Food Blogging: Top Ten List of What I’ve Learned in Five Years

It’s challenging for me to remember exactly when I wrote my first post here five years ago, but I’m fairly certain it was sometime late this month.  If web years are anything like that of dog years, then that is quite a good length of time.  I searched the archives but knew before I began that I’d long ago deleted the first few posts because they were only worthy of being the best examples of aimless wandering.  I was testing the water, wondering what might come from a seemingly simple decision to write about food.

There’s more to it than that, and I realize it when I sort through the posts and photos, recipes and stories.  It’s difficult to separate my life and that of my family from what I’ve written here because it has happened simultaneously, confirming that my life is truly food centric in all its crazy glory — or often, the lack thereof, and thankfully so.

So much has changed in the five years while I’ve shared my “fat-free opinions on a food centric life.”  Although I’ve certainly changed as a result of the experience, the web and general status of food blogging is radically different.  When I created Sass & Veracity, it was to provide an outlet for myself to write about my efforts to lose weight thinking it would hold me accountable.  That didn’t last long because I soon discovered that in order to write a food blog, one actually has to write more than stories.  At some point, there must be photos and recipes.

So before I launch my list of what I’ve learned in five years food blogging, let me say cheers to Sass & Veracity — who knows where it will be in the next five years, but I’d enjoy your opinion about a few things I’m considering that I’ve posed toward the end of this very long piece if you’re interested in sharing.  I hope you are.  And while you’re at it, perhaps you can let others know something you’ve learned in the time you’ve been blogging.  Thanks for reading!

Food Blogging:  Top Ten List of What I’ve Learned in Five Years

1.  It’s all about the photos. 

Okay, so maybe not 100%, but close.  And the most expensive camera and lens, or fancy lighting and equipment aren’t necessary as long as you learn how to use your camera.  It will save time with post processing as well, because no matter what kind of photo editor you use, your shot is only as good as what you originally captured.  I struggle with this often, because of my stubborn lack of patience.  I prefer to shoot without a tripod so I can move quickly around the table working from many angles and perspectives.  The tripod is cumbersome to me, often feels like an additional thing to contend with and doesn’t always help me capture what I see without it.  Sometimes the natural light I use changes so quickly, fussing with a piece of equipment is more than I care to do, instead preferring to move whatever I’m shooting to a different place.  The light will be different, so adjustments will have to be made, but it’s still natural light.  I have worked to learn how to shoot in artificial light, and although I’ve much to learn, practicing has helped.

Mar '07 -- Kitchen Light

Feb '12 -- Kitchen Light

Apr '07 -- Kitchen Window Light

Feb '12 -- Kitchen Window Light

2.  Stay true to your own perspective.

I should have made this number one because it pertains to everything — the food you make, shoot, and write about, the stories you tell, the voice you create, the effect you work toward.  It becomes your signature — what others expect from you.  And because learning occurs with experience, from time to time, that influence will have an effect on all of the above.  Embrace it, but also remember what you set out to do.  For me, that is connecting food with my life in some way, and sharing what I’ve learned in the process.  In writing, there are memories and stories shared.  Visually, I tend to be more a realist, having little patience for fussy arrangements of food and props.  The recipes I share may seem fussy and involved, but my photos aren’t.  I try to shoot what best exhibits how I cook — sometimes it’s a mess and others, the stark simplicity of an ingredient will satisfy me.  In either case, the photos are directly related to the experience of making the food.  In the first, my learning and experimentation with citrus curds for a wedding cake, and the second, the simplicity of banana gelato.

Feb '11 -- Afternoon Light in the Dining Room

Apr '11 -- Morning Light in the Dining Room

3.  The food has to go somewhere.

Five years ago, my youngest was a sophomore in high school and my two older boys were long gone from our house busy with their own lives, so beyond the occasional Sunday dinner or special celebration, cooking for three people — one of whom didn’t have a big appetite and the other two always trying to restrain themselves from seconds — was a challenge.  Now that there are only two of us, the quantity and type of food I purchase and prepare has changed.  There is no reason to make cookies, cupcakes, pies, tarts, ice cream or decadent desserts no matter how much we may like them just so that I might share them here.  The rationale that if I do bake I might send the goods to my husband’s office, or to the schools of one or more of my friends only works for so long.  Many of the people I just mentioned are very health conscious so delivering sweets to them would be rude, and ultimately, the habit just makes this hobby of mine more expensive — perhaps wasteful.  I know that many who click through blogs expect and enjoy seeing something filled with sugar and butter, chocolate or cream, but I can’t and won’t do that just to get attention.  Somehow, people just don’t seem to flock to salad or beans in the same, drooling fashion, but I’ll figure out how to change their thinking on that.

