In November 2012 I co-chaired the organising committee for the third national Australian food bloggers conference, Eat Drink Blog, which was held in Adelaide. The event was a great success, which succeeded in setting a new bar for food blogging events in Australia and one of the contributing factors in this was the appearance of a very special guest key-note speaker, Dianne Jacob, writing coach and author of the book every food blogger needs to have on their shelf – “Will Write For Food”.
Dianne is much in demand as a speaker at food blogging events, both in the US and elsewhere, and before she arrived in Australia she gave us a little taste of some of the knowledge she would be sharing with the delegates in this interview.
Q. Dianne, you started your career as a journalist, editor and writer – what led you down the path of coaching – in particular food-writing coaching?
A. As an editor, I had always worked with writers when assigning and editing their stories, so it seemed natural to continue when I chose self-employment more than a decade ago. Little did I know that I would also help people start blogs, write cookbook proposals, edit cookbooks, help new authors go through the publishing process, and edit manuscripts. There’s never a moment to get bored. About 15 years ago, I returned to writing about food and began teaching food writing classes, so concentrating on food writers was a natural extension of my business.
Q. Your book “Will Write for Food” is pretty much the food bloggers bible these days. What are your impressions on how food blogging has changed over the last five years – both for writers and readers?
A. That’s the subject of my keynote, so I don’t want to give it all away! The most significant change is the power that food bloggers wield today. Those at the top have millions of subscribers, some have a way to make a living through advertising, and dozens have book deals. Some are sought after by food companies and restaurants. These developments weren’t possible five years ago, when food bloggers were still thought of as inferior to print writers.
Q. Traditional book publishing is said to be in a precarious state, but still many food bloggers hope to have a book of their own recipes one day. Could you share your thoughts on the merits of self-publishing traditional books and ebooks?
A. With self-published books, you can control over every aspect, from the cover to the content to even the type of paper, if that’s your thing. And when you sell your own books, you get all the income.
Regarding e-books, they are inexpensive to produce and have a very short production cycle. If you have a big enough blog audience and know how to promote, decent income may result.
Q. What would you say are the most pressing issues that food bloggers face at the moment, or that may become problems for them in the future?
A. Most bloggers struggle with having enough time to post regularly. Food blogging can be a lot of work if you most of your posts involve creating a recipe, photographing the dish and process, and then writing about your experience. Then there are all the technical aspects to keep up with, the social media time commitment (or should I say interruptions and irresistible time sinks?), and the constant pressure to build visibility by getting the word out.
Q. The popularity of food blogging continues to grow here in Australia and the US. What do you think the future holds for this form of media?
A. I hope blogger software will get easier for people. Right now it is still difficult to move RSS feeds and deal with technical issues that most of us have no idea how to resolve.
Q. Which three skills do you see as most necessary for a blogger to be credible and successful?
A. They need to be excellent storytellers, gorgeous photographers, and relentless marketers.