Food is one of the most popular subjects for bloggers. After all, everybody has to eat, right? Food blogging has its own unique challenges, so if you are a new food blogger or thinking of starting, here are some resources for you:
Image Handling Plugins
Foodies tend to be a very visual bunch – they love them some food-porn. But providing lots of mouth-watering images can be challenging. Try these plugins to make it easier:
LinkWithin is a free, remotely hosted plugin that will create a “Related Posts” widget at the bottom of each article, showing thumbnails and automatically linking to other posts on your site.
Pros: It’s quick and easy to install, and works very well. Great looking
Cons: It is remotely hosted. If you get too many remotely hosted or linked widgets on your site, it can cause a slowdown in your page load times (That said, unless you have some other remotely hosted widgets, most likely you won’t notice a problem with just this one).
- WP Smush.It – It is a constant battle to provide large, clear and beautiful images without using too much bandwidth. This plugin helps by automatically running all the images you upload through the Yahoo Smush.It tool, which reduces the file size without sacrificing image quality. You will still need to do some file editing before you upload, but this plugin can almost always crunch that image file a little bit smaller.
Pros: Automatically smushes all uploaded images – set it and forget it. Can dramatically reduce image size. No loss of image quality.
Cons: Occasional errors (on Yahoo’s end) occur which stop image smushing. You may or may not notice this, since you have to be looking in the Media Library to see the error. On the plus side, this doesn’t affect your image at all, other than it doesn’t get smushed.
- Amazon S3 for WordPress – This plugin interfaces with your Amazon S3 account so that your images are automatically hosted remotely through the Amazon cloud, which can save you a lot of bandwidth. The Amazon S3 account does charge you for usage, but it is MUCH less expensive than the bandwidth charges you will get from your web host
Pros: Automatically serves all uploaded images through your Amazon S3 account – set it and forget it. Keeps your web hosting bandwidth usage low.
Cons: If you don’t already have an Amazon S3 account, you will need to get one. This can be fairly challenging to set up (Amazon S3 is NOT user-friendly) but once you’ve got it going, it is hands-free.
Plugins for Recipe Management
Unique to food blogs is the issue of dealing with recipes. Some bloggers just use a standard blog setup and let their readers use the search function to find things. Others like to provide extras such as recipe printing and/or a recipe index. These plugins can be useful for easily adding those extras.
- WP-Print – This plugin allows you to identify which areas of your post should be “printable” and which should not, so that your user can click on a “Print This Recipe” link and just get the recipe (without all the extra post commentary).
Pros: Makes recipe printing user-friendly.
Cons: You will have to take a little time to identify printable vs. non-printable areas of your post for each recipe.
- hRecipe – This plugin formats recipes in a way that helps the search engines index them as recipes – making them easier to find. I also think it makes for a pretty good looking recipe format in the post itself.
Pros: Assists in SEO. Provides good looking recipe format in posts.
Cons: Takes a little extra time to enter the recipe details into the correct format when writing a post.
- AZIndex – This plugin makes it easy to create a recipe index from tags, categories or post titles.
Pros: Creates an automatically updating recipe index, once you’ve manipulated the settings – set it and forget it.
Cons: It would be best to have this installed before you get started blogging, so you can create your tag / category system correctly. However, even if you have a blog with existing posts, this can still help. It’ll just take a little more configuration.
As mentioned above, eye-catching images are practically required for a successful food blog. If you aren’t already comfortable with using your camera, you need to get there, quick! Even if you aren’t 100% where you’d like to be, just remember – practice makes perfect. Keep working on those food photos and you’ll be amazed how quickly they improve.
Here are a few links to get you started with improving your food photography:
This one is not specifically about food photography (although she does do that, too), but offers some really good tutorials about the basics of photography – what does “exposure” mean, etc. – in a easy to read, understandable style.
And here are a few specifically for food photography:
Once you’ve got a few decent shots under your belt, one of the best ways to drive traffic to a food blog is via the food-porn sites.
You think I’m joking? Oh, no! They are very, very real, my friend. Take a look at these sites! Getting your images featured on these sites invariably brings some traffic your way. Some are more persnickety than others (Tastespotting, Foodgawker, I’m looking at you), but all are free to submit. So, get in there and start submittin’!
General Food Blogging Links
A few other links you may find helpful:
- Ready to monetize? Check out the Foodbuzz Featured Publisher Program for a good program with decent payouts.
- Have questions for other food bloggers? The Food Blog S’cool has loads of them.
- The Food Blog Alliance is like Problogger.net but specifically for food bloggers.
Yeah, I know. There are a lot of food blogs out there already. But there is ALWAYS room for another talented cook to post some drool-worthy photos and recipes that make me want to run for the kitchen. So, get on out there!
Do you have a particular question about food blogging? Looking for a specific resource? Have you recently started a food blog or are you thinking about it? Tell me in the comments!