Stick A Fork In It (Or: When Food Blogs Stopped Being Food Blogs)

March 13, 2014 | By | COMMENTS

Modern food blog convention would dictate that this post should begin with a picture. In fact, it’s a bit of a suicide mission to write a post without one. I went on to Google images (a risky proposition, because you can get sued for using someone else’s image) and then thought against it. The whole picture-at-the-top-of-a-post instinct is a byproduct of the very phenomenon I’m here to decry: the death of food blogs as food blogs and their reemergence as newfangled newspaper food sections and magazines.

Don’t believe that’s happening? Consider this: Eater.com, one of the most significant food blogs in existence, just hired three full-time restaurant critics. Meanwhile, the most popular recipe blogs are looking more and more like magazines. Can you really detect a difference between the imagery and presentation on blogs like Smitten Kitchen and 101 Cookbooks from the imagery you find in Martha Stewart Living or, more aptly, Bon Appetit?

As food blogs grow more and more professional, I’m left with a feeling of nostalgia for the “anything goes” era of blogging. That looseness, that scruffiness, was why food blogs were such an appealing alternative to more traditional media. Now, more and more, new media is becoming like the traditional media we were there to displace. I find it ironic that the only person, these days, who seems to be blogging like a real blogger–casually, by the seat of her pants, unconcerned about perfect images or prose–is a former newspaper restaurant critic and magazine editor-in-chief, Ruth Reichl. Her blog is the most blog-like food blog going.

When did we all switch places? Is it even possible to be popular now and not have your food blog look like something you’d pay for in print?

You may have noticed that, lately, my posts have become more casual. I’m taking pictures with my iPhone, not my SLR. I’m less fussy about recipes. What I’m doing, in fact, is trying to recreate the feeling that my blog is a natural extension of myself, not a super polished beacon for my brand. I don’t want to have a brand, I just want to have a blog. But those days, it seems, are over.

Categories: Essays

  • Eben Atwater

    Couldn’t agree more. I do mine the way I see fit, with the intention of encouraging folks to cook at home, try more home made options, and nuthin’ else. Don’t care what ‘rules’ I violate.

  • Eben Atwater

    Couldn’t agree more. I do mine the way I see fit, with the intention of encouraging folks to cook at home, try more home made options, and nuthin’ else. Don’t care what ‘rules’ I violate.

  • tony

    Eater is not nor has it ever been a blog about food.

  • wildfire

    I’m an amateur food blogger but I bring a small bit if hope http://withyourmouth.wordpress.com

  • Mihaela

    It’s also a labor issue – it used to take a lot of people to make a newspaper food section/ a food magazine. Now it’s just the blogger doing everything – recipe development, recipe testing, photographing, tech-support etc.

  • afronica

    But your casual approach is why I read you. When I come to your blog, I never know what I’m going to get. I find that refreshing. Don’t change a hair for me…

  • afronica

    But your casual approach is why I read you. When I come to your blog, I never know what I’m going to get. I find that refreshing. Don’t change a hair for me…

  • Angeline

    So you’re moving away from Martha Stewart and more towards a Nigella Lawson or Barefoot Contessa approach? I like it!

  • Tunie

    Totally onboard with this point. The success of blogging, I think, is in part because we all enjoy sharing REAL experiences, free of the current passion for relentlessly polished, analyzed, “personally tailored” media. Blogs are one of the only places to experience true personality – you rarely encounter that in mainstream media.

    The best bloggers offer their distinctive, personal perspective while using mainstream marketing and design techniques to be as readable and visible to as wide a swathe as possible. Good grammar, basic storytelling skills and decent photo’s are a magic making trifecta. I’m all for some basic photo styling, and lightly styled photo’s are creative and fun but lately all tend to look alike, thanks to the blogs of all the successful pro food stylists out there. But that was inevitable. It still boils down to content, doing your best and the fact that personality counts.

  • hollyjoelp

    I’m new to your blog, (last 18 months or so), but what draws me to keep coming back over and over again is that it feels like walking into your kitchen, helping myself to whatever’s in the pitcher in the fridge and taking a seat to talk food and cool things to eat. That you range all over the place from chef interviews to what you cooked last night to talking your partner into trying something, be it a restaurant or a dish…I love the surprise, the spontaneity, and realness of your writing. (I’m sure you work hard at it.) All things evolve and change, but I don’t think your current niche is going anywhere.

