This week we went back to school (of Grazia), for the last in our 2013 term of blogging masterclasses at the Apple Store. We started this year's series delving into the world of beauty blogging, with Fleur of Fleur De Force, Estée of Essie Button and Lily of Lily Pebbles joining Grazia’s Editor-At-Large Angela Buttolph on the panel before taking a lesson in fashion blogging with Emily of Fashion Foie Gras, Ella of Coco's Tea Party and Ella of La Petite Anglaise. Finally we ended the school year with a food blogging masterclass with Kerstin of Ms Marmite Lover, Esther of Recipe Riffles and Rejina of Gastro Geek. Read below to find out their top tips for being a successful food blogger...
With any blog you have to post regularly
Esther explained, 'That's what people like and are used to. Trust is really really important - people consider you to be a friend of sorts. I could only take breaks because I have kind readers and have blogged for a long time.'
But keep it short
'If I wanted to be a successful blogger I wouldn't write more than 400 words per post', says Esther modestly. 'Don't write too much - later when you have fans that love you you can post Anna Karenina.' Kerstin agreed, 'Stick to 250-300 words and include space around text - readers like lists, bullet points and soundbites.'
6 is the magic number
'Nobody will care for 6 months - 6 months is the time I think. I started in 2009 after I walked out of features writer job at The Independent- I missed writing and everyone else had a blog at the time. It was a recession - I thought Vogue would ring me and they didn't and no one came knocking. Then Lehman brothers collapsed - I was living with my boyfriend Giles Coren - so I thought I should learn how to cook because he eats food - maybe he wouldn't notice if I didn't have a job, but cooked him dinner! There were 10 people who read it at the beginning. I gave up for a while, but then one person on twitter told me they missed it so I came back.' - Esther
Pictures are so important
Esther says, 'My camera is amazing, but food looks horrid when you take a picture of it. It always looks like dog food or sick! There are now great food apps'. Rejina added, 'Never take photos of food with flash, natural day light is much better. I used to work for a cookery programme and they would put cigarettes behind food and pretend it was steam. I'm pretty sure that is illegal now.' Professional photographer Kerstin offered up this gem: 'Light in the evening is terrible so hold a portion back to photograph the next day - or prepare your food to photograph at the weekend. Food also looks good on a blue background because of the complementary colours. Avoid brown backgrounds.'
Personal posts are most popular
Esther joked, 'My most popular was about my husband coming home drunk - every one loves me being miserable. I also got 150 comments when I had a troll who was mean to me. My mother's sausage and cabbage hot pot was a favourite - and anything including the name of a famous chef does well - Jamie, Nigella etc. Just remember to feature in the title so it's picked up by search.
You don't need much to start a food blog
Kerstin says, 'I don't think you need much kitchen equipment to start, but I love it. My top three would be a Kitchen Aid, scales and an AGA - you develop a special relationship with your oven.'
Turning your blog into a business
Rejina says, 'I haven't turned it into a business - I freelance alongside the blog. You shouldn't do it unless you love the subject matter - not to make money'. Similarly Esther says she isn't a full time blogger: 'Nope I'm a journalist! I have a lot of work as a freelance journalist, but during a hiatus I needed to do something - a blog is a great way of showing people how you like to write.' Kerstin says 'I am an author and I host supper clubs. I monetize my blog with real life activity, but I don't do sponsored posts - I won't do that as you loose the trust of your readers'.