‘Do you actually eat everything that you post?’ – Probably the most frequently asked question I get.
Not just me, but most of the bloggers of this delicious community get asked the same question. Which is of course followed by, ‘Hey, will you take me for the next tasting?’ aka can I tag along for some free food?
A food blogger’s life is amusing, vibrant and fun enough to make many reconsider (and regret) their career choices. If while eating breakfast you start planning for brunch, this might as well be for you.
But is this equation of Food = Happiness enough to propel you to begin – and then more importantly, keep you going? Probably not.
While the sizzle of tadka might be alluring, it does not save you from the painful task of chopping the onions!
So, if this is something that still intrigues you, discover my learnings from my food blogging journey in this 4 part food blog series:
1) How To Get Started As A Food Blogger In India
2) 9 Strategies To Create Content As A Food Blogger
3) A Food Blogger’s Insights On How To Get Clients For Your Blog
4) Tools That Will Make Your Life Easier As A Food Blogger
Here’s the first one on how to start your food blog in India!
1. Stalk aka Research
Let’s put those years of stalking skills to some good use and check out the food blogging space. Subscribe, follow, like the different kinds of bloggers and influencers to understand the spectrum. And no, it is not always about finding inspirations, the first step to building anything is to familiarize yourself with the market and what’s going on around.
2. Identify your niche
Identify your content theme or genre – it can be home-cooked dishes, cooking recipes, lesser-known food outlets, gourmet food, food trivia or even a potpourri of all. Whatever it is, you should know what exactly it means for you. The content usually decides your audience. Street food might attract the mass audience, while gourmet attracts upscale gentry. Be mindful because it’s a decision which has a much longer impact than you think.
Your posts decide the audience, which further decides what kind of brand would associate with you later.
3. Name your baby
This is probably the toughest thing to do. Honestly, it was a major roadblock which delayed the inception of my own blog. Before the name strikes a chord with your audience, it should strike a chord with you.
My tip? Don’t go by any rule, pick what connects with you, because you don’t want to be stuck with a name you aren’t in love with – for life. Quite proud to say, I am a full on quirky girl, and have absolutely no qualms being referred to as Papi Paet and not Nidhi!
4. Choose your platform – The most feared step
Out of the many options available, picking the 3 types of most frequently used platforms. But, before that, let’s familiarize ourselves with some jargon.
- Domain name – This is the unique address to a blog, and usually the blog name. Ex. www.papipaet.com
- Hosting – This is the digital space you rent where your data is stored on the internet. In short, if we lived in a virtual world, the hosting would have been our house and the domain our address.
- CMS – Content management system, is the application which allows you to create, edit and publish content.
Now, the types of platforms
1. Self-hosted CMS – Blogging platform where you will have to register the domain name and purchase hosting yourself to set up your site. It is an open source platform where the user has full freedom to add plugins and features to the site and customize it, meaning full control over your website.
Ex. WordPress.org, Joomla.org and Drupal.org. Domain registration and hosting can be taken care of from bluehost.com, godaddy.com, etc.
2. Hosted CMS (free) – Platform you can sign up for free. You use a free subdomain (ex. Papipaet.wordpress.com) and store your data in the servers of the platform. Some popular ones are WordPress.com, Joomla.com, Blogger, Tumblr & Medium. These offer limited access to structures, features and customization options.
3. Social Media platforms – Against the popular misconception, you don’t always have to build a website or a blog page. Exploit and leverage the social media platforms at your disposal. This is how I do it and it works well for me. Make sure all your social media handles are the same for consistency. Instagram + Facebook combination is an efficient way to start. The impeccable integration between both the platforms takes away a lot of effort.
You don’t always have to build a website or a blog page. Exploit and leverage the social media platforms at your disposal.
5. Explore parallel platforms which are already established
Even before you start your food blog, start building credibility by writing reviews on the Go-To platforms such as Zomato and Tripadvisor. Not only they help you get the hang of writing and clicking pictures, but also give you access to PR invites and events – and that is a lot of money you save on exploring restaurants and hotels, which you would otherwise be spending from your own pocket.
Not doing this was a mistake I made, which I later rectified. I hope you learn from mine, instead of committing yours.
Zomato and Tripadvisor – Not only they help you get the hang of writing and clicking pictures, but also give you access to PR invites and events.
6. Engage with the blogging community
Talking about networking, be a team buddy and grow with the community. Talk to other bloggers, like & comment on their posts, push their giveaways and contests, and help them out when they need it. Don’t look at them as mere competitors – there is a lot of space out there for everybody. In the long run, not only will this informal network help you drive your content, but also will help you get access to information and events you would otherwise be oblivious of.
7. Make outbound efforts for partnerships
If you have just started out, accept it that nobody cares about you or your blog. Do not expect brands or other influencers to be running to you to collaborate. Don’t shy away from reaching out to brands for partnerships, giveaways, etc, or to fellow bloggers for collaborations. Remember, you are NOT asking for a favour, but proposing a mutually beneficial engagement.
Papi Paet’s first collaboration with a Granola bar happened this way, and now there is no looking back.
8. Discipline is the key
We understand that creative fluids flow at their own will, but it is essential to maintain consistency. So set yourself a target – that could be number of posts or blogs you have to put up in a week, number of places you have to visit, or anything – if that is what you need to stay active. Go strive.
9. Content is the king
Rule! Irrespective of how strong your network is, what level you are on Zomato or Tripadvisor, or how beautiful your website is – if your content does not connect with your audience, expect some stagnancy. It is essential you put an effort in both creating content and gathering feedback.
My tip? Analyze the response on your blogs, and be open to moulding your content accordingly. I usually put tempting on-the-face food pictures, but my recipe video did well and psyched me up when the impressions reached more than 350k. I noted it down and now incorporate more such content on my page.
10. Add your charm – It’s your alter ego
Your blog is YOU! I would personally advise you to build it up in the most natural way possible. If you love street food, you don’t have to force yourself to like and taste gourmet just because it is fancy. This might work for some time but will not match the lustre of what could have been had you done what is quintessentially you.
I am a gol gappa and pao bhaji addict and I can see the difference myself – when I write about Sushi and when I write about desi.”
That’s it for today folks. It is almost lunchtime.
See you next time when I share with you my little secrets behind creating content as a food blogger. Signup for Digest myHQ to get next in the series right in your inbox!
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