Food writing is a popular option for people with a talent for words, and it’s easy to see why: there’s no genre that captures the senses quite like food writing. Popularity begets competition, however, so becoming a food writer is no easy task. That’s why we’ve put together some tips that will help set you on the right path.
In this guide, we’ll run through everything you need to know about kick-starting your food-writing career, including trying out different types of food writing, reading great examples of food literature, completing food writing courses, keeping up to date with the latest foodie trends, working with others within the industry, and putting together engaging, valuable writing that your readers love.
Ready? Let’s dive into the tasty world of food writing and look at the ingredients for success.
Tip 1: Try different styles of food writing
It takes time to find your voice in any writing genre. In the early days of your food writing career, it’s best to practice a few different styles. Over time, you may flourish in one particular type of food writing, or hone your voice across different styles.
We’ve outlined some of the most popular styles below, all of which require a different voice and writing approach:
Restaurant reviews take an editorial approach to telling readers all about a restaurant’s strengths and weaknesses. Food critics assess the overall dining experience of an establishment, including the service, ambiance, and food quality.
Culinary journalism involves crafting in-depth articles on food-related topics. A mix of reporting and storytelling, these pieces focus on topics such as sustainability, food trends, cultural influences, and industry developments.
A less formal style of food writing, blogs often involve writing about personal narratives, cooking tips, culinary experiences, and recipes. Food bloggers use plenty of high-quality images to keep readers engaged.
Cookbooks are still popular in print form but nowadays are often sold digitally too. Typically organized by categories such as appetizers, main courses, desserts, and beverages, a cookbook offers step-by-step directions on how to combine ingredients, use cooking techniques, and follow procedures to create specific recipes. Cookbooks often include additional information such as cooking tips, measurements, ingredient substitutions, nutritional information, and sometimes personal anecdotes or cultural context related to the recipes.
Food memoirs are personal, autobiographical texts centered around food. The text typically reflects on life experiences, food culture, memories, and emotions connected to certain types of foods or eating habits.
Food travel writing
Food travel writing is a personal account of the author’s gastronomic explorations in different parts of the world and can include content about local cuisines, food markets, and local restaurants.
Getting real-world food writing experience can be tough, and you’ll need to be prepared to pitch your ideas to various kinds of publications, including newspapers, websites, journals, and magazines. When pitching, it’s essential to tie your pitches to the specific publication you’re contacting and to have a good grasp of the publication and its audience.
The more food publications that publish your work, the better. The richer your portfolio, the more, you’ll benefit from increased exposure, more networking opportunities, and greater credibility.
Tip 2: Read iconic and popular food writing examples
The world of food literature is a rich one, and it’s in your best interests to study the stand-out texts in the field. This is a sure way to improve your writing skills, understand different writing styles, and gain inspiration from the very best in the genre.
What kind of food writing should you be reading? As you get started, you should study good examples of each style we outlined in our first tip. Additionally, you should check out some culinary literature best-sellers. Some examples of iconic texts include:
- Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
- My Life In France by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme
- The Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher
Reading a wide range of food writing texts will give you a good grounding in the genre. Once you’ve found your particular niche you can take a deeper dive into similar work. For example, aspiring food bloggers should follow successful blogs in the same field, such as Minimalist Baker and Cookie + Kate.
Remember, it’s not just about the writing itself. Spend some time looking at the marketing strategies these bloggers use on their websites. Learn from their success so you can build a marketing foundation for your own food writing career.
Tip 3: Take food writing courses
If you’re considering becoming a food writer, then you likely already have a knack for writing. Even so, it’s best to think of your talent as a seed that requires watering. After all, there’s always more to learn. One great way to expand your food-writing horizons is by taking a food-writing course.
You’ll need to dedicate time, money, and energy to the course, but a quality class can be worth it. The right course will give you a solid foundation in food writing principles, help improve your writing skills, provide opportunities for feedback from experienced instructors, and present a host of networking opportunities.
Taking a course isn’t required, since you don’t need any official credentials to be a food writer. But still, the information you learn throughout the course can be extremely useful.