  • Patrice

    Well, Adam, I think it depends on what really matters to you as a blogger. My blog is mostly a vehicle for the food I love, not vice versa. I’m fairly certain that many bloggers are in love with their blogs and are perhaps overly interested in gaining notoriety or making a profit. I do place a photo at the top of each post; not because I’m so much interested in looking professional, as I am about presenting each dish in it’s best possible light and hoping that others might be interested in trying what I think is a great dish. I’m happy to say that the days of “blogging” aren’t over and one needn’t compromise the quality of a photo to recreate that ambiance. I have no advertising on my blog. Not one. It’s me and my recipes. And my readers. Amen.

  • Adam Fields

    I haven’t had much time for it recently, but I’ve enjoyed blogging at http://unsellingconvenience.tumblr.com. It started out as just pictures, but then turned into more writing.

  • Adam Fields

    I haven’t had much time for it recently, but I’ve enjoyed blogging at http://unsellingconvenience.tumblr.com. It started out as just pictures, but then turned into more writing.

  • Adam Fields

    I haven’t had much time for it recently, but I’ve enjoyed blogging at http://unsellingconvenience.tumblr.com. It started out as just pictures, but then turned into more writing.

  • Adam Fields

    I haven’t had much time for it recently, but I’ve enjoyed blogging at http://unsellingconvenience.tumblr.com. It started out as just pictures, but then turned into more writing.

  • Adam Fields

    I haven’t had much time for it recently, but I’ve enjoyed blogging at http://unsellingconvenience.tumblr.com. It started out as just pictures, but then turned into more writing.

  • Hana

    I like to read your blog because your voice is so genuine and I love your sense of humor and wit.

  • Becky

    I enjoy your more casual blogging style and love the fact that you’ve been posting more often – probably a direct correlation. I also l love the polished blogs if the content is good. I do find myself coming back to your blog more often because I know it is more likely you have something new for me to see. It is also much more likely I will try a recipe of yours, I just don’t work the time into my schedule to make something like the posts typically in the magazine type blogs. Thank you for your format as is!

  • http://www.jamies-recipes.com jamiesrecipes

    There are rules to food blogging?! Oh crud! I have just been doing what I do because I love to do it. I love to entertain and cook for people and I hope my blog is an extension of that. I am totally on board with a more casual approach to food blogs though.

  • TIFFIN bite sized food adventu

    Loved this piece. I’m never going to win any prizes for my photos and whilst they can be great to illustrate a point or amusing sign in a foreign country, they are purely decorative for me. I much prefer a catchy title or first paragraph than a photo of a rusticly peeled potato. It’s what’s inside that counts.
    This post got you a new subscriber (something I rarely do as I don’t like the mailbox being to full)

  • Bob A. in WP

    Whether you’ve used a DSLR or a smartphone, you’ve always been yourself. Stay that course and you’ll be just fine. I continue to love your posts. After all, I found the best [broccoli, beans, etc.] of my life here.

  • Matthew K.

    Blogging is still SO different than traditional media. It’s so instant, and perhaps a little too ephemeral. I do think blogs grew up to something beyond the casual stuff of the mid 2000s by the late 2000s. Once everyone figured out how to use a DSLR it got real. Eater still has limitless word counts, instant editing, flexible layouts, quick reporting, and a variety of writing styles versus newspapers/magazines who’ve still managed an online presence. But I love that you’re fighting the good fight Adam.

  • AG

    Your blog is definitely the one that is “not like the others” I read, and, frankly, I can never pinpoint exactly what it is that has me coming back. That’s not at all an insult, but just to say that what I normally look for, this blog doesn’t provide. Guess you are unique (or maybe its the suffering law student thing and I’m looking for hope). BUT, I don’t agree with this post for a number of reasons: Eater is not a food blog in the way SK or 101cookbooks is, blogs have way more personal voice and personality than food sections or marthastewart.com (I mean, think of Deb…if I didn’t know what I was reading, I’d still know her prose were hers), and food photography makes writing come alive. To me, the demise of certain blogs has to do with frequency of posting. At a certain point, you get fed up with the bloggers who no longer post regularly, and over time, you start caring less, and finding new bloggers (who aren’t distracted by cookbooks and other grand things) to fill the void. Btw, if you never post photos again, I’d probably stop visiting, despite your uniqueness ;) That’s me pleading with you not to stop posting pics.

