From the archives | What motivates food bloggers?

From the archives

What motivates food bloggers?

‘So what are they all doing in there’ asked the guy in the coffee shop, gesticulating at the arts centre next door. 'Blawggers or somefink?'

What indeed? How do you explain why 150-odd people should choose to spend a sunny Saturday indoors listening to people tell them how they should shoot pictures of their dinner and share them with total strangers?

Food Blogger Connect, which has been taking place in south London this weekend, is one of a number of blogger events that take place round the world attracting delegates from Canada to Finland - and of course the UK. It brings together a group of people who have nothing in common but their passion for food and desire to express it. Almost all of them are women (curious, that. Do male bloggers reckon they have nothing to learn or simply not enjoy sharing what they do?) Most, I’d guess, are under 35.

Many think bloggers are in it for the giveaways, the free meals and trips but that’s not been my impression. In fact the more seasoned bloggers are scornful of cack-handed attempts by PRs and companies to hijack their blogs and get them on-message.

Most are driven by real passion for food, one that can’t necessarily be shared with family and friends who roll their eyes wearily when dinner is delayed for that perfectly lit shot. To network with like-minded individuals who share that obsession is invigorating.

Some have jobs that fail to stimulate them and find blogging an outlet for their creativity, daring to dream of a career in food - maybe even that elusive book deal (though most are realistic enough to know that only a few will clinch one). Still, there’s always self-publishing these days . . .

But coming from the business background that many of them do they’re not leaving anything to chance. If they’re going to blog they want to do it as well as they can - write better content, take better photos, build a bigger audience. Blogging is driven by the American ethos of 'could do better'.

Some have more money than others to invest in their ambitions. At £300 for the weekend*, tickets to Food Blogger Connect don’t come cheap but nor do tickets to the opera or special interest holidays. Most hobbies are expensive. But you don’t need to be rich to write a great blog - you just need to invest the time and energy.

Which brings me neatly to my next post. What makes a food blog stand out in the crowd? More thoughts on the lessons from #FBC5 - and elsewhere - tomorrow . . .

* £150 if you booked an 'early bird' ticket.

If you have a food blog - or any other kind of blog - why did you start it and what makes you keep it up?

If you enjoyed reading this post you might also be interested in:

What makes a great food blog?

10 practical steps you can take to improve your food blog

Picture of blogger (and former lawyer) Ren Behan doling out bigos (a Polish hunter's stew) at her Polish Kitchen pop-up at Food Blogger Connect

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Comments: 20 (Add)

Jacqueline Meldrum on July 17 2013 at 21:53

I had a great time at FBC. Such a fun weekend and the sun shone for us. It was great to meet you .

Jac
@tinnedtoms

Karen on July 17 2013 at 14:48

It was wonderful to meet you finally Fiona, and I have enjoyed reading your post here. I have muted the subject of having a small food bloggers gathering at my home in France, but agree that more regional events would be good for those who cannot make it to London or cannot afford it. You raise some interesting points and I especially agree with the sentiment that most of us are driven by a passion for food.
Karen

Fiona Beckett on July 11 2013 at 09:49

@choclette well, maybe there should be a West Country food bloggers event sometime - a good excuse for a get together!

@Ren I really admire how much you've achieved with your blog. You've come a long way in a very short time and it just gets better and better

@Madeleine I think you've put your finger on what makes blogging such a joy for people. What is your own blog?

Madeleine Morrow on July 10 2013 at 19:18

For those of us who have never written - or dared to think we could - nurturing a blog habit is a creative burst, a secret joy, an alter ego. In truth it is just such good fun. When the day job requires a certain level of excellence and seriousness, it is a relief to have a place to relax, enjoy and indulge because, let's face it, our obsession with food is a distraction from the ills of our world. In fact it celebrates the better sides of our nature - the will to nurture, to share and to create. FBC5, while lauding the success of the professionals and some exceptionally talented amateurs, put me back in touch with the pure joy of blogging. I can't get enough.

Ren Behan on July 9 2013 at 21:40

Dear Fiona,

It was a great pleasure to see you at Food Blogger Connect. I still have my notes from the writing talk you gave at FBC11. It always amazes me that there are so many varying reasons that people blog and that there is always so much to learn. Sometimes, I see the level of skill out there that bloggers have gained by practicing and using their blogs as an avenue for creativity and it is astounding. The bar is constantly being raised higher. The blogging world has really moved on and there is much to aspire to. My own blog is not yet three years old, yet it has presented me with so many new challenges and opportunities. I am not sure there is one answer as to 'what motivates people to blog' but I do know that you have to be highly motivated to blog and to keep it going. There is definitely an element of wanting to 'do better' for me, to write better, to take better photos, to create original content that either makes people want to read, or to cook or even to travel and try something new. I blog because I am both inspired by others who blog and because I too, hope to inspire - in some small way. I am also motivated by the great sense of community created by blogs - as shown through the annual gathering of bloggers and aspiring bloggers at Food Blogger Connect.

Ren

Choclette on July 9 2013 at 16:18

Yes, I keep mulling over this whole food blogging malarkey. I started mine 4 years ago to record my own adventures in chocolate without a clue at the time that there was a whole world of food bloggers out there. My blog has grown and morphed and I find it hard to imagine not having it around any more, but I still do wonder why I spend so much time and energy keeping it going and trying to not only get it right but improve and develop it. Networking with other food bloggers is a particularly rewarding part, but living down in Cornwall I don't get to do it very often. Would love to go to FBC -maybe one day.

