My Top Ten Tips for New Bloggers
March 22, 2011

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Over the course of this past weekend, the Bestie and I spent a lot of time talking about her new blog, Gourmet and Gourmand. Our conversations brought me back to my early days of blogging, which were, incidentally, exactly two years ago. They also reminded me of a conversation I recently had with Valerie and Katie over a weekday lunch in D.C., wherein we spoke at length about the trials and tribulations of starting, growing, and maintaining a blog.

I’ve always avoided putting blog biz talk on CR—tutorials on getting ad space, mastering social media, and taking perfect DSLR photos just aren’t topics that feel urgent to me. I’ve got too much to say as it is about veganism, body image, health, food love, food hate, and food politics. It’s sort of like exercise: I do it, I love it, and I’ll talk about it if asked, but I’m just not very interested in writing about it. But lately—in part because I’m close to so many people who are starting new blogs—I’ve also given some thought to doing a post on my tips for fledgling bloggers.

New bloggers may think that we veterans (to use a title that’s highly undeserved after two short years, but then the internet is a fast paced world) have forgotten what it’s like to define a new online space, but believe me, we haven’t. We remember our early days of blogging as if they were yesterday. If I could go back in time today and give myself ten pieces of advice based on what I’ve learned in the two years I’ve been writing CR, here’s what I would say:

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1) To Thine Own Self Be True

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: do not try to shape your blog around other peoples’ tastes. What are your ten favorite blogs to read? Go through them, one by one. Chances are, each of the writers has a clear and vibrant sensibility, issues he or she cares about, a way of being that’s tried and true. The same things that make people interesting in the real world make bloggers interesting online: passion, confidence, commitment, and individuality.

What doesn’t tend to make a blog interesting is grasping at popularity. If you set out to write a blog that will satisfy this or that market trend—if you start writing posts simply because you think they’ll be popular—your readers will know it. Believe me. We’ve all done it—written posts because we thought there was a demand for them, and not because we wanted to—and we’ve all seen how quickly it backfires with a lackluster response. Readers are discerning, intuitive, and smart: they know when your heart’s not in it. Stay true to a clearly defined personality and point of view: even if your readers don’t always agree, they’ll always respect what you have to say. A year ago, I started writing about animal rights and vegan ethics. I knew I’d lose a few readers, but I also knew that the readers I want would stand by me, even if I had become more outspoken about a cause I’d formerly kept private. It was the right decision, and my blog is so much richer for it.

2) Focus, Focus, Focus

I don’t love the idea that all blogs have to have a “niche”—I find that my own blog straddles a couple of niches, and so do lots of the blogs I love. But I do happen to think that the best blogs have a sense of focus, a core set of interests that they keep returning to. Think back to my comment above, about fitness: I love fitness. I do it everyday. But to be honest, I’ve never had much of a desire to write about it, because there are other things I write about better, and care about more. And the people who do truly live and breathe fitness are probably already writing about it better than I can.

It’s good to go outside of your comfort zone thematically now and then, but it’s even better to know what your core interests as a blogger are, and stick with them.

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3) Be a Perfectionist

Dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Learn to distinguish between “your” and “you’re.” Use your spell check, consult a dictionary when you’re not sure of a word, and always, always, always read a post twice before you post it.

In this new internet age of ours, many lovers of the written word still regard blogs as poorly written bits of navel gazing—indulgent at worst, amateurish at best. They’re absolutely wrong, but there are enough blogs out there to confirm their prejudices. Don’t let your blog be one of them. Be careful, be precise, be articulate, and be organized. Tie your blog posts together thematically. Check your grammar and spelling. Edit your photos. Correct formatting issues. Fix broken hyperlinks. Don’t note a mistake in a publish post and think “oh well, it’s already published.” Go back and change it. Blogs are fluid, but they’re also a public record of your voice. Don’t get sloppy.

4) ….But Not Such a Perfectionist that You Lose Your Mind

With all of that said, if I were to bring the same hawk eye I brought to my editorial work at FSG to my blog, I’d never leave my apartment. And I’d certainly never update my blog more than once a week. I’m a perfectionist of the most extreme order: I have been known to laminate notes, re-write things more than five times, and start recipes from scratch if I bungle them even a little. I can’t possibly bring those standards to a piece of text that I update every single day, all while balancing pre-med life and a counseling practice. I have to be realistic, and so do you. You’re going to misspell things sometimes, and you’re going to say things that don’t make sense, and you’re going to blurt out sentiments that make you cringe a year later.

That’s fine. As long as you work on being as professional and polished as you can be 99% of the time, you can forgive yourself the other 1%.

5) Know the Market

It sounds cheesy, but starting a blog really is like starting a business: you need a business plan, and that includes a sense of who your audience is, and what they’re already reading. The best thing you can do as you start to conceptualize a blog is to read other peoples’ blogs. Read lots of them. Figure out which ones you love. Figure out who’s reading them, and find out if they have blogs, too. Identify voices you admire, and return to them whenever you need motivation. Reading, commenting on other people’s blogs, and exploring the blog community will help you to ultimately become a part of it.