  • AG

    Your blog is definitely the one that is “not like the others” I read, and, frankly, I can never pinpoint exactly what it is that has me coming back. That’s not at all an insult, but just to say that what I normally look for, this blog doesn’t provide. Guess you are unique (or maybe its the suffering law student thing and I’m looking for hope). BUT, I don’t agree with this post for a number of reasons: Eater is not a food blog in the way SK or 101cookbooks is, blogs have way more personal voice and personality than food sections or marthastewart.com (I mean, think of Deb…if I didn’t know what I was reading, I’d still know her prose were hers), and food photography makes writing come alive. To me, the demise of certain blogs has to do with frequency of posting. At a certain point, you get fed up with the bloggers who no longer post regularly, and over time, you start caring less, and finding new bloggers (who aren’t distracted by cookbooks and other grand things) to fill the void. Btw, if you never post photos again, I’d probably stop visiting, despite your uniqueness ;) That’s me pleading with you not to stop posting pics.

  • AG

    Personality and content: I totally agree. And good writing cannot be emphasized enough.

  • AG

    Personality and content: I totally agree. And good writing cannot be emphasized enough.

  • Anonymous

    BRAVO!

  • Nora Carrington

    I got worried about you a bit when you started doing podcasts and organized/scheduled video thingies and you seemed to be for a time in a flurry of newness.

    As others have said, I like your voice and I like that you still like pasta. Also other good things. I can’t stand most of the “professional” food sites because they’re unreadable between the popups and the floatovers and the click here —–> nonsense. They may or may not have good food recommendations but who could ever wade through the nonsense to know for sure?

  • http://foodieunderground.com/ anna

    Thank you for saying something that really truly needed to be said. And not only saying it, but doing something about it!

  • The Madness of King George

    Frankly, blogging changes when you bloggers decide to treat it as a money making venture. You did it to yourself.

  • Stephanie Feldman

    I blog about my food on my Facebook page and started a professional version which is only about my food and my recipes – but I post professional style photos because if the food looks like $#*! and inedible…what’s the point? Who’s going to look at it or want to come back? Images are there to entice. Not to make people go somewhere else looking for a more credible representation of the information they’re looking for.

  • Stephanie Feldman

    I blog about my food on my Facebook page and started a professional version which is only about my food and my recipes – but I post professional style photos because if the food looks like $#*! and inedible…what’s the point? Who’s going to look at it or want to come back? Images are there to entice. Not to make people go somewhere else looking for a more credible representation of the information they’re looking for.

  • Luisa Weiss

    Oh, I so disagree. First of all, Eater is not a food blog. It’s a restaurant industry blog. Second of all (since you singled out Heidi and Deb), while Heidi’s photos are pro-quality, they always have been, so this isn’t some big change to conform to print quality. Her writing, though, is as loose and lovely and journal-like and bloggy as ever. As for Deb, the obsessiveness and energy she brings to the table about the tiniest things is what makes her blog a real blog – print articles aren’t doing that kind of fiddly, fastidious “reporting” on recipes. Which is exactly why so many food nuts love her blog.

    There are so many incredible food blogs out there that are doing thoughtful, interesting, funny, quirky things – Bon Appetempt, Lottie & Doof, Orangette and Dinner: A Love Story are just the tiniest fraction of the great stuff that’s out there.

    xo

  • Luisa Weiss

    Oh, I so disagree. First of all, Eater is not a food blog. It’s a restaurant industry blog. Second of all (since you singled out Heidi and Deb), while Heidi’s photos are pro-quality, they always have been, so this isn’t some big change to conform to print quality. Her writing, though, is as loose and lovely and journal-like and bloggy as ever. As for Deb, the obsessiveness and energy she brings to the table about the tiniest things is what makes her blog a real blog – print articles aren’t doing that kind of fiddly, fastidious “reporting” on recipes. Which is exactly why so many food nuts love her blog.

