What’s the deal with Food Bloggers?

Food Bloggers: What's the big deal? And why do they need a conference??

So. Food blogging.

It’s a thing now. We’re an official group of people, with an official name, and we go to official food blogging conferences. Officially.

Now that that’s out the of the way… what is it exactly that we do? And… is it true that we make money? And how? And why? And what’s with the whole food blogging community thing? And why are there food blogging conferences? Like… what happens at a food blogging conference? And really… what’s the big deal?

After attending the BlogHer Food Conference in Austin, Texas a couple of weekends ago and spending 2 consecutive days with only food bloggers who were discussing primarily food blogging matters,  it struck me that we must seem like a peculiar group of people to non-blogging folks. And I wondered what this other world full of people who don’t blog about food tink about us, and our conferences, and our non-stop instagram pictures of food? And I wondered if those people might like to know what the big deal is… you know, why we blog– what motivates us and why we need a sense of community to do it!

What's the deal with Food Blgogers?

Photo courtesy of www.kristendukephotography.com

So I thought this post could be a grand opportunity to explain some of those things! After all, if you’re hanging around here reading this post, I may as well introduce you to the inner workings of my mind and those of all of my friends as well, right!?

Blogging, in general, has moved way past its early phases of simply being a hobby or a means to keep the family up to date. Obviously, plenty of people still use blogging for those personal reasons (myself included), but what I’m trying to say is that we now live in society that monetarily compensates bloggers for the content they produce and publish. In other words: blogging is now an industry. And the people who author and own the blogs are small business owners.

Food blogging, in particular, has flourished and become it’s own sort of online market place. So here’s how it typically works:

A food blogger, like myself, develops a site with their own content (content meaning recipes + photos +any writing/stories). This content is then shot out to the public through various avenues, most often through social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google Plus.

When you see a recipe on Pinterest, it’s not a “Pinterest Recipe,” as  so often hear them called. That recipe belongs to a site, and oftentimes that site is a blog, just like Something Swanky. Pinterest is just a market place of sorts– a snapshot way for us to show you all what we have on our blogs. It’s how we advertise, so to speak.

What's the deal with Food Blgogers?

So if we’re running a business and advertising, how are we getting paid? Ah! This is where it gets fun. There are lots of different ways for a blogger to turn a blog into a business. The easiest and most commonly used method to earn compensation is by running ads for other companies on our blogs. You’ve probably noticed them on most blogs you visit.

Most of us get paid for those ads a certain dollar amount per 1,000 pageviews our site gets each month. (So hey– thanks for stopping by today! You’re helping me pay the bills! Woot!) We literally earn money by drawing people to our sites, which is why it’s so frustrating to have our work (photos and recipes) end up on another site, Facebook page, or pin description. It means that people won’t come to our site for the recipe since they can find it somewhere else. And that’s money lost for us!

Some of us develop recipes for brands using their products and can be paid for those opportunities as well. There are also compensated freelance writing and photographing opportunities to be had if you do a good job of getting your work “out there.”

So that’s the business side of things. I think it’s a pretty neat gig. And I feel so blessed to earn an income doing something I love while also staying home with my daughter.

What's the deal with Food Blgogers?

Ok, so now you know how we get paid. But what exactly are we being paid to do?

I spend most of my day on the laptop, behind the camera, or in the kitchen.

Recipe development is where it starts. You get an idea, you whip it up. For most of us, this part comes naturally and is a lot of fun.

Photography is next. It can be a tricky little booger. There’s always lighting, food prep, and styling to contend with. I think people would be surprised to know that it’s not unusual for me to butcher an entire Poke Cake just to cut the perfect piece for photographing. Learning to use a DSLR has been a beastly challenge for me, and is still quite the work in progress. After photographing there’s the editing, and add text to hopefully make it more successful on social media platforms.

Of course, we then have to write the post. Always trying to add some personality to the recipe– something to make it stand out from all of the other recipes. This is the hardest part for me. I hate writing. Most days, I just want to say “hey! Here’s the picture. It’s good. Make it. Eat it. Come back.”

Would we still be friends if I did? ;)

And then there’s the social media. Ohhhhhh the social media. It’s its own kind of monster. We spend HOURS trying to beat the Facebook algorithms that prevent followers from seeing all of our posts. And analyzing traffic patterns on Pinterest. And, frankly, learning how to tweet at all! No to mention the puzzle that is Google Plus…!

