Building a Blogging Community (Recipe: Banana Bread)

I have been blogging for almost four years now, and while I am no expert at all to food blogging, I have seen a lot of things as the food blogging niche has completely exploded into something beyond belief. When I first started blogging, there was a small, intimate handful of us. Now, there are more food blogs than any one person can keep track of… it has gotten quite insane!

What I have noticed over the years, however, is there seems to be two different groups of bloggers. Neither “type” of blogger is good or bad… there are just two totally different philosophies on how they will build their blog.

One type of blogger is the blogger who is all about growth and development of their blog. It is all business and getting to the top of the mountain with ultimate success and financial reward as their main motivation. They are not in it to build friendships. They are not in it to assist others. They are in it for themselves and to become a brand name in food blogging. They believe the information they have is proprietary and they don’t really want to share their blogging tips, photography tips, etc. because it might help to make someone more successful than them. Twitter and other social media outlets are used as a marketing tool versus a chance to engage with others. This isn’t saying that they aren’t nice and kind… there are many bloggers who fall into this category who are some of the nicest people in the world. Their motivation when it comes to blogging is just purely business.

The other type of blogger is the one who thrives on building a community of people to help and support each other with their blogging efforts. They rally around each other, celebrate successes, promote each others blog posts, and do not see the other bloggers as competition. They look at working mostly with PR companies and brands that want long term, mutual relationship.  Their first thought isn’t “what’s in it for me” but instead “what’s in it for us”? Sure, it may take them longer to make it to the top of the mountain, but more than likely they won’t be standing there alone…they’ll have a support network of people they’ve built relationships with standing around them cheering them on.

One of my personal goals with blogging is to help as many people as possible find their way along their own, authentic blogging path. This is one of the reasons why I started Adopt a Blogger a little over three years ago. I wanted people to have a person they could trust and count on to provide that sense of community in this big blogging world. Adopt a Blogger will be launching again this month with a new website and a new format! I hope, if you are new or experienced, you’ll join me in building up our blogging community.

I am also excited to announce that I will be speaking about the value of building a blogging community at the BlogHer Food 2010 Conference in San Francisco. I’ll be on a panel with some bloggers that I truly admire: Elise from Simply Recipes, Ree from The Pioneer Woman and Alaina Browne of Serious Eats (I know… pinch me now. I am so lucky to be paired with such a great group of talented ladies!)

So with that, I leave you with this thought (and a link to a killer banana bread recipe from Simply Recipes). What kind of blogger are you? Do the actions you do everyday in regards to your blog speak volumes to the world about how you want to be perceived as a blogger?

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  1. says

    Love this post Kristen! I could feel when we spoke at the BSP that you really do want to help others. I started my site because I have always loved to cook and had wanted to do something like this years ago, but I had babies..Now I have a bit more time in my life…so I did it for me, I did if for my kids to have a piece of me with stories and recipes later in life.
    Funny I really haven’t a clue about the whole food blogger world and have done what I can to help others just beginning – I did it a bit backwards…I wrote a kids cookbook, got on QVC with it and multiple news shopws papers etc…THEN had to quick get up a website…so now I have my personal food blog that I began under a year ago just for me and a newly launched kids food website and what I really need is a blogging coach! I am so going to look into your adopt a blogger program, because believe me I could use the help. I want it to be fun, I want it to be about helping folks who either don’t cook much themselves, or think they can’t or don’t cook with their kids or eat family melas to be inspired…at the end of the day to me that is what it is all about!
    That is what fuels my passion.

  2. says

    Although it would be nice to land book deals and paid writing assignments and such from blogging, I do it because I honestly like it. I am a freelance food writer who gets jobs the good ole fashioned way by “pitching a fit”. But I know that in order to continue to build an audience and platform I need an online presence. My biggest obstacle is not really content but more photography and making my blog more eye-catching so that is something I hope to work on in the coming year.

    I started my blog initially in 2006 and then abandoned it because i was busy working on other things, now I’m back at it and the blogging community seems to be a little nicer this time around. I don’t know what it was but back when I first started I just wasn’t feeling the love.

