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How to Write About Food: Earn Money From Your Hobby

Scientist and author, Beth is also a keen home cook. She enjoys trying new recipes.

Great Images make your readers come back for a second helping.

Great Images make your readers come back for a second helping.

Must-Read Book for Food Writers

If you want to learn about the many ways to earn from writing about food, I recommend you read Will Write for Food: Pursue Your Passion and Bring Home the Dough Writing Recipes, Cookbooks, Blogs, and More. The author, Dianne Jacob, holds many foodie writing awards. These include the Cordon D'Or Award for Literary Culinary Reference, the Gourmand World Cookbook Award, and a Silver Nautilus award. If you’re interested in food and love to write, this book is a great eye-opener. You may be able to turn your love of food into a profitable side-hustle.

There are many opportunities for food writers to make money. You could post short comments on review sites, or you can write longer, more informative articles about your eating experience on blogs and newspaper websites. You can focus on a specific topic, like veganism, or the effects of our diet on climate change. Or you can paint a broader picture such as describing a regional cuisine, or give recipes for a particular type of cooking, like using a wok.

How to Get Your Foot in the Door

There’s only one way to get your foot in the door and that is to start writing. You will learn as you write, so don’t expect to earn big bucks until your skills are top notch. Food writing is no different from other kinds of creative endeavor in this respect. Start a blog and write for your own pleasure and interest. Learn about SEO (search engine optimization) and make connections with other like-minded authors.

When you feel ready to pitch to a publisher, you need to be ready for rejection. Dianne says that 99% of pitches get rejected. You must do your research before you submit. Make sure you understand the magazine or publisher’s angle, and then, and only then, write an idea to suit.

"Will Write For Food" 4th Dianne Jacob.

"Will Write For Food" 4th Dianne Jacob.

How to Be a Food Writer

Dianne Jacob’s writing style is informative and easy to read. She encourages writers to experiment and try out different venues for their writing until they find one that suits. Not everyone will earn this way, but she suggests that you read other people’s blogs and articles to help you learn the tricks of the trade. There are many different ways to be a food writer, and using social media effectively can help you achieve online and offline success.

The world of food writing has changed over the last 10 years. It used to be enough just to have a food blog and followers would come organically. Now it's a good idea to have an Instagram account or similar, with lots of great food photos. Some food blogs make a good income for their owners, but they are really a mini media empire, a business. Really successful authors may even employ assistants to keep up a steady flow of new content to their site.

Earning can be through ads dotted around the blog posts. Or you could post food photos to become a foodie influencer on Instagram, and include recipes. For the lucky few, a cookbook deal may follow. Dianne’s main point is that writers today need to be social media savvy and understand the internet to be successful.

What Is a Blog? Do You Need One?

A blog is an online journal containing your thoughts and opinions on different aspects of life. The word blog is a compressed form of the words web and log. Anyone can start one, but not every blog pulls in readers or generates much income for the blogger. Before you put hours of time and effort into creating your blog, think about why you want one and whether you actually need one.

There are thousands of blogs on the Internet, and it's not just chance that makes some successful while others fail. It helps if you understand what draws readers to your site and how you will measure its success. I recommend the book Write Blog Posts Readers Love. It has some great tips on how to engage with your audience.

How to Make Money by Food Blogging

Blogging’s advantage over submitting work to an editor, is that there are no gatekeepers. You get to decide what is published. Your opinions and writing style don’t have to conform to anyone else’s idea of what is right. However, competition for readers is fierce. Whether you want to be a blogger or write a cookbook, to succeed you need to have a professional attitude.

Those who make money with a blog are entrepreneurs first, and an expert food writer second. They understand business, as well as the internet. They have technical expertise, and can hire people to cover any gaps in their skill-set. The skills needed for success are those of writer, editor, interviewer, image-maker, tech-savvy, and social media skills. You can use a blog as a marketing engine for your writing. It can open doors to other opportunities.

