Blogging 101

Note: Also see Blogging 102

Blogging 103

Blogging 104

Blogging 105

I have been blogging for a couple years and have learned a thing or two about blogging.  I am not going to try to re-invent the wheel here because so many bigger and better other bloggers have already said so much on this topic, but readers write to me frequently with blogging or starting-a-blog type questions, and I thought I’d share a few of my own thoughts.


This is in no way a comprehensive list and it touches on different aspects of blogging but here are a few thoughts.

Each and every point is my opinion only, of course.

1. Thou Shall Not Steal. Remember the Eighth Commandment?  Well, the same is true in blogging.  If you see it on another person’s blog, it’s theirs.  Don’t take it.

Whether it’s their recipe, their widgets, buttons, text, graphics, or anything at all on their blog, it’s theirs.  Don’t take it.

This includes their photos.  In the past I have done recipe posts where I highlight various bloggers recipes and use photos from their sites, but I will not publish those posts any more of those unless I first have their permission to use their images.  No one is perfect, we all make mistakes; but once we know better, we do better.

Ask a blogger, first, if it would be okay to use something from their site on your site (graphics, images, etc.) but be prepared for them to say no, or gently ignore your request.  And yes, I have asked others and this has happened to me.  This is their prerogative.

Also, don’t steal their “voice” or their vocabulary.  Use your own.

Be your own person in life.  And on your blog.

In life, almost everything can be taken by someone else.  Whether it’s your car you have parked in your driveway or your purse you left in your grocery cart and turned your back on for a second, someone can take your things.

The internet makes it very easy to take intellectual property and non-tangible things.  This doesn’t mean it’s right.

There may or may not be laws concerning this, but there are norms, customs, ethics, and a moral code that I hope is not dead.  In life, as in blogging, if it doesn’t feel right to you, it’s probably not.

2. Linking Back. To expand on point #1, if you see a recipe on someone’s site and you want to make, or you did make, don’t re-write the whole thing on your blog.  You simply link back to it on their site.

This can be a bit tricky if you adapted or modified their recipe.  I’ve noticed it’s becoming increasingly common on food blogs to say “Adapted From” when someone uses and reprints another’s recipe.

However, unless you really adapted it in a significant or meaningful way, I personally think that simply linking back is more appropriate rather than rewriting it and reposting it on your site.

The blogger or person who created and developed the recipe should get the credit, accolades, and traffic to their site.  Not you.

If you made bigger modifications, or you feel justified in reprinting it, then let common sense be your guide.

Copywrite infringement laws are a beast.  I wouldn’t want to find myself on the wrong side of them.

Want to grow your readership? (see numbers 3 & 4)

3. I’d suggest commenting on other people’s blogs.  It gets your name out there.  No one knows who you are unless they see your name, over and over, and what better way to do this than on others’ blogs.

Comment on a wide variety of blogs, too.  I read and comment on blogs on topics ranging from home decor to photography to yoga and fitness to food.  Even within food blogs there are baking blogs, vegan blogs, raw food blogs, wine blogs, you name it.

Let people know you and your blog are out there in whatever way you can and commenting is one tried and true method.

4. Be consistent in your blogging.  You don’t have to post 3 times per day or even daily, but if your readers come to expect a post approximately twice a week from you, but you disappear for two months, then post twice in 3 days, and then drop off the map again for a few months, your readership may forget about you.

Readers want some sort of consistency as well as frequency.

5. Expect to spend time at blogging.  Blog posts don’t write themselves, and all the other aspects of blogging from answering reader questions via email to replying to the questions you will receive in your own comments, or dialoguing back and forth with your readers within your comment field, it all takes time.  Be prepared to have it to give.


1. Posts that have no doubt said it as well, or better, than me include:

Pioneer Woman’s Ten Important Things I’ve Learned About Blogging

Pioneer Woman’s Ten Important Things I’ve Learned About Food Photography

Tina’s entire Blogging Tab/Section

Deb of Smitten Kitchen’s FAQs on everything from copyright law to appliances to photography

Deb of Smitten Kitchen’s Approach to Food Photos as well as links to other sites that give food photography tips

(To my point #2: notice I didn’t list out people’s 10 things or top tips, I simply linked back)

My own post on Real Food Styling & Photography gives real examples of what to do, and not to, to make your food pictures look better.  I include a discussion on why you don’t absolutely need a DSLR but you do need to style your food.

