Behind The Scenes on Food Blogging

Food Blogging went viral over the last few years among the world of food lovers since hip technologies like Blogspot , Pinterest , Facebook , Twitter etc. gave them a taste of how easy and fun it is to share one’s love for food with just a few clicks. Easy as it may sound, to become a successful food blogger takes a lot more than just an extra dose of passion and curiosity for food.

This week Asian Palate interviews Hyosun Ro , a Korean-American mother of two children, and founder and writer of popular blog Korean Bapsang , on how to start blogging, and what keeps her going.
AP : Asian Palate     HR : Hyosun Ro
AP : How did you start blogging? What were the key challenges when starting a blog?
HR : It all started as a way of teaching my two grown-up children how to cook the food they grew up with. The idea came up, during their summer break of 2009, as we were cooking and sharing Korean food together with their friends. They all felt that there was a definite shortage of quality authentic Korean recipes in English. I had already been toying with the idea of compiling my recipes to pass down to my children. So, the idea of self-publishing and sharing my recipes online sounded exciting to me. 
As for challenges, I’ve always cooked by instinct and eyeballing. That’s just what we Korean moms do. So, it was quite an adjustment (it still is to some extent) to measure everything every step of the way. I frequently forgot to measure the amount of an ingredient or keep track of the time required for a particular step. I would then have to make the dish all over again – often more than once. Another challenge was getting the photos right. I had owned my camera for four years when I started the blog but didn’t know how to use it manually. As a result, it was difficult for me to create appetizing photos. I also struggled with writing (and still do). I am not a writer. English is my second language, and the writing I do at work has to do with accounting and auditing.  
AP : What keeps you going? How do you get into the habit of blogging regularly?
HR : It’s definitely the support and encouragement from my readers that keeps me going! It truly makes me happy every time I hear from a reader (including my children) that he or she made delicious Korean food using my recipe. I’ve had many Korean readers tell me that my dishes are very similar to their moms’, and that they are learning to recreate their favorite Korean foods using my recipes. Several non-Korean readers have reported that their Korean spouses or Korean in-laws are impressed with their Korean cooking because of my recipes. Someone from NYC was happy to find my blog because his favorite Korean restaurant had shut down, but my blog saved him by teaching him how to make his favorite Korean dishes on his own. It’s rewarding and definitely worth my time!
Actually, I haven’t been able to post on a regular basis. I have a day job, so I cook and take photos for my blog mostly on weekends. I’ve been trying hard to post at least two to three times a month. Occasionally, it doesn’t work out simply because life gets in the way.  
AP : How much time does it take for you to complete one blog entry? Can you briefly break it down into key processes and describe briefly the time required and resources needed?
HR : It varies widely. It usually takes a full day or two of my weekend to shop for ingredients, cook, and take the photos for a post. Some posts have been more difficult than others, taking up to three weekends to complete — usually because of the photos. Sometimes, it’s the recipe itself that takes several rounds of testing to make sure my measurements and cooking times are accurate, or to experiment with different ingredients or cooking techniques. I’ve also had some posts that came together surprisingly well and didn’t take much time at all.   
I generally start by brainstorming which recipe I’ll post next and how I want to present the recipe. I have a running list of recipes to be posted in draft form, so I either pick one of them or come up with a new one, depending on the season (or my mood) and whether there are any special occasions or requests. After selecting a dish, I develop a list of ingredients and shop for quality ingredients. Then, I cook, making notes and taking photos of the process along the way.  Styling the dish and taking the final photos is the next step. This tends to be the most difficult and time-consuming step, and it can easily take two to three hours. I don’t do much post-photo processing only because I don’t know Photoshop very well. So, I have to make sure I take good photos from the start. Once I make sure the recipe works and the photos are good, I then move on to writing the post. The whole process usually takes a week or two if everything goes smoothly.
AP : How long do you think you will keep blogging? Do you see a point where you may stop, say for example, because you accomplish a significant goal?
HR : I’m not sure how long, but I have no plan to stop anytime soon. I have so many recipes and ideas that I’d like to share, but my time for blogging currently is very limited. I wish I could retire now and blog full time, but that’s not a reality for a few more years. As an immigrant and a working mother, I’ve always been so busy and haven’t had much time for myself. Blogging has been a great creative outlet for me. I also feel that I’m contributing, in a small way, to “globalising” Korean cuisine.
Hyosun Ro, founder of Korean Bapsang
Photo credit © Korean Bapsang