    There are so many incredible food blogs out there that are doing thoughtful, interesting, funny, quirky things – Bon Appetempt, Lottie & Doof, Orangette and Dinner: A Love Story are just the tiniest fraction of the great stuff that’s out there.

    xo

  • Luisa Weiss

    Oh, I so disagree. First of all, Eater is not a food blog. It’s a restaurant industry blog. Second of all (since you singled out Heidi and Deb), while Heidi’s photos are pro-quality, they always have been, so this isn’t some big change to conform to print quality. Her writing, though, is as loose and lovely and journal-like and bloggy as ever. As for Deb, the obsessiveness and energy she brings to the table about the tiniest things is what makes her blog a real blog – print articles aren’t doing that kind of fiddly, fastidious “reporting” on recipes. Which is exactly why so many food nuts love her blog.

    There are so many incredible food blogs out there that are doing thoughtful, interesting, funny, quirky things – Bon Appetempt, Lottie & Doof, Orangette and Dinner: A Love Story are just the tiniest fraction of the great stuff that’s out there.

    xo

  • esk

    I enjoy your blog because you have a voice, and it is authentic and not trying to be cute or funny or relatable. Also I enjoy your blog because when you post things, you are making them for yourself first and sharing them with your blog for others to enjoy, and that is why we trust you. That is my biggest problem with so many blogs today, these schedules posts of food that was made not for the bloggers enjoyment or consumption but for the BLOGS enjoyment and consumption. How am I suppose to trust them and their recipe if it was made for me (who they know very little about) and not for them (who I’m suppose to know quite a bit about).

    But I wouldn’t lump Deb into that second category because although her pictures are stunning (is that a fault? I don’t think so), she is sharing recipes she cooks for herself and her family, and I trust her taste. There are really only a handful of blogs I actually enjoy these days: Smitten Kitchen, David Lebovitz, The Wednesday Chef, You. You all have very distinct voices, you share what you enjoy, maybe your photos aren’t perfect but they do catch our attention none the less (and btw, I think photos are very important. Just like in a cookbook, it is difficult to follow a recipe and not see the end result to know we did it right).

  • Adam

    I totally agree. The whole reason I read this blog isn’t to see some meticulously-tested and crazy complicated recipe, but to see what you eat/cook every day, and get ideas I can actually use on a weeknight. I have been reading this blog for a few years now and you have contributed more to my everyday cooking that any other site.

  • Kate

    Spot on, and thank you. I’ve been blogging since 2006 and I miss the old days of casual story-telling. The spiffy photos with everything “just so” and the crinkled parchment paper over frayed burlap is tiresome and uninspiring. Let’s get back to the days when it was fun and easy.

  • Laura of The Table blog

    This is lovely to read. My and a friend have a newish food blog and sometimes the pressure on what is a hobby and fun thing for us is crazy. Would we someday like to make money, yes, but not by sacrificing the reasons why we chose to do this. Still, it can be hard to read the many wonderful blogs out there and feel like ours isn’t measuring up. I love many of the magazine like blogs out there, but keep coming back to the ones with a great voice that are more like talking to a good friend about food.

  • http://www.notesfromamessykitchen.com/ Johanna

    Your post made me realize an interesting distinction between the Martha Steward Living blogs and the “anything goes” off the cuff blogs. The former I visit only when I find their pretty pictures on one of the many recipe data bases that require you to have ridiculously pretty pictures to be submitted and I rarely read their content, I usually just go straight to the recipe. The blogs I follow faithfully are all the more traditional food blogs, where the writer has actually made me interested in what they have to say through a combination of good writing, wittiness and the right level of sharing.

    So I guess the question for the foodblogger, is what do you want for your blog? Lots of hits, most of whom only read enough to recreate your recipe or a smaller handful of regular followers who are engaged in your writing.

  • Meghanssj

    I wish I would have known about food blogs back in the good old days. I cannot deny how lovely I find the images of certain polished blogs, but do I go there every day? No, I do not. I come here and to just a few other blogs on a daily basis. All of the blogs I follow that way are the “extension of yourself” type blogs that you mention. When I discovered your blog, your casual, non-SLR, imperfect images where one of the first things I noticed. That, and you are funny and cook some great food. I am an aspiring blogger who really doesn’t have enough time to go after it, and I’ve tried to do the “everything is perfect” type of post where even the oil dribbles on the edge of the plate are artful. Sometimes when that happens while I’m shooting my nightly dinner, it is fun, but for the most part, trying to create those type of posts reminds me of the Anne Lamott quote “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life” I also like your recipes and ideas. I made the green beans from a recent post last night (turned out tasty, but much more browned than yours). I think it is best to ignore the 90% of the crap out there and stick to the blogs that keep calling you back. I often think “I wonder what Adam’s doing?” and go see. It means you have a lot of people who think they know you and are friends with you, but it also makes your blog so real and pleasant. Thanks for keepin it real.

