It's been five years
Can you believe it’s been five years since this blog was started?
Well, five years and one month, since I didn’t even notice I hit the five year mark until a few days ago. It’s amazing how far things have come here both in terms of content and even the evolution of the website in itself. I’d like to think the recent flush of new fans has only vindicated that Culinaria is seemingly on the right path.
I still remember the day and the reasons why I started Culinaria. At the time, I felt like there was an over-focus on a few cuisines in both the blogging world and even on TV. It seemed like many cuisines of the world were being overlooked, and I wanted to have a purpose to push myself to learn more dishes, as well as talk about them. To travel the world through cuisine.
Today I don’t have any recipes to share. No tips or techniques to talk about. No exploration into an ingredient, custom, or special food venue. Instead, i wanted to talk about blogging, mainly about what I’ve learned about food blogging after these five years. Look at this as five tips for potential food bloggers:
Quality outweighs quantity.
This would be the biggest lesson to learn. I see many blogs where the author publishes almost every day. I give them credit for what seems like a lot of work coming up with recipes and doing the research. Some go all the way, but many others I’ve found are simply repurposing other content to fill their site up, be it stealing recipes or just writing blurbs and posting a link to another piece of content.
This is why I only post 2-3 times a month. I personally think a few well-written articles are much better than 20-30 “tossed together” posts, especially when it involves research, learning how to cook a dish, and then crafting a recipe. I know many get into blogging thinking of monetization or social media fame, but I’ve noticed the blogs that stand well are the ones who put quality over quantity.
Every blog starts off with little to say, but give it a few years and you’ll have much to share. Be patient and make quality content that’s your own.
One of the coolest aspects about blogging that I came to enjoy is you can speak from the heart. You do not have to be a literary scholar or journalism major to do it. You just need a subject you’re passionate about, and ideas on articles to write.
Granted you should take the time to write a rough draft, revise, then publish, but you don’t need to dig up the college-level English and try to be brilliant. Just write as if you were telling your friend about a dish you made, and how to make it. Word yourself the way you prefer to communicate, because many readers will easily connect to someone genuine over someone trying to be more than they are.
This has probably become the biggest controversy now of blogging in general. For too long, it’s been easy for bloggers to steal images, recipes, and content to pass off as their own. If you’re one of these bloggers taking this easy route, I’d deeply advise you to stop.
When it comes to images, like it or not, there are lawyers now probing the internet seeking websites containing copyrighted material, thus open for a lawsuit. While I could have understood the need for images in the past, there are now too many free and legal resources available for writers to use for their sites. I myself am on a rather large task of going through all my past archives, and making sure all images are legal to use and fully credited to their owners.
The same goes for recipes and content. Now I’ve often spoken of using recipes as a guideline, and even letting your own taste modify said recipes into making them your own. However, if you’re going to take a recipe word for word, have the decency to credit its creator, and link to their site. The same goes for content.
Granted one cannot patent a recipe, but they can copyright it. Even if you did make some small tweaks to bypass this, you still have an online reputation to think of. No one will become a successful blogger if they have a rep as a plagiarist. Keep your site and content legitimate.
Be part of a community.
A tip often said but even I need to improve on. No one ever made a successful blog by simply posting content and nothing more. The true success stories came from those who posted good content and were out there reading and commenting on other blogs.
I’ve seen traffic come to this site from Disqus, mainly because I’d post comments on other blogs and sites, thus the Culinaria name spreads. The same goes for when I post comments on sites using the Facebook commenting system, or just plain simple in-site comments. Even commenting in social media posts can do much to draw in new readers.
Your work as a blogger should go beyond publishing content, but also reading and commenting on other sites you like. Perhaps even taking on those guest blogging offers when they come. Always think bigger than your own blog.
Push yourself to grow.
When I say “grow”, I don’t mean in terms of traffic or fans, but more in how you evolve as a writer, and how your site evolves. This site started off as a simple Wordpress blog that evolved into what you see now. Never rest on your laurels and think things are “good enough”, but take time every few months to examine your content and site, seeking where you could grow and improve.
You should also make use of the myriad of free tools out there designed to help you. I was recently turned on to a wonderful resource called FirstSiteGuide, a free online resource community designed to help would-be bloggers get set up and running. Even a more experienced blogger like myself found knowledge in their guide, and I have utilized it. It’s totally worth checking out.
Beyond FirstSiteGuide, I’d also suggest purusing Pinch of Yum for more in-depth tips specially geared towards food bloggers, especially the parts on photography. You can’t go wrong with good food photos.
I’d like to finish this post with the most simple and sincere form of gratitude to you all for showing me the support and readership to keep me going in this blog. I’m happy to have hit five years, and even wonder if I’ll go to ten with Culinaria. In any case, I hope this site continues to be your inspiration to try new things, or even to try your hand at cooking.