The End of BlogHer Food and the Rise of the “Lifestyle” Niche of Blogging
A friend on Linkedin forwarded an article to me yesterday written by well-known food writer Dianne Jacob explaining why BlogHer Food has ended after eight years. BlogHer is an online community and media company dedicated to contributing content written by and for women. While I have a BlogHer account, I haven’t personally posted anything through that medium. Upon reading the title of the article, I was really surprised. However, it was easy to understand the motivation to nest BlogHer Food within BlogHer.
Consolidating the two communities is motivated by the emergence of “lifestyle” blogs. With food making the largest category in BlogHer, having two conferences, one for food and one for everyone else would create an obvious division for the online community. These divisions are even more confusing as food bloggers transition to the “lifestyle” niche, a growing trend.
Food is a part of our lifestyle not only because we need it to survive, but also because we have made it a huge part of our identity. We don’t just eat Paleo/Vegan/insert diet here, we ARE Paleo/Vegan/insert diet here. In addition, blogged recipes are not cut-and-dry instructions along with a photo that have been projected into the interwebs. Typically food bloggers will talk about the effