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Sid Khullar's Open Kitchen: Food Blogging Queries Answered
  • Hi Sid!

    Here I am again! Remember the country question ;) ? I loved the answer!
    This is my wife's question about White Bread. It is soft and the taste is perfect but the stuff doesn't hold together, i.e., the pieces break away while being sliced. She has been using following ingredients:

    Flour 250 g
    Sugar 10 g
    Dry Yeast 7 g
    Salt 5 g
    Butter (Amul) 10g
    Water 150 ml


  • Hi Tadkamasala,

    You'll want to go with a multi-pronged strategy to build traffic.

    - ensure your blog is well optimized. run it through one of several available web tools and follow suggestions.

    - subscribe to onlywire (paid) and disseminate your content automatically across multiple networks

    - build a twitter audience and disseminate there

    most of all, ensure you have consistently great content and try finding a niche. When finding a niche, you'll find google tools useful in figuring out what works and what doesn't.
    -
    Early on, I used to try publishing a post twice a week. Now of course, there are more of us on Chef at Large and we manage between 20 - 30 articles a month.

    Stay well.
    Sid

    Hey Sid,
    I have been blogging my recipes for about 10 months now.
    I have not been able to generate as much traffic as I would want, till now. Hence, I would love to know about how should I go about for building a genuine audience for my space?
    And, also what in your opinion should be the frequency of the posts on a food blog.

    You can visit my site at www.tadkamasala.com.
    Thanks,
    Charul.



  • Thanks Deeba! :)

    Stay well.
    Sid

    Deeba_PAB said:

    tina said:

    Hi Sid! I am in Bangalore and it's so hard to find out basic baking stuffs like ramekins, butter sheet or muffin trays. Any idea of good stores here where I can get these?

    I also wanted some tips on food styling and food photography. What kind of properties can be added in background, foreground?



    Tina, sorry to answer part of your query to Sid, but you would find a great resource for baking in Bangalore here at Sumas blog http://sumarowjee.blogspot.in/2010/01/whipping-cream.html


  • Hi uspandey,

    Good to see you back!
    I'm not *that* practiced a baker to be able to look at the ingredients and find a problem. Folks like Deeba and Rekha would be better placed to do so.

    Having said that, normal white bread does not use usually use butter or sugar; just flour, water, yeast and salt. Does it break when it's hot? If so, we need to wait for it to cool. Is she using strong bread flour? If not, try using that, since normal maida doesn't have enough gluten for stable leavening. If strong bread flour isn't available, try obtaining bread enhancer or add-on gluten.

    The Chef at Large *group* (not page) on Facebook is also the right place for such matters as it's full of cooks who are always happy to have a new puzzle to solve and welcome new members.

    Hope that helps!

    Stay well.
    Sid

    uspandey said:

    Hi Sid!

    Here I am again! Remember the country question ;) ? I loved the answer!
    This is my wife's question about White Bread. It is soft and the taste is perfect but the stuff doesn't hold together, i.e., the pieces break away while being sliced. She has been using following ingredients:

    Flour 250 g
    Sugar 10 g
    Dry Yeast 7 g
    Salt 5 g
    Butter (Amul) 10g
    Water 150 ml




  • Hi Prajan,


    You'll want to apply to the Google Adsense program and wait for Google to accept your blog/site. I'm not too sure about the domain requirement, please see the link below for this:

    https://www.google.com/adsense/v3/app

    I do know however, when my blog was accepted into the program it had nowhere close to 500 visitors a day. The link above should clarify if things have changed since. Additionally, even with 500 visitors a day, earned revenue may not be much, since I believe Adsense is about clicks, not impressions.

    Stay well.
    Sid

    Prajan said:

    hi sid...How will I get Advertisement from google for my cookery blog? Is there any constraints for getting ads? My hubby's friend has blog and he said that for getting ads we should have domain and for that we should have more than 500 viewers per day.Then only google will give ads to our blog.Is that so?

