Food Blogging 101 – How to Start a Food Blog

by Irvin on November 14, 2011 · 380 comments

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Food Blogging 101 - How to Start a Food Blog

Even though my blog has only been around for less than two years (I started March 2010) people seem to think I know what I’m doing here. Because of this, I keep on getting asked the same questions by numerous people. How do I start a food blog? Do you have any advice for me as a new blogger? What do I need to do to have a successful food blog? After attending two back-to-back food blogging conference (Foodbuzz Fest here in San Francisco and International Food Blogging Conference in Santa Monica) I figure it was time I wrote up something about the basics of food blogging – or least what I have been able to figure out so far. Consider this a food blogging conference Cliff’s Notes version – significantly cheaper than going to the conference, without the exhaustion of staying up late and drinking with other food bloggers that shall remain nameless.

The holy trinity of food blogging is gorgeous food photography, wonderful writing and rock solid recipes (clearly this only applies to recipe based food blogs, not restaurant review food blogs – they only have to worry about the first two). If you can nail these three things, you’ve about 95% there. How do you achieve them?

Gorgeous food photography: You don’t need an expensive camera but you do need to know what you are doing (Martha Stewart Everyday Food has even used some iPhone pictures in their publication). There are a number of excellent resources & tutorials out there, but in a nutshell, don’t use the built-in front flash on your camera to photograph your food and style your food so it looks appetizing.

Bad Food Photography example - front flash

Wow, that built-in camera front flash made even chocolate look unappealing.

If you are at a total loss, a beginning jumping off point is to check out the numerous “food porn” sites like foodgawker, tastespotting, serious eats’ photograzing or tasteologie. Just pick an image you love and try to figure out how to reproduce it (not just with the props and the styling of the food, but also with the lighting, shadows and how it’s composed). Pay attention to that light, and how it hits your food and what direction the shadow is falling. Is the shadow harsh or soft, is the light diffuse or the light hard and there are highlights on the food? The more you start to notice how the light works, the better you will be at controlling it and controlling the outcome of your photograph.

Now I’m not one to encourage blatant copying (and keep in mind that those sites have a very specific “look” to them – which means they often look the same), but the exercise of trying to reproduce a picture that you have fallen in love will teach you a HUGE amount about photography and about light. A lot of pro photographers will tell you that you aren’t necessarily shooting a subject, you’re photographing light and how that light hits the subject. Once you understand that, you’re halfway there.

Also keep in mind that the more you shoot, the better you get at it. The better you get at it, the better you will be able to find your own visual voice by discover what you like and don’t like. The most important thing though is to keep on shooting.

Wonderful writing: Just as I mentioned visual voice, creating your own voice in your writing is even more important. Numerous books have been written about this (including the specific-for-food writers book Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob) but the best advice anyone can give a writer is to just write. Do it often and do it a lot. The more you write, the more you’ll establish your own voice. It sounds simplistic, but writing is a craft and like everything else, you get better at it the more you do it.

cookbooks

Sometimes you got to step away from your food books.

In addition to writing a lot, read a lot – and not just food writing. Don’t get me wrong, all the cookbooks you own are fantastic to read, the Best Food Writing series is a great compendium of food related pieces, Molly Wizenberg makes me feel like she’s the best friend who lives the life I wish I lived and M.F.K. Fisher deserves the praise that W. H. Auden once said about her: “I do not know anyone in the United States who write better prose.” but reading books outside the food world and especially outside the food blogosphere will give you a completely different perspective.

I used to read a lot, way more than I do now (when did reading a book become a luxury in my life?) and every time I read something by Sarah Vowell or Haruki Murakami I am transported by the stories they tell. It’s what I strive to do with my own writing and this blog, to bring my readers, even for a short time, to a place where they can taste, feel, and experience the food I’ve made and why I’ve made it, all in their mind. Hopefully this mental journey will inspire them to actually take the time to make the recipe that I created. As a food blogger I try to build a trust with my readers, after all I’m asking them for their time – to read my blog, to make my recipe, to eat what essentially is my food – and that’s asking a lot. Time is precious. I can only hope it’s worth it for them. Find a writer or author that you love, that can transports you and study why and how they do it. Your writing will grow in leaps and bounds.

Rock solid recipes: The first time a reader commented that they made my recipe I was startled. What? People are reading my blog? More importantly, they are actually MAKING my food? Turns out they were. Then I got nervous. Writing recipes is an art form and most people don’t know that.

A wonderfully written recipe can tell a story just as much as the blog post itself. Don’t believe me? Bounce on over to Dorie Greenspan’s site and read any of her recipes. You’ll instantly be teleported next to her from the beginning, where she describes squeezing the cookies for an apple crumble into her hands, trying not to crush them too much but failing at that task, all the way to the end where she spoons the leftovers of the apple crumble out of the pan directly from the fridge in her mouth.

There are, of course, some basic rules about recipe writing. Always list the ingredients in the order they are used in the recipe, write out the words tablespoons and teaspoons (instead of tbsp and tsp) so as to avoid confusion for the reader, and be as precise as possible (is it light brown sugar or dark brown sugar you need for the recipe?). Both Justin Schwartz of Just Cook NYC (a senior cookbook editor at Wiley) and Dianne Jacob (editor and writing coach) have excellent posts on how to write a recipe like a pro.

Finally, test the recipe if you can. Most bloggers don’t have time for this, but the difference between some of the top tier food bloggers and everyone else is that their recipes work. They don’t just post a recipe that they’ve made once, they often make it twice or three times before they finally settle on the exact ingredient list and methodology for it. I know I’ve tested some of my recipe four times before finally pushing them up to this blog. Why the obsessive compulsiveness? It all goes back to the trust your trying to build with your readers. If a reader makes one of your recipes, and it fails, why would they come back to your blog? It’s a leap of faith in the first place for your readers to try a new recipe by a new blog that they have never visited before. Don’t let that leap of faith fail, because you’ll never get that reader back.

gluten free pancakes

You'd think pancakes would be easy, but it took me three tries to nail these gluten free pancakes.

The other 5% of food blogging: That’s what all those other session topics you see at food blogging conferences are about. SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media/Networking, branding and platform developing, working with brands and PR companies, monetization of your blog, etc. They are all great topics, but they aren’t things beginning bloggers should worry about.

Here’s the thing that I probably should have said in the very start of this post and the ONE THING that I want every beginning food blogger to know. Don’t be afraid of starting your blog – just do it. All that stuff I wrote above about the holy trinity of food blogging, that sounds all daunting and scary? Just ignore it.

Why? Because no one will read your blog in the beginning.

This sounds sad but it’s not and here’s why. When you start a blog no one will know about it (other than your friends and family that you told about it). Your friends and family will love it, they’ll be supportive, they’ll write comments like “I love your blog!” “Go you!” “That looks so yummy!” and you’ll be thrilled that someone left at least one comment (even if it’s your mom or best friend).

You’ll learn as you go. The beginning of a blog is a time to experiment, take bad photos on a tilt, make mistakes and just write about whatever the heck you want to write about. It’s a time for you to discover what your voice is (both through photos and through writing) and it’s a chance figure out what sort of things you want to make and blog about. You’ll grow during that time, you’ll go through that ugly adolescent stage before blossoming, and eventually you’ll find your path. Trust me, we ALL went through that ugly stage – just browse some of my earlier posts. It’s not pretty (could I use anymore exclamation points?).

What you DO NOT want to happen to your blog is Child Actor Syndrome. You don’t want your blog to become the Diff’rent Strokes of food blogs. You all know what I mean. Your blog becomes a success, you land a book deal, it gets turned into a movie, you write a second book that gets panned by the critics and flops and then…um what happened to that person? Huh. No one seems to know, not even google. I’m not meaning to pick on that one particular person (I highly doubt she’ll see this post but if she does, I really hope she leaves a comment and tells me what’s going on in her life, I’m really curious) – I’m just trying to illustrate that when someone gets thrust into the spotlight prematurely it can have consequences.

C13387-9

Photo by Shavar Ross, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Creative Common (some rights reserved)

I’m as guilty of wanting “blogger success” as everyone. I distinctly remember sending a twitter direct message to a new blogger friend of mine, after only blogging for six months, and complaining that I didn’t have any readers. He politely DMed me back and said “Don’t worry, you’ll get them…” and then promptly unfollowed my whiny ass. I don’t blame him (I’ve since publicly shamed him into following me again) but I’ve learned my lesson.

In fact, I will go one step further than he did and tell you this. You never “get readers” – you “earn readers” and there’s a difference. Getting readers is like getting a good grade in school, it doesn’t happen. Most people blame the teacher when they fail, but those who actually work hard and study their asses off, they understand that a grade is never given, it’s earned.

Which leads me to my final piece of advice for beginning food bloggers. Please, don’t beg other food bloggers to read your blog – and don’t steal other people’s recipes. I think that last part goes without saying but still it has to be said. Imagine going to a party where you only know the host and a complete stranger comes up to you and says “Hi there. Please go and read my book that I just wrote. It’s on the internet and it’s free. I called the novel Memoirs of a Geisha.” If you’re like me, you’ll probably take a step backwards and hope the crazy person just walks away (of course, if you’re like me, that crazy person will latch onto you and try to talk to you for the rest of the night – oh the stories I could tell about being a crazy person magnet).

I’m TOTALLY guilty of doing this as well (the first part, not the stealing – please, I have SOME morals). I remember launching my blog and immediately emailing a few of the big blogs I followed, hoping to get my name out there (hey, maybe they’ll add me to their blogroll?!?). The best-case scenario, they ignored my email (hopefully they have forgotten by now), and the worse case, they put me on their spam filter and I just burned a bridge that I could have created down the road.

People are busy. The bigger your blog is, the busier that blogger is going to be. You may have a fantastic amazing incredible blog, but if you out-of-the-blue email me, tweet me or facebook me something like “Hey look at my awesome blog: www.sexybakerbunny.com” I’m either going to ignore you, block you or (if you catch me in a bad mood) report you as spam. Because that’s what it is, unwanted spam.

Instead, like you would at a party, engage that blogger in a conversation. Read their blog, and leave a comment that is well thought out and adds to the conversation. I’m not talking “That angel food cake looks so yummy!” sort of comment. Instead, I’m talking about “Wow, I love that you made your angel food cake in a square pan instead of a traditional round pan. My grandma used to use square angel food cake pans and I’ve never seen anyone else do that. It totally makes me nostalgic for her angel food cake, though she always served it was raspberries and told me her secret ingredients was a touch of grand marnier in the batter. Also a little cream of tartar to stabilize the egg whites. Now I’m getting all verklempt thinking about grandma. Thank you for the trip down memory lane.”

Now your comment doesn’t have to be as ridiculous as mine (I’ll be honest, I just wanted to use the word “verklempt” in a post – so there you go). But you get what I’m trying to say. Write something that shows who you are, and that shows how connected you are with the blog you are reading. Once you’ve engaged with the blog, you’ll have a much better chance of having that blogger click through to see who you are, and what your blog is all about. Importantly, if the comment section has a space for your website, that’s where you need to put it, not in the body of the comment itself. That’s liable to make you look like spam.

This, of course, works across the board on Facebook, Twitter and all the other social media. Engage in a conversation, talk with the person – as if they were a person – and you’ll have a much high success rate in getting them to visit your blog. Once they go to your blog, your gorgeous photography, wonderful writing and rock solid recipes will charm them. Right?

In the end, realize this: starting a food blog isn’t hard. In fact, there are numerous places like wordpress.com and blogger.com that allow you start a food blog in less than 10 minutes, absolutely for free. Sure you can go the self hosted route and get a wordpress.org site (always recommended) but I’m of the opinion that anything that gets you up and running is a good thing. Just go in and do it. That’s the best advice anyone can give you.

For more resources about food blogging visit Food Blog Alliance and Food Blog Forum both of which have some pretty invaluable posts and articles about food blogging. For resources and inspiration about food photography, peruse White on Rice, Tartelette (Helen Dujardin by the way wrote the excellent book Plate to Pixel – a must for any food photographer), Matt Bites, Penny De Los Santos and Wright Food (who has some fantastic “how to” posts), as well as the articles that professional food photographer Andrew Scrivani has written for the New York Times.

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Connect with Irvin via Social Media

You can connect with Irvin on a more direct level via his twitter page, his facebook fan page or his page. Just be forewarned that he tweets a heck of a lot.

{ 380 comments… read them below or add one }

Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite November 14, 2011 at 5:31 am

Some solid advice here Irvin. Bookmarking this and wishing I had read this in May 2009.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 9:34 am

Oh Mardi. I wrote the post that I wished someone could have written for me when I first started blogging too. Thank you!

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Chaimae July 18, 2014 at 12:55 am

And you did it very well !
I already made some of the mistakes you talked about (and now I’m ashamed xD). Why did’nt I read this post before ?

Thanks for sharing, you probably saved my day =)

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Aimee @ Simple Bites November 14, 2011 at 5:50 am

You nailed this one, Irvin. I’m bookmarking this to refer to those who may occasionally pester me with questions on blogging.

Great post!

PS. I started Simple Bites in Feb 2010, so our blogs are similar in age. Who knew?

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 9:37 am

Really? I had no idea. In my head you had been blogging WAY longer than I have. Thanks for the future referrals!

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Gail November 14, 2011 at 5:53 am

Wonderful tips, Irvin, that aren’t sugar-coated, despite your love for desserts.
I’ve neglected my blog for a bit, but you’re inspiring me to finish a post this week that’s been hanging in mid-internets for way too long.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 9:42 am

Yay for inspiration! It’s funny, I was feeling REALLY burnt out on blogging – and specifically about talking about food blogging on Saturday of the conference, but something on Sunday really re-invigorated me.

I’m avoiding doing a recap of the conferences, so this is sort of my way of doing on the sly. Can’t wait to read your new post!

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Amy November 14, 2011 at 5:55 am

Verklempt. I just had to type it out too. It always takes me back to those SNL skits, was it Coffee Talk?

I digress…thanks for sound and solid information. It would have been nice to have known all of that before I began blogging. The next time I get one of those inquiries I’m going to send them to this post. ; )

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 9:48 am

Definitely from Coffee Talk, but I actually learned the word “verklempt” from my high school art teacher that would use Yiddish throughout the class. Mrs. Lauren Davis for Parkway Central High in St. Louis Missouri, if you are reading this, know you have influenced me in more ways than you know…

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Carol Sacks November 14, 2011 at 5:55 am

What a terrific post; so full of great advice and encouragement. I attended the IFBC conference this weekend (after blogging for one month!) and found it inspiring to hear about everyone’s experiences, and enjoyed the camaraderie of the group. Thank you for distilling the takeaways into this post.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 9:58 am

Carol did we meet? These blogging conferences can be so overwhelming some times, where you simultaneously want to meet everyone and also just talk to your friends that you haven’t seen in forever but they can be inspirational too. The first food conference had me realizing that there were other people out there that were just as passionate about the same things I was. Such an eye opening experience.

I’m glad you had a good time there! Perhaps our paths will cross again sometime in the future…

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Meki November 14, 2011 at 6:04 am

Thank you for this! :) I just started my blog this year and I’ve read a couple of food blog and real talk blog tips. Thanks again~

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 10:15 am

Glad to be of help!

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justcooknyc November 14, 2011 at 6:12 am

very cool post, Irvin — i’ll definitely point people here when they ask me for advice on how to get started.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 10:18 am

Thanks Justin! I think you and Dianne Jacob have some of the best advice out there for food bloggers trying to take it to the next level so that’s high praise indeed.

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Patricia November 14, 2011 at 6:23 am

Great post, wish I could have make it out to the conference, but thanks for summing this up.
Will need to try for next year.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 10:20 am

I believe the next BlogHer Food is in Seattle, and the next IFBC is in Portland, so they’ll be in the Pacific Northwest. Hope to see you at one of them!

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Stella November 14, 2011 at 6:35 am

Oh, that’s the worst. When people tweet or email you, “check out my new blog!” It’s just so joltingly out of the blue. Instead of introducing themselves or trying to build any kind of connection or relationship, it’s just “Look at me! Look at me!” and oh so the wrong way to do it.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 10:11 am

I don’t think people know how startling it is when they do that! I love discovering new blogs, but I want it to happen organically. Call me old fashioned, but I want to go on a few dates first before jumping into bed. Yeah, I know, I’m an anomaly in the gay men’s world…

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Michael Procopio November 14, 2011 at 7:08 am

That’s not why I un-followed you, silly. And I re-followed you because I happen to like you.

I’m happy to discuss it with you privately. When we talk, I’ll tell you my opinion of that “big blog” you linked to as well. I’ve got stories.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 10:13 am

Ha! I was actually just giving you a hard time Michael. ;)

And yes, we have to get together for drinks sometime. It’s been too long… you keep on teasing me about all the food blogger dirt you know. You have the best stories.

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Steph November 14, 2011 at 8:20 am

Hi! I, like, totally just started my blog, and could you please please please link to it in this post? I mean, like, I take pictures of mini cupcakes that are tilted, so I must be awesome, like, right? :-D

(In all seriousness, this was an absolutely wonderful read and one of the best condensations I’ve seen of all the blogging advice out there in one post!)

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 10:23 am

LOL! Did you like how I slyly snuck in your tilted photo? You’re welcome. ;)

And thank you. I tried to condense it all down into as compact a post as possible for completely new blogger beginners, but I think it’s still too long. Oh well.

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Steph November 14, 2011 at 10:28 am

Yeah, I was sort of hoping people would *forget* about that old post–thanks for linking it out to the whole wide web! :-P

As I said before, I think you did a great job condensing it, and the post definitely didn’t read as long at all! so I don’t think you have anything to worry about.

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Mariel Balderas November 14, 2011 at 9:20 am

Hi Irvin
This is a great post with a lot of really great tips. One thing I could add to it though, as OriginalCinn has been around for about two years and is still just meandering through the blogosphere is that you should blog because you love it. No matter who reads it and no matter how many comments your Mom has left because she seems to be the only one who does…just keep writing, and cooking and taking pictures because you love to.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 10:30 am

So true! I meant to put that in there, but it slipped my mind when I was finishing up this post but that is SUCH an important point.

People should write their blogs because they love it! I can count on one hand the people that have become rich off of their blogs (actually, honestly, maybe one finger). Blogging should be about passion and love, not because of traffic or comments. Absolutely and thank you for bring that up.

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Winnie November 14, 2011 at 9:25 am

Such a terrific post Irvin! I am taking a break from blogging conferences for the time being so I like hearing your fresh perspective having just been to 2. There’s a lot of helpful info in here. I particularly love the cautions about begging other bloggers to read your blog. On the same note, I get extremely aggravated when people tweet me with demands in all caps to read and retweet their posts, giveaways, whatever. Not really a good strategy for getting my attention, but it’s a sure-fire way to get unfollowed.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 10:37 am

I hear you on the blogging conferences. I’m a little burnt out on them myself and am contemplating a break from them.

As for the giveaway tweets, I rarely do giveaways and for that very reason I try not make it a stipulation that you HAVE to tweet and retweet my post. But I know it’s fairly standard for people to do that. People just need to understand that if you do it too often, there will be consequences. It’s too easy to just hit that “unfollow” button.

I’m actually planning on writing a post about social networking – twitter, facebook, google+ and the rest. It’ll be a recap of the presentation Stella of Brave Tart and I gave at the Foodbuzz Fest. I’ll be sure to bring that point up!

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Belinda @zomppa November 14, 2011 at 9:59 am

Great tips here!! Thanks for sharing the knowledge – sure folks have much to learn from you.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 10:37 am

LOL. Who know that I would have such knowledge to impart after only a year and half of blogging?

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Sarah B.V. November 14, 2011 at 10:21 am

I wish your posts had a like button, but they don’t! So simply, check, I like it!

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 10:43 am

Thank you! I have a facebook button on the bottom of my posts, but I guess that’s a little different than a like button eh? I should fix that. Either way I appreciate the like!

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nicole {sweet peony} November 14, 2011 at 10:25 am

wow these are really great tips! as a novice blogger, i’m so thankful that you took the time to write this. i’ve got much to learn & aspire to. i’m also appreciate of the motivation regarding readership. thanks again :)

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 10:44 am

Glad this post was helpful! Truth be told, I still feel like a novice blogger, stumbling through it all and trying to figure it out. It’s a never ending, but that’s what makes it so exciting and fun.