4.  It’s a challenge to not want traffic, attention, or comments. 

I’ve tried.  I really have.  And although I’m getting better at saying quantity doesn’t matter, in the long run, I guess it must.  I think it’s just how humans are wired.  We work hard on something we’re passionate about, put thought and care into it, make it personal, then put it out there for others and wait to see whether anyone notices.  Well, that would be what it feels like to me.  There’s a sense of contentment when I’ve finished a piece — sometimes several weeks in the making from the time I finished thinking about recipes and purchasing food to clicking the “publish” button on my WordPress dashboard.  Regardless of that contentment,  looking at stats is inevitable because I’m curious, and struggle to not seek gratification from numbers.  These continue to generate interest over time and are my most popular posts — the first four from a relatively productive period of time, and the last, most recently has surpassed the others by nearly 300%.  Many thanks to Lydia of The Soup Chick and The Perfect Pantry for the recipe inspiration, an adaptation of one published in Best of Irish Soups by Eileen O’Driscoll.  It’s good to know that both sweet and savory recipes have been included in those most popular.

Apr '09 -- German Chocolate Cake Inside-Out

Apr '09 -- Cream of Asparagus Soup

May '09 -- Mexican Street Tacos

July '09 -- Mallow Cookies Three Ways

Oct '11 -- Roasted Tomato Soup with Bacon, Cheese & Orzo

5.  The people I’ve gotten to know are real.

I think this can be a challenge for people who don’t have blogs to understand.  How can a person be a friend when you’ve never actually met them — or spoken to them?  It’s easy.  Consider sitting down at a large round table to enjoy an incredible potluck meal with a group of people who are all passionate about food.  And to make it even more interesting, consider they come from all sorts of backgrounds and are at varied points in their lives.  That beyond food, they might love to travel, or own a business.  Perhaps they’ve given up a career to head in a different direction, or are headed to medical school.  Although it can often be a challenge to find well seasoned people like myself in the group, it doesn’t matter because ultimately, the food is what draws one person to another.  People have babies, get new jobs, have to move across the country, or sadly, lose favorite pets.  And sometimes, someone passes away.  When I’ve noticed a blogger hasn’t posted in a while, I wonder if they’re okay in much the same way I’d wonder about anyone I have known living here in San Diego.  They’re real people and they matter to me.

6.  It can be a struggle to earn enough to pay for the costs of keeping my food blog.

My husband patiently asks me why I feel I need to make money from my blog and my response is always the same (see number 4 above).  Sometimes, his question is different, focusing more on what I originally set out to accomplish and whether I’m on track with that.  The first question is offered by a caring spouse, the second from an intelligent, successful business man who, when asked about why I cannot write off the groceries, props, equipment, field trips, and other blog related expenditures I accumulate, candidly explains that until I turn a real profit it’s just a hobby.  That’s all.  I know I haven’t spent nearly what I’ve heard others have because of my existing collection of old dishes, linens, and baking equipment — as well as my perspective (see number 2 above) — I make due with what’s practical.  And it’s a good thing because although I’ve not kept records of what I’ve earned, it has been less than $2,000 for five years of work.   In the last year from March of 2011 until now, Sass & Veracity has received 234,590 pageviews and 72,127 unique visitors.  That sounds like quite a bit, but in the end, it’s nothing if earning money is what writing a food blog is all about.  If it wasn’t for the people and sense of satisfaction I have from what I’ve learned, trust me, I would have stopped doing this a long time ago.  Without the help of several friends who have very successful blogs and who nudge me along with great advice when I make noise about putting up a “CLOSED” sign, who knows what I’d be up to right now.  I know my house would be more organized!

7.  The food blog community is very different from the non-food blogging community.

I learned this almost immediately.  Writing a personal blog has been a much different experience for me in a number of ways — not the least of which has to do with the amount of  time a food blog consumes.  But the biggest difference seems to be about what is literal and what is implied.  Early on, I often heard it said that the food community was a kinder, more gentle place on the web, and to some degree, I think that is true.  Most people are happy when they’re cooking or baking and talking about food — unless they’re writing a restaurant review and lean toward the snarky side of things which I will confess I have enjoyed reading from time to time.  Personal blogs are focused on such a variety of topics, allowing people to blatantly state what is on their minds.  It’s often passionate — whether hilarious, or downright angry — the reader is served a plate of candidness.  Because the nature of most food blogs doesn’t allow for that, the candid aspect appears in other ways — in passionate posts of frustration, in comment threads, or in emails and discussions at conferences.  It’s interesting.  I’m a fairly direct person by nature and know that at least in the food community, that doesn’t always sit well with others — at least on the surface.  I chose the name Sass & Veracity for a reason, and I think sometimes, I’ve let myself down by avoiding writing my honest opinions thinking others might be offended.  What did Abe Lincoln say?  “You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”  Smart man.  I need to stick that on my monitor and move along.

8.  Sometimes it’s a challenge to keep up with others’ blogs, but it’s worth it to make an effort.

It’s about community.  It’s about giving and receiving.  It’s about appreciation and respect and kindness.  It’s about learning.  So how does one keep up with it?  I know I struggle to, but I do my best to read around to check in on others.  I know I’m not nearly as good at this as others because I see them wherever I go, their comment miles above the one I’ll leave somewhere in the back 40.  Although I subscribe to some blogs by email as a pleasant diversion to all the junk mail I have to delete on a daily basis, and I do my best to subscribe to a variety of others, I’m a creature of habit and usually hop from one blog to the next skipping my reader all together.  Think of it this way — I’m subscribed and I visit.  More traffic for you!  I think I keep a blogroll to help me remember to visit as well, even though most others have given up that space for other things.  I’m horrible at any kind of consistency because of how much time it can take out of a day to read even a handful of posts — and I do read them — thoroughly.  You can take the English teacher out of the classroom but can’t change years of practice, I guess.  With that in mind, if I can’t cozy up and read your whole post,  you probably won’t see me because I’m not good at scanning and leaving a courtesy card just so you’ll know I was there.  What I will do is try to find new blogs to read and the best way I know to do that is to look through others’ links.  There are some gems out there that seem never to get any recognition and I wonder about that.