  • Adam Amateur Gourmet

    Hey Luisa,
    Thanks for chiming in! Well I singled out Deb and Heidi not because I dislike what they’re doing—they’re two of the blogs that I read the most religiously—but because I think the standards that they set for themselves (and their sites) are so far above that of the typical blogger, they’ve become their own thing: more personal than magazine copy, true, but not nearly as casual and unfiltered as the prototypical blog. I don’t mean it as an insult to say that they don’t blog like bloggers, I’m just pointing out that the carefully curated nature of what they do puts them in a different category—to my mind—altogether. Now you, on the other hand, are still blogging like a blogger, which I love. Molly too. And several others. But the trend, overall, is to move away from unguarded, imperfect dispatches from life and more towards postcard-worthy, flawless representations of a world most people can only aspire to. Ultimately, it’s about how many layers we put between experience and our representation of that experience. My argument is that too many blogs, now, have too many layers. I miss the good old days.

  • Pam

    I love your blog Adam, just the way it is. The blogs that you described, the
    gorgeous picture heavy ones, absolutely exhausts me. I respect all of the incredible hard work and talent that
    goes into those blogs, but honestly it’s just not for me. It’s all just too much. Like eating an entire birthday cake
    every single day. I read your blog
    because it is unique and every post is a lovely surprise. You are also very funny and
    charming. I like the pictures
    that you include in your posts, but I also appreciate the hard work that you put into the other aspects of your blog posts. Please don’t exhaust me
    with 27 perfectly styled pictures of food. It will make me sad and I will have to go take a nap,
    again. Don’t change a thing
    Adam. Or do if you feel like it, I
    will still read your blog no matter what.
    You introduced me to Rancho Gordo beans and for that alone, I will owe
    you fealty for life.

  • http://wee-eats.com/ natalie @ wee eats

    Seriously – and heaven forbid you try to submit something to tastespotting/foodgawker – What was once a great place to find food blogs via photos is now a carefully curated museum of food art – some of the photos are legit professional. Meanwhile I’m over here taking pictures w/ my iphone and ipad like, I never had any training or said i was an expert, I just like to share what I make… /shrug.

    I appreciate the beautiful photos and effort that many bloggers put into their blogs and their “brand”, and I admire their passion, but I don’t see myself there at all. I’ve also noticed that food blogging seems to have gone from more of a food-loving community to a competition… I thought the whole point was to share your food/life with everyone?

  • http://wee-eats.com/ natalie @ wee eats

    Seriously – and heaven forbid you try to submit something to tastespotting/foodgawker – What was once a great place to find food blogs via photos is now a carefully curated museum of food art – some of the photos are legit professional. Meanwhile I’m over here taking pictures w/ my iphone and ipad like, I never had any training or said i was an expert, I just like to share what I make… /shrug.

    I appreciate the beautiful photos and effort that many bloggers put into their blogs and their “brand”, and I admire their passion, but I don’t see myself there at all. I’ve also noticed that food blogging seems to have gone from more of a food-loving community to a competition… I thought the whole point was to share your food/life with everyone?

  • Anonymous

    One need only look at Food 52 (your twenty favorite recipes for toothpicks), or Ruhlman’s blog which has become an advertising vehicle for Le Creuset to prove your point.

  • Anonymous

    One need only look at Food 52 (your twenty favorite recipes for toothpicks), or Ruhlman’s blog which has become an advertising vehicle for Le Creuset to prove your point.

  • Maria

    Interesting–fun to read the comments as well. I gave up on food blogging mostly because I’m a terrible photographer. But now that you mention it, the food blogs I continue to follow are those with a really distinctive writing voice. There are still plenty out there, but I’ve had a harder time finding new blogs with that distinctive voice…

  • WendyR

    I don’t care if your posts look polished. I just want them to be entertaining and written in your unique voice.