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Erica November 14, 2011 at 10:29 am

Great advice, and there are definitely some tips that I am walking away with as I try to get my blog to be more than that thing that I sometimes post to and no one reads (your friends were clearly much more supportive of your blogging than mine are, I don’t even get the pity comments ;-P)
One thing I have been doing long enough to actually comment on is photography. I started screwing around with it long before I had a blog, and it makes me a snob. While front flash may be the number one contributor to bad food photography, the one that I see nearly as often is bad white balance. The yellowish tinge to pictures that are born in mixed light or low light situations where the camera is guessing and guessing wrong make for some pretty sickly looking food.
Fortunately, cooking during the day and taking pictures in natural lighting often fixes white balance issues as well. Still, I think it’s a bugbear worth looking out for.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 11:03 am

White balance is HUGE. Absolutely agree. Yellow food is SO not appealing.

I could write a whole post on food photography alone, but in truth, I’m not the best person to talk about it. I’m a sloppy photographer that comes from a graphic design background, which means I often times shoot fast and fix things in post-production (on the computer, not on the camera). I didn’t use to be that way and I’m trying to retrain myself, but that’s where I am right now.

Perhaps one of these days I’ll write a post about food photography. In the meanwhile thank you for pointing that out. I’ve added a few resources up in the post about food photography.

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Erica November 14, 2011 at 12:55 pm

One thing I am curious about is your process of testing and retesting recipes. For the most part, I am still blogging recipes that I have made in the past and are favorites for a reason, but I also like to try new things. Sometimes the second or third time making something is where you really figure it out, but I also don’t necessarily need 2-3 cakes, or 9 dozen cookies and so on. How do you deal with the volume of food produced by testing recipes? Do you halve them, or spread out the testing? Or do you just doorbell ditch the extra cookies?

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Mari November 14, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Speaking for me, I’ve been cooking food from scratch since forever. Seriously. Sometimes I feel weird admitting that but then the feeling goes away.
When I started the blog I did it because I had been buying ready made shrimp scampi because the kids loved it.
I looked up the sodium content and stopped buying it.
But the kids demanded their Shrimp Scampi so I looked around on the internet and pulled a few recipes.
Then I subjected my family to the first dish I made up and they ate it.
I made it again a week later for a few friends we had for dinner and they loved it too.

So in short, if I have a new recipe planned I’ll make it over the course of a few weeks and then put it on the blog.
Most of my recipes are foods I’ve cooked over the years and know how they taste and what they take so it’s just a matter of measuring, cooking and putting it on the blog.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 4:40 pm

That’s the best way to do it, by writing about what you know. And I’ll say this, blogging about it has made me a better cook/baker. Now I am forced to take notes and not “improves on the fly” with my food. My partner used to always joke that I never made the same dish twice because I just free-styled it every single time. He’d tell me “I love this! What did you do different?” and I would look at him blankly. Now I know!

Irvin November 14, 2011 at 4:38 pm

My partner works at a community college and hence has access to both his colleagues and his students who he passes on most of my baked goods to. That said, I will cut or quarter a lot of my recipes to see how they taste before I make a full batch.

Cookie batter is easy to make small batches of. That said, often times I am limited on how small a batch I can make by the number of eggs I am using. Halving an egg, even by weight, is a pain for me, so I just go down one full egg and ratio out the rest of the ingredients.

Cakes are harder, but I sometimes make test cupcakes to see if the crumb and flavor comes out like I want it to, especially if I am experimenting and baking gluten free. But I don’t do this as often as I should.

The other thing I do is take pretty much ANY social event I have as a chance to make something for my blog. If I’m going to a party, getting together with friends with coffee, going dinner with out-of-towners, going to a picnic or camping trip, I often bake for my blog, knowing I can pass the baked goods off to those friends (and maybe get some feedback about my goods as well). It’s a win-win situation for everyone!

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Nicola @41feasts November 14, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Thank you for re-inspiring me Irvin, I’ve been a little down on my blog recently. You’ve reminded me why I blog – its because I love it! Good photographs are my greatest challenge, especially this time of year when I’m at work during daylight hours. This winter I will mostly be practicing white balance…

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Oh man shooting in the wintertime – with daylight savings sucks! But there are definite ways to get around it. Bounce over to Sara’s webpage A Beach Home Companion, where she gave a lovely session with Alice of Savory Sweet Life at the BlogHer Food conference down in Atlanta this past May.

She did a three part recap of their session on simple and affordable tools and techniques for food photography. In part two, she showed one of her best tricks by going to a pet supply store and buying a Coralife Trichromatic fish tank light. They run about $15 and are color balanced to simulate daylight. I have yet to get one, but they look magical!

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Nicola @41feasts November 15, 2011 at 6:31 am

Wow! $15? That’s well within my budget. Thanks for that great tip and the links to Sara’s posts which are new to me. So much to absorb!

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Sheila November 14, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Gracias!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, Thanks for all the advise. I followed your twits this past weekend, they were super interested. I am starting a blog, I have no idea of what I am doing, there are not a lot of people where I live that do this (Puerto Rico) I just feel like I have a MARTHA inside me that a I can not let it out in any other way, blogging should resolve that. I admire you in many ways, for your sincerity and now for your big help in this topic…thanks..

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Hi Sheila! So glad you found my post informative. I wish you the best. Sadly I don’t know any Puerto Rico food bloggers but with a culture so rich in food, I can only imagine it will be a matter of time before there is a thriving food blogging community down there. In the meanwhile, you can lead the way!

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Cate November 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm

I totally appreciate your honesty about the mistakes you made when your blog was in its infancy… I was totally clueless when I started mine! I still feel like I really don’t know what I’m doing…
I still get a little too stressed out about “that other 5%” when my writing and photography are clearly what I need to be focusing on.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 7:23 pm

I think the other 5% is important and it’s what elevates a blog from good to great or great to fantastic. But everyone needs to aim for good first. Getting to great or fantastic from average is a huge leap.

The thing is, we all are learning and there are times I dont’ feel like I know what I’m doing either! I mean, I’ve only been doing this less than two years. But when I get stressed out about it, I remember what my friend Shauna of Piece of Cake tweeted to me: “It’s food. On the internet. Just relax.”

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Aly ~ Cooking In Stilettos November 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm

I am bookmarking this post. I really enjoyed reading the #IFBC tweets during the conference from you and other attendees and pretty much have decided that I will be attending one (or more) of the conferences in 2012…

As for the photography – I have SO much to learn. Thankfully I have fabulous people like you and many other food bloggers to learn from :)

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 8:05 pm

I’ve gone ahead and added a list of photography resources at the end of the blog post, so hopefully you saw them. The conferences are great for meeting other bloggers, but keep in mind that there are often a broad range of bloggers with varying skill sets there.

Even at this past IFBC conference I had two conversations about the same session, where one person was lamenting that the information from the session was WAY too basic and that she knew everything that the presenter spoke on, while another person was lamenting that the information given was WAY too complex and over her head. You really can’t please everyone I guess.

That said you get what you put into the conferences and I definitely learned some valuable stuff.

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Amanda November 14, 2011 at 12:55 pm

I have to admit that when I read through your post the imp on my shoulder was screaming for me to leave a comment including all of the things you said not to do just to be a total wise ass. However, I have knocked the imp off of my shoulder long enough to leave this comment. So before he climbs back up and starts putting more awful ideas in my head I just wanted to tell you what a great post I thought this was. I too made some of the mistakes you made so I was glad to see I wasn’t alone ;) I had my blog site set up for two weeks before I actually posted for the first time. It was daunting, like staring at a blank canvas. I frequently will go and hunt back to the first post to see what they said. Anyway thanks for sharing.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Thanks for stopping by and yes, I actually was waiting for SOMEONE to leave me a comment like “Yummy! Go visit my website!” but thankfully no one has. ;)

And I completely understand the the fear of the blank page. I still fear it sometimes, but the more I write, the less it becomes an issue…

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Heather | Farmgirl Gourmet November 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Great post Irvin!! Amazing advice. :) I hope you’ll check out my food blog. Just kidding. Don’t unfriend me. :) lol Seriously, awesome post!!

xoxo
Heather

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Irvin November 16, 2011 at 2:00 am

Ha! I will be ignoring your blog, tweets & facebook updates from now on. ;)

Serious, thanks for stopping by Heather! I’m always thrilled when you comment on my sad lonely Facebook wall.

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Amanda November 14, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Very solid post and very generous sharing of information and resources, thanks. I think that really good writing and through editing and checking of spelling and grammar should be right up there with the best advice, though. Nothing puts me off faster than poor spelling or sloppy writing – and if I see one more person mispelling ‘divine’ as ‘devine’ I think I’ll scream.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Absolutely. I actually don’t understand most typos nowadays. Don’t most computer programs put a squiggly line under any suspicious misspellings?

The one that bugs me most is “delecious” – I mean really? You’re a food blogger and you just misspelled the most commonly used word by food bloggers?

Of course, every time I go on a spelling rant, I turn around and misspell something in my next tweet/email/post. I really need to not write at 3am.

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Allison November 14, 2011 at 1:26 pm

I know I am reiterating what many of your admiring fans have already stated, but this is great advice not just for beginners, but for those looking to get back into food blogging, like myself. We met ages ago (at the very first Food Bloggers Bake Sale organized by Anita) and I’m amazed at how far you have come since then. If only I had stuck with it as well as you had…but no regrets here. I’ve had some pretty awesome baking experiences in the past year and a half.

But my ramblings aside, I just wanted to say thanks for the advice and encouragement. :D

~Allison

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Allison, I totally remember meeting you and, of course, heard from Shauna and Anita that you were doing the whole pastry school thing which is AMAZING. I’m so jealous. It sounds like you had some fantastic baking experiences in the past year and half. I’ve occasionally stealthily followed along on your blog and can’t wait to watch where you go with it all…

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Melinda November 14, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Wonderful post! I started my blog 10 months ago and this advice is fantastic for me. My favorite is that no one is going to read your blog when you first start! So true and so funny.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 10:49 pm

That’s actually the one piece of advice I give to EVERYONE who gets all nervous about starting a blog. They get all perfectionist and try to craft these gorgeous beautiful posts…and then either not post them because they are fearful to release them to the wild, or eventually post them and then nobody reads them.

People need to realize that everyone is a work in progress. Go to any mega-blogger’s site and take a look at their earlier posts. Then imagine how much the’ve grown since then…

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Lindsay @ The Live-In Kitchen November 14, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Thank you so much for this. I’m embarrassed, shamed, and inspired all at the same time. I started my food blog about two weeks ago and you may have helped me avoid a lot of mistakes. Thank you again for such a wealth of information!

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Never be embarrassed or shamed! It’s all a learning experience. Truly.

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juliana November 14, 2011 at 2:53 pm

great post, and great tips! im not new, but it always good to remind the basic! thanks! love your blog, didnt know it!

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Irvin November 16, 2011 at 2:03 am

Thanks Juliana! I wish I knew of your blog back when I visited Buenos Aires a few years back. Though it probably wouldn’t have done me any good as I don’t speak/read Spanish. Ha!

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Jackie @ Domestic Fits November 14, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I JUST wrote in my post-survey for IFBC that there needed to be a Blogger 101 for all the junior bloggers I met. Seriously, Eat The Love: Intro To Blogging #IFBC 2012

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 10:52 pm

LOL! Thanks Jackie! We’ll see if they approach me or not about that one. Truth is, I’m still learning myself.

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Claudie November 14, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Irvin, thanks so much for this post. My favorite part about it was your advice to just start the blog. We do learn so much from just posting and writing recipes – I’ve done that a lot in the past, but not about food. And food blogging is just so different, in a way I wouldn’t have been able to understand without actually taking part in it.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 11:08 pm

True, but you’d be surprised at how much blogging advice can overlap regardless of subject matter. Things like, post consistently, proof read, break up text with images. All those things translate across the board with blogs.

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Sara November 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm

This is such wonderful information! Thank you for taking the time to establish the most important elements of a food blog. I have dabbled in it, but I think I’m confident enough now to actually suck it up and really try.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Remember to just have fun with it too! I think a lot of the stuff that I talked about in the beginning is daunting to new bloggers, but in the end, it’s all about just enjoying yourself.

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Mari November 14, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Thank you for that post.
Very helpful!

I started food blogging in September of last year mostly to get recipes I’ve made over the years into “print”.
It serves as a vehicle for some of my friends who are learning how to cook using the recipes.
It also was as an answer to a lot of people I know that complained they were too busy too cook good food.
It bugged me that in reality Quality food is easy to make, you do not have to resort to Mac and cheese out of box when you can make the same but healthier.

I research the food I make, we eat it at least 3-4 times before it makes the blog.
(so your comment about that resonated with me)

Funny, on Sept 24th I got 89 views on my blog and I just about fell off my chair!
EIGHTY NINE views!
And people have made my food and commented.

All that for a blog I knew people might never read.

Mari

ps I’ve self promoted like you stated in your article, offering people my blog address at parties. Will stop that for sure.
And pictures, I need to take them but the ravenous 14 year old boy with the hollow leg that appears at every meal sorta snarfs food up before it can be photographed.
Also Himself (the husband) gets impatient if I pose the food “just so”.
But I’ll work on it.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 4:26 pm

I remember the first time that someone I didn’t know personally commented on my blog. I was SO excited! One of the biggest lessons that I have just learned from this blog is that if you produce quality work, people will read it. It may take some time for them to find you but they will find you.

I sat in on the IFBC SEO (search engine optimization) session, and it was probably the best SEO panel I’ve sat in on. Rand Fishkin (CEO of SEOmoz) was the most down-to-earth SEO guy I’ve heard talk. The biggest take away from that session – Google is smart. Don’t bother to try to stuff your post with keywords or meta tags or crazy SEO tricks. Google is smart and will figure it out. And conversely, write like you normally will write. If you produce quality content, eventually Google will find it, and it’ll pop up on the engine.

Takeaway: Just write. Google is smart and will find you if you are worth finding.

As for the self-promotion, there’s nothing wrong with talking about your blog if it comes up naturally. But like any other topic, don’t force it. If you are obsessed with Star Trek, you don’t go to a party full of strangers and walk up to someone and start spouting Klingon. But if, somehow, the topic of television comes up, then of course, you can naturally say how much you love Star Trek. Who knows, you might find a kindred spirit and then you both can talk Klingon to each other the rest of the night.

It’s pretty easy to work your food blog into a conversation, as most everyone has an opinion about food. If you feel like it’s a natural flow, by all means introduce it into the conversation and tell them you URl. But just don’t force it.

And finally, here’s a trick of mine for photographing food for a meal you need to serve right away. Make extras and immediately portion out a separate meal and save it in the fridge. Then, when you have time, pull out the extras and photograph it. This, obviously, only works for food that looks OK after it’s been sitting in the fridge overnight, but immediately creating “leftovers” for a photoshoot is a great way to get the shot you want when you have time for it and maybe have an easy lunch the next day.

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Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen November 14, 2011 at 3:39 pm

If I could hug you I would. ♥

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Irvin November 16, 2011 at 1:53 am

You KNOW I love a good hug! Thanks. Katrina.

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susan November 14, 2011 at 3:52 pm

first of all, you are a terrific writer! secondly, so happy to have met you and shared wonderful conversation. thirdly, you need to be speaking at next years conference – valuable advice, beautiful pros, and savvy humor – all of which will keep us interested, engaged, and awake!

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Thank you Claudia! I’m a work-in-progress. I think we all are, but I appreciate the compliment. Go tell IFBC to use me as a speaker next year. Maybe they’ll put me on a panel/give me a session!

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claudia November 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Some grand tips – I will never be the blog people come to for photography and sort of accept that. I would like to mention that although I don’t tend to respond to “I’ll follow you if you follow me” – I also don’t mind “sounds yummy.” It’s not how I comment – but still – someone took the time – even a nano-second if they’re a fast typist to bother to comment. And you never know – they may be commenting while balancing a baby and a toddler. They may be deep in grad studies taking a five minute mental health break – you just never know. So I am appreciative of all – except spam!

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Oh don’t get me wrong, I totally appreciate it when people comment, even if it’s a simple “Looks delicious!” comment. How many times have I read a blog and never commented? Pretty often. The fact that they took the time to say anything at all is awesome.

That said, a simple “looks delicious” on a blog post probably won’t get me to click through to their site, and it certainly won’t get the “big” bloggers who get 100s of comments to click through either.

Creating a dialogue and adding value to the post is what will. I’ve visited sites, read the post, then read the comments below it and clicked through to someone’s site that left a great comment, just because I wanted to see who that person is. I’ve discovered great blogs that way…something I would never had done if the person had just left “Yummy!” on the comments section, as great as that is.

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claudia November 14, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Good answer! I also have found wonderful blogs through intriguing comments. It never occurs to me to comment on a “name blog” for any sort of recognition. When I do on the rare occasion comment on someone’s famous blog – it’s because of a connection that was made – and not for some hopeful payback. One of the most wonderful things some “big” bloggers do – is truly make connection human connections. I love that. I can get recipes anywhere – but the recipe story – that’s what brings me back again and again. I think I just gave myself some advice.

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Denise November 14, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Irvin, why weren’t you a speaker for this conference? It would have been a successful and motivational session! Definitely in the ‘no flaws’ feedback. You are already a “mega food blogger” for many people!

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 4:12 pm

LOL! You’re definition of “mega food blogger” is very loose then, if you are lumping me in that category, but I’m flattered! Thank you.

As for speaking, who knows? IFBC never asked me. Perhaps next year. Go pester them for me! I’d love to talk at the next one in Portland. It would be a good excuse to get up there. I love that city.

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Chopinand @ ChopinandMysaucepan November 14, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Thanks for sharing your experience Irvine. As a relatively new blogger, I think I’m suffering from “Neglected Child” syndrome when I don’t get comments LOL!!

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Oh I know that. I get distraught when I post and there aren’t any comments either. But then I remind myself that people are busy. How many times do I bounce over to a blog and read it, and not leave a comment? So many times. It happens. Some posts attract comments, and some just don’t.

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Carrie @ poet in the pantry November 14, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Thank you! While not new-new, it helps to have reminders like this. Like was mentioned above in the comments, I needed this right now. Some new energy, a new perspective, it’s all good. You have a great way of sharing your knowledge without it being condescending. I like that!

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Irvin November 16, 2011 at 2:10 am

LOL! I hope none of what I said had ANY sort of condescending tones in it. This posts was really a way of me recapping the food blogging conferences I went to, without having doing a straightforward “recap” post as I have in the past.

The reality is, I’m still relatively new at this (less than two years makes me feel like I’m still a newbie) and am learning things every time I post. I just hope that some of the stuff I wrote about in the post helps people from the mistakes I made in the past.

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Susan November 14, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Wonderful post! Thank you so much for the advice. I think it is hard for other bloggers to share what makes a food blog successful (or not). It’s like they don’t want to share their secrets to other people, but they have to realize we are reading their blogs and admire them for a reason – please share! I started blogging at the end of May and still feel like I’m finding my footing, but I know it takes time and perhaps I should put down my fiction books and pick up some of the ones you recommended above.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 11:27 pm

I don’t know if it’s really that successful food bloggers don’t want to share their secret so much as there isn’t any secrets! I don’t know how many times people ask me how to get more traffic to their site. The problems is no one knows! Heck, if I knew how to get more traffic, I’d be doing it (and despite what it may seem, I don’t get huge traffic)!

The honest truth is some people float to the top of the heap because of luck, timing, pure talent or honest hard work. Usually it’s a blend of all of those things. But nearly all the mega- bloggers that I know work EXTREMELY hard… to make it look very easy.

Don’t discount the successful bloggers who don’t want to share their secrets. Like I mentioned in my post, it’s not that they don’t want to, it’s that they either truly don’t have an answer other than “hard work” (an answer no one really wants to hear), or they don’t have time to answer. I look at how insanely busy my schedule is, and then I look at the more successful mega-bloggers, I know they must be 10 times as busy as me. No wonder they never answer their emails or get on Twitter!

I hope you check out some of the links at the end of my post though. They are truly invaluable assets to beginning bloggers. I know I read nearly all the articles and soaked up all that knowledge in the early days of Eat the Love.