9.  Writing a food blog is an excuse not to do many things I should be doing. 

Like exercising regularly — but I’m working on that.  Taking care of what needs to be done around the house with any degree of regularity.  Finishing projects I’ve begun and swear I’ll finish if only I can edit that last batch of shots, or work on that draft, or get another round of those broken photo links restored.  If only.  Clearly, I’m obsessed.  I’ve confessed I’m not making money, that cooking as an empty nester has been a challenge and that baking has become obsolete due to our change of eating habits, yet here I sit.  I’m startled by how quickly time passes when I’m working, constantly shifting my day around in my head to accommodate whatever I’m working on.  Like today.  I’m supposed to be making a wedding cake, and the day is half gone.  I know many a person who keeps a schedule to cook on some days and write others, but I’ve tried that and rebel as soon as I have a schedule worked out, avoiding it like the plague.  If there’s any schedule to be followed, then it needs to focus on other things first, and this later.  I used to write just about every morning because that’s when my mind is most clear.  But when food is always on my mind, it pushes everything else away — and once it’s out of mind, it’s a challenge to get back.   I need to work on that just so that I can begin to write again.  I miss is.

10.  There’s much to be said about recipe writing, inspiration, adaptation, and plagiarism.

But I won’t belabor it here because that is a whole post in and of itself.  What I will say is that one of the biggest chores for me related to posting is writing down a recipe.  It’s tedious at best and if I could have any excuse to avoid it, I would.  I notice that once I’ve finished writing the opening of a post and uploading photos,  I often save the draft and get on with my day.  I’ve approached this dreaded task in a variety of ways over the years and none of them have made it more palatable.  I’ve kept a notebook to record adjustments of ingredients and cooking times, I’ve written recipes with Google Docs, or bookmarked resources with Evernote and used a stylus to record notes with my iPad and ultimately, I still have to type the recipe, so… I’m whining.   Also to be considered is this:  I rarely post anything on Sass & Veracity that is 100% mine.  Let me qualify that — although I frequently cook without recipes, I rarely use those occasions as material because I wasn’t set up to do that.  No notebook, no photos — call it a night off.   I don’t use my kitchen as a test kitchen because I’m not a recipe developer.   I cook, and we eat.  Often, I write about it.  If I see something fresh and wonderful at the market, then I’ll bring it home, find some beautiful light and enjoy shooting it to capture its appeal.  Once I’ve done that, it’s pushed aside while I do some research.  This often takes hours and hours as I’m easily lost reading about new techniques or methods, ingredients and nutritional information.  I thoroughly enjoy doing this.  When I finally cook, then it is with thought and an extensive amount of information in my head — but the “recipe” I create is not necessarily mine.   It is a synthesis of all that I’ve read and know — an accumulation of 42 years of experience plus a few hour’s research.  I routinely list ingredients based on sourced recipes from magazines, cookbooks, and the web, alter them depending on the ingredients I have available or believe to be a preferred combination, and write the directions as I prepared the recipe — again working to streamline and/or incorporate the tools I prefer and the techniques I employ.  None of this is done in an attempt to claim ownership of a recipe.  I routinely provide links to the resources I use, but believe that since I’m not writing a research paper each time I post a recipe, referencing the MLA Stylebook for appropriate citation standards is a bit much.  It has been recently suggested by some that the practice I’ve just described is a form of plagiarism or “theft,”  perhaps.  No, I haven’t been accused, but I’m using myself as an example.  Is the fact that I, following copyright law, write down the quantities and ingredients, but modify the method of the original recipes to insert mine? I hope not.  Although I do know that some, whether by ignorance, lack of care — or just plain greed, cut and paste recipes to accompany the photos in their posts, it is not something I do, and yes, it is wrong to make one’s work easier by simply using what another has spent time creating. In many cases, it’s plain illegal.  I understand the legalities, but at what point do those end and the hair-splitting begins?

Allow me to provide an example.  I’ve had a bag of Christmas Limas in my pantry for several months and finally decided to try them.  Because they’re not all that common, I Googled them and was happy to find that one of my favorite people had written about how she’d prepared them — someone who has had a food blog longer than just about everyone and who has written two very successful cookbooks.   In the post, she referenced the recipe she’d adapted stating that she’d prepared it many times using a variety of beans.  The cookbook referenced is one I learned of from her website about a year ago, and then purchased.  Because I hadn’t heard of this cookbook before, if I hadn’t seen it referenced on her website, I’d have missed out on what has become one of my favorites.  How great to know the Christmas Lima recipe was from the same book.  I made the recipe referencing both the original and her adaptation, focusing more for my own interests, on legumes or pulses in general, and how our body benefits from eating them.  The recipe I made is not exactly the same, but that’s only because I wasn’t exact with my measurements or ingredients.  The recipe was delicious, however, and it will appear at some point in the future — maybe — but all the commotion over “copying” has really made me think, so I’ve considered making some changes around here.  I’d be happy to hear your opinion on this — including that I’m overreacting.

