The blogosphere has communities for just about every interest group: golf aficionados, animal lovers, wine enthusiasts….if you can name it, there’s at least a couple hundred related blogs about it. Even understanding that there is an online place for everyone, there is one community so massive that it has garnered books, a movie and thousands of blogs. Not only is this a large community, but it is a very active one with much updating, in-linking, collaboration and commenting. What makes this group so large and dynamic?
Well, I have a theory. Social media offers the opportunity for people to connect with others and to build online relationships. Offline, people often gather, bond and connect over food (think about family Thanksgivings, work dinners and friends all pitching in for pizza). It’s really no surprise that these two activities have found and fallen in love with each other in the food blogging community. After all, food is a universal: everybody eats. As 17andbaking says, “it seems to me that one of the most important things about being alive is, well, food.” Not only is food something that complete strangers can discuss with ease and understanding, cooking is a creative and productive outlet. While good cooking requires a certain skill set, anyone can choose to engage in the activity itself with only basic understanding and minimal equipment (although, as any twenty-something newly on their own will tell you, you may not want to eat the end result!).
In the midst of innumerable blogs by great home chefs and bakers, why does one blog get hundreds of comments per post, and another go unacknowledged for what are (probably) delicious recipes? To answer this question, I took a tour through the top twelve food blogs (based on number of in-links) and came up with a list of five criteria that these blogs all have in common. Note: I skipped over some sites that are more accurately labeled as magazines rather than blogs.
1. Good food. This one should be a given. Inspired, delicious food with recipes that people want to replicate in their own kitchen.
2. Clear and abundant pictures. The photography of food blogging is stunning. Many times the images have a Pavlovian effect upon the audience, demanding an attempt of the recipe be planned even before the entry has been read.
3. Well-written. Although blogs are essentially online diaries, there is no place at the top for a blog author who cannot write.
4. Life/food intersection. These top blogs not only provides a recipe, but context. Often, it is discussed why a certain recipe (old family favorite or an attempted replication of a restaurant dish recently eaten) or a particular ingredient (strange cravings or seasonal choices) are chosen. The way life leads us to food and food connects to the rest of our life is examined and celebrated.
5. Personality. Each of these bloggers reveals distinct traits and offers sneak peeks into their lives, sharing heartwarming stories or wry and funny anecdotes. These blogs come alive with the characteristics of the writer/cook and woo the audience into friendship.
From these five ingredients rises incredible food blogs with devoted followings. Don’t believe it can be that simple? Check out our top 12 food bloggers and see for yourself!
2. Smitten Kitchen (This site is one of my favorites. I made her Chocolate Mousse for our Ladies’ Night dessert this week and it was sumptious!)
9. Becks & Posh (although this site hasn’t been updated in quite awhile, the number of references still pointing back to it speaks volumes and keeps it in the top twelve)
12. The Pioneer Woman (there is a relatively simple chocolate cake recipe from The Pioneer Woman that puts all other chocolate cakes to shame. Do you have a birthday, holiday or weekday coming up? Make this cake. You will be glad you did.)
And because more is better when it comes to delectable food blogs, I’ll throw in my personal favorite, Joy the Baker, to make our list an even baker’s dozen. All thirteen of these blogs illustrate the five characteristics mentioned above (and some more). Who else would you add to this list/recommend?
Are there any other traits that you believe are necessary for a certain food blog to rise above the rest?