If there’s one thing I’ve learned food blogging so far, it’s that bloggers are some of the nicest, friendliest and most helpful people in business. If you’ve got a problem, you can usually just post a plea for help in a Facebook group and someone will get back to you to share their wisdom. It’s partly because we remember what it was like being the newbie and trying to get our heads around SEO & SSL while developing recipes, but also because when you work for yourself, you realise the importance in making connections and reaching out to others.
It’s very rare, therefore, that you will come across a tricky relationship with another blogger or have to deal with any issues of bad feeling in the field, and that’s also because of the unwritten laws of blogging etiquette. Blogging etiquette, while never formally enforced, is a set of standards of writing, interacting and growing your business, which enables us all to coexist in this crazy online world while actually helping each other too. If you commit to being a working blogger (food – or otherwise), then you commit to these codes of conduct and your blog will actually thrive because of it.
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Here are the “rules”:
Credit where credit’s due
I’m going to start this with a HUGE bombshell: You can’t copyright a recipe.
So all those hours of hard work, finding the perfect combination of six ingredients and developing your recipe until it’s just right, and you might just find that someone else is doing it too.
So what can you do? Well, not a lot really.
You see, people read food blogs for the stories and the different slants on their favourite foods. My food blog only creates recipes with six ingredients or fewer, so while I publish macaroni and cheese just like the next blog, mine is perhaps easier to make – which is maybe why I get the traffic.
But you get the idea; it’s those quirks of our styles that draw in the visitors. Not to mention the stunning food photography.
So you’ll always have an unique angle to share about your recipes, you just can’t claim a particular recipe for your own.
By the way, don’t ever repost a recipe without rewriting it in your own words and offering the proper accreditation to the original poster.
It’s just not the done thing.
Only post/share for yourself 20% of the time
This may seem rather counterproductive, but in order to really grow your business, you need to share the love! The general pattern is to spend a whopping 80% of the time seeking out other insightful and inspiring things to share, whether that be recipes from food bloggers you admire, articles about food, or anything you think your audience might find helpful. Nobody likes a blogger who only pushes their own goods all the time; share a post from another and you might just find they share one back.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Support your fellow entrepreneurs and they’ll support you, too.” quote=”Support your fellow entrepreneurs and they’ll support you, too.”]
Don’t assume people are interested
Don’t sign people up to your Facebook group (or any other scheme) without their express permission. Even if you think your best friend is really excited by your new risotto recipe, it’s still rude to add her to your group and page without her say-so. Make it clear that people can opt in – and out – of your offerings.
This becomes even more important when you start an email list. You need to set up a system whereby people can opt in to receiving your emails, to the email address that they choose, and trust that you will only send them what you promise – not SPAM them with other material or give/sell their email addresses on. It’s not at all appropriate – and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal, too.
Use original photography
For each of your recipes, you should have photographs that you have taken yourself, of the recipe you are blogging (seems obvious, but it’s not to some). Don’t take pictures from other bloggers or websites and pass them off as your work – that’s called plagiarism. At the very least, make sure your photographs are CC0 (covered by the creative commons license – i.e. anyone can use them without accreditation) and fit for the purpose for which you are using them. Most stock-photography websites state that you can use their photographs for any commercial reasons as long as the photographers and people pictured do not come off in a bad light. But since you’ll mostly be posting new recipes, you will be using original photography anyway.
Make sure you always disclose affiliates and sponsorship at the start of the posts they affect AND somewhere permanent on your website, too (i.e. the “disclaimer” page). If you are going to be making any kind of gain from writing a post, whether monetary or in goods, services or kind, you HAVE TO STATE IT CLEARLY – by law. And by good etiquette too. Your readers deserve to know if they are helping you to make a living.
No “like for like” or “follow for follow”
I really hate those posts and people that promise “like for like”. You don’t gain anything from it – except a number in your followers tally – and there’s no benefit to it as those followers aren’t interested in your recipes or products anyway and usually unfollow you a few days later. Fewer, engaged, followers, is where it’s at.
Do your research
When you write any recipe, blog post or article and release it into the Internet world, you are in effect publishing it for all eternity. That means that your words ultimately have the power to influence anyone, anywhere.
Wow. That’s a lot of pressure.
Therefore, the onus is on you to make sure that the information you are sharing is correct to the best of your knowledge, and updated as necessary. Imagine if you published a faulty recipe and hundreds of people came down with food poisoning! How would you feel?
Fact check, double check, and don’t publish hearsay or gossip. Do your own solid research so that you know your advice can be trusted.
[clickToTweet tweet=”The Internet is omniscient. Use it wisely.” quote=”The Internet is omniscient. Use it wisely.”]
Stay positive, productive and engaged
Blogging is HARD! And it’s easy to become bogged down with all the tasks you have to get done every day. But, when somebody takes the time and trouble to reach out to you, don’t just brush them off with a quick “like” or file them under “too busy”. Answer all comments and messages yourself, don’t slag off the competition and support your fellow bloggers. It’s the little things like this that people remember and will cause them to come back to you time and time again.
Say please and thank you!
A general rule for blogging, and for life.
How do you stay positive when the going gets tough?