This is the second post in a two-part series on effective food blog reading. Check out the first post, Five Habits of Highly Effective Food Blog Readers.
by Sarah Morrow
These tips cannot only help you pick and choose what sites to follow, but if you’re considering starting a site of your own, they can also provide a framework for your own work.
How frequently is the site updated? If a site is updated multiple times in a day, keeping up with it can be daunting. If it is updated infrequently, it can be difficult to maintain a core audience, let alone attract newcomers. It is important to find a balanced medium between these two extremes. How many articles are you comfortable reading in a sitting? How many articles do you think your readers want to read at a time?
What information is being presented and how? Is this information original or not? If there is another source, has s/he been cited? How clearly and grammatically well-written are the articles? Is the author’s voice engaging? Do anecdotes relate to the rest of the post, or are they filler content? What is actually written in a blog post is just as important as if a blog post is written.
This may sound a little strange, but the layout and design of a site can not only attract or dissuade repeat visitors, but it can also actually clue readers into a site’s credibility and usefulness and the author’s dedication. While it’s true that not every poorly designed blog is useless or every sleek site is trustworthy, the care food bloggers put into their site often reflects the time and care they put into their other work. Pictures can also persuade or dissuade readership. While not all food is pretty, having a clear, well-lit photo can still encourage your readers to try your recipe for an Asian-spice infused gumbo or to check out the new sub shop on the corner.
Who else is reading these sites? You can keep track of this by browsing through reader comments. For your own site, moderating is key. Responding to your audience can encourage return readership. Likewise, how a food blogger responds to his/her own audience can help you decide is s/he is someone you want to read or interact with. Having a dedicated core audience can be more valuable than encouraging high traffic. If readers are staying to comment and the author is interacting with them, it’s usually a clear sign that the content being presented is encouraging discussion.
Purpose and Intent
What is the point of the site —and does it live up to that intention? If you’re writing a food blog, know why you’re making and sharing the recipes chosen, and understand what makes your work unique. With the ever-growing number of food blogs out there, it’s easy to be part of the crowd. If you know why your work is different and important, you can use that same reasoning to pick other engaging food bloggers to follow.
If you’re just getting into the online food community, whether writing or reading, here are my starting site picks. These sites are wonderful examples of authors who provide strong, timely, relevant content.
- 101 Cookbooks
- Angry Asian Creations
- Biscuits & Such
- Coconut & Lime
- Joy the Baker
- Smitten Kitchen
- Tasty Trix
Food News and Recipe Hubs
Sarah Morrow is a BU Gastronomy student and the head writer at inthecactusgarden.com.