I've been blogging for a little over 18 months now, so I thought I would share some of my tips and tricks that I've picked up alo...

TIPS FOR FOOD BLOGGERS, PART 1

March 22, 2014 Lauren Mahoney 0 Comments


I've been blogging for a little over 18 months now, so I thought I would share some of my tips and tricks that I've picked up along the way. Of course, I am by no means an expert, but I do get asked questions on certain elements of my blog from time to time. So for this part of a two-part feature, I'll break down a few areas which I think are important tools for blogging.

Planning


It depends on what type of blog you want to run, but I love to plan out my posts well in advance. I found in the early days I would post whenever I felt like it without any real consistency. In the last year I have really felt the benefits of planning out my posts. It allows me to stick to deadlines and it means that my readers know when to expect new posts. I have a three-step plan to this which works wonders.

1. I jot ideas I have for posts and other notes in a notebook I use just for blogging.
2. Once the idea is clear in my head, it goes on a white board to be checked off when completed.
3. Once the post is completed it will get scheduled into the calender on my laptop and then into Blogger.

That might sound a bit excessive, but in order to stay consistent, I find this needs to be done.

Theme

Depending on what type of food blog you want to run, you need to think about themes. Many, many people stick to writing reviews. That is their theme. I didn't want that to be what my blog was about, so I spent a month or so doing some research on what was out there. I took inspiration from the blogs that I frequented (which weren't food blogs) and went from there. Just do your own thing and it will all work out in the end.

Design
I knew absolutely nothing about coding and all that malarkey. I knew how I wanted things to look but I had to find a way to get that across on screen. I decided to keep it clean and simple which, in turn, gave me freedom to experiment with the look of the blog. I looked into paying someone to do it, but ultimately felt I could learn how to do it myself. Google is your best friend when it comes to things like this. Don't hand over money for blogging courses and eBooks. All that information is out there for free!

Layout

The layouts of my posts have evolved to where they are now. Before, I never resized images to fit the post body, I had no clear idea of how I wanted the format to look. This was something that I struggled with to get to the point I'm at now. It's worth setting up a test blog, set to private, that you can use to change widths, templates and add code. So before I make any adjustments to the main blog, I make sure it is all formatted correctly on my test blog. You can see above the change in my collage and post layouts. Before I used Photoshop, which I struggled with, and now I use Fotor. It's a heck of a lot easier and does all the work for me.

Post Content
When I started I felt that there was SO much I wanted to say, but didn't know quite how to say it. Some of that comes from lacking confidence, worrying what others thought and generally being a 'noob'. My post titles were pretty laughable (one just said 'Cheese') but again, once I found my voice, I found my titles.
After I finished university, I threw myself into blogging almost full time (I do have a job, by the way, two in fact!) and focused on making it the best it could be. You need to put in the time to get the results.

Blogger vs Wordpress
I tried out Tumblr (which I then realised was for tweens) and Wordpress with immense frustration. It was only when chatting to friends who also blog that Blogger was recommended. I had some help in the early days getting to grips with it, but once I realised I needed to learn a few basics I had more freedom. My blog layout is by no means perfect, but I think I've done OK.

SEO and Marketing
For the longest time I was terrified of Google Analytics. If you use Blogger and then check your stats on GA, you'll see a massive difference. Your Blogger stats are not real stats, so ignore them. I decided to focus on growing two areas - unique visitors and total visits. So I have a spreadsheet that I update monthly with these stats. That way I can see how the blog is growing and think about the content I posted that month. When it comes to keywords there are plenty of tools you can use. I use WordStream.

I find most of my traffic comes from Twitter and Google so I promote heavily on Twitter. I use Tweet Deck to schedule my blog posts and older posts to keep generating traffic. Facebook is pretty much useless now, unless you pay to boost your page. Instagram is a great way for me to showcase my photography. I'll also be relaunching my Google + page in the next month.

Next time I will be talking about my camera gear and how I edit. I'd love to read what you think about blogging in the comments section. What problems have you faced? What have you learned?

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