I’m convinced if you want to learn more about yourself and what it is you do…sometimes you need to step back and look at things from a fresh new perspective. I’ve been fumbling around now with this blog for almost 8 years and the more I attempt to discover about the craft of blogging, the more I quickly realize how much I still have to learn.
This past Saturday I spent the entire day with a bunch of hard-core food bloggers from the Minneapolis/St. Paul surrounding area. In total, there must have been 70+ attendees specializing in everything from cookies, cupcakes and desserts to artisan breads of all types. As one can imagine, when it comes to food a person can specialize in a multitude of different areas.
So, what was a blogger who mostly writes about hunting and fishing doing by infiltrating this quadrant of the blogosphere? Learning, observing, discovering, and well, of course, finding many good eats to pass the day.
But seriously, each time I hang with bloggers outside the realm of hunting, fishing and the outdoors I find it completely fascinating to compare how I do things with their challenges and opportunities. What I learned may surprise you. In fact, you may want to argue this point with me…but in many ways the food bloggers (at least those observed locally) are light years ahead of some of us in the outdoors industry.
Consider these thoughts:
Food bloggers have better developed their “voice” than most bloggers in the outdoors/shooting community. What do I mean by “voice?” I’m talking about the ability to stand up and be heard as a group by channeling expertise. As blogging evolves it’s simply not enough to be a solitary entity spewing forth a few hundred words from a basement computer on a daily basis. Nope, bloggers of all genres need to develop local communities where they gather often and understand they are not in competition with one another…instead, they have the unique opportunity to build an alliance where combined learning and readership has power. Only then will marketers and public relations people begin to take bloggers more serious.
Food bloggers also tend to give readers better value for the time spent on a blog. Honestly, I know I’m stepping on toes here, but it behooves all of us outdoors bloggers to take a moment for some introspection. Do you ever ask yourself…”what will a reader learn from my blog post?” We should. Is the blog being written because we just have something important to say…or do we construct each post with the intention of rewarding the reader with some morsel for the time they spent reading? Consider this, in almost ever food blog the blogger either reviews a restaurant (sharing advice on yea or nay to visit) OR the blogger provides a tested recipe with a potential mouth-watering payoff to the reader. What do we give our readers as a “take away” for their time?
Food bloggers have amazing pictures that help sell their content. Don’t get me wrong, a food blogger showing a picture of a sizzling burger on the grill layered in cheese and bacon has a distinct advantage here. But let’s face it…the outdoors has tremendous opportunity for captivating pictures, too. I think we can all do a better job of whetting the reader’s appetite for the outdoors by including more creative visuals. It certainly is one of my goals for this blog.
And finally…Food bloggers do an exceptional job interacting with their readers…both on and off the blog. If an outdoors blogger can garner a handful of comments after a post…that is typical. But check out a popular food blog and you will often see posts turn into virtual discussions. Readers suggesting variations in a recipe, pointing out links for additional information not shared…just a whole host of positive interaction. Furthermore, it appears to me that many of the food bloggers make it a point to spend time on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. because they know how to go where both their potential and active readers are hanging out.
Look, I’m not suggesting that outdoors bloggers are doing it all wrong. Instead, I think it’s time for the outdoors blogging community to step up to the plate (pardon the food blogger pun) and realize we might have to adjust the way we are doing things if we want to keep step with other bloggers and the success they are achieving.
Hanging with a bunch of food bloggers for a day was definitely a fun experience I will not soon forget. But above all, the experience taught me if outdoors bloggers want to be respected and appreciated for our efforts…we still have a ways to go.
Case in point, I recently tried to unsubscribe to a GunsAmerica newsletter that I did not subscribe to in the first place. Customer service wanted to know why upon making my request…so I explained I did not like how one of their employees bad mouthed bloggers at the last SHOT Show. In return, I received a terse e-mail calling me a “bumblehead” which they later unsuccessfully attempted to remove from ever being sent to my mail system.
Here you have food bloggers and the food industry trying to positively align themselves with one another as they are forward thinking and can visualize where this is all going. Then we have our industry and the prevalent short-sightedness that lingers because those of us who are bloggers need to do a better job of reclaiming who we are and enlightening the world as to where we plan to take things. Other bloggers are already achieving these successes. Those of us in the outdoors/shooting blog community need to better change our focus to attain similar results. Indeed, a lot can be learned from our food blogger comrades.
©2012 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.
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