I’ve got an extra behind-the-scenes-style post this week, because I’ve been getting some questions from fellow dietitians and dietetic interns who want to start their own food blogs and private practices. I’ve learned that food photography matters, especially when you’re new to the blogging scene. If you’re ready to invest in improving your food photography skills, I’d love to see you at the free video training I’ll be co-hosting next week!
You’ll need to wear lots of different hats to grow a successful blog or Instagram account (and much like wellness, success is about so much more than the numbers alone), but when I think about a single skill that has propelled my growth forward most effectively, it’s a no-brainer: it’s all about that FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY. Read on to learn three reasons why I think improving your food photos is the easiest and most effective way to start raking in your share of food-blogging gold.
3 Reasons Your Food Photography Matters:
1. Food photos help you get noticed on social media (and get more eyeballs on your blog)
It’s no secret that better food photos help you get noticed online—especially on highly-visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. But I also typically get higher engagement (more views, likes, comments, shares) when I post high-quality food photos on less traditionally visual platforms like Facebook and Twitter, too. Think of how quickly you browse through your social media feeds. Your work needs to STAND OUT. A stunning food photo is one of the surest ways to entice others to slow their scroll and take notice. Especially if you’re a new blogger, you’ll probably need more eyeballs on your site before you’ll be able to grow a sizable email list or pitch brands for sponsored content. Food photography is the foundation of your blogging castle—and you’ll be building off of it for years to come.
How food photography helped me increase website traffic + social media growth:
- Photos I’ve taken years ago still go “viral” on Pinterest (without paid advertising)
- Other bloggers are more likely to share my posts on social media
- Other bloggers are more likely to use my recipe in roundup posts (that link back to my site)
- My recipes and photos are regularly featured on national media outlets (like Shape, Fitness, Food Network, and Greatist)
- My photos are almost always accepted to high-traffic gallery sites like Healthy Aperture and Food Gawker.
- Food brands and feature accounts “re-gram” me on Instagram when I tag them in a post
2. Food photos attract the right people to your blog
One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned in my first couple years is that traffic doesn’t necessarily translate into dollars—I make a little extra cashola by running ads on my site, but they pretty much just offset the cost of web hosting and maintenance. (Hard lesson number two, running a mostly-online business doesn’t mean you’ll be exempt from expenses, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.) If you want to turn your blog into a business, you need the RIGHT eyeballs on your site—people who will become lifelong fans, friends, and (when it fits) clients. You can use food photography to attract YOUR people. Once you know exactly who your ideal readers are, you can use props and styling techniques that will help your photos stand out and speak to them.
Questions to help you learn more about your ideal reader:
- Who do you want to help? Think of past clients you loved working with, friends who always ask you questions, and your areas of expertise
- What is your ideal reader’s age, gender, location, family-life, career, interests, hobbies?
- Where do they hang out? What’s their favorite social media platform? Which blogs are they already reading?
- What kind of food do they like to eat? What’s their skill level in the kitchen? What are their nutrition goals?
- What are their biggest challenges and fears? How can you offer up a solution?
3. Treat your photos like blogging GOLD
Because they are. Most of the brands I work with are looking for professional food content to publish on their own websites or platforms (see numbers 1-2—brands know food photography matters), but they don’t have time to develop these skills on their own. I give my clients the option to purchase rights to a preexisting recipe/photo or work with me one-on-one for custom content. My recipes and photos have become a source of relatively passive income and/or advertising for me. The first time I sold a recipe I had created 12+ months prior, I started to take notice, and I’ve been shooting differently ever since.
What it means to treat your photos like an asset:
- Invest in the right equipment (it doesn’t need to be expensive, but there are a few things you’ll need)
- Invest in developing your photography skills. Take a course and invest in coaching for feedback
- Learn how to work with natural light, and take care setting up your shot
- Learn how to use a digital camera (and get off the auto setting ASAP!)
- Take a variety of shots for each recipe — a potential client may request a specific angle or mood down the road, and you’ll also have more shots to include in your online “portfolio”
- Use Instagram (or a similar platform) to show off your photos. I think of my Instagram feed as my online portfolio. This helps me post with greater intention and purpose (’cause not everyone wants to see random pictures of my dog—sorry, Neil)
- ALWAYS keep the originals — back them up and then back them up again—and create an organizational system so your photos are easy to find
Ready to Invest in Better Food Photography?
In this free, hour-long virtual class, you’ll get actionable tips for expanding your social media presence and getting noticed online. Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity — sign up for our FREE food photography masterclass here! (You’ll also need to join our Facebook group to view the training and participate in our live Q&A.) I’ll see you over there!