What does it take to have a successful food blog?
Food blogger Bonnie Huang of Scrumptiously Fit Food. Photo by Ingrid Kuenzel
You know those people who take out their phones at every meal to snap photos of their food? Well “those people” (or some of them, anyway) are changing the way that we look at, and even choose our food.
Before the creation of food blogs most of us turned to our friends for restaurant recommendations, and our grandmothers for tried and true recipes for a delicious dinner. Now, however, many of us trust the opinions of food bloggers like we trust our best friends. We rely heavily on these food-focused websites to shape our edible decisions. With social media like Twitter and Instagram making it easy to share photos as well as reviews of dishes and recipes, an increasing number of Canadians are sharing their cooking experiences with a snap of a shutter, a click of a button and 140 characters.
Despite the blogosphere growth spurt that has taken place over the past few years, Bonnie Huang, one of Calgary’s top bloggers and founder of Scrumptiously Fit Food, explains that food blogging is simply her way of sharing her perspective on things that she is passionate about: fitness and food.
“When I started writing, I never had a goal of being ‘popular.’ Blogging was simply my way of sharing my thoughts and ideas, and a way to catalogue some of myrecipes,” explains Huang. “I wanted to help people understand what is healthy and what is not.”
Similarly, Fareen Jadavji Jessa of Food Mamma, who calls her love for blogging a “creative outlet,” finds that food blogs are great when you need a little inspiration. “Sometimes it’s so easy to make the same thing over and over again, and food blogs are great for inspiration; not necessarily with the food itself, but with experiences too.” she says.
Those “experiences,” which are the backbone of every successful blog post, allow us as readers to connect with the writer. Sharing thoughts and information with readers is undoubtedly a huge component to blogging, but part of the intrigue and rising credibility of food blogs is that we get to know the person behind the reviews and begin to connect with the blogger. “Food bloggers have to be willing to reach out to you through their website or through social media,” Jadavji Jessa points out. “Interacting with readers is key, and photos are also very important.”
While this interaction, as Jadavji Jessa explains, is key, writing and culinary reviews themselves are often very subjective and force us to understand things in a similar way to how the writer experiences it. With photos, however, readers are encouraged to judge things for themselves and truly determine if the dish is as visually appealing as the writer may have made it out to be. Additionally, we are not forced to predict how a recipe will turn out or guess what someone’s 5-layer chocolate cake may have looked like when we are presented with photos—we have it right in front of our eyes.
While we may care about the food that bloggers eat and how lovely their chocolate cake may have turned out, without an invitation into the food bloggers’ world and without photos to accompany a blog post, reading a food review is, well, rather unexciting.
Though food blogging can be overlooked and undervalued, the impact that food bloggers have on food establishments is undeniable. With increasing numbers of Canadians referencing online food reviews before dining out, this form of online media undoubtedly influences where people want to eat and where they definitely do not.
Whether or not one bad review can actually make or break a business, Huang explains that it’s important for readers to take negative restaurant reviews with a grain of salt. “A bad review can [potentially] be detrimental to a food establishment and it’s important to remember that everyone has their own perspective. People will say to me, ‘You are so nice and only write nice reviews!’ but I try to be constructive instead of destructive. Maybe the restaurant was just having an off day.”
On Huang’s encouraging note, the powerful influence that food bloggers have on businesses throughout the city also means that positive and consistent reviews allow good businesses to flourish. Every positive review means that we are able to gain insight into a dish we may order or a recipe we may try for ourselves. Does this mean we are becoming less adventurous? Well, not exactly. With Calgary now a culinary frontrunner in Canada, some extra encouragement and insight into the overwhelming number of food establishments, means that we are simply making informed food decisions.
4 ways to a great food blog
1) Reach out to readers and interact through social media
2) Take great food photos
3) Share your experiences with food (people love a good story!)
4) Be constructive and not destructive