6) Reach Out

Blogging isn’t a competition: the nice thing about the food blog world is that we’re all just a bunch of foodies and readers who love to gaze at food photos and hear personal stories. No matter how many times we read about food, we still want to read more. So put aside any worries you have that space is limited: it’s not. We’re all in this together: a community of like minded men and women sharing our passions.

As you begin blogging, I can’t encourage you enough to reach out to your fellow bloggers. Send out an email introducing yourself and sharing a link. Send a blogger you love a little fan email, and tell her how much you were inspired by her work. Get to know other bloggers by leaving comments on their blogs. If you run across a glitch or tech question, don’t be afraid to gchat a blogger you know with an SOS message (I can’t tell you how often I do this). The food blog world is, by and large, friendly, open, and caring. Consider your fellow bloggers friends, colleagues, and an invaluable resource as you begin the blogging journey.

7) Work Hard

Success as a blogger is like any other kind of success: it demands hard work, patience, and discipline. Blogs may be more informal and spontaneous than other kinds of writing, but that doesn’t mean that they’re easy to write. I spend at least an hour on any average post; sometimes it’s much less, but sometimes it’s more. And that doesn’t include the hours I spend responding to emails and comments, photographing food, coming up with recipes, planning my posts, and so on. Blogging can feel like a tremendous burden at times—especially if it’s not your full time job.

Then again, the payoff is wonderful. You can spark conversations; you can make friends that last a lifetime; you can incite thoughtfulness about issues you care about; you can sort through thoughts, vent feelings, come to conclusions, and reflect upon experience. The more you give, the more you get. Sometimes this means blogging at 9 p.m. after a long day, when you’d rather watch TV; sometimes it means canceling a walk because you’ve got to finish up a post; sometimes it means cooking something “special” when you’d rather eat salad out of the box the mesclun greens came in. But, as with any other pursuit, your hard work and sacrifice will yield huge rewards.

8  ) Promote Yourself…

(NB: This tip is more for bloggers who want to turn their blogs into businesses than bloggers who blog purely for personal expression.)

Given that we’re all children of the “me” era and the internet age, you’d think we’d all be comfortable hocking our wares. But you’d be wrong. I can’t tell you how often friends who want to start smart, potentially successful blogs tell me that they won’t, because they’re not comfortable “putting themselves out there.” Or how often fellow bloggers tell me that they want to reach bigger audiences, but are scared of “self-promoting.”

Guess what? If you write a blog, you’re out there already. So it’s time to self-promote.

Look, no one likes to look pushy, and I think we all have an intuitive sense of what’s obnoxious and what isn’t (if you’re not sure, see point #9 for examples). But if you want your blog to be at all business-driven—even a little—you’re going to have to share your work widely. Don’t treat your blog like a guilty secret. Show it to your friends, family, and colleagues; tweet your posts with pride; mention a post you love or a recipe you shared with someone—a stranger, even—who might love it. Self-promotion doesn’t have to mean horrifyingly overpopulated twitter feeds, constant facebook updates, or other activities that reek of narcissism. It simply means taking pride in your work, and presenting it to the world with confidence.

9) …But Don’t Promote Yourself Too Much

Now that I’ve told you to put yourself out there, keep this in mind: it’s not all about you. Don’t use other peoples’ comments section as a chalkboard on which to talk about yourself, or list twenty links back to your own work. You do want to mention it if that person’s post reminded you of something personally relevant, but you don’t want to use his or her blog as ad space. Don’t bombard your twitter followers with 839382 of the same tweets about a giveaway. Don’t overwhelm your friends or family with nudges about how they should spend more time reading your blog. Put yourself out there, and let people come to you. If you write well, and you write with passion, it’s only a matter of time.

10) Don’t Compare

One of my favorite new bloggers, Katie, recently wrote a post in which she talked about self-doubt and self-comparison as a blogger. It’s easy to do: we’re a small community of very passionate writers who talk about a lot of the same stuff. How could we not occasionally feel compelled to glance over our shoulders and compare our blogs, our food, and our lives to other peoples’?

Don’t. Really. What’s nice about the blogosphere is that we’re all so remarkably different, and we can appreciate each other’s amazing marks of individuality. I love Melissa’s healthy brand of fitness enthusiasm and Mama Pea’s wit; I love Kath’s organization and sense of aesthetics; I love Bitt’s tough-minded, yet compassionate views on animal rights; I love Anne’s enthusiasm and Elise’s sly humor, Gina’s cheery attitude and Ange’s meticulous hard work, Ashley’s photos and Kristen’s recipes; I love Evan’s wit and Matt’s commitment and Heather’s honesty. Lord knows I love Laura’s outrageousness.

I love and respect these qualities in my friends, but I wouldn’t dream of trying to strategically emulate them, or sigh over why I can’t have them myself. How could I? They’re unique. In the meantime, I feel confident that I have strengths of my own. When I sit down to write every night, I’m only focused on what I have to give, and how I can give it. The rest of my time as a blogger is spent in happy appreciation of my place in a diverse community, in which we all have gifts to share, and the capacity to receive.