  • Omit quantities for the ingredients I list, omit directions.
  • List only ingredients and provide links to whichever resources I’ve used and readers, if interested, can get quantities there.  Please know that sometimes, there could be more than one place to look.
  • I will continue to provide my notes because I think they’re important.  So much of what makes particular recipes work is what isn’t written — it’s gained from lots of practice.
  • I will rejoice in not ever having to write a recipe again unless I feel it is completely mine and I’d say don’t hold your breath on that.

Ultimately, everyone seems to have advice and although I do heed that of others, I also learn by the examples set of what to do, and more importantly, what not to do.  

Related information from around the web:

Azelia’s Kitchen“Why Start a Food Blog?  And Can You Make Money Out Of It? Part 1”

The Hungry Australian“How to Blog About Food:  Useful Tips for New, Emerging, and Aspiring Food Bloggers”

David Lebovitz“Food Blogging”

Will Write For Food — “Trouble for Two Recipe Adapters”

Food Blog Alliance“How do Deal with Copyright Theft”





69 thoughts on “Food Blogging: Top Ten List of What I’ve Learned in Five Years

  1. I just would like a lickable screen, and I don’t think it’s asking too much. As someone who enjoys cooking but hates the clean-up and knows the limitations of her kitchen, I will have to satisfy my food curiosity/lust through you. Congrats on the five years!

    1. Jill, thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I went directly to your site (OMG, I love it!) and ended up moving from there to a related site. Excellent writing and wit, photos — everything. It’s what makes my world go round and in this case, it has proven that I need more time to write. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. This is a wonderful post! I can definitely relate to not working well on a schedule. There are times when I am so inspired, I write several posts in one week…. then, I’ll go a week without anything to share at all. It’s still a hobby as I’ve made about as much as you have with my blog, and I am happy with that for now.

    As for the recipes, I think I’d enjoy the list of ingredients with your notes on how you used them. I think for many people who are experienced home cooks, they just need inspiration and a direction to go with the ingredients they have on hand.

    1. Patsy, you have no idea how many times I’ve thought about spending one day to write several posts and have them waiting to be published. Great plan, but poor execution on my part! It’s never happened but once when we’d gone on vacation. Thanks for your feedback about the list of ingredients and notes — I agree on you on the inspiration.

  3. Hi Kelly,

    Great article on the joys and struggles of food blogging! A lot of these hit home with me, on a daily basis I may add. I just quit my FT job in advertising to pursue my food writing, blog, styling and photography freelance business in January and I’m already soooo glad I did. Had enough of the fast paced corporate world and I’m passionate enough about food and cooking to keep at it every day. Thanks for sharing!


    1. Kristen — so glad to hear you’re following your passions for food and cooking to take on something new. I left my career five years ago and have enjoyed every minute of it! I can’t say enough about the peace of mind it gives me. Best to you in your endeavors!

  4. Congratulations on five years of blogging! The environment for food blogging really has changed in that time, and sometimes it’s hard to find your footing. My bottom line has always been, is it still fun? When it stops being fun, I’ll stop doing it. I think the issue of attribution will become increasingly muddled.

    1. Thanks, Lydia, and thanks always for your great support! Blogging really has changed, hasn’t it? Sometimes I blink and something new has us all buzzing and scurrying around to embrace it. Right now, what makes it fun for me is working on the underpinnings of my site. I actually like learning about all the things that make a website function and as much as it’s scary, figure it out with help from a friend in the business when I get stuck.

  5. Congratulations on five years! That’s a huge amount of time in blogging years. I like your list, and love seeing the change in the photos through the years!

    1. Thanks for your patient support, Kalyn! It’s been wonderful getting to know you and meet you. Looking forward to more fun in Seattle in June at BlogHer Food 2012! w0000t!

    1. Lori, I agree and am always ready for time spent at the beach. Now, on the Instagramming — I’d have to observe. I still don’t have an iPhone. : / But I’m working on it!

  6. This, my dear Kelly, is why I hold you dear to my heart. This is so on point! I have loved getting to know you over the years, have treasured your advice …and not just with food , and will cherish the moments we got to chat in Atlanta. I will get out there one day, and you can what SD is really like. Here’s to 5 more years …over and over again. *hugs*

  7. Good advice and great perspective! Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned and congratulations on your 5th blogging anniversary!

  8. Thank you for such a candid and practical post. Congratulations on 5 years of blogging! No small feat to keep it up through all that happens in life. I have been blogging for almost 4 months and am already wondering how to keep it all going. It is tempting to concentrate on learning…one could spend every day looking at blogs, reading books, practicing photography, exploring cooking skills and chatting on Facebook or Twitter….not to mention the black hole of social media called Pinterest! And that brings up the legal aspects of all of this, which are certainly not black and white, as you mentioned.