There are so many “Blogging Tips” and “Want to Start a Blog” and “Lessons I’ve Learned About Blogging” type posts on the internet.  I could re-link over and over, but if you happen to know of any true gems, leave them in the comments.  In fact, Katie just did a post today on her experiences and her blogging tips.

2. Was this helpful or what have you learned about blogging that’s been instrumental and helpful for you and your blog?

If this was helpful, I can do many more posts like this.  I have so many tidbits I just don’t want to restate the obvious.  I already do have a Blogging 102 written so you get one more, at least.

However, we were all new once and even if you’re not new, it’s still interesting to read another blogger’s take on things, I find.

I also didn’t mince words today.  Sometimes just being direct is the best approach, and of course these are my thoughts and opinions only.

3. Any specific questions you’d like answered?

Ask and you shall receive.

And from my last post, thanks for the compliments about Skylar and it sounds like you all are some creative and imaginative folks.  Excellent!

I think people who read, and write, blogs are by nature creative, imaginative, intuitive, and we’re all cut from a similar cloth in that regard.

Who else could see “beauty” in chocolate picture…

No Bake Vanilla Cake Batter Chocolate Truffles

…after chocolate picture, right?

White Chocolate Blondies with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting


Give me your thoughts and questions!

Other Posts in this Series:

Blogging 102

122 comments on “Blogging 101”

  1. Excellent post! Consistency is one thing I haven’t gotten down yet. :(

  2. Oh my gosh, I could’ve written the exact same thing about recipe stealing! It makes me so

    • Um sorry, somehow got cut off… It makes me so frustrated when someone just completely takes my hard work and passes it off as his/her own. Or even when a person says, “This recipe is from so-and-so” and then proceeds to copy/paste the entire recipe onto his/her post! Soooooooo much better (and not plaigarism!) to write, “I used so-and-so’s recipe, but I added x ingredient in place of y.”

      I am so honored when someone makes one of my recipes… or even when someone uses one of my photos. They don’t even have to ask me first as long as they link back (and don’t copy the entire recipe into their own post).

      Anywhoos, great post Averie!

      • And I have pieces of info #6 – 10 going out tomorrow.

        I figured I should stop for today :)

        I loved your post today and this one had been stewing-and-brewing in my head for oh, about two years, and it was time to finally post it.

        Glad you enjoyed my musings today!

      • Yes!!! agreed! I like the “I used so-and-so’s recipe, but I added x ingredient in place of y.” and wish I saw it more! I was so clueless when I started blogging that I thought the wrong way (aka the copy paste method w/ a linkback that I saw on a zillion bloggers page) was standard protocol. When I moved aside from my personal recipes and started making fellow blogger’s recipes… I didnt know how to word a darn thing. I hope this post and the other like it out there spread like wiiiildfire throughout blogland! haha =)

  3. Thanks Averie! =) I’m going to refer a few bloggers to this! I never feel like enough of an expert to do these posts but we all know how important and informative they are! Great job! <3

    • I see your WIAW stuff everywhere, btw. You ARE an expert, cmon girl, you are :)

      • haha thanks love =) I feel so clueless though! And since ever recipe has pretty much been done 1000 ways by 100000000 people I’m kind of feeling like i’m in a food blogging rut. I might embrace my art a little more just to give myself a creative outlet that recipe development just isnt. Girl, the last 3 recipes I made up off the top of my head I googled after and it had been done.. Tofu French Toast — really!? bahhhh! What do you do?

      • are you serious? Well in that case, I think that’s one where you say, I adapted this or I made this after I was inspired by so and so…and you post it! And hold your head high! Because it IS original!

        And your art..yes, art soothes the soul!