ZipList Party 2013-96-M

ZipList Party 2013-97-M

ZipList Party 2013-102-M

And alllllllllll of that is why we need a food blogging community and food blogging conferences. We need other bloggers to ask about Pinterest Business accounts, and what constitutes a tax write off for a blog, and did you know that Google authorship is important? Do you know what Google authorship is? Which ad network is right for me? Etc…

As a community we can better ensure everyone’s success. We can share links to recipes, pin posts, and do other tidbits to help drive traffic (business) to each other.

Most importantly, we’ve walked a mile or two in the shoes of other food bloggers. Sure, no two lives are exactly alike. But we’re familiar with the day-to-day “grind” of the food blogging world. We understand the wear and tear it can cause. And because we understand those burdens, we can appreciate the triumphs even better as well! And all this means is that we can provide friendship and support to each other in a way that other people oftentimes can’t.

These friendships fostered at conferences such as BlogHer Food are precious. We live all over the world, and so opportunities to meet together in in person are rare and special! They’re of great value to our businesses as they facilitate networking that would be impossible to achieve otherwise. But I don’t know a blogger who would say the business advantages of a conference would ever outweigh the pleasure of developing real friendships.

Kristen-and-Ashton

Photo courtesy of www.kristendukephotography.com

Which is why I am so especially grateful for three very generous companies who each pitched into sponsor my attendance at BlogHer Food 2013 and make it a special event!

Picmonkey and I have been friends for a long time, and I was THRILLED to host a really fun event to represent them. During the conference my roommate, Kristen, and I hosted a Picmonkey PJ Party! PM supplied us with the most AMAZING assortment of goodies you could ever imagine. It was like the PJ Party you always wanted to have has a kid, but could never convince your parents to throw!

Hey-Cupcake

Photo courtesy of www.kristendukephotography.com

PicMonkey

Photo courtesy of www.kristendukephotography.com

PJ-Party-for-PicMonkey

photo courtesy of www.kristendukephotography.com

photo courtesy of www.kristendukephotography.com

We had an unbelievable turn out! A big thanks to everyone who attended and made the night so much fun!!!

friends-at-food-blog-conference

photo courtesy of www.kristendukephotography.com

Something fun that I learned while at BHF is that VIDEOS are the next big must-have item included in blog posts! I have BIG plans for creating how-to videos for each of my Picmonkey design tutorials! So stay tuned, I’ll let you know when I’ve got those under way!

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A big, huge gigantic THANK YOU to KicMount for their sponsorship. I have so enjoyed getting to know the folks behind this company, and I would just LOVE for you to check them out. They’re magnetic case for iPads is AWESOME for recipe development in the kitchen. The iPad stay clean and above the mess, and most importantly– it’s totally visible for easy recipe reading and Pinterest browsing!

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We have LOTS more fun in store with Lucky Leaf Premium Pie Filling in the coming months, so be sure to check in for that! I’ll be posting about an opportunity to play with them in July, and you do not want to miss it! But for now, I just want to send warm, fuzzy HUGS their way to say THANK YOU for their sponsorship of Something Swanky to BlogHer Food. It’s been a pleasure to work with them, and I’m excited to continue our partnership!

Another enormous thank you to Kristen Duke from Capturing Joy for being the BHF weekend photographer!

Recognize some of the bloggers up there? You should! They’re absolutely amazing women, and I’m so thrilled to have them as friends. Check out their blogs: Six Sisters Stuff, Crazy For Crust, The Girl Who Ate Everything, Inside BruCrew Life, Shugary Sweets, Capturing Joy, Chef-in-Training, Be Different Act Normal, The Domestic Rebel, Mom on Time Out, Kitchen Meets Girl, Plaid and Paisley Kitchen, Sweet Treats and More, So Very Blessed, Fifteen Spatulas, and probably a few more I’ve missed…

Ashton Swank

Ashton is the owner and author of Something Swanky. Although first and foremost a wife and mother, she considers herself an online entrepreneur, freelance writer and photographer, and brand ambassador. Her focus is in food styling, food photography and recipe development.