Friday, July 29, 2016

The evolution of food blogging

Have an Offal Day chef explaining his dish

In food blogging years I'm quite old. At 8.5 years, my blog is one of the oldest in the Sacramento area. When I started there were only a few hundred food blogs around the world. Now there are thousands. Then, it was possible for blogs to make money from advertising streams. Now, it's pretty much a joke. 

Now don't get me wrong. I'm no expert on food blogging compared to some of the big guys. I never had aspirations for national or international reach. I always considered my blog my own passion and hobby. So while I can't talk at the same level as those who make money because they have huge followings, I have learned some things.

Many of the things I've learned are from attending the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC) numerous times. Others I've learned on my own. But I think that one of the things that I appreciate about IFBC is that it provides excellent seminars for bloggers to learn and grow with the changing times. It's become more and more important that bloggers reach out of the internet to create a presence elsewhere if they expect to make a living with their passion. The blog should only be a launching pad.

Later this week Garrett McCord (Vanilla GarlicCoupe de GrĂ¢ce), Stephanie Stiavetti (Fearless Fresh) and Sean Timberlake (Hedonia & Punk Domestics) will be talking about blogging for other entities that pay — corporate blogs, web magazines, etc. Garrett, for instance, not only had a gig writing posts about produce for one web magazine site, but he also wrote every description and use for a spice company's web site (Spice Jungle). These are a couple of his paying gigs that generated more income than his own blog.

volunteers from Amber's Food Literacy Center

Today, I will be joined by  Amber Stott, founder of Food Literacy Center and Rodney Blackwell, founder of Burger Junkies and the Sacramento Burger Battle, to discuss how we took our blogs and made them part of our communities through events and a non-profit. Our presence is no longer limited to the cyber page, but we are involved with helping Sacramento via fun events and fundraising.

And, of course, there are those that pursue the cookbook path. Publication of tangible pages is a goal of many food bloggers. 

When I was working as a State worker, writing my blog, many would ask me two things. First they would ask how to make money at blogging. As I said, that's not my path, but I also tend to reply in my Tom Hanks "League of Their Own" voice, "There's no money in food blogging!" Yes, there are the Simply Recipes and The Pioneer Woman blogs out there that get millions of clicks each month so that they can actually live off the ad revenue, but for most of us out there, our blog is not going to pay our mortgage.

The second question I get is, "Then why bother?". I always answered the same way.  I'm having fun, learning, making connections to people in my community. Some day, hopefully, I will get a job in a food industry related way. Guess what? It came true. I retired from the State so that I could go work for a restaurant software company and I love my new job.

Food blogging today can't be a career on its own. Today it requires branching out in many different ways. The key is that you do it in a way that fits your life, your goals, your family. Learn from those that have done so in their own ways and who are willing to share how they did it. 

And that's where IFBC comes in. At IFBC you can meet those bloggers that have done just that. At IFBC your head will swim with the information and ideas that you will get from others. Or, you will suddenly get that lightbulb moment yourself where you think of something none of the others have done yet. Enjoy IFBC and then forge your path to blogging success and happiness!


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