Three Tips for Getting Started as a Food Blogger

Three Tips for Getting Started as a Food Blogger

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Three Tips to Getting Started as a Food Blogger 

I have this theory about people who visit my blog. It’s this: there are two kinds of people who are interested in what I have to say: those that are looking for a vegan recipe and those that are curious about being a food blogger.

Three Tips for Getting Started as a Food Blogger

I love both of these groups of people. Those that are interested in my vegan recipes because sharing them is what I love to do. I love the creation, the photographing, the writing and the marketing. But there is also a soft spot in my heart for other creatives out there that have always wanted to start a food blog but don’t know how to or are too afraid to try. I’m here to tell you… I know how you feel. Keep reading.

About Confessions of a Food Blogger

It’s for this latter group (and for myself as a means of documentation and discipline) that I decided I’d write a weekly piece for a section of my food blog called Confessions of a Food Blogger. Confessions of a Food Blogger is a journal of sorts where I tackle and answer the questions I had (and have) about food blogging and blogging in general. Questions like: How do I get started? Do I have to have a lot of experience? Do I need to learn to program? Am I too old for TikTok? Should I quit my day job? Is there any hope of ever making money? How much money?

All of these questions will be answered through my own experience and plenty of research. See below for more on that. For this piece though, I wanted to start at the beginning. The very, very beginning. So, without further ado, here are my Three Tips to Getting Started as a Food Blogger.

Food Blogger Beginner Tip #1: Be Brave (But Also Well Armed)

There is no way around this one, I’m afraid. Deciding that you want to write a food blog (or any blog for that matter) doesn’t come with a prescribed path. I would argue that most creative endeavors don’t. You don’t go to school and declare I want to be a blogger! then study, pass an exam and get a job as a junior food blogger. It’s a leap that you have to take on your own. And, at least for me, it was a leap preceded by lots of feelings of self-doubt and inertia.

Three Tips for Getting Started as a Food Blogger

You see, I’ve always taken the path of quashing my interests so that I could feel comfortable that the world would approve of the choices I made. I was (and still am to some degree) very interested in the world’s approval. For example, I loved creative writing in high school and college, but I became a lawyer on the grounds that it was a good, solid profession with a nice paycheck. It wasn’t for me, but it certainly does sound nice in chit-chat with new acquaintances, doesn’t it?

For someone like me then, taking a leap into blogging was terrifying. I could not imagine telling my family, former classmates and friends yeah, I’m a food blogger now. I know I have that fancy, expensive degree, but taking pictures of food and sharing them on the internet makes me happy. This made coming out (so to speak) as a blogger almost painful. As I learned, it requires a lot of bravery to explore your passion when you’re simultaneously concerned that everyone will think you’re having a mid-life crisis.

How to Make Being Brave Easier

I find that being brave is easier when you’re well-armed. Metaphorically, of course. By well-armed, I mean that there are a few pieces of information/advice that will make your leap into blogging less scary. I had to figure these out on my own, but in an effort to spare you the trouble I made you a list.

Understand that Blogging is Real Work

I’m going to get into this more below, but blogging is hard work. When done well, blogging is researching, writing, editing, marketing, responding, designing, strategizing and learning. Always learning.

Before I got myself into this, I had these romanticized notions about what blogging is. You know this one – it’s the stock photo of the perfectly manicured woman in her pajamas on a bed with her computer and a cup of coffee. The coffee has the perfect milk swirl. Sometimes there will be handwritten journal and a pair of glasses on the bed for good measure.

Three Tips for Getting Started as a Food Blogger

I can assure you. This is not blogging. First of all, the suggestion that you can sit for as long as it takes to research, write and edit a blog post without proper back support is almost comical. Between planning, cooking, cleaning, photographing, writing, editing, posting and sharing, a blog post takes me about 10 hours. Blogging is actual work.

Now, I know some of you are thinking… does it count as work if you’re not being paid for it? That was a hang up of mine too. I plan on exploring this topic in depth (how to make money blogging) but for now let me remind you… most ideas start with a financial deficit. You’re most likely not going to be making money out of the gate. But you can and you will if you put in the work.