      • I had a dream about my last recipe (cookie dough wontons. obsessed!) and had never ever seen them before. after googling them though I totally found one recipe and it was like… oh nooo… just one — i was so close to having something absolutely different. #fail. It’s so discouraging =/

      • Having only one other recipe out there is totally not a fail!! Just because it’s out there doesn’t know your specific readers know about it, right? Don’t let that discourage you! Even the biggest bloggers out there post classic recipes. Every recipe doesn’t have to be totally unique. That would be tough!

  4. This was so helpful, thanks!! I definitely agree with them all, but especially commenting and consistency–two of the hardest!!

  5. Love this! Being yourself and authentic really resonates, I have met so many bloggers at events or conferences and they are nothing like their blog in real life. Tell a story of your daily life and how your passions are weaved in and it makes something so much more interesting to read.

    • “I have met so many bloggers at events or conferences and they are nothing like their blog in real life. “– ME TOO!
      And I can assure you, I am 100% even more, ahem, “real” in real life than I am on my blog. Glad you like my style :)

  6. Thanks for this post! I’m fairly new to blogging, and I love reading tips from other bloggers. Consistency is my main problem and I’m trying to work on that.

  7. Averie you some great tips! I just went to my first food blogging conference this past weekend and the one thing that was repeated throughout the entire weekend was to find your “voice”, don’t try to duplicate someone elses because it will be obvious to the reader. Be true to what you love and your voice will come naturally.

    Of course another tip was to find your “niche”. Now, for me this is an ongoing progress since I feel like we change on a daily basis but you definitely have to find a general topic you love and write about that. There’s no sense in me having (for the sake of argument) a political blog when quite frankly I have no interest in politics. Yes I can hold my own during a conversation but it’s not a long lasting topic I enjoy. Therefore, if you plan on keeping your blog around for a while then talk about something that you think you’ll enjoy for a while!

    Be open! I started my blog because I thought I was going to write about fashion but there was no way I could write about fashion on a consistent basis. It just wasn’t for me. I might have started talking about one thing but very quickly ended talking about food. After a bit I just went with it and stuck to food blogging.

    So there ya go, my tips: Find your voice, your niche and be open!

    • political analogy is perfect, i.e. long lasting topic.
      That’s why I could never have JUST a straight up food/recipe blog. I do love cooking and food but not every single day am I martha stewart in the kitchen. I need to talk about other things, too.

      Finding your voice. Yep. I know that’s huge and I didnt go into too much depth about it b/c most other “how to start your blog” tips posts do, but yes, so key!

  8. Averie although I feel like I already “knew” all of that, it is still helpful to read it (and when I first started blogging I loved reading “how to start a blog” posts).

    Thank you for including the “link back to the post, don’t rewrite it” — I really try to only include what changes I made (if any). I don’t have many original recipes on my blog but it would irritate me if someone had taken my idea and used it as their own.

  9. Great blogging tips! I agree with all of them :)

  10. I’ve been blogging for over 4 years and one thing that I hate to see is bloggers who are obviously doing it for income and not passion. I also won’t go to a blog that looks like someone sneezed ads onto the page. What a turn off. And music…never have music on your blog. It scares me when it suddenly starts playing, slows down the page and is distracting…

    Be yourself. Write about what you love. Do it because you love it not because you expect a big payoff. Of course if you get one, that’s the icing on the cake!

  11. Thank you for this post! I am fairly new to blogging and sometimes it can be so exhilarating and other times feel so exhausting. Sometimes I feel like I know what I’m doing other times I feel so lost and wonder why I spend hours blogging in the AM before my kids wake up.
    I would love it if you would do more posts on blogging! I’ll be here to read them!

  12. Couldn’t agree more with your tips! Well, except for #4 – I agree, I just can’t execute :) Seriously, I need a schedule!! However, I’m finding my biggest pet peeve is when people change one ingredient (closely) – say maple syrup, instead of dates – and then call it their own… Umm, really!? I’m cool with reposting if it’s been ‘slightly’ adapted, but at least give credit where due – i.e., inspired by – or – adapted from… But then again, there are just those crazy coincidences, where I’ll post a nut butter and then reads x’s blog and she has just posted a nut butter as well! So really, that rule only stands for crazy and/or unique recipes! Come on people, get it togethaa :)