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Barbara | Creative Culinary November 14, 2011 at 5:34 pm

I struggle a bit with some of the well meaning advice I see handed down about food blogging. For so many people, it started as a creative outlet because their number one interest is food and feeding people. Not writing and certainly not photography. I honestly think that the print world that has moved themselves over to the blogging world, they of cookbooks and articles in print are now trying to lend the same set of standards to this medium and I personally feel they can miss the mark.

For me, ‘write in your own voice’ seems a bit at odds with ‘do it according to the rules’ and I for one am a bit tired of the rule makers. That being said…I’ve been doing this a long time, I’ve seen this medium become it’s own cottage industry and I see some horrible practices every day; mostly in the world of non stop self promotion. Good Lord…the ‘look at me, look at me’ bloggers get wearisome! But you seem to have an audience and I hope enough experience to become a voice for others.

The one thing I have to disagree with you on though is your attitude about SEO. SEO is not the devil and no matter how smart Google might or might not be; not attending to the core basics of SEO is a mistake. I own a web company; have for almost 17 years and I get a fair amount of business from the food blogging community. If there is one thing I wish most of my clients had been doing, it would have been paying more attention to the basics of SEO. Title tags and descriptions are what Google displays in their index; wishing and hoping doesn’t do anywhere near the job of insuring those are accurate. Calling your dish ‘The cutest little old piece of mud I’ve ever eaten’ versus ‘Mississippi Mud Cake; a southern tradition that brings together chocolate cake, nuts and marshmallow’ is a must in my book…and having a 2 year old blog with all those charming and nonsensical titles is a mistake.

I think SEO has become synonymous with thinking that writing from the heart will be curtailed to meet it’s demands. Not true at all, but I do think following some basic guidelines allow for both. Getting found and having people read posts from the heart. Isn’t that the best of both worlds?

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Barbara, I absolutely agree with you. SEO is very important and I probably shouldn’t have dismissed it as much as I did in my post. However I really wanted to stress that the most important thing when beginning a blog is to just write and produce content. I still believe that.

There are already SO many obstacles for someone in just starting a food blog, I didn’t want to add one more thing. It’s one of the reasons that I mention in the end about starting a free site at wordpress.com or blogger.com. Obviously a self-hosted blog with wordpress.org is ideal, for SEO and for you own branding (along with numerous other issues that non self hosted by have). But if you are comfortable with blogger.com, than by all means just get on blogger.com. New food bloggers do not need one more obstacle from keeping them from blogging. I started my blog on blogger.com, and then outgrew in about a year. I’m happy I made the switch to self-hosted wordpress but plenty of people on blogger.com do just fine with the less SEO friendly blogspot URL.

SEO is a subject matter that I could write a whole post on, all by itself, and I am certainly not an expert. But from what I understand, the longer a blog is around, the more “reputable” it is viewed as by the search engines and the better chance it will float to the top of the searches, especially if more and more people link to your site. You won’t get that advantage when you are just starting out and you can title tag, rich snippet and add the description with meta data all you want, Google will still look at your two month old blog with no inbound links and probably dismiss it.

You, yourself stated that you are tired of the “do it according to the rules” and if someone truly feels they want to title their recipe “The Cutest Little Old Piece of Mud” then let them. If it’s really that good a recipe and has an amazing story behind it, it’ll float to the top. Don’t believe me? Google caramel popcorn recipe. 7th post that pops up from the top is Orangette’s caramel popcorn recipe. What’s the title of her post? Orangette: Forever and Ever. It doesn’t even mention popcorn in the title.

Now I realize this is an extreme example (I mean, come on, it’s Orangette) and yes it falls “below the fold” of the first page of search results. But the fact of the matter is that sometimes too much information will bog you down. If you are truly starting a blog from the beginning, I stand by my word and say don’t bother with SEO.

However, if your blog has been around for two years, you really should understand title tags, descriptions and what keywords really are for. I’d actually even argue you should be tagging your recipes with schema.org rich snippets because that seems to be wave of the future. But for a true beginning blogger – one who is just starting out? That all seems like overkill.

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Barbara | Creative Culinary November 14, 2011 at 7:14 pm

We’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one then. I don’t see attending to the basics of SEO as an obstacle but as a positive. And you are right…citing Orangette as an example is sort of like telling a sophomore QB in high school he just has to throw like Joe Montana. Apples to zebras. One is there, a given, one wants to be there, needs to know how.

I don’t just state this to be a thorn in your side; I have designed and developed almost 50 food blogs over the past couple of years and it is one lament I have heard over and over. ‘Why didn’t someone tell me this stuff a long time ago.’

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Oh no Barbara, I don’t see you as a thorn at all! I just think we have different perspectives but I also don’t think they are as wildly different as you think. Orangette might be Joe Montana but I’m looking at a new blogger as someone in second grade – not even a sophomore QB. They gotta go through awkward puberty first before they can even try out for high school junior varsity.

Have you written a post about the basics of SEO for food bloggers or know of any resources? If so, I’d love the URL to share with my readers. Since you feel so strongly about the topic, I’d be happy to edit in an additional addendum onto my post above!

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Also. I’d like to state for the record that I know absolutely NOTHING about football, so if my sports analogies are completely off, I apologize. Not to stereotype, but um, I am a gay man.

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Sara November 14, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Thank you for this post. A lot of good things to keep in mind. And sometimes the obvious bears repeating; or as voltaire supposedly said “common sense is not so common” (See, I’m practicing good attribution there! ;-)). I saw you quoted in an article that also interviewed sassy radish recently. Congrats! Sometimes I feel silly with all the time I spend with blogging, but then I think about how much it’s pushed me to learn–about cooking, photography, and creative writing (which beforehand I hadn’t done since it was a homework assignment). I try to remember that too–goes along with the “blog because you love it–forget about hits” category I think.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Absolutely. Blog because you love it. Forget about the hits. So very true.

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Rachel Jane November 14, 2011 at 5:56 pm

This post has really helped me.
I am fascinated with sprinkle Bakes and I saw a tweet from Heather that led me here!
I have just started my own blog and have been working hard on it, but traffic is minimal! I relish the fact that you said “no one will read your blog in the beginning.”, it makes me feel better!
A lot of your advice appealed to me – Just do it! And I am. I just going to make it a hobby at the moment and see where it takes me.
I am interested to see your older posts and how far you have come!
Thanks.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 11:32 pm

I adore Sprinkle Bakes. Absolutely adore her. She makes the most amazing spectacular baked goods that have me shaking my head and thinking “How the heck did she think of that?”

But go back and look at her earlier posts. They weren’t bad posts. But they weren’t the jaw dropping gorgeousness of her later work either. She’s been blogging for only three years. Imagine where she’ll be in three more years. She’s going to rule the world.

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Georgie November 14, 2011 at 6:44 pm

A really great read, full of sound advice for the beginning food blogger. I look forward to reading and learning more!

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Irvin November 16, 2011 at 2:13 am

Thanks Georgie. I’ll probably be doing a recap of the session I gave to with Stella of Brave Tart at Foodbuzz Fest on social networking but I’m not sure when I’ll get to it. Too many blog posts, too little time!

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Ilke November 14, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Very well organized article with good pointers. I am as well guilty of wanting more readers time to time and get discouraged, asking what the point is. Well the point is, why did I start this? To be famous or to have fun and share something I am passionate about? Since it was because of the latter, I keep it going. Thank you for this piece.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Good for you! If you wanted to be famous, there are WAY more easier, faster ways to do it. I can probably count on one hand the number of people who are “famous” from food blogging. And famous in a relative way. ;)

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Heidi @foodiecrush November 14, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Almost as impressive as your post are your well-thought out comments to your readrer’s comments. So comprehensive and I read each one and learned a fair share too. A fish tank light? I had no idea but I’m stoked to try and pass along.

I couldn’t agree with you more: It is hard to gain an audience, but with an authentic voice and an organic approach to blogging—doing it because you love it—they will come. Thanks for a wonderful post, I’ve been a negligent commenter but love your inspiration.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 11:36 pm

Thanks. I actually don’t do a lot of follow up commenting on my own posts, but I felt like this post in particular merited it. That said, I need to go out and get that fish tank light as well! It look awesome right?

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Beth (OMG! Yummy) November 14, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Nice post Irvin. Great to hang out with you this weekend, tweet with you, and especially to get to meet A.J.! I think we might have a future panel in the works – I gave a presentation last week to a seniors group (really!) on blogging including the basics of how-to and they loved it! I called it Why I Wish My Grandmother Had Written a Food Blog (and you should too). I was afraid they would not even be computer-literate (most 80+ years old) but nearly all used computers and just loved learning about food blogs. I had a blast.

How I wish I had read this 1.5 years ago and appreciate the effort you’ve put in today to put this together. What a great example of bloggers helping each other out in a way that will benefit the whole industry in the long run. Great stuff Irvin.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Beth, I’d love to present with you sometime! Your presentation at the senior’s group sounds awesome.

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Shanti November 14, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Great post! And I would add to it ‘rhythmic consistency’. As a graphic designer, I’m balancing my food blog with client work and my challenge is writing often. I love this post… bookmarking it into my toolbar so I read it often.

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Irvin November 14, 2011 at 11:41 pm

It’s such a challenge isn’t it? I’m a freelance graphic designer too, so I totally get what you are saying. The thing that works for me is to set up a strict editorial calendar. I have to get a post up Mondays and Thursday (though sometimes this shifts, but always twice a week). Having a hard deadline helps me out a lot. I might change it from there, but for now, that’s what helps me get a post up and out.

That said, people also need to realize that the only one putting the pressure on themselves…is themselves. If it doesn’t get up, the world will not come crashing down on them. Life goes on. Sometimes we all forget that.

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Michelle November 14, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Yeah, I know this comment violates many of the rules described above (with most of which I wholeheartedly agree). But all I know to say is: Spot on!

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Irvin November 16, 2011 at 2:15 am

Thanks Michelle.

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TheFromagette November 14, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Thank you for you honest account of your blog’s beginnings. I really enjoyed reading all the comments as well!

So here’s one for you – I’d love your opinion on this:
I am not a writer nor do I want to be, so that aspect was never part of my intention. When I am making one of Ina Garten’s recipes (for example) her short, concise blurbs about the recipe and maybe a note on something potentially problematic are just the PERFECT amount of interaction for me.

When I started my blog, that was the plan. Now I’m like, what the heck do you mean I’m supposed to be a writer?? I make great recipes, that’s it. Now I’m going to be really honest and risk being ostracized:) I nearly slip into a coma while reading certain blog posts from even some really popular bloggers. Consequently, it feels self indulgent for me to blather on about the mundane…SO, what say you? I don’t want to be a writer but I certainly want to convey that my recipes are quality and something I slapped together last minute to get dinner on the table. please advise…

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Irvin November 15, 2011 at 12:12 am

So here’s the thing. The food blogging world is a wide and vast world. Everyone has different styles and different sensibilities. I write long winded rambling posts that I’m sure make most people’s eyes glaze over. I get that. Sometimes I try to change that, but often times I just accept that I won’t reach everyone. It’s actually the reason that I made myself do my wordless recipes. I wanted to see if I could tell a story & a recipe without any words at all. It was a fun challenge and has proven to be one of my most popular posts to date.

If you write short concise to the point posts about the recipe – do it. One of the number one recipe blogs out there is Simply Recipes. One paragraph, recipe. Done. I don’t see anyone telling Elise that “she’s doing it wrong” – she’d just look at you and walk away with a sly smirk. That or she’d just smack you (you don’t want to mess with Elise).

Simply Recipes isn’t the only blog that is short and concise. There are a number of blogs out there that are on the brief end – Baking Bites, my pal Jerry over at Cooking By the Seat of My Pants, heck even TheKitchn’s recipes are pretty concise and short when you think of it.

Not everyone wants to be or wants to read Orangette or Gluten Free Girl. That’s ok. There is room enough for all of us.

That said, if you are really concerned, try an experiment. Write a bunch of blog posts that are concise and to the point. See what sort of feedback and traffic you get. Then write a longer piece, one that you feel might be “self indulgent” and see how that one fairs. You might be surprised at what people respond to. Also, keep in mind not everything has to be black and white. You could keep most of your posts concise and short but maybe once a month do a more in-depth piece if you want. Change it up.

In the end do what you’re comfortable with. After all, it’s YOUR blog not mine or anyone else’s.

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Jay Geneske @ Local Me November 14, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Thank you for writing this. I’m relatively new to the game and this has helped put things in perspective. I love that you love Sarah Vowell and Murakami. What are your favorites? I was really lucky to once work for a theatre in Chicago that hosted Sarah Vowell for a one-night only appearance in the same season they produced an adaptation of Murakami’s “after the quake.”

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Irvin November 15, 2011 at 12:24 am

I adore Sarah Vowell, but I’ll be honest, I’m behind and haven’t read her last couple of books. I am also looking forward to diving into Murakami’s 1Q84 book. I’ve been waiting FOREVER for it to be released here in the U.S.

As for other authors, I love early Paul Auster, Jonathan Franzer, and Bill Bryson. Lest you think I’m an elitist, I also enjoyed the Stieg Larsson Millenium trilogies and Harry Potter.

However, I unequivocally hated, with every fiber of my being, the first book of the Twilight series (no I did not read anymore). After reading it, I literally threw the library book across the room, turned to AJ and said in an angry voice of defeat “I will never get those hours back from my life.”

Thankfully the book was not damaged because I would have been way more pissed if I had to pay a fine at the library for it.

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Jay Geneske @ Local Me November 15, 2011 at 5:14 am

Hilarious. I had a similar experience with the Twilight. I read the first page like four times, and couldn’t understand what was going on.

Yes–about Murakami’s new book! On my list. Although I wonder if it can beat out “Kafka on the Shore.” I mean, any book with Johnny Walker as a character has my vote.

If you are looking for humor a la Sarah Vowell, I recommend giving Sloane Crosley a whirl. I actually snorted-laughed a couple of times while reading it.

Happy reading!

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Irvin November 16, 2011 at 2:16 am

I’ve been told that 1Q84 is more in the vein of his epic Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, so I can’t wait to dive in.

And I’ll keep an eye out for Sloane Crosley. Thanks for the tip!

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Christine November 14, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Although your post is long, I read it all! Yes! And learnt a lot. It also encourages me to continue with my baby blog and discover and develop my own style . Thanks for sharing all your advices.

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Irvin November 16, 2011 at 2:17 am

Of course! And yes, I have a habit of writing REALLY long posts. Something I need to really work on.

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TheFromagette November 14, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Oops, my last line should read: … and NOT something I slapped together.

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Irvin November 16, 2011 at 2:17 am

LOL. I figured as much. ;)

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Shannon November 15, 2011 at 12:32 am

Thanks! That was very helpful…I’m not a food blogger, but that last %5 is relevant to everyone. And I think you’re so right. Every time you find yourself yearning for more followers….shut it down! And get back to work =)

Anyhow, question about one thing you said: Go the self-hosted route and get a wordpress account. What do you mean? You can do both? I’m self-hosted. So what should I do with wordpress?

Thanks so much!

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Irvin November 15, 2011 at 12:39 am

With wordpress, there’s wordpress.com and wordpress.org. You can get a self-hosted plan with wordpress.org which is more complicated but gives you way more control, or you can go with wordpress.com which is more limited but is easier to set up.

If you are self-hosted, that means you probably are wordpress.org. It’s what most (but not all) of the top tier bloggers are on. It’s way more customizable, and much more SEO friendly.

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Christina @ The Hungry Australian November 15, 2011 at 4:52 am

Thank you for writing this post. I only started blogging six months ago so it’s a wonderful resource for a newbie like me.

I cringed as I realised I’ve been doing some of the very things you said not to do – I only wish I’d had your article when I started out :)

I recently attended Eat Drink Blog, the second Australian Food Bloggers Conference in Sydney, and it was a marvellous day of speakers, workshops and master classes. I learned so much, met so many amazing bloggers and felt immensely grateful to be invited. My notes from the day are here in case you’re interested in reading about how we do things down under :)http://hungryaustralian.com/2011/11/10/eat-drink-blog-11-the-australian-food-bloggers-conference-sydney/).

Thank you again for sharing your knowledge.

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Irvin November 15, 2011 at 6:28 pm

No need to cringe! I think we all did some of these things when we first started out. I basically set out to write the post that I wish I had read when I started. Hopefully it was helpful.

Thanks for sharing your link. It’s interesting to see how other people approaching blogging, especially from a different country. It seems mostly the same advice, but you captured it very succinctly!

Also, I love the picture of Noni Dyer with that hacksaw and the side of beef on your post.

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Winston November 15, 2011 at 5:46 am

Hey, thanks so much for sharing this article!! I loved every single word and am really taking your advice to heart. I’m still trying to find my ground too so this really helps a lot. And I’m sure a lot of other people out there will be just as inspired by this as I am. Thanks again. Happy blogging!

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Irvin November 16, 2011 at 2:18 am

Glad to hear it was inspiring. All I can say is keep at it!

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Susie @ Return to Sunday Supper November 15, 2011 at 7:12 am

Thank you Irvin, you just saved a lot of folks time, money and stress. I wish that I had read this a few months ago when I started my blog. I know that I’ve made some mistakes, but I’m growing and learning and your post really is going to help.

It was good to see you at IFBC! I loved following your tweets…they were the best and really showed how social media should be done.

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Irvin November 15, 2011 at 6:30 pm

LOL! I’ll be doing another post (not sure when) about social media. I did a presentation on it at the Foodbuzz Fest a week before IFBC. Keep an eye out fo rhat one. But I’m glad you liked my tweets!

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Carrie Oliver November 15, 2011 at 9:28 am

Irvin, this is a timely post for me and you make a couple of points that really hit home, especially about not obsessing at the beginning as no one is reading your blog anyways. I have zero photography skills and it probably doesn’t help that I’ve been trying to take pictures of unadorned steaks or burgers (grilled, salt only). Your suggestion to find photographs that appeal to me and endeavor to replicate them is a great one. Thanks also for the reminder that Matt posted some good how-tos a while back. In the spirit of not worrying about asking naive questions, what’s wrong with those “photos on a tilt”?

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Steph November 15, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Hi Carrie,

Irvin asked me to reply to this, since I was the one who told him to avoid food photographs “on a tilt.” As with all rules in photography, this one can of course be broken artistically, but in general, it’s best to avoid tilted horizons in photographs. Tilted photos tend to disorient and distract the viewer from the main subject–in general, we as humans are just really good at noticing when something isn’t “straight.”

As for meat photos, they can be really beautiful. For example, Graydon’s photos for Sixty Fourth at Grace come to mind: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fortysixthatgrace/5644105832/

And, as Irvin put it much more eloquently, food photography is all about practice. :)

Hope that helps!
–Stephanie

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Carrie Oliver November 16, 2011 at 6:50 am

Stephanie,

Thank you very much for the explanation and wow, that picture of the steak is gorgeous. I think I have the shot with which to practice, now!

Carrie

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Irvin November 16, 2011 at 2:26 am

I’ll add to Stephanie’s comment in that photos on a tilt give a sort of wacky circus/carnival drunken vertigo feel. If that is what you are trying to achieve (and sometimes it is) then go for it, but often times the photo just looks a off kilter for the sake of off kilter.

No one wants to look at a photo and wonder “Huh, I wonder if the photographer was drunk when he/she took that.” For instance, Stephanie apparently had eaten one too many Guinness cupcakes when she took her photos for that post… ;)

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Carrie Oliver November 16, 2011 at 6:54 am

Irvin,

That makes a lot of sense re: carnival/drunken feel, thank you. I thought the colors in Stephanie’s tilted photos were beautiful and I liked the sharpness of them, too. But I can see that it would likely be overwhelming (and odd) if all images on a blog or at an exhibit were “at a tilt.” I get dizzy just thinking about it.

Carrie

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visda November 15, 2011 at 9:49 am

Great post Irvin. I wish I would have read this many years ago.:-) but it’s never late to learn more. It seems you also like some of my favorite writers. I used to almost eat Murakami books when I was at college. I still like his style of writing.
Thanks again for sharing these thoughts.

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Irvin November 16, 2011 at 2:30 am

Goodness. I think I would get indigestion if I ate a Murakami book. My digestive system would probably prefer something less chewy – perhaps some Nick Hornby or John Irving.