    Thank you for pointing out that staying true to oneself is the important thing. It appears to me that the greatest joy in blogging is the discovery that each person is truly entitled to live their own life, with their own style, and write about it. Already I can agree that the people we meet along the way become like members of our extended family.

    As for your question, I’ll say that the omission of quantities for many kinds of recipes should be permissible. I’ve been doing soups and writing about them for my first blogging attempts. I don’t measure for soup…I just do the soup. I want my children to know how to put food together without a recipe. And truth be told, I rarely measure unless I’m baking. So go for it! You would be providing the raw materials for an adventure!

    Hope we meet up someday….I’m just north of you on an avocado ranch north of Escondido.

    1. Four months — wow! I think I was pretty clueless at that point, but remember I was having a good time with it all. Today, it does seem that newer bloggers pick up speed much more quickly than we did years ago. There are so many excellent models of excellence out there now, and I know I enjoy learning from them as much as possible. I appreciate your feedback on my question of whether to include quantities on recipes and think at this point, it will depend. I’ll play around with it for sure, so look for it. I’d love to meet! In fact, one of the commitments I made to myself this year was to get out more in San Diego country to learn about the farmers and their products. Let me know, and I’ll be there to say hello!

  9. As I have been reading your blog for a long time, I have to congratulate you on your patience and determination. And thanks for five years of enjoyable reads:)
    I follow similar guidelines as you, and had to smile when you wrote about not baking desserts. I am not an empty nester yet, and I make an occasional sweet treat for my girls, but it’s very infrequently, even though I see a definite spike in traffic on those days.
    And you are so right about the community: I call “friends” many people I met only virtually and I truly care about them, like they care about me.
    I still don’t know what to think on topic of plagiarism. As a writer, I have always abhorred it, but I can’t come to grips with a thought that someone owns the rights to a chocolate chip cookie or lasagna. Methods of preparing food have been known for a long time and it’s hard to make significant changes in braising, pan-frying, or creaming butter and sugar. As you said, this is a whole new post:)
    Cheers to you and your tenacity! Here is to keeping sass alive for many more years!

    1. Thanks, Lana. It’s fun to be able to bake for kids and family, and when the reason is gone, you will miss it. There’s something about baking that isn’t quite the same as the feeling I get when I cook. Who knows, right?

  10. I’d hate to see a “closed” sign round these parts–I’ve been reading your blog quite a while (about 4 years, maybe?). Like you, I’m not doing much baking these days…focusing more on protein and veggies and fruit…I sometimes miss it, though.

    Man, that photo of the chocolate cake was eye catching. Mmmmmm.

    1. No closed sign coming, but trust me, I think about it. If it wasn’t for the point I made about how connected to my life all this work has been, I probably would have by now. Thanks for keeping up with me all this time 🙂

  11. This is the first post of yours that I’ve read, and I’m hooked. I love your honesty and so many things hit home: importance of taking time to read what else is out there in our food blogging community especially. You have a faithful new reader here in me, Oni 🙂

    1. Well, thanks! I appreciate that you took the time to comment. I truly enjoy reading others’ blogs — especially when time and effort has been put into them and it all comes together. The writing, photos, and a great recipe. Makes my morning!

  12. As long as we are still enjoying blogging I think we are here for many more years to come. Congratulations on 5 wonderful years. Personally I am not sure what all the hub but is about. I feel that if we give full and clear credit to the source of our recipes it is a win win situation. Even the greatest chefs found their inspiration from somewhere. At what point is a recipe really there’s.

    1. Good point — and I think that if I keep the enjoyment in mind first, I’ll be fine. The hubbub is annoying at best. I completely understand intellectual property, and I’m not referring to the bottom dwellers who blatantly steal our entire content for their own gain. But claiming ownership over the most simple of recipes is completely ridiculous.

    1. Thanks — I know the feeling, both with reading something that gets my attention, and with cooking. Sometimes it all just works, right?

  13. I enjoyed reading this! I am approaching 4 years…and looking back, yes have learned so much! Your photos are gorgeous, I especially love the blood orange one 🙂

    Congrats on 5 years of blogging!

    1. Thanks, Aggie — that blood orange shot was quite a hit on Flickr making it my very first EXPLORE shot. The curd I made from that mess was good, too. A definitely fun way to learn about curd. 🙂

  14. What a lovely, thoughtful post. I agree with so much of what you say and have experienced much the same myself.
    I struggle with the desire for comments and traffic. The traffic is there now, so why no comments, right? And if you aren’t making money, then traffic and comments are your only form of “currency.”
    The recipe adaptation is a tricky thing too. I have many years of experience cooking, both personal and professional, so it’s often hard for me to say exactly where a recipe comes from. I am inspired by so many things I see, read and do. OTOH, it infuriates me when people cut and paste my recipes wholesale.
    And finally yes, the people are real. I’ve met many food bloggers, and some travel bloggers (my other passion) over the years, both in person and so many more online. Many have become friends, but I know non-bloggers do not understand this. It’s so hard to explain.

