When I started Wandering Chopsticks a little over two years ago, I had a clever name and not much idea of what I was going to do. My initial posts were not terribly interesting, neither written with much personality nor photographed with much flair. Gradually I became more comfortable with being online and allowed more of my personality to show through my posts. As for the photos, I learned to use the macro button (that's the little flower symbol if you have a Canon), increase my ISO for low light situations, and turn off the flash. In between, I learned a whole lot more than I expected about blog rankings, bounce rates, SEO (search engine optimization), and how to conduct myself online.
There's plenty of advice already out there such as "Top Five Tips for Building Blog Traffic" by Christine.net who interviewed Elise of Simply Recipes, "How to Make Your Food Blog Popular" by The Amateur Gourmet, and "Foodblogging Do's and Don'ts" by Delicious Days.
Some blogs and bloggers are big on design, others photography, and others recipes. Personally, I'm a fan of good writing, useful information, and simple layouts. The one unifying aspect of all of the above is content. If you don't have content that someone else wants, your blog is not going to be successful. Since I've received several requests for advice on how to start a food blog, or blogging in general, I thought it would be useful to do a series on what I think is important in creating a blog, conducting yourself online, and navigation tips to measure your "success."
Obviously, success is relative. So at the risk of sounding immodest, I declare my blog moderately successful. Otherwise known as, why should you care what I have to say and how am I qualified to say it?
You want numbers? OK, we can talk numbers. In February 2007 (the first full month I tracked my statistics), I had a whopping 5,907 hits. In comparison, in February 2008 (adding in one extra day for leap year), I had 49,029 hits. Since February is a short month, let's look at July for a more recent comparison of a regular month's traffic. July 2007, there were 19,694 hits. By July 2008, I had 72,819 hits. My hits increase at an average of several thousand every month. You can easily fudge your stats to show a higher number of visitors, so those hits are simply the number of pageviews I got for those months.
Let's talk popularity for a bit. As of this post, Wandering Chopsticks' Alexa ranking is 206,189. Technorati, which only rates blogs, ranks Wandering Chopsticks at 32,417. Sometimes it drops down to 52,485. I'm not sure why it jumps around and frankly, I don't really care too much. Wikio Food and Wine doesn't count me in their top 100 at all. The only ranking I'm concerned about though is Alexa, which is owned by Amazon and measures total website traffic. I'll explain details later about why I consider this the most important ranking.
Or if you gauge success by press mentions, online and in print, you can take a gander at my 15 Seconds of Fame.
I built up my traffic through nothing else but virtue of my content. No sleek design. No gimmicky mass giveaways. No fancy schmancy camera. No comment-whoring.
So this is it folks. How to start a food blog according to Wandering Chopsticks. I've split up this series into topics with lots of random photos. I'll add and link up each section in the series once I've posted it.
Since blogs are highly personal, the following are merely suggestions or guidelines that worked for me. They may not necessarily work for you. Take my advice, for what it's worth, with a huge grain (bin) of salt.
Please let me know if you find this useful, or if you have any suggestions.
- How to Start a Food Blog
- On Blogging and Food Blogging
- Choosing a Blog Host
- Picking a Name: Be Clever, Original, and Memorable
- Posting: Frequency, Topics, and Accuracy
- Giving Credit: The Right Way to Link, Copyright, and "By," "Inspired," and "Adapted"
- Your Online Identity: Blogging Interactions and Comment Policies
- Photos: Photography Tips, Storage, and Watermarking
- Design: Layout, Navigation, and "Above the Fold"
- Blogrolling: Will You Be My Friend?
- Building Traffic: Participate in the Community and Respond to Your Stats
- Measuring Success: Cheerleader or Nerd?
- Public Relations: Handling the Freebies and the People
- Monetizing Your Hobby: To Ad or Not to Ad
- Bottomline: Have Fun, but Protect Your Work
1 year ago today, Fried Green Tomatoes.