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

    Wow – interesting points! I come from a marketing/design background so I’ll always have that with me. When I set up my blog I concentrated on that – the look, the branding, being consistent. Then I found myself focused on how many followers I had, etc. Then I realize how stupid all that was when the entire point of my blog was for me to explore and enjoy all the wonderful in my life (and to take more pictures or, rather, to have something to do with all the pictures I take).

    In the past 2 years I have had to really look deep within myself and re-define my life and the words I used to describe it – first in moving from a career gal to a full time mom and second in finding my way with my blog. Just like I redefined myself from “stay at home” (passive) to “homemaker” (active) I needed to redefine myself from “producing” to “engaging” with my blogging. I’m ever working on things but I discovered a blog I really liked – I liked the way the blogger wrote from her heart and I realized that though I am generous (to a fault) in my personal life, I was holding back on the one thing meant to express my spirit. So it isn’t that I stopped caring but that I actually decided to care – and I decided to start writing with my real voice and from my heart. It all changed for me there and I hope that as time goes by it will help other people as well. I certainly would hope that my life on earth impacts someone in a positive way – and not just a someone I helped make!

    Plus, I happen to think people are pretty awesome in general, and I would rather like to be part of that demographic!

  2. says

    Kristin, I love how long the comments are for this post. It is fun to see how this community comes together and shares what is on their minds. We support each other and care. Those are the folks I want to surround myself with & the type of blogger I want to be. I have made friends around the world that I never thought imaginable.
    I would love to take part in Adopt a blogger—-I enjoy helping the new folks and love talking shop with the seasoned bloggers too. No matter what, we all always have stuff to learn.
    When I started my blog it was simply to help people make better food choices and to demystify the whole idea of cooking for the family. At first there were no comments & hardly any views. I wanted a two way conversation. Today I have that and I am forever grateful. xxoo

  3. says

    You are every bit as talented as those ladies, so it’s quite an enticing line-up for the food conference! You each have interesting blogs and write in unique, engaging ways. Would love to be there and hear your session! Maybe in my next life (aka – after pregnancy! ha).

  4. says

    Hi Kristen,

    What a great discussion you have going here! And congrats on the BlogHerFood panel. One more reason I wish that I had a ticket in my hot little hands!

    In a recent post on TasteStopping, I declared my mantra to be “Food Blogger Resource,” so I guess I have my flag firmly planted in the community building camp. In fact, I don’t consider myself a food blogger at all! I don’t have the talent or the commitment. I simply love being part of the community and finding ways to make it more inclusive and bring more positive experiences to those who work so hard to share their passion for food. (Don’t get me wrong, I love food. I just can’t do justice to an actual food blog.) Thanks for your support of my efforts along the way and for inspiring us all to realize what is important as we grow ourselves and our blogs.


  5. says

    I’d like to think I’m more of the latter, but I’m definitely a mixture of both. I go in spurts, to be honest–I’m all over the place and commenting here and there, but I know I need to be better.

    Great post–it’s clearly inspired a lot of thought and much conversation!

  6. says

    When I started this blog of mine, I was completely oblivious to the number of food blogs that existed. I did mine as a bit of a joke…because I’m really not that great of a cook, but am always aspiring for better. Then I joined wordpress and an entire world of bloggers, photography, food, you name it opened up to me. With that I became a part of a community. Friends were made, ideas were shared, and creativity blossomed.
    I never knew there were so many like-minded people all bellied up to their computers doing the same thing. Slowly meeting them has made this whole blogging experience a part of my daily life. And has given me something to look forward to after work is all said and done.

    With all of that said though, I think the longer you do this, the more you start to wonder the “value” of your blog and just how far you can take things…
    Then again, based on the rest of the food blogging (talented) world, I think I’m probably best suited for the community support group.

    (great post by the way.)

  7. says

    I think all the comments by all these amazing bloggers is a testament to the type of blogger you are. and kristen, I’m sooooo grateful to count you not only as one of my food blogging “community members” but a true friend…don’t know what I’d do without you!!!

  8. says

    Hi, Kristen. Great post! I did enjoy your insights here. I am definitely the latter (in small part. because I don’t really know how to make the big time!). However, this is a dichotomy which tends to apply to people in most fields, I’d say.



  9. says

    Kristen, I really appreciate this post and I am excited that you will be speaking at BlogHer Food. Well-deserved acknowledgment of your many, many blogging talents.

  10. says

    Awesome post!! While I am interested in the business side, I am COMPLETELY on board with helping others and I so appreciate the help that I have recived from fellow bloggers!

    I LOVED the idea of your adopt-a-blogger program. It came when I needed it most. When I started I NEEDED help, I had no idea how to do it. Unfortunatly, the blogger I was paired with didn’t respond to me at all. Oh well, I figured a lot of it out and I still have bloggers helping me out!! Yea them.

    I look forward to your new adopt a blogger and I hope I can be there to share my “limited” knowledge with others. There is still SOOOOO much more I need to know, especially the business side of it. But I never want to lose touch with the personal side of it, that’s what I ENJOY about it!

    Your blog has helped A LOT with questions and I thank you!!

  11. says

    Love this post Kristen! I definitely try to be the latter although it can be hard to keep up with a full time job and trying to have a life too :) It’s interesting to see the growth of food blogs and how each person chooses to tackle their own.