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wasabi prime November 15, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Bravo! Well-said on all parts. And I think you hit the nail on the head, which is the heart of any good blog is someone really putting a part of themselves in it. It’s personal, it’s a message in a bottle out to the universe, and taking on the attitude of not caring if one person or one million people are reading, as long as the creator is having a good time, then that’s all that matters. Blogging is like therapy; it’s a way for someone to work things out and just slow down, since you learn to curate the things in your life. It’s easier to appreciate and rediscover all the things to be thankful for.

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Irvin November 16, 2011 at 2:37 am

Absolutely. I love the idea of how blogging is curating things from your life! That’s a wonderful thought.

I would hesitate in calling blogging like therapy (at least for me). I think it can be therapeutic, for sure, but if it were really therapy, I would probably recommend you not publish it for others to read. Only then can you truly be yourself as you write. The minute you introduce the idea of an audience (whether it is one person or a million people) you start to censor yourself. Or at least I do. As much as I share on this blog, there are certain things that I choose not to reveal. But perhaps that’s just me.

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Morgansmenu November 15, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Very sneaky of you to slip in a “non-recap” of the Foodbuzz conference! At the conference I was hoping for more discussion on the 95% of food blogging – learning how to develop your “voice” etc and I think you covered that well. I also enjoyed your presentation of the other 5% of food blogging – the social media. I think people need to evaluate what their goals are, why they are on the internet in the first place and how much of an online presence works for them in their lives. All of which the answers to point back to the same goal: do it because you love it! Hope to see you over the holidays and share in some holiday goodies.

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Irvin November 16, 2011 at 2:39 am

Yes well, I’ve written so many “recaps” of food blogging conferences that I figure I would do something different. That said, I will be writing a recap on the Foodbuzz Fest social networking session that I did.

And yes, hope to see you over the holidays!

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Irina G (Fit Flexitarian) November 15, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I have to say, I practically stalked your tweets through the conference and I’m SO happy to see this post. I think it’s the perfect way to do a “recap”: instead of just a random assortment of tips, you put it together in a really great, comprehensive guide for newbies and quasi-newbies (like myself).

Although I’ve been blogging on/off for a year, I’ve only now started to really focus and I find all of this super helpful. I really love what you say about the basics to achieve the “holy trinity” of food blogging. My favorite tips were the ones about stalking food porn sites, writing (and reading!) a lot and testing the recipe before you post it (*ahem* note to self). Should I ever have someone asking me how I learned what I’m doing, I’ll be sure to send them here. :-)

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Irvin November 16, 2011 at 2:41 am

Yay! I’m so glad that you liked my tweets. I was fearful that they were too much, but people seem to like them (and I don’t think I got too many “unfollows” from those who were annoyed with me).

And trust me, I need to work on all three of those as well!

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Faye November 15, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Hi Irvin,
Thank you so much for the sound (and humorous) advice. I especially liked the part about no one reading a new blog in the beginning. This is the very issue I have been stressing myself out over the past few months and you are absolutely right! I’m going to calm down now and do what I love, bake and write about baking. And I will definitely brush up on my photography skills.

P.S. I love that you receive hundreds of comments and manage to respond back to each and every one :)

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Irvin November 16, 2011 at 2:45 am

Someone else mentioned how I responded back to each of my comments. Normally I don’t do that, but I just really feel like this post needed it. And yes, do NOT stress about your blog. If you love baking, then revel in that and let it show in your blog! You can always learn how to be better photographer or writer, but you can’t teach someone passion for baking or cooking.

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Cathy/ShowFoodChef November 16, 2011 at 1:14 am

Our paths have crossed a couple times at these things and I always love your friendly smile. No reason for you to remember, but I walked up at IFBC and introduced myself again just to shake your hand while laughing at something that was going on. Always love your blog post and really appreciate your breaking down these basics (not only for beginners, but as good reminders) in such a fun-loving way. Sending you {{{{applause}}}}}}}}.

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Irvin November 16, 2011 at 2:53 am

Cathy! I remember you walking up to me and shaking by hand but I didn’t realize you were Show Food Chef! I always love seeing your sassy blonde cartoon chef face on twitter when it pops up. But because I only know your avatar illustration, I don’t connect your face to who you are (and I have a terrible memory).

Next time you see me, be sure to pull me aside and tell me who you are, so I can give you a proper hug. Better yet, next time I see you, you better be wearing a chef jacket, toque and a red bandanna around your neck.

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Meredith November 16, 2011 at 7:51 am

This post strikes a lovely balance between personality, humor, images and actionable ideas that is very rare. I skim, read, ponder, review and enjoy many food blogs daily and I know that this comprehensive post will be a huge help to many.

I agree with you that being true to yourself/your writing style is very important, but I also know that personal style can be left intact while aiming for greatness with SEO, photography and writing. Cheers to everyone who puts themselves and their recipes/photography/writing/opinions out there on a regular basis. Your readers thank you!

Also, it was good to meet you at IFBC, Irvin!

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Irvin November 17, 2011 at 1:26 am

Thanks Meredith. I do think that SEO is pretty important as well, and definitely does not have to be sacrificed when writing. I’m not the best or most knowledgeable on SEO practices, but since several people seemed to have brought it up, I might write up a post on what I do know. We’ll see if I get around to that one.

So great to meet you too!

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kris November 16, 2011 at 8:05 am

This is some really great advice Irvin! Also, nice to know I’m not the only crazy person magnet. Your next post should be about how to avoid said crazy person. I’m wondering if there is a pheromone that attracts them?

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Irvin November 17, 2011 at 1:27 am

Oh man. I used to be SUCH the crazy person magnet. Not as bad as a few of my friends, but pretty bad. I think it was this vibe of “I am open and willing and totally naive” that I gave off when ever I went out that attracted them to me.

This, of course, explains why I have since become a total anti-social hermit, only leaving my apartment on rare occasions like food blogging conferences…

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Shefaly/Shef's Kitchen November 16, 2011 at 8:15 am

Wow! you are funny! i just came across your blog from the mention on Food 52! I WISH i had your post in my hand when i started my blog a year ago. You sure would have saved me lots of time and questions! I am going to post this on FB and in my writers’ group since it’s such helpful info.
I didn’t realize some food bloggers don’t test their recipes. I always do but that’s because I guess I started as a cooking instructor first, then started blogging so I felt I had to have solid recipes out. In fact, I feel that the recipe-writing is often more time-consuming and the rate-limiting step to getting posts done more often.
Thanks again!

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Irvin November 17, 2011 at 1:30 am

Yay! I love Food 52.

I totally agree with you that recipe writing is time consuming. I think a lot of bloggers are great cooks to start with, but don’t pay as much attention to how they are making things (it’s more intuitive to them) and sometimes that translates when they blog. I know when I first started my blog, my recipes weren’t that solid, and I didn’t test/retest. Definitely blogging has forced me to be more precise and more diligent about what I am doing as I make my food.

So glad you stopped by!

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anneliesz November 16, 2011 at 8:33 am

You nailed it. I echo your charge to just do it. Writing is a muscle that must be exercised. Blogging is a lot of fun and an opportunity to share that particular point of view that is yours. I would imagine that like cooking you get better over time- the point is to start. And then keep at it. Give yourself freedom to fail, which I’m grateful you shared a few of your foibles. Great dissemination Irvin!

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Irvin November 17, 2011 at 1:33 am

I think failure is the biggest thing that we don’t share as a food blogging community. Too often all we want to do is share our best stuff, which is wonderful (everyone loves a beautiful plated dish with lovely props, a distressed wooden background and soft lighting) but sometimes it can be intimidating to readers.

I know many of my friends think that I never fail in the kitchen, and I fail ALL. THE. TIME. The most important thing to do is just do it. And yes, writing is TOTALLY a muscle that needs to be exercised. Thank goodness I have his blog to force me to exercise…

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Megan @ Newly Wife November 16, 2011 at 10:30 am

Fabulous post. I have been SO GUILTY of merely reading people’s posts and not commenting. Horrid, I know. But all of the talk at Food buzz (plus this post) has really encouraged me to start commenting more — and make it a REAL comment. :) Also, I really like the fact that you used verklempt.

My photos need so much work, but learning little things about how to use my point and shoot have been super helpful. Also, learning to use free editing software was really helpful for me. Thanks for this post!

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Nicole Nared November 16, 2011 at 2:52 pm

I have done the same thing. I dont have a point and shoot camera, I just have a digital camera but I have a food setting and it helps my pictures come out nice. The lighting is what I need to figure out. Photbucket has really good phot editing options as well.

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Irvin November 17, 2011 at 1:43 am

I don’t think there is anything wrong with visiting people’s blogs and just reading them. Don’t ever feel obligated to post a comment. If I posted a comment on every blog post I read, I would never, ever get any other work done!

That said, when I read something that I love, I will comment about it. Even if its a simple “I love this post” comment. I know that goes against what I said above in my post, but sometimes you just don’t have time to write more. I also know that ever comment (even a short little “look delicious”) is appreciated.

Of course, when a post really connects with you, and you want to make a connection with the blogger who wrote it, than definitely a heartfelt real comment makes sense. For me, I appreciate ALL comments but the ones that get to me, that I remember, are the ones that people share something about themselves.

For instance, I still remember getting a comment about my sister’s wedding, from a reader telling me that she loved the post, and how much she wished she could have a family like I did. It was that specific comment (and others like it) that make me feel like all the time and effort I put into this blog is worth it. I still go back and read that comment now and then to remind myself of that feeling.

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Megan @ Newly Wife November 17, 2011 at 8:26 am

Very true! Good arguments for both the long and the short comment! But I have also learned that I can lose the opportunity to make a blog friend if I simply sit to the side in awe. Commenting is like starting up a conversation, if done correctly. And who doesn’t love friends with similar interests?

I was going to go search for the post on your sister’s wedding, since you talked it up so much — but I see that you put the link in already, thanks!

About editing. I have started using picnik. It’s basic, but it works for me. Like we talked about at Foodbuzz, my hubby is a graphic designer. So I’ve seen him working on stuff and it just seems way too complex. Now I just need to figure out a way to convince him to post -process my photos. But I would love to see a post on post-process photography and use of free software. I just may have to check out that Adobe Express Editor!

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Irvin November 17, 2011 at 1:50 am

Also, there are a number of free photo editing software out there, but I don’t really use them, as I’m a graphic designer by nature and have all the programs on my computer. That said, I’ve heard good things about Photobucket as well as Picnik.

Even Adobe, maker of Photoshop and Lightroom, has a free online program called Adobe Photoshop Express Editor that lets you edit images on the web and save them. Hmm. Maybe I’ll write a post about post-process photography and how to improve your photography after you take your picture.

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Nicole Nared November 16, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Let me just say thank you! I reached out to you before and asked for your opinion about a few things a while ago and this information really helped. I want to be different from having just the ordinary food blog, which is why I also have a website, but I apprecate you sharing what you learned from your Blogging Conventions. I plan on going to one in New York City next August and that will be a pretty big step for me and I expect to learn a lot from it. Alot of things that you said not to do, I mus say that I have done them, but will no longer do that. I do not want to burn my bridges with anyone. And I do nto have a fancy camera right now and I appreciate you saying how it is not so much of a big deal right now to worry about them. That is one thing about a new food blogger. We get easily intimidated by the pro’s who have been doing this for years and feel that we have to have everything that you guys in order to be successful by whatever standard we hav identified. But I appreciate your thoughts and your feedback. I think you are great and you are very inspiring. Hopefully someday I will have many faithful followers.

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Irvin November 17, 2011 at 1:55 am

Thanks Nicole. Do keep in mind that all the advice I gave was from my own personal opinion and experience. It’s not always the same for everyone else, but it’s what I found works for me!

Definitely going to those blogging conferences can are useful. They can be pretty overwhelming though, which is one of the reasons I wrote this blog piece. I wanted to sort of condense and streamline the knowledge I’ve gained at the conferences and from doing this blog all into one post. Hopefully it was helpful! Do let me know what you think of the conference in NYC. Which one are you going to?

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Nicole Nared November 17, 2011 at 9:02 am

I plan on going to the BlogHer Conference. It will be my first time in New York City and I am very excited to go. I am also excited about eating some good food.

I am curious, how do you create your own recipes? Are they usually inspired from something else?

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Irvin November 17, 2011 at 4:30 pm

When I started blogging, most (if not all) of my recipes were adapted from somewhere else. Now I mostly create my own (though I do adapt or get inspiration from other places – I always note on my recipes if it’s an adaptation or inspired recipe).

As for creating my own recipes, I’ll probably be doing a post about that down the road so keep an eye out for it. I do use Ratio by Michael Ruhlman, but mostly I’ve been baking so much that I know how to develop recipes on their own.

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Valeria November 17, 2011 at 6:22 am

Thanks for this post, Irving.

I have started to blog almost two years ago –although I opened my blog longer ago but didn’t write anything at the beginning. Since then, I think I brought a lot of improvements to it, including writing all my posts in Italian and in English, taking nice pictures of food and the environment where the ingredients in my recipe come from, telling stories of people and places, letting readers seen a little bit more of the behind the scenes etc. In short, I tried to give to my slowly increasing audience better and better content every time, learning something moreon the way. I think I reached a good point, I think my content is good and I still don’t get some many comments, don’t have so many readers and I feel a little stuck. It is important for me as for any other person doing a creative work to have feedbacks, comments, critiques and such. I know people’s time is valuable but I still fail in understanding what I am doing wrong.
I deeply enjoy telling stories around food. Food is my life, food producers, small artisans and local farmers are my inspiration–I have a masters in food culture and communications from UNISG. I always link my recipes to a place, a moment, a product that is in season. I like food narrative like M.K. Fischer. Do people find it boring ? Is it too long? Maybe. I tried to think on how to change my style just to see if more people would be interested by I have an hard time doing it –I am not good at adapting my voice to my audience. Any suggestions?

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Valeria November 17, 2011 at 8:15 am

Irvin, not Irving…hum, what was i thinking?

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Irvin November 17, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Ahhh. Such a difficult questions to answer. This post was really geared toward new bloggers, and not people like yourself who have already established a blog and are looking to bring it to the next level.

I’ll probably write another post about the topic, especially since this post seemed so popular, but there’s no easy way to get more traffic or get more comments.

How often are you on Twitter or Facecbook? I know a lot of people have robust Facebook pages, where they engage with their readers that way. An engaged reader is one that is more likely to comment. I’m on Twitter a lot and talk with people there. Both places may be an opportunity for you to broaden your readership and build more of a community.

You can also just ask a question at the end of your posts. I’m not a huge “Ask a question to get a comment” sort of thing but I know others that do it and it seems to be work for them.

How often do you visit other people’s blogs and comment on them? I know that commenting on other people’s blogs often will get them to bounce to your blog to comment. You may also want to join some blogging groups, such as Daring Bakers/Daring Cooks or French Fridays with Dorie. I know that a lot of those groups are tight and often visit each other and comment.

Finally fine tuning your SEO (I notice you’re on a blogger site, you may want to move over to a wordpress site which is more robust and has much better SEO) can help with organic google searching and bringing in people outside the food blogging community.

Sadly there’s not easy solution to get more traffic. As I’ve said before to someone else, we’re all trying to figure it out. If I knew of a magic solution, trust me, I’d be doing it, and sharing it with you all!

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Valeria November 17, 2011 at 6:34 am

sorry, Irvin. I am good at typos, that’s for sure :(

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Amber November 17, 2011 at 8:18 am

Great tips! I remember my yellow flash-filled photos when I first started my blog. I didn’t know any better. Good thing there are great conferences like IFBC and guys like Matt Amendariz to help us learn. And now, this article! :)

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Irvin November 17, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Matt is great! His session definitely hit all the basics of how to improve your photography. I was lucky to sit in on a session by Todd and Diane of White on Rice Couple at the BlogHer Food conference last year that was similar and had me thinking about composing my food more.

It’s always a learning curve for me! I’m ready to take my stuff to the next level actually, because I’m getting rather bored of taking the same photo over and over again (which is what it always feels like).

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Amber November 17, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Oh yeah–Todd & Diane are great, too! :) I’ve learned a lot from them. One of the hardest photos I recently took was of a PB&J, of all things. Had to get the exact ratio of oozing PB to J before it worked. I feel you on getting stuck in a photo rut. But I would never have noticed from your blog–it all feels fresh to me!

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Candy November 17, 2011 at 1:22 pm

What a wonderfully written, inspiring post. I agree about the three elements of a successful food blog and am always working on improving all three on mine.

Your comments about people not reading your blog really resonated with me. It’s a lonely business at first. I also appreciated your comment that readers are earned. As much as I love comments, I love it more when someone tells me that they use, and enjoy, the recipes on my site.

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Irvin November 17, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Absolutely! Whenever someone tells me that they make the recipe I have posted, I am always super excited about it!

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Noelle November 17, 2011 at 1:58 pm

Thanks so much for this post and giving back to us newbie bloggers. “Don’t be afraid of starting your blog – just do it” is my favorite part because it is so true. Taking those first steps can be the hardest but the most rewarding. I will be visiting often :)

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Irvin November 17, 2011 at 5:39 pm

The first steps can be totally daunting. And though it sounds like I’ve been blogging forever and know everything, I don’t! I’m still learning, and I hope to continue to learn as long as this blog is around.

But you have to just continue to do and make. That’s the best way to learn.

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JulieD November 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Hands down, awesome post, Irvin! This is the big takeaway for me, “You’ll learn as you go. The beginning of a blog is a time to experiment”. I try to tell people this all the time. You can’t learn it all at once, you’ll learn as you go.

Also, my one big regret is not starting my blog when I started talking about starting a blog. I tell everyone that when they tell me they are thinking about starting a blog. I hope I get to see you at a blog conference next year and get to say more than hi to you!

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Irvin November 17, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Thanks Julie. My biggest regret is not starting a food blog five years ago! I started a personal blog (which I have since abandoned) back in 2006 and toyed with the idea of making it a food blog but felt like everyone back then had a food blog. Little did I know that I would be food blogging away four years later playing catch up to everyone else! Oh hindsight is 20/20….

And yes, I would love to see you at the next conference and say more than just a “hi!” in passing…

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Jonathan November 17, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Starting my blog was the best thing I’ve done in recent memory. I’m only 6 months in, but it’s been extremely gratifying. What else has it been? Oh yeah, frustrating, difficult, and a lot of hard work full of second-guessing and harsh inner-dialogue. But if it wasn’t all those things, then there’d be no reason to be feel satisfied or proud at the end of the day, not because of all the people ooh-ing or ah-ing over my blog, but because I finally followed through with something that scared me for the longest time.

Sincere thanks for all the helpful tips and leading by example, Irvin. :)

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Irvin November 19, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Thanks Jonathan! I think the hardest part of starting a food blog is just that. Starting. People feel like there’s so much pressure to do the best or be the best right from the start. But no one is able to do that from the beginning. No one. It’s like that quote from Ira Glass that floated around the internet a few months ago. Creative people need to just produce and produce and produce. Eventually you get there.

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sivan November 18, 2011 at 3:43 am

i am in the process of airing i food blog of my own. thank you sooooo much for all the tips. have the best of luck.

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Irvin November 19, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Thanks Sivan. I’m glad my post was of use.

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Brian King November 18, 2011 at 6:11 am

I suppose we are in our per-pubescent phase of our blog and this post couldn’t have come at a better time! I LOVE the fact you expanded on each of the “Trinity” items instead of listing them and saying “that’s it”. Your descriptions really put together an image of what I have been thinking about in the direction of our blog. We are starting to see some success, out side of family and friends of course, and with these core “ingredients” (the mirepoix of blogging), I have no doubt that ugly stage you mention will happen, but we will be much more prepared!

Thank you for such a great post – now on to read the rest of your blog!

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Irvin November 19, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Ha! I totally should have called this post the mirepoix of blogging. Great name! I love it. Ahhh. The ugly stage of blogging. Sometimes I feel like I am still going through that stage. But I’m my own worst critic when it comes to my work. I guess we all are. The most important thing is to just continue to do it and grow and learn. Once I have stopped growing and learning, that’s when I’ll be concerned…

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Ella November 18, 2011 at 7:40 am

It’s amusing to see the history of the first six months of my blog so accurately described by someone who’s never seen it. Well, I suppose I shouldn’t imply that I’m out of the ugly stage yet. Still working on it.