  • AG

    One thing those bloggers still do, even with the mag-worthy pics, is respond to comments. Any reason you don’t? Ever thought of writing a short post addressing it?

  • Michelle

    I love your blog precisely for its casual feel and for your brutal candor. Also, whenever I’m traveling, one of the first things I do in restaurant research is check to see if you’ve blogged about it. That being said, I think Orangette has kept a pretty nice and easy vibe to hers despite her mega-fame. I actually find myself wishing more for bright pretty pictures of her food, but in the end, it’s her prose that keeps me coming back.

  • Jenna

    I agree with Luisa. Deb Perelman’s blog is very personal. She links to a picture of her son in every post. The fastidious nature of her writing matches her personality. I go to her blog specifically for her individual perspective and voice. She approaches a recipe by testing and tweaking until she finds the best version of whatever she wants to cook. You would never find her comments about her testing process and how it led her to the version she chose to publish in a print magazine. Her work is absolutely of the highest quality, but that doesn’t mean it’s not personal or not in the nature of a blog.

  • http://www.sassyradish.com Olga Massov

    100% agree, Adam! Every word you wrote above – yes to all of it.

  • Adam Amateur Gourmet

    I do when I’m directly asked a question (unless I’m rushing out the door and stupidly forget). What I don’t do is that hyper-interactive, every comment gets a response sort of thing because then I’d never get anything else done!

  • http://www.mycustardpie.com/ MyCustardPie

    Well said. I just read this sentence on Cook Republic “no matter how long you’ve been blogging, nothing will give you more satisfaction than blogging as if no one is reading”.

  • http://theroserecord.blogspot.com/ Katie Rose

    I completely agree with you, Adam. I think that’s how I became a loyal reader. I thought, “Well if that guy can cook that in his tiny New York kitchen, then so can I!”. I like your style and casualness. It’s relatable and nice.

  • http://www.oyunoyna3.com oyunoyna3

    I like to read your blog because your voice is so genuine and I love your sense of humor and wit.

  • Nuts about food

    I agree, the great thing about a blog should be its spontaneity (I also take my pics with my iphone by the way!)

  • http://www.LynnChen.com/ Lynn Chen

    I miss blogging community. But judging from the comments on this post, you still seem to have a strong one :)

  • http://www.culinarylore.com Eric Troy

    I struggle with the same issue. I would never say I don’t care about having lots of readers. I have a blog, not a diary. But I am completely on board with the idea of being popular despite being scruffy!

  • http://www.culinarylore.com Eric Troy

    I struggle with the same issue. I would never say I don’t care about having lots of readers. I have a blog, not a diary. But I am completely on board with the idea of being popular despite being scruffy!

  • http://www.culinarylore.com Eric Troy

    I struggle with the same issue. I would never say I don’t care about having lots of readers. I have a blog, not a diary. But I am completely on board with the idea of being popular despite being scruffy!

  • AG

    I never noticed that! Thanks for responding :) I do think the correspondence on blogs is what keeps us readers feeling plugged in.

  • JudyH

    I am so happy you are still a food blogger. I read food blogs for their individual perspectives. Yours has continued to be one I keep coming back to.

  • Julia Kent

    Wow, well said. I also try to keep my blog casual and rough-around-the-edges. My photography sucks and while my blog might suffer because of it, at least it’s genuine. I speak my mind, write in my voice, and talk about what I really love.

  • http://www.culinarylore.com Eric Troy

    I think that Adam is on the right track when you get this many comments. Nobody wants to see every other comment being from the blog owner saying some version of the same thing like “thanks for the comment” or “great comment” when there is not much else to be said. At the same time, I guess you have to strike a balance!

  • Choc Chip Uru

    Wow I never thought about it like that.. I like how the casual approach is described as an extension of you… so refreshing :)
    I know I certainly don’t write like a magazine :P but there is a constant stress now to have perfect photos and recipes…

  • Ari

    Sadly it’s why I stopped writing my own recipe blog and gave up reading most of them. I couldn’t compete with the likes of e.g. Aran and Beatrice and Heidi, not least because blogging was a casual hobby, not a full time gig. I’m sure those gals are lovely and there’s nothing wrong with pretty pictures but for me it stopped being fun when it started feeling competitive and overproduced. Glad you’re fighting the pressure!