    Awaiting your reply:)


  • Thanks SSKuruganti! :)

    Sid,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to reply. You've given me much to think about. I'll be sure to dedicate my first idli/dosa blog post to you. =)



  • Hi Sourish,

    Basic Necessities:
    Knowledge (or desire to gain) of *some* aspect of food, even if it is informed commentary. I suggest a niche, else you may be lost in the crowd for a while.

    Web Designer:
    Not necessary; there are many templates available, paid and free, that you can use for your blog. Some are fairly technical and you may need help in implementing them if you aren't familiar with Wordpress. Check out woothemes.com, my favorite theme site.

    Connect with People:
    Twitter, Facebook, OnlyWire, Reddit...

    Initial Posts:
    From the very first one! Feedback may help shape your blog and the things you post.

    All the best!
    Stay well.
    Sid

    Sourish said:

    Hey Sid!!

    What are basic necessities for opening a food blog ?

    Do I need to hire a web designer to give a good look to web ?

    How I am going to connect with people ?

    How many posts should I have before opening the blog for public view ?

    Thank you

    Sourish Karmakar



  • A big thank you to all who participated in this discussion. Kudos to @Sidkhullar , for patiently giving detailed answers for (to) every query that bloggers had. As we promised, here's the summarization of the discussion.

    We observed that these were the most asked queries by the bloggers.

    1. Having a Food Niche or not?
    2. Guidance on Food Photography?

    Let's see what are the takeaways regarding for the first point, i.e. whether a Food Blog should follow a niche. Here are few important points that Sid mentions:

    Niche: Yes, a niche is a must, else you may not be sure of a focus for content generation nor will search engines slot you (and then rank you) in a given niche. Google is quite particular about that.

    I suggest thinking along the lines of a niche. For example, there's Gujarati food and there's non-vegetarian Gujarati food. Similarly, there's north-Eastern food and then there's vegetarian north-Eastern food. In both cases, the niche is what that particular cuisine is *not* known for.

    My point here is, you'll want to find a niche that builds on your strengths, skills and passion while still carving out a place for yourself in this overcrowded segment. It may take a while and will definitely take some hard work, but the results will be worth it.



    Food Photography has seen an upward trend lately, with Bloggers paying extra attention to pictures, props, colors, camera angle, etc. It surely does help, since it tickles the taste buds of the readers, if done correctly. Let's see what Sid and other top food bloggers had to say:

    @Sidkhullar: Having a good camera will help, perhaps a DSLR. A cheap Nikon DSLR will deliver results better than an expensive point and shoot. :) You can do wonders with a simple, point-and-shoot digital camera too without entering the intricacies of a DSLR.


    1. Use a 45 degree angle of whereabouts instead of the overused overhead shot
    2. Do not use the flash
    3. Ensure your subject is well lit
    4 .Photograph your subject with the light falling *on* it, rather than behind it
    5. Do not go too close to your subject; especially, do not use macro mode *1
    6. Shoot RAW if your camera supports it. A RAW file is much more forgiving and amenable to post-processing than a JPG.
    7. Take care to zoom into your photo (on camera) to check blur and focus area

    Note 1: Most point-and-shoot cameras have many more abilities out of the box than a DSLR. While this is a good thing, the small, multi-purpose lens of a smaller camera tends to distort close-up images. As an example, ask a friend to photograph your face, from 3 - 4 inches away with a point and shoot and then with a DSLR. You'll find the former photograph to be almost comical in nature. That's what happens to food too.

    @RekhaKakkar: Photography, food styling and enticing writing are three essential parts of any food blog. A clean design of blog, a food presented and styled in a way that all you want is to reach and savour it makes the people to make it more often. Styling your food with simple things like Vegetables drizzled with colourful sauce on a sparkling white dishes, cheese oozing out of scrumptious sandwich or picture of carefully messy looking dessert. All these have a special role in making your readers always wanting for some more and coming back for it, and that’s what every bloggers aspires for.



    @GauravJain:
    There indeed are a great many blogs that have mushroomed up in the past year or so.
    This will push blog owners to compete in terms of design and quality of writing and the environment should get better as readers will expect more.
    Keeping it simple works best and i think a lot of Indian blogs seem to have gotten that right. Ultimately style and content is a very personal decision.

