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?

ITB's commitment to quality blogging, and a few wishes

This post is not on blogging tips or blog rankings or compilation of the Directory of Best Indian Blogs /Hindi blog listing. It is about the Indian Top Blogs itself.

We are two year old now. We have reviewed over 750 blogs and websites in detail, showcased 60 good blogs on the ITB website, published 40 posts with tips on different aspects of blogging – often with great details and with illustrative images. We have been bringing out blog directories and rankings since February 2011, with increasingly stringent screening in successive updates. We have also been drawn to some social networking and bookmarking sites too, which helps blogs listed and showcased on the ITB.

We’ll soon take up updations of the listings and rankings for 2012-13, and it will keep us quite busy from March to September.

In this journey, we would have liked to expand our activities further but time constraints due to our individual commitments elsewhere do not allow us to do so. As we do not charge a penny for any of our activities whether listing, reviewing or showcasing, our resources also remain tight.

For one, we would have liked to keep reviewing blogs at a fast pace. We concede that our speed of disposal of review requests has gone down and the pendency has risen. So, we have decided not to insist on bloggers putting ‘Reviewed by ITB’ badges on their blogs/ websites. Our blog submission guidelines change to that extent.

Speaking of interim updations of blog directories, we have recently updated the Directory of Best Hindi Blogs, but could not update the English directory. We’d now look at all the blogs suggested to us in the last 6 months only during the annual exercise due mid-2013.

We receive a large number of comments, but many of them seem to have been made just to give their websites / blogs a better search ranking. We, therefore, now have a strict comment moderation in place.

We feel rewarded, and let us share this feeling with you: we get a number of appreciative emails, especially in response to our detailed reviews; we have clocked more than a hundred thousand [= a lakh] pageviews; we’ve Google PageRank of 4; numerous blogs voluntarily keep our badge(s); we receive 200-500 requests every month for including a blog on our directories; our email subscription list is now 200 strong… We hope, you will keep encouraging us to do our bit towards quality blogging.