…the little I know about food bloggin’*

I get at least 3 emails a week asking for advice on how to have a successful food blog or how to “get more readers”. At first it was flattering…Y’all actually think I know what I am doing?! HA! I am just learning as I go — like every other blogger out there. If you are looking for real advice, turn to one of the heavy hitters like Jaden of Steamy Kitchen. That girl knows what she is doing!

However, I figure that’s not what you want to hear when you are emailing me….although I gotta admit, it would be easier to say I am just as lost as you. But to be a good girlfriend, here is a compliation of the advice I have given out in email over the last few months.

it’s about the food…

First and foremost, blog about what you are passionate about. For me, that’s stories and recipes. For others, it can be anything from restaurant reviews to how-to videos. Do what makes you happy and it will show through in your posts.

it just takes time…

This is my biggest piece of advice. There is no magic answer that anyone can give you, it really just takes time. Sure you can learn things about ads, photography and the tech side…but you can’t learn how to become an overnight success. Instant success happens to about .01% of bloggers, the rest of us just keep putting in the time.

How do I connect with other bloggers?

Comment on their blogs! We all like to get comments and see that there are other people out there reading what we wrote besides our moms. So if you happen to come across a blog you really like, comment and let them know. Odds are they will comment back on your blog and you can start a fun conversation that way.

Go to conferences! One of the best ways to meet other bloggers is -believe it or not- offline. The photo above is of Megan, Tina, me and Lauren at Blogher Food from this year. I have also gone to Food Blog Forum Orlando and Nashville. All were an awesome way to meet other bloggers, but also a great way to learn.

save your money…

When you start a blog, do the free version. It will be a while before you start making money so don’t rush into spending it! I suggest starting with wordpress because eventually you will switch to it anyways. Use a free template and get started sharing your stores, photos and recipes.

when you are ready to upgrade…

Hire a professional to do it. There is nothing worse than crashing your own site and not being able to bring it back up. Or worse, making a super crappy amateur looking website. You can hire someone to do something as small as move your blog from blogger to wordpress or redesign your whole site. My web designer is Lindsay of Purr Design. She is AMAZING and was worth every penny. However, for the first 2 years, I had a free version on blogger and it treated me just fine.

buying your domain name…

The one thing that is worth the money from the start is your domain name. A domain name is the difference between something like thenovicechefblog.blogspot.com and thenovicechefblog.com. You can buy a domain as cheap as $5 a year…but if someone snatches it up before you, good luck getting it back from them. (i.e. this is why my blog is thenovicechefblog.com instead of thenovicechef.com — I can’t get the people who own thenovicechef.com domain to sell it to me.)

cameras and lenses and tripods, oh my!

It doesn’t matter if you have a dSLR, a point & shoot camera, or an iPhone like I used in Seattle, you can get great photos. Use natural light (and never, ever flash) and focus on the subject you want to highlight. Hey did I mention, use natural light?! Some people take great photos using a studio lighting kit or a big special flash…but that takes a lot of time to learn and still never looks the same as natural light.

Once you are ready to move on to bigger (read — more expensive) gear, pick what works for you. I shoot Nikon, but people take amazing photos with Canon. Just get into a store and literally put your hands on the cameras. Find what feels right for you and your budget. You can also rent cameras/lenses from a lot of places to make sure you are making the right choice before you pay the big bucks!

As for lenses…there are just so dang many to choose from! I currently have a 17-55 mm/2.8 and a 35 mm/1.8. I mainly shoot with the 17-55mm, but the 35mm/1.8 is great for when the sun is going down early during the winter. For first time dSLR users, a 50mm is a wonderful first lens to start with.

A tripod is one of those things that is not a must have…but makes your life a lot easier. Not everyone has someone around to move things for them if they want to take an action shot (think pouring syrup on a pancake), but with a tripod you don’t need anyone else! I have a cheap 5 foot tripod from amazon that works wonders and only costs me $23 dollars.

editing can take hours…

If you let it, editing your photos can take hours. However as I learned from Todd & Diane of White On Rice, if you get your camera settings right the first time, editing is a breeze. That means, read your camera manuel and learn how to work the aperture, ISO, white balance and more. Then when you are taking your photos they should be close to website ready.

but my pictures aren’t “website ready” and need editing…

Don’t worry, mine still totally need editing too. When I plug my photos into my computer they do not look like they do when I get them on there. I usually crop them to show off the food. I also play with the white balance, warmth and sharpness of a photo.

Lightroom vs Photoshop…

I use Lightroom for my editing, for a few main reasons.  First, it has everything I need. Second, it’s easier to learn. Third, it’s cheaper. If you are trying to do something crazy like remove a whole spoon from a picture or add in a whole plate…you need Photoshop. If you just want to enhance the photo you took, buy Lightroom.

does social media matter?