    1. I appreciate that you stopped by, Kristina. And I’m glad to have written something others are finding is common to their experience. One of the things I didn’t add to my list was the extent to which other social media outlets have changed what food bloggers do. When others pin a photo to Pinterest (and yes, my icon above my posts are my permission to pin my photos!), send a link out on Twitter, of share one of my posts on Facebook, it is always appreciated — and I also think it makes it easier for others to enjoy what we do. I’ve come across a few travel blogs and when when we’re planning a vacation, they’ve been very helpful — I need to have more on my list to check in on.

  15. What a wonderful post. I am coming up on my one year anniversary of food blogging in SD. Everything on your top ten list rings true for me. I balance my posts between healthy Quinoa salads and sweet yummy desserts that always draw more traffic. I shoot pictures like you, moving my items around the house or outside to take the best advantage of light – I have yet developed the patience for a tripod. My 15 year old son who has taught me everything (an accomplished photographer at this young age) criticizes the lack of a tripod but I just can’t do it!
    Yes it takes patience but a great photo and well read post makes it all worth while.

    1. Lucky you to have a son who can teach you! And I figure that being able to capture a wonderful handheld shot is actually a skill. It’s good to know the tripod is there for when I’ve mustered enough patience, but am proud of what I can do with a steady hand. We’re lucky to have great light here, so I guess that contributes to our being willing to move things around. Thanks for stopping by — and thanks for organizing that great trip with Rachael to the Japanese market. I had a great time and learned so much.

  16. I feel like you were telling my story! I’ve been blogging for 6 years but only seriously for the past 18 months. I wonder some days why I keep chugging along, but I just can’t bring myself to give it up. I’d love to make a part time living at it, that would be ideal, but as you know, it’s not the easiest to accomplish.

    Thank you for writing this post. I love every bit of it. And that cake….Love it.

    1. I appreciate that you stopped by and am glad my thoughts hit home with you. I can say that working seriously does change things, so keep at it! I was in the same place about two years into Sass & Veracity, then went back to work full time for a year and lost quite a bit of focus and energy that I’ve struggled to get back and could do quite a bit to recover, but…it’s a state of mind. I know it is. Good luck to you and your success!

  17. Congrats of 5 years! I read all of this post because I think it is excellent that you have taken the time to write about the food blogging experience as you have had it and I love your examples and conclusions. As for recipes, in truth there are very few original recipes. My way of dealing with it is to give credit for where I found the original recipe if I mostly follow one recipe, noting my changes. If I’ve read 4 or 5 then the results are usually a mishmash of them all, so no particular credit is due. It is rare for me to cook or bake a recipe exactly as written anyway. Creativity is a big draw for me and a big reason to do food blogging. SO glad I found your blog years ago and thanks for reminding me why I should visit more often. Heres to many more years of your beautiful work!

    1. Elle, thanks very much. I miss the early Daring Baker days and remember how much fun it was to visit one another to check out what we’d done with the latest challenge. And I agree about originality — especially when I can pick up a few classic recipe collections to scan foundation recipes. I think what has truly changed things is the ingredients we now incorporate into our cooking — that makes a recipe new and exciting to me. And those who have particular dietary needs are creating new recipes which has got to be challenging. Otherwise, I’m like you. What I cook is a mishmash of so much information!

  18. Congratulations on your 5 years of blogging, Kelly. I think that is a real accomplishment. Did you imagine when you started out that you would ever have that much to say? It amazes me that there are always new topic I want to talk about. I agree with you 100% that it is all about the photos. Visiting blogs is like browsing through food magazines. It’s always the best pictures that grab our attention. That challenge is part of the fun (and frustration) of blogging. I have become a much better cook since I started my blog and have learned so much for other bloggers. I look forward to your next 5 years. It’s always a treat to come to visit.

    1. Thanks, Cathy — most of all for sticking with me and my random posting schedule. You’ve been a good friend. The one thing about me that those who know me personally will tell you is that I’m rarely at a loss for words, so whether I’m blathering on about something or pecking at my keyboard, I am rarely wordless. Writing about food has been a challenge at times, though. Thankfully, the photos have begun to do some of that work!

  19. There is something about posts written about food blogging that make me so excited. I love hearing what other bloggers have learned over the years and what they deem most important to talk about when they talk about food blogging, just to compare notes with what I would write/say should I ever write such a post. And I have to say, I agree, wholeheartedly with 99.9% of all of this. Food blogging has changed the way I see food (and even the world around me), the way I think about food, the way I talk about food. It’s opened my eyes. And I really think it is such a great community. I always love your recipes and the posts you write about them…5 years is an amazing feat. And I’m not gonna lie…I’m hoping for at least five more.

    1. Joanne, your enthusiasm in general is inspirational to me. I truly don’t know how you do it all. You’ve got fame and fortune ahead of you… Thanks for visiting, always!

  20. Wow Kelly, Has it been 5 years already? That means that my own blogaversary is coming up. We started our blogs around the same time. I remember because your experience starting a food blog was what motivated me to start my own. The ten points you’ve listed are great. I especially like number 9, I can relate to it, hehe. I hope you continue doing this great “job” for a lot longer, even if you don’t write down the recipes (who needs them anyway?, hehe)

  21. I love this post, Kelly. I’m going on 4 years, and truth be told, Im not sure if I want to or can continue, but then every time I try to stop, my love for food and writing draws me back in. The food blogosphere has changed so much since around mid-2010, both good and bad. Thank you for posting has definitely helped me gain a clearer perspective in so many ways.

