosh, Hill, I should have been more clear. Yes, Pinterest form is ok. What I was referring to was the actual recipes. Her potato soup recipe, for instance, uses six (6) photos just to show how to dice and fry bacon.
Pinterest does resemble a rock wall more than the recipe does, though, so I'll have to take the blame for a bad metaphor.
Not at all, I'm just interested. I've been working in food photography for a few years and just started getting some real interesting assignments the last 2.5 years. There's so much information out there to keep current on. I wasn't sure, so I through 'it' out there so to speak to read your thoughts.
I find Pinterest overwhelming but it sure has caught on.
The more vs. less photography is a real tightrope.
There are an awful lot of cookbooks out there--too many, I'd say, but there have always been too many.
You could skip recipes and put together a book of just food photography, taking photos of dishes from different restaurants but no recipes. A tour de cuisine. If Pinterest is any indication, people would buy it.
I may be in the minority, but as a fledgling blogger here are my humble opinions:
Copy over photos. I'm not into food porn.
Descriptive photos over beautiful ones.
No stock photos.
Yes photos of the steps, but not every single step - I can measure a teaspoon of something without consulting an illustration.
Content: I like content and stories and humor - recipes are fine, but I have little interest in reading about restaurants or travel - more about things I can actually do/experience. Printing recipes is a plus. I don't like videos.
Notification: None, thanks. I will visit the site if I like it and want to read it. I don't want to give my personal information out, or have my in-box fill up with junk. (Nothing personal in this - I have a bug up my butt about spam, and spend way too much time trying to get off mailing lists.)
Comments are good. If the blogger answers questions in the comments, that's usually nice. Q & A's are good if there is enough participation.
One major turn-off would be dubious health advice. I've found blogs I enjoy, then all of a sudden it's "Once I stopped eating (whatever), all my (medical problems) went away!".
I like pictures on a blog, but I feel that a lot of bloggers overuse them in ways that don't really make sense.
If it's a step in the process where I have to judge based on what something looks like, by all means, show me a picture -- if you say "beat until soft peaks form" then by all means, show me a picture of soft peaks. I mean, I personally know what that means but not everyone does.
But I don't need a picture of every ingredient separately (I know what eggs look like, even when separated) or every stage in a recipe where nothing I'm doing is based on what it looks like. If you tell me to beat something on high for 2 minutes, I don't need a picture of the result unless you also tell me about some visual cue I should be looking at.
A couple of good shots of the finished product is also nice, but I don't need 10 beauty shots.
For me, there's no formula. Some posts need more images, others need more words. Some days, all you need is one good pic, and one good sentence.
As far as content, I'll read it if it's generally relatable. So even if it's not about a restaurant in my area, if I can relate to the dining experience of the blogger, it's all good.
In the end, I tend to enjoy blogs that seem a natural and authentic extension of the author, and not so much the ones that appear to be focused on a formulaic approach to increasing readership.
Good luck with your blog revamp, chicgail. :)