On April 1 we hosted a #ConnectChat with Stephanie Wise, a baker and blogger for Girl Versus Dough. During the chat she explained how she turned her passion for baking into a blogging career. To view the chat in its entirety, check out the #ConnectChat hashtag on Twitter.
What made you start a food blog?
Three things: Love of baking, love of writing and boredom. A food blog was my outlet for all three.
Did you always want to be a writer? Or did your love of baking motivate you to start blogging?
My background is in journalism (I was a reporter for a couple of years before going full-time with blogging) so writing is my backbone. I love baking, but really the writing motivated me to start blogging.
Are there any resources out there that you’ve found helpful in starting a blog?
When I started in 2009 I didn’t find much; now I’d recommend @altsummit classes, the book Blog, Inc. and reading other food blogs.
What have you found to be the biggest challenge to running a food blog?
Keeping up the inspiration and avoiding blogger burnout; sometimes it feels like you just can’t think of another muffin or cookie recipe or like you just can’t take another photo of food. That’s when you take a step back from the blog, social media, etc. for a day or so and take time to reconnect with yourself. And finding a work-life balance with an online job that never ends -- that’s a daily struggle for me.
Once your blog was up and running, how did you start promoting it? What seemed to be the best outlet?
The best outlet for me when I first started was Twitter; now some of my heaviest traffic sources are Pinterest and Tastespotting. I also use Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, Foodgawker and @tastykitchen. Obviously, social media is key when it comes to promoting your work.
How do you come up with content for your posts?
I find inspiration everywhere: Friends, family, Pinterest, magazines, other food blogs, random food dreams I have in the middle of the night (yes, this really happens).
With food blogging, multimedia is very important. How many photos should each post include?
As many as it takes to tell the story. I stick to two minimum, 8-10 maximum, otherwise it’s a scroll-fest and people’s eyes tend to glaze over.
What type of photography/editing equipment do you use?
I use a Canon 7D w/ a 50 mm f/1.4 lens, a Lowel Ego light as needed, a white poster board I bought at a craft store as a light reflector and Photoshop for editing. That’s about it, aside from props.
What recommendations do you have for a blogger trying to build their online community?
Use social media. Say hello to other bloggers and share their stuff (because you genuinely like it, not because you’re just fishing for more likes/attention). And go to food blog conferences: meeting bloggers and brand reps in real life has been *huge* for me, both personally and professionally.
You’re very responsive on your social media accounts. How do you keep up with all of them?
It’s a balance. Lately I’ve been switching between Google Plus and Twitter every other day to share other bloggers’ posts. And I fill in with Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook when I have the time.
Do you ever receive negative comments (on the blog or on social media)? How do you deal with that?
Yes, I do, though not often. And yes, it hurts when people are downright mean, but I’ve learned over time that comes with the territory and to not take it personally (I learned this especially when I was a reporter). I also have a comment policy on my blog: No rude or offensive comments, but constructive criticism is OK.
How did you get involved with becoming a featured blogger on other sites, such as Betty Crocker?
They reached out to me or I to them. Don’t be afraid to contact a brand you love asking to work with them; you never know how they’ll respond. The worst thing they can say is no and you move on.
Do you accept guest contributions on your blog?
Only through invites from me, and very sparingly. 99% of my blog is my work, and I want to keep it that way so I can maintain consistency with my brand.
You must receive a lot of pitches each day. How do you decide which brands you want to work with?
I stick within my personal guidelines: Paid work, a brand I use, know and/or love, nothing too processed/pre-made, etc.
Do you recommend that people getting into food blogging should stick to a specific niche?
Only if you find true passion in that specific niche. More importantly, go with whatever feels authentic to you, not just what you think will be popular or trendy. That authenticity is what will get you readers who stick around.
How has blogging opened doors for you that you didn’t think were possible?
Yes! I am a consultant in the Kitchens at General Mills, and I have an eCookbook coming out this month all about quick breads, muffins, scones, etc. It’s amazing the opportunities I’ve been able to have through blogging, and not just because I do it full time. Any blogger can have these opportunities.
I have to ask – what is your favorite recipe that you’ve written?
That’s like choosing a favorite child! Umm… my brie & jam pretzel hand pies, probably. They’re sweet and savory and ridiculously yummy. www.girlversusdough.com/2013/08/05/brie-...
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