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You’ll notice that I didn’t put anything on this list that actually sounds like business advice: no tips about getting ads or affiliate programs, or setting up online stores, or editing photos, or using Stumbleupon and Facebook. Why? Because I’m terrible at all of that stuff. But I also don’t really believe that it’s essential to success as a blogger. Social media and advertising can certainly help you reach new heights as a blogger, once a firm foundation is in place. But they can’t define a quality blog. What can—at least in my opinion—is solid writing, hard work, a clearly defined point of view, and the capacity to interact joyfully with fellow bloggers. That’s what it’s all about.

As I wrap up, I thought I would spotlight some of the blogs I’ve discovered in the last year. Not all are new, but they were/are newish to me, and some I have yet to explore. I can’t wait!

And a word to all of the new bloggers who have visited CR and shared your thoughts with me: I can’t always comment, but you should know that, if you’ve found me, I’ve probably found you, too. Keep doing what you’re doing. The blog world welcomes you!

With a big cheer for new and soon-to-be bloggers everywhere, I bid you good night.

xo

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    131 Comments
  1. Thank you for this post! I´ve been working on my health blog for about a year now and I´m ready to promote it but I wasn´t sure where to start. Your tips helped me a lot!

  2. What a great post! I recently started my own blog which has been difficult but so fulfilling and I can definitely relate to each of your points. Would you ever quit your job to blog full time?? 🙂 xx

  3. Its really a great set of information here. I looked and read number of posts but this is one of the post that I liked most. Please come again with new set of information. Cheers !!!

  4. Found this post while perusing Edible Perspective, one of my favorites, and was so encouraged by it! My blog’s pretty new and I have a lot to learn but I’m so excited to be a part of such a vibrant and supportive community 🙂

  5. Hi! I’m pretty new in the food blog world and I love coming across posts like this one! It can be very overwhelming sometimes and it is difficult not to compare yourself to the veteran foodbloggers, but reading posts like gives me the energy I need to keep blogging! Thanks!

  6. Great great post, Gena – fantastic tips – I really love your Down to Earth, genuine “voice” if that makes sense?

  7. Your blog has been a great source of raw vegan dishes. This post helps too. I have been blogging on and off for 5 years but never imagined blogging world would can be like the way you described!

  8. Hi Gena,
    I have been a silent follower of the food blog community for a while. I have been considering starting my own blog to meet and share with other foodies. This post was so inspiring! I am happy to say that this is my first blog post. I think it will be the first of many.

    Thank you!

  9. Hi Gena,
    I’m new to the blog world, and I just wanted to thank you for writing this. It has helped me regain my focus and consider what I want my blog to be about, rather than what’s popular.

  10. Don’t know how I just found this, but just wanted to say that this post was very helpful and inspiring! Sometimes it can feel like it is very difficult to get your blog noticed by people, especially when you put a lot of time and effort into it. I think the trick is to say passionate, keep working hard, and have a bit of patience!

  11. Gena,

    Thanks for the tips, and thank you for re-posting this in a relevant post. I’ve been following your blog for quite sometime now, and I’ve learned so much that I didn’t intend on learning (food has been my first priority).

    I think you hit the nail on the head concerning self-promotion. I don’t have a blog, but continually refine the idea of creating one based on a few different focuses, and then it occurs to me: on a macro level, I don’t matter all that much. Meaning, who wants to read my posts waxing poetic over this, that, and the other topic, especially when there are other pressing issues in the world. It seems conceited. That said, I never think of the bloggers I enjoy reading as conceited themselves. Especially because people like me are genuinely interested in their posts, and perhaps somebody, somewhere may be genuinely interested in mine. Who knows?

    Again, thanks for the original post and re-post, as it is nice to catch up on the things I missed whilst I was oblivious to your blog.

  12. Thanks so much for the tips! I love reading your blog and enjoyed this post just as much as any food related post you’ve written! Thanks again for reaching out to us new bloggers!

  13. I just re-read this after starting my own blog about a month ago. Thank you so much for writing this, it’s incredibly helpful. I’m often worried about promoting myself too much because I don’t want to take away from other bloggers or seem like I’m just trying to drive traffic to my own site. Tip #6 made me realize that blogging is really for sharing what you’re passionate about and connecting with other people. Please do write a follow up to this post!

  14. Thankyou so much for this! I just started a blog, and it’s so intimidating at first. But I guess even the big blogs like CR had to start somewhere.

  15. Thanks for this! As a new kid on the block, it is truly nice to be welcomed into the fold. We are just getting started, so keep an eye out for us. Happy Healthy Belly!

  16. Wonderful post! Very good advice! As a new blogger I definitely find myself having thoughts like “everything’s been done before.. i’m too much like this person.. yada yada..” Fact is, it doesn’t matter. We are all interested in similar things, and what makes me unique is just that… ME!!!! 🙂

  17. Glad to know of your blog (found through Medicinal Marzipan), and found this post very helpful. Like you, I feel that my blog straddles several domains. And while I think this adds richness and depth, I find myself worrying about the audience, and whether I’ll abandon one group if I write too many posts for another. Ultimately, I think you’re right that being true to oneself is key. And that means writing about a variety of topics that reflect my personality, in a (hopefully) cohesive way.

  18. Gena, thank you for the great advice and your authenticity! I’m straddling the lines of “is this blog just a hobby, or is it something more?” and it’s great to hear your words of wisdom to help guide me as our site develops.

