Our case study series sees us talk to world-class creatives, bloggers and agencies doing great work with WPZOOM themes. Today we’re very excited to share our conversation with Kitchen Swagger, an awesome family-run food and recipe blog which makes great usage of our Foodica theme.
Food blogging is a niche which has exploded in popularity in recent years, with the ready availability of food blogging WordPress themes, high quality digital cameras and social sites such as Instagram opening the arena to anyone with cooking ideas to share.
Keen to find out more, and what makes a food blog tick, we sat down with Kitchen Swagger founder and co-author Shawn Williams to talk about the challenges starting a food blog, cooking and WordPress.
WPZ: Kitchen Swagger is a family affair. How did it get started?
Shawn: Kitchen Swagger actually began as a PDF cookbook I made about 4 or 5 years ago. I enjoyed the process but hated the constant updating, printing and uploading to my iPad. In late 2014, I guess it just dawned on me to start my own food blog. I bought a web template and domain name the next day, took to WordPress, and started shooting recipes with my iPhone.
I’ve always loved cooking, I find it rewarding and it serves my creative side. Growing up, my mother was always cooking and baking from scratch, so I picked it up at a young age.
It was my brother-in-law, Scott (now co-author) that really got me into cooking after college. Scott and I used to compete in the kitchen and share recipes in a word document. He jumped at the opportunity to help contribute to Kitchen Swagger. My wife Patty is the baker of the family and I’ve put her in charge of the sweet side of the blog. While the majority of the recipes are my own at the moment, I’m pushing to get my family more involved.
WPZ: Photography is a huge part of any food blog. What’s your approach to this?
Shawn: Like I said, I started photographing with my iPhone and used that for the first year of the blog. I upgraded when I knew food blogging was something I really wanted to pursue. I’ve been using the Nikon D3300 for the past year and I photograph everything under artificial light. My day job prevents me from using natural light but I feel like I have more control over the artificial lighting anyway.
Overall I like to keep things simple. I tend to really focus on the food with minimal props. I usually take photos of our dinner minutes before we actually eat. I move very quickly and just take a few basic shots. It took me over a year to really develop the look and style I was going for. I really like dark and ominous rustic looking food photography. I read a handful of other blogs for inspiration and created my own style based on what I liked.
As for preparing photos, I apply a few basic edits in Photoshop. I usually enhance the color, brightness, and contrast and then export for the web so the files sizes are very light. From there I honestly just pull my photos directly from the blog for social media.
WPZ: How has sharing your recipes changed your recipes and cooking?
Shawn: It’s changed almost everything. When I’m cooking I’m almost always thinking about my readers, what ingredients I’m using, and how I can simplify the process. It really makes me think about how I’m preparing a dish. When you live and die by a food photo, presentation is just as important as taste.
It’s also pushed me to experiment with new food groups and try different recipes. I think you need to strike a balance between what you are passionate about and what you think your readers will love. My focus has been simple and delicious recipes with an emphasis on whole foods. I’m always thinking about how can I present basic recipes in a unique light.
WPZ: Your site runs Foodica and shows off your recipes beautifully. How useful has the theme been?
Shawn: It’s been great. Foodica has been a solid foundation for building my blog. It has a very sleek, clean design that is easy to customize through its unique visual editor. I would say that’s one of the best features—you can make so many customizations to the theme without any CSS knowledge. This is huge for me.
I did a lot of research when originally deciding to switch themes. I found WPZOOM to be one the best options for food bloggers and it’s priced better than the closest competition. The theme has also had lots of improvements over the past year. I think finding a theme that will grow with your blog/business is very important. WPZOOM stays up to date with the latest web trends. The support has also been incredibly helpful when I run into any technical issues.
WPZ: What advice would you give to aspiring food bloggers?
Shawn: Buy a domain name and jump right in. Everyone has to start somewhere. Food blogging is something I’ve learned on the fly. You’ve really got to stick with it, blogging is a tremendous amount of work and results don’t happen overnight. Growing any blog takes time, patience, and a lot of passion.
Kitchen Swagger is still very small and we have a long ways to go, but I’ve loved every minute of the past 2 years. I encourage new bloggers to read other food blogs, experiment with cooking, take lots of pictures and don’t take yourself too seriously. Celebrate mini milestones as they come.
All of these beautiful photos of food will be making you hungry! Head over to Kitchen Swagger to find your next recipe. Thanks so much to Shawn for taking the time to talk to us.
If you want the perfect WordPress theme for a food blog – and the same theme Kitchen Swagger uses – then check out Foodica. You won’t be disappointed.