If you switch on your television, you’ll quickly realise that cooking is in. Between MasterChef, Bake-Off and Gordon Ramsey yelling at anything with a pulse, it’s fair to say that food is – pardoning the pun – so hot right now.
Along with the small screen, the blogosphere has also jumped excitedly aboard the food bandwagon. There are innumerable success stories, from the empires of Serious Eats and Buzzfeed’s Tasty, to solo artists that are doing just as well, like The Pioneer Woman and Damn Delicious.
But no matter how large the readership, how deep the pockets, or how specific the subject matter, all top rated food blogs share a few common traits. Understanding these attributes can be the difference between unmitigated online success and blogging to a brick wall.
A restaurateur who is looking to drive more traffic to their site, a stay at home mum who is looking to make a little bit of cash from her passion; for anyone looking to break out in the world of food blogging, here are five qualities that all top rated food blogs share.
1) A Unique Value Proposition
What will your food blog offer its readers? If your answer is “recipes”, a rethink may be in order. It’s important to offer a unique value proposition (UVP) to your readers – something that has them choosing your blog over another.
The most common food blog UVP is based on the dishes that you focus on. You offer up meals made with four ingredients or less, have a vegan-friendly focus, or post recipes that take less than 30 minutes to prepare. Perhaps your UVP is less about the content and more about how it’s delivered, like Tasty’s overhead videos. Perhaps, like Mr. Ramsay, you’re just really good at swearing.
A large percentage of food blog subscribers happily admit that they’ve never tried to cook a dish offered up by their favourite blogger. Rather, they’re drawn into reading a post because of the storytelling.
Supplementing a recipe with a story is a guaranteed way to increase interest in your posts. It could be a simple mention of how you were inspired to come up with the recipe, or something that happened while you were cooking it. If you write skilfully, insightfully or entertainingly, the readers will come.
3) Social Media
Social media is a non-negotiable part of a blogger’s strategy, no matter what the topic. Social is the most effective avenue to fresh eyes, giving any of your posts the opportunity to go viral.
It’s not a simple matter of creating a Facebook page; a top rated food blog will have a presence on each major social network, including Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Snapchat. Crafting content that caters to each platform is important, as the perfectly edited photo that you created for Instagram won’t have much of an effect on the quickfire video-friendly medium of Snapchat.
4) Amazing Photography
“Plating up.” Food is as much about aesthetics as it is about taste these days. And for food bloggers, the fact that your subscribers can’t taste your food means that the aesthetics are about all that you’ll be judged on. Presentation is key.
Investing in a good camera is wise, as is researching food photography techniques. Simple things like soft light, background choice and viewing angle can have a huge impact on how your food photography is received, which subsequently affects your readership.
5) An Active Community
Building an active and engaged community is key to your food blog’s continued success. How do you build one? It’s simply a matter of understanding your readers, and delivering the sort of content that they’re likely to appreciate.
Your UVP will influence the sort of reader you attract. A “30-minute meal” UVP might be popular with young professionals. A vegan UVP will talk to the health or environmentally conscious. Once you’ve got your identifiers, post content directed at the sort of person that fits the mould, and encourage conversation between your readers with calls to action (CTAs) at the bottom of your blogs and social posts.
In such a competitive field as food blogging, success can never be guaranteed. But by taking cues from those that have excelled, you’ll certainly be pointing yourself in the right direction.