  19. From the point of view of reading blogs, I thoroughly agree with these points! From my own blog dabbling, I’ve discovered it’s just not me right now. I’m not certain of my main message or purpose in blogging, and my fear of evaluation in real life unfortunately carries over online- I fear really putting myself out there with the content that would really be worth putting there, and I have a hard time not having control over who reads it or how it is perceived. I much prefer leaving blog-length comments on others’ blogs 😉 without the pressure to deliver X times a week. Someday I hope these things will change, because I really like being a part of the blog community as a reader and commenter, but it’s definitely a different level of inclusion and conversation when you blog yourself.

  20. I think another good tip is to have guests on your blog. I’m a newbie (it’s been 5 months) and I always get a higher count when I invite a friend to be a part of a post. Their friends get introduced to your work and vice versa, if your guest has their own blog. Oh and did I mention fun! Always great working with friends! Photos are always fun and we get to cook and eat together! LOVE IT!

  21. This is wonderful Gena! As a new blogger, it can be tricky trying to figure out the blogesphere’s best practices; this post does a fantastic job on shedding light on how a new blogger can make progress. Thank you!

  22. Advice for newbie bloggers like me is always appreciated! I need to be much better about proof-reading my posts! I love that you have such a kind, compassionate voice and the most interesting healthy recipes.
    Thanks!

  23. Thanks for this post! I’m still at the beginning stages of making my blog what I want to be. Your optimism and energy are inspiring!

  24. Gena,
    Thank you so much for another great post. As a relatively new (food) blogger, I found your tips really helpful. I have a full time job (as a grad student, so I feel your pain!) and a very busy life and sometimes I’d rather sit on the couch and put my feet up than write a post. This is in part because I’m very type A and I like my posts to be well composed, my pictures to be decent, etc, which is why it also takes me at least 1 hour to write a post. I push through these feelings though and the result is a contribution to the blog that I can be proud of.
    Keep up the great posts!,
    -Sara

  25. you’re an inspiration gena! you’re writing style can only be described with one word: “beautiful”…i can tell that you put a lot of thought and so much effort into all of writings here on CR! you’re amazing!

    i have one thing to add, however inappropriate and insulting it might be, it’s in response to one of the comments i read that sort of made my blood pressure go through the roof…and i know it hurt a few bloggers’ feelings…people need to understand that blogging is sort of like the “real world” and they should REALLY think about what they write before they do…count to ten if necessary and rethink those words…

    anyway, a blogging turn off for me isn’t so much the inconsistency of posts from bloggers…i appreciate that people have lives outside of the blogging community, and in this crazy world, life happens…and sometimes we need to tend to the world outside of our blogs…so some people may not have the time for the upkeep of their blog…i appreciate that people are busy and need some time away…what i don’t appreciate, is the regurgitation of the same pictures and recipes, just so that you can say, “well at least i posted today”. and complaining about being incredibly busy with a job…and being a parent…and having to run errands…and work out…and cook…and clean. that truly turns me off. i mean, doesn’t everyone have responsibilities? and why continuously let your readers know this? if it’s such a burden…(because that is what i take from the content of the posts), why do it? for the freebies?

    sometimes it feels like i am back in high school when i read some of these ridiculous and judgmental comments that are left…no one is perfect…

  26. I wish I had seen this post when I started blogging! Really, this is the best list of tips for starting a blog I’ve seen in the blogosphere. Staying true to yourself, reaching out to others and being passionate about what you believe in are all incredibly important. And the rewards of blogging are worth the hard work!

  27. I love this post! It’s SO important to stay true to who you are because readers will notice when what you say just isn’t you! When you have something passionate to speak about, that’s when a truly incredible blog forms. Great tips Gena, and thank you for sharing them! 🙂

  28. Very useful insights Gena. I am constantly learning new lessons and expanding and growing as a blogger. It’s amazing how it is an ever-evolving process. I think I was a very “slow learner” at the start too but that was obviously just part of my journey!
    Like you say, you put in a lot but you get a lot back and that makes it all worthwhile 🙂

  29. Thank you so very much for this post. It was really inspirational for me. I just started a blog a month ago and it’s really easy sometimes to feel you’re writing in a vaccuum and no one out there knows you’re alive. This gave me hope to continue and provided a lot of great tips for success as well. You’re the greatest.

  30. Awesome advice! Good to know, and somewhat calming since I get overwhelmed with the billions of optimization things you’re “supposed” to do.

    I love reading your blog, and especially appreciate the fantastic, clean recipes. 🙂

  31. I have a tip…write as eloquently as Gena and you’re golden! Seriously, your writing style is simply beautiful. I couldn’t agree more, readers know what bloggers are passionate about. They can just tell.

  32. Thanks for all your guidance and wisdom. I knew nothing about blogging when I first started and didn’t really have the time to put into it, but it was fun for me. I’ve learned so much and I love letting my blog evolve and progress.

    ps: the vegansaurus link didn’t work.
    pps: I went back and fixed a mistake on my own blog when I was going to just leave it due to laziness.