Carina on July 8 2013 at 22:05

yes I am finding wordpress challenging. I learn more every day (DH in IT & has backed up, no clue!) but I think in the long run a wider platform than blogger. I did it whilst the food blog was young, my mummy blog has a lot of subscribers and followers and I don't think I'll move that over, besides, my daughter will grow up (son already grown up) but she'll still need her mummy's food :)

Fiona Beckett on July 8 2013 at 14:47

You SHOULD have been there, Chris but I'm sure they'll have another one next year. Like the Flavour Fiesta posts - that Tarta de Santiago looks great!

Chris B (@scrummyscran) on July 8 2013 at 14:42

Really interesting piece, Fiona. I'm a relative newcomer to food blogging, and very much still learning. Am gutted to have only found out about #FBC5 late last week, as I think I would have got a lot out of it. It would also have been an excellent opportunity to meet some of the fellow bloggers I've encountered on-line, and as a male food blogger I could have helped redress the gender imbalance...

The reason I started www.scrumptiousscran.com was, I suppose, to share my passion (if that isn't a cliché) for food and drink. Not just the recipes and reviews (although they are obviously important) but wider issues around sustainability and seasonality etc. And picking up on a point you make in the second post on #FBC5 the blog provides an opportunity for me to tell the stories of how I have connected with a certain restaurant, supplier or cuisine - such as my wee series entitled "Flavour Fiesta" on how I came to love Spanish cuisine.

Very much hoping there will be a #FBC6...

Fiona Beckett on July 8 2013 at 14:38

That's a great reason to write Aoife - and I'm delighted to find a blog entirely devoted to one of my favourite foods. Even better than chocolate! Enjoyed your talk

Aoife @ The Daily Spud on July 8 2013 at 12:05

I don't know if it sounds like a cliché, but I started thedailyspud.com because I couldn't not do it. When I first had the idea to start a food blog over 5 years ago, I didn't sleep properly for about 3 weeks - my head was buzzing with ideas about what I might write (and, for me, it really was all about the writing - I only later started posting recipes because that seemed to be the thing to do).

Now, It's become a big part of who I am. It has brought me into contact with a great many like minded people and lead to some wonderful food and travel experiences. It does occur to me (and often!) that I would have a lot more time available to do other things if I didn't put so much effort into what I post, and maybe someday the blog will come to its natural end, but for now, it's simply what I do.

Marcus on July 7 2013 at 21:17

Thanks Fiona :) have been following the comments and write ups, and it just doesn't sound my thing to be honest, £300 would get me a lovely new lens for my camera though :)
The Pitt Cue Co. book has pride of place on my bookshelf, one day maybe I will visit. Looking forward to your next ost sounds interesting.
Cheers
Marcus

Fiona Beckett on July 7 2013 at 21:10

@Carina Sorry - missed your comment. That's definitely a good reason for blogging. Interested that you moved to Wordpress - always found it quite challenging. How are you finding it?

Fiona Beckett on July 7 2013 at 21:08

Well, maybe you should go next year. Love the theme of your blog - if I had an outdoor cooking space I'd cook like that too! (Also a big fan of the Pitt Cue book)

Marcus on July 7 2013 at 21:00

Hi Fiona,
Great post, I too am one of the minority of male bloggers, maybe it's not that we feel we have nothing to learn, I do sometimes feel that there is a lack of interest in what us guys blog about, I know the vast majority of my followers are guys who are interested in BBQ and outdoor cooking, maybe we fill different niche areas that the majority of female bloggers don't find appealing, I know that my site www.countrywoodsmoke.com fills a niche, and I am happy with that. I know the few followers I have love what I do, and to hear someone trying one of my recipes or techniques makes it all worthwhile.
I sometimes think if I see another blog about pretty little cupcakes I will explode. I know there is a lot I can learn about blogging, and was really tempted to go to FBC.
Cheers
Marcus

Fiona Beckett on July 7 2013 at 20:50

I think the advantage in going to these kind of events is that it allows you to step back and look more dispassionately at what you're doing. Just exchanging ideas with other people helps to clarify what it is you're aiming for - or at least that's the way it works for me

Urvashi on July 7 2013 at 16:56

I was there on Friday for the photo workshop with Penny - I was rather disappointed at the lack of structure to be honest because i am a most structured person so ...anyway what I most enjoyed was having the time to 'play' with the multitude of props and food that someone had provided. It was nice to have Penny to bounce thoughts on re composition, lighting angles, etc . As you say at home I don't get this time. I was also there Saturday and really enjoyed the sessions. The street food was not as great as last year but again as you say I enjoyed talking to my friends made on twitter in the main and reflecting to ways to keep myself interested in blogging. I don't want to drift into just recipes, or just products or just travel. I want to push my writing and my photography. I started writing about food as an escape from my day job. I enjoy elements of my job but working in financial services means I have to add regulation and legal footers and such like. I am responsible for a team and planning someone else's growth and success. Blogging lets me use MY voice for my own growth and success.

Carina on July 7 2013 at 13:47

I was there for 2 days, really enjoyed the content, the food and the friendly vibe. I started my food blog nutritiousdeliciousness.com to blog about the kind of healthy food I feed my young child but it is ever evolving along the way, I just love doing it, no other reason for now. Have so many posts lined up but just gone self hosted so now to get back on it! Look forward to your thoughts on the 3rd day.

Fiona Beckett on July 7 2013 at 11:13

Good to hear that, Dan - and good to see another man disproving my theory that most bloggers are women ;-) Like the look of those chicken wings!

Dan on July 7 2013 at 10:19

Great article Fiona!
I started my food blog ( DjKJnr.blogspot.co.uk ), for, as you rightly said, an outlet for my creativity. I really got into cooking when I moved out about five years ago. Like my Mum and Dad, I just wanted to cook everything from scratch, I've been posting on Instagram for the past year and the blog only start three weeks ago but has already had thousands of hits.

It's something I'm genuinely passionate about and I want to learn more, and if we treat cookery, like the Italians, as a community, then we all learn together.

Dan
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