    • yes totally…there ARE gray areas, and the bottom line is just use common sense, ya know! Like not passing something off as your own if it wasnt type thing. And sooo many recipes ARE similar adding to the gray areas and I will do the same thing, post something and realize someone else made something similar and truly had NO IDEA b/c no one can read every post but you better believe that if I had read it first, and was inspired by them, I would have mentioned it type thing. I know you know what i mean :)

  13. This is a great post Averie. I have learned so many things since I started blogging last year and many of them coincide with what you have pointed out, especially the reprinting recipe part! Ha! But nowadays I link back to recipes I follow and only post if they are truly my own. I find that fellow bloggers have a greater respect for me when I stick to this rule.
    I’ve also learned a lot about the etiquette surrounding product promotions, giveaways and so much more. It’s a big world out there and bloggers have a HUGE influence in the advertising community, more than I ever realized or imagined.
    One thing I love about your blog Averie is that it’s very unique and your style is ALL your own. Keep up the awesomeness! :) :)

    • thanks, lindsay, for your last sentence and i think the word I forgot to use in this post was etiquette so yes, that’s what it all is.

      Influence.huge. Yes. I was in Fox News discussing that and the link to the story is in my press page, but yes, bloggers have so much influence!

  14. Love this post! I agree with you 100 percent!! I don’t have a percent symbol on iPad, lol.

    The points that really hit home with me are no content stealing and be original! Of course everyone might think they’re a snowflake, but I assure you, some blogs are so alike that I mix them up, lol. Be yourself, always! Make no apologies for it. Blogging should always be your interest before your audience. If you dobt feel it, like any other writer, it will show.

    Oh, and yeah, blogging about food all the time gets old! I’ve been trying to branch out little by little, because life isn’t just food. I’ll show you in email another ongoing blog project I have. I need more time in the day!! Lol

  15. Oh no I think I am guilty of adapting one of your recipes and posting it as my own. I fixed my blog and put that I was inspired by your recipe. I love your blog!! It is the first one I started to read. I just started my own blog about two weeks ago.

  16. I just made your taco casserole tonight, and even my husband liked it. I’m sorta doing this vegetarian thing, but I haven’t actually told my husband. I will, but last time I told him, he kept bugging me and I gave it up. Anyway, wanted to share. It was SO good! You know what I used instead of sour cream…silken tofu blended with some olive oil and lemon juice. I also used real cheddar, so it wasn’t vegan. I just didn’t have sour cream. Anyhow, it worked out really well. There was a certain meatiness to it, and I’m thinking that maybe it was because of the silken tofu.


  17. Those are some serious pet peeves..I’ve seen blog almost identical to each other. It’s bound to happen, but these are so close there’s no way one didn’t copy the other. And as for the recipe thing..I had someone just the other week change a total of two ingredients and call it their own!

  18. You and Katie both said how you didn’t feel like you should be writing these posts, but to newbie bloggers like myself(and probably even bloggers that have been doing it a while) it’s really important, so thank you for publishing. I went and read Smitten Kitchens FAQs and PWs post about blogging too. I especially liked SK’s take on recipes and how to use them on your own site(or use them at all) because I’ve always been unsure of that.
    I was reading through the comments and see someone mentioned giveaways and promotions and stuff like that. Maybe you could do a post about that? Or maybe just post some links that deal with that. I’m just doing my first giveaway and I’m not sure how to feel about it. I do want to be able to give products away to my readers but how do you deal with the person providing the giveaway? What kind of things should I expect, what can/should I say no to, etc. I really don’t have a clue.
    I’m also interested in the Blogging 102 :D

    • glad you liked this post and yes, 102 is already written. So everything you asked could be 103.

      Give aways, accepting free products, blogging about them, it can be complicated. Google: FTC blogger disclosure.
      That will give you some info and then there are ways that certain sponsors, i.e. FoodBuzz, BlogHer, etc govern what bloggers can and cannot accept, or give away. For me, all giveaways are precleared w/ FoodBuzz.

      I will discuss in a future post, for sure.

      Glad you liked this post and the links.