I think at least half of successful amateur cooking is finding reliable sources, so it’s ironic that repeat recipe testing is something I don’t do. Isn’t it hard to test your own recipes though? Do you let them sit for a few days to get distance from them, like people do when they edit their writing? Or have you ever had someone else read over them?

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Irvin November 19, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I wish I could say that I have my partner read over my posts before I publish them, but truthfully neither he, ,nor I have time to do that.

That said, I do have him check and read my recipes now and then to make sure that the instructions are clear. He’s less experienced in the kitchen, so if the recipes are confusing, I know I need to simplify or clarify the instructions.

As for testing them myself. I usually develop the recipe once and then let them sit around for a little bit, then test it again. I think distance helps a lot!

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marla November 18, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Well it is about time I came over here to comment on this post. I have been meaning to all week. I hope that anyone who is just starting out or is thinking about launching a blog reads this. Excellent and very clear information. Spoken with your true wit and charm. The “Holy Trinity” LOVE THAT!! xxoo

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Irvin November 19, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Thanks Marla! So glad you popped over. I actually ended up writing this post because of something you said at your IFBC panel.

You said, when people ask you the same question over and over again, you just write blog post about the question, so you can just point people to that post.

I kept on getting asked about how to start a food blog, so, taking your advice, I wrote a post! Ha. Thanks for that tip!

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Mimi Avocado November 18, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Thanks to Marla, I found this post on my Facebook page! And wouldn’t you know, I’m working on my first blog right now. Timing couldn’t be more perfect.

Not only that, but Andrew of @EatingRules suggested that I contact you about designing a header for my blog. You will probably be hearing from me.

For now, I’m going to re-read this post, and I promise never to beg anyone to read my blog. Stealing recipes is something I would not have even considered.

Thank you for all the references! I owe you some avocados.

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Irvin November 20, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Thanks Mimi! Marla’s wonderful. I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with her a couple of times in real life and she’s just as engaging and warm as her blog.

Please do contact me for designing a header. Andrew’s the best isn’t he? Love him.

And yes, feel free to send avocados my way! I love them. ;)

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gretchen November 18, 2011 at 9:19 pm

i didn’t realize your blog was only almost two… (that’s what’s so great about archives, seeing the growth people undergo in the process.) i agree with all you said… and most of all, at the end of the day, do what you love! and enjoy making new bloggy friends you probably never otherwise would’ve known. glad the GFRR introduced me to you!

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Irvin November 20, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Thanks Gretchen! I feel like I’ve come a long way, but I also feel like I have a long way to go. But it’s all relative right?

And yes, one of the best things about food blogging is that you get to make friends that you wouldn’t normally be able to. GFRR has been great for that!

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Leslie Macchiarella November 18, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Irvin, Thank you for thinking all this through. (And the comments are just as awesome!) I totally get your discussion about photography issues — that blasted flashbulb (Worst Bulb Reflection Winner goes to a bowl of wild blackberries). As a newbie, I’m feeling my way through in the dark (with technology aspects that seem daunting) but I’ve found that hooking up with other food bloggers, like the amazing and incredible Los Angeles Food Bloggers (LAFB), has been a revelation to me. They’re so smart and they’re all about helping each other. I hereby commit to do the same for other newbies once I get my sea legs on straight. :)

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Irvin November 20, 2011 at 11:27 pm

It’s so important to reach out to others in your area and meet up with them in real life. The San Francisco Bay Area bloggers are all super supportive of each and I think I’m very lucky to live in a city with such talent and resources. I’m sure that LA is exactly the same way!

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Maria November 19, 2011 at 1:10 am

Great post Irvin!

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Irvin November 20, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Thanks Maria!

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Cathy @What Would Cathy Eat? November 22, 2011 at 8:51 am

Thanks so much, Irvin. My blog is nearly 2 years old, but these fundamental guidelines are still very relevant. I particularly needed the reminder about testing recipes and refining them until they are perfect. I confess to cooking-and-posting on occasion! (Not to mention writing quickly at midnight!).

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Irvin December 29, 2011 at 12:01 am

Oh Cathy! How I can totally relate to you. I am often writing my posts as fast as I can late at night! As my a friend of mine once said to me “Well, if it wasn’t for the last minute, I’d never get anything done.”

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Sandi November 25, 2011 at 5:14 am

Funny, & so REAL…thanks!

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Irvin December 29, 2011 at 12:01 am

Thanks! I tried to create a post that was both informative and entertaining. Hopefully the humor in it kept it from coming across as too preachy…

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nancy baggett December 28, 2011 at 8:56 am

Irvin, this is a wonderfully useful and informative post, but I do have one little quibble with the advice, “Test your recipes if you can.” Testing must be mandatory! How else can the recipe be written up correctly, and how else can the blogger be sure it’s really going to work for readers? And, for that matter, how can the photos of the dish be taken? I suggest that bloggers who truly are too high profile or busy need to hire a tester they trust to do the recipe testing for them. If followers take the trouble to print out a recipe, buy the ingredients, and then make it, they should be sure it will actually work.

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Irvin December 29, 2011 at 12:23 am

Nancy, I couldn’t agree with you more! I think testing should be mandatory as a food blogger – especially for anyone that has aspirations to create a blog that has an audience bigger than their inner circle of friends.

That said, not all blogs are the same, and not everyone is a food professional or even has aspirations to be a food profession. Most food bloggers have a day job and are trying to get food on the table for their family, all the while blogging about their recipes, writing up their stories, and taking photos before their kids eat the food. Life gets in the way, and not everyone has the luxury of being able to hire a tester.

One thing to keep in mind is that most “new” food bloggers, the ones that are only blogging for less than a year, are probably going to blog about food that they have made over and over again. In fact, I can probably bet you that the majority of new food bloggers aren’t even creating their own recipes, but instead are “adapting” existing recipes that have probably already been tested numerous times. I know when I look at my first year of blogging, most of my recipes were adaptations, not complete originals.

Of course, for all those bloggers out there that hope to land a cookbook deal, become a recipe developer, work with brands or hope to distinguish themselves from other run-of-the-mill blogs by actually creating original, from the ground up, recipes need to test and retest their goods. Nothing is worse than having a reader comment on your blog “Um. I made your cupcake and it came out dry and tasteless.” Talk about a horrible pit in the stomach feeling that comes with that.

Ultimately, when you create a food blog, you are developing a relationship with your readers, one that is based on trust. I said it before in the post, but it definitely needs to be said again. It takes forever to build the trust between the blogger and the audience, trust that the recipes will work. All it takes is one bad recipe and that trust is shattered. You don’t want to lose that reader – and that means testing and testing. Tough advice, but true.

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Lia January 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Getting ready to begin this very venture. Thank you so much for helping to point me in just the right direction. Here goes….

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Irvin January 23, 2012 at 11:07 pm

Good luck! I’m glad this post helped. Let me know when it’s up and running, I’d love to check it out.

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Marlé January 13, 2012 at 6:19 am

Hi there! Thanks so much for this. I have been blogging on and off as the inspiration ran hot or cold for the last two years or so. I have always been interested in doing a food blog, since I am an addict, a reformed fatty but still enthusiastic eater. This Christmas, my boyfriend got me a very nancy-fancy professional cook set, because I love cooking almost more than I do him…This has inspired me to finally try to do a food blog, since I have no excuse any more. I just have two questions though. First: How did you overcome the cost of ingredients, and Second: If cost was an issue, how often did you manage to blog?

Thanks so much for this informative piece. Bookmarked!

Greetings from a sunny South Africa :)

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Irvin January 23, 2012 at 11:22 pm

Hello sunny South Africa!

I don’t think you need to spend a lot of money to make great food. I frequent farmer’s markets, shop seasonally (which means cheaper) and go to a food co-op in San Francisco that has an amazing bulk food section where I can get my flour, sugar and chocolate in bulk and cheaper than I would normally get at the grocery store.

However I realize that not everyone has access to farmer’s markets and food co-ops like I do. Keep in mind that you can cook really well, without a lot of fancy ingredients or expensive goods. In fact, my friends Kimberly over at Poor Girl Eats Well and Gabi at The Brokeass Gourmet both created blogs that focus on making food on a tiny budget. Nowadays everyone is on a tight budget and sometimes, when you have less to work with, it forces you to become more creative with what you have.

I started this blog with recipes and stories about food that I made in my natural everyday life. Though I’ve stepped up a bit in my food production because of the blog, I still make food for my friends and loved ones and blog about it more than anything else. In fact, it’s more common for me to make food for an event or for my partner and I than it is for me to just make food for the sake of this blog alone. I believe someone once asked David Lebovitz how he came up with all his posts and he said something like “We all have to eat three times a day. That’s three meals you could be blogging about right there.” Smart words from a smart guy.

Personally, I blog twice a week but not everyone can do that. But I think it’s important that people write on a regular basis, even if it’s once a week, or once a month. The more you regular you are, the more your readers will come to expect posts from you, and know to check in at a particular time. Good luck and most importantly, have fun with it!

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Jean | Delightful Repast January 21, 2012 at 8:59 am

Hi, Irvin! Turning off the built-in front flash was the single most important lesson I learned about food photography. Wish I’d read this post before I started my blog, but I started a month before you did. I’ve learned a great deal since then, but still have a LOT to learn about blogging. I hope I never sent any of those awful emails asking established bloggers to check out my new blog, but I’m afraid I might have sent one or two. :( Oh well … So now when I receive them from new bloggers, I just smile; no need to get indignant. I’ve been amazed at the spirit of generosity in the Blogosphere and am always surprised whenever I find that not to be the case.

I’ve

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Irvin January 24, 2012 at 12:44 am

Oh the front flash is evil! It’s great for taking snapshots, but really, it’s a useless otherwise.

And, in truth, I don’t get indignant or upset when people email me asking me to visit their blog. But I do find it really offputting when they tweet me READ MY BLOG, without even bothering to follow me or engage me in a conversation. It’s just seems to out of the blue.

And yes, I love the food blogging community. There are few exceptions, but mostly it’s a great community of lovely people who really want to help each other.

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R March 9, 2012 at 8:27 am

Many thanks for the post! I
You´ll be glad to know your post IS in time for me… I´ve only been blogging for three months. :) Just like you said, readers are few at the beginning but I motivate myself by looking at what countries they´re from…

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Irvin April 28, 2012 at 11:53 pm

It’s always fun and fascinating to see where people come from in terms of readers. I remember checking my “stats” when I first starting blogging and getting that thrill that someone from Germany read my blog for the first time! Crazy Germans. Just keep plugging away at it. Most bloggers stop blogging after a year, but the more you blog, the better you get at it, and the more people will find your blog to check it out!

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Tiffany March 14, 2012 at 4:00 pm

I really appreciate this post. I am a food stylist who started a food blog a few years ago when I was at home with my youngest child. My first year of posts are not great, and the photos are atrocious. My “voice” was all over the place and I must have seemed like a blogger with multiple personalities. My photography has improved but has a ways to go. I thought I would produce better photos because of my food styling background, but my understanding of lights’ effect on food was minimal and it showed. As my posts improve I feel that I am a better food stylist. I do feel that my iphone does not quiet cut it and would love a good camera. And instagram can only take me so far. In life I am pretty gregarious and silly but my posting voice doesn’t seem to express it. I hold back a bit, and worry about what potential employers would think if I let my true self shine through. I also know that when I check my stats for my blog too often I must be dealing with some insecurities (very similar to checking my face and touching up my make up too many times in a day while in college). Removing my ego from my posts and just focusing on solid recipes that I love seems to be the only thing that works. I do not have great readership but it steadily improves. My visions of glory have become more realistic and I hope to not implore friends on Facebook to join my blog again! Thanks for this and I will bookmark it and reread it when I get a little lost.

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Irvin April 29, 2012 at 12:13 am

So here’s my totally unsolicted for advice to you. Be silly and gregarious. Let your true personality shine through your blog. Just let yourself be yourself.

Sure, maybe some potential employers would have an issue with, but I’m also guessing that an equal number of potential employers would WANT to hire you than be turned away. In fact, I can only see MORE people want to hire you because of it. And wouldn’t you, in truth, WANT those people who love the silly gregarious you to be the ones you work with?

Think of it from a different perspective as well. Wouldn’t YOU want to work with someone who is silly and gregarious? Then what makes YOU so different than employers? Look at Matt Armendariz over at Matt Bites. He blogs in a friendly, gregarious, silly way and he’s utterly charming. I can only imagine that it HELPS potential employers when they are looking to hire him. Who wouldn’t want to work with someone who is funny and relaxed. His work is clearly professional quality, but he’s also super entertaining. How can you not want to hire someone like that? How can you not want to work with him?

Ultimately you should do what your comfortable with. I totally get that. But life is short, and I personally would rather read a funny silly post than one that is more reserved. But then, that’s just me.

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Jennifer April 5, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Well, this must be my lucky day because I came across your informative post! Your blogging generosity is taken to heart… and bookmarked for future reminders. Thank you for the many links to further my education as I prepare to launch my first blog this month. Cheers!

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Irvin April 29, 2012 at 12:15 am

I’m glad you found my post informative! Thanks so much. Good luck with your blog!

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Katrinat April 23, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Oh what a blessing it has been to come across this information!! Thank you very much for this highly useful information. I have started the beginning stages of my food blog and am still unsure of exactly how to begin….this has been very useful and I think I am ready to start blogging!!
Thanks so much!!

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Irvin April 29, 2012 at 12:18 am

Yay! I’m glad you found it informative. Good luck with your food blog! Remember, more than anything, just have fun with it.

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Jennifer May 2, 2012 at 3:06 pm

For no reason whatsoever, I got up this morning, popped into my web browser and googled “how to start a food blog”. Your blog is the fourth I’ve read, but by far the most personal and inspiring! I was always afraid to start blogging about food because in terms of recipes, I usually end up browsing the web until I find something that tickles my fancy and then make it my own. And as far as photography goes, I’m probably the clumsiest iPhone photographer in a fifty mile radius. Reading those bits about photographing food (that photograzing website was…. delicious) and the tidbits about making recipes easier to follow were so helpful!!
Anyway, just wanted to say thank you for inspiring me to start blogging about my favorite thing: eating! :) Is it okay if I credit your blog (and this post) in a forward? (for anyone else in my shoes)

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Irvin May 2, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Of course! Feel free to credit & link to this post however you want.

I think taking photos is something you get better at, the more you do. So my advice is to just keep photographing and learn from what you are doing.

But most importantly (as I said in my post) is just to do it! Only a few people are going to be reading your posts in the beginning (mostly your friends), so you might as well just dive in and start learning as you go! It’s the best way to start.

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Jennifer May 3, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Thank you so much! I threw in a credit to you and link to this article in my “About” section, so if anything, I’ll be sending some of my friends your way for an education in all that is tasty! After college, I’m so happy to finally be eating things that did not come out of a box. Also, I nabbed my parents’ Nikon for a few days, and it has produced very pretty additions to my entries! Been using that photograzing website for reference, and also finding myself consistently hungry as a result.

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Lindsey May 15, 2012 at 8:08 am

Irvin, thank you for this wonderful post! My sister and I just launched our blog last week, so I am so grateful to have found this post today. I’ll try to take your advice about not caring about having no readers (yet), and focus on developing my photography and voice. Thanks!

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Irvin May 30, 2012 at 1:41 am

I think the best way to learn is to just do it! Thankfully the more you do it, the better (and easier) it gets. Or so they say. I still struggle sometimes. But as you grow and develop your photography and voice, people will (hopefully) come! Best of luck and I hoped I helped you out.

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Natasha May 21, 2012 at 8:05 am

Thanks for the great advice, Irvin! I had been thinking about starting a food blog for months, but had been putting it off because I was not comfortable with a camera, writing, etc. Now, I’m taking the learn as you go approach, and I put up my first post. I’m looking forward to developing my writing and photography skills.

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Irvin May 30, 2012 at 1:52 am

I think people get really scared of hitting that publish button in the beginning, because they’re fearful. That’s why I really do emphasis the fact that it doesn’t matter in the beginning. The learn as you go approach really is the best way to do it. No matter how many blogs you read, or how many books or conferences you go to, the best way to learn is to just do it, make mistakes and learn from them! Best of luck to you.

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Lexi June 13, 2012 at 10:40 am

Thanks for this post! I’ve been throwing around the idea of starting a food blog with my boyfriend for a while. We find ourselves changing the recipes we set out to make because of money or too many exotic/weird ingredients that we don’t have access to. We’re in college and rely on public transportation for everything, so it’s… a challenge sometimes. There’s a question in this, I promise, no sort of shameless plugging, I’m referring to an entirely theoretical blog.

Is it bad form in the blogging community to use a recipe from someone else, credit the blog/book/person in your own post, and make your own changes to it? I’ve seen it done but I’m wondering how the original blogger feels about it. Should you comment on the original recipe and say “I made this recipe as well with x,y, and z modifications, it was good, and I wrote about it” or is that too much self promotion? Should you just say “I tried it this way” and not mention your own blog?

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Irvin July 25, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Good question! I think that’s a personal choice on what people do and what they like on their own blog. As long as you credit and link back to the original recipe/post I don’t think it’s a problem. Definitely rewrite the recipe instructions in your own words and tell your readers how you changed it. This gives the recipe a sense of history and how the recipe evolved and I think that’s a good thing. Or at least for me it is. I love that seeing how food evolves.

Personally, I love it when people make my recipes and/or adapt them for their blog. I’d love to see the link on my comments, so I can go and check it out, but I could see why it might be construed as self promotion. That said you can certainly leave a comment that is more “hey thanks for the recipe, I totally made it, it was fantastic, here are my results http://www.ABCfoodblog.com/recipe” than “hey, your recipes was good, but i made it great by changing X Y Z and you should bounce to my blog and look at it.” I think the tone of how you leave the recipe, as long as it’s respective, give the air of “thank you for the inspiration” as opposed to “look at me, look at my blog!”

In the end, think about what YOU would want on your blog. Would you want someone leaving a comment telling them about the changes that they made on your recipe? If so, how you want them to tell you? That’s usually the way I answer those sort of questions, because every blogger is different…

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holy food June 25, 2012 at 11:11 am

Hi, many, many thanks for taking the time to share.. It was useful for my team. Thanks for all of your hard work! I enjoy your weblog and will sign up to your feed so I will not miss anything. Fantastic content.

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Irvin July 25, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Thanks. Glad this blog post was useful!

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Kim June 25, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Great advice, Irvin! Been following your blog and it’s been an inspiration for me to start my own food blog. I came across a tutorial site on how to start a blog, http://www.howtostartablog.com, from a technical perspective, but found it lacking in giving you the “What to do” after I got my blog going. Great post!

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Irvin July 25, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Thanks Kim! I think there are a number of resources out there on starting a blog and even starting a food blog, but I really wanted to give my own perspective. Especially since people were asking me how I started and if I had an advice. Now I can just direct them to this blog post! Glad it was useful to you.

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Stephanie July 9, 2012 at 11:14 pm

I enjoyed reading your beginners guide. It made me laugh. You are right when you say just start writing…..Thank you very much.

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Irvin July 25, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Thanks Stephanie! It’s really the best advice I can give to anyone thinking of starting a blog. Just start writing. Glad I made you laugh!

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Ms Chipper July 25, 2012 at 5:34 am

Thank you for putting this post up. In the midst of my increasingly hectic work life, I played with the idea of a food blog for quite some time to bring my love of writing, food and photography in one place, but for many self-doubting reasons, never had the courage to do it. However, coming across your post gave me the inspiration and push to finally take the plunge and get it done. Thanks so much for igniting that spark. :)

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Irvin July 25, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Yay! Thrilled that I gave you that spark. If you have a love of writing, food and photography than a food blog sounds like a perfect thing for you!

We all have hectic lives, and it can be a lot of work, but I find it really rewarding. I think we also have a lot of self doubts, but ultimately, if you love it, you should do it. Don’t be scared. There are thousands of food blogs out there and there is room for more. Good luck!

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Paula July 28, 2012 at 7:07 am

Thank you so much for the info – I’ve been Googling this topic all morning and yours is definitely one of the most informative AND entertaining reads. :) I plan to start a food blog on fitness nutrition for a fitness facility and am trying to arm myself with as much information as possible. Now I just need to DO it…thanks, again! :)

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Irvin September 11, 2012 at 12:56 am

I am DEFINITELY in the school of JUST DO IT. You can google and search forever but nothing will prepare you like diving right in and learning as you go! I think a food blog on fitness nutrition sounds awesome.

