Food Blogging 101

The other day I got an email from Steve, who recently started writing a food blog. He said some kind things about Words to Eat By, and then asked a question: “How did you promote your blog so well?” Perhaps he sent similar queries to other food bloggers, but it doesn’t take a whole lot of sweet-talking to get me to spill my guts. I was flattered and pleased to answer him. It turned out to be an interesting and thought-provoking exercise for me, since I don’t really feel like I’ve “promoted” my blog at all, and compared to many others I’m still a newbie at this myself. I haven’t pitched myself or received any press coverage (I was interviewed recently for the Toronto Globe and Mail—but who knows if I said anything pithy enough to make the final article), and while my number of daily visitors is growing steadily, it’s hardly up there with Clotilde’s. Regardless, though, I think my experience is probably pretty typical, and therefore, potentially illustrative. Since responding to Steve, I’ve given it some more thought, fleshed a few things out a little more, and added a new idea or two. Here, then, is my Food Blogging 101: the things I’ve done to “promote” Words to Eat By:

  • Leave comments in other people’s blogs—and by that I don’t mean “hey, come check out my blog.” I can’t speak for anyone else, but I find that kind of shilling rude and distasteful—if you don’t have something to say about a particular post, you shouldn’t be commenting there. What I mean is, if you’re reading a post and something in it speaks to you, leave a thoughtful comment about it. Odds are, at the very least that blogger will click through to see who you are, and you’ll likely get other readers as well. If you leave comments frequently enough on the same food blogs, eventually those bloggers will add you to their links lists.
  • Taking the comments idea a step further, if you feel truly inspired by a post on someone else’s blog or make a recipe created by another blogger, write a post about it with a link. If enough people click through your link to the original post, that blogger may take notice of you and your blog.
  • Maintain a links list of your own—most of us look to see where our traffic is coming from, and if I see a lot of visitors being referred by a site I’m unfamiliar with, I’ll check it out. If I like it, I’ll add it to my own links list.
  • Participate in the food blogging events: Is My Blog Burning, Sugar High Friday, Paper Chef, etc. All of them involve written roundups at the end, in which that month’s host describes the entries received, with links. There’s even a site dedicated to keeping track of all of them, called Is My Blog Burning? (I’m hosting SHF this month, by the way—what better way to jump in?)
  • Write to Jarrett at Food Porn Watch and ask him to add you to his list. Are you familiar with it? It’s a site he runs that does automatic hourly updates, listing all the food porn sites with new postings. Quite a bit of my early traffic (most of it, really) came from here. There are other food blog aggregators as well—Food Blog Central, Food Blogs Live, listed on Is My Blog Burning.
  • Include your blog’s URL in your signature for any message boards you may frequent. Egullet is an extremely popular one for foodies, but I’m also active on one non-food-related message board and many of my readers come from clicking through my signature there.
  • And most importantly: Write new posts as often as possible. The more frequently you post, the more people will find you, and the more people will link to you. (Personally, I don’t like to add links to blogs that don’t have a lot of posts yet—people often lose energy for these things so I like to be sure that blog’ll be around a while.)

What have you done to “promote” your blog? I’d love to hear more ideas—feel free to post them in the comments section.