I’d like to follow up on David Lebovitz’s quite excellent post on Food Blogging. If you’re looking for a primer of the hows and whats, it’s near perfect.
I would like to add a point of my own – one that I’ve said before, and yet is still worth repeating. Before you go into or continue on with blogging, there is one question that you should answer – why.
Why are you blogging? What is the end goal in mind? Without this starting point, you’ll find yourself swept up in areas of writing, editing, digital publishing, and food photography which may be nothing more than a waste of your quite-precious time.
There is no wrong answer for this question. Any reason to food blog is as valid as another. We’re all individuals out there after all, each with our own priorities, each with our own dreams and desires.
Are you food blogging to create an online repository of your favorite recipes? Great! You may not need to focus on food photography, and you certainly don’t need to worry about ad rates page counts.
Are you looking to merely communicate with your family what you’ve been eating? Fantastic! You may want to look into how to edit, but it may not need to be a priority.
Do you have a goal of getting published in Saveur or release your own cook book? The skills you need are far different from those looking to tell their friends of which restaurants are the best in their area.
For when it comes to food blogging, there are a multitude of ways to go about it. None of them are wrong, but some require you to focus on different skill sets than others. Without that question of “Why are you food blogging?” answered, you’re bound to lose focus, and invariably lose interest. Before going into this, know why you’re doing it.
The second thing you need to know is that you’ll have to understand the limitations of the medium. Blogging today is far different than it was seven years ago. As with every medium, there are things you can and cannot do.
For example, if you’re looking for a way to get noticed by publishers – you’ll have to find a way to differentiate yourself from the thousands of other food blogs out there. There’s already an Elise Bauer, a David Lebovitz, a Michael Ruhlman. What do you have that can add to the conversation? What do you want to say that hasn’t been said a hundred times before? Typically this falls under “voice”, an aspect that David touches upon and is worth exploring further.
But it also falls under the topics one covers. Everyone and their mother wants to (and believes they can) do restaurant reviews. Do you really want to be number 12,717 in that field? Do you think you have a different approach to restaurant reviews that no one has done before? Or, do you wish to avoid restaurant reviews altogether, and believe you have a take on food that no one has done before?
I may have mentioned her before, but Julia Phillips is a person who once said something very profound, thus she needs to be mentioned again. If success is what you are looking for, there are two sure-fired ways to find it – Be first, or be best. Everything else is going to be a slog. And being first or being best is no easy road either.
My point is this – the more complex your goals, the more complex your skill set is going to be. Some of those skills will take you far beyond blogging in of itself. It’s not a coincidence that many bloggers end up writing a book or two. The blogging medium can only do so much, and many folks find themselves looking for other ways and means of expression.
Know why you are blogging. And then adjust your skill set accordingly based off of that answer.