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Melissa@Foodphotography July 31, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Thank you so much for the detailed guide. Just want to add, it’s also important to present high quality food photos with every recipe that you created, but we need to remember making a mobile friendly version of the site for mobile visitors so they don’t have to see high resolution image on the site while browsing by using mobile phone. It’s much more comfortable.

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Irvin September 11, 2012 at 1:03 am

I definitely agree. But I think asking people to understand how to make a mobile friendly site is a little bit like asking a child to do long division. First you have to learn how to count, then how to add and subtract before you can learn to multiply and divide.

Mobile version of sites are how a lot of people are accessing blogs nowadays, especially when shopping for food and I can only see that percentage of people growing bigger. That said, I am still in the school of thought that people should start a blog first, learn the basics, like how to take a proper photograph, how to write a recipe and how to tell a story, before adding things like mobile friendly sites, SEO and social networking. All of those are super important, but it can be insanely overwhelming to the newcomer!

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Leena August 8, 2012 at 9:31 pm

This is the MOST unexpected post I’ve ever read, THANK YOU so much.. I had a blog 1 year ago because I love writing, before I’m starting to work at my office now.. And since, my office is an Online Culinary Media, I keep on curious with food, resto, and some recipe.. Well, I can say that my environment build me from just an ordinary girl who loves writing, becoming who loves writing about FOOD :D and yet, while I read your post, I realize I only have one skill to start my new Food Blog, I can only write.. I’m not really pro with photograph, and definitely far away from being a chef.. I feel it’s gonna be tough, but I will learn.. As you said, just do it! I will learn to capture food with the enhance of light and angle, I will learn to know some basics ingredients or basic recipe.. Will do hard and this encouragement I get it after I read your post.. Many thanks! :)

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Irvin September 11, 2012 at 1:06 am

I think knowing how to write is an important skill to have and not everyone has it! Just like writing, where the more you do it, the better you get at it, the same applies to creating recipes or taking photos. All I can do is encourage you to write and photograph and create as much as possible. It’s a constant learning process!

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Marlene Bertrand August 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm

This is a wonderfully helpful post. It is very encouraging, especially the part about how we should just start writing, and keep writing, and write a lot! And, thank you for being so candid. In a strange way, it is comforting to know that in the beginning, hardly anyone is going to read my blog. But, now I see how that’s OK. I need this time to develope and refine my page anyway. Your tips on photography goes over and above. Thank you. I can see why you have been around for such a long time.

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Irvin September 11, 2012 at 1:09 am

Thanks Marlene! I actually don’t think I’ve been around for so long, but then I guess it’s all a matter of perspective. I think the realization that no one was reading my blog when I started was actually the most liberating feeling! It meant I could make mistake, learn how to write a proper recipe and just basically figure out what I was doing.

And, to be truthful, I still feel like I’m learning as I go! I don’t think that feeling ever ends.

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Cha Sy September 3, 2012 at 9:10 pm

You nailed it on the head!

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Irvin September 11, 2012 at 1:10 am

Why thank you!

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gunjan September 13, 2012 at 4:49 am

hi Irvin…. ur blog is very recommendable to all those who r trying to start blogging and are skeptical due to various reasons.. and i am a perfect example of such a person … not able to succeed in writing a blog with the fear that are as follows…
1. i have not written anything for yrs
2. will anyone read it ..a very big point
3. how to make sure my recipes dont back fire
4.where n how to start
5. how to be consistent
goes on irvin…. but i am more confident and encouraged after reading your blog. guess now its the almighty to destine my start….as the rest was taken care by your blog…… :)

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Irvin October 18, 2012 at 11:34 am

It’s so easy to make excuses on why you should blog. But in the end, we all have to stop listening to that voice in our head that says “don’t do it…” and just dive right in. It’s the best way to overcome the fear!

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Dino September 30, 2012 at 1:44 am

Oh wow, so true. I think blogging is kind of a life journey as well, I can definitely see the same things you said to my blog. Really great post and I hope it motivates me in my future endeavor of food blogging.

Cheers,
Dino

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Irvin October 18, 2012 at 11:36 am

Thanks Dino! Blogging has definitely helped me in my life, in ways that I never expected. It’s given me more confidence in what I say as well as a different perspective in what I’m doing. I hope you continue with your blog!

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Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb October 10, 2012 at 5:45 am

Excellent read Irvin! A blogger once wrote (don’t remember who and where it was), that you should see it as a privilege if somebody comes to visit your blog, nobody has to.

There are actually bloggers out there, who don’t cook/bake their recipes more then once? very surprising and I don’t think so that is a good approach, as you mentioned, trust is everything.

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Irvin October 18, 2012 at 11:42 am

I completely agree that people should test their recipes as one bad recipe can mean the loss of a reader.

That said, not everyone is trying to make their blog their living or as professional as possible. Some people start blogging as a way to just archive and share their own recipes with their friends and family. If that’s the case and those people don’t have any aspirations to become popular, then they probably don’t need to test their recipes more than once. It’s really what you want your blog to be. Everyone’s journey is different in blogging…

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Beth Bilous October 12, 2012 at 4:18 pm

I loved reading this post. I am so nervous about starting. I don’t know a thing about blogging, a real novice at food photography, and my writing skills are just average and rusty. Still your post inspired me. Thanks. OMG I may be wrong, but I can only think of one person as the one you described that started a blog, pubished a book, got a tv gig, and then wrote a second book that sucks. Could it be Ree Drumon, aka pioneer woman? I so feel like this is whom you described. If its not well then. But this is what I think of her. I like her, but seems like too much too fast. Her book is horrible and so is her food network show, but then again the FN standards are pretty low IIMSSMYS, Thanks for encouragement here.

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Irvin October 18, 2012 at 11:51 am

Ha! No, actually the person I was referring to wasn’t Ree. I’ve actually met Ree a few times and she’s a lovely person. I don’t necessarily go to her site that often or watch her show (I actually don’t have cable) but I do know that she works her butt off, and I can respect that.

I do think that there’s room for everyone in this food blogging world and what may not work for you or me, obviously works for others. More power to them.

But I do think the more you write, photograph and create the better you become. It’s the magic of repetition! And it’s good to know what you don’t like, because that will help you become a better photographer, writer and blogger!

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Alexa October 13, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Very helpful advice. I’ve been pursuing a culinary/hospitality degree for 3+ years and have been encouraged by many teachers to look into food writing but I hate writing. I looked at started a blog as kind of a way to ease myself into food writing, but I keep stalling because of my horrific iPhone picture ‘skills’ and uncertainty of how much personality to put into my recipes. This is definitely the inspiration I needed to finally start doing, rather than thinking. Thank you.

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Irvin October 18, 2012 at 11:52 am

I think sometimes the best way is to just dive right in and not outthink yourself! Writing and photography is hard, but it gets easier as you do it. I wish you the best!

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Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen October 17, 2012 at 7:44 am

I just found your blog and I have to tell you a million thanks for this post! Not only was your content incredibly informative, but you also have so many helpful links that I’ll be getting into next…Anyways, I really love how helpful food bloggers are. It really doesn’t feel like a competition because already so many people have been incredibly helpful to me. It just blows me away.

Thanks again!

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Irvin October 18, 2012 at 2:35 pm

I think by and large the food blogging community is a great community, with most everyone willing to give back. Sadly, like all communities, there are a few that tend to stick out and who definitely aren’t as friendly as others. Mostly I try to ignore them though. Best of luck!

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Mummy's Got a Job October 18, 2012 at 3:13 am

Dear Irvin, I have news for you – Google knows about you, and this post comes very high in the “how to do a food blog search”… thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, the newbies, and investing all this time to answer questions, and the links to all the resources!!

I keep telling myself that there are readers out there for every blog – for example, one of my favourite food bloggers has terrible photos, and yet the quality of her writing is so high and her voice is so unique, that she gets lots of traffic anyway. So there is some hope for those of us who will never get to the foodgawker.com level, or maybe don’t even want to be there. I have been blogging for two months now, and it was a bit of a suprise when I started getting the advice to improve my photos – and even put me off blogging for a couple of weeks. But then I thought – what the heck, I am a mother with a full time job, and a toddler, I am doing my best to feed the family with tasty food, while rambling about the difficulties of fullfilling all of these roles and the distance to the closest farmers’ market – so, whoever wants to read would surely understand, and wouldn’t really expect carelessly scattered rose petals in my kitchen!

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Irvin October 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Thanks! I love that google knows about me and this blog. I think there’s room in the food blogging community for everyone, and not everyone is going to be a whiz at the camera, write gorgeous prose or love to develop their own unique spectacular showstopping recipes.

I do think that people love to eat with their eyes and everyone thinks that gorgeous photography is what will draw readers. Sometimes that’s true, but not always. As you said, one of your favorite food bloggers has terrible photos, but there’s a reason why you read her. Everyone has their strong points. Best of luck with your blog and don’t let the naysayers get you down! If you do want to improve at your photography, do it – but only if you want! And if you don’t, well don’t let it hold you back!

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Mummy's Got a Job October 18, 2012 at 5:53 am

sorry – I meant to say “wouldn’t really expect effortlessly (not carelessly!) scattered rose petals in my kitchen”!

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Irvin December 5, 2012 at 1:23 am

No worries. I got what you meant! And I never effortlessly scatter rose petals in my kitchen. Those petals are expensive!

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Kristen@Slender Kitchen November 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Great tips on starting a food blog, especially about learning from the greats. I couldn’t agree more that finding inspiration from others is a great place to start and retain energy and inspiriation.

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Irvin December 5, 2012 at 1:24 am

Everyone has to start someone and everyone is inspired by someone else. The food blogging community is one of the best blogging communities out there. I get ideas and inspiration from so many of them!

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Aneeka November 13, 2012 at 4:00 am

(More) greetings from sunny South Africa! It isn’t always sunny, just in case you’re wondering, but I digress…
I LOVE your blog and this post! Although I dream of starting my own food blog, I have been paralysed with a classic and serious case of the “failure fears”. But I have taken your words to heart and am just gonna’ do it! Once I’m up and running I’ll be sure to email, tweet and facebook you to say “Hey look at my awesome blog: http://www.sexybakerbunny.com” (kidding)
Thanks for the good and practical advice.

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Irvin December 5, 2012 at 1:26 am

The fear of failure is inherent in all of us, but just keep in mind that we all have to start somewhere! The best thing about just starting out a blog is that you have nowhere to go but up!

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Jacqueline November 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Your post brought tears to my eyes! I wish this post existed when I started my blog. I asked so many on how to go about making my blog look amazing and I didn’t get any help. I’m still struggling with it (sorry for the whining). I’ve had many starts and stops on it. I truly desire to succeed at blogging. I’m so much a perfectionist that I tend to over think to the point of indecision.

As I read through your post, I thought ‘why didn’t I know this’, ‘there’s room for everyone, why isn’t this information readily available for everyone?’ ‘why the secrecy?’ I’m in the process of starting all over by redesigning my site altogether. My pictures aren’t amazing yet I keep going. My writing sucks and I’m not a measurer, yet I keep trying anyway. I am a stay-at-home mom on the verge of divorce (whining again). I desire for my blog to succeed, I hate to say desperately that I spend whole nights and days not sleeping searching the web for ways to help me free because funds are not available for me at the moment. I refuse to give up. When I fall and get back up. Somehow some way I will succeed. I will use all of your advice. You are an angel! Thank you so so much.

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Irvin December 5, 2012 at 1:30 am

I wish you the best of luck! Keep in mind that everyone’s definition of “success” is different. I still don’t view my blog as a success, but rather a work-in-progress. If you think of your blog that way, as a work-in-progress, as opposed to a final product that needs to succeed or fail, you’ll breathe much easier! Best of luck to you!

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Darrell Carlson November 19, 2012 at 9:07 am

Thank you, Irvin. I have not begun my blog as yet (still deciding on type of content) but your wonderful advice has addressed many of the mistakes and bad judgement I had been planning on making.
I also appreciate your honesty (“no one will read it”)Most sites I’ve visited imply that when I begin a blog it will be an instant success and I’ll be a billionaire in a week. It’s refreshing to find a person who tells it like it really is.
Thanks again.

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Irvin December 5, 2012 at 1:34 am

Ha! I have yet to meet ANY food blogger that was an instant success or makes a billion dollars. The sad fact is that only a handful of bloggers make a a proper living off of their blog. Most use their blog as a platform to get more work, whether it’s food photography, styling, writing, recipe developing or working with brands. Unless you get mega traffic, just blogging isn’t going to pay the bills.

BUT don’t let that discourage you. Blogging has so much more to offer. It will make you a better photographer, a better writer, a better recipe developer, a better cook, a better baker. It leads to strong friendships and bonds with other bloggers in the community. It can open doors in way that you would never imagine. But it all takes time. Don’t expect success overnight, and be wary of those people who promise you that!

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Alexan November 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Thank you for this! :) I just started my blog this year and I’ve read a couple of food blog and real talk blog tips. Thanks again~
We have website regarding awesome food in Orlando “winter park fl restaurants”.
You can visit at
http://www.jimmyhulas.com

Thank You

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Irvin December 5, 2012 at 1:36 am

Hmm. Apparently you didn’t read my entire post above, that says when you leave a URL asking people to visit your site, it pretty much reads as comment spam! Something to think about if you start visiting other blogs and commenting on them.

Either way though, best of luck with your endeavor.

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Hannah December 3, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Thank you soo much for this! I just started a food blog , and after reading this it makes me not so nervous to post my simple 3rd post! props to you !

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Irvin December 5, 2012 at 1:37 am

Of course! Thanks for stopping by and keep going. Posting often is the best way to learn. Props to you for starting a blog!

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Jacob December 4, 2012 at 5:20 am

Wow this is so inspiring to start! Thanks so much. I was thinking about doing it but never felt the push… I think I’m going to start!! Maybe I’ll start with interesting day to day or even travel food stories to polish up my writing, and then get into some more demanding recipes… What do you think? Also what do you think is the best place to start… Something generic like http://wordpress.com and http://blogger.com or something dedicated to food like http://culinote.com or even my own domain name?

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Irvin December 6, 2012 at 2:59 pm

If you are starting from scratch and want something easy, wordpress.com or blogger.com are easy and free. But keep in mind that if you start getting more serious about blogging, you should own your own domain name and probably self-host your blog, and I would recommend wordpress.org as your engine.

That said, if it’s a hobby or something your just dipping your toe into, like I said in my post above, don’t feel like you have to dive immediately in and buy an URL, hire a designer and invest a huge amount up front. That can be really daunting. But if you see yourself going for the long haul, it might be worth investing upfront. Self hosting a site can cost money, but will save you headache down the road, as you won’t have to import all your old blog content into your new blog once you decide to make the switch.

A good intermediate step might be to do a freebie site like wordpress.com and registering a custom URL and having the URL forward to your wordpress.com site. Registering a domain name is cheap (about $10 a URL or sometimes less) and you own the site name and don’t have to worry about down the road in case you expand or get more serious. You will still have to either hire someone to import your blog content over spend days doing it yourself, but not everyone goes that route and needs to have their own site w/a self-hosted wordpress engine.

Bottom line. If you are serious about blogging, I’d recommend self hosting from the start. If it’s something you just want to try out, or as a casual hobby, wordpress.com or blogger.com are free and perfectly good options.

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Hanley December 5, 2012 at 11:29 am

Very interesting, I was just random browsing for recipes. Somehow got here. I never really thought about blogging about my passion for the kitchen. Just always making new foods for the family and friends. I showed my wife what you wrote. She thinks I should move into blogging. Share what I create with others. I think you have inspired her to inspire me. We are going to spend the next couple weeks planning this out and hope to have a blog up by the first of the year. Thanks for putting this out here.

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Irvin December 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Thanks Hanley! I love that your wife was inspired by my post! Best of luck with you and your blog. Drop by and let me know when it’s up and running. I’d love to see it!

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Sadhanna December 19, 2012 at 8:35 am

Hey! :)

I’ve thought about starting a blog, just nervous that it wont do well! here’s the thing, i’m only 16 ; but then again, does age really matter when it comes to the cullinary art?

What do you think?

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Irvin December 20, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Nope! Age isn’t an issue at all. In fact, I know a number of young food bloggers in their teens! Check out Elissa over at 17 and Baking (though she’s now 20), Lauren who started her blog (a href=”http://www.celiacteen.com/”>CeliacTeen when she was 15, Kamran over at The Sophisticated Gourmet started his blog when he was 16, Charlie Bakes who started her blog when she was only 12 and Recipe Boy who is only 11!

I think for me, the most important thing to do is spend time on whatever you love. Whether that’s blogging, writing, photographing, baking, making up recipes. The more you do it, the better you get at it! Everyone has to start somewhere, and the younger you start, the better you’ll be when you become an old person like me!

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Jenny December 20, 2012 at 3:28 am

I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to blog on this topic. I am new to blogging and am having a hard time figuring out the best way to get followers. Your section about “not asking blogs to follow you” and just being patient…the followers will come was greatly helpful. I have this sense of urgency for people to follow me and thanks to your blog, I realize I should chill the heck out! I need to remember that I am blogging first and foremost for myself because I love to write. If you have a spare moment I did have a question. You went over camera details and how important pictures were. I do not have Instagram because I do not have an iphone. Do you feel getting an iphone is an extremely important investment when it comes to photographing food? I keep trying to take pics with my kodak hand held and they are horrible :( Look forward to reading more from your blog!

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Irvin December 20, 2012 at 8:32 pm

I think you eye is more important than any gear (iphone, camera, fancy lens) that you can get. Certainly gear can HELP a photo. But as I’ve said before you can take good photos with pretty much anything nowadays. But you have to train your eye in what makes a good photo and what doesn’t.

If your photos look horrible, there are a number of sites and books out there that will help you with it. You might be using your front flash, or taking photos with your lights on, instead of using natural light. You can certainly take great photos with flash or artificial light, but it’s more advanced and I always recommend people take photos with natural light to begin with. It’s sort of like learning your addition and subtraction before you move onto multiplication and division and square roots. You gotta know your basics.

Matt Armendariz (of Matt Bites) just released a book called Focus on Food Photography for Bloggers. It might be worth checking out. I don’t have it, but if it’s anything like Matt, it’ll be funny, amusing, witty and full of great information. There are also a few other food photography books out there (Plate to Pixel by Helen Dujardin, Food Photography: from Snapshot to Great Shot by Nicole S. Young, Food Photography: Pro Secrets for Styling, Lighting and Shooting by Lara Ferroni) that will give you great background and advice on photographing food. And all of them are significantly cheaper than buying an iPhone. ;)

The one thing that I will say about having an iPhone or another smart phone is that, because it’s your cell phone, you always carry it around with you. That means you always have your camera with you. What’s nice Instagram is the immediacy of it. Once you start using Instagram, you start taking photos a lot. In fact, you start seeing the world as a potential for photographs. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll notice that I actually don’t take a lot of food photos. I tend to take photos of the environment, of a place I’m at, of friends that I’m with. To me, the ability to capture an image, anytime, anyplace is what makes my iPhone valuable.

And like anything, the more photos you take, the better you get at it. Is it necessary for photographing food? Not at all. Just keep shooting and keep taking photos. The more the better!

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Ruth December 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm

You picked the perfect 3 tips to start a food blog! I can’t think of how many times I’ve gone to a food blog and been turned off by poor photos or marginal writing. Who knows, maybe I’ll feel inspired enough to start a food blog of my own =) Thanks for the info!

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Irvin December 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Yes, we all eat with our eyes first. And if you visit a blog, you want to read something great as well! Totally agree.

And if you do start a blog, let me know! I’d love to check it out.

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Amanda December 31, 2012 at 12:51 pm

I’m so glad that people like yourself take the time to share their hard learned wisdom. Will be putting as much as possible in to action- from the crudely written first posts to hopefully a more refined and well read food blog.

Thanks.

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Irvin March 8, 2013 at 11:07 pm

My first posts were pretty crudely written, and I still think they need work, but it’s a never ending process. But what’s most important is that I’ve started that process and continued it… Good luck!

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Manasi January 6, 2013 at 11:10 am

Just wanted to thank you for providing great tips to start a food blog. I have recently started a food blog on Indian food (http://indian-delights.blogspot.com) and your post for really helpul.
Thanks again.

