Food Blogging as a Hobby: Should we be emulating the pros?


I had the opportunity to meet Dianne Jacob at BlogHer Food back in October; we bonded over chocolate bacon and cherry-pistachio brittle at the closing party while watching Michael Ruhlman demonstrate how to make bacon (which I will attempt and blog about once I get my paws on some pork belly!). I really respect Dianne’s work; in fact, I put her book on my wish list because while I’m sort of allergic to the idea of hiring a writing coach (I had briefly considered the idea of hiring her long-distance, but … no), I am cool with using her book as a resource as I explore my dimensions as a writer.

But then I felt a bit deflated and stung when I read this post on her blog. I am most definitely a hobbyist food blogger. While I do hope to discover or create a career having to do with writing and food, whether that be in academia as an extension of my dissertation work or in another milieu, I harbor no delusions of becoming a professional food blogger. For one, I have zero photography skills, nor can I afford a fancy-pants camera and lenses. What we have of discretionary income goes toward family trips and the like (or concert tickets, as Matt and I both have rediscovered our love of seeing bands at seedy clubs and overpriced outdoor venues with early curfews).

While I do try to post at least once a week, sometimes it doesn’t happen. Okay, more often than not, it doesn’t happen. Sometimes life gets in the way of the hobby (just look at all of my unfinished sewing and knitting projects! Not to mention the shelves of unread novels I’ve picked up or checked out with the best of intentions!). I converted this blog into a food-centric one a little over a year ago not only because I wanted a dedicated angle for my blog, but also because one chapter of my dissertation is devoted to three specific blogs. To that end, it cultivates my own multimodal literacy to keep up an active blog while also thinking critically about other food blogs. But I also just really like thinking, talking, and writing about food. I write here because I can use the recipes I experiment with as a jumping-off point for other things, like family, weight, my dissertation, and the class implications of social media.

Sure, I’d love to have tons of readers and make squillions of dollars off my blog, but that’s not realistic. I take the reality on its own terms. And just as some of the commenters on Dianne’s post pointed out, just because I am running and hope to complete the half-marathon in February doesn’t mean I have aspirations of being a professional marathoner (Ha! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAaaaaa….). Does that mean I should stop running? Should we just abandon all forms of self-expression simply because we won’t ever be good enough as Pioneer Woman (whom I suspect has helper elves) or won’t ever attain professional status?

Jacob argues that because a blog is a public document, we hobbyist bloggers should aim for the high standards she set forth in her talk. Yes, if you want to get more readers and monetize your blog, you should do everything in your power to set yourself apart from the eighty bazillion other food bloggers out there and follow those guidelines. Find an angle. But if you want to use your blog to express yourself and talk to your village, and you’re okay with only getting 25 hits a day (if that), then do your thang. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

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6 Comments

  1. Melanie – Thank you for writing this and I totally agree with everything you feel and said! I love the comparison to running a race and other hobbies. I’m going to clip and save this with folks who don’t seem to understand that not every blogger feels they should be taken as seriously and treated the same as if they were a professional journalist!

    Reply
  2. Great post and thanks for the mention, lady! Are you going to do any blogging conferences this year?

    Reply
    • boxingoctopus

       /  January 1, 2011

      Not sure yet! My husband and I are debating my going to BlogHer Food in May; we’ll just have to see if the $$ is there. You?

      Reply
  3. Great argument- I concur. No faster way to kill something you love than to make it a “job.” We’re lucky here in Austin to have such a great “village”- many of our blogs may not be widely read but the support and camaraderie of the community is worth way more than hits from strangers.

    Reply
  4. I think your blog is wonderful. Thanks for writing it!

    Reply

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