It does if you want it too! I love social media and find it to be an awesome way to connect with other bloggers and readers. I also love that it’s another outlet to share. For instance, all the photos in this post come from the app instagram (my username is thenovicechef if you want to find me). I don’t need to share every photo of my animals, dinners and friends/family on this blog. This blog is mainly about food and I try to keep it that way. However, if someone wants to know more about my day to day life…they can see it all on the social media sites I use.

what social media sites should I use?

All! None! Just one! …it’s up to you. Use whatever you feel comfortable with. I have a Facebook blog page, twitter and instagram account. I also love to use Pinterest to share recipes and ideas from other blogs/websites that I enjoy. I do not use linkedin, google plus or stumble upon. I don’t like them, so I don’t use them….but you should use whatever you feel comfortable with!

How do I know how many hits I get?

There are two popular websites (both are free!) that you can use to see how many hits your blog gets. Google.com/analytics is a big one, but there is also statcounter.com. Amanda of kevinandamanda.com has a wonderful post on how to use statcounter.com. Check it out for an awesome How-To post.

What is Google Page Rank?

Google PR is a ranking from Google — helpful aren’t I? ;-) —  The higher your rank in google, the higher your website will come up when someone searches for something on your site. For example, if you search for Cake Batter Martini right now on Google, How Sweet Eats comes up first and TNCB comes up second. How Sweet Eats has a higher Google PR so she comes up first. If I surpass her, I would come up first.

What is my Google PR and how do I get it higher?

To check your Google PR, go to a website like this and type in your website domain. The more other websites link to you and you link to them, the higher your google page rank will become. Growing your Google PR takes FOREVER, so do not expect to see any growth overnight.

I wanna work with brands…

Just ask! No, seriously…just send them an email with your press sheet and tell them! If you can’t find their email on their website, ask them on twitter or FB for it. Of course some of them are going to say no…but eventually someone will say yes. Don’t always take their rejection personally. Sometimes they really don’t have the budget or their company doesn’t allow them to work with bloggers. But others really do see the value in working with bloggers and are happy to do something like a review, giveaway or sponsorship.

umm, so what’s a press sheet?

A press sheet is just a one page sheet where you put information about you and your blog. I built mine in pages (on mac) and send it to people as a PDF. On mine I have everything from my stats (number of monthly hits), to my Facebook fans and even my two upcoming cookbooks. I also have a photo of myself and a list of the brands I have worked with. Put whatever makes you proud!

so you wanna be on tv…

First you have to ask yourself what kind of television do you want to be on. On your local live news? On something like Good Morning America? On the Food Network? Or do you want to shoot a video for a big company like Costco & Pork Be Inspired (which is what is going on in the picture above).

Lauren of laurenslatest.com (above on the left) was on Good Morning America. How? She won a contest! I have been on my local news doing live cooking demonstatrions. How? I asked! And as you can see above, Lauren and I got to do a fun video together for Costco & Pork Be Inspired. How? Well, we lucked out with that one.

But the point is, there are many ways to get on. If it’s your dream, just ask! Worst they can say is no!

…but you never said, how do I really get more hits?

I totally told you at the very beginning…Time. I know, lame. But that really is the best answer! Other than that, you can also submit your photos to food photography sites like foodgawker and tastespotting. If they are accepted, you will see traffic coming from them. Also social media (twitter, Facebook and pinterest) can be a big help as well.

I still have more questions…

Ask away, in the comments! I promise to get to your question in the comment section as soon as I can…but I would like to do it in the comments in case someone else has the same question. Plus, you never know…another reader may be able to answer it before I can!

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126 Responses to “…the little I know about food bloggin’”

  1. 1

    Jessica Lynn — June 18, 2012 @ 12:54 am

    This is all excellent advice, even for those not dabbling directly in food blogging. I’ve been blogging for six years, but I still found useful info. Thank you :)

  2. 2

    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — June 18, 2012 @ 1:04 am

    Great post! I need to go to the next conference so I can finally meet you in person! :)

  3. 3

    Averie @ Averie Cooks — June 18, 2012 @ 1:17 am

    Omg. Amazing post, Jessica! You covered everything! I kept waiting for it to end but it went on…with all the amazing details everyone should know and should listen to! Thank you for putting the time into this post; as we all know…everything with blogging, from cooking to food styling to editing to writing the posts…yep, they all take time. As you said, no shortcuts, just put your time in and have fun in the process and it’ll work out :) Or at least we hope so, right!

  4. 4

    Kathryn — June 18, 2012 @ 4:45 am

    Oh yes, I agree with all of this. Great post Jessica!

  5. 5

    Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche — June 18, 2012 @ 6:38 am

    This is such a great post, some fantastic advice :) thanks for taking the time to write it!

  6. 6

    Ali @ Gimme Some Oven — June 18, 2012 @ 7:52 am

    So well done! I’m bookmarking this to send to others who are just starting out! :)

  7. 7

    Danielle — June 18, 2012 @ 8:11 am

    Thank you for all of this helpful advice!

