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How to build your blog audience

How to build your blog audience – Leading Aust food bloggers tell all

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WIth over 2,000 registered food blogs in Australia, how does one stand out and get read?

To help answer that question, this week I had the opportunity to interview some of Australia’s leading food bloggers and ask them for tips on how to build your blog audience.

I have focused on four blogs : EatandbeMerryfortomorrowwedie(t), The World Loves Melbourne, Sweet and Sour Fork all from Melbourne and Noodlies from Sydney. I asked each of them the same set of six questions. Their answers with some great suggestions are set out below.

Eat and Be Merry Crew

Currently ranked this week #3 on Urbanspoon’s worldwide list of blogs, and #2 on Urbanspoon’s Melbourne list of blogs, based on views. Listed on movehub.com as one of Australia’s best food blogs.

How to build your blog audience

1. What is your blog about?

The Eat And Be Merry Crew is a group of Melbournians who are friends and love eating out. We travel all over Melbourne in search of the best food experiences. Along the way, we take photos and share our thoughts on our foodie experiences with our readers.

2. How do you make your blog stand out when there are so many other food blogs?

What makes us different is that many food review blogs are written by one person.  As we’re a group of friends, the blog benefits by the fact that we cover many different types of cuisine and dining experiences, which reflects each of our own preferences.

For example, Big Fil and Snooze have got the Melbourne cafe breakfast scene covered; and while Bureaucrat loves the opera of fine dining, she also loves tucking into plates of home-style cooking where the owners treat you like a member of their families.

3. 3 Most Effective Ways that you have found to build your blog audience?

Firstly, be yourself and write in your own voice. Secondly, blog often – at least twice a week.  Readers will only come back if there’s new content for them to read and engage with.  Thirdly, for a food-based blog, you definitely need great photos of the food.  Colourful, enticing photos will add to your blog.

4. Which type of blog posts get the best response in terms of traffic and engagement?

Reviewing a popular or “in” restaurant or cafe will bring in traffic as people are more likely to be searching for reviews of these places.  For the best response in engagement, make your blog personal – let your readers get to know you.

However, you can still get many readers without sharing too much personal information (as not all bloggers may feel comfortable doing this, which is perfectly fine) but it may mean it will take longer for more readers to connect with you.

5. How do you handle negative or differing feedback from those food outlets that you blog about?

We’re quite open to negative or differing feedback.  As eating is a subjective experience, it’s good to have other people’s views on the same food or restaurant.  We post all our comments from our readers – the only exception is where we get the rare comment that has expletives.

6. Single piece of advice you would give to others wanting to start their own food blog?

Just do it and enjoy yourself – blogging is fun!

From Anna (aka Ms Bureaucrat)

Blog http://eatandbemerryfortomorrowwediet.blogspot.com.au/

Twitter Ms Bureacrat  https://twitter.com/EatBeMerryCrew

 The World Loves Melbourne

Australia’s top food and travel blog rating by HotelClub Australia. Currently ranked this week #2 on Urbanspoon’s worldwide list of blogs, and #1 on Urbanspoon’s Melbourne list of blogs, based on views. Listed on movehub.com as one of Australia’s top food blogs.

How to build your blog audience

1. What is your blog about?

My blog celebrates Melbourne with an emphasis on best restaurants and cafes and things to do in Melbourne.

2. How do you make your blog stand out when there are so many other food blogs?

My blog stands out due to its visual appeal, which I believe is important. I use Joomla as CMS platform and try to take quality photos. Also the volume of food reviews is extensive at around 600 giving people a comprehensive overview.

3. 3 Most Effective Ways that you have found to build your blog audience?

Firstly, work social media. Twitter is an excellent way to build an audience. As is Instagram and Facebook. You need to work them all. Most people don’t work them all.

I say “work” it because it does take effort to engage your followers and attract new followers. Secondly, I post my reviews on Urbanspoon a popular review site. Thirdly, no substitute for good content! I try to use a personable style.

4. Which type of blog posts get the best response in terms of traffic and engagement?

Blog posts attracting the most traffic are reviews of newly opened and highly popular restaurants. Often the owners will feature the review on their own social media also.

5. How do you handle negative or differing feedback from those food outlets that you blog about?

I’m not out to be negative. These are people’s livelihoods we are dealing with . My tone is more celebratory because the standard is already quite high. I don’t frequent the lesser quality venues. Where there is criticism it’s water off a duck’s back as they say. As long as I can justify my comments.

6. Single piece of advice you would give to others wanting to start their own food blog?

Single piece of advice – just start! You can easily start with a platform like Blogger or launch out with WordPress or Joomla. Get yourself a half decent camera and visit cafes and restaurants. Get a domain name that expresses you and your blog and decent web hosting and go for it!

Blog http://www.theworldlovesmelbourne.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/theworldlovesmelbournecom/261355180576952

Twitter @davidbhagger

Instagram http://instagram.com/theworldlovesmelbourne?ref=badge

 Sweet and Sour Fork

Listed on movehub.com as one of Australia’s top food blogs. Also ranked in the Top ten Urbanspoon blog list worldwide and for Melbourne, based on views. Featured blogger on echoer.com

How to build your blog audience

1. What is your blog about?

I write a food blog, describing my experiences at all sorts of restaurants around Melbourne.

2. How do you make your blog stand out when there are so many other food blogs?

I like to think my photography is a distinguishing feature of my blog. Although I have no background in photography, with the investment into a DSLR and enough care and practice, it becomes a lot easier to make them really shine- and as a food blogger, I find pictures work best at the forefront of my writing, with the actual words filling in what the photos can’t.

