How to Write a Great Food Blog and Make it Onto the Delicious Blogroll

coffee, from 101 diner, hollywood, los angeles, ca - yes, this has nothing to do with this post
As you’ve already seen, I’ve moved my blogroll from the left sidebar to its own post page, and you must be falling all over yourself in both wonderment and disbelief and asking, “Why? Why on earth would Sarah engage in such extreme behavior, creating all kinds of chaos in her blog template? Why, Sarah, why?!”

Lovers, I thought you’d never ask.

I need space.

Before TasteSpotting ever fed our addiction to food porn, TasteSpotting lived “conceptually” in my head and in the sidebar of my blog as the title of my blogroll. In fact, TasteSpotting was going to be the original name of this blog, but I wasn’t sure that anyone would “get” the idea of obsessively compulsively keeping track of one thing, and one thing only – food. It’s a good thing I named this The Delicious Life since it seems I write more about Life than I do about Delicious.

TasteSpotting is a reality of a site for us now, and because I am working my delicious little blogtail off to becoming all kinds of rich and almostfamous, I need to use my sidebar for other things besides blogrolling like…self-promotion (as if writing an entire blog wasn’t self-promotion enough). That’s why I moved my blogroll to its own page – to give TasteSpotting its own bit of real estate in the sidebar, which is about the only way I’ll ever get to “play” in real estate here in LA, but that, of course, is a post for another day.

Blogrolling on a separate page doesn’t give nearly as much of the spotlinklight to my favorite food blogs, sites, and other internestuous addictions, but don’t worry, when I am a great big shiny blogstar, I will never forget the littlelinks in my Delicious Life! I promise. * kiss! kiss! * Love you! Of course I remember when we used to IM! Want my autograph?

As I was going through the motions of copying, pasting, and making edits to my blogroll, I realized that the notion of a “blogroll” has evolved for me. When I first started the DL, I intended TasteSpotting to catalog every food blog out there, in the same spirit that trainspotters obsessively write down the number of every rail car that passes through their station. However, I soon realized that someone starts a new food blog about oh, every seven seconds. Eventually, my blogroll would extend much further down the page than even the combination of ten of the longest posts I’ve ever written – and I’m not exactly a succinct writer – throwing off the symmetry of my page, further adding to the imbalance that is my life.

So I decided to keep my blogroll personal. My blogroll is a tight list of my favorite blogs and sites.

Why, Sarah, why? Why play favorites? Why so exclusionary? Why so elitist? Why must you disrupt the harmony of the lovey dovey food blogosphere with such divisive blogrolling?

I’m that way. I have favorites. We all do, but not all of us admit it. Having favorites is human.

As I sat down with my second cup of coffee to do a little pre-blogging blog surfing, I tried to figure out why I love some blogs and list them on my blogroll and why I don’t love others. Sure, there are blogs with incredible photography, eye catching design, delicious-sounding recipes, and I would be a liar if I said I never visited them. I do. But I click on, scan the photos, maybe linger a nanosecond longer on a particularly beautiful image of risotto or pornographic shot of poutine, but then I click right off. These are my eye candy blogs. I don’t read them, so they’re probably not on my blogroll.

But as I get to about the halfway point in my coffee cup, I hit a handful of blogs that I absolutely adore. I get the food porn blogs out of the way quickly because I only have to take a quick peek at the photo, but save time to linger, ponder, chew on every word that is on My Handful. They are not necessarily particularly beautifully designed beyond an off-the-shelf standard blogger template, they do not necessarily have magazine quality photography, if any at all, but they are written so well, so engagingly, that I read every word. Sometimes I learn about the blogger, sometimes I learn something new about food, but most of the time, I am simply so wildly entertained by the quality of the writing.

Writing.

In my opinion, the best blogs out there are the ones that have the best writing. That is just my opinion.

You might remember piece in Food & Wine magazine written by Pete Wells last Spring called In the Belly of the Blog. I wrote my own personal response back then, and I don’t mean to re-live the whole disastrophe, nor to beat a dead horse, but I must bring it up again to make a point.

For Wells, the best blogs are the ones that consistently post about the same niche topic. That – laser focus – is what drives Wells’ blogroll, but not mine. A blog about cheese sandwiches (a phrase Wells used to refer to almost every other blog that wasn’t on his own short list of “the best”) that states day after day that the writer ate a cheese sandwich is focused. And dull. A blog about cheese sandwiches that intelligently recounts the history of some certain cheese, explains the recipe for a cheese sandwich in witty prose, does nothing but mention a cheese sandwich as a prop in an entertaining story – that will make my blogroll. Wells prefers a hyperfocus. I prefer witty, smart, challenging, fast, sophisticated, clever, funny writing. Hell, a good third of my blogroll has nothing at all to do with food.