  33. These tips are amazing, so useful!

    I’m more of a blog reader than writer right now but this definitely inspires me to step my game up and start working on my blog. Several of the fears you mentioned have been holding me back.

    I love that you say there is room for everyone, that definitely makes me feel a bit less intimidated. And I like that you say not to focus on qualities that you see in others that make them great but to find your own strengths! Great advice, in the blogging world and the real world. Not to write for an audience also really spoke to me as well.

    There are so many great bloggers out there! You all inspire me so much!

    • You know, and I also want to say that it’s also great to see so many women (and men) that have similar values to me, making their busy lives work, sharing their interests (namely food) and supporting each other. It’s such a positive space.

  34. Thank you so much for writing this Gena. It came at such a perfect time for me. I started a website last year hoping to turn it into a business, but decided that I was making a lot of the mistakes you mentioned and the blog didn’t really show who I was. Plus I really hated the trying to promote and sell part. Now I’ve been toying with just creating a food blog and I’m really excited about it, but found myself comparing myself to others and I felt as if there were already enough food blogs out there. I also worried if I would fit in and be accepted. You have given me the confidence to get out there again and just write about what I love, so thank you so much for that. And I love reading your posts. You have really inspired me in more ways than one!

  35. Nice post. You’re blog is amazingly successful.
    I think the idea of blogging for a living would be amazing…but I am a dreamer of sorts.
    My blog is new and I’m not sure what my theme is 🙁
    And I don’t think I come off as very likable…and I don’t have uber uber energy or time for pictures or commenting on so so many blogs to garner readers…for example, a lot of the blogs that i do read and have time to comment on…they wouold never be interested in my content, etc…so…i’m kind of lost i guess .

  36. this was helpful! some things about blogging are intuitive but it’s nice to see a new way to approach material from someone who has an established readership. thanks gena!

  37. Haha, I would totally be thinking the same think about the unicycles! 🙂

    I love to run, but it didn’t come naturally to me. It took a lot of work to be able to get to the point where I enjoy it like I do now. I think that is why I enjoy it so much now. When we work hard for something, we enjoy it so much more.

  38. Great advice and perfect timing for me. I just started a blog and those tips were well taken to heart. Unique voices ARE what make blogs fun to read. Thank you for all the great recipes I have learned from you! Many a good meal has come from it. 🙂

  39. As usual, GREAT advice. I guess that’s why I read almost all of your blog postings! And frequently express my undying gratitude to you . . .

    My blog is a little over a year old, and boy did I learn a lot in that year. There were a lot of things to figure out, about blogging and about what I was even doing in the blogosphere. I mean, I’m 40 years old, talking about healthy recipes after losing a lot of weight, in a space full of mostly much younger women.

    But I felt that I had a story to share and a message that is uber-important given the current state of health of many folks in our country. So I wanted to be a part of this healthy force on the internet. And I knew that I would have no where to hide if I went back to my old unhealthy habits!

    Blogging has provided everything I was looking for and SO MUCH MORE. It has become my creative outlet that I missed so much after becoming a mother of 3 and full time business owner. It’s certainly not without its downsides–self doubt and the time sucking nature of keeping up a blog worth a reader’s time–but I’m having so much fun being a part of such an exciting social movement! So thank you to you Gena and all of the other health/food bloggers out there!

    • I’m actually glad to read blogs that span an age spectrum, Wendy! Monochromatic reading is a bore, and I like varying perspective.

      • It’s funny that you never wrote about this subject before. I have always considered you to be a blogger’s blog–you know, a place that other bloggers are drawn to like flies to, well, you know, but in a great way! Your writing is superb. Professional. Thoughtful. Your recipes are not just nourishing, but truly healthy. No healthwashing going on here at Choosing Raw. I could go on and on, but I might embarrass you.

        “Monochromatic reading is a bore, and I like varying perspective.” What I would do for a face to face conversation with you! Just this comment is so interesting.

  40. Thanks for the wonderful tips and advice here, Gena! I really enjoy reading your blog and so many other great blogs, I wish I had more time to read them! But the friends and connections I make through blogging are so valuable to me.

  41. Thanks for your top 10 list! I’ve been blogging for 6 months and am loving it, but I’m always looking for ways to reach a wider audience. Your advice is so helpful (and your raw recipes have saved supper on numerous occasions!)

  42. Lovely advice! What’s amazed me most about blogging is the friendships I’ve made from it.

    But yeah, I agree on the need to edit. It makes the grammar Nazi in me testy. Though I find all the blogs I love (like yours) have great writing. Whether its beautifully simple and straightforward or delightfully witty, I think a good blog needs a good storyteller. And I count photo-based blogs as stories too.

  43. Amen to eating salads straight out of the 16 oz. mesclun green box…. glad I’m not the only one 😉 You should see the looks I get from my coworkers when I eat a pound of salad for lunch…

  44. Thank you so much! I had to read through this twice. I’m still struggling to find my own voice with my blog and what I’m willing and what I’m not willing to share. Then again, I think my blog will always be a work in progress 😀 Thank you again!

