Easy Ways to Grow Your Food Blog + $250 American Express Giveaway

When I started blogging in 2009, I had about 14 readers per day for a few months. It was 14 more than I thought I’d have.

On the first day I broke 100 views, I was ecstatic. On the first day I broke 1000 views, I truly couldn’t believe people found my site, read it, and some were even repeat readers. Wow.

Well time marches on and here we are 5 years later and while I don’t profess to have all the answers or the best blog, but there are a few things I’ve learned along the way that you may find useful or helpful if you’re trying to grow your blog.

Easy Ways to Grow Your Food Blog - Easy, free, tips & tricks to bring readers to your site!

1. Content is king. And so is quality of content. I used to blog 7 days a week, and some days I even wrote two posts per day. I have no idea how I did it or why I did it. My content wasn’t particularly special, unique, and I wasn’t saying anything important, new, or novel. But I was hitting Publish.

Today I prefer to write a few less posts per week and really focus on the content that I’m putting forth. I want my recipes to be worthwhile of making, my photography to shine, and for my writing to be something I can look back on and not cringe at 6 months later.

If you’re struggling with burnout, or just trying to build your readership, I recommend focusing on 3 or 4 really good quality recipes each week. Less may not be enough to get people coming back, and more, well, you turn into a machine and may not be able to put out high quality content and sustain that pace. Find what works for you and then stick to it.

Readers like consistency. I believe most readers would prefer 3 quality posts per week that they can count on, like M-W-F, than sporadic ones or lots of just mediocre posts. Put forth your best work.

Sure, there are days that I don’t love how the photos turned out, or the recipe isn’t the most original idea under the sun (how many ways can you actually make a chocolate chip cookie), but the longer I blog, the more I try to be as creative as possible and truly put forth my best work with every post. Readers will find you and will keep coming back for excellent content.

Softbatch Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Cookies - Recipe at averiecooks.com

2. Work your social media like it’s your job. It is. I spend hours each day working Pinterest. It’s my favorite social media and the one I find that’s the wisest use of my time on the work-reward scale. But if you like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus, great. Find something you like, a way to interact with readers and potential readers, and then dive in. Respond to their comments, tweets, questions, or pose a question on your Facebook wall. Your readers will love the personal interaction and you’ll seem more approachable. I want to read blogs where the author seems approachable and down-to-earth.

Blogging is about grass roots marketing. You’re your own marketing committee so you need to get your name out there.

3. Improve your food photography. We eat with our eyes and I want to eat pretty food. I instantly click off blogs with tiny pics, dark pics, orange pics, or the ones that look like they were taken with an iPhone. Sure, everyone has to start somewhere, and my photography is a daily work in progress, but I practice my craft daily.

Summer 2011 Peanut Butter Cookies

Same recipe with chocolate chips added, January 2013 Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies averiecooks.com

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies averiecooks.com

I don’t expect to run a sub 3-hour marathon without training, nor do I expect to take pictures that belong on the cover of a magazine without practicing. Get your camera out and stand in front of the food, next to the food, get on a chair and stand above the food. Move the food in relation to your light source, move your body in relation to the food and your light source. Try a whole lot of things and keep taking pictures until you know what you dislike and know what you love in the images. Then figure out why you don’t like that photo, or why you do, and then try to recreate it. Practice.

Buying a fancy new camera and lens is the last thing to do. The first thing to do is to really learn the camera and lens you do have, then work on your food styling. Those things are free.

And then when you decide to spend the big bucks on new equipment, you will have the basics and fundamentals down pat. I have a photography section for more detailed info.

4. Work with brands. If you want to turn your blog into your job, you need to get paid. No one can work for free forever. In the beginning, you have to. But as your blog grows, working with brands helps grow your audience and puts some money in your wallet. And once you start working with one, others have a way of finding you, but getting started working with brands can be intimidating.

In the beginning, I emailed companies I thought would be a good fit for my blog, and it was shocking that some even wrote back. They may send you a bag of sugar and you may need to develop a recipe for free and link to that sugar in your post, but in turn they’ll promote your post on their social media and readers will find you. One thing leads to another, and pretty soon you’ll be naming your price and the vendors you want to work with. It happens.

Keep in mind when working with brands you will need to be open-minded to opportunities. You may need to find an extremely creative way to use Greek yogurt or avocados or potatoes, when you really wanted to use chocolate, peanut butter, and salted caramel. All of life is a give and take, including blogging, and as long as you’re flexible and open-minded, things seem to work out.

Another option is to get started with a company like Markerly.com. They put bloggers in touch with brands and do the legwork so you don’t have to. It’s a great option because you don’t have to secure your own clients or the brands; they do it for you. If you’re a blogger and want to learn more, click here.

A couple years ago I wrote a 5-part series called Blogging 1o1. It was much more in-depth than today’s tips.

Blogging 101
Blogging 102
Blogging 103
Blogging 104
Blogging 105

This post is brought to you by Markerly and they’re going to reward one lucky reader with a $250 American Express gift card. You don’t have to have a blog to enter the giveaway. Follow the Facebook prompt below. Good luck!

   

85 Responses to “Easy Ways to Grow Your Food Blog + $250 American Express Giveaway”

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    51
    Jaclyn — January 24, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    This is such an awesome post Averie!

    Reply

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    The Ninja Baker — January 24, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    So very helpful and inspirational, Averie. Thank you!

    Reply

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    Norma | Allspice and Nutmeg — January 25, 2014 at 3:14 am

    Thank you, Averie. I’m a newbie and this post is very helpful.