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Irvin March 8, 2013 at 11:08 pm

You’re most welcome. I’m glad you found my post helpful!

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Peter January 6, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Hi there,
As with so many others that have commented on this post, I just wanted to say thank you! I’ve just been thinking about starting my own blog in the near future. This post has been by far the most helpful when doing my research! Definitely answered a lot of questions and also opened my eyes to a number of other questions that I need to research…ahhhhh!!!! :) RSS, future blogging ambitions, photography choices, plating, design, copyright, and the list goes on! Ah, well, I’m probably freaking out too much about certain details and should really just take your advise and just start. Great post and great site!
Take care,
Peter

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Irvin March 8, 2013 at 11:10 pm

It really is never ending. There are things I still want to do with my blog, and as I work on them, finish them, push them out, I find that the list continues to grow. But take it one step at a time and just start, otherwise it gets too overwhelming! The rest will fall into place…

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Courtney January 25, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Hello Irvin,
Your post on beggining a food blog was extremely helpful! I wish I would’ve found your post earlier, it would’ve saved me a whole lot of time. Thanks so much for the great advice and inspiration. I can’t wait to enjoy the art of food even more!
I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the bit about writing recipes correctly!! :)
Thanks again,
Courtney

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Irvin March 8, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Hi Courtney. Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad that my post was helpful for you. Best of luck!

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Maud January 29, 2013 at 7:16 am

Thanks, some great advice. You have an amazing site, only inspires me more to create one of my own.
Maud

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Irvin March 8, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Yay! That’s the best compliment, being able to say that I inspired you to create your own!

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Overseas Pinoy Cooking February 3, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Great food blogging tips, I should have read it years ago, thank you.

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Irvin March 8, 2013 at 11:12 pm

I’m glad you liked the tips! Best of luck to you.

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Noi February 4, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Hi Irvin, Just want say hello and thank you for this post. Your post encourages and inspires me to jump right in and start writing. After a week of reading your posts, I just did my first blog today. Still have lots of learning curves.
Many blessings to you,
Noi

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Irvin March 8, 2013 at 11:13 pm

I’m glad you started! Blogging is a continual learning process, but you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t start. So glad it inspired you!

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Laura February 19, 2013 at 11:05 am

I just bookmarked your page to come back to for encouragement. Why do I feel so vulnerable to start a blog? Why in the world am I scared to start a blog? I think I feel this way because I want it to be perfect. So many blogs look pretty and perfect I just think to myself why would somebody want to read mine? I also say to myself that all the information that anybody would want already exists on the Internet. Oh my God after reading what I just wrote I sound like such a downer! I need to just say eff it and just do it already and have fun doing it! Holla! :)

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Irvin March 25, 2013 at 12:20 pm

I think the stress of perfection is what holds a lot of people back. But you have to realize that life isn’t about perfection. It’s about all the mistakes we make and all the lessons we’ve learned. Don’t let the fear of perfection hold you back. It’s easy to self-doubt, but the more you do something, the better it becomes. And lets face it, perfection, by definition, is unattainable.

You bring YOURSELF to your blog. Which makes it unique. And if you have fun doing it, why does it matter if others read it? Truthfully, if it’s fun, people will. Who doesn’t like fun?

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Grace February 20, 2013 at 5:55 am

Hey there! So I just quickly skimmed through your article, but then found it quite intriguing, so I actually read it :) I’m a new blogger, and I totally feel what you mentioned in the article, esp. about having all my friends telling me, “you go, glen coco!” Well, something like that.

And about perfecting the recipes- I’m actually having my mom make my Tip-top healthy Chocomuffs to foolproof the recipe. She isn’t exactly the best at following directions, so I really hope they come out well in the morning d: anyways…I really don’t understand my purpose of rambling, and neither do you (probably), but I think it’s because I’ve been infected with a serious case of senioritis. Thanks for the great article and making my homework hiatus worthwhile. Keep up the quality posts!
btw- I also love typing in this comment box, as this is one of my fave fonts!

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Irvin March 25, 2013 at 12:22 pm

LOL. Thanks for the comment and the compliment. I used to bake when I was avoiding my homework (the internet wasn’t invented back then, that’s how old I am!) so I totally understand where you’re coming from!

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Reymund Jugalbot February 20, 2013 at 2:40 pm

this article is great. however, this article only focuses on the food side of it. i found an article that focuses the technical side of it like getting a domain name and web hosting for your food blog website.

here it is: http://avocadopesto.com/2012/08/28/starting-a-blog-why-and-how-to-start-a-food-blog/

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Irvin March 25, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Thanks for the link! There are plenty of blogs posts out there that deal with the tech side of setting up a blog. I’d definitely recommend checking out Pro Blogger if you want more tech stuff and tips on going pro. However, this specific post was really about getting over the fears of starting a food blog. Cheers!

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Brittany March 8, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Hey Irvin!

Reading this article has comforted and inspired me in ways I’d never anticipated, especially from the first Google search I made on tips for starting a new food blog. I’ve been in college for almost eight years now (I’m almost 26), and have been struggling to find the perfect balance between a major that makes me happy, and one that will make me money. It took me this long to realize that studying under a subject for the mere fact that it will make finding a job easier is pointless. I have always had a passion for food, photography, and writing – but knew that a life in blogging and potentially maybe one day writing for a magazine or television show would be a challenge I might never be able to meet. Right now I’m majoring in Journalism and writing hard news leads every day, and I am completely miserable doing it. Systematic writing is not for me, and neither is the realm of everyday world news. Every day I daydream during classes about dropping out and starting a food blog, working my hardest, and maybe someday achieving my dreams. Taking classes at culinary schools, classes on wine, classes on food photography, food writing.. all of it. But I can’t afford the $38,000 6-month-shot deal (financial aid isn’t much help with these programs).

Anyhow, I just wanted to let you know that your words did a great service to me today. It’s always good to hear advice from somebody as passionate about food as I am. Please keep writing and putting smiles on faces like mine! – me

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Irvin June 11, 2013 at 5:09 pm

I’m glad you found my post. It’s always a hard choice and a difficult decision to figure out what route to take in life. Money is a huge factor involved, but know that many (if not most) bloggers have day jobs and blog at night and weekends and whenever they can. Few bloggers can actually make a living doing it.

But we all blog because we love it. I stand by my initial advice to blog because you are passionate about it. If money and success come from it, then that’s a bonus. But if you love what you are doing, regardless of whether you make money from it or not, you at least are doing what you love and that makes it all worth it in the end.

Best of luck!

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Janey March 17, 2013 at 5:14 pm

I’m a restaurant-food blogger, and it took me quitting two or three other food- or recipe-type blogs to find my niche where I’ve remained for 1 1/2 years and still love it.

Thanks for the photography and writing sections of this post, of which I had already personally learned from some of the mistakes listed but also gained new insight. And I particularly loved all the food-writing recommendations!

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Irvin June 11, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Thanks Janey! I think we all go through that learning period where we are trying to find our voice and figure out what we want to do in terms of blogging. I’m glad you’ve found yours!

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Anika March 24, 2013 at 8:26 am

Hi Irvin,
I love your blog and wanted to thank you for this very informative
and humor filled post! You speak from the heart..thank you for that! You inspire me as well as many others.
I wish you continued success!

Ani

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Irvin June 11, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Thanks Ani! I’m glad you found the post informative and entertaining. It’s definitely what I was going for!

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Rachel March 26, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Thank you for letting me feel like I can suck in the beginning and totally own it! I know I have tons of things to improve upon, but you showed me I can relax and just have a blast while I learn. Also, thank you for the information about the food blogging shows, especially the IFBC conference. I am considering attending this fall, even if I get nothing out of it but staying up late drinking with other food bloggers ;)

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Irvin June 11, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Oh yeah. Totally own it! I do. I look at my previous posts and cringe at them (could I have used any more exclamation points?!?!?!) But at the end of the day, most of us don’t make much money off of the blog so we might as well just blog for the passion of it and learn while we go.

I won’t be going to IFBC, but if you do go, enjoy it. It’s a great conference! And yes, staying up late to drink with the food bloggers is probably my favorite part of the conference.

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Vicki Sinclair March 30, 2013 at 4:11 am

Thank you for this informative post. Working with a touch of ADD, I tend to be all over the place in my blogging. That has calmed its self a bit, but I still feel as if I need 30 more blogs to cover my random whims and off food topics. I think many new bloggers feel some sort of rejection for a while. I do, but I have learned a lot recently from other bloggers like you, that speak (write) frankly, and say it like it is. It is frustrating knowing that it may take a while to find your audience. For me, I have finally realized that I have to grow with the flow before I actually gain a decent number of active readers. Because I enjoy and connect with your writing more so than others I have read, is it a possibility you could write a post on being comfortable in your own skin when taking on new blogging adventures? Starting with myself, I have met several newer bloggers that carry the same fear of rejection which has landed many in quit mode for the idea that they aren’t good enough, or don’t fit in with food blogging communities because they may be a little different. I understand the concepts of growth and development, and I know there are differences between successful chefs and homemaker moms on a budget. I guess the point being just as I said, feeling comfortable in your own skin and pushing forward through rejection. 6 months ago, I would not have been able to put this type of post here, and I listened to bloggers that advised new bloggers not to share too much of themselves which actually took the spirit out of my posts. I would love to see you cover these things for new bloggers feeling the blues. Thanks again.

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Irvin June 11, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Just as we are all individuals living in a vast world, we all also have our own boundaries and are comfortable with what we do and do not put on our blogs. For some, that means we don’t share too much of ourselves and for others it probably means we share a lot more than most would feel comfortable doing.

I personally walk the line between sharing too much. In truth, I share what I feel comfortable sharing (though occasionally I do publish something that is uncomfortable for me). But despite all the things I do share on this blog, there are a multitude of personal things that I do not share.

Perhaps one of these days I’ll write about the importance of being true to yourself on your blog and being comfortable in your own skin. Not sure when that will happen but I’ll keep that in mind because it’s an important subject for everyone (not just food bloggers). Regardless, thanks so much for reading my blog and for commenting so thoughtfully.

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Zilla April 4, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Thank you for this great Foog Blog 101! I’ve been thinking of starting my own food blog for several months now, but the scary idea of failing has kept me from doing it until I read this article.
Your tips have been very helpful and I can definitely use them for my own blog.
Thank you again and keep up the good work!

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Irvin June 11, 2013 at 5:22 pm

You are most welcome Zilla! I hope you do start a blog. I think the fear of failing is what always stops most of us. Just know that if you do it from a point of passion and love, it’ll never be a failure.

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Zilla June 11, 2013 at 11:03 pm

Thank you for your response. I have launched my food blog almost 2 months ago, right after I wrote my first comment on your blog post. I am still working on the design. The blog is fully in Dutch at the moment, but I am working on a multilingual version for the future.
Food photography is all new to me, but this book I bought (Plate to Pixel) is very helpful to train my food photography skills (I can recommend it to all beginner food bloggers and photographers). It shows you the basics of your camera, composition and gives you lots of tips, tricks and examples on how to make food look at its best in a picture.
I really don’t mind that my pictures and recipes are not that ‘professional’ yet, because I really enjoy the learning process and my work will eventually show the progress I’ve made over time. Food blogging makes me a better designer, photographer and cook!
I would love to know what you think of the first set-up of my website. I entered the link in the ‘website name’ box when I wrote this comment.
Thanks again!

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Valerie May 1, 2013 at 11:49 pm

Thanks for your post it was just the kick in the pants that I needed! It reminded me of the time that my grandma wrote in her recipes in a round notebook rather than the square one that you use and I think she did use a little Grand Marnier while writing… “Now I’m getting all verklempt thinking about grandma. Thank you for the trip down memory lane”
All joking aside, fantastic article and judging by the number of comments you have influenced a large number of new bloggers. Thank you, you’re now on my regular read list!

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Irvin June 11, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Thanks Valerie! I hope I inspired you as well. Glad you’ve become a regular reader!

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Divya May 3, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Hi Irvin,
Thanks for your valuable tips. I started my blog
Casually as a hobby at Wordpress. Now that i have a good
Number of recipes, i have been debating whether to selfhost or not.
After reading Your post, now I am switching to Wordpress. Org.
I also wanted to accept the facts about using iphones for pictures. All the pictures
In my blog are through my iPhone :)
Divya

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Irvin June 11, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Nothing wrong with iPhones! I’ve seen some beautiful photos taken with iPhones and even Martha Stewart had used iPhones in her magazine. I believe Everyday Food once had a spread where all the food was shot with iPhones!

Best of luck!

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Sue June 9, 2013 at 4:43 pm

First of all-great blog! I am thinking of starting my own, but the one thing I’m wondering about is if it’s okay to post the recipes of others (for example from a site or a cookbook) as long as the source is credited? What’s your advice on this one?

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Irvin June 11, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Hi Sue!

I think most of the bloggers I know would prefer if you did NOT just post their recipes. Most bloggers works really hard to create an original recipe and would like to see people visit their site to get their recipe. That said you could always adapt the recipe (make the recipe, change it a bit, photograph your creation and write up what you did in your own words) and then link back to the original recipe. Most bloggers love that! When in doubt though, I’d ask the blogger ahead of time.

For more information about recipe attribution and content lifting check out these awesome articles over at Food Blog Alliance: http://foodblogalliance.com/a/recipe-attribution/ and http://foodblogalliance.com/a/what-to-do-when-your-content-is-lifted/

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Sue June 12, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Thanks so much, Irvin. Very helpful, I’m all about giving credit where it’s due and wouldn’t want to steal anything from anyone. The articles you referred to in your reply are also very helpful.

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ana June 18, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Hi! you spoke about not taking other peoples recipes. That’s fine and all but what something like, chocolate cupcakes or a chocolate torte, where there are already thousands of recipes out there already, how do go about avoiding putting a recipe up, that say , your grandma gave you but really its all over the net and several others have posted it? Just curious. I mean, there are only so many ways to make a plain chocolate cupcake or cabonara before you impede on someone elses recipe. I hope ive not misinterpreted what you stated…

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Irvin June 18, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Hi Ana!

So here’s the thing. Ask yourself why you would want to put a recipe for a chocolate cupcake or a chocolate torte on your website to begin with. If there are thousands of recipes already available, why should someone come to YOURS? If yours is actually Martha Stewart’s recipe, than shouldn’t you just direct people to Martha Stewart’s recipe? What’s the point of just cutting and pasting her recipe onto your site? You probably won’t get more hits than Martha. It probably won’t rank higher on the google search results. AND if Google saw that you posted the same recipe as Martha’s than it might even ding you and say that you were spammer – Google HATES duplicate content. You could be blacklisted and that would be REALLY bad for your site, not to mention you might also incur the wraith of Martha Stewart and her legal department. You don’t want to mess with Ms. Martha.

You’re right though, there are only so many ways to make a some recipes. But if you talk about WHY this specific recipe means something to you, if you write in your own voice HOW you make the recipe, than you’ve made the recipe yours, or at least you’ve given me (and other readers) a reason to come and visit your site and read the recipe.

I mention Dorie Greenspan in my blog post. Check out her site and look at some of her recipes for examples. When she writes instructions like “Using your fingers, lift the nuts from the bowl, letting the excess egg white drip back into the bowl (you can run the dipped nuts against the side of the bowl to de-excess them), and transfer them to the baking sheet, separating them as best you can. Discard whatever sugar-egg mix is left in the bowl.” that’s pretty specifically hers. The recipe may be the same recipe for spiced nuts that your grandma uses, but the way she wrote those instructions sound like Dorie not like your grandma.

Does this answer your question? It’s a difficult one to answer and one that I struggle with as much as the next person. It may be why I make so many recipes that are notoriously difficult to make. I’m trying to figure out a way to make my recipes specifically mine. It’s not the same path that other people take. There may be very few things under the sun that haven’t already been created, but HOW you write it up and WHY you write it up makes a difference in the long run and will draw people to your blog way more than that “delicious chocolate cupcake” recipe that everyone else has written about.

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Tara June 28, 2013 at 9:29 am

@Irvin – this is so true – if you are about to post a recipe for something that is ordinary or bland or that someone could find in their betty crocker book, then why are you posting it? There’s just no reason to waste time posting something that isn’t unique in some way.

It’s a feedback loop – if it’s so generic that it’s already been posted a hundred times, then there’s no reason that someone will come to your blog to read it, and on the flip side, why are you wasting time posting something that isn’t unique? That’s the whole meat and potatoes of being a food blogger – being creative with food and sharing that creativity with the world. If you don’t have that going for you, then you aren’t going to standout and get your own audience!

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siobhan July 26, 2013 at 9:23 am

Hi, I also have a baking blog, would love if you checked it out! Thanks :)
bakingeatingblogging.blogspot.­ie

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Wedding cakes in Pune September 5, 2013 at 12:23 am

You are killing me with all these desserts! As soon as you post one I feel like I need to make it right now! Looks awesome… as usual :)

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Samantha September 19, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Hi Irvin, thanks for sharing this! I’ve been reading food blogs like yours for ages, and I’ve only just plucked up the courage to start my own. Hearing you say that beginning a blog allows a lot of room for experimentation is such a encouraging, because I feel like I don’t really know what I’m doing or where I’m going with it all!

It’s been really informative for me – especially to make me conscious of my obsession with exclamations marks too!

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Irvin September 20, 2013 at 8:09 am

You’re most welcome! I use a ton of exclamation marks too, so don’t feel TOO self conscious about it. ;) Good luck!

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Mai September 27, 2013 at 9:00 am

Thank you so much for sharing this and all the amazing recipes on your site ! I wish I could find the ingredients to make them here in Thailand because all your desserts sound so divine ! I just started blogging today and your post is truly the inspiration behind it :-) It’s good and encouraging to know that many great bloggers out there all started out small and gone through that stage of not knowing what they’re doing, makes me feel like i’m not alone!

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Kristin Nicole October 15, 2013 at 10:20 am

AWESOME Advice, thank you for writing this. It’s funny and gives me great tips as to what to do haha… I LOVE FOOD and I have thought about my site for over a year, I finished school so now I am trying to focus and figure out how to start it up and get it done right. It’s true you don’t get comments at first (usually just friends and family) and even with that you get excited haha… I know I did with my first blog lol. I am a little nervous to start but you are right, I just have to do it.

THANKS, AND I look forward to looking over your recipes.
xo
kristin nicole

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Charlotte October 24, 2013 at 2:05 am

Great advice!
I have just started my food blog and I really enjoyed writing your post.
Thanks :)

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Charlotte October 24, 2013 at 2:07 am

* reading

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Penny November 17, 2013 at 9:06 am

I have 3 true loves; cooking, writing and photography. I have posted many recipes (with photos as one of the critical elements for choosing cookbooks-must include photos) on FB. An organic honey company that infuses fruit into their product has asked me to experiment and post the variety of applications for their product. My wife and I have discussed blogging many times. I have been reluctant for several reasons, not the least of which is the intimidation factor.
After reading your post, I have decided to try it. What is do I have to lose??? If I blog and never get a reading audience beyond friends and family, who cares; I don’t have a reading audience now, right?! LOL
Thank you for the encouragement and guidance. Splendid article….

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Nancy December 3, 2013 at 5:14 am

Reviews are usually no help what so ever! Why? because most of them just say, OH! THAT LOOKS SO GOOD! or/and, I’M GOING TO MAKE THIS ASAP! We all can see what it looks like, we want to know what reviewers think of the taste, difficulty etc. You can read about 50 reviews and only 1 actually made it before reviewing. I know this isn’t what you wanted but I had to get it out there, thanks

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Gemma December 22, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Thank you so much for this post, I started a food blog recently and I think I needed the reminder that you don’t get readers instantly (one of those things you know before you start but choose to ignore hahaha).

One thing I wish I had done before I started was accumulate some recipes, pre-written before I started. I had plenty of things I kind of just new how to make but nothing in writing and its making keeping the recipes coming quite tricky. I am guilty of not testing a recipe so I think I may just have to accept that the posts will be slow for now and make sure I am getting these things right!

Thankfully I didn’t give into the urge to spam some of my favorite food blogs before reading this, good to know!