  3. says

    Well I know I am a bit of both. I married and started a family pretty young which meant that I never had a chance to develop my own career. Blogging definitely started as something fun and creative but it’s also given me a second chance at a career – and it’s one that I can have while staying home with my kids. It was worth the wait to be in a career that I can honestly say I love vs just being out there in the workforce for a paycheck like every other nearing 30 college graduate. I know I couldn’t do it without the support of the food blogging community and my husband. I’m lucky enough that I don’t have to work and can stay home with the kids and work with something I truly enjoy even if I’m not making a killer at it.

  4. says

    I have already posted on facebook, but thank you so much for posting this article. I know I am a social blogger, because I want to stay away from the competitve side of things and enjoy the social interaction with like minded people. I am only pretty new to blogging but I love how encouraging and friendly everyone is. My motivation isn’t to conquer the world, it is to share what I find.

  5. says

    Wow, congratulations–how exciting for you!

    I started my blog to have something to do, basically. My husband had bought me a gorgeous Nikon D40, and I needed something to use it for, other than snapping photos of the kids and the dogs. I was super nervous at first, but realized how much fun it was pretty quickly! I continue to do it because it’s fun, I love food and I love writing about it. I still have so much to learn–it’s an ongoing process.

    I’ve recently been trying to figure out how to best monetize my blog, because let’s face it–making money from it is a very nice plus. But that’s not my top priority at all.

    No matter what, my goal is to remain my silly self in my writing. I don’t want to fall victim to anyone’s idea of what I should sound like when I write. I want to be me, like it or leave it. I feel like I’m talking with friends when I write, and that’s how I want it to stay.

  6. says

    i just started my food blog this year, and i do it purely for the love of cooking and writing (and i have fallen in love with photography, too!). i live in seattle, and i have noticed (on twitter esp) that the seattle bloggers tend to be very insular and clique-ish, while the rest of the blogging world has been much more open and inviting. i know people say seattlites are that way in general, but i have been surprised to see it play out online. i think your adopt-a-blogger idea is a great one, and i appreciate the welcome i have received from many of you out there.

  7. says

    Kristen, you are admirable and I could not agree with you more! And I happen to love banana bread too. :)

    I started my food blog after losing my cushy corporate job after Hurricane Katrina hit our area. At first it was just recording my recipes and sharing them, and then I realized that I could produce at least a part time income doing it, so now I consider it my “day job.” I’m a year into it now, and I hope that I fall somewhere in between the two you describe – building a brand and engaging, though I would love to spend more time {money} making my blog more professional. Everything that I’ve done on my bog has been me doing it, and I have much to learn yet.

    I visit & comment on the blogs of the folks who visit me at least a couple times a week, plus I visit other bloggers who do not visit me. I repost content from the blog on my Facebook page – but I do not do that with an automatic feed, but manually, so that I can engage with people as they view the recipe and leave comments. I often post exclusive content there too and engage by posting and responding to recipe requests and generally conversing with those followers. I don’t have FB and Twitter set to repost content on each other – frankly I don’t care for that.

    While I am not a Twitter junkie – meaning I do take time away from it – I try to be helpful, share tips and engage with those who follow pretty regularly – often-times with non-related food talk – though I try my best to stay away from complaining, criticism, religion and politics :) and do promote my blog by tweeting my own content & recipe updates too of course. I retweet a lot of content by others, including major companies and other food bloggers, but it is rarely reciprocated. The ones who do retweet my content are usually those who don’t have blogs.

    I think that’s part of that fear of competition thing you address and I’ll give you an example. I was honored to be a judge for a recipe contest with a national company recently and hosted a giveaway to go along with it to help increase awareness of the contest itself – one comment to enter, but a blogger could also have earned bonus entries for posting about the recipe contest to their readers. I only asked that they post about the contest itself with a link to the company’s website – no mention or linkback to my own blog at all. While quite a few active food bloggers took the initial entry, they did not share the contest with their readers for the bonus entries. I guess it has to do with that competitive fear, but to me, when you help others it comes back to you.