One of the biggest factors in building my audience has been Urbanspoon. Having plenty of people looking to research restaurants, it slowly began to drive visitors to my blog, some of which would become regular readers.

 

Reading other food blogs and joining in the comments also helps- not only can you find blogs that inspire your own writing, but you might make some new friends who may also become regular readers of your blog.

Once an audience is established, it is mainly a matter of maintaining a continuous engagement with them via regular posts and social media. I have strictly blog-related Twitter, Tumblr, and recently HeyLets accounts that give current readers other ways to view my content, and that can help spread the word to new readers. Touching base with the restaurants I review via social media is also helpful.

4. Which type of blog posts get the best response in terms of traffic and engagement?

Definitely newer restaurants, or any restaurant that has been causing a buzz in the foodie scene, as these are the ones most likely to be searched for on sites like Urbanspoon.

5. How do you handle negative or differing feedback from those food outlets that you blog about?

I always try to make it clear that my reviews are based purely off of my own experience at the time. With something as subjective as food, it is very easy to have differing opinions, and it be very easy (for all of us) to sometimes mistake our own opinion as fact. If someone disagrees with one of my posts, I believe the best I can do is make it clear what I liked (or didn’t like) and why; I have no control over how others interpret that. Furthermore, there’s no sense trying to change someone’s mind if they didn’t enjoy a certain restaurant- you can’t change how they felt at the time.

6. Single piece of advice you would give to others wanting to start their own food blog?

Just do it! If you want to write a food blog, give it a try no matter what skills you think you have. Practice makes perfect, and over time you should find your posts getting better and better.

If you’re struggling to find an audience, remember that getting any audience at all is the hardest part, especially when you have nothing to work off of. Consider ways of engaging in other communities (such as Urbanspoon) that will help people discover you from more well-known websites.

Blog http://sweetandsourfork.blogspot.com.au/

Twitter @SweetSourFork

Noodlies

Has the #1 Australian video food blog on You Tube and the #2 Aust food account on Twitter. Also listed on movehub.com as one of Australia’s top food blogs. Writing has featured in SBS Feast magazine, as well as a range of other newspapers and magazines. Has also appeared on ABC and 2UE radio n Sydney amongst others.

How to build your blog audience

1. What is your blog about?

Record numbers of Australians head overseas each year. When they land back home, they crave that full-on authentic flavours which they experienced and loved while on holidays. Noodlies is about helping them find delicious, culturally diverse food back at home. My blog helps them relive that overseas adventure in Sydney.

2. How do you make your blog stand out when there are so many other food blogs?

There are over 2,000 registered food blogs in Australia so it’s an understatement to say the space is cluttered. That’s exactly the point of noodlies concentrating on unique, multicultural food – many of these ma-and-pa establishments are in the west and generally out of sight. There’s plenty of blogs discussing fine dining or the latest inner city eateries, noodlies’ focus is on that spicy Cambodian noodle soup, that place that serves food from Christmas Island in Lakemba, Sydney’s first Iraqi restaurant, the best pork roll place in Sydney… and more mouth-watering food. I love promoting these family owned business because not only is their food authentic, real and affordable, but I’m helping promote businesses that ‘mainstream’ CBD-centric media often ignores.

I also like to hold noodlies to account with a transparent Code of Ethics, one of only a handful. The most comprehensive in Australia, noodlies’ Code of Ethics sets out my philosophy and how it influences my content.

3. 3 Most Effective Ways that you have found to build your blog audience?

I didn’t necessarily have a strategy, but behind the madness I learnt a few things that have been helpful in building an audience:
– Unique content: I’m not competition with the masses. Noodlies runs its own race with unique, interesting content
– Frequency: regular updates (at least once a week) is essential to give readers a reason to come back
– Publicity: because of the unique content, I’ve been lucky in getting good publicity across all channels including TV, radio, print and online. The exposure has really helped to increase readership.
– Social media: it’s not used to promote noodlies, I use twitter, facebook and other social media channels to engage with readers. I respond to their questions, I ask for help/info when writing a post or story for traditional media – we actually have a conversation.

4. Which type of blog posts get the best response in terms of traffic and engagement?

For me, it’s the best of… my series on noodlies’ six week search for Sydney’s best pork roll (banh mi thit) is still the most popular even though it was in April 2012. It’s been shared over 500 times and sparked a series of mainstream coverage for the humble pork roll. My post of the best food blogs is obviously answering a need because that too is really popular, so well read that I now produce this quarterly.

5. How do you handle negative or differing feedback from those food outlets that you blog about?

My Code of Ethics holds noodlies accountable and it guides everything. Noodlies is about fun, curiosity, honestly, fairness and collaboration. If I receive flak, I measure it against those values listed and my ethics which are laid out in noodlies’ Code of Ethics. It’s an open, transparent, objective measure. Maybe because I’ve been so up-front about it, I get very few negative comments.

6. Single piece of advice you would give to others wanting to start their own food blog?

The most valuable advice I can give is to find your passion point and let that dictate your content.

Bloggers give up for two main reasons, boredom and feeling like no one is reading their writing. If you’re writing about what you love, then you’re less likely to throw in the towel. Being passionate will come across in your writing and that authenticity will come across to readers and keep them coming back. And even if you don’t get that many readers at first, if you love your content, it will motivate you to keep going.

A recent post on celebrating Noodlies achievements since starting the blog in Oct 2009.

Blog http://www.noodlies.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/noodlies

You Tube http://www.youtube.com/noodliesfoodblog

Google + https://plus.google.com/+ThangNgo/posts

Instagram http://instagram.com/thangngo

Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/thangngo/

Twitter @ThangNgo

 

by Konrad Markham

Tips for Improving Digital Marketing

 

About Konrad Markham

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