  22. Congratulations on five years! Staying true to your perspective is what it’s all about for me. Food blogs are great because they share each individual’s style and personality.

    Regarding plagiarism, I’ve taken a somewhat strict approach to not sharing recipes from the beginning of my blog. I don’t re-print recipes from books unless I have the publisher’s permission. I feel like copyrighted work, and work that requires a great deal of time and effort to create, should be protected. I cook repeatedly from many books, and if I shared all those recipes over the years, I’d be giving away the majority of several books. I link to the book that was used, and if I cook from a magazine, I link to the recipe if it’s available on that publication’s site. I only re-print recipes when they’re from old publications and the recipe is not online or when they’re from books that are out of print. In those cases, I re-write the instructions. If I have actually adapted a recipe to the point where new ingredients and instructions need to be included, I re-write and include the recipe with a link to the original inspiration. I get a fair amount of hate comments about this policy, but I stand by it.

    1. Thanks for this — I cook fairly regularly from cookbooks that are my favorites as well and find I just don’t create posts for those since I’ve included one or two already. How interesting that you get hate mail over such a thing. Really? That’s incredible — and sad. Still mulling it all over…

  23. well said, kellly! in fact, i don’t think i’ve ever seen it said more concisely and completely. i’m not blowing air up your skirt when i tell you that you inspire me!

  24. Wow. Look at you! 5 years and still plugging away. Your top 10 are so poignant and relevant to every food blogger I know. It’s not the easiest genre of blogging by any stretch of the imagination and yet the competition seems to be so elementary. Being true to your voice and quality pictures (which like you, i still work on b/c of my instant gratification personality) are the most important to me. It’s all about consistency and being the same person behind the screen as I am in person. No surprises here! Congrats to you and here’s to 5 more! 🙂 xo

  25. Kelly, I love this post for many reasons, the most important of which is to thank you for always being honest and authentic. The wisdom that accompanies your perspective has been invaluable and always provided graciously. Congratulations on your 5-year journey! For purely selfish reasons, I hope you double it.

    1. Lori, you’re such a gracious person — I’m lucky to know you and to have actually met you! Are you going to BlogHer Food this year? I hope so. I’m thinking of where the world of blogging will be in five years — or the web for that matter! If someone could come up with a mind to blog plugin, that would be great!

      1. Kelly, I’m not sure about BlogHer Food – my son’s graduation from middle school is the afternoon before the conference begins making my travel a little rushed. But it’s Seattle and there’s no time difference, so who knows? It would be nice to see some friends and finally meet some that I’ve only interacted with online.

        I’ve only been in the blogging arena for 2 years, and while I’ve learned so much in that time period, I just don’t know where it’s all going. I would be lying if I said I haven’t considered other options for myself. But I love each part of the blogging process equally. The photography, the writing, the cooking (in no particular order) each inspire me; I can’t see letting them go completely. I’m just not sure I need to be sharing it all (or giving it away – and I say that not in an egotistical or self-righteous way) in the venue that I am considering the amount of time it takes to produce a single post. And it is that contemplative nugget that clouds my head these days making it difficult to harness my food thoughts into a blog post…ugh.

  26. Hi Kelly.

    Your candor and “voice” are two of the reasons why I keep coming back for more. And the photography, recipes and writing are just gravy.

    Like you, I don’t use a tripod; however, I work during the day so I don’t have the luxury of natural light when I get home. Plus apartment living being what is in New York City, I’m lucky if I have any usable light in the summer time, with a northern exposure that’s set at ground level; the kitchen window’s not much better. These days I tend to use a combination of kitchen light and studio lighting in my indoor shots. When I shoot food outdoors, it’s almost always during the day so I can take advantage of natural light. I almost never do restaurant food blogging, a 180 degree turnaround from the early days when my food blog was focused on dining out.

    My own blog (which readers will see a link to when this comment is published) will begin Year 7 in July 2012. There is no time like the present to begin the lesson of furthering and bettering one’s own food blogging. This post has inspired me to write about my own journey, at some point in the future.

    Thank you for everything, and here’s to another five delicious years.



    1. Thanks so much! Thanks also for your recommendation of S&V in the eGullet forum. Much appreciated! Having worked a while after starting this blog, I understand how different it is to have to squeeze it all into an evening. Lighting and sheer time and energy to get it done also big factors — so congrats to you for your SEVEN years! WOW. That’s forever in blog years 🙂 I will look forward to reading about your journey — I agree that we can all learn from others’ experiences.

  27. Hi, Kelly. My friend, Stan Santos, posted a link to this post on Facebook.

    First of all, your photos are gorgeous, and your prose is really readable. Second, congratulations on making it to 5 years! I just started blogging a few weeks ago and really have no idea where I’ll get 5 years of material from, but will just go from week to week (so far, I’ve been posting about twice a week) and will probably eventually get there.

    I blog about music, not food, but there are really interesting questions about copyright and attribution in online communication today that interest me as a new blogger and a much more experienced college professor.