Dianne’s book explains that successful bloggers are no longer just posting diary entries, they are aiming to make money. The people who view your video, blog, cookbook, or article are often never going to actually visit the restaurant you recommend or make the recipe you have crafted. They want to be entertained and have a few moments escape from daily life.

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She gives tips on how to make your efforts stand out in crowded market. She suggests that the key is to have a strong voice. You should allow your personality to come through in your writing. Are you humorous, sarcastic, or precise in your prose? You need to entertain your readers, and provide them with good information. Find a niche and specialize. Get to know your audience and write for them. Your readers will return for the writing as well as the recipe.

Choosing a niche topic (e.g.edible herbs) can help build an audience.

Choosing a niche topic (e.g.edible herbs) can help build an audience.

What Is Food Writing? Write From the Heart

I love the way Dianne defines food writing. She says it includes topics as diverse as a blog recipe for fish tacos, an academic treatise on the history of tea, a newspaper’s story about Toronto’s Chinatown, or a cookbook about the dishes of Nigeria. Her explanation shows that food writers can include geography, politics, sociology, finance, environment, farming, and many more, if food is their passion. Food and its ingredients connect with every aspect of life.

However being an passionate foodie is not enough to make it in this field, you also need to be a good writer and able to tell a story. Great writing combines interesting facts with personal experience. You should structure your piece to make it engaging.

  • The first sentence should hook your reader, so make it dramatic.
  • Set the scene by introducing your characters; these will include the food itself, local culture, unusual ingredients, the politics of food, etc. etc.
  • Give your opinion; it's OK to be controversial, but back up opinion with facts where possible.
  • Round off the article with a concluding paragraph.
  • Include a few well-chosen images as they can make your writing come alive.

Dianne Jacob: Award Winning Author and Journalist

Food stories are a way of sharing your family’s history and culture. Dianne’s many books and articles demonstrate how this can be done. She has an unusual background, a Canadian now living in the US, her parents were orthodox Iraqi Jews who lived in China. She started her career as a journalist and editor, and is now a food writer and writing coach.

She says that cookbooks are about being immersed in someone’s view of the world. Descriptions of food help a reader be transported to another time and place. She recommends that you become an expert at something in particular, rather than covering the whole field of cookery. A niche writer can attract a loyal readership. The first edition of Will Write For Food came out in 2005. This, the fourth edition, includes more about writing online, in particular it contains useful advice about blogging and using social media to promote your articles.

Everything You Need to Know About Food Writing With Dianne Jacob

Target a Niche Market and Write With Personality

It doesn’t matter whether you’re an enthusiastic food-lover, a business expense diner, or a grab-a-quick-snack type of eater, your views on food are interesting if you write well. Dianne Jacob’s book shows the many opportunities there are for food writers.

There is a big audience for good writing on topical food issues. Remember that readers are not limited by geography, they can access the internet from anywhere, at any time. Even language is no longer a barrier; it’s easy to use services such as Google Translate.

You need to make your writing unique so that it stands out from the crowd. I suggest you focus on a niche subject in which you have specialist knowledge. A good author knows their target market and writes on topics that are under-reported. Check out potential competitors before you start a project. That way you won't waste time researching an over-saturated topic.

Effective authors include personal anecdotes; they demonstrate unique knowledge and experience of the topic they are writing about. Many of them invite online reader feedback, as this can increase reader engagement. Comments on an article can start a dialogue, and these can help establish you as a real person. It also helps to have an “about me” page to give readers some background information about your life experience that makes you an authority on the topic.

Engage With Your Followers on Social Media

Love it or loathe it, social media is a great way to raise your profile. Bloggers frequently share links to their posts on online social networks. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn are popular platforms, but the best ones for you will depend upon your target market.

All social media sites publish information about the age, sex, and location of their users, so check out the statistics, and try to build a following on sites relevant to your audience. The more you know about your potential readers, the better chance you have of successfully turning a hobby into a nice little earner.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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