The point I am trying to make here is that a blogroll is personal. There are no absolutes. There is no such thing as “the best blog” because it’s all so very subjective. There is only “The Best according to…” There are only personal favorites, and according to me, the best blogs for me, have some certain characteristics in common.

10 Qualities of a Great Food Blog (or How to Make it Onto the Delicious Blogroll)

  1. Well-written
  2. Uses descriptive words beyond “delicious” and “bland” to describe foods that are delicious or bland
  3. Edited for spelling
  4. Good, or at least decent, photography
  5. Writing that reflects the personality of the author
  6. Frequent and/or regular publishing
  7. Stays on topic, both entirety of post with respect to the “genre” of the blog and the content of the post itself with respect to the “subject” of the post
  8. Has a point
  9. Gets to the point.
  10. Gets to the point sooner rather than later.

And yes, I realize that my own blog, The Delicious Life, does not comply with any of these.

That’s probably why I don’t blogroll myself.

** a year ago today, the king of sushi was anonymous **

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  • yoko

    “And yes, I realize that my own blog, The Delicious Life, does not comply with any of these [qualities].”

    Not true– your writing definitely reflects your personality, which is what makes your blog a great read. And you have decent photography and great insights about food and how it reflects your history. You made it onto my blogroll!

  • sarah

    yoko: aw, thanks yoko!

  • ByTheBay

    This is why I link to only a very select few blogs, and not necessarily the glossy ones either. With such a huge blog world, who needs a link of every blog? What means more to me is to know what blogs an individual I respect reads on a regular basis.

  • ByTheBay

    This is why I link to only a very select few blogs, and not necessarily the glossy ones either. With such a huge blog world, who needs a link of every blog? What means more to me is to know what blogs an individual I respect reads on a regular basis.

  • Acme Instant Food

    Okay, who gave away my upcoming post on grilled Gruyere, with a recipe sung to the tune of “Old Man River?”

    Huh? Who’se the mole!

    I’m keeping an eye one you Delicious (and your little blog too)!

  • sarah

    by the bay: yes, and i like that a person’s blogroll is somewhat telling of his or her personality. in many cases, you are who you hang out with, and in blogging, sometimes you are who you read.

    acme: old man river. old man river?!?!

    ok, honey, not even your gorgeous face can save you now. you’re off the list. :)

  • Acme Instant Food

    AAAAaaaahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Spydey

    so what’s the next restaurant on the list? can’t wait to read about the next adventure

  • SteamyKitchen

    good thing I don’t write a dang blog for a living!! ;-)

  • sarah

    spydey: i have a lot to catch up on, particualrly culver city: ford’s, wilson, k-zo…all long ago visits, but still need to be written up!

    jaden: wait, what do you do?!?!

  • Doug

    I’m a big proponent of #5 – personality – that’s where blogs differ (and excel, IMO) from mainstream media.

    If I’m going to take someone’s advice – be it food advice or anything else – I want to feel like I have a connection to them.

  • Sarah

    this post of yours just made me realize that I have to add the delicious life to my blogroll. yours is a blog I read, rather than scan through…and, I agree with you, that’s what makes a food blog delicious. keep it yummy.

  • Sarah

    this post of yours just made me realize that I have to add the delicious life to my blogroll. yours is a blog I read, rather than scan through…and, I agree with you, that’s what makes a food blog delicious. keep it yummy.

  • JF

    If only I hadn’t discovered thisnext…I might actually update my blog once a month.

  • jen

    hi sarah. i just started my own food blog (i know, one every seven seconds), and i found this post very helpful (and funny). thank you for that. i’ll be back.

  • Shannalee

    I am so behind the times, writing my fledgling four-month-old site the year after blogs were being created “every seven seconds.” That is so typical me.

    Good post, found as I was looking for advice on writing a good blog. I totally agree with you that writing is what makes blogs worth reading. Do you know Orangette?

  • jbeach

    Great post — I concur. My favorite blogs are the well-written ones where I feel like I’m somewhat getting to know the blogger.

    btw, i think i have that mug. i love small coffee mugs. that way the stuff doesn’t have time to cool down. same same?

  • jbeach

    Great post — I concur. My favorite blogs are the well-written ones where I feel like I’m somewhat getting to know the blogger.

    btw, i think i have that mug. i love small coffee mugs. that way the stuff doesn’t have time to cool down. same same?

  • sarah j. gim

    jbeach: good thing i haven’t written on my blog in over five months!

  • http://squirrelbread.wordpress.com heather

    still a relatively new blogger, I’m sure I meet few of the things on that list… it’s a work in progress. I am, however, a constant picker off the synonym tree! enjoyed the post.

    cheers,

    *heather*

  • Bunker

    I liked it. So much useful material. I read with great interest.

  • http://wanblogger.com/jamessblog/ Triamminaland

    I am frequently searching for brand-new articles in the world wide web about this matter. Thankz!

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