  • http://helloambition.blogspot.com/ caroline

    And this is why I continue to read your blog.

    When blogs start to turn into a brand, I can’t help myself but feel disconnected. I feel as though the writing isn’t there to engage the audience but rather just be content to fill up space. That is when I click that little “remove” or “unsubscribe” button on my feed. I’m not sure if the majority feel this way, but I’ve always had a thing for nostalgia.

  • pirlo

    hi baby
    how are u

  • Victoria, Bellingham, WA

    Here here! I’m not a blogger….I’m a blog reader. I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve stopped reading because they now look like slick magazines. Thanks for this post!

  • Kimberley

    I totally hear ya, and I think you raise a really relevant point. But I also think that things grow and change and evolve, and that’s just the nature of the beast. Is there a way to integrate some of that looseness with the heavy emphasis on the visual? (We are, after all, in a very visual moment – and food is well-served by that medium.) And sites like Smitten Kitchen and 101 Cookbooks still feel more like blogs than magazines because they offer a singular voice and experience – that of their creators. It’s not the work of an art department, writers, photographers, and test kitchens.

  • Kimberley

    I totally hear ya, and I think you raise a really relevant point. But I also think that things grow and change and evolve, and that’s just the nature of the beast. Is there a way to integrate some of that looseness with the heavy emphasis on the visual? (We are, after all, in a very visual moment – and food is well-served by that medium.) And sites like Smitten Kitchen and 101 Cookbooks still feel more like blogs than magazines because they offer a singular voice and experience – that of their creators. It’s not the work of an art department, writers, photographers, and test kitchens.

  • Kimberley

    I totally hear ya, and I think you raise a really relevant point. But I also think that things grow and change and evolve, and that’s just the nature of the beast. Is there a way to integrate some of that looseness with the heavy emphasis on the visual? (We are, after all, in a very visual moment – and food is well-served by that medium.) And sites like Smitten Kitchen and 101 Cookbooks still feel more like blogs than magazines because they offer a singular voice and experience – that of their creators. It’s not the work of an art department, writers, photographers, and test kitchens.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for just not grabbing and posting an image off of Google Images. It’s not really just about getting sued, but rather a matter of respecting photographer copyrights and not treating visual art as free content. A digital photograph had to be created by someone and has value. It shouldn’t be taken and used without permission just as it wouldn’t be right to walk into a bakery and take a loaf of bread that a baker has made.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for just not grabbing and posting an image off of Google Images. It’s not really just about getting sued, but rather a matter of respecting photographer copyrights and not treating visual art as free content. A digital photograph had to be created by someone and has value. It shouldn’t be taken and used without permission just as it wouldn’t be right to walk into a bakery and take a loaf of bread that a baker has made.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for just not grabbing and posting an image off of Google Images. It’s not really just about getting sued, but rather a matter of respecting photographer copyrights and not treating visual art as free content. A digital photograph had to be created by someone and has value. It shouldn’t be taken and used without permission just as it wouldn’t be right to walk into a bakery and take a loaf of bread that a baker has made.

  • Dini

    I dont own a SLR camera… just a point and shoot… I like sharing the food I make but not sure if it qualifies for a food blog. But I do have fun!! But I LOVE smitten kitchen!!! :)
    http://www.giramuk.blogspot.com

  • vivana@bonheurcuisine

    Wow! you couln´t have explained my feeling better!!

  • erin

    Disagree with SK comment. Her pics are very unstaged and haven’t changed much over time.

  • Jamie

    No, it is not possible to be popular (the way food blog popularity is defined) when you go your own way. I can tell you that those of us who blog for the love of telling stories (or taking photos), who have stayed true to our original intent and haven’t become a “brand” or a “business” do not draw the crowds. Food bloggers now work for money, hire assistants and create content specifically to draw certain crowds. Or try and look like a magazine – which means so many – even those of bloggers with talent – all end up looking pretty much alike. And their popularity is reinforced by winning Best Blog competitions and earning the accolades (and contracts) from brands… and end up getting cookbook deals. A crazy world, indeed. Happily, there is another, quieter kind of popularity that is earned through talent and creating interesting, unique, personal content. Thanks for posting this… it needed to be said.