    That said, I know I need to promote others through my blog better – something like what you are doing with adopt a blogger. For me it’s mostly just a matter of time crunch. I’m doing this full time now and just the recipe development and creation, photography, editing, and posting – and then all of the above interaction – it’s very time consuming as it is! Still… I definitely need to incorporate some regular features to help promote some of those awesome blogs out there!

    Whew! Sorry so long – hope that insight helps somebody. I am fortunate enough to be attending BlogHer Food this year, yay! It’s my first blogging conference and I hope to meet you there.

  8. says

    That is one panel I’d like to attend… Unfortunately, I won’t be at BlogHer Food. After IFBC this past weekend, I was really missing the community that I experienced at the Big Summer Potluck. I ended up writing a post about my feelings about IFBC (posted today), and I think it also really sums up how I feel about blogging lately. I love the community and I love to inspire and communicate with others. For me, if someone gets something out of my posts, then I feel that it was a success!

  9. says

    I started my food blog because my kids begged me to put my recipes and cooking tips online for them to use. (one of them lived in Denmark for a period of time) I now enjoy the food blogging community and instead of reading cookbooks like I used to, I now read food blogs! I am a grandma who is not very techy, but has a lot of love and experience to share!

  10. says

    I try to be the type of blogger who’s in it for the community. I’m always commenting, always sharing the love, because I know how much comments mean to me and also because everyone I’ve encountered through blogging has been so kind and generous. These are people who I would be best friends with in real life. Some of whom I have actually become best friends with in real life. And in reality the amount of fame and money you can make in the blogger world (unless you really truly give up everything else and work your butt off) just isn’t worth not having these relationships that lift my spirits on a day to day basis.

  11. says

    I hope I am a helpful blogger! I started blogging just for something to do to take my mind of off the stress of my job. I had no idea the wonderful people that I would “meet”. I don’t have the luxury of doing this full time or turning it into a money making career, for me it’s a way to express myself and find other people who like the same things I do.

  12. says

    Interesting since we talked about this on the phone today. Great post. And I can’t wait to see you in SF and learn more from you. I think a balance between the two you described is good. But it’s interesting to see the ones who really nurture relationships and have awesome people skills (you), and the ones who don’t.

    You’ve help grow a lot of women, my friend. Seriously … I”m so proud of you and happy to call you friend.


  13. says

    Let me just say YAY for community building! The part of food blogging that I have found most rewarding is the interaction with others, the helpful pushes and pulls that I’ve gotten along the way. I found that it was a little tough to break into, but once you’re in the door, the food blogging community has been incredibly warm and generous. For the most part. There are exceptions, of course – those who fit into the first category you mention. But, overwhelmingly, I’ve had nothing but positive experiences. So, let me say it again: Yay for community building!

  14. says

    Hi Kristin,
    I am definetly the love to build commuity, share and support one another. I get so bummed when I find bloggers in the other group and it makes me think of high school bolgna. BUT, I will continue to try to improve and look to connect with others. TU for your guest post on my site, babble AND the time on the phone this month. Hope to see you soon :)

  15. says

    Excellent post Kristen. I like to think I fit into the community blogger side of blogs. My blog has always been my hobby and I don’t have any plans to change that. Blogging has definitely changed from back when I started in 2005. With less of us about, support was a major part of blogging. I still try to support blogs in my own region by commenting. Which was easy when I lived in NZ as there were only a couple of us. Here in Australia there are so many I, find I’m visiting blogs elsewhere in the world less. Which is a reason I find Twitter useful. If someone tweets a blog post I tend to go to it immediately.

    Good luck at the Blogher event. I’d love to be there to attend. You’ll be great.

  16. says

    Great post! I guess I am more like the second example. I love meeting knew friends through blogging. I started as an avenue for my recipes and other things in my life. It’s been so rewarding!

    Can’t wait for Adopt A Blogger!


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