Slow Down & Do Your Homework

Whenever I feel self-doubt about a recipe or a post, I tackle it by doing research. I find trusted sources and read up on vegan ingredients, cooking techniques and nutritional information before I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). This means that whatever creative spin I put on a recipe will also be backed by food science. Knowledge builds confidence.  

Here’s an example to demonstrate my point. When I very first started writing vegan recipes, I was learning how to use new ingredients. One of those ingredients was miso paste. At the time, I didn’t fully understand that, in addition to tasting good, miso paste has a lot of nutritional benefits; benefits that are diminished with the application of intense heat. This is something I would have known if I had just slowed down and done the work. Instead, I was rushing toward the goal of a large Instagram following so I put out a recipe with instructions to add miso paste to boiling water. Almost immediately (and rightfully so) I was flooded with comments telling me not to do that very thing. It was embarrassing and filled me with self-doubt.

Over time, you’ll hear me talk A LOT about not letting Instagram be the tail that wags the dog, but that’s not the drum I want to beat today. My point is that you’re far more likely to feel confident and brave when you equip yourself with good information. Your followers and readers will appreciate it as well.  

Surround Yourself with Supportive People (Me Included)

Remember those family members, former classmates and friends that I couldn’t bring myself to tell about my new project career? As it turns out, they’re almost all wonderfully supportive. Some of them are my biggest fans – cheering me on as I go. In addition to my personal, face-to-face relationships, I’ve got an online tribe as well. Other food bloggers, Instagrammers and influencers that I’ve actually developed a meaningful relationship with. Sometimes we even talk on the phone (gasp!).

I’ve learned that I’m not the only person who has a secret passion for career change and is afraid to admit it, doesn’t know how to get started or doubts my ability to do it. Almost everyone has felt that same way and can relate, so find those people, tell them your ideas and let them help you along. And count me among them – I’m always interested in your story!

Food Blogger Beginner Tip #2: Work Hard & Be Persistent

Again – you’re not getting around this one either. Becoming a food blogger is not an overnight success story. As I said above, it’s a lot of work.

Three Tips for Getting Started as a Food Blogger

Being relevant online (which is where a blog lives) is only getting harder and harder. There is a lot of noise out there. And, while you’re almost immediately going to get solicitations for products that promise to rush you to stardom, I’m here to tell you that there is no shortcut.

Understanding early on that content is king is critical. You need good content that meets the needs of your intended audience. How do you do that? Research. Lots of it. You need to know who your intended audience is and how they’re searching. Before I do any blog post, I spend at least an hour conducting SEO research to understand if and how people are searching that topic. Then I design my blog post around it. Even though it takes a lot of time, I see no point in putting out content that isn’t going to be found by the people looking for it.

Consistency and a critical mass are also really important. You need to build up a database of good, informational posts and you need to do it (and share them) at an even pace. The search engines, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. will all reward you for it. Consistency, however, requires planning. You can’t really wing it — not well and not for very long anyway. So, take the time to think through a sustainable plan that works for you and then be persistent in its execution.

Food Blogger Beginner Tip #3: Be Patient & Look for Your Niche

Unless you’ve been in the food space for a while, developing a niche takes some time. When I first started food blogging, I was all over the place in terms of the direction I wanted to take. I knew I wanted to focus on vegan cooking. After all, it’s how I like to eat most days. But even that niche needed refining. Was my food blog going to be comfort food, oil-free, sugar-free, gluten-free? Was I going to go hardcore vegan and suggest all my followers do the same? For many months, I thought I wanted to do equal parts vegan cooking and sustainability.

Three Tips for Getting Started as a Food Blogger

After almost of year of writing and rewriting and trying on different hats, I settled into a rhythm. My niche (and please tell me if you’re not getting this from me) is to just focus on foods and recipes that I enjoy and to demonstrate how I incorporate them into an active, outdoor-oriented lifestyle. I’m also very keen on learning new things as I go, so I try and include some broader skills or interesting food facts into every blog post I do. Now that I know this, choosing a recipe and writing a blog post about it is so much easier. I know what I want to say and how I want to say it.

