How to use your food (or non-food) blog to save the world

BlogHer Original Post

What is stopping you from using your food blog—or, really, any blog you write—to save the world? What is your barrier to entry into that place where your blog goes beyond telling a story and actually serves as a platform for the causes about which you’re most passionate?

That was the question asked by Lydia Walshin of A Perfect Pantry and Drop In & Decorate® cookies for donation at the end of How Food Blogs Can Save The World, our panel at BlogHerFood ’09, and a worthy question which which to grapple. The participants in the panel--who also included Pim Techamuanvivit, who has raised more than $250,000 through her Menu For Hope event on Chez Pim, and Valerie Harrison of More Than Burnt Toast, who will release a fundraising cookbook in November as part of the efforts of BloggerAid: Changing the Face of Famine--were in various stages of their efforts, and they wanted to share their expertise with conference attendees.

There are some concrete steps that can make the process of starting or supporting a fundraising or awareness-raising event--or promoting an ongoing project or cause--much easier. Here are some tips released as part of our panel’s handout, which is available as a PDF download below:

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Be clear about the goals of your event or program. Fundraising? Friend-raising? General awareness, or are you asking people to take a specific action?
  3. Create a page or post about your cause, why you are supporting it – it’s really important to explain why you’ve chosen this cause or event -- and what action you want people to take (donate money, time, Tweet, etc.). Write clearly and succinctly, and tell a good story. Don’t forget to ask for what you want (see donate money, time, tweet, etc., above). Make sure your links work.
  4. If you are hosting an event, create a tasteful, non-cute graphic or logo that can be used as a sidebar badge linked to the project page or post on your blog.
  5. If you are raising awareness of an existing program or organization, use their logo as a sidebar badge, and link to their web site.
  6. Write to food (or other) bloggers you know, individually, and ask them to participate. Specify one or two things you’d like them to do (write a post, add a badge to their sidebar, etc.). Remember, keep it simple.
  7. Plan far enough in advance so people can schedule their participation.
  8. Ask for one or two actions – no more than that. Give specific dates or deadlines whenever possible. (i.e., please write a post on Monday, or please donate before December 15.)
  9. Use social media judiciously. Consider creating a separate Twitter account and Facebook page for promotion.
  10. Remember that, no matter how passionate you feel about a cause or project or event, your readers still come to your blog to read about food. And if you’re monetizing your blog, your advertisers are paying to be on a food blog. Your cause doesn’t have to be related to food, but you might want to stay away from religion or political campaigns. Create a sidebar link or tab to keep posts about your project in one place.

There is even more information available on the handout, as well as in the PowerPoint presentation shown during the session. For real-time commentary, check out the live-blog of the panel, as well.

If you have more questions for any of the panelists, please post them in the comments, and we will be happy to answer them. We want to help you do the best job you can on behalf of whatever you’re passionate about, because blogs are such a terrific platform from which to reach people all over the world.

Here are a list of other blogs to check out that often support nonprofit causes or events:

 

Genie blogs about gardening and food at The Inadvertent Gardener, and tells very short tales at 100 Proof Stories. She is also documenting her year in photos at 365 in 2009.

AttachmentSize
How Food Blogs Can Save The World (PDF Handout)61.98 KB
How Food Blogs Can Save The World (PPT)5.75 MB

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