    Reply

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    Carole — January 25, 2014 at 7:11 am

    Excellent post, Averie! We, too, were so excited to reach that first 100 page views, 100 followers, etc. We are still waiting to get to the next milestone of 1,000, but we are well on our way! Thanks for inspiring readers everywhere with excellent content and beautiful photography!

    Reply

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    Lizthechef — January 25, 2014 at 7:57 am

    I wish I understood what to do with Pinterest and how to grow a following…Any helpful links, Averie? Thanks – Liz

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — January 25th, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      Get active on it! Pin, pin, pin. Your stuff, other people’s stuff, get involved! That’s my #1 tip!

      Reply

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    Tieghan — January 25, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Such an incredible post, Averie!! If anyone knows what they are talking about it is you!! You gave amazing tips and incredibly valuable info. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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    Nancy @ gottagetbaked — January 25, 2014 at 9:10 am

    Lately, I’ve really been wanting to devote more time and energy to my blog in the hopes of growing it. Sigh, between work, renovations and getting over the flu, I haven’t been able to do much blogging. This is a great set of tips, Averie! If I had even a tenth of your success, I’d be thrilled. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

    Reply

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    Amy L — January 25, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Great post Averie. I especially agree with “1. Content is king.” I’m drawn to blogs with quality posts, not quantity. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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    Terri Cole — January 25, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    As a reader, I would MUCH rather see sponsored content than pop-ups. Pop-ups drive me crazy! I’m vegan, so sometimes I have no interest in that sponsored content, but it can inspire me to create my own version.

    Also, thanks for creating so many yummy vegan recipes, and vegan variations for many more!

    Reply

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    Jenn@eatcakefordinner — January 25, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Thanks for the tips! That is one thing I love about you is you reply to comments and you also comment on other blogs and support others. P.S. you were blowing up Pinterest last night. I saw a ton of your recipes in just a quick few minute browsing session.

    Reply

    • Averie Sunshine replied: — January 25th, 2014 at 4:13 pm

      Thanks for noticing, Jenn, & LMK – about Pinterest and for noticing that I do try to be a team player & support others! :)

      Reply

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    Shaina — January 25, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    I am bookmarking this post, thank you for all the great tips and advice!!!

    Reply

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    Sue — January 25, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Thanks for the tips. Sponsored content hands down….will leave website depending on pop-ups…very annoying.

    Reply

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    Carol B — January 25, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Thanks for the tips!

    Reply

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    Jody Cowan — January 25, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    I’ve had my blog for about two years. But I’m really just now getting into recipes and food blogging. I really like it. I like cooking and baking. So now I’m actually enjoying it more. Thanks for these tips. I love your food! And your photography is just awesome!

    I’ll definitely be back!

    Reply

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    Mondo | I bake he shoots — January 25, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    Like Carole, I’m looking forward to 1,000 visits per day. I now realize I have to step up my Pinterest game. Thanks for the tips, Averie.

    Reply

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    sally @ sallys baking addiction — January 26, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    Averie, what an incredible informative post! I love reading about other food bloggers’ workflow and strategies, what they find challenging, what they think is most important. I have to agree that content is king. Quality over quantity. Absolutely! The photography is the hardest part for me. Mostly the food styling. More recently – the lighting! But that is easily manageable. I find food styling to be challenging and often feel lost and like I style each shoot the same. Working on some variety. Other challenges are clearly time management and overworking. Taking some nice long breaks recently keeps me refreshed and grounded. Anyway, love this post!

    Reply

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    rayraycartucci — January 26, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    sponsored contest.

    Reply

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    Lisa Viger is Raw on $10 a Day (or Less!) — January 26, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    I remember when you started, Avery! You were Love Veggies and Yoga back then and I found your blog through the raw food community. Lots of yoga poses! I started my blog about the same time as you, I think. Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed watching you and your blog grow and change over time and wish you the best going forward with it :).

    Reply

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    Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust — January 26, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    This is an amazing post!!! Love all the tips.

    Reply

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    Jeanette | Jeanette's Healthy Living — January 26, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Great tips Averie! I don’t mind sponsored posts when there’s a story behind it.

    Reply

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    saniel — January 26, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    I have wanted to start a blog but not knowing how to start.thank you

    Reply

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    fran — January 27, 2014 at 7:20 am

    great tips great ideas. Lots to think aobut

    Reply

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    Sara — January 27, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Great post! Enjoyed the tips.

    Reply

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    Gina Marion — January 27, 2014 at 8:56 am

    I like sponsored posts. Pop ups interrupt too much and they block what you’re trying to read, which seems rude. I do like ads in the side bar.

    Reply

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    La Torontoise — January 27, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    Avery, thank you for always being ready to share thoughts.
    I learn a lot from you!
    reading this was such an inspirational experience.
    All the best!

    Reply

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    Gretchen — January 27, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    I love the idea about writing to companies to promote their product! There are plenty of products I’m promoting already because I believe in them. Never thought to see if they’d support me.

    Reply

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    Kasey — January 28, 2014 at 8:49 am

    I’d prefer sponsored posts because they allow a greater opportunity for bloggers to post about things without having to spend their own money. Also, sponsors frequently give discounts and host giveaways for readers!

    Reply

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    Melissa M — January 28, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Without a doubt sponsered content

    Reply

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    Nala — January 30, 2014 at 5:45 am

    Hi Averie! It’s like you read my mind – I’m seriously thinking of starting a food blog and these tips will come in handy! Thanks!

    Reply

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    Kristin @ cheap-chef.com — April 9, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Thank you Averie, this was very motivational. Starting to feel discouraged!
    The Cheap Chef

    Reply

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