  8. 8

    Rachel Cooks — June 18, 2012 @ 8:13 am

    Great post Jessica! You inspired me to update my press sheet–it still has my info from when I was Not Rachael Ray! Yikes!

  9. 9

    Angie @ Coffee and Cannolis — June 18, 2012 @ 9:14 am

    This is great information! I am determined to get my 12 month old son on a better nap schedule so I can finally devote more time to blogging; and this is a great way to help get back in to it. I am still baking and cooking new things all the time (I mean, we have to eat, right?!), but it’s taking pictures that I have zero time for because I’ll even try when he’s up and around, but he grabs the plate, tries to eat the food (once drooled all over the set up!)

    • Jessica replied: — June 19th, 2012 @ 9:38 pm

      haha! I am kid-less still so don’t have to overcome that obstacle! Good luck Angie! ;-)

  10. 10

    Emilie @ Emilie's Enjoyables — June 18, 2012 @ 10:33 am

    loved this post. Thanks for all the advice :)

  11. 11

    Tina {My Life as a Mrs} — June 18, 2012 @ 10:49 am

    AWESOME POST GIRL!!!! I get those questions a lot too – now I’m just gonna link them to you! ;)

    • Jessica replied: — June 19th, 2012 @ 9:39 pm

      …that is totally my plan too. Part of why I wrote this, now I can just link emailers too it :-P

  12. 12

    Em — June 18, 2012 @ 10:49 am

    Thank you so much for this post! I just started my own blog in May and this is very helpful information.

  13. 13

    Eva Taylor — June 18, 2012 @ 11:01 am

    Great advice and tips. Thanks!

  14. 14

    Joan Hayes@chocolate and more — June 18, 2012 @ 11:56 am

    Great info! I hope to be able to attend a conference one of these days but have actually been thinking about trying to get some closer bloggers together just for a long lunch one day at a place that has internet and won’t care how long we sit there. Still in the works but I’m thinking Atlanta in September! Even if it’s only 5 of us, how cool would that be, to sit around with our laptops and some coffee and just share!

    • Jessica replied: — June 19th, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

      That is a great idea! I have done that same type of thing many times with other bloggers in my local area, as well as in the state of Florida. It’s a really great way to meet other bloggers and share ideas. ;-)

  15. 15

    Gina @ Running to the Kitchen — June 18, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

    Great post! I’ve been putting off making a press sheet for months. I just have to suck it up though and get it done!

  16. 16

    Ashley Bee (Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine) — June 18, 2012 @ 12:26 pm

    Wow! Thank you so so much for this! It is all very good advice :) I started my blog as a hobby and though it still is, I’m slowly but surely trying to make it more… something. Haha. Simply buying a domain name and being a good commenter has helped so far. And working on improving my food photography too :)

  17. 17

    Bev @ Bev Cooks — June 18, 2012 @ 12:32 pm

    This is FAB advice, even if you’ve been doin’ it for a bit! PS. Lame we didn’t get to see each other very much at BFH. Let’s hang out…this weekend! ;)

    • Jessica replied: — June 19th, 2012 @ 9:42 pm

      YES! You need a FL vacation right?? ;-)

  18. 18

    Mimi — June 18, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

    This is great—even at four years of blogging, I still find this so helpful! :)

  19. 19

    Helene — June 18, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

    Thanks for the post, I find the links useful. I blog for passion and not for a living. It takes time and energy but it is rewarding. I thing that everyone starting to blog should do it for pleasure and take it a day at the time.

  20. 20

    fabiola — June 18, 2012 @ 12:57 pm

    You are too cute! I love this post, because you are totally right on, and honest, and I love that. Thank you:)

  21. 21

    Katie — June 18, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

    thanks so much for the info on statcounter! i signed up after reading that. the stats that wordpress gives me are helpful but that site has more of the statistics i’ve been actually looking for (and it being free is so nice!).

  22. 22

    SnoWhite @ Finding Joy in My Kitchen — June 18, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

    This is great advice!! Thank you.

  23. 23

    Pammy @yummocookbook — June 18, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

    Thanks for the great tips! This blogging business is very new for me and your post helped a lot!

  24. 24

    Stephanie — June 18, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  25. 25

    Christina @ ovenadventures — June 18, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

    I am a small blogger but love the reaffirmation that it just needs time. Sometimes you just NEED to hear that.

  26. 26

    Sara @ Simply Whole Kitchen — June 18, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

    Hi Jessica! I’m a big fan of your blog and LOVE this post! I wish you wrote it about a year ago when I got started….great advice!! Hopefully I’ll get to meet you at a conference soon!

  27. 27

    Melissa @ No. 2 Pencil — June 18, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

    Yay! This is awesome. I was just thinking about all these things and trying to think of a person who would let me pick their brain!

    Ok, here is my question! Are you familiar with recipenewz.com? They contacted me about submitting some pictures, do I did and have had some traffic over the past few day. They look like food gawker, but accept any pictures. I’m nervous about uploading my pics to a site with hardly any info!

