Sunday, November 26, 2006

From Food Blogging to Professional Food Writing

Hello Food Bloggers,

I have benefitted from so many of your posted questions and helpful responses, and, for the first time, am submitting a question of my own.

In truncated form: How many of you are aspiring to write about food in a professional or semi-professional capacity?

In a slightly long-winded form: I am working on my Ph.D. in a non-food related field, and have found my food blog to be a really enjoyable outlet to write casually about food while dedicating most of my time to my dissertation. I would eventually like to do some freelance writing about food-related topics. For those of you who do this sort of work, did you publish a food blog first? If so, do you think that your food-blogging opened up opportunities for you to move into professional writing? Have any of you been approached with offers for writing projects by way of your blogs? Any suggestions for how I can, in the future, use the writing I have done on my blog to get my foot in the door of professional food writing?

This Post was written by Sarah Miller from Food and Paper.

13 comments:

McAuliflower said...

Hi Sarah,
A brief response...

I just picked up a book that I think will be a good resource and addresses many of your questions about moving to professional writing:
Will Write for Food.

It gives specific exercises that address food writing and covers topics ranging from restaurant reviews to approaching magazines about articles.

I'm only into the first chapter, but so far I can see that it's a perfect bite for food bloggers to chew on.

christine said...

Will Write for Food is a great book. I'm reading it for the second time.

Barbara said...

I started my blog as an interest and to communicate with like minded people while I was forced to be stay at home due to illness and subsequent treatment. A couple of months ago I was contacted through my blog and asked to write a piece for a British magazine for which I would be paid. I resisted at first as I didn't want the pressure, but in the end agreed to do it. Once I started I found I actually enjoyed the process and I would accept another assignment if offered it. However my blog is almost 2 years old and it is the only time I've been offered money to write. I'm one blogger in a very small pond which probably helped. I also write about things fairly topical to my region and this was the sort of thing the magazine was looking for. I think if you want to write for money you need to actively search out assignments.

Mae said...

No offer of food writing has ever landed on my inbox and i don't think there ever will be one. I'm not as gifted as a lot of foodbloggers that i read all the time...

But, i got offered a job as a full time 'creative designer' in a marketing company through my blog. I had to turn it down. Unfortunately, i'm not yet in a position to leave a well paid job over something i'm passionate about. :(

All the best!

nika said...

Mae: wow, I had not heard of that permutation before.

Its interesting the different types of opportunities that come up for different bloggers. For some of us its paid writing, for some paid photography, some like yours, completely different!

It really supports and points out the belief that how you THINK about the world (and a blog is ALL about how you think about the world) effects how the world thinks about you.

One of my favorite bloggers has a stupendously beautiful blog and her photography would knock you off a mule its so amazing. She says she does it simply for the joy of doing it (which means she cooks/bakes and does the shots.. photography and food styling) and not for any sort of career.

I admire that so very much.

I am guessing that she gets endless offers for her photography and perhaps one day she will move it into the professional realm. In the mean time she does it just because she loves it, and it shows!

Mae said...

Hi Nika, yes, i was totally shocked and it's a great compliment that they offered me the job [well, i think it helped that i have a background in graphic design which got the ball rolling to their point of hiring me plus i showed them my portfolio].

Like most people, my blog is my outlet for creativity. It's a hobby that i trully enjoy. I love cooking, photography and sharing recipes to my friends and it serves as a journal for me. To put everything together in one context is what inspired me to have a blog [and of course the lovely comments that everyone leaves me further inspires me to keep going].

I never thought or hoped that one day some company will offer me a job to do this or that. This is not why i started foodblogging.

I do freelance creative design projects [i did 2 this year] as and when i please or time permits and as favours.

Amy Sherman said...

Will Write for Food is a great book. It paints a very realistic picture of what it is like to go "pro".

I am doing a bit of freelance food writing that came my way because of my blog. I just wrote the introduction to a book and the editor found me through my blog. But in general, I have found my blog mainly serves as an introduction to my writing and that I still have to pitch editors, just like everyone else.

Emily Stone said...

I second Amy. I do some professional writing work, and I think my blog has helped raise my profile a bit but I rarely have people knocking on my door. Magazine writing is a pretty competative field, so editors will rarely come to you, and you often have to do an enormous amount of work (pitch, revise your pitch, finally get an assignment, do additional research, write and revise five times) before you see a paycheck. So you sort of have to do it for the passion of it--and that's where I think food bloggers are most valuable to the mainstream journalism world--they write for the love of it anyway, not for the money. So, as a blogger, if you do land a pro gig, you're already on the right track. If there's a magazine that you particularly want to write for, try posting something on your blog that you think would belong in that publication--then send that in with your query letter as a sample of your writing--if you think your style matches the magazine, one of the editors might too. For more advice on the publishing world, try www.mediabistro.com.

Cate said...

I third Amy. ;) For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with anything and everything food-related, and I started my site as an outlet for that. Most of my friends/family don't have *quite* the obsession I do, and it was a great way to connect with others who *get* it. Growing up, I always wanted to be a freelance writer, so my site became a way to connect the two. They always say to write about what you know, right? Although it wasn't my initial goal, my site has led to paid writing assignments, which is wonderful. I subscribe to the belief ... do what you love and the money will follow. So far, so good.

FJK said...

Sarah,
Please contact me through the email linked to my blog and I'll be glad to talk about my food writing aspirations and blog creation in as much detail as you can possibly take.

Faith

mrs d said...

Interesting conversation! I fell into food blogging from a slightly different angle in that my writing background is almost entirely in fiction. I don't have aspirations to be a professional food writer -- unless I'm offered a gig inventing foods from the Gamma Quadrant -- but I have had a small number of requests regarding graphics work and web design based on Belly Timber's look.

I should note that my efforts to not write like a professional food writer are rather foolish where my bank account is concerned. Articles pay so much better than short stories it's not even funny!

Sarah said...

Thank all of you who have posted responses! I read Will Write For Food a few months ago, and I think it is a great resource. I highly recommend it. Even though I'm interested in doing some professional food writing, I didn't start my blog for that reason. Food blogging encourages me to write on a regular basis in a semi-public setting (I don't have that many readers!) without the pressures involved in academic writing. And that, in turn, gives me energy to return to writing about medieval literature and such.

And, it will be nice to have a small "portfolio" of writing samples on my blog when I do start trying to publish.

I'm not sure if this is common knowledge, but there is a free program called Blog Collector Lite(http://asprise.com/product/blogcollector/)
that will back up your blog as well as allow you to print it out in pdf. Pretty handy if you ever want to try to publish a cookbook or collection of essays.

Brandon said...

About six months after starting my blog, I was contacted by my local alternative weekly and they hired me as a restaurant critic. The downside of professionalizing somthing you love is that it sucks some of the passion out of it. On the other hand, you're doing something you love! Will Write for Food is right on the money and you may wnat to look into an online writing class at somewhere like Mediabistro.com (http://www.mediabistro.com/). It's a great site, and I've found it very helpful.