The Secret Blogger: When Did Food Blogging Become Such Hard Work?


When did blogging become such hard work

Today our Secret Blogger laments how it blogging became so complicated and competitive.

The Secret Blogger provides a platform for members to share and write about issues that they might not want to feel comfortable publishing on their own sites.  We provide an anonymous platform, and publication of posts does not imply endorsement from the Foodies team.

I have been blogging a long time, in my first posts, like Julie of Julie & Julia fame I did not always bother with a photo, or I would just snap with a point & shoot and go.  Now it seems that it takes longer and longer and longer to blog as more and more effort has to be put into self promotion.

The steps for putting a new recipe on my site now go something like this: –

  1. Look through sample box and work out which reviews are the most urgent
  2. Consult the Food Blog Diary to see which linkies I can enter
  3. Think of an original and interesting recipe that does not require a trip to the shops
  4. Look on Foodgawker & Tastespotting to see how similar recipes are styled
  5. Spend 20 minutes finding the perfect plates and props to style your dish
  6. Realise you will need to go to supermarket to buy garnish
  7. Cook the dish, making notes as you go
  8. Serve the dish
  9. Wipe drops of sauce of plate, arrange garnish with a pair of tweezers
  10. Rearrange garnish
  11. Realise you need to iron the cloths you are using – ask husband nicely to do this (generally he will as he wants to eat his supper)
  12. Set light up
  13. Replace the now wilted garnish
  14. Take photos
  15. Check photos
  16. Retake photos
  17. Take Instagram with teaser of “recipe on blog soon”
  18. Eat cold meal
  19. Write blog post
  20. Write recipe and add hrecipe microdata
  21. Import photos to computer, along with 200 others as you forgot to reformat the camera’s memory card
  22. Swear
  23. Delete 180 photos you reimported and had already deleted
  24. Edit photos
  25. Export photo and use Picmonkey to make make graphic for Pinterest.
  26. Realise you exported photo at wrong resolution and need to remake said graphic
  27. Submit post to 3 linkies
  28. Tweet post
  29. Facebook post
  30. Stumble post
  31. G+ post
  32. Pin post
  33. E-mail link to post to the PRs who sent samples
  34. Submit post to Tastespotting & Foodgawker
  35. Spend 30mins on food porn sites feeling increasingly inadequate as you believe cannot take photos that good
  36. Rant on twitter about the photos that you cannot understand why they were accepted for said sites
  37. Wait
  38. Rant on twitter about the reasons given for why your photos were not accepted for food porn sites – after all what exactly was wrong with the composition?
  39. Return to kitchen to cook next meal and realise that you have not cleared up props from photographing the previous meal
  40. Lament the fact that no one comments anymore as they are too busy promoting their own posts
  41. Resolve to comment more on other blogs

Does anyone else feel they are on a blogging treadmill and some of the fun has gone?

With thanks to our secret blogger.

If you would like to rant, rave, beef or get something off your chest please contact us via the contact form, or e-mail Sally (Sally at  or Helen (Helen at all submissions will be treated in strictest confidence.

Sally is the publisher of Foodies100, the UK's largest directory of brilliant UK food and drink blogs and bloggers. Every day of the week, we promote the UK's best and most exciting blogs about food and drink.

Discussion25 Comments

  1. So true (and I’m not even a food blogger). The hardest bit in our house for taking photos is having windows both ends of the kitchen – lots of light (although bad for shadows), but no white backgrounds!

  2. No one is obligated to do all or any of the above and anything that feels like a chore could easily be dropped – for the majority of us who do it for fun, anyway…

    I know my food shots are unstyled snaps, with bright yellow kettle, used teabag on teabag rest and all sorts of other ugliness in the background. But we cook to eat first, to blog second (and way far second) so whatever shot I can get in a few moments is what I take. And then we eat, while the meal is hot and tasty.

    As for the promotion part, again, up to a blogger how much they do and when. Unless one has fallen into the trap of assuming that blog rankings and site statistics are the be all and end all, just do what you feel comfortable with and no more.

    Obviously, different for those making their living from blogging (in which case, suck it up, it’s no different than the many things we have to do in regular jobs that are tedious beyond belief) but otherwise…

    … you control your blog, don’t let it control you!

    • You are quite right Kavey, but I think that with more and more blogs our secret blogger feels that it is harder to stand out from the crowd.

      Maybe we all need a let’s relax on the blog week?

  3. I laughed so hard reading this, because 90% of that list I do aswell, particularly the bit about after photographing it, then realising you still have the last posts pictures on your card, then of course sitting and eating the half cold meal afterwards. But I think that’s part of the charm. When I first started blogging I lived at home with my father, and he was always puzzled as to why I was taking photo’s of cake outside in the garden on an old piece of wood and re arranging crumbs on the plate!

    • My mother does some of my reviews for me now and my father is baffled at why she has to get her iPad out, take a photo and mail it to me.

      As Kavey said as long as you still enjoy it, then keep at it!

  4. I always wish my photos could look better but until the magic camera fairy delivers me a fancy camera then I’m happy with my point and click snaps. Sometimes they turn out surprisingly well.