  19. Great tips!!! I love how you mentioned its important to ASK other bloggers to use their things, not simply just post them and link back. You still should ask before you take. :)

  20. Hey Averie! I just found your blog and am loving it! So much to say, first off both you and your daughter and insanely beautiful! :) Thank you for posting this because I am still really new to this whole blogging process and every bit of advice certainly helps. I have a question for you because I might have accidentally committed one of these mistakes. It’s kind of nit-picky but I’d hate to offend anyone or have a guilty conscience. On one of my favorite blogs the gal changes the color of each paragraph text block. I thought that looked really cool and was a fun idea so I started to do the same thing on mine. But I’d hate to think that if she happened to see that she would feel annoyed that I ‘stole’ her idea. What are your thoughts?

    Anyways, like I said before your site is stunning and so polished. I’m also excited to look through all of your recipes as your pictures have me drooling already! :)

    • my site wasnt always stunning and polished, trust me…lol It’s been a work in progress but thanks for the compliments.

      I think you’re safe with universal font colors and text colors. I am talking about certain graphics like header images or various images, badges, graphics that are really unique to that person’s site. Font colors, and changing them, is somewhat common so you’re safe I’d say.

      And thanks for the lovely compliments!

      • Thanks for letting me know on that. Haha, I felt a little stupid for asking but figured much better safe than sorry! I know I’d never like it if someone swiped a custom graphic or something I created and wouldn’t ever do the same. It’s sad to hear how you and others have had that happen in the past, but I guess it’s all part of the game. In the end though the way to do well at something is by capitalizing on your own great ideas and content! :) They’ll get theirs…hehe.

        Also cool to hear that you’re a fan of running as I am too. Sadly though I’m horribly inflexible and certainly could use a strong dose of yoga…hehe! Looking forward to more stuff…keep it coming! :)

  21. this is awesome, averie. thanks for the tips. they are not new to me, but interesting and definitely helpful. i saw your comment, above, that you have more tips coming – perfect!
    idea #1 resonates with me the most – be respectful. also, write from your heart, post entries that feel right in your heart. if you question if you should write something, if you don’t have a good feeling about a post, listen to that inner voice.
    i would love to hear more about the technical aspects of blogging: why consider self-hosting? comparisons of different commenting systems, etc. (my areas of weakness).
    great post – thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

  22. First of all I want to say: I think that your blog is always original, from the recipes you make to the topics of discussions and photos you post! Thank you!

    As as reader, I really don’t like when bloggers use other bloggers phrases or photo angles… Its soooooo annoying! I really don’t like silly names for things, and to have multiple blogs doing it irks me. I am not even a blogger and this would irritate me. And I know there are only sooo many angles to take pictures of food, but when you out right steal someone’s technique everyone knows. Or when someone “adapts” a recipes a day after another blogger posted it, and turns out they added 1/4 of a Tsp of cinnamon instead of 1/2, just say I made these amazing xyz from this blog head over to check it out. Be original people.

  23. Thanks for the fantastic tips Averie. Sometimes people make mistakes because they just don’t know the proper etiquette. As a newbie, I will keep all these points in mind. Sometimes you just need to KNOW to do better.

  24. I really liked this post, Averie! I’m still pretty new to blogging, so I love reading all the tips I can get. I think being authentic is sooo important, and I still struggle with posting what I want vs. what I think I should, but it’s getting easier and easier! :)

  25. This post was super helpful. I am what you call a “lurker.” I do not blog myself, but I LOVE reading blogs, and I’ve been reading them (yours included) for about 1 1/2 years now! You’d think I’d get the guts to start my own blog. I’ve wanted to, and thought about it a lot recently. I am scared of the “vulnerability” side of blogging–of putting myself out there, thought I want too!! If you have any tips on why to blog, or on how to deal with the “vulnerable” feeling when you first start a blog, I would love to hear them!

    • thanks for delurking and go, start your blog!
      I HAVE had some crazy stuff happen, yes, but it’s a small percentage and the good FAR outweighs and *potential* fallout.

      You *could potentially* get hit crossing the street. But you still cross it b/c the need/benefit outweighs the risk.

      But you have a valid point and this will go in Blogging 103.
      102 goes out tomorrow and is prewritten :)

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