  45. Even for the veterans out there, this is solid advice. It’s tough to remember the core ideas, sometimes! Thanks for writing this and for sharing your lessons with the world. <3

  46. Gena this post is GREAT! I can’t wait to share it with my readers. Also, that picture of you laughing is just so very pretty. xoxoox

  47. Great advice Gena 🙂 I am also relieved that you said it takes you about an hour for some posts – my non-lunchbox posts, where I generally have much more to say, take me about that as well.

  48. I started a blog when I started my exploration with raw food. Starting a blog was not the goal, but instead I was inspired to write for the first time in a long time. It was a forum to talk – mostly to myself, and to a few friends who I also knew were struggling with some of my same challenges (body image, relationship food).

    Aside from the therapeutic nature of writing, the best part of heading in to the world of blogs truly was finding yours. I appreciate your moderating and gentle voice amongst some of the more dogmatic ones in the raw food world.

    Before reading this post, I was struck by the amount of work and thought that goes into your blog – especially given everything else within your life. Your tips to bloggers only confirms this. Thank you!

  49. Gena, I can’t thank you enough for mentioning me. I feel so honored! I haven’t read through all your tips yet, but I plan on sitting down and going through all of them. If I’m going to take advice from a blogger, I can’t think of a better girl to listen to than you!

  50. Wow, has it been 2 years already?! I think I first “met” you when you guest posted on Melissa’s blog, and I remember reading that and going, “ooh la la, here’s some new talent.” 🙂 Major kudos to you for keeping it up and doing a bang-up job at that. So proud to know you.

  51. thanks gena for this great post… these are great things to think about even as a ‘veteran’ blogger (almost two years now!). i am sending it to a friend who just started her own vegan cooking/baking/etc blog in california. i love reading about your blog and your lifestyle… you are just so damn charming. aloha from maui!

  52. Gena,
    I am so grateful for your direct, honest, but genuine tips. I’ve been blogging for almost a year, and took a hiatus because I couldn’t find my voice. I just started up again and these ideas and guidelines are just what I needed.
    I was at HLS last year and was impressed with the way you spoke with such passion, which carries over directly into your blog.

  53. I’ve been thinking a lot about the pressures I feel towards blogging lately, and I’ve realized that I started this because I thought it was fun. It’s not about how many comments I have, it’s not about “who” reads my blog. It’s about sharing my experience with others and engaging in a community (to me). Thank you for this reminder, Gena, and for your honesty!

  54. I love this post. I have been struggling with my blog lately and this advice is just what I needed to hear.

    Ironically, you talk about food blogging and that’s what I’ve been trying to be, but to be honest, reading this article made me realize that the reason I don’t post more food stories and recipes is because I don’t feel a strong affinity towards it. I’ve also been a little worried about isolating some readers with posts.

    Thanks for this amazing post! I love your blog and I read it every single day.

  55. This is a great post 🙂 I think the best part of blogging is the feedback, conversation, and knowledge I receive from others, and hopefully supply back through some of my posts! I really do think all food/health bloggers should appreciate each other and let go of the competition. The thing about this market is that it’s pretty infinite, and if you’re a good writer/blogger, you’ll succeed no matter what!

  56. Thanks for this post! I have been reading for awhile and have recently created my own bloggie! It is hard trying to find your voice so for now I just post what ever is interesting to me and hopefully my voice will evolve from there.

  57. Thanks so much for writing this, as you said it is not something you typically would write so I think it is a nice favor.

    This post reminds me that, though I do not take my blog seriously and write just to express, I DO have a place on the web and I probably should invest just a wee bit more attention into what I am putting “out there”

    Thanks for the links, too. I love discovering new blogs.

  58. What a great post! I found your blog fairly recently and absolutely love your recipes, pictures and the actual content. I appreciate that you take the time to deliver great content over rushing to get it done. Sometimes I find that I rush through a post because I’m either 1 – short on time or 2 – exhausted. I really need to remember that it’s quality over quantity that wins here. Thanks so much for such a wonderful post!

  59. Amazing post! Beautifully written, as always, and completely true. I hear you on the SEO and all that – totally don’t understand it either. I try not to worry about it much and just remember that if you put in enough effort and put yourself out there for long enough, readers will come (and hopefully stay). 🙂

    xo

  60. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    I read a lot of blogs and have gone in and out of following most, but Choosing Raw is a staple for me. Your clear, thoughtful writing always resonates with me and inspires me in more ways than I can express. I was hoping you would write a post about your blogging tips one day 🙂 I just started my blog and I grappled with what my focus would be and how to get readers and how personal to get and on and on. Finally I realized I just need to get out there and share what I can with however wants to read. My passions like travel, food and art are shaping the “focus” of my blog. The less I try to control the content and audience, the more it just falls together. That’s not to say its easy-sometime it feels more like an annoying homework assignment than a creative outlet. But most importantly, its brought me closer to the people I love and care about and allowed me to reach out across the world to people I would never have an opportunity to meet. Thanks again Gena 🙂

  61. I. LOVE. THIS.

    You already know how much your blog has inspired me, but I think what I love most about this post is #3 and #4. You have no idea how much time I spend just staring at a post before publishing. We’re talking way too long. And even then there are typos or sentences I absolutely have to fix.

    Thanks for including me and for sharing your invaluable wisdom.