  12. says

    I started out as the first type, solely in it for the money, with no direction. All I wanted to do was make from home what I had previously made in a day and a half for the whole month. (So could that really mean a money hungry food blogger wanting less than 2 days pay for the whole month? Is there actually ANY money in food blogging? Even if I had a successful book, there’s no way I could replace my previous salary, and it would be SOOO much more work) I wish I could have kept working one day a week, but the childcare problem made it impossible. Finally, this month, I was short 10% making my goal. Through the process, I have made a ton of friends, alot outside of the blogging community. I did find many food bloggers don’t share tips and tricks, can be passive aggressive, unthoughtful, and even leave rude comments (why?). But we all know who the exceptionally sweet ones are, and you are of course one of them. I would now like to think I’ve moved to the other type of blogger. I’m so glad I did this. I am a much better photographer and cook because of it. I also have fallen in love with the community, it’s especially important to me since I have no family and feel like an outsider in most circles. I wish I could spend more time on twitter, facebook and commenting on other blogs, but we all do what we have time for. Congrats on being on the speaking panel! Wish I were going this year, but I’ll be there next year cheering you on!

  13. says

    Great post, Kristen. For me, blogging is definitely about community–I can’t believe the number of wonderful friends I’ve made through this in the past several years. And I can’t wait to see what you have in store for Adopt a Blogger. =)

  14. says

    My blog just went public a week and a half ago, so I’m still in the overwhelmed-and-trying-to-figure-out-what-in-the-heck-I-am-doing phase. Your post is such good timing for me to read so early in my blogging days. I’m just starting to get my feet wet with social networking and making new friends online. That is definitely important to me and a big part of what drew me to blogging. I’ve been “between jobs” for awhile and I love how quickly blogging is making me feel connected with other bloggers and readers. However, I also hope to ultimately find at least some financial rewards from blogging. So, I guess I’m striving for a balance between the two. As with most successes in life, if you focus on other people first the other rewards are more likely to follow. So, I guess that’s my approach as a newbie blogger. And, if I could also add a blanket “THANK YOU!” to all of the generous, smart, witty bloggers out there who have already inspired me.

  15. says

    First off, congratulations on being selected as a speaker for Blogher. They’re lucky to have you!

    I definitely think bloggers should support one another. I’ve seen a few really good bloggers become unsupportive of others/ hoard support and it makes me less likely to read their blog.

    Of course, good bloggers do get busy and can’t always keep up with the traffic and/or comments. That happens to everyone.

    I’m pretty new to blogging but I actually think people reveal a lot about themselves as bloggers through Twitter. I love when people do something positive and others Retweet, and provide positive reinforcement. Why not? Share the love! :>)

  16. says

    Congratulations, Kristen, on being selected to speak at BlogHer! I think the people who guard their “secrets” are missing out. The more you share, the more people see you as an expert and as someone to turn to. This increases your standing in the community – any community – and that leads to greater success. Karma is more than a concept!

  17. says

    I would be in the second category and I’m looking forward to your new website for Adopt a Blogger. I’ve only experienced positive interactions with fellow bloggers so far. I’m in this for the fun of it. I believe in creating art with whatever you choose to do be it typing up a report at work or writing about and photographing my latest recipe.

    You are truly an inspiration! I loved this post.

  18. says

    I have been putting recipes online for 15 years. It’s true! I started in 1995 with a website with just recipes, no photos. It was the very first website I developed before starting my web business and the intent was simple…put my skills to a practical use in a way that would benefit me, my family and friends. So much easier to send someone to the web for a recipe than having to write it down and mail it, etc.

    I was surprised at the number of people who found recipes and contacted me as a result but it always remained within my original intent…a recipe depository.

    I decided to revise the format 2 years ago and have been both transferring those older recipes without photos and creating new posts with the requisite photo piece and during that process and my use of Twitter have found this huge world of food blogging that has become a source of friends, inspiration and yes…business.

    It’s been an interesting experience as my primary focus remains the same; sharing my cooking experience with others. To be perfectly honest…I was pretty amazed at the focus on doing food blogging solely to make money and as you mention…those in it just for that purpose are evident. I find no sense of community with them so I applaud your initiatives as I see the sense of community as the best way to insure success for anyone. Call it community or synergy or whatever; that ‘no man (or woman) is an island’ holds true here too.

    I’ve started a new blog for that purpose, inviting others to participate in a monthly roundup of recipes made from the RSVP section of Bon Appetit. I’ve limited it to that one section because I love the restaurant recommendations but also because they never have photos included so thought this would be a fun chance for those interested to provide that missing piece of the puzzle.

    Please join if you’re interested at – it’s open to all! And I’m looking forward to the Adopt a Blogger program; sounds wonderful!

  19. says

    What type … ? Interesting question. I started solely as a convenient way to pass photos on the grandparents. Somewhere along the way, we made a Lulu Press cookbook as a Christmas card for family and friends, and that morphed into an online repository for recipes. Nothing more.

    But I haven’t noticed something. My family is on the Luddite side, not really into conversing digitally. And my Facebook friends have this thing about venturing outside of the FB world — they just won’t do it. So the three worlds don’t mix: the real family, the blog world, and the FB world.


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