    • Jessica replied: — June 19th, 2012 @ 9:44 pm

      I am not familiar with recipenewz.com….but if they are giving you proper credit for your photos and you are seeing traffic, why not?? As long as credit is given and you are seeing some kind of reward in the “partnership”, I say keep doing it!

  28. 28

    Beth @ Aunt B's Kitchen — June 18, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

    Nice piece. Good information, well presented. Thank you.

  29. 29

    Renee - Kudos Kitchen — June 18, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

    Jessica, this was such an awesome post that I just had to bookmark it and will come back later to study it further. You gave great information and made it easy to understand, even for the food blogger challenged, like myself. Thanks for adding all the great links too. It really is completely invaluable to me as I’ve been starting to think that I need to make some major changes with my blog. Thanks so much!!!

  30. 30

    Alyssa — June 18, 2012 @ 3:49 pm

    Great post…lots of helpful advice!

  31. 31

    Leila — June 18, 2012 @ 3:49 pm

    Jessica- This is awesome! Thank you! You’re one of the bloggers that inspired me to start my food blog. Your posts are so easy to read and true-to-you. It made me realize I don’t have to be deep or professional to start writing blog posts, I can just be me! :)

    These tips are super helpful and came at exactly the right time for me. THANKS!

    • Jessica replied: — June 19th, 2012 @ 9:45 pm

      That is SUCH a compliment. Thank you Leila! I strive to just sound like myself and it means so much to hear that I do!

  32. 32

    Andrea — June 18, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

    I’m wondering…what is your day job? Do you have one? Because I find it difficult to build my blog while I have a day job. But, I can’t afford to not have a day job. *sigh*
    Anyway, great post with nice little details that one should pay attention too. (Daylight gives me a headache cause I live in Canada and bake mostly in the evening. There goes the day job again.)

    • Jessica replied: — June 19th, 2012 @ 9:47 pm

      My day job is freelance recipe development & food photography as well as writing both of my cookbooks that are coming out this November and in 2013.

      I used to have a 9-5 job and my biggest suggestion for photos is to save some of whatever you make for photos the next day. Or even on the weekend! I use to do a lot of my “blog cooking” on the weekends to get good light!!

  33. 33

    Rachel @ Baked by Rachel — June 18, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

    Great advice Jessica – it seems to basic to people have been blogging for a bit but it’s always helpful info to someone!

  34. 34

    Desi — June 18, 2012 @ 4:06 pm

    I love these tips! I pinned them so I can always have them :) I would love to start making money from blogging… oh, to dream! Thanks for the link to Amanda’s blog telling me how to count my stats. And I didn’t know about a press sheet but I guess I don’t really need one yet since I haven’t done much press. I appreciate your advice to just contact a brand/company about partnering with my blog… I just may do that. Cooking and blogging are my passions… if I could make money from it and make a living out of it I would be the happiest girl alive! I hope one of the BlogHer events comes near Cincinnati soon. Thanks for this :)

    • Jessica replied: — June 19th, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

      Hey Desi!

      I just checked out your blog and your photos look so bright and cheery! I am sure that if you keep up what you are doing, you will continue to grow and you will definitely start making money. One big way to help that, join Blogher for your ad company. Unlike Foodbuzz they do not have a contract and they pay a lot higher.

      Good luck! :)

  35. 35

    Lacey | Small Town Cookie — June 18, 2012 @ 4:08 pm

    Thank you for the information. You answered so many of my questions.

  36. 36

    Barbara | Creative Culinary — June 18, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

    I get a lot of questions from a lot of bloggers as well and the one thing you might include that I know drives fear into the hearts of many? SEO. Those three letters seem to signify knowing a whole new world of ‘technical’ stuff and that’s not something food bloggers want to mess with.

    But you do want traffic right? In a nutshell, the two go hand in hand. I’m not suggesting you craft your post just for SEO but I sure am suggesting you craft your title of your post correctly!).

    You might not think you care today but I own a web business and have developed a lot of food blogs and I promise you; those bloggers who did not care 2 years ago are kicking themselves for not incorporating the very basics from the beginning.

    What is that?

    1. You might have the cutest title in the world for your post but if it does not say what is in the post, don’t do it (unless you are using WordPress and can define your html page Title to be something different from your post title). So if your post is about Mississippi Mud Cake don’t call it ‘The best cake you’ve never had from the south.’ – users will not be googling for that!

    Take the same care with your post description. A one word sentence that is a bit more descriptive but uses some of the same keywords you used in the title.

    Go ahead and list some keywords…as long as there are fields for them, I ignore the naysayers who say don’t bother. What’s 5-6 more words??

    Last but certainly not least, make sure that your post content uses the same title and keywords you have used in those fields. On a very basic level you just want Google to know that your post, the name you have called your post and the descriptors you have used for your post are all talking about one thing and that a query for ‘Mississippi Mud Pie’ will in fact have a good chance of being what the user will find when they come to your site.

    I couldn’t help myself…hope you find the info useful!

