As a long-time web consultant and food writer, I'm exposed to all aspects of the food blogging world. I was around at the advent of food blogging (when dinosaurs roamed MovableType) and I'll likely be picking away at some form of the socially driven media universe until they bury me with a circa-2052 Apple device embedded in my right frontal lobe. As someone so ensconced in the food media world, I get a lot of the same questions over and over again: How come people don't read my blog? How do I get more subscribers? Why have I not won the web equivalent of the Oscars after my lo-three weeks of blogging? And the best question of all, which always seems to come up at social engagements after a few drinks: Why don't you read my food blog?
So to prevent any future awkward in-person conversations, here are the top ten reasons why I don't read your g-d d-mn food blog:
- Your pictures suck. Look, I know not everyone is Matt Armendariz, but people are taking pretty decent photos with cell phones, so with your $600 camera, you should be able to figure out how to move your dish to the nearest window and take a few steps closer to the food. Honestly, no picture is better than a bad picture. No one wants to eat your poached salmon when it looks like something removed during exploratory surgery. Please please please check out this ebook on improving your food photography. Think of the children.
- Your recipes suck. This should be a given. If your recipes don't work, I'm not coming back. And even if your recipes have been tested to the point that you can recite from memory them like a Robert Frost poem, if they're written poorly, I won't know what the hell you're talking about anyways. Read this and stop writing culinary gibberish, mmmkay?
- You have poor/nonexistent grammar skills. Sorry, but you really need to hear this: if you don't know how to construct a proper sentence, at least to an acceptable degree, it hurts to read your blog posts. Like, it causes me physical pain. I'm not asking you to become a semicolon ninja; rather -- for the love of god -- use whole words instead of abbreviations, read up on the proper use of punctuation, and memorize the difference between there/their/they're.
- You're a shill... for just about everyone. As bloggers, a lot of us write the occasional sponsored post. That's fine, but don't let them take over your blog just so you can accept every invitation that comes your way. You may have killer recipes, but if I have to sift through a ton of "Here's me on a farm with ten other bloggers!" "Here's me in the Lara Bar test kitchen!" "Here's the president of Jamba Juice handing me a box of branded aprons!" I'll get bored and stop coming back. Why? Because no matter what PR people think, brand stories are incredibly boring and are easier to tolerate when posted only occasionally.
- You have 32836478246 ads, or even one annoying blinky/video/popup ad. For the love of all that is holy, STOP WITH THE ADS ALREADY. One or two ads is totally acceptable, but if I end up frantically clicking anywhere I can on your site to stop the screechy-voiced woman from trying to sell me softer, gentler toiler paper, I'm going to sh*tcan your site faster than sandpapery single ply. And the video popups that count down in seconds until I can close the ad? Um, no. I'm closing the whole tab and probably flipping you the bird while I do it.
- Your blog is ugly. Don't get a bee in your bonnet, I'm not calling your kid ugly. But this is your website, and you have some control over what it looks like. White text on a black carpet-textured wallpaper? No. Mish-mash of mustard shades on a vomit-colored background? No. Blinking anything? No, no, and NO. For god's sake, spring for an inexpensive, attractive theme, already.
- Your blog takes forever to load. Sometimes it's an unavoidable fact of the web, but if your blog regularly stalls in the middle of the page, I'll probably stop visiting. Try removing of the aforementioned $%$&! video popups.
- You post three times a year. I don't care if you're the second coming of Gandhi. If you abandon your blog, so will I.
- You post five times a day. Worse than never posting is posting too much. If you bombard my RSS reader with more than one post a day, you're just cluttering up my feeds and I'll likely unsubscribe out of sheer overwhelm. Who do you think you are, The Kitchn?
- You talk too much about politics/religion/your cat's medical problems/baby poo. When I go looking for recipes, I want to hear about the food. I may be down for a story, and if it's good I'll stick around to finish it. (Here"s an example of what good stories look like, by the way.) But if you prattle on for days about inane, done-to-death topics, or worse, nothing of meaning, I'm outta there. And if you insist on talking about particularly unsavory topics -- such as your undoubtedly adorable four-month old's problem with recurring explosive diarrhea -- and then expect me to get excited about your "Sweet and Sour Southwestern BBQ Cheeseburger," you've lost me as a reader while I fantasize about putting battery acid in your bottle of Visine.
Stephanie Stiavetti is a food writer and cookbook author living in San Francisco. Her food blog, The Culinary Life, is a repository for all things comfort food related, from savory dinners to transcendental desserts. You can also follow her on Facebook. Her monthly culinary newsletter is full of stories, review, and helpful tips.