    When I am taking photos of our dinner I tend to just blow the steam out of the way and take as many shots as I can whilst the food is still hot. Probably not the proper way to do it but it means that we still get to enjoy the food as it should be.

    • You would be surprised at what you can do with a compact camera Jen. A tiny bit of post processing can make a massive difference.

      And I do not think there is a proper way to do it. I get Ed to blow steam out of the way when I take photos.

  5. Oh this made me giggle! Yes Kavey’s right that you don’t HAVE to do this, but to be honest there are so many billion food blogs these days, and the quality of photography (and amount of self-publicity) has increased so incredibly in recent years that I really do feel unless you have a large established readership you will get almost no hits from a blog post that DOESN”T involve all the above faff. Which is why I have dwindled to a post every other month or so, I’ve just found it both faffy and dispiriting.

      • I agree Helen. I mean it is hard work but that’s why it’s also so rewarding. Personally I look back to over a year ago and think about how poor my photography was at first, as well as how much my cooking skills have improved since. It’s a nice side effect to working so hard, the rewards are there.

  6. The above is all very true. And I was unaware of most of it before I started my blog. And yes a lot of it is frustrating but I really enjoy the photography aspect of my blog – it has ignited my passion for learning more about photography and improving my skills. When I started (about 7 months ago) I did not have much of a clue about how to take good food photos. I bought books and did a lot of research. At first most of my images got rejected by foodgawker (and similar sites) now I have more and more acceptances. Still, I expect my photography to get much worse in winter when the natural light disappears!

  7. I’m in total agreement with Kavey on this one. It all boils down to why you blog. If you do it for fun, and you find you’re not enjoying it, then something is clearly wrong. It is time to take a step back and look at why you’re doing it.

    If it is to stand out, make money, get recognition and so on, that takes effort. But recognising that’s what you want to achieve will probably make the effort seem worthwhile. If, on the other hand, you find it all joyless and not worthwhile, then you need to change what you are doing.

    That said, it is easy to find yourself heading down the 41-point-path without really realising it. It happened to me, and I had to make a conscious decision to stop. If it gets to the point that you’re eating your food cold or ordering dishes in restaurants because they’ll make a good blog post, not because you want to eat them, then I think something’s up.

    On a slightly different point, so many people are trying to take the perfect pictures and blog the perfect recipes, that a lot of food blogs are becoming pretty samey. I love to read bogs where the enjoyment, knowledge and passion really shine out. It’s much more engaging than perfectly styled photos and carefully presented food.

    • I agree about it all becoming samey and it is a treadmill that more and more people seem to be on.

      I’ve relaxed and regularly use Instagrams on my site now. Ordering a dish to make a good blog post surely is several steps too far?

        • I think that the lines between bloggers and main stream journalists are becoming more and more blurred all the time and there are many opportunities to make some money either directly from your site, or because you use your site as a portfolio and online CV.

          Lots of brands are paying bloggers for sponsored posts – which is a debate in itself – my view is that as long as paid content is clearly disclosed it should not be a problem, although I appreciate that everyone has different views.

          If you can take nice photos there is recipe development work to be had – bloggers’ skill levels are ever increasing and for a brand using a blogger to write them a recipe is great value for money as they can deliver both recipe and images.

  8. That is one organised blogger!
    The process for me is as follows:
    Cook food – Plate it – Take photos before it gets cold/the kids stick their fingers in it – Eat – Blog – Do a few links.
    I think that it must be difficult to enjoy blogging when it sounds like a chore. Interestingly if you take the photographs out of the equation it’s not such a big list. Just goes to show how much we pin our hopes on photographs and not so much on the writing aspect…

  9. Sometimes I look at ‘proper’ recipe books and wonder how professional food stylists get away with such shoddy work! There are food bloggers out there who are way better than the professionals. I however, still cook to eat rather than to blog. I come up with more recipes than I would if I wasn’t a blogger but I still cook to eat first. If the photography isn’t perfect, it still goes on. I’m a Mum who works 4 days a week. Something has to give!

    • I agree. What really annoys me with cook books is when the photo is not of the exact recipe in the book. Extra sauce and using a different type of pastry are common in some many books. It is not surprising that some people believe they cannot cook when it is impossible to make a recipe to look anything like the photo.

  10. Wow, that is some list!

    My list goes as such…

    cook recipe
    plate it up
    take a few shots
    post process them if necessary
    pin it/G+/Twitter/FB it


    Blogging, I feel should be an extension of you. I’m not a food stylist, I like my recipe photos to look good, but I don’t go over and above with props – I’m lazy like that 😛

  11. Love this post! I was having a little moan to my bf the other night about how long it takes, I don’t think he quite ‘got it’ and then I showed him this – then he understood!
    My bugbear is that I take the photos with my iPad, but then have to email them to myself so I can edit them in picmonkey on my laptop. After that stage it really feels like a slog to do all the social media sharing etc. I need more stamina!

  12. I definitely have days when I wonder what on earth I am doing blogging. I work, look after 3 children and have endless to do lists outside of my blog.
    I do still love blogging though and find it makes me stretch my cooking abilities which is so good for my teaching. So I guess the teaching and the blogging work hand in hand and that is why it works for me but it is pretty all encompassing.

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