Blogging for Fun and Profit
By Jessica Petersen, SMC of SLC member
In March 2009, I sat in a room full of SXSW attendees listening to food bloggers discuss their love for food and how they have made their success. One of these bloggers was Salt Lake City local, Kalyn Denny of Kalyn’s Kitchen. Now admittedly, I don’t recall specific details to what they recommended. However, I do recall walking away thinking “I love food and if Kalyn can do it successfully in Salt Lake City, why can’t I?” That following June, Foodie SL,UT was launched.
My original focus was recipes, restaurants and interviews. Approaching my one year mark, I’ve found a much more fun niche in restaurant reviews and local food producers. I have also asked another food lover to become a Foodie SL,UT – details will soon be announced.
What have I learned in the last year?
- SLC is a great place to dine. There are an unbelievable amount of delicious choices in our small city. I’m very passionate about helping others discover them with me.
- Restaurants love bloggers. I’m often invited to dine at restaurants and provide my reviews. Most times the restaurants will fully or partially comp my meal.
- Blogging takes time. Eating food takes very little effort. Writing about it is a different story. I typically have to set aside 3-4 hours per blog post. This time includes writing the post, processing my photos & distributing it amongst various social media networks. It’s wise to target 2 blog posts per week to keep your readers attention and garner the attention of advertising affiliates. If you keep an even remotely busy schedule, it can be hard to find time to squeeze this time in. I personally rarely average my own recommendation.
- Delicious photos are important. Decent food photography is not hard and you can find a ton of tips online. Taking the time to make your photographs look tasty pays off.
- Don’t feel restricted to local posts. Traveling is also a passion of mine. While I try to keep the bulk of my posts related to Salt Lake, I’ve found my readers enjoy hearing about the food I eat in my travels.
- Interact with your readers. I always respond to my reader’s comments. I invite my readers to join me for monthly foodie outings to local restaurants. Dining is a very social experience; I certainly don’t want to do it by myself. Check out my Google calendar for the next foodie outing.
- Have fun! Being a food critic doesn’t mean being a snob. As you can tell by my blog name, I’m a proponent of having fun and being inviting to all.
- Guest posts are always welcome. I’m not the only one with an interesting point of view. If you love food as well, you are welcome to write for my blog. You certainly do not have to restrict your post to a restaurant review.
- Blogging isn’t the only venue to reach people. You will also find Foodie SL,UT on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Google Calendar, Urban Spoon, Foodspotting and Foodbuzz. There are many other places that can be utilized as well, however I have found it best to pick a handful of avenues to focus on. Too many can become overwhelming and often result in content that is not very useful to your readers.
What do people often ask me?
Q: Have you ever been invited to review a restaurant you did not like?
A: Yes. However, I save the good reviews for my blog and place bad reviews on Urban Spoon. There is no point in wasting my reader’s time with entirely negative reviews.
Q: Do you do this full time?
A: No. I design user experiences for software for a living. I’m a geek who happens to love food and I certainly do not recommend anyone quit his or her day job to blog. Food blogging in particular takes an upfront monetary commitment to eat out and purchase food. Making a monetary profit as a blogger does not happen over night. However, profiting emotionally does. So remember that your passion should drive your motivation to blog, not the need to make a buck.
Q: You seem to travel a lot, how do you make this possible?
A: I’m fortunate to have an employer that sends me on business trips and has great vacation benefits. However, I have also begun to master thrifty traveling… that’s another blog post!
Monetize Foodie SL,UT! Once I can achieve my goal of 2 blog posts per week, I will seek out affiliate advertising for my site. However, in the meantime I will begin asking for restaurant donations for give-aways to help garner readership.
I have decided not to take money from restaurants for food reviews however. I want my readers to trust what I am telling them is coming from me and not the check a restaurant gave me.
I appreciate any tips or suggestions you may have, and of course welcome your questions!