If you love food and drink (and really, who doesn’t?) you should know one very important thing: we are in a golden age of food-love. Thanks to celebrity chefs such as Wolfgang Puck, Anthony Bourdain and Gordon Ramsay and the glut of restaurant themed TV shows (not to mention an entire channel dedicated to cooking shows), never before has the act of sitting down for a meal been more appreciated.
More and more people are spending their extra income on food instead of luxury items. The love of fine food and drink is strong. And here’s how you can turn this trend into profit: by building a food-oriented website.
Starting a Foodie’s Blog or Site
Like any enterprise, your website should start small, with great content and a sharp eye for detail. Decide what you want to focus on: food, drink, the pairing of wines with food…or maybe you want to concentrate on a certain region’s cuisine.
You could provide original recipes, comment on food trends, write reviews of food products or restaurants, try out new appliances, video yourself preparing certain foods, review cookbooks… basically, anything you can think of.
Love Thai food? Find some Thai restaurants in your town and write a few reviews.
Is craft beers more your style? Find some local microbrews and write an article on them.
Love trying new Spanish recipes? Fire up the video camera, aim it at your stove, and explain what you’re doing as you prepare a dish.
Whatever your “niche,” whatever your format, make it fun. It should be something you look forward to doing. Because not only will your enthusiasm make your website more compelling, it will lead to better, more profitable opportunities down the road.
You should also keep up with other websites, blogs, and even print magazines to keep an eye on current trends. Being involved in a food niche that is of interest to your target audience will go a long way towards being successful in the next step: monetization.
This market research will also inspire your own content. Nothing wrong with borrowing ideas from your competitors. Plagiarism is, of course, a big no-no.
One last thing… aside from a specific niche, having some sort of “gimmick” can go a long way to getting noticed among all the other food blogs out there. An extreme example would be the Death Metal Vegan Chef, who prepares dishes on video to a death metal soundtrack.
You don’t have to go that far… but think about your own interests. There’s sure to be something unique about your experience you can bring to the table.
Time to Monetize
So you have your website up and running, you’re updating it with new reviews, articles, and/or videos on a regular basis. As a result, you’re starting to get some serious traffic.
Now is the time to monetize.
My recommendation would be to start by offering food-related products through an ecommerce site like Amazon.com. Amazon will give you a commission every time somebody buys a cookbook, blender, spice, food item, or whatever you write about through your link.
Going back to the Thai restaurant example, you could dig deeper and review the types of woks or rice cookers they use. Interview chefs, servers, and managers. By drilling down and becoming an expert in a certain niche, you’ll become a food authority. And your readers will be more likely to buy the products you talk about.
You can also start offering affiliate restaurant gift certificates. Restaurants love these kinds of promotions because it gets people in the door and expands their brand recognition. You could go with restaurants you personally like – they could be major chains like Olive Garden or one-off fine dining spots. Include directories for your favorite local eateries.
Have a special section for fine fast food and another for food trucks – whatever floats your taste buds.
Through the Open Table service, you can even make money by having people make reservations for restaurants on your site. If they make a reservation and show up – you get paid.
As your blog or website gets bigger and more well-known, you will become a tastemaker, literally. Expect to start receiving freebies from food companies, restaurants, and appliance manufacturers. They want to get their stuff in front of your audience, so naturally you have to try it out. Free stuff is always cool, especially when you’re making money at the same time.
The sky really is the limit with this opportunity. The food industry has become so huge in our society it has a culture and lifestyle all its own. And the possibilities for growth are endless.
Back to television host and writer Anthony Bourdain. Well, before he got his slew of TV shows and was traveling the world sampling the finest cuisine, he was a chef in a small restaurant in New York. Every morning he would get up and work on this little book that would become the international bestseller Kitchen Confidential.
He’s the ultimate example of how having a little knowledge about food, an everyman-type personality, and a dash of charisma can turn into a highly lucrative career.
Now, I’m not suggesting that six months after your foodie website hits the web you’ll be hosting your own show on the Food Network. But I guarantee that you’ll start seeing some nice perks.
At first, you’ll be a food critic. Then you’ll work with manufacturers, food companies, and restaurants as an affiliate. And then finally – and this is where the big money comes in – you’ll start selling ad space on your website to restaurants.
And who knows, maybe a profitable book deal is in your future.
*I wish you the best of luck!