    • Jessica replied: — June 19th, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

      Thanks for sharing all that Barbara!

      I didn’t touch on CEO (or running ads and backfilling ads) because they are whole entire posts on their own. But now people can just read about it here in the comments thanks to you!! :)

  37. 37

    Cassie — June 18, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

    You are a rock star for putting this post together. I get a lot of these same questions and having resources like this is priceless. Great tips and advice, Jessica, you are wonderful!

  38. 38

    Patty@homemakersdaily.com — June 18, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

    I don’t have a food blog but I do feature three recipes a week on my blog. Thank you for the great article. I’ve been working away at building my blog and increasing traffic and am moving forward but it’s slow and steady. I kind of wanted it to be fast and furious! So your article was encouraging because it means that I’m on the right track.

    Thanks for taking time out to answer these questions.

  39. 39

    The Teacher Cooks — June 18, 2012 @ 4:30 pm

    Such a great post including some very good advice!

  40. 40

    Amy @ The Nifty Foodie — June 18, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

    This is an awesome post! :-) Thanks for sharing!

  41. 41

    Sarah @ Miss CandiQuik — June 18, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

    Good advice and true. Time is the truth…just keep pluggin’ away and keep your head up would be my advice. I still have a long ways to come, but I see progress along the way and it is awesome. Thanks for sharing these tips- I’ve pinned it!

  42. 42

    Madeleine — June 18, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

    Awesome post! This is all really helpful advice, thanks so much!

  43. 43

    Olivia — June 18, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

    Wow, so many great tips! Thank you!

  44. 44

    Natasha — June 18, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

    This is great! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and willingness to help out super newbies like me!

  45. 45

    Alexis @ Lex's Life as a New Wife — June 18, 2012 @ 5:06 pm

    Thanks for these great tips. I started my blog for a hobby and am trying to build my Facebook and blog page followers.

  46. 46

    Ryan @ Spicy Richmond — June 18, 2012 @ 5:10 pm

    Very good info! Never knew about a “press sheet” but will definitely have to create one!

  47. 47

    Alison @ Ingredients, inc. — June 18, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

    omg great post! You rock girl!

  48. 48

    Elizabeth — June 18, 2012 @ 9:00 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this post! I’ve been blogging for a little over a year and I get so discouraged sometimes because my blog is not where I pictured it being a year ago. But it really does take more time than that, especially when you don’t always know what you’re doing. I found your photography advice very helpful! That’s the part of my blog I’ve been trying to work on recently.

    My question is about FoodGawker. I submit pictures to FoodGawker every time I write a blog post, but they’ve only accepted 1 and declined about a billion. I’ve researched this a little, but I was wondering if you had any advice for submitting pictures to FoodGawker? I try to keep mine simple and not too zoomed in, but I keep getting rejected.

    Thanks so much!

    • Jessica replied: — June 19th, 2012 @ 9:55 pm

      FG/TS are very particular in the photos they like. If you look through the photos you should be able to get a good idea of what they are looking for. My best advice is to look at what gets accepted and try to model your photos after that.

      In my experience they want clean, sharp images that show off the food. Also having the right white balance is important.

      Good luck Elizabeth!! :)

  49. 49

    Dannii — June 19, 2012 @ 4:50 am

    Great tips – thanks :)
    You are right, it just takes time, there is no magic formula to getting more traffic. But good content helps!

  50. 50

    Heidi @ Bits of Sunshine — June 19, 2012 @ 6:06 am

    This is a wonderful post Jessica! I really enjoyed it and learnt a hang of alot. Its really kind of you to sit down and list all these things – because I know that its a learning process and you sometimes even forget the steps you took! But this is an excellent post!

  51. 51

    DessertForTwo — June 19, 2012 @ 7:56 am

    I love love love love reading this! I’m going to print it out :)

    • Jessica replied: — June 19th, 2012 @ 10:04 pm

      I love love love love love you! PS Make sure BHF in Austin next year is on your calendar. I totally can’t go through another conference without you there!! :)

  52. 52

    Katrina @ In Katrina's Kitchen — June 19, 2012 @ 9:44 am

    You are a gem. Love this post. Most people don’t understand it when I tell them that I still have no idea what *works* but I just know what is working for me. You hit some really key points. Again- a gem, my friend!!

  53. 53

    Joan Hayes@chocolate and more — June 19, 2012 @ 10:41 am

    Jessica, I’ve already told you how awesome this post is but I wanted you to know because of all you share with others from your recipes to your helpful tips I’ve given you the sunshine award, please stop by when you get a chance
    http://chocolatechocolatemorechocolate.blogspot.com/2012/06/sunshine-award.html

  54. 54

    Lauren | Sweet Splendor — June 19, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

    Those are some great tips for a newbie like me! I love blogging but it’s just a hobby! I’m bookmarking this page for one day when I may get more ambitious about being a serious blogger! XO!

  55. 55

    Bri — June 19, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

    Jessica, thank you for all of the reminders! Such great information, so glad you shared!