Food writing courses can range from online courses on platforms like Coursera or MasterClass to in-person workshops or university programs. We recommend trying a range of courses, as far as your time and budget will allow. Above all else, we recommend looking for courses from recognized entities, such as this food writing course by the Gotham Writer’s Workshop.
Tip 4: Write about new trends
Novelty is a cornerstone of food writing, and you’d be wise to focus on newer trends and establishments, especially when you’re first starting out. For one thing, there’s less competition. Chances are, someone has already written about that amazing restaurant in town that’s been around for twenty years. Writing about new eateries will allow you to produce fresh and relevant content.
New dishes, ways of cooking, sustainability initiatives, and dietary trends are also rich veins for great material. Make sure you stay up to date with all that’s going on in the food world (or, at least, in your specific niche). This helps you to produce engaging, well-informed content that’s more likely to be featured by recognized publications, as well as reach a larger audience.
When writing about trends, it’s important to remember that many of these trends aren’t actually “new”; often, they’re variations of or direct recreations of cultural dishes that simply haven’t reached a broader audience yet.
As such, it’s important to be mindful of the cultural context of the trends you’re writing about, and stay thoughtful of the difference between “new” and “new to you”. Investigating and sharing the origins of trends you cover can help you avoid misrepresentation or cultural appropriation, both of which can damage your credibility and offend your readers.
If you’re writing about foods and trends from other cultures, keep the following tips in mind:
- Consult reputable sources.
- Interview experts or members of the culture.
- Acknowledge the source of your information in your work.
Tip 5: Collaborate with various people and entities
For some projects, it may be beneficial to collaborate with other people and entities within the food industry. In doing so, you can gain deeper insights that enhance your writing, find new audiences, and make the most of sponsorship opportunities.
Some examples of entities and people you can collaborate with include:
Chefs and restaurateurs
Food journalists can connect with chefs, who can offer insights into the behind-the-scenes goings-on within the culinary world, share stories, and provide access to exclusive recipes. The stories behind how restaurants were created, and the people who created them, capture readers’ attention and humanize the establishments you cover.
Food bloggers and influencers
Food bloggers should partner with other bloggers and influencers to build connections and reach new audiences. Supportive partnerships and fruitful collaborations provide a sense of community within the food writing world. An easy, often-used collaboration method is to guest post on other food blogs.
Food producers and farmers
Working with food producers and farmers can provide valuable insights into the story behind the food. This gives you a chance to learn more about how ingredients are produced, sustainability practices, and the journey from farm to table. These insights are especially valuable to food writers who focus on sustainability and culinary ethics.
Working with food brands related to your specific food niche can provide opportunities for sponsored content, product reviews, and hosting food-related events and giveaways. Food blog websites can also incorporate affiliate links into their content, which can provide a passive revenue stream. Be sure to always disclose when you’re writing about sponsored content to preserve your credibility with your audience.
Tip 6. Write about the whole experience
The food may be the star of the show, but it shouldn’t be the whole show. It’s important to include rich details that illustrate the entire food experience. This can include personal connections, the cultural context of the dish, the presentation of the food, and information about the ingredients. Other details food writers should consider include:
- Restaurant reviewers can write about the ambiance of the establishment, the service, the presentation of the food, or other diners at the table. You can even touch upon the journey to and from the restaurant if there’s something interesting to be said about it. This is a particularly useful detail if the review is part of a larger travel-based package.
- Food bloggers can discuss their personal connection to a recipe, the memories it holds for them, how their family likes to eat the food, and so forth.
- Food travel writers can discuss the broader cultural context of the dishes they’re discussing, and how it connects to their overall adventure.
Providing more details will help to make your content more enticing, engaging, and memorable. The plate of food is just the starting point for your writing; adding colorful anecdotes and interesting context will make your writing stand out from the crowd. You’re looking to capture a singular experience, so don’t be afraid to lean into your own unique interests and perspectives when researching and writing.
Covering the entire experience is key for creating interesting, engaging food content that people actually want to read. If you need some help adding these colorful details, keep the below tips in mind:
- Focus on the sensory details of the experience beyond just taste. How does the food look, smell, and feel? Is the restaurant bustling and noisy or calm and quiet? Paint a picture with your words.
