It was a joy to work with the city’s bloggers on this panel. Kit Pollard, Mango and Ginger created a lovely Power Point presentation and even with the technician we couldn't get it up on screen. I was concerned we were going to run out of time for questions and answers but each blogger introduced themselves succinctly and as that wrapped there was still 45 minutes.
Our audience was inquisitive, great questions and all the bloggers took their turns responding. All-in-all, it went very well. I couldn't linger, I was back up to the 5th floor to finish helping with the on-going cooking seminar by John Shields and get ready for Michael Midgley’s presentation (you can see earlier posts for that story and video).
The city’s preeminent food blogger, Dining@Large’s Elizabeth Large, could not be on the panel for the obvious reason that she is the restaurant reviewer at the Baltimore Sun. She was kind enough to forward materials to be read. She is quite insightful as to creating your blog and your blog community. For those of you not at Great Tastes Show here is Dining @Large – Elizabeth Large’s panel presentation.
Dear fellow food bloggers:
I thought the most helpful way I could contribute to this panel discussion is to put in my two cents about what we all want: How do I get more people reading my blog ?
Dining@Large has a huge advantage over a lot of food blogs because it’s connected to The Sun’s Web site. Although this is slowly changing, a majority of readers reach my blog by going through the paper’s home page. When a post is promoted, like Top Ten Tuesday, my readership doubles.
Still, there are some basic rules that apply to all blogs. Like other bloggers, I’ve found that the first way to increase readership is to post early and often. My 20-something daughter gave me a couple of other suggestions that have worked for me: Write short and post lots of pictures.
I think it’s also important to become part of a larger conversation. If you’re writing about food trends, create links to other, more established national blogs — and let them know you’ve done it by sending them an e-mail. Of course, you want to keep linking to other local food blogs and hope they’ll respond in kind. This may all be stuff all of you know already.
But what no one told me, and I wish I had realized earlier, was that to really increase page views you need to create a community of people who are commenting on your blog.
If you have readers talking to each other, you’ll have them checking back several times a day — and if they’re entertaining, you’ll have other readers who are shy about commenting checking back to see what they’re saying. Some of my readers have turned out to be more fun to read than I am in their posts, and they bring to Dining@Large a breadth of experience and knowledge it wouldn’t have if it were just me posting.
This suddenly took off for me at the beginning of this year; I’m not sure why. But it didn’t hurt that I’ve bent over backward to encourage people to be civil toward each other. I keep repeating that people don’t have to use their real names or give an e-mail. I awarded prizes for my 1,000th and 3,000th commenters. (After that, No. 5,000 came too quickly to single the poster out). I always give commenters recognition for discussion ideas, and I’ve even done Top Ten lists of the funniest comments (and the most awful zingers). I don’t censor (although I did have to close down the discussion on the foie gras protests when it got too acrimonious). Most important, I try hard not to get defensive about criticism.
If I were starting a food blog now and didn’t have the resources of The Sun behind me, I think I would shamelessly solicit every good friend and family member to post a provocative comment at least once a week for the first few weeks. I would be aggressive about asking them to e-mail their friends recommending they bookmark my blog and check it. I would do everything I could to get more people talking on my blog. Until Owl Meat Jerky, Regina, Dahlink, Hal Laurent, Eric, Rob from Cross Keys, Voodoo Pork and all the other contributors to Dining@Large did, I didn’t realize that was the real fun of blogging.
FYI - The blogger panel:
The Baltimore Snacker blog looks at several things. It started as a place for the author to discuss his experiences in the restaurants he ate at in and around Baltimore and in Maryland. It evolved into something bigger than he realized, now also looking at foods he eats on the road (as far as New York, Richmond and Southern California), recipes he's tried out (successfully or not), and usually food-related things that he finds interesting.
Xani & Erin Podolny
Black Coffee and a Donut
We are two sisters who love to cook, eat, and entertain, living and working in Charm City. Our blog chronicles our cooking and dining experiences in Baltimore and beyond. We created this blog to share pictures, recipes, restaurant reviews, funny stories, and culinary misadventures with our friends, family, and anyone online who shares our love and appreciation of good food and good coffee. Perk up and indulge at www.blackcoffeeandadonut.com!
Coconut and Lime
Coconut & Lime started in 2004 as a place for Rachel Rappaport to share her original recipes with friends. Now as the number of her original recipes on the site has grown to over 600, so has her audience. Coconut & Lime has been the recipient of many awards, featured extensively online and in print and now draws several thousand visitors from all over the world each day.
Dining Dish documents her passion for all things culinary in the 2-year old blog. With a sense of humor, a passion for food and the travails of working in the food industry one gets an insider’s view. From working 10 days in an Arizona cow-filled field as BBQ USA Steven Raichlen films his next TV series- Primal Grill, publishing a recently discovered unpublished story by the late Barbara Tropp or a great meal at a local Baltimore restaurant – Dining Dish gives you an insiders view.
Is there a party killer on the loose? Don’t call 911 – call The Kitchen Goddess. Chock-full of easy and dynamic entertaining tips, The Kitchen Goddess can commute an entertainment felony into a playful slap on the wrist in minutes. Combining years of party know-how and a take no prisoners attitude, soirees transform themselves from dull to dynamic when touched by The Goddess.
Mango & Ginger
Mango & Ginger is what happens when a liberal arts degree meets a food blog (but hopefully more entertaining – and funnier? – than most college classes). Sometimes, M&G is about the role of food in culture and food “philosophy”, sometimes it’s about what’s going on in the food world, and sometimes it’s about the restaurant down the street. Always, though, it’s about a love of food that borders on the obsessive.
Meg Fairfax Fielding
I've been eating for more than 40 years now. I've also been a caterer, lived with a chef and learned to cook in Louisiana. Given that background, I have a good sense of what works and what doesn't in a restaurant. Presentation, ambience and taste, while subjective, are all important parts of the dining experience. My blog brings readers the good, the bad and the scary!
Raspberry Eggplant is the creation of transplanted New Yorker Roopa Kalyanaraman. Her food blog features photographs of and original recipes for the vegetarian fare and sweet treats she creates in her tiny kitchen in Baltimore, with the hope of letting people know that vegetarian food (and desserts!) can be easy and delicious.
The Hungover Gourmet
The roots of The Hungover Gourmet stretch all the way back to the early 90s when it first appeared as a column in a drive-in movie fanzine. 15 years later editor Dan Taylor is still churning out pop culture-tinged commentary, restaurant reviews, travel journals, drink recipes and hangover cures. In addition to the blog Taylor publishes an annual print edition, a web site and is working on a book that will be published later this year.
Unique Culinary Adventures
Unique Culinary Adventures presents a perspective from Baltimore, Maryland relating what is new, unusual, undiscovered, overlooked or forgotten regarding food and drink.