  56. 56

    Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. — June 19, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

    This is so helpful! I’ve been blogging for a year and feel like I still have so much to learn! Thanks for all the great advice!

  57. 57

    Devon — June 19, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

    Great post! While I was in bed sick yesterday, I made a press sheet. By the end of the day, I was ready to stab myself, but I’m so glad I finally did it!

    • Jessica replied: — June 19th, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

      You go girl! I know how much of a pain it is, but the payoff of having one is so worth it. Hope you are feeling better today! :)

  58. 58

    sally @ sally's baking addiction — June 19, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with EVERYTHING in this post, but I most certainly 100% believe and know from experience that it all takes TIME. I learn something new everyday and figure out things I’ve been doing right and wrong constantly. I have been scared to contact companies in the past, but I think I’m going to give it a try with your advice, Jessica. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  59. 59

    Le Man and Wife — June 19, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

    Thanks for the helpful tips! Blogging is such an interesting thing sometimes–we all put so much into our blogs with the hopes that people will read them and enjoy what we have to say. It can be so hard to sit around and wait for that to happen, though! :)

    Always love your blog, keep up the great work!

  60. 60

    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts — June 19, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

    What a great post! So many questions answered, great job!

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    morgan — June 19, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

    thanks so much for this post! i’ve been food blogging for about a year and a half now and i finally jumped from about 5K/mo to 54K so far this month. i’m not exactly sure what happened or why but it’s super exciting. i do a lot of the same things you suggest and it’s SO true, hard work and TIME make all the difference!!!!

    i always love reading your blog and learning new tricks from people more successful than me. food blogging is a lot of work but so much fun and it’s so nice to see other people with the same passions! thanks for all you do, i really enjoy the novice chef blog!

    xo,
    the improv kitchen

    • Jessica replied: — June 19th, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

      Congrats on the blog growth Morgan! It will only get easier from here! :)

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    Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking — June 19, 2012 @ 4:34 pm

    This is so informative, Jessica! I get asked some of the same questions too, and though I answer them as best I can, like you said, we’re all learning here! Excellent idea about the press sheet… I’ve got to make one of those.

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    Bibi @ Bibi's Culinary Journey — June 19, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

    Jessica, I found this post through your fb page…..excellent post! Very well written and so much information. I love all the information and recipes on your blog. I am a new, big fan :)

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    mom — June 19, 2012 @ 6:48 pm

    So proud of you! I love you!!!

    • Jessica replied: — June 19th, 2012 @ 10:13 pm

      I love you too Mom :)

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    Ann — June 19, 2012 @ 7:25 pm

    Jessica, you have always been so generous with your knowledge and information – thank you, thank you! You are MADE of awesome!

    • Jessica replied: — June 19th, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

      Thanks Ann! I miss seeing your posts in my blog reader! :) xoxo

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    Diana F. — June 19, 2012 @ 8:50 pm

    Jess, what site did you use to obtain your domain? On word press it says 18 dollars for a year, but I know there are others. That and have you figured out a way to keep people from stealing photos?

    • Jessica replied: — June 19th, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

      My domain is through godaddy right now. I bought it through them because they had a sale. But my hosting (for my server and what not) is through fluidhosting.com.

      If you buy it through another site, it may be hard to change over your free wordpress yourself. When I first started out, I bought my blog domain name through wordpress because it is easier and I could do it myself.

      As for people taking photos, no it happens to me all the time. You can put a watermark on photos (like I used to do years ago when I was starting out), but I hate how it distracts from the photos. Plus, people can just crop out the watermark if they really want the photo.

      Hope this helps! ;-)

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    Lauren at Keep It Sweet — June 19, 2012 @ 8:54 pm

    Great helpful post! I’ve been blogging for a couple of years but actually didn’t know anything about a press sheet!

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    Andrea @ Baking in Saskatoon — June 19, 2012 @ 10:53 pm

    Thanks Jessica for the answer. I wish I could do the recipe developing/photography thing. But as life is right now I need my day job to pay the bills.

    You said to connect with other bloggers. We have a little blogging community here in Saskatoon & Saskatchewan but it is nowhere near the size of like Vancouver or the East Coast/West Cost. It is probably one of the smallest communities. (It feels like that anyway.) We met once, and it was nice but I would love to attend one of the bigger blogger conferences.However, all of them seem to be rather far away.

    Is there a central page where one could check where blogger meetings are?

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    Becky — June 19, 2012 @ 10:55 pm

    LOVE this post – thanks a ton for the inspiration and tips! My head is now in food blogger dream land, thinking about the future and all the fun possibilities :)

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    natalie@thesweetslife — June 20, 2012 @ 10:45 am

    thank you for this! I frequently get similar emails (and my blog is nowhere near as successful as yours!) and I try to answer their questions–but now I’m just going to send them to this post!! This is great!

