We are welcoming blogger, food photographer, and BonBon Break’s Kitchen Editor to the site. In this Q&A, Betsy Haley is sharing tons of tips for creating and submitting food posts, as well as how she got her recipes and food posts published and featured on many coveted sites. She is also giving us the scoop on how to get your food posts featured on BonBon Break.
Beyond Your Blog: Let’s start by talking about your blog Betsylife. Can you give us a quick overview and history of your food blogging?
Betsy Haley: In 2010 I was in the midst of a personal pity party. My husband traveled frequently for work and I found myself lonely in my personal life, and unfulfilled in my professional life. I decided it was time to quit feeling sorry for myself, and take control of my own happiness. Betsylife was born out of a desire to reconnect with my fine art background.
Before the blog, cooking was my daily creative outlet, so naturally it became the main topic of my blog. To this day I don’t consider Betsylife a food blog. I consider it a lifestyle blog and an example of how to make room in your life for the things you love, and the benefits that come from doing so.
BYB: You’ve been featured on some very coveted food sites. Can you tell us a bit about each in terms of how you got featured there and what benefits you saw from contributing?
- HuffPost – Huffington Post approached me after seeing my photos online for each of the times I’ve been featured there. This is obviously a huge traffic driver for my blog, and I’m always thrilled to get that email. (28 Lobster Recipes That Anyone Can Make & Homemade Cakes: Show Off Your Culinary Creations)
- Cooking Light – Cooking Light was a product of being in the right place at the right time. I had long been a subscriber of Cooking Light magazine and frequently linked to them and mentioned their recipes on social media. This was right around the time they were forming their “bloggers connection” and invited me to be a part of it. Through this group I became friendly with the marketing department, which led to more opportunities like published commentary in their Good Mood Food cookbook, and an ambassadorship for their FitFoodie Race series. My Instagram account has been featured in their magazine and I’m regularly linked to on their blog like in this Blogger Highlights: Sweet Potato Edition.
- Shape – The Shape feature randomly came from a HARO inquiry that I replied to. For anyone who’s just starting out and looking to get published, HARO is a great resource. It’s free to sign up, and you can respond to any inquiries you think are a good fit for you.
- FoodGawker – Both FoodGawker and Tastespotting are great tools for not only improving your photography, but also getting attention from other sites like Buzzfeed and HuffPost . My interest really lies in the art of creating, whether its food or an image, so to me, the photo is just as important as the food. I find that I get quite a bit of traffic from these sites. I don’t submit every single post, but I will submit several in a row when I’m traveling or don’t have time to post regularly in order to drive traffic and refresh old content.
- Buzzfeed – Similar to HuffPo, Buzzfeed finds me on Pinterest/Foodgawker/Tastespotting when they’re compiling a round-up. They usually inquiring about use of just one recipe, ie. apple pie for a pie round-up, and I like to say, “sure, if you like that one, here are 5 other pies from my site you might like” Buzzfeed is always an enormous, although short-lived, traffic driver for me. (Featured in these round ups: 17 Surprising Foods To Grill Before Summer Ends & 27 Big And Beautiful Bundt Cakes)
BYB: Do you still submit to other sites? If so which ones, and/or which ones are on your wish list to be featured on in the future
BH: I recently began writing for SheKnows.com (Spicy apple cider bourbon grilled wings pack a flavorful punch), and I am also a contributor to PopSugar.com (Caramel Apple Waffles). I would love to be on TheEveryGirl.com or TheGlitterGuide.com. I think those ladies are doing some great stuff.
BH: I met Val, the editor in chief, first through Facebook, and then in real life at a blogging conference earlier this year. We hit it off, and when the position became available, she approached me for it. I’m still a newbie to this format, and I’m just starting to get the hang of it. It’s been a great experience for me, not only learning to work as part of a blogging team, but also learning to connect with an audience that I’m not entirely familiar with. However, now that I’m getting used to the “lay of the land” I have some really exciting ideas for the future so stay tuned!
BYB: When I interviewed Val I remember her telling me ‘don’t send us photos of raw chicken!’, and not being a food blogger myself, it made me think about how important photos are to food posts. What are your top 1 or 2 photography tips for food bloggers submitting to BonBon Break?
BH: ALWAYS shoot in natural light with no flash. Period. Unless you are super familiar with artificial lighting set-ups (in which case you would not need a photography tip from me) don’t even bother with flash photography or the lights in your kitchen. Also, it is important to remember that everyone edits! I edit every single photo I take. Learn a few basic skills in Lightroom, Iphoto, or Photoshop and your pictures will improve tenfold.
- adjust exposure
- adjust white balance
- adjust highlights and shadows
BYB: What about other tips with regard to the content of the recipe or food-centric posts? What makes you jump up and down with excitement to feature something?
BH: I’m always looking for a spark of imagination. That unique idea that sets something apart from the crowd, yet is still accessible to the masses. I personally would make a technique heavy, time-consuming recipe just for the experience of it, but I know that’s not realistic for most people. Simple, yet inventive is what draws me in, and it must have a great photo!
BYB: Roughly how many submissions do you get vs. how many you accept?
BH: I try to run one original submission each month, and generally have 8 features (BonBon Break links back to the author’s blog) per month. Beyond sharing recipes with our readers, I really love introducing them to new voices and sites.
BYB: Can you point us to one or two near perfect food posts you’ve featured on BonBon Break as reference for someone who may never have submitted a recipe or food post before?
BH: I absolutely loved this stuffed pepper soup from Jaclyn at CookingClassy.com. It’s a new way to enjoy familiar flavors, and it’s super approachable for the everyday cook.
I also was crazy about these apple butter and brown sugar wings from Chung Ah at Damn Delicious.
If a post makes me say, “why didn’t I think of this sooner” I always love it. Once again, a small twist on a classic recipe makes for something really special.
BYB: On more of a fun note…
- Your favorite vegetable – Brussels Sprouts!
- Your favorite food to eat in the month of December – Candy canes. I have a secret obsession with candy canes. I buy all the boxes after Christmas for $1 and eat them throughout the spring. They are my fave.
- A food you could give up for life and not miss – Pasta. I’m not into it