    I do think blogging style is different from academic paper style, and there have been instances in which I have made general comments in a blog post that, in an abundance of caution and rectitude, I would cite if I were writing an academic paper, but I am still pretty good about giving citations and links for anything really important. Copyright, though, is another question, and I think both copyright and attribution will be in a state of flux for the next few decades.

    So take this for what it’s worth, but my feeling is, if you are really executing someone else’s recipe, if you can link to it online, do. If you can’t, it would be great if you could ask the author for permission to include it with attribution. If that’s not forthcoming or impractical, you could refer readers to a particular page of a particular cookbook. On the other hand, if you are adapting a recipe and really not trying to execute it exactly, it would make sense to say how you changed the recipe. But I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know what the state of the law is on this (and it’s clear that you do); I just think the simplest way to deal with really executing someone else’s recipe is to either link to it, cite it, or post it with permission.

    By the way, I think that if a recipe is a synthesis of knowledge you’ve gained through reading and experience, it _is_ yours, not someone else’s. If every new recipe had to be _entirely_ different from any previous one, I don’t think even cookbooks of the most radical molecular gastronomy could exist. Certain ingredients and techniques are used and reused over and over again because they work and taste good. So really, it’s all a continuum and the only question is not whether there is preexisting information in a recipe, but how much.

    1. Hi Michael — and thanks for that info on the FB link because I was wondering where that traffic came from! Sometimes I’ll see a traffic spike and trace it to a link in a forum where unless I join so see the thread I’ve been connected to, I can’t figure it out. Anyway, I appreciate the time you’ve taken to share your thinking about all of this. I’m right with you having decided after reading through everyone’s feedback and mulling it over that I can’t go with just one type of post. It will completely depend on where it comes from. If only a change or two have been made and there’s no link available, then I don’t plan on providing ingredient quantities or detailed directions. I’ll feel better about not contributing to what could become a big problem for all of us. I know things move slowly out there with respect to the changes brought on by our use of the web, but I won’t wait until it’s sorted out. Thanks again for stopping by! And good luck with your own blogging. I’ll have to pay you a visit!

      1. Thanks for your good wishes, Kelly, and for checking out my blog and posting an interesting comment! Music and food are both passions of mine, so perhaps at some point, I’ll find a way to combine them in a post about dinner music, such as Eine Kleine Nachtmusik by Mozart.

        1. You are welcome — I enjoyed the refreshing time away from food while visiting and am always looking for those outlets. As far as your idea goes of writing about dinner music, stop by this blog — it’s an amazing array of food + art I’ve been quietly enjoying for a couple of years.

  28. I have so many things to say, let’s hope I cover it all.

    First, CONGRATULATIONS. The fact that you’ve successfully done this for FIVE YEARS gives me hope that I can do it, too.

    Don’t take away your notes. I love your notes. Please keep them. 🙂

    I agree with everything you’ve said. And I did read every word. For me, the hardest part is finding my voice. There are so many things I want to say, I just don’t know how to put on paper… But I’m working on that.

    I have a question – do you look back at your older posts and chuckle? Because I do. (Not yours, mine.) Nowaways, I just take photos of the food I’m making, right before I eat it, but in the past, I’ve been known to “stage the hell” out of it. So freaking ridiculous. I’m entirely embarrassed by those photos as they remind of a time when I wasn’t true to my own perspective. But that’s how we learn, right? And sadly, the photos are a big part of it. I’m trying to get better, but I still don’t know what the buttons on my camera mean.

    About the food having to go somewhere… I hear ya. It’s just two (humans) in the house, so there’s always leftovers. And as much as it pains me to say this, we made souffles the other day, and threw SIX of them out, because the recipe made eight… and souffles don’t keep! Such a tragedy. And yes, it’s hard to see the popular kids win out with their baked goods over my tomato soup. Oh well… Sadly, I don’t we’re going to win this one anytime soon.

    Cheers again to your five years, and hope to see you IRL sometime soon. 🙂


  29. Congrats to a wonderful five years and hopes of many more. You are a lovely lady and I have enjoyed getting to know you and reading everything you share. Thank you for that Kelly.

  30. Kelly, this is great and so true. I know the feeling of the blog running your schedule; I felt so pressured by it and compelled to be in the kitchen creating new things, that it took up an amazing amount of time – time I don’t have right now. I’m so glad you’ve kept writing, though, because I enjoy reading your blog and have enjoyed it for years. Here’s to another great five!

    1. Haley, with your little one now, I can’t imagine how you’d have the time. Now mommy blogging, hey, you could be all over that with your sense of humor. Miss your AI tweets — I need to tune in for those and stop being such a slacker 🙂 Thanks muchly for reading — you know I appreciate it.

  31. Happy anniversary. Great post and I agree with your thoughts on blogging. The food community online is so incredibly different from the regular business community it’s remarkable. I feel as though people in the food world really “get” the purpose of social media and I find it incredibly refreshing. I laughed when you mentioned sending things to the office. I’m constantly sending my husband in with goodies- mainly so I don’t eat them all! Well, it’s hard to believe 5 years have gone by. Here’s to many more!

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