Apparently, as of April 2015, there are more than 227 million blogs….
I have no idea how many are food blogs, but a quick browse of any social media is all it takes to know how flooded the food “blogosphere” is.
Which, as a reader, I love! So many new ideas, sources of inspiration……
But as a blogger, my question to you is….
Does your blog stand out from 227 million other blogs?
Sometimes on FBC, I’m going to write really bluntly. Because I know you want me to. Who has time to waste reading posts written sweetly in 5,000 words when I can write it in 1,500, just a lot blunter?
So this is one of those posts.
And I want to be really clear, that this is a post written for those who have ambitions to make a decent living from their blog. If you blog as a hobby or are not focussed on traffic and monetisation, stop reading. Please. Really. I don’t want you to read what I have to say.
Just a Reminder…..
And before you read on, please remember: A blog’s worth is not determined by how popular it is. A blog is a labour of love and it’s value is what it means to you.
AND monetising by means that is heavily dependent on traffic is NOT the only way to monetise blogs. I know a blog with a CPM of $50+ (that’s $50 per 1,000 views). Obviously it is not via ads. And sometime in the near future, I am hoping I can convince this blogger to share insights with FBC.
OK. Back to business.
The Ugly Truth
For the vast majority of bloggers in this world, food blogs are a product of passion for food and sharing. But many of the blogs will never “go anywhere”.
You know what I mean. Less than 1,000 visitors per month, plodding along like that for years until they fade away. The blogger demoralised, just stops and the blog, after all that hard work and effort, dies a slow, sad death.
It’s the harsh reality.
So something I was very focussed on from the outset, even before I started blogging was this:
Even before I started blogging, it was obvious that the blogosphere was flooded and it would be a challenge to get a footing let alone grow to the scale I had ambitions for.
I want you to ask yourself some questions and be honest with yourself.
1. Are you copying the style (photography, recipes, the way you write) of a popular blogger you admire?
2. How is your blog any different from blogs you mould yourself on?
3. Do you blend in….or stand out?
The million dollar question is –
HOW CAN YOU STAND OUT FROM 227 MILLION OTHER BLOGS?
Here’s my number 1 tip.
Pick Your Niche. Own that space.
I think the biggest mistake bloggers make during the growth phase is that they don’t pick a niche. It’s the same principles that apply to starting a new business and is something I learned first hand in my former life in corporate finance.
Here’s the context. In my former life, the company I worked for wanted to expand operations into a new country. They could have just set up shop and started to contact everyone and anyone, trying to win large jobs that all the major players were bidding on. But the chances of that succeeding would have been extremely slim.
But instead, we started with a niche sector, which in this case was “saving” distressed half finished buildings. They were easy wins because the big players didn’t want to be associated with them. And once we won those jobs, we were able to trumpet about them everywhere and build off that to start bidding and winning larger more prestigious jobs.
Starting small, thinking big. It’s my motto for almost everything new I embark upon.
OK. That’s Interesting. But how does that relate to ME and my BLOG?
Completely different sector, but a tried and tested method that works. It worked for me.
It’s impossible to cover everything. So get real specific and pick a topic that you can focus on. OWN that niche. Let me say that again. OWN THAT NICHE!! Watch as your return visitors grow as readers remember that your blog is an incredible source for brunches and breakfasts, or whatever it is that you chose to specialise in.
You aren’t trapped. You’re just growing strategically. By building a reputation and readership by specialising in one category, then expanding later.
That doesn’t mean you can’t ever post recipes outside your niche. Just stick mostly to your niche.
Remember: You want your readers to build confidence that you are an expert in that niche.
Do Something Different
When I started out, I focussed on doing some things that were a bit different because I wanted to try to get some quick runs on the board. I created recipe “guides” (like formulas) and created posts with multiple recipes on one page (like Pantry Pastas). I’ve written about these types of posts previously – you can read about it here: Stand Out – Recipe Formulaes and Multiple Recipes on One Page .
Using these, the “niche” that I became known for was quick Asian stir fries and noodles. I did a whole stack of them and some of these posts (especially the All Purpose Stir Fry Sauce and Asian Stir Fry “Formulas”) remain as some of the most popular posts on my blog.
PS I later built off the “quick Asian stir fries” and expanded into broader “15 Minute Meals”. Then more broadly into “Fast Prep, Big Flavours” which is my current tag line.
Some Blogs that Stand Out
Here are some blogs that I think stand out for exactly the reasons I describe above: they are different and have a specific niche.
- Lady and Pups – An Angry Food Blog (with a tag line like that, need a I explain why this is so unique?). Specialising in real (serious) Asian food.
- Hapa Nom Nom – a food blog (just happens to be run by a member of FBC – the lovely Kathleen) that provides an incredible source of inspiration for new foods and cuisines yet made with familiar ingredients and are real easy.
- Thug Kitchen – A vegan food blog littered with f-bombs that’s written in gangster style (but is actually written by two totally non-gangster preppy types! Hilarious!)
- Immaculate Bites – again, a food blog that happens to be run by an FBC member, the gorgeous Imma. She specialises in African and Caribbean food and shows how they are (or can be) made with everyday ingredients. My “go to” when I want to go tropical!
- Booze Nerds – where I go for cocktails. Plus, the writing is hilarious!
- Scrummy Lane – fast becoming my “go to” for cool shortcut recipes but aren’t hacks (ie. no cake mixes on there). For example – gnocchi from scratch in 30 minutes, 6 ingredient Swedish chocolate cake (seriously amazing). Really clever ideas. Great for day to day cooking.
The point I’m making? Each of these blogs are known for specialising in something. Which is why I remember them.
Take a Hard Look At Your Blog
So my question to you is this: look back over the last 20 posts you did. Are any of these really unique? Do they stand out? Are they something left field?
I’m not talking about whether you’ve taken a great food porn shot or whether they are recipes we all know are easy “popular potential” recipes (stretchy cheesy, pasta, dripping eggs, gooey sticky desserts, piles of pancakes with dripping strawberry sauce – you know the usual suspects). (PS For the record, I’m not denying I lean towards “food porn”. But I do try to make them unique)
I’m asking you if I think any of your last 20 recipes stand out against 227 million other blogs.
Here’s how to test yourself. Describe your blog in one sentence. Be specific. Don’t try to cover everything you blog about, just focus on your main types of recipes.
Based on that one sentence, will people who have never seen your blog know what type of recipes they can find on your blog? If yes, great!
Here’s an example.
“Omnivore’s Cookbook is a blog that shares authentic Chinese recipes and shows readers how easy it is with practical step by step photos and plenty of explanations about Chinese ingredients that may not be familiar to Western readers.”
So it’s clear what kind of blog it is, right?
So first time visitors to Omnivore’s Cookbook – with the odds being stacked in the favour of coming via a recipe within her niche – are there because they are interested in that kind of food, right?
And people will remember her blog as the place to go when they want to cook real Chinese food.
So she stands out from the 227 million other bloggers out there who simply share “yummy food”.
Hope you found that useful! And OOPS! I exceeded my 1,500 word count quota by 6! 😉
– Nagi xx