Debi Wayland is a food blogger at Life Currents. Check out the interview below for her tips and advice on starting a food site.
How and why did you start a food site?
I started my site because so many people would ask me for recipes of things I make. Whole foods. Real foods. No trans-fats. Less high fructose corn syrup. I didn’t want my recipes to be too out of reach or weird for most people. Despite how healthy I think most people are trying to be, I know that some people still rely on processed convenience foods and fast food restaurants that can be high in bad fats, calories, or sodium.
So, I strive for healthy fun foods that most anyone can cook. I also like to give substitutions as often as possible. Recipes are just guides to cooking, and I don’t want people to be afraid of the kitchen. The kitchen is a fun place, a place where you can experiment and then get to eat the results! I wanted to share my passion for food, cooking, and healthy eating (with a tasty treat mixed in there from time-to-time).
How much time do you spend working?
You know, I’ve never actually tracked how much time I spend. I only post about things that we actually eat, so part of the time involved in posting is time that I would spend cooking anyway. Some posts just flow out and I’m done in a matter of minutes. Some take much more time and effort. I also am a bit sporadic when it comes to posting. I’d like to post 2-3 times per week. But that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes other things get in my way, like the holidays or travels. And, sometimes the recipes or pictures seem to have other plans for me.
I like to create new recipes, like, I’ve been working on a new fudge recipe for a while now. And, this is one of those recipes that just isn’t cooperating. I’ll have to try making it a 3rd time to see if I can get it to work. The first time I made it, it was more like caramel than fudge. So, now I’m perfecting the flavors and the techniques. The pictures don’t always cooperate either. Recently, I posted a thin crust pizza. We had to make and photo the pizza twice since I wasn’t really happy with the pictures the first time. (Which meant that we had to eat pizza twice! Rough, but someone had to do it. hee hee).
Once I have the final recipe, I take pictures of the dish. I like the food to speak for itself, so I try not to do too much fancy prop work in the picture (like I don’t tie ribbons around cookies or have glasses of milk in the background). Once I have the pictures, I do a little processing on the picture, like sharpen it or brighten the colors. Then, I upload the photos to the site. I write out the post in Word first so that I have a backup of the recipe as well as my thoughts about it. Then, I copy it into my site, and add in the links: links to Amazon, other sites for further reading, or for recipe links. Once it’s all ready, I publish it. Then, it’s off to share it on social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, RecipeNewz, Punk Domestics, etc.
What is your best lesson learned?
Do what makes you happy. Write about things that interest you. Eat things that you find tasty. If you’re just doing what “sells” it isn’t you, and people can tell.
Writing about healthy food isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it works for me, and it makes me happy. I see other bloggers struggle with the concept of keeping the followers happy. They talk about how they lost followers because of something they said or something they did. But, you can’t make everyone happy, and above all else, it’s really important to be true to what you love.
What is your best advice on how to grow traffic?
Community involvement. When I first started blogging I would post and no one would see it. I got some traffic from search engines, but I didn’t really understand what being involved in the community would do for me. Play around on Facebook and get to know other bloggers; they’ll be the ones who help you grow your site the most. Go to linky parties. Submit to websites like FoodGawker and RecipeNewz. Make comments on other people’s pages. Link to others bloggers. Share.
What is the most common food blogging mistake to avoid?
Don’t try to take someone else’s material and use it as your own. Give credit where credit is due. I spend a lot of time cooking, photographing, and writing so that the content is clear and appetizing. When people come along and crop my photos so that my watermark is no longer there, or they copy my recipe and photo without giving me any credit, it’s not cool. It’s stealing. Bloggers work really hard and they don’t make much money, so it hurts even more when people aren’t nice.
What is your biggest success as a blogger?
I think it’s how much I’ve learned about photography. I love taking pictures and I love what I’ve learned. I look back on my early pictures and I can see right away how much better they are now. I still learn all the time. I read other posts and watch tutorials. Most of my learning has come from my husband who has great patience to teach me.
It takes a lot of time. It takes commitment. But, it’s worth it to share your passion, your art. And, yes, I consider food to be my art. Whatever your passion, go for it.