    @Deeba_Pab: I think one just needs to plan a little, invest some time, preferably in natural light {no flash please}, try and stick to neutrals to begin with {I love white and vintage silver}, and an eye for detail.

    You need to be careful that the props don't steal the limelight away from the food, but it's an art you can work at over time. Digital cameras are the best thing to have happened to our generation of bloggers, and IMHO, a recipe without a picture just doesn't work.

    Play with colours, textures, ingredients, utensils, light, props ... and enjoy the frame. Take inspiration from others but develop your own style!



    We also spoke about the basic blogging doubts like how to go about Adsense, attract traffic, blog monetization and more. Here are Sid's two cents on the same:

    Blog Monetization: I don't think direct monetization of blogs is such a great idea. By 'direct monetization' I speak of advertisements. Depending on placement, they can negatively affect reader experience, may conflict with the contents of the blog (e.g. you criticize a product that's advertising on your site via Google ads) and for low traffic blogs, literally bring in peanuts/sesame. :D

    I suggest building a business model where your blog is a showcase of your talents... and you conduct your business offline. For example, if you blog is about healthy eating and contains a substantial amount of content on healthy eating, recipes etcetera, your business model could be about designing healthy recipes for commercial establishments - hotels, restaurants etc as well as for individuals with special needs. You could also choose to cook healthy food with or without a team. I'd stick with consulting/designing as the resultant monies will show a higher profit margin with a smaller team size in the short-medium term than one that executes (cooks).


    Blogging: Please blog about a subject you love rather than a subject that you think will attract visitors. When starting your food blog, I suggest beginning with a free one on Wordpress.org and when you find your schedule is set, content flows happen and the blog becomes a part of your daily life, purchase a domain (yourblog.in/.com) and hosting (e.g. hostmonster.com) and bring it into the mainstream with an undeniable individual identity.

    Visitors: Once you have a niche selected and have begun chugging away at creating content, you'll find visitors automatically begin beating a path to your blog. That stream will dwindle out in a while and you'll find your visitor graph beginning to plateau. When *that* happens you'll want to analyze your traffic, subscribe to services like OnlyWire to disseminate content, use platforms like HootSuite and Tweepi to build an audience to whom you can distribute your content.

    Traffic Tips:
    a) Ensure your blog is well optimized. run it through one of several available web tools and follow suggestions.

    b) Subscribe to onlywire (paid) and disseminate your content automatically across multiple networks

    c) Build a twitter audience and disseminate there

    d) Most of all, ensure you have consistently great content and try finding a niche. When finding a niche, you'll find Google tools useful in figuring out what works and what doesn't.
  • Other information/ suggestion/ tips:
    @SSKuruganti felt that reader's would not be interested in looking at day-to-day dishes in a blog, that they anyway know and cook. Sid says, "What's mundane and boring to you is exotic to another. If Indian, regional cooking is your forte, please follow it and aim to make your blog the best or one of the best in that niche. The rest will follow."

    @Sourish asked about the basic necessities to start a food blog.

    Sid suggests:
    Basic Necessities:
    Knowledge (or desire to gain) of *some* aspect of food, even if it is informed commentary. I suggest a niche, else you may be lost in the crowd for a while.

    Web Designer:
    Not necessary; there are many templates available, paid and free, that you can use for your blog. Some are fairly technical and you may need help in implementing them if you aren't familiar with Wordpress. Check out woothemes.com, my favorite theme site.

    Connect with People:
    Twitter, Facebook, OnlyWire, Reddit...

    Initial Posts:
    From the very first one! Feedback may help shape your blog and the things you post.
  • Hi Sid,
    Our blog namak shamak was started 3 months ago,and we are active bloggers. However, we wish to get a domain , and also want a professionally done customised webpage and further get into a side business of non perishable deliverables along with food blogging.
    Request your guidance on the above. Also , how much would it roughly cost for a professionally designed webpage? And what are the possible ways of earnings apart from google adsense.
    http://www.namakshamak.blogspot.in/

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