How I write a food blog post

This is my 60th blog post. Hooray! Well done me, and you for keeping me company along the way.

Someone told me recently that my blog was "prolific", in that I churn out the posts. I take that as a compliment because I know how much work goes into each and every post. So, I thought I'd tell you today how exactly I write my blog posts. We start with, unsurprisingly...

The subject

People often ask me where I hear about all these places to blog on, and where I get my ideas from. The answer is that I get them, primarily, from you. From conversations mostly. I confess that when I talk to people, even good friends, I do so while also ferreting away snippets of information for possible blog post or story ideas. There are all sorts of nuggets of blogging gold in the most random conversations. I'll shamelessly mine people for details and interrogate acquaintances with questions, then type it down on my phone at the earliest opportunity.

If there's a new restaurant, cafe, bar, hotel, trip, event, or food-related business or activity in town, or Laos in general, I want to know about it. And if you know of one, for pity's sake, just tell me.

Fortuitous conversations led me to Once Upon A Time Cafe before it had opened

Fortuitous conversations led me to Once Upon A Time Cafe before it had opened

I also get ideas from Facebook and the dozens of Laos-related groups on there. Now that's really prolific. And I get ideas from just exploring. Vientiane is still a relatively new place to me; I've only been here 8 months and I started blogging in my first week. So, everything is still a bit of a discovery.

Research

I always try to visit places I review twice. Just because experiences change and I like to be as impartial as possible. Unless I get food poisoning (which touchwood hasn't happened yet) or it's just terrible (which has) in which case I won't write about it anyway. There are too many other good places to focus on.

I also spend a lot of time getting all the facts because I like writing really meaty, interesting posts, and because I like the stories and the people behind the food. 

And each time I go, I try to order different things, or go with different people so I get varying experiences and opinions. It also helps if I need more photos.

The 2 trip rule does mean that I have a current backlog of places I need to return to before I can write about them. I tend to create a lot of work for myself.

The photos

A picture says a thousand words apparently. (Though 1000 words is actually quite a lot). Anyway, photos are essential for a blog. Which is why I'm absolutely delighted with my new Sony RX100 iii which I bought after far too much deliberation (an equivalent of about 20 blog posts' worth of time). But I'm already in love with the gorgeous pictures I can achieve just on the auto setting (yes, I use the auto setting, so shoot me. And there's a pun, ha ha). 

Anyway, food blogs need photos, and preferably drool-worthy ones. Which is why I'm now almost used to...

Snapping photos of my meal before devouring it...

Veggie burger and fries at Pimenton

Veggie burger and fries at Pimenton

And making my friends do the same...

Sesame encrusted balls with coconut ice cream at Makphet

Sesame encrusted balls with coconut ice cream at Makphet

Asking friends to order specific things so I can take pictures of them...

On the quest for Vientiane's best coffee

On the quest for Vientiane's best coffee

Walking around taking photos like a tourist while staff look at me strangely... And then asking to peer into kitchens and take photos of them...

The lovely Noi from Do Ka Noi

The lovely Noi from Do Ka Noi

Asking strangers on the street to be my guinea pigs...

High school students downing the infamous egg babies

High school students downing the infamous egg babies

And buying food I don't want really want to eat so shop owners don't mind me snapping photos...

Deep fried frogs at Ban Anou night market

Deep fried frogs at Ban Anou night market

Then, finally, when all the research and note taking and photos are ready, it's time for...

The writing

I start all my writing the same way, whether it's an article or a blog post - with the beginning. The first sentence or two sets the stage and it all flows from there. I "write" it in my head first, rewriting that crucial opening over and over before it's just right. Then I lay out the structure of the story. I rework it all several times and commit it to memory. Then, when I get to my computer, I'll type it all out. 

It's probably a very pedantic way of working but I like to "see" my story mapped out before I write it.

The writing itself then takes 2-3 hours and I insert photos and captions along the way. I also like to link to relevant articles and my own posts; I think it's interesting to make connections and give people more reading.

Blogging with Squarespace is pretty straightforward but there's still buttons to push, captions to write and SEO descriptions to update. I have to resize photos, name files and mark hashtags and categories. It takes time.

eatdrinklaos-write-blog-post-squarespace

Finally, I do a quick read through and then it's done. Hit publish and relax.

Okay, technically, it's not quite done; I still have to promote each post on all my social media channels and my newsletter. After all, what's the point of all that work if no one reads it right? Thankfully, that's for another day. It's time for a glass of wine.