  • Susan

    Awesome. Thanks man. I don’t own a digital camera and take all pictures for my blog on my mobile phone. My actual camera still has film in it. I’m also not a massive fan of ‘blogs’ being restaurant critics. Keep up the good work

  • Sam Breach

    I noticed that, oh, say about 4+ years ago when I decided to stop food blogging precisely because I did not want it to become a job for me and that was the way it seemed to be going..

  • Sam Breach

    I noticed that, oh, say about 4+ years ago when I decided to stop food blogging precisely because I did not want it to become a job for me and that was the way it seemed to be going..

  • Nanette aka Gourmet Worrier

    Yep, agree with Ari and Sam. This slick, machine like attitude and petty competiveness was the reason I stopped food blogging.

  • http://www.mycustardpie.com/ MyCustardPie

    Just because something is published on a blogging platform it doesn’t mean it’s a blog.Glad you have raised this as I’ve been thinking it for a long time. When the lists of top ‘blogs’ are published most of the first places are taken by things which are ‘food websites’ – Pioneer Woman is hardly a blog is it – even though there’s a personal voice behind it still. How we sort out this jumble and get back to the grass roots of blogging is anyone’s guess. Glad you’ve taken this stand and have been more casual about the whole process. After all it’s supposed to be fun, or creative, or to give people a voice – not homework.

  • Elle Lachman

    One of the great things about blogs is that they can be any number of things. I’ve been blogging for over 7 years…or maybe its 8, when there were fewer food blogs, but I still don’t have a SLR camera and now use my phone camera.

    Still put a photo first because we eat with our eyes as much as our taste buds. Over time I’ve stopped doing memes, contests, and most group things. Often I blog about a recipe because I want to be able to make it again either the same way or with differences I’ll probably forget before I get to it again.

    No ads, the occasional guest post, no restaurant reviews any more and fewer photos (mostly), but some story telling and lots of personal perspective. I have no brand, few if any give aways and only about 200 views per day, but that’s fine with me.

    I think that you can visit only the most popular blogs and find what you have written about, or do some random searching, go to page 12 or so of Google and discover lots of blogs like mine. It’s all in what you are looking for. Happy blogging.

  • Cheryl

    Is it not that traditional media is moving the new media direction, not the other way around?

  • http://omnivorescookbook.com/ Maggie Zhu

    Totally agree with you, however I have on the endless way of branding and trying to be good at everything. As a new comer to the food blogging world, I blogged for 8 months in a casual way but found my site drowned in the blogging sea, and found my post reaches few readers. Then I found there’s blogger hiring people to manage Pinterest board for branding, who hasn’t even launch the blog yet, but already gaining hundreds of fans. In the end I finally decided to change my strategy.

  • http://www.thismamacooks.com/ Anne-Marie Nichols

    Actually what I’m noticing is that the food mags are becoming more casual with their photography and look more like blogs. The photos look messy and dark, too – just take a look at this month’s (April 2014) Martha Stewart Living issue. Even the mom bloggers are feeling the pressure to be as good as the food bloggers. The food bloggers want to be like the magazines, and the magazines want to be as hip as the food bloggers. Soon, if it hasn’t already happened, you won’t be able to tell them apart.

  • SarahZephyrHoyt

    Starting out my food blog with my recipes has been an adventure! I hope my work meets your standards? Have worked so hard on it! http://www.theneuroticchef.com

  • Maria

    I like your simpler photos. One picture is fine, but I’m interested in recipe blogs, and I’m having a lot of trouble nowadays finding ones that aren’t so image-dominant that I have to scroll through 25 beautifully lit pictures to find a list of ingredients, or navigate a matrix of images instead of a simple recipe index. When the written content is lacking, the photography has gone too far.

  • Uncultivated Chef

    About 4 months late to this party, but I feel ya on the prissy polished side of food blogging.

    Cooking is human. To be human means to be messy and imperfect. I write about what I feed my family and why, but you have to picture how I do it. Basically my kitchen here in the Bronx is the size of a coffin, would make great comedy to see this former defensive lineman dishin’ out the grub.

    For this reason alone I haven’t released any of the video I have taken.

    For this reason alone my attempts at perfection fall far short.

    Thanks for the essay, looking forward to more of your stuff.