February 27, 2013

9 things the food blogger must remember

You can build a food blog easily and maintain it well with some effort. It can also earn you dollars. Read on...

Food blogs are blogs on a variety of subjects related to human food – recipes, cooking tips, nutrition, restaurants, raw material availability, drinks, anecdotes about cookery, table manners, cookware, weekly challenges and competitions…

Food blogs are often passionately built and exceptionally well composed. Many food bloggers not only write detailed posts, but also spruce up their posts with photos taken by them. Some maintain a huge resource base on recipes, spices and so on. In fact, we would keep this category of blogs higher in blogging terms than blogs on blogging itself!

Food blogs are mostly written and maintained as personal blogs by cooking enthusiasts. Such bloggers could be people who cook for the family or experts / chefs. Some dietitians and nutrition experts also write food blogs.

We list below 9 important aspects that prospective food-bloggers must keep in mind [and existing bloggers must introduce if they’ve ignored these]:

1. Scope of blog's subject-matter: variety or niche?

You need to decide beforehand whether you want the blog to focus on one narrow subject [e.g. Coorg cuisine, baking, table manners, food trucks] or a slightly bigger theme [e.g. South American cooking, spicy food], or to talk of everything relating to food / cooking. This is very important, because many other decisions depend on this. It is better to concentrate on areas on which one has expertise.

2. The writing part

One problem we found with some English food blogs was poor English. If you have a problem with the language, write less and write in short, simple sentences. Better, get the posts proof-read by someone proficient in English (or whatever the language of blog may be).

Write short paragraphs and don’t make a post too long.

Separate different segments of a post [e.g. steps of a recipe; different aspects of a restaurant] by giving them a bullet point or number. Put a small photo where relevant at the end of a segment.

When using local terms and ingredients, give their English equivalent in bracket. Do the reverse for too technical or rarely used English expressions. 
Use grams and ml for measurements and give their approximate value in commonly used terms [e.g. 100 ml (about half tea-cup) water].

At the end of posts, give precautions which might otherwise go unnoticed [e.g. if some step in cooking might lead to oil catching fire] or health warnings  [e.g. if a dish contains high quantities of salt].

3. Illustrations add significantly to a recipe

Give your blog a nice photo or slideshow at the very top or a notch below: these should be relevant to your theme(s) and should appeal to good taste. If you post recipes, give photos of main steps [but don’t put too many and too big photos as they will slow down the blog]. Reduce the pixel size of photos before putting them. If you review restaurants, take photos to show ambiance as well as the table / meals, with prior permission. Have at least one key photo with each post and place it on top of the post [e.g. the dish arranged on the table]. You can see here ITB's tips on putting photos on blogs.

4. Food blogs must have a mix of information and advice

You must enrich the blog with information [e.g. types of glasses for drinks, ingredients of standard spice-mixtures, restaurant list] and advice [e.g. how to lay table, grill meat, prepare cocktails, preserve cheese, select spices]. This should be in addition to the posts and should serve as the blog’s reference library.

5. Have you cataloged resources on the bloggie?

Talking of library, we are reminded of the ‘catalogue’. Like books in a library, you must categorise all your stuff into user-friendly categories. You can choose to have sub-categories [e.g. seasonings> spices, herbs; bakery>cakes, pastries,…]. You can also have very narrow stand-alone categories such as ‘traditional Rajasthani sweets’. Take care that the categories are distinct and they take the viewer to the area he is looking for. You can see here ITB's post on using labels and blogs effectively in blogs.

6. Design decides a blog's display and navigation

Food blogs tend to be resource rich and it is a challenge to keep them clean. One good way, as suggested above, is categorization. You can keep the main categories on the home page and sub-categories either on the linked page or as drop-down menu. One good way is to have left sidebar with main categories, another column that gives sub-categories when you link on an entry on the left sidebar, and the main column to the right. A menubar under the title and a sidebar - the standard blog design – can also accommodate all categories if used with imagination. We've discussed basic blog layout aspects in this post on ITB.

Though a design with photos tiled all over the blog-space looks picturesque, it is usually not as functional as the standard design with menubar and sidebar(s). Similar is the case with various ‘dynamic views’ presented by Blogger.

7. Your blogging effort can earn you dollars

Many food bloggers do not try to monetize the blog. However, once established, food blogs present good possibilities of making money with some effort. There are possibilities of getting advertisements from restaurants, bakeries, grocers, makers of spices and packed food, and mainstream food and beverage industry. 

While a highly popular blog can get direct advertisements, anyone can get ads through affiliate networks. Food blogs are also excellent platforms for promoting one’s own books / ebooks on culinary subjects.


Food blogs are usually quite popular. They also often join one or more communities of food-bloggers. Most food bloggers are good networkers, even if among family-members and friends. This takes them naturally to social networking on the net. Yet, some food-bloggers ignore search engine optimization (SEO) and socializing on the net. While popularity is important for making their culinary creations known to others, it is imperative if you intend to monetize the blog. Popularity is also important for monetizing the blog through AdSense.

8. To earn respect, be genuine

Whatever you give on the blog should be authoritative. When you give something experimental or you depended on others’ inputs, say so in clear terms. Do not fake expertise when you don’t have it [e.g. on nutritional / medical aspects]. We at Indian Top Blogs are neither chefs nor dietitians, but common scientific knowledge tells us that many a times, even good cooks experiment without keeping health aspects in mind, and their combinations of ingredients and/or procedures result in untested / undesirable chemicals in foods. If you must tread into such unknown territory for the sake of taste, do check with a nutrition expert before making the recipe public.

9. Why not have a food website that's fully your own?

You can create a blog on popular free platforms such as Wordpress and Blogger, but over time you should go for your own domain. It has many advantages, as discussed many times on Indian Top Blogs - one linked here: give your blog an independent domain name.