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Mike McLeod January 4, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Hi Irvin,

Terrific write up. I am about to start a food blog for my wife. Well, I will set it up and she will do the work. I stumbled upon your page as you topped the Google search when looking to setup a food blog – but you probably know that.
I have already told my wife about this great article, and am urging her to read it top to bottom, as I feel a lot of your advice is very well placed.
Thanks for taking the time to write this for newbies like us. I hope we can take it all in and that Wendy can make a success of her blog (I did love the bit about the ugly adolescent.

Cheers Mike :)

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Rickie Tyler January 7, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Thanks so much for this post. I was feeling lost with my new foodblog but after reading this article I feel confident that I can turn it into what I have been dreaming of. Thanks again!!!

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aneesh ahmad January 8, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Thank you! While we aren’t horrible eaters, I’m determined to clean up my family’s diet even more.

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Lilly January 11, 2014 at 7:31 am

Thanks for a useful article!
I don’t have a blog yet, but considering one. The need to collect some basic knowledge about food blogging brought me to this nice article.
But something confused me. What you mean by “stealing a recipe”? I mean if one finds/likes a recipe from a book, website, journal or a blog and wants to have that in his/her blog (may be with few personal touches) referring to the source by mentioning or the link, that doesn’t mean stealing, right?
I don’t think I’m yet able to create a recipe. Well may be a small salad or a breakfast, but I won’t dare a serious dish.
Please please please answer my question, because your answer is going to be decisive for my future blog.
Thanks!

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Irvin January 13, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Hi Lilly,

I think when I say stealing a recipe, I mean directly copy and pasting a recipe from a source, without even changing it at all. Certainly it’d difficult for people to come up with their own recipes (especially if you are a baker – the ratio of flour, sugar, butter and eggs pretty much stays the same for cookies, cakes and brownies). But if you rewrite the recipe in your own voice, add some personal touches or change the technique to suite your own kitchen (you don’t have a stand mixer but use a hand held mixer or you do it by hand) that’s when the recipe starts to become more your own.

Definitely link to the source or cite it (if it’s a book) with a link to Amazon if people want to buy it. For me, if the recipe hasn’t changed at all from the source, why should I look at YOUR site, versus the person who built the recipe themselves? As a professional recipe developer, I spend hours in the kitchen testing and retesting a recipe. The time and effort in making that recipe (plus all the ingredient cost) is pretty labor intensive. And I get pretty upset if someone out there, just cuts and pastes my recipe word for word on their site. That’s not to say that I don’t love it when people make my recipe and want to share it with their friends, but I want them to write the recipe up in their own voice and explain to me what they did different from my own. Otherwise, why not just link directly to my site with my recipe? There’s already so many recipes on the internet. No need to add more noise and duplications.

Don’t let this stop you from starting a blog. Write the recipe in your own words, make sure the link goes to the source recipe, take your own photos and 99 out of 100 bloggers out there will thrilled that you made their recipe and thought it was great enough to blog about it.

Hope this helps!

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Kat January 14, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Thank you for the wonderful advice. I having been thinking about starting a food blog for a couple of years now, but have always seemed to talk myself out of it. I think I am going to finally take the plunge and I am super excited about it. One question though – if I publish a recipe on my blog and have found that recipe from another source (say another food blog), is it ok to simply note where it came from and link it to that site? Is it unacceptable to keep a recipe identical or is it vital to change something(s). I always see at the bottom of a recipe, “adapted from blah blah.” So I assume that they have changed something. I am just unsure of the basics of recipe “plagiarism.” Sorry if this is such a basic and silly question! Thank you in advance!

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Irvin January 27, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Hi Kat. You should read the comment I posted above about “stealing recipes’ and what I told Lilly. My question is always WHY are you posting a recipe if it’s the exact same thing as a recipe already published? Does it have a special meaning to you? Have you customized it to your own tastes? Or is there a better technique that you’ve discovered while making the recipe that makes the recipe is better (you found that parchment paper instead of a silpat will give you a crisper edge to the cookies). If you are going to replicate the recipe exactly there should be a reason why you are posting about it on your blog. Otherwise why not just link directly to the recipe and let people go to the recipe directly?

The fabulous David Lebovitz actually wrote a great post over at Food Blog Alliance about recipe attribution. Food Blog Alliance is actually a great resource if you are just starting a food blog, I highly recommend it!

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Sarah May 25, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Hi Irvin!

I know my comment/question is late, but I hope you will still reply. Regarding this top on “stealing recipes,” I’m a little bit overwhelmed. Does this mean I have create my own recipes even when I’m starting out? I always wanted to start a food blog ever since I started to read them when I was a little girl. It’s an outlet that I can share my onions, ideas, and voice. Exactly what you said above. However I’m still learning and I’m not confident to create my own recipes. I was reading the link you provided about “Recipe Attribution” and I completely agree. What I was going to do before I started second, third, and then fourth guessing myself was try a recipe out from a cookbook, website, etc. and tweak it if needed until I am confident to share online. Then I would write what I think and learned after with of course providing credit.

However, you brought a great point about re-posting something that has already been posted and shared with probably a much wider audience that me. I have even thought about this before you brought it up, which is why it’s taking me so long to start my blog (about 8 months). I just don’t want to do something that is frowned upon. I want to earn readers based on my voice and that is why it’s taking me so long to start it up.

I am lost and overwhelmed by should and shouldn’ts and I wanted to know what your advice is for me. I would be very great-full if you respond.

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Irvin June 3, 2014 at 8:50 pm

Hi Sarah,

Everyone has to start somewhere! I think people find their voice and their readers as they write, so I definitely recommend just diving it. I think the hardest part is the second guessing, and as my post above mentioned, just start and see what happens.

The scenario you described sounds like a good way to start (and honestly, it’s how most food bloggers start, by adapting a recipe). Just make sure write the recipe you adapted in your own voice and instructions (don’t copy and paste the recipe) and link to who you adapted it from. The more you write and work on the recipes, the more you’ll start developing your own recipes. Everything comes with practice. But dive right in, no need to be nervous!

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Tori January 18, 2014 at 5:18 pm

I appreciate your article. I DEFINITELY love your approach of “Just Do It”(as Nike would say). I’ve always been a firm believer to grab life by the horns and just go for it and enjoy the ride….and THAT is what I am gonna do!!!! THIS article is a keeper for the library!!!!

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Jiorphia KreyolDoll Damier January 20, 2014 at 7:41 pm

This is the BEST blog I’ve read on food blogging. Irvin, I’ll be sure to give you a shout out once I’ve “made” it as a prominent voice in the blogosphere.

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Serene@HouseofYumm January 28, 2014 at 11:18 am

This is one of the most helpful posts I have read so far on starting a food blog. I just got a site up and running last week, and I completely understand what you mean about taking the time to play around, because honestly, no one is reading it! I find it comforting to know that as time goes on and I keep at it my writing and my photography will improve. Currently, the photography is the most challenging part for me. I find it comforting to go to other sites and go to the archives and see the beginning posts of some other blogs that are really big now. There is a definite difference in the style of writing and again the pictures. Just wanted to say thanks for this post I found it very inspiring and helpful.

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Shay February 2, 2014 at 5:30 am

Thx for this valuable info!

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Aimee February 8, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Thanks so much for your post, I been thinking about staring my own blog and this has giving me some courage. thanks again.

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Giulia February 14, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Thank you for your comments. This is exactly what I was looking for. I have so many ideas and cannot wait to have the right audience to read them.
My recipes are designed to be simple, home-made and totally free-from, helping anyone with allergies or intolerances with their everyday ‘cooking nightmares’.
Feel free to take a look and let me know what you think:
http://www.seewhatucaneat.blogspot.com

I am now going to keep researching your blog for more useful tips :)
GMx

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Gingybite February 17, 2014 at 12:53 am

Thanks so much for the tips! I just started my blog and was so so tempted to do all those mistakes that you have mentioned. Haha… Good thing that I read your post first. I think being persistent is the key, many people just fall out half way before they see the real traffic to their blog. Your post certainly help me a lot!

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Lisa February 25, 2014 at 12:06 am

Thanks.
I already want to turn back the clock 12 hours and remove a FB comment I made on a bloggers post (I think I might be able to delete it but I’m pretty sure they would have put me in the crazy stalker pile now anyway!).
It’s hard when you think you have a good product and just want the whole world to see it….NOW. The hours toiling in the kitchen seem fruitless in cyperspace.
Thanks for pointing out that patience, and hard work, is a virtue!

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Irvin April 18, 2014 at 2:32 am

Like Cher, we all wish we could turn back time! But seriously it’s not really a big deal so don’t sweat it.

And though it’s hard to think about all the hours toiled away at your blog I view it as a labor of love. Certainly I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t love it!

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Phillip @ SouthernFATTY.com February 27, 2014 at 6:07 pm

THIS post! As a [very] new blogger, this really helps put things in perspective for me. I’ve had similar advice from fellow Nashville food bloggers that I have met so far. Building that community has really made it all that much more fun. Always good to hear some constructive advice to help ease the growing pains.

-Phillip

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Shannon March 1, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Three years later and this post is still inspiring! I am interested in starting a food blog as a means of stress relief. I adoooore baking and have been doing it since I was a kid. One question though: I am absolutely not an expert at anything I will be doing, but how do I go about “creating” recipes? I’m lost!

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Irvin April 18, 2014 at 2:43 am

Well there are a few ways to do it. First you could start with just “adapting” someone else’s recipe by putting your own spin on it. Make sure to write the recipe instructions in your own wording and definitely add an attribution to the recipe, linking it to the source with a “adapted from …”

After that, if you want to start making your OWN recipes, I’d invest in a few reference books. Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio book is great reference for starting out with a core ratio or recipe and building from there. The Flavor Bible and the Flavor Thesaurus are both great reference books for discovering combinations of flavor. And since baking is your thing, check out Sherry Yard’s Secrets of Baking and Bakewise by Shirley O. Corriher.

All of those above are amazing reference books that will get (hopefully) get you started on your way to making your own recipes! I’d also check Food Blog Alliance for more insight on how to write recipes as well as check out Just Cook NYC posts on recipe writing and Dianne Jacob’s posts on recipe writing blog for more insider information about writing about food.

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Joshua April 8, 2014 at 7:49 pm

Thank you very much for your insightful post. I Was urged by my wife and a friend to start a food blog. I am not the best of writers or cooks, but I like to think that I hold a deep enough passion for my art to give it a try. Thank you for the inspiration and I will most assuredly start reading your blog! If you have any advice or thoughts for a military cook that wants to elevate himself to a hopefully Chef, Then I would be most grateful. Thank you and Blessings.

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cms April 12, 2014 at 8:11 am

your blogs contains valuable information which is help full for me

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Adina April 12, 2014 at 10:45 am

Thanks! This was one of the most comprehensive, easy to follow advice I have been able to find on the web about food blogging. I think your two years of experience makes you relatable and provides a sense of “can-do” for us aspiring writers and photographers instead of the intimidating, seasoned coaches. This was awesome!
And your photos have come a long way! :)
Thanks for the encouragement.

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Siani April 12, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Love, love, loved this post and though it is a few years old, it answered many of the questions I had and addressed some of the fears as well. Thank you and I have bookmarked this page for future reference and referral for other folks!

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Lea April 14, 2014 at 11:00 am

Irvin thank you for this great read! My favorite piece of advice you’ve given here is to just “go in and do it”. I’m working on finding my “voice” now, practicing my iPhone photography angles/lighting and writing whenever I can. This article has given me new perspective on taking the baby steps and just putting my work up on the site and having family members and friends leave “yumm!” comments – progress is better than no progress at all! It is always encouraging to see successful bloggers offering advice to new-comers to the blog-o-sphere like myself, so thanks again!

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Louise April 17, 2014 at 10:46 pm

Thank you – this post may be 2 1/2 years old but it still makes perfect sense, particularly to all us ‘baby bloggers’ who are rather daunted by the ‘big kids’!

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Irvin April 18, 2014 at 2:46 am

Glad it’s still useful! And no need to be scared of the big kids. They’re harmless. Well, most of them anyway! ( <- just kidding about that!)

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Shai Elizabeth June 13, 2014 at 4:08 am

In a few heavy moments of blogger self-doubt the last little while, this article nailed a few things that I definitly needed to hear. Regardless of how many people tell you to ‘just keep at it’ at some point it’s hard not to roll your eyes. Anyway my point is that I read this, and didn’t roll my eyes! Thanks :)

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Heather June 16, 2014 at 7:01 am

I’ve been reading a lot of posts about starting a food blog lately, and I love that you so boldly say – Just Do It (I mean, Nike said it in the 80′s and look where it got them!). It certainly helps give me the extra “umph” to get one started! But at times, I find the more I read the more I confuse myself on which path to take – buying your own domain name or simply starting one for free on a blogger or wordpress.com. Since I would be such a newbie at this, which do you suggest? Is it difficult to switch over to a more “serious” if you started from a free one? How often do you or should you post? How did you come to find your voice? I’m sure these questions are becoming overwhelming for you just as they are from me! But I would love to get your insight and to hear from your experiences. Thank you!

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Roland Zongo June 17, 2014 at 10:02 am

i definitely will give it a try,thanks.the problem is that you need to know how to cook before you can teach other people!!

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perdre du poids et kilos June 30, 2014 at 12:56 am

This might be the most complicated thing to do.But thanks for the advices,it is going to be tough but i am definitely going to give it a try.

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Nurani July 5, 2014 at 11:27 am

This post was exactly what I was looking for. Friends and family have been encouraging me to start a food blog for years (I am one of those shameless Facebook food photo posters – the idea of a blog wasn’t even on the horizon for me until a “Facebook friend” suggested it) but, I just haven’t been able to summon the chutzpah to begin. Food is my biggest passion. I wake up with taste memories on my tongue, and time outside of what I am doing doesn’t exist when I am in the kitchen. Those deep passions are the hardest things to fully share because you feel so connected to them that exposure to someone else makes every inch of your being seem extremely fragile – like telling someone you love them for the first time. I haven’t yet started a blog because I am scared. So thank you, for the “Don’t be afraid”. With that bit of inspiration, I am going to go start my incredibly cheesy and dramatic food blog right now.

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apprendre la guitare July 5, 2014 at 1:57 pm

You nailed this one, Irvin. Really.I’m bookmarking this so i could refer to those who may occasionally pester me with questions on blogging.

Awesome post!

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Arpita July 15, 2014 at 5:11 am

really great. thanks for sharing such useful information on food.
As food has always been the center of attraction and most of us are fond of healthy food.
Looking forward for such many more in future also. Explore some recent Food trends on discounts at http://www.couponsgrid.com/coupons-70-JustEat

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shivani July 15, 2014 at 6:26 am

hi Irvin
what a wonderful advice….thanks ….thanks so much.
can u also advice about any particular indian food blog which I should follow.
also the way you have mentioned about fresh blogging and its experiences….it is as if you read my mind.
thanks again.

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Addiction Treatment July 18, 2014 at 7:32 am

VERY GOOD….

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David smith July 20, 2014 at 4:32 pm

My name is David smith , my family and i live in UK .It was after seven years i got to discover that my wife was unfaithful to me.I didn’t know what was going on at first but as she got deep in the affair with her new lover, i felt that our marriage was on the rocks.I notice that she no longer light up when i touch her or kiss her in her neck and her chest cos she really liked it when i did that, she also usually get naked in front of me but when she started seeing that guy she stopped it.I remember asking her if i have done anything that makes her feel irritated when i am around her then she gives silly excuses that she has been feeling stressed up and that she need space for a while.I know when you are been asked for space its usually because there is something fishy is going on.I hired a private investigator to help find out what was going on.And in a week time he brought me prove that my wife that i have lived with for seven straight year is cheating on me with her high school lover.I had picture of her walking out a of a restaurant with him and many other photo of them kissing in public like she will never be caught by someone that knows she is my wife.I asked myself, even when we had a daughter together she could this to me.That same night i showed her the pictures that i got from my private investigator.She didn’t look at it before saying, that she is seeing someone and she know that i just found out about it.Then she said that she is in love with him.At that moment, i didn’t know if to kill myself or to kill her but the button line is that if i was going to kill anyone it was going to be me cos i was so much in love with her to even think of thinking to hurt her.As time when on she asked for a divorce and got it and even got custody of our daughter and i was all alone by myself.For a year i tried all i could to get her back with the help of my seven year old daughter.Even at that all effect was in vain, i used the help of her friend but turned out all bad.I know most people don’t believe in spell casting but believe me this was my last option and the result i most say was impressive.And i know it difficult to believe but A SPELL CASTER Dr omo really made my life much better cos he gave me my family back.He didn’t ask me to pay for what he did for me all i was to do, was to provide the materials for the spell and believe that he had the power to help me.Like he said, he was going to do something that will make her reset her love and affection for me just as it has always been.My wife told me she woke up and realized that she should have never left me that i am all she needs.To make thing clear, her life with her high school lover was great before Dr omo castled the spell they had no disagreement on anything.The guy said it himself that why she broke up with him is unexplainable.Only Dr omo can do such a thing contact him to solve your problem with his email:extremlovespell5@yahoo.com You can contact him for any help, he is very powerful and can solve any kind of problem below.
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Joel Moynihan August 8, 2014 at 2:32 am

Well done. You share a wonderful information

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Cristita August 11, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Hello, thank you for writing this. I love to cook and I’m always showing of my creations on facebook and with my friends. One of them told me that I should start my own food blog, and here I am, investigating about starting one. Probably I’ll have two, since I’m Mexican and a lot of my friends don´t speak english, and I also have a lot of english-speaking friends who don’t speak spanish. This has been really helpful for me, and don’t worry, I won’t e-mail asking you to read my blog (not now anyways ;) But still, I wanted to take some time to thank you. Best of luck always,
C

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Gruma August 13, 2014 at 12:37 am

Your blog presentation is fabulous. Thanks for information :P:P

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Krystal Salas August 28, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Thank you so much for this post. I have always been interested in starting up a blog but have been intimidated by all the “How do I..?” “Where do I..?” And of course the never ending “What if’s..?” (The biggest being, “What if nobody is interested in what I have to say?”)
But I guess I’ll never know until I make the move! Maybe one day I’ll be the one giving some advice because it’s being asked of me to share!
Thank you, again.

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Katie Carpenter August 30, 2014 at 12:18 pm

I’ve been getting ready to re-start food blogging for a few months now. Your post will be instrumental in pushing me to take the leap. Its good to be reminded that my work doesn’t have to be magical and glorious all at once, but that blogging is a learning process. I used to write a wonderful little food blog for the local newspaper and I’ve been wanting to step out on my own and develop something dedicated to my area’s burgeoning food movement and BEER! My husband brews and we are always exploring the craft beer landscape. I will be checking out many of the links you provided. Thanks so much! Best of luck to you!

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katerina October 8, 2014 at 7:07 am

I found your article via a simple google search “How to make a food blog”. Despite not being the first one I read on the subject, it was the one that I actually understood cause of the practical and psychological feedback that I got, and not the techno mumbo jumbo that confused me and scared me even further with finally going through with it! Thank you for the beautiful article from a techno-bimbo who only uses IT for work and limits its use to surfing. Oh, and by the way, thanks also for giving me the kick up my butt to actually “get on the surfboard” and actually do sth about all the stuff I have on my hard drive!

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Jolie Truc Bui October 10, 2014 at 8:56 pm

I almost get all lost at beginning but thanks to your blog, I find some good tips to start my own one. Thanks so much

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Jalal Ebrahimi October 11, 2014 at 5:55 am

This is good. I have idea now. I can start making a food blog now.

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Hayko Inukai Pattison October 12, 2014 at 8:51 pm

Hello Irvin:

Loved your writing style, you tell it like it is !
Thank you for blog advice, reads, and details (love the one about Santa Monica
Bloggers drinking………… I would have loved being there.

Take care,
hayko

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Anji October 13, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Hey, Irvin. Great tips on food blogging. I absolutely love your writing style. Thanks for sharing such valuable information and references.

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phan nhuom toc October 30, 2014 at 1:20 am

Great!
Thank for this post.
This things will help me so much.

Thank you!

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SWAKD December 19, 2014 at 12:54 am

First Thanks for your Post. I am blogging since last 4 year and founded many Interesting blogs and started my food blog just for money purpose as I do in other website hire a writer , give them topic get the content post them optimize them use some social media trick get intent traffic and fast ranking but when i go throw many post on food blogging I found common thing this niche have lots of traffic but only for heard worker and now I decided will follow each and every step and create only content my self after making them not just writing them thanks

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