How To Write Awesome Food Blog Posts In 5 Easy Steps
When I knew I was going to move to Laos, I set up a food blog called Eat Drink Laos. You should check it out, it's awesome.
It's also a lot of work. As a professional writer, you might think that blogging is easy for me. But you'd be mistaken. While regular online publishing is a great discipline, I'm also a perfectionist who wants every post to be, well, perfect.
I write 2 posts a week and I've just written my 60th post. And with the Eat Drink Laos Facebook page now clocking over a 1,000 followers, and new email subscribers signing up every week, there's no small amount of pressure to write a good post.
Someone told me recently that my blog was "prolific", in that I churn out the posts. I take that as a compliment because I know how much work goes into each and every post. So, I thought I'd tell you today how exactly I write my blog posts. We start with, unsurprisingly...
1. The subject
People often ask me where I hear about so many restaurants, cafes, and foodie businesses to blog about, and where I get my ideas from. The answer is that I get them, primarily, from friends, strangers and random conversations. I confess that when I talk to people, even good friends, I've always got one ear out for possible blog post or story ideas. There are all sorts of nuggets of blogging gold in the most random conversations. I'll shamelessly mine people for details and interrogate acquaintances with questions, then scribble it all down at the earliest opportunity.
Fortuitous conversations led me to Once Upon A Time Cafe before it had opened, and now a very popular spot in Vientiane.
I also get ideas from Facebook and the dozens of Laos-related groups on there. Now those groups are really prolific. And I get ideas from just exploring. Vientiane is still a relatively new place to me; I've only been here 8 months and I started blogging in my first week. So, I've been discovering and writing about it from the start.
2. The research
I always try to visit places I review twice. That's because experiences change and I like to be as impartial as possible. Unless I get food poisoning (touchwood that hasn't happened yet) or it's just terrible (that has) in which case I won't write about it anyway. There are too many other good places to focus on.
I also spend a lot of time getting all the facts because I like writing really meaty, interesting posts, and because I like the stories and the people behind the food.
And each time I go, I try to order different things, or go with different people so I get varying experiences and opinions. It also helps if I need more photos.
The 2 trip rule does mean that I have a current backlog of places I need to return to before I can write about them. I tend to create a lot of work for myself.
3. The photos
A picture says a thousand words apparently (though 1000 words is actually quite a lot). Anyway, photos are essential for a blog. Which is why I'm absolutely delighted with my new Sony RX100 iii which I bought after far too much deliberation (an equivalent of about 20 blog posts' worth of time). But I'm already in love with the gorgeous pictures I can achieve just on the auto setting (yes, I use the auto setting, so shoot me. And there's a pun, ha ha).
Anyway, food blogs need photos, and preferably drool-worthy ones. Which is why I'm now almost used to...
Snapping photos of my meal before devouring it... (Veggie burger and fries at Pimenton)
And making my friends do the same... (Sesame encrusted balls with coconut ice cream at Makphet restaurant)
Taking sneaky photos when I think people aren't looking... (Aged beef and witlof salad at Eat Me Restaurant in Bangkok)
Asking friends to order certain things so I can take pictures... (Giving friends a caffeine high while on the quest for Vientiane's best coffee)
Walking around a restaurant taking photos like a tourist while staff look at me strangely... And then asking to peer into kitchens and take photos of them... (Chef and owner Noi at Do Ka Noi restaurant)
Asking strangers on the street to be my guinea pigs... (Buying a snack for high school students - the infamous egg babies)
And buying food I don't want really want to eat so shop owners don't mind me snapping photos... (Deep fried baby frogs at Ban Anou night market)
Then, finally, when all the research and note taking and photos are ready, it's time for...
4. The writing
I start all my writing the same way, whether it's a magazine article or a blog post - with the beginning. Sounds logical doesn't it? But all writers approach their work differently.
For me, I need to capture the first sentence or two, to set the stage, and then it all flows from there. I "write" it in my head first, rewriting that crucial opening over and over before it's just right. Then I lay out the structure of the story. I rework it all several times and commit it to memory. Then, when I get to my computer, I'll type it all out.
It's probably a very pedantic way of working but I like to "see" my story mapped out before I write it.
The writing itself then takes 2-3 hours and I insert photos and captions along the way. I also like to link to relevant articles and my own posts; I think it's interesting to make connections and give people more optional reading.
Blogging with Squarespace is pretty straightforward but there's still buttons to push, captions to write and SEO descriptions to update. I have to resize photos, name files and mark hashtags and categories. It takes time.
Finally, I do a quick read through and then my latest food post is done. Hit publish and relax. I've earned a glass of wine tonight! Or two...
5. The promotion
Okay, so technically, though the post is written, it's not quite done; I still have to promote each and every post I write on all my social media channels and my newsletter. After all, what's the point of all that work if no one reads it, right?
I have recently discovered the allure of Buffer and now I use it to schedule all my post promotion. Except Instagram. Because Instagram has deliberately not signed up with Buffer. There's always one, isn't there?
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There's much more to be said on post promotion but I'll leave that for another day. It's time for that glass of wine. Or two.
About the author: Lilani Goonesena is an Australian freelance writer, Squarespace web designer and blogger currently living in Vientiane, Laos. She is passionate about helping freelancers and small businesses get online with web design and content, blogging and her awesome weekly newsletter on digital marketing, social media, content, SEO, web design and "all that online stuff". She also writes food and travel articles for businesses and magazines, and blogs at the delectable Eat Drink Laos, just for fun.