  62. You are so right that you have to just be yourself! Every day I am honing my blog to be more focused on the kind of content that I think I provide uniquely, and cutting out the rest. You’re also right that good writing is important. The blogs I like the most have strong writers behind them that choose words thoughtfully and make few grammatical mistakes.

  63. Thanks for this post Gena — I agree with so much of what you wrote — specifically about being yourself. When I started blogging I really struggled with that — I thought I should do what everyone else wrote about, and slowly I’m coming out of that.

  64. Lovely tips. I like that they are abstract and not a literal checklist that you can do. I have been blogging about a year, and have learned that it takes a lot of time to build a network and also really figure out what your voice is. I find the art of blogging so fascinating. And love reading other’s insight too! I also would add quality posts are so important, as I’d rather read fewer great posts that make me think than 3x/day of blah.

  65. Wonderful information here, my favorite being #1. And you know why this post is so uniquely Gena? Because it’s forthright but GENEROUS. I don’t know any other blogger who accomplishes that so eloquently. Awesome.

  66. Solid advice, I think a lot of us can look closer and use some of these tips to refine what we do on our blogs!!!

  67. What a wonderful and helpful post, Gena! I’m not interested in “promoting” my blog into a business, but if whatever I write is helpful to others, then that makes me happy.

  68. Great tips Gena! I think being true to one’s self is very important, but I have to be honest. When Lori and I started blogging, we had no idea what we were doing, but we just wrote what we felt. But I feel like it might of hurt us, because we were so passionate about things then. We have changed now, which we think is a good thing. Learn from others, adapt, etc. It is very hard not to compare, we still catch ourselves comparing from time to time. But thank goodness we have friends like you who bring out the best and keep us going!!
    Love you! And will always love your blog!!!!!
    Michelle

  69. This post is really interesting! Thank you for writing it. I have a blog which I’ve recently “restarted” – I’ve had it for two years with sporadic updates but I’m now trying to really make it work. It just sometimes feels so overwhelming – there are already so many wonderful blogs out there, it’s hard not to sometimes think “who would want to read mine?” But writing is something I love and I deserve to give it a good shot!

  70. love what you wrote about not necessarily needing a “niche.” i feel often like this is essential – but i don’t really have one – and i enjoy that freedom. thanks for this!

  71. Thanks so much for this! I just started my blog in January and definitely learned from reading this post. I just bought business cards for my blog, so it’ll be easier to tell folks about it. I have found a new source of creativity in blogging about food(I’m also an artist) — it’s been really nourishing, in more ways than one!

  72. As a total newbie who’s already finding it difficult to update more than once in a week… well, ain’t this post food for brains. Thanks for the tips!

  73. Great tips, Gena. To Thine Own Self Be True resonates most for me. I’m not a full-time blogger. I work at a college during the day, I take a graduate class at night, I teach classes at night. I take writing classes. I take cooking classes. I’m busy!

    But, as a new vegan, I blog as a creative outlet that will hopefully show other new vegans it’s easy to make the transition and to maintain a healthy vegan lifestyle. That’s it. I spend far more time READING vegan food blogs than I do writing my own! LOL It’s how I continue to learn and live vegan!

  74. THANK YOU!!! I am new to the blogosphere, and it’s quickly become my passion. It’s all I think about, it’s what I devote 100% of my free time to. and people seem to be reading! it’s really exciting, and thanks so much for the tips. luckily, they seemed a bit like common sense to me, or second nature, but once I read them, not they are conscious habits brought to the surface. I do this blog for me, and if people want to interact with me too, then that’s just amazing.

  75. I liked your tips. From the time I started I improved a bit my photo editing skills. I’m looking forward to nice weather so I can take the photos outside!

  76. Gena, it means so much to me that I was included in your list. I was just telling my husband today how your blog has been an invaluable encouragement to me these past two years. A comment is perhaps not the best place to express all that, but I did want to let you know that I genuinely appreciate you, and this blog — your great labor of love and conviction. I’ll leave it at that, for now.

  77. I really enjoyed this post and was stumped to find my blog in your list as well, thank you :). Especially the tip ‘be a perfectionist’ struck with me because, well, I’m not. I am also writing in a language that’s not my native and although I feel very confident about it, I can’t help but wonder sometimes if my writing language sounds a little ‘off’ to native speakers, hehe. Most of my readers are Americans though so I guess it’s fine ;).

    I love posts about photo editing etc, but quite frankly I still never do it. I focus more on what I have to say and I’ll add some cute & colorful pictures but they’re definitely not the centre stage at my blog.

  78. Gena! Oh dear heavens, I actually jumped in my seat when I saw my blog listed in your post. Thank you so, so much. It means the world to me! I’ve always felt a secret affinity with you for your love of editing and grammar (not to mention your delicious food), and I love that you specified attention to detail in your advice.