- Incorporate storytelling techniques by including a narrative. This could mean covering the history of the dish, the restaurant’s business journey, or simply including a rich description of your time interacting with the food you’re writing about.
- Reflect on the emotional and cultural significance of the experience. This is especially relevant for bloggers, for whom personality and connection are core aspects of the voice and brand.
Tip 7. Promote your work on different platforms
Self-promotion is essential for a successful food-writing career. Promoting your own work can help you reach a wider audience, establish credibility and expertise, and attract partnership opportunities.
This is easier said than done, but the right approach can lead to amazing results. Some key ways to promote your work across various platforms include:
Create your own website
Having a website is especially important if you want to be a food blogger, but it’s equally important if you want to be any other kind of writer. Restaurant reviewers and travel writers who are looking to make career pitching pieces to established publications will get better results from a portfolio site that features their best and most popular published works.
Either way, your site should provide a platform that allows you to connect with your audience and establish your brand. Think of your website as your home base online. Even if you promote your work elsewhere, it should all eventually come back to your website.
Bear in mind that it’s not easy to run a successful food website. For the best results, you’ll keep it fresh and updated with your latest and greatest works in order to best showcase your abilities. Food bloggers looking to build an audience need to create and publish content regularly, often multiple times a week, while also optimizing articles and webpages for SEO.
Most types of food writers will want to publish recipes on their websites, especially food bloggers who dedicate their websites to this. However, you need to make sure you’re sharing your recipes in a visually appealing, engaging way. If you manage your website with WordPress, the best way to present your recipes is by using the WP Recipe Maker plugin.
This plugin has been designed to help enhance food blogs, allowing bloggers to present step-by-step recipes in a well-organized, SEO-friendly, and visually appealing format. As a result, you’ll attract more visitors and all-around increase your site’s visibility.
Some of the key features of the WP Recipe Maker plugin include:
- Template editor: Create bespoke recipe cards that are in line with your overall branding.
- Taxonomy archive pages: This enables you to create archive pages for any of the taxonomies you include in your recipes. You can organize recipes by course (main course, dessert), cuisine (Mexican, American, Spanish), difficulty level (easy, hard), or any other taxonomy that you can think of! This is essential for food bloggers who want to organize their recipes in a way that’s easy for readers to find.
- Author links: Hosting guest bloggers on your site? Author links allow you to easily give credit to your contributors.
- Ingredient and equipment links: Looking to monetize your blog? Incorporate ingredient and equipment links into your recipe cards to boost engagement.
To see how the WP Recipe Maker plugin looks in practice, check out the screenshots of websites that use the plugin below.
Use social media
If your website is the king of self-promotion, then social media is the prince. Your social media channels allow you to reach a large audience, get instant feedback on your food writing, and network with industry professionals, among many other benefits.
- Create engaging content: What’s trending at the moment? What do people currently enjoy reading, and what recipes are they interested in?
- Use hashtags: Tagging your posts with relevant hashtags will make it easier for people to discover your work.
- Interact with followers: Your social media channels aren’t megaphones; they’re platforms for conversation. Responding to comments and engaging with your followers will help to create a thriving community.
WP Recipe Maker includes features that will help you promote your brand on social media. Your professional-looking recipe cards look great across all social media websites, and you can also add share buttons to your recipes to encourage readers to share your content to their own accounts. The plugin also supports video, so you can repurpose the videos you’ve created for Instagram or YouTube for your recipe cards.
Kickstart your food writing career!
In conclusion, embarking on a successful food-writing career demands a blend of passion, skill, and strategy. In this article, we’ve looked at seven key tips that are just the start of your journey into the flavorful world of food writing.
In this journey, let your words be your recipe, your creativity be your seasoning, and your dedication be your flame. As you embark on this tantalizing voyage, don’t forget to embrace the resources and tools available to you, such as the WP Recipe Maker plugin, to make your mark in the world of food writing.
Every dish you create, and every story you tell, contributes to the grand feast of food literature. So, pick up your pen, or rather, your keyboard, and let the delicious adventure begin!
To get started with WP Recipe Maker, check out the pricing plans today. We offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try the plugin risk-free.