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    Chelsea @ Chelsea's Culinary Indulgence — June 20, 2012 @ 10:53 am

    I love reading your blog and your pictures are amazing! This is such great advice for a blogger just starting out like me. I am really trying to work on my photography and cannot wait to have a real camera one day! Thank you for sharing!

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    Melissa — June 22, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this. I will definitely update my site once I finish studying for the Bar exam! It’s great to have a resource like this for tips on how to start.

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    Gerry @ Foodness Gracious — June 26, 2012 @ 1:04 am

    Thanks Jessica for an awesome informative post, some of the stuff really made sense to me and I can’t wait to start using your advice. I agree with time though, if someone is looking for 100 followers in their first week then disappointment is a comin’ Will you be going to Foodbuzz’s fest this year?
    Thanks again..

    • Jessica replied: — June 26th, 2012 @ 1:15 pm

      Nope I won’ be going to Foodbuzz Fest. But I am planning on going to the next Blogher in Austin! :)

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    Jen at The Three Little Piglets — June 26, 2012 @ 1:44 am

    Amazing list and it summarizes an incredible amount of information! The key to building is about building a brand and a voice, and then little by little the following will come. And you are SO right – you have to find what works for you and prioritize that!

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    chica chocolatina — July 16, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

    Thanks, Jessica this is a great post! I would like to know if you have any tips on how to take great food pics. In regards to backrounds, props and food styling? Thanks, Jasmine

    • Jessica replied: — July 23rd, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

      I would recommend you check out the book Plate To Pixel: http://amzn.to/OjmbK8

      Helene is a mastermind and really knows what she is talking about!

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    Amy — July 20, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

    I’ve been considering a leap into blogging for about a year now, since I quit my 9-5 to run my own business. While my business is seasonal, spring and summer can be crazy busy. That’s (one reason) why my husband is a tough sell and I’m trying to find some bargaining help. Given that I follow all your great advice and I’m super patient for a year or two, what’s a reasonable expectation of blog income?

    Please don’t think me rude as I usually have a firm rule about not asking people what they make, but this is something I’ve been unable to find from other sources. Don’t worry, I would never hold you responsible. :)

    Thanks!

    • Jessica replied: — July 23rd, 2012 @ 12:17 pm

      Amy,

      I am not comfortable discussing my personal income, however I will tell you that it is a slow process.

      Growing your blog takes a lot of time and effort and does not pay off for a couple of years.

      To grow my income, I diversify my time into things like my 2 cookbooks coming out in the next year and freelance recipe development.

      Since you have the time, I would start it as a hobby and put in the effort for it to grow. It takes time, but it so worth it!

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    Heather of Kitchen Concoctions — July 20, 2012 @ 10:51 pm

    OMG! Jessica what a great post! Thank you for putting the time and effort into sharing these blogging ‘secrets’ with the rest of us! I do have two questions. First. Blogher ads. Right now I have Foodbuzz and love some of the contract/sponsered work I have received through them but don’t make as much on ads. How is it with Blogher and other blog advertising companies? Second, blog conferences. I haven’t really had the time or money to attend a blog conference. However, I am seriously considering attending Blogher food in Austin next year (since I live close by) but it seems like a lot of bloggers just go the conference just to meet up and go to all the parties. Do you actually attend the classes?

    • Jessica replied: — July 23rd, 2012 @ 12:22 pm

      Ok so first, Ad Companies:

      I was with Foodbuzz and have been with BlogHer for some time. I am VERY happy with BlogHer. The revenue for ads is much better overall (sometimes they will have a slow month, but then the next 3 months will be awesome) and they also offer a lot of sponsored/contract posts. The other great thing about BlogHer, you can backfill your ads. Meaning you can apply to another ad company (that is not a competing ad company) and have their ads as your default ads. This ensures that you will always be running a paid ad.

      Conferences:

      I have been to a good handful of conferences and they are great. At this point, I do not attend some of them (like blogher) really for the classes. For someone new to conferences, the information given will be extremely helpful. By now, I generally know all of what they have to say in the classes. If I was looking to really learn something, I would rather spend my money on a photography class with someone like Todd & Diane of White On Rice. However, I do learn tons at blogging conferences from the one on one time with other bloggers. They are always so happy to share tips and tricks that they have learned. :)

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    Allegra — July 23, 2012 @ 6:59 pm

    It is such a pleasure to read your blog and see your success! You’re so inspiring to me. This is such an informing and great post especially for those looking to start a blog or that have just began one. Food is my obsession and I love sharing my recipes with others, so I have recently started my own blog. Your tips have been so helpful for me (I even purchased my domain name after reading this). It makes me feel better to know that other people have these questions too and I’m not the only one constantly checking to see how many more hits I’ve gotten. Most of which are probably myself. Thank you for your tips! I look forward to reading many more posts :)

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    Heather of Kitchen Concoctions — July 27, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

    Thank you so much Jessica for the response and information! I have defiantly decided to go to blog her food next year in Austin. Hopefully I’ll see you there!

