Building a food community

If you’re a bit of an introvert like me, you’ll know that making friends is hard. What am I supposed to say, ‘how’s your day going’? What if they’re having a bad day! No, I’m far too English to be good at making friends.

However, I have one, what I like to call ‘communal skill’. Any guesses? Yeah, cooking. Some things I take hedonist joy in making for myself (see literally any cheeseboard), but most of the time, I cook for others. I like making other people happy and one sure fire way of doing that is through food.

It took me longer than I’d like to admit to realise that this community could stretch farther than those I was directly cooking for. It took a lot of pestering from my girlfriend before I finally started Mom’s Coming For Dinner, a tribute not only to my own mothers’ cooking, but every cooking role model I had growing up and still have to this day.

The Instagram account existed before this blog and in instagram terms, performs about as well as you’d expect for a new account that only posts three times a week. I work within the limits of my job and what I have available to me from a cost standpoint and I’ll continue to push both the account and this blog until… well who knows where they could go? Others have made successful careers out of this, why not me?

But it all starts with a community. Your first followers will be your friends and family. This is the most important stage in early food blogging. Numbers, whether we like it or not, matter to people. The more likes something has, the more it’ll continue to get. What does it matter if the vast majority are family and friends in these early days?

Beyond that, your community can go in a lot of directions. Keep an eye out for pre-established days, like Pancake Day, to give your recipe a boost. Be aware of trends, not just in cooking, but in industries that support it.

For example, in the last few years ‘whole-animal butchery’ has become a mainstay of a lot of restaurants and chefs. Why? There are a miriad of reasons, but the long and short of it is: it’s less wasteful, it can be cheaper overall, it allows chefs to get more creative, and it gives diners the chance to experience obscure cuts they’d never otherwise get to try.

Why is this relevant to you? Because this is a pre-established community, that you, my budding young food entrepreneur, can join. Cook one of those obscure cuts and stand out from the crowd, get creative with presentation of something familiar or challenge yourself to use as much of an animal as you can. The possibilities from this one community are endless!

Closer to home, sometimes literally in the home, there is what I’m going to call ‘local inspiration’. For me this means two things; either ingredients or recipes. Do you live in an area renowned for its apples? Make an apple pie and tag it with everything reminiscent of your community. Or better yet, give them away in your community, literally sharing your creation with the world.

Secondly, recipes. Some are handed from friends, some from family and some are local staples. Whatever it is, why aren’t you making it! The picture above is a recipe for hummus that my friend from university gave me and is the direct inspiration for this post. Plus, it’s delicious and it comes with a ready-made story attached.

I’m going to be honest with you, I love the stories surrounding food (shocking right). So much so that I won’t make a recipe if I don’t like the chef/food blogger who wrote it. The backstory is very important to me, it adds so much to the experience. ‘This recipe for mushroom sauce has been handed down for 300 years in my community and now I’m sharing it with you”. I love that stuff. There’s a reason brands establish a history, it adds legitimacy, it builds a sense of, dare I say it, community around them.

Then there’s the most abstract community builder, what I’m calling ‘reaching across the chasm’. Which is basically just me trying to say, if you have different interests/hobbies that don’t seem super related, trust me, there’s a way to connect them.

Binging with Babish is a great example of this. He worked in film and loved movies, but he also loved cooking. Normally, they aren’t compatible, but he found a way to make it work, re-creating food from film. His rapid rise to YouTube stardom proves it possible to combine interests, creating something new in the process, and make it work to your advantage.

The internet provides the best way of building a community of course, in the broadest sense at least. If you love home-cooking (which you do because you’ve read this far), there’s a channel/account/profile for you. You probably even found this blog post through the most unbiqutious internet communities; hashtags.

They make it so that, particularly on instagram, your post will be seen by those who have common interests with you, your community.

Finding a community or building one can be a challenge, especially if you’re like me. I have a habit of posting and hoping for the best and the posts with that mentality behind them are always my worst in terms of views. So, if you want to be a food blogger, building a community is essential. I’ll admit, I’ve yet to implement all of these in my own community building endeavours, but it’s not to say I won’t, it’s just a question of when and how.

Your foodie community is so much more than just views though. They can give you inspiration if you’re stuck, support you if you’re struggling, and encourage you to move forward. We have a tendency to focus on individuals, especially in food, with celebrity chefs being TV superstars today. All of them know that cooking is a team effort, and that they wouldn’t be where they are without their team behind them. Takes a village to raise a baby and all that.

And it’s just the same for a food blogger, except our teams aren’t trained chefs, they’re our friends, family and the communities of other foodies we build around ourselves.

Know of any other way of expanding your food community? Leave a comment below and let me know. While you’re here, why not check out Moms Coming For Dinner on Instagram @ https://www.instagram.com/momscomingfordinner/

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