So as my third tip, I encourage you to be patient in developing your brand and your voice. As you start the process, different ideas will come to you. Don’t be afraid to try them on. Reach out to those supportive people I mentioned above and talk with them. If an idea feels wrong, you’ll know. Then be brave, move on and try on something else. Eventually you’ll hit your rhythm and putting out posts will become easier. Then, as I said above, be persistent!

Need a Friendly Food Blogger?

Need a friendly food blogging voice? Please reach out to me. I’m very approachable and, more than anything, I love to talk shop!

Looking for More Help? Check Out My Recommended Reading

Research, research, research you say? But where do I begin? Lucky for you, I’ve made a list of books and references I often use when doing food science research. For those of you looking for words of wisdom on being brave and following your passion, I’ve got some recommendations for you as well!

Vegetables Illustrated, by Cook’s Illustrated

For the record, I do count books as a tool in the kitchen, particularly a book like this. This book is a wealth of not only “how to” in the kitchen, but also “why to.” I love the behind the scenes intel on my ingredients, especially vegetables!

While this book isn’t specifically vegan or vegetarian, it does contain a lot of very helpful information!

Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson

Want to get the most from your vegetables? This book is a brief history into vegetables popularly used in vegan cooking. It discusses how to choose the right varieties to get the maximum health benefit. 

The Science of Good Cooking

If you’re a food science geek like me, let this be your bible. While not vegan (or vegetarian) specific, this book offers up a wealth of information about how to cook food. Little tricks, like salting your zucchini zoodles for sauces like Homemade Garden Vegetable Tomato Sauce and what type of potato will work best in soups like my Vegan “No Chicken & Biscuits.”

The Milk Street Cookbook

If you’re as much into how to cook as you are into what to cook, then this cookbook is for you! Each recipe includes some very helpful food science tips to teach you the underlying mechanics of cooking and ingredient selection. Information you can take with you as you grow as a cook in the kitchen.

While this cookbook isn’t exclusively vegan or vegetarian, it does have some vegan recipes in it (for example, the Spicy Red Lentil Stew with Coconut Milk and Spinach is a vegan dream AND a great way to get in some healthy ingredients­­ like red lentils and turmeric). I also love to play around with non-vegan recipes to see if I can find­ a way to make them vegan and tasty and this cookbook is fantastic inspiration!

The Food Lab by J. Kenji López-Alt 

While not specific to a vegetarian or vegan diet, this award-winning cooking reference book is full of food science. Whether you’re learning about the best way to braise asparagus or just learning how to properly cut an onion, wrapping your head around why food behaves the ways it does is the key to creating new recipes.

And I’m a sucker for decorating my shelves with big, heavy books!

Daring Greatly by Brenè Brown

I’ll be the first to admit that in recent years, I’ve needed someone to explain to me that it’s okay to take risks. The prospect of failing at something, particularly something that is creative and personal, can be really daunting. This book helped me to put it into perspective. Not sure? Here’s the opening quote (from Theodore Roosevelt):

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Here’s my favorite Glennon Doyle quote: The braver we are, the luckier we get.

In my Confessions of a Food Blogger post: Three Tips to Getting Started as a Food Blogger, my first tip for anyone aspiring to be a food blogger or engage in any creative endeavor is be brave. While this book covers a lot of ground above and beyond a change in career, I found it very empowering in my personal situation. If you’re struggling to pursue something that calls to you, then this book for a great read.

About Herbivore’s Kitchen

Kate Friedman Herbivore's Kitchen Headshot

Herbivore’s Kitchen is a blog run by me, a plant-based home chef and aspiring food photographer. I switched my and my family’s diet to a plant-based diet after learning about the health benefits of going vegan. Making this change has prompted a variety of food and holistic-lifestyle related questions that I explore through this blog. I talk about how to pick and prepare the most nutritious foods, to how to reduce waste at home, to how to live a more sustainable lifestyle while on the road. 

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