Just like that, fooodlove has been going for a full year!
I thought I would use this first anniversary to look back on a year of food blogging, and explain our processes a little, for anyone interested in the ‘behind the scenes’ life of a food blogger.
Fooodlove started as an online hub for all my recipe trials, but we decided to launch it properly on January 1st, 2021. We (myself and my husband!) were both aware that food blogging was a competitive industry to get into, but it can be so satisfying for me to be able to put my own spin on existing recipes, or share my own individual creations with food lovers, that we knew we wanted to go ahead and jump right in!
The food blogging process
Coming up with the recipe
So, first things first for me is coming up with a list of recipes I want to cover in the coming months. During 2021, we launched an amazing 71 recipes - each with their own ‘how to’ video - on fooodlove (for the videos, check out our YouTube channel)!. It’s no wonder that blogging often feels like a full-time job! We think about the best titles (as sometimes my dishes will have traditional Greek names, and it can be hard to consider the best translation), and make a final list for that month.
Testing the recipe
Some of my recipes are meals I have been cooking for years on end. Some, though, are new inventions, or tweaks, that come to me! Either way, I always test my recipe at least once again in the month before we shoot it to put it on fooodlove - and if it’s not quite perfect, I can end up cooking it three, four, or even five times until I’m completely happy that it’s perfect! My family can get a little fed up with this process… my Tsoureki recipe comes to mind; a memorable process that took an epic SIX goes to perfect!
Shooting the recipe
I intend to post another blog article soon, giving a more in-depth explanation of how we ‘shoot’ each recipe, but in short, we use iPhones and iPads, as well as software like FiLMiC Pro and LumaFusion. I usually do a first ‘test’ of the recipe, and if this is successful we capture the recipe photos at this point. We’ll then cook the recipe again, this time filming, to get the recipe video you see onsite. If the recipe is an old favourite, we might even shoot the video and the photos at the same time - which is a process that can take three to four hours! I’m a little shy, which is why we’ve ended up with a format of fast-paced videos, shot from the top, which only show my hands working! My husband is trying to encourage me to commit to some videos showing more of ‘me’ working, rather than just my hands (shock horror!), and has also suggested some voiceovers on the recipes too…we’ll see whether I can handle it!
Writing up the recipe
Before we launched fooodlove, our intent was always to keep it as simple as possible. That’s still the case - but what might seem simple on the outside now has lots of procedures for us! We have so many features now that fooodlove requires a small team to run it. Right now, that team consists of my husband, who is the whizz on all things techie. He takes care of everything related to the website and technology in general. We then have a copywriter, who untangles my thoughts and writes them up into clear, proper English. Finally, there’s me, Sevi! I am the person behind each recipe, and the owner of the hands you see in all of our videos!
Sharing the recipe onsite
After we’ve done all the testing, all the shooting, and written up the recipe, the content is ready to go onsite on fooodlove. Because Greek cuisine generally (or at least, traditionally) favours eating a bigger meal at lunchtime and a smaller meal at night, our categories are - breakfast, lunch, dessert, side dish, baking, and vegetarian. There’s no dinner category - but plenty of the others, especially from the lunch category, function just as well for dinner if you eat your main meal in the evening!
We’ve tried to keep the format simple onsite. We hated that so many food blogs tell you a big story before they get to the recipe - the main reason you’ve visited their site! That’s why we just write up the recipe on the recipe page.
We keep my stories for the ‘blog’ section, which hopefully makes it easier for you to spend time either following a recipe, or having a read of our articles! The blog itself takes lots of time and effort too, as the articles highlight both our own personal preferences and recommendations (in blogs such as Eating our way around Rhodes and Ikaria) and pieces which require more research and referencing (such as our piece on the history of Fanouropita - a cake for lost things, and our piece on 13 Greek superstitions).
Sharing the recipe on Socials
After all that, we share the recipes on our social channels too. We try to keep active on almost all of them! It was clear from the start, though, that we got lots of engagement through Instagram.
Facebook took a little time to get off the ground, but now sees a growing number of followers. Pinterest meanwhile seemed pointless in the beginning. We kept pinning and posting our videos to little response. But after ten months, we got a viral pin - our Healthy Banana Oat Pancakes - and that recipe made over half a million impressions!
We initially cut our videos to one minute in length, which could be really really tough in a recipe with many stages. This was because of Instagram’s time cap feature back then. We realised quickly that slightly longer videos can be a lot easier to follow and to watch. Although Instagram and Facebook are now more lenient with time, we’ve also realised that YouTube is the natural home for our recipe videos, as they can easily be searched and played months after we post them, whereas Facebook and Instagram videos tend to have only short-term engagement.
Right now, we’ve posted 71 videos to YouTube, have a Facebook reach of 130,000 people, an Instagram reach of 115,000, and a Pinterest audience of 600,000. If you’re one of those social followers - we can only thank you! I hope these numbers continue to grow, it feels so great to interact with this big circle of foodies internationally!
Year one: Evolution, Change, and Adaptation!
Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t take on the fooodlove challenge completely naively. Both my husband and I knew what food blogging was, what it required, and that it would be an investment in terms of our time, and finances, initially. But even so, we had both fallen short on these estimates! Fooodlove requires a LOT of our time; many more work hours than we had anticipated, every week. There were also a lot of tools that we had no knowledge of, which we trialled and eventually parted ways with. We’re getting settled into our routine now, but I’m sure we’ll continue to adapt and change to make sure we’re using exactly what works best for fooodlove, its creators, and its readership.
My husband is an experienced designer and developer, but even from the development side of the blog, we made many changes as we gathered user feedback and usage stats. We’ve really tried to respond to what people seem to want the site to be, and create that!
We launched a mailing list after a few months, as a bit of an afterthought. We’ve since spent more time considering what people want from a mailing list, and hope that our subscribers love getting our emails! Just enter your name and email address if you want to subscribe! We always want to speak directly to you - this is why we ask for your first name!
Although our subscriber count isn’t huge, we sometimes get thank you emails, which really do fuel my desire to create more content. It’s so great to hear when people have enjoyed your recipes.
Recently, we started offering an exclusive recipe to mailing list subscribers, and these have been a huge hit! These are recipes that are not yet (and might never be) on the blog itself, and this exclusivity has seen our subscriber numbers double. We love that our subscribers tend to open our newsletter more than five times within the week we send them out, and about 30% of subscribers will open and click the recipes from old newsletter links.
If you’re a subscriber and have any feedback, message me on any of the fooodlove social channels - we always love your input.
Finally, I just want to say thank you so much for supporting fooodlove through this first year! It’s been hard work, but we really enjoy seeing people engage with the recipes, and I hope to continue making and sharing recipes that are both traditional and modern, intricate and easy, exciting and simple, and healthy and indulgent - over the next year to come and beyond!