Author Kelly Senyei gives fantastic tips and tricks for starting your own food blog, creating a website, and photographing food.
Meet Kelly Senyei, Food Blogging Rock Star
This week we have a great interview with Kelly Senyei, author of Food Blogging for Dummies. I got to know Kelly while we were both working at Conde Nast after finding myself in a Gourmet Live meeting.
Not long after, she was offered a book deal from Wiley Publishing and found out that I was also a recently published author, and from then on our friendship resembled two WWII veterans hashing through war stories from the frontlines of publishing, detailing the ups and downs of deadlines, re-writes, agents, guerilla marketing, and photo rights – all while holding down a full-time job at a major media company. At least we were able to forsake MREs for lightly grilled salmon in the Conde Nast cafeteria.
I urge you to listen to the entire audio interview, where you’ll follow her path from her mom’s kitchen companion through rockstar credentials from the kitchen to the TV and Photo studio.
Take a look at her slick book trailer to get a feel for what you’re in for:
2 things that caught me completely by surprise in the book.
1) The depth of detail around the technical aspects of blogging
I went into this with a completely open mind, figuring the book would serve as an overview for Midwestern moms looking to talk about cupcakes and casseroles. What blew me away was the deep level of technical expertise and “talk the talk” detail that Kelly put into the setup of the blog.
In the interview she remarks that the tech side is the largest hurdle for many people to get started. They have the ideas and the passion, but how do you get that on the web? What is a plug-in? What’s the difference between a page and a post? What is a hosting company and how much does it cost?
Kelly goes through various options, from WordPress to Tumblr, letting the users decide on which format is best for them. But it didn’t stop there, delving into details like:
- Blogging templates
- Choosing a color palette
- Embracing negative space
- Mapping out items for above and below the fold
- Ins and outs of SEO
- Monetizing your blog
I was impressed by little things such as the importance of making backups of your files… something many first timers would never thing of until it’s too late.
2) The depth of detail and importance of killer photography
Once again, something I was not expecting. Perhaps it’s because Food Blogging isn’t on my normal round of websites that I visit on a regular basis, but as an amateur photographer that has recently upgraded my camera, tried out some new lenses, and have been attempting to upgrade the level of my images, I was pleasantly surprised at the photography lesson I was being handed.
What’s more, I found myself extremely intrigued and entertained by the subject matter. I’d seen hundreds of tips on shooting portraits of kids or sunsets at the beach, but had never once contemplated how to capture melting ice cream or a bland bowl of hummus.
The book has more than 50 pages covering tips such as:
- Developing your style
- Depth of field
- Natural vs artificial light
- Building a mini studio – without the high costs
- Food styling like the pros
During the interview, we cover the following topics:
Kelly’s impressive path and credentials
- Her upbringing in San Diego and beginnings as a “child chef”
- Dinner parties in college while getting her undergraduate degree at Northwestern
- Why she started her personal blog Just A Taste in 2008 while getting her Masters at Columbia School of Journalism (and where the name came from)
- The unique business proposal she presented to the president at The Institute of Culinary Education
- Her experience in the test kitchens at The Food Network
How she landed a book deal
- Wait, is this a spam email?
- The proposal she presented to make sure she was chosen as the author
- How the For Dummies franchise is different from traditional books
- What feature her book has that most For Dummies books don’t
Other fun topics
- The top 10 hardest foods to photograph
- How Jim equates hummus with a Japanese rock garden
- How to avoid “Burrito syndrome”
- The steroids of blogging: artificial vs natural food bloggers
- How the pros use things like Elmer’s Glue to stage a great photo
- How she maintained work/life balance while writing a book for months while still at a full time job
- Kelly describes herself in 3 words
- What is the best move she’s made so far, and how did it pay off?
- What was the most vital piece of technology she used in the process?
- What are Kelly’s 2 most valuable, must-have pieces of equipment in her kitchen? (Hint: it will help you lick the bowl when making brownies)
- What’s the most valuable piece of advice you can give to people looking to start their own company?
Connect with Kelly
Hopkinson Report Disclosure: I received a free copy of Food Blogging for Dummies from Wiley Publishing (which I gave away) and a free, signed copy of the book from Kelly (which is now on my bookshelf). Otherwise I was not compensated for this interview in any way. Amazon.com affiliate links used where available.