What is a Canadian Food Blog?
What is it that makes a food blog... well, a food blog? Is it a recipe? A beautiful photo of a perfectly plated dish? Is it a story surrounding the food? Is it a visit to a restaurant? A review of a favourite cookbook?
It can any of those things, or all of them. It seems we are a diverse group.
But, are we so different? Think of photographers. Some are food photographers; some shoot landscapes, some portraits or weddings. There are pet and wildlife photographers, photographers who specialize in architecture, those who work for NGOs or specialize in travel.
What do they all have in common? A love of light and how it plays on a scene. A need to capture a moment and, most importantly, tell a story.
Food blogging is no different. There are as many genres of food blogs as there are types of photographers. And for every genre, there are many sub genres.
If you’re a “kitchen blogger” sharing recipes, it can be easy to forget that for every one of you, there is another “restaurant blogger” out there sharing their dining experience. Some of us blog to share ways to eat healthier, to lose weight, to gain weight, or cope with dietary restrictions. We are bakers and cookie makers, beer drinkers and winemakers, grillers, cheese makers, canners, gardeners and herbalists.
We have bloggers who blog about photographing food, bloggers who write about styling food. There are diners who are all about street food, others who write about their traveling culinary adventures. Some review cookbooks, some review restaurants and others review products.
Some write in English, some in French, and some in both. Some are sharing the recipes of their heritage, some are preserving their heritage. Some just want to share recipes with friends and families.
Some do it for money, some do it for love and many... many do it for both.
But there are a few things we all share. We share a passion for food and drink. And we have a need to share our love of all things culinary with others and, just like the aforementioned photographers, we need to tell a story!
A Diverse Group of Story Tellers
Our membership here at FBC is remarkably diverse. We have members who fit into every category I've mentioned. It's easy to be divisive – to dismiss other food bloggers who don’t write in the genre we have chosen. I would argue that we can be a clique-y bunch at times, fiercely protecting our own little patch of the internet, pouring over stats and fretting over SEO or who got an invite to a media opening.
But perhaps we need to think about what is at the heart of a blog. It’s not a recipe or a restaurant. If I want a recipe I can go to allrecipes.com. If I want to get a quick rundown on a restaurant choice for dinner I can skim Yelp or Urban Spoon.
We are all story tellers. Some of us do it with words while others use photos. But for most of us, it’s a combination of both. We blog to share, to inform, to teach and to tell our stories. That is what we have in common. We are telling our stories, the stories of the restaurants and recipes we write about. Each in our own voice.
Competing is a part of being human and it can be a powerful driving force. But it is not, and should not be everything. Blogging success comes from carving out your niche, writing stellar content, improving your photos and focusing on what you do best – not what the next blog on the list does.
Food Blogging In Canada - What's Next?
Food Blogging in Canada is still young and developing. As Food Bloggers of Canada nears its one year anniversary, we still have so far to go to catch up with our American counterparts. Brands, restaurants and publishers are still figuring us out and are nervous to test the waters in Canada for many reasons.
But this is a huge opportunity! Blogging by its very nature is about content and community. As Canadian food bloggers it’s time for us to step up and come together and find our commonalities. We can accomplish so much more as a group that works together than one that is splintered.
While we each have our own unique voice, think how much stronger each of our blogs could become if we banded together and put all of our voices into an orchestra… where flutes, violins, drums, cellos and tubas each with their own unique sound manage to come together in a powerful but harmonious voice that can’t be ignored.
A more practical but blunt way to look at is like this:
Do you want to be the only Canadian food blogger that BRAND ABC works with? Well guess what... that’s not going to work so get over it. BRAND ABC has a marketing budget and they want the biggest bang for their buck. One Canadian blogger is not going to give it to them. By simple population mathematics, it won’t happen. TEN Canadian food bloggers might be a better investment.
So how do we make that happen? We show them how big the Food Blogging scene is in Canada. We show them the reach we have, especially as a group. We show them that we’re a community and an active one at that. We look for ways to co-operate and show our strength.
Now anyone who knows me in real life will tell you that despite being an artist and a creative, I’m not the airy fairy type. It’s easy to say we should all share and nurture and find our own voice. We hear it over and over again. But that’s partly because it’s true. We need to do all those things. But I like some practicality behind that.
So how do we grow as a community, share with one another? Let me make some suggestions for the newbies and the veterans alike:
- Step up and share your knowledge. Come tell our members what works for you and what hasn’t. Share your mistakes and what you learned from them.
- Share your successes with us. We want to know. We want them in our news. Yes we’re modest Canadians but let’s celebrate our accomplishments and show the Canadian food scene what we’re doing!
- Interact with your fellow bloggers on social media – not just the same ones you always talk to but keep an eye out for new ones who are just breaking in to the scene (we always list new members in our weekly news). Say hello. We all know how great it is to see a new voice comment on our blogs
- If you’re interested in cultivating a relationship with brands or restaurants, or even within our association, be a pleasure to work with. Remember, life’s a two way street. It should never be just about what’s in it for you.
- Follow through on your commitments regardless of whether you have chosen to accept money for them. You said yes so honour that.
- Don’t be afraid to be different. It’s a highly prized trait, believe it or not. Don’t worry about what the blogger on the other side of the Internet is doing. They’re not you. Just get on with what you have to do and do it the best you possibly can.
Success is many things and it’s different for everyone. But it’s important to remember that part of it is also about how you are perceived by the community you write for, the community you write about AND how you interact with your peers.
We are a diverse group and we each have our story to tell and share. And as Canadians we should celebrate that diversity. There is more than enough room for all of us. But we should also open up to the bigger community we are a part of. It can only benefit all of us in the long run.
Please join us on FBC next Monday when we celebrate our first birthday and this great community we are all a part of.
The Canadian Food Blogging Community was written by FBC co-founder Melissa Hartfiel, the author of the food photography blog Eyes Bigger Than My Stomach. When she's not cooking, blogging or taking photos, she runs her own web and graphic design company Fine Lime Designs where she can legitimately geek out on all things WordPress and Adobe. You can find her on twitter @mhchipmunk and on Facebook