5 Ways to Branch Out as a Food Blogger

And build your own brand

Your lunch is already cold.

You finished cooking. Then you plated it as carefully as possible on that blue ceramic plate that you bought from Anthropologie. You set the table with tumblers full of water, jute runners and pristine white napkins. You’ve scattered a few almonds around and bunched the cutlery together on top of the driftwood table. Then you take two hundred photos of your meal from different angles, with your DSLR (that’s easily worth an arm). Then you take a few more with your phone….for Instagram, of course. If your meal is not on Instagram, then you obviously didn’t have that meal.

But your lunch is already cold.

All food bloggers know the feeling. A food blog, much like any other blog, holds you accountable and encourages, strongly, to show up every day. For your readers, for yourself. It is a place where you convey your love and creativity through family recipes, experiments, interests and community support. And monetizing a food blog or an foodie Instagram feed is no longer fresh news or difficult, for that matter.

However, there’s only so much you can earn from cost-per-click ads and sponsored posts. If you need to turn your food blog into a thriving business or supplement your income by a large margin, here are 5 awesome ways to do it!

1. Food Writing Gigs

The food writing world have been blown wide apart with the onset of online magazines. It may not be the steadiest option. But with time and consistent published pieces, it can supplement your existing income by a large margin. Plus the exposure will be unbeatable.

Up your writing skills.

Magazines like Lucky Peach and Kinfolk are beautiful and popular in their own rights. Here’s a great list. Or you can always follow Dianne Jacob and her repository of brilliant tips and posts on how to make it as a food writer.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Your writing skills should be really good. If you’re hovering on average, try and fine tune your posts to reflect on personal experiences or really informative material. Consistency is paramount when you’re vying for publishers to notice you. If good writing, storytelling skills and compelling narrative comes together, you could even land up with a book deal.
  • Apply to as many magazines, both print and digital, and blogs as possible. Try and keep a list of publications that cover diverse topics on food. It could be anything from food stories to food trends, from recipes to reviews, food guide for a city or country, holiday food tips et al.

2. Photography and Food Styling Gigs

Pic : laraferroni.com

Considering the amount of lighting supplies, umbrellas, makeshift reflective boards that you’ve accumulated over years of food blogging, and considering the kick-ass cameras you use to photograph your creations, you might already be an expert at photography. For a serious food blogger, there’s no way around learning how to be a good photographer. And that is exactly why you should branch out to explore photography as a viable source of income.

Keiko Oikawa, from the award-winning Nordljus food blog is a classic example of food-blogger-turned-photographer with a jaw-dropping portfolio. Beatrice Peltre of the famous La Tartine Gourmande also has a successful Food Styling and Photography career.

Things to keep in mind:

  • With the onset of webpage builders like Strikingly and Squarespace, and even the stalwarts like Flickr, Wordpress or Tumblr, getting a self-hosted portfolio site is easier than ever. Choose a classy template, upload your work and promote.
  • Don’t just limit yourself to food photography. If you travel, then document your travels. You could also get in touch with e-commerce businesses and help with photographing their products. Universities, schools, startups and corporate offices also look for photographers for their brochures and newsletters. List yourself on Facebook Groups and keep an eye out.

3. Culinary Classes

As a food-blogger myself, I’ve spoken to numerous fellow bloggers who’ve wanted to start off with their own culinary classes, and yet have hesitated to do so because they don’t have any formal training.

If you do, great. If you don’t, then that’s great too!

As long as you have practice, experience and authority in producing great birthday cakes, or delectable French macarons or the best homemade Chicken Kiev in Florida, conducting a class can be both fulfilling and a great source of income.

Cooking or baking classes do not have to be certified course. You will find students who’d be interested in learning how to cook as part of a hobby or to improve their skills.

Pic : Culinary Vietnam

Things to keep in mind:

  • Teach only that which you know best. If you’re better at bread than cake, then go with bread. If tarts and pies are your passions then design classes around them, instead of just cakes.
  • Choose your classes carefully, by studying the demand. A cooking class on Indian cuisine in San Francisco, will do much better than a hot-dog making class in the same city. Join local Facebook groups or forums and ask around about what people actually want to learn.
  • Associate with online marketplaces that provide you with flexible booking systems. For e.g., at Altertrips we’re working with bakery/cookery instructors who are either setting up their classes or already have established businesses, and are looking to build a more powerful online presence. Being part of this marketplace will increase your exposure to locals as well as travelers. Having a flexible booking system would lead to you being able to accept bookings from your blog/website, emails, text messages, WhatsApp and all your social accounts. By the way, we’re starting trials in December, so add yourself to the invite list!

4. Supper Clubs and Dinners

Supper Clubs or Underground Dinners are Dining 2.0. Although none of them are that underground anymore. Community and social dinners have gained immense popularity since the early 2000's. With startups like Eat With and Traveling Spoon, the concept of having strangers from all over the world, share a meal prepared by you (AirBnB for meals), supper clubs and social dinners are here to stay. Needless to say, these are wonderful opportunities to cook what you love and make new friends in the process.

“I have yet to see a dinner where friends aren’t made or business cards aren’t exchanged.” — Derek Smith
Hosting supper clubs and social dinners is pretty much an awesome way to do what you love and meet people from across the world!

Things to keep in mind:

  • Choose a great platform and then promote yourself extensively on Social Media. Having your own Facebook page and Twitter account obviously helps. Having a website is a also a good idea. But having a website would mean that most of the promotion will have to be done by you. By being part of a platform like Eat With or Altertrips (trials starting in December, remember?), ensures that platform and the founders behind it will be working to promote you. And combining that with your social accounts, will yield humongous results.
  • Be creative with your menu, but be sure that you can deliver. Your popularity will depend on a combination of your cooking skills and your social skills!

5. Culinary Goods

Last month, a friend of mine, a skilled baker by her own right, called me up excited and breathless. Someone had just noticed her three-tier, Avengers themed, Birthday cake that she’d made for her son and had placed an order with her. After a lot of hemming and hawing, she’d decided to accept the order. It’s been a month since that, and so far she’s sold almost $5000 USD worth of baked goods from the comfort of her own kitchen.

Having your own home-based business selling baked goods, chocolates, spice mixes and sauces for occasions and festivals is a great way to make an earning. The best thing about this option is that it might just grow into a full-time, fully-developed business brand!

Things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t just restrict yourself to accepting orders and working on them from home. Try renting out space in weekly markets, farmers’ markets and stalls in county festivals. Tamami of the famed food blog Coco & Me, is a pretty much perfect example of a food blogger running a successful market stall. So is Niamh from Eat Like A Girl.
  • Find a great niche. Consider baking just for the vegan market, the halaal market or the organic market. If you’re thinking of selling sauces, don’t just look at savory sauces — also consider jams, preserves and sweet dessert sauces. Try brewing your own brand of fruity beer or make homemade wine.

Food blogging is no more an industry looked at just by people wanting to have a place to record their recipes. It now encompasses areas that were always crowded with restaurants, bakeries and professional brands before.

And with startups like Eat With, Like A Local, Eventbrite and Altertrips, home cooks and bakers are set to receive as much help from tech as possible.