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    Cooking Journal — August 28, 2012 @ 12:03 pm

    Thanks for the wonderful article it has really helped me. You put a nice twist to it. Well put Jessica.

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    Kathy — September 15, 2012 @ 12:00 am

    Thank you! This was so helpful. Most every tip is something that can be done immediately.

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    Liz @ The Lemon Bowl — October 18, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

    I am late to the party (shocker!) but wanted to say thank you for taking the time to write such a great and informative post. Your passion shines through every word!

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    Nikki @Pennies on a Platter — November 8, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

    Somehow I missed this post! Tina brought it to the forefront for us on Rachel’s blog, and I’m so glad she did! :) I agree with all of the above. And, I’m pretty sure I’ll be emailing you for a copy of your press sheet so I can have an idea of how to make one up for myself! xoxo!

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    Elizabeth @ Confessions of a Baking Queen — December 28, 2012 @ 10:32 pm

    I’m a little late upon reading this, but it is great. So many good points and great advice. I truly enjoyed reading this. Thanks for putting such a great post together! One day I hope my blog is successful like yours! Happy New Year!!

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    Julia — January 8, 2013 @ 10:29 pm

    I have been blogging for about 5 months now and it is definately a learning process! This article was very helpful–I enjoy reading your blog.

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    Laura — January 11, 2013 @ 10:09 am

    Thanks for the great information and advice, it was such a nice read too! I’m about to launch my first food blog and I have been trying to read up on how to do it as much as I can, and this was great advice (I love the pictures throughout it too!). Hoping to launch it this weekend, and this is one of the most enjoyable posts I’ve read on this :-)

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    VeggieBytes — April 24, 2013 @ 4:13 pm

    I’ve had a blog since 2008 but I’ve always wanted it to be better. Im a personal chef so I cook for families and often times would get discouraged about the time it took to post on a blog as opposed to just cooking! I’m feeling inspired again! Thanks for all the great tips! I found your article via Recipe Girl’s 150 Blogging Tips.

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    Susanna — May 31, 2013 @ 11:35 am

    OMG I really love all the info you’ve put in this FAQ section!!!
    BTW I’m curious, the photo you have up here called “World Market Props” c394217051b911e1a87612313804ec91_7-600×600.jpg, where was this? Is it a certain shop? Can you please tell me the name of it?
    Thanks!!!!

    • Jessica replied: — June 5th, 2013 @ 4:28 pm

      That is at the store World Market!

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    Jackie {theseasidebaker} — June 23, 2013 @ 10:18 am

    Thanks so much for the great advice!!! I am still nervous at blogging conferences, socializing outside of the computer is still kind of hard. I think that like with blogging, it comes in time. Hopefully next time you guys are enjoying some donuts, I will come up and have a real conversation, not just about menu suggestions ;)

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    Georgia — July 14, 2013 @ 11:54 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful advice!

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    Jon - Chefjonlovett.com — August 18, 2013 @ 11:26 pm

    Much thanks for some great information. As a newb, it was obviously a lot of new information to take in, but I found it to be really motivational. Great post. Thanks!

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    Sea Side Restaurants — August 26, 2013 @ 1:24 am

    Nice post .Your advice has really helped me a lot.

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    Sunnie@ModernGirlNutrition — August 28, 2013 @ 1:05 am

    Thanks so much for this awesome post! I have been blogging for about 2 years now, but want to take it to the next level! :)

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    Shobelyn — October 2, 2013 @ 11:17 pm

    My blog is 3 months old and I only have 6 subscriber, is this normal, or my blog is doomed?

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    Catherine — October 7, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

    Thank you so much for this informative and honest post. Much appreciated!

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    Claire — January 3, 2014 @ 9:16 pm

    Thank you for these tips! I am about eight months into my blog and, thanks to the New Year, I am trying to determine good goals to set and what to do next. These are super helpful.

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    Kendra @ Prepping Parties — March 2, 2014 @ 10:06 pm

    Thank you for all of your advice! I started blogging about a month ago and this is one of the best / most comprehensive articles I’ve read. Very well done!

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    Mila — April 4, 2014 @ 9:14 pm

    Thanks! Very helpful tips.

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    Mackenzie — July 20, 2014 @ 10:07 pm

    This is so helpful!! Thank you so much for posting it. I’ve been bloggin for about three years now – nothing fancy but just to share my recipes with my family while I’m in college. It’s been a blast and has grown into something I love to do! I definitely need to work on my photography skills (and just having the patience to take good photos) and I’m going to check out your Seattle iphone advice page as I don’t have anything other than my iphone.

    Thanks for the advice and I look forward to reading your blog and seeing pictures of your little ones!

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    Diana — July 30, 2014 @ 11:47 pm

    Thank you so much for this post it really was helpful, I am in the process of starting a blog right now because it has always been a dream of mine but sometimes I get scared that I won’t know enough about how to run my own website! With the help of posts like these I’m slowly getting there!

    Great post, one of the best out there!

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