The Verdict: Great Food Blogs Come Down to 4 Things

Jul 222009
 

imagesThanks to all who weighed in on my last post, both here and on Facebook, about what makes a food blog worthwhile. I’ve read through your comments, and will now attempt now to boil them down into four main elements. Based on my own opinion and the comments, a great blog has:

1. A strong personality. We want food bloggers who are fun, intelligent, opinionated, creative, make us think, and make us learn. No matter what they’re writing about, we want them to be passionate and well informed.

2. Great recipes. We readers want to be inspired by creative, innovative recipes that are also technically excellent. We want something new and different, not what we have in cookbooks at home.

3. Good storytelling skills. A great food blogger knows how to write a tempting title, a lead that draws us in, and uses techniques like self-effacing humor to great effect. With high-quality writing, reporting and research comes the feeling that we’re right there with them, cooking, eating, tasting and discovering.

4. Excellent photos. There’s no way around it. We want to be seduced by the images.

So there you have it. If you’re a blogger, does your writing and photos meet this criteria? If you’re a blog reader, maybe you think I’ve left something out. Let me know.

  7 Responses to “The Verdict: Great Food Blogs Come Down to 4 Things”

  1. I couldn’t agree more!

    All this does show that becoming an excellent food blogger really takes a lot, and that one would need to be extremely skilled!

    As for 4) – photos: To me this is very important. But there are quite a few extremely successful blogs out there that have terrible photos – even worse than I am capable of taking myself. And please believe me, I haven’t got a clue. Really. The success of certain blogs with poor photography surprises me greatly! But anyway, this shows that not all readers find good photos to be important.

  2. I think “voice” is essential; a real & distinctive presence that leaps of this screen and speaks like no other. Though it could be argued that this is a combination of # 1 and 3, #1 without authentic voice just comes across as arrogant and #3 without it, unfocused.

    Christy Jordan, of a Southern Plate, (http://www.southernplate.com) has what I consider a vibrant voice.

    Curiosity and humility, which go together — the writer is always learning, fascinated — also keep me reading.

  3. I would also like to add the following: I don’t mind the occasional classical recipe such as boeuf bourguignon as long as the writeup is beautiful (e.g. comprising childhood memories, a witty story or a memorable meal in France). But if the story is just about finding some great stewing beef at the butcher’s whilst already having bacon and small onions in the fridge so that this dish is begging to be made, it will most likely not be interesting at all.

    I suppose that to me, the advantage of blogging over other kinds of food writing, is that it is (or at least it has the potential to be) much more personal that e.g. newspaper columns or recipe sections in women’s magazines. I am not at all saying that blogging is superiour, but merely that it is different, and that it serves other purposes than well-edited and ‘tidy’ printed articles; it represents a different (and quite new!) genre, which complements more traditional food writing quite nicely.

  4. I completely agree – and I agree with Crescent that “voice” is a combination of #1 and #3, and that getting a sense that the writer too is constantly curious and learning are real drawcards.
    You have inspired me to go back to finding images for my history posts (modern photos do not “fit”, usually, and anyway, I am a terrible photographer). When I started off I regularly searched for historic images to illustrate my posts, but it all got a bit too hard finding and scanning etc. I do think my posts sometimes look a bit bland since I left off adding pictures – now my life has settled down somewhat, I must go back to the idea – so thankyou for reminding me that images (not necessarily photos) are important.
    Janet.

  5. I’d never thought of it in these terms–I think I’m not quite that deliberate–but these definitely make total sense!

  6. Couldn’t have said it better myself, although I find the odd “back to basics” post goes over well. I recently blogged about old fashioned shortcake and got a lot of responses.

    I’m also discovering that while people want innovative recipes, they want them to revolve around ingredients they have on hand. Few people will make something that requires a lot of searching or trips to several stores.

  7. The Huffington Post wrote a great guide to blogging that touches on a lot of these points. It’s not about food bloggers specifically, but is an overall great beginner’s guide.

    Also, in my experience, people respond well to recipe reviews of recently released books.

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