    I also like the way you gently indicated that trying to follow a trend isn’t always the way to go. I’ve come across so many blogs that seem to be replicating certain successful food and fitness blogs, and I always feel a bit sad that there’s no “voice” to be found within the careful listing of food eaten in a day. For me, personality and care in the writing are what encourage me to return to a blog, with yummy recipes simply a super-duper-super bonus 🙂

  79. Hello Gena! This is my first comment here, and I like you to know I have been a very loyal follower for a while! Really love your relaxed approach to raw veganism (something you have written about before). As I have only recently started my blog, your post was a certainly timely reminder that blogging is a longterm pursuit, which takes tremendous patience and effort to ‘grow’. Thank you for your encouragement!=)

  80. I love this so hard. I like to think I take blogging as seriously as a job because I’d love for it to one day turn into something. I think keeping myself on my toes, double-checking everything, focusing and engaging really has helped me keep the same mindset through this second blog.

  81. What a great set of tips and wonderful shout outs to your fellow bloggers. I read 95% of the blogs/bloggers you mentioned and I agree with you on all of them!

    One other thing that is huge: consistency!!! No one has to be a daily poster, or a multiple times per day blogger, but if readers expect 2-3 posts per week, and then the blogger disappears for 2+ weeks and then posts 3 times in 36 hrs and then doesn’t come back for a month…it’s a huge turnoff and readers likely won’t stick around.

    All the other bits of wisdom are lovely and right on the money.

    Great post and I like it because it truly shows how you’ve evolved on this blogging journey, too. We ALL have! I cringe as I look back at my old posts (and photos!!) but it’s a journey. You have to start somewhere, right 🙂

    • This is HUGE in the raw blog niche. People ditch the diet then ditch the blog. I think letting your blog evolve with you and maybe not narrowing it down too much is key.

      • I certainly agree with that, Bitt and I would fall into that category – I always seem to come full circle though. My thing is depending on what your goal is consistency IS important however for me my blog is FOR ME not stats so that could be an important part of all of this – who are you blogging for? I’m just as busy as the next guy so my blog isn’t my life/job. It’s just a fun outlet. Now, if my goal was to increase readership/earn extra $ I’d post more maybe even post more mundane topics just so I can say I posted and stay at the top of people’s blogrolls. But it’s all about what you’re trying to achieve. For some consistency is key but I like the support and in turn support others even those who blog inconsistently. There are a lot of those, not just me! 😉

        • sure! i wasn’t referring to your comment, but agreeing in general with averie. i appreciate that you have kept yours going, it’s sad to see so many die off completely.

  82. Love. This. Post.

    I found myself shaking my head at number one on your list, and then shaking it harder as I read further down. I think I have whiplash now.

    One of my favorite things about your blog, and the others at the top of my list, are that I could read a post without knowing whose blog I was on, and I would know exactly whose blog I was on. And I would enjoy being there and wish that they would have written more.

    I do think you have a niche…and that niche is “you.” And you do “you” well, my friend.

  83. These are some great pieces of advice, and so well balanced. It’s definitely true that the internet world moves fast: my blog has just passed the one-year mark and it definitely seems like infinitely less experience than two years but infinitely more than a year ago.

    It’s so important to acknowledge that we have to put ourselves out there and be comfortable with a bit of that–while being true to ourselves, of course.

    Thank you so much for the mention: I’m so glad that we may get to connect more. I feel that we share many perspectives and understand that you’re extremely busy. For me, that’s something I’d appreciate some more advice on too: I can get into feeling obligated to read a ton of blogs and comment on all of them, and have worked to pare down that feeling of obligation, but I also really enjoy the discussion that takes place in the comments sections and love to get comments myself!

    love
    Ela

  84. Hi Gena! This is my first time commenting on your blog although I’ve definitely been reading your posts for awhile now :). As a new-ish blogger, I thought your tips were super helpful! I really appreciate the honesty and thought you put into it–thanks!!

  85. Those are some fantastic tips. I definitely agree you need to have passion about your topic, otherwise writing just feels like a chore. Now to get better at this self-promotion thing you speak of…Thanks!

  86. Thank you so much! I’m a brand new blogger and this has all been very helpful. It’s very intimidating since I’m the last one on the wagon. 🙂

  87. WOW, Gena! Great post. I’m a new blogger and am laminating your tips, as we speak!!! Very helpful and encouraging tips. I always look forward to your posts whether it be a recipe or vegan related topic…I am digesting and savoring this “tidbit” just as

  88. Thanks so much for this post! I soooooo needed to hear this right now! I especially like your point about not comparing yourself to other bloggers and getting bogged down with self-doubt. Very true, and I need to remind myself of this. And thanks for the shout out. I’m very excited to get to know more of the blog world. It’s already been worth it. 🙂

  89. Having only started my own blog only a week ago these tips are tremendously helpful and eye opening. Thank you so much for taking a break from “regular programming” to share them with us.

    I’ve been beating myself up because my blog isn’t what I want it to be yet so it’s nice to have a reminder that everyone started somewhere and that I just need to relax a little. 🙂

  90. Great post, Gena! I agree with your bottom line – – you have to come up with consistent, quality content in order to have a successful blog by anyone’s definition. Yes, ads can bring more people to your site, but if they come and don’t see hard work and good writing, they won’t come back, and that’s what you ultimately want. I think it’s also important to realize that your blog WON’T be for everyone, which is why you have to write about what you’re passionate about, comment and get involved with like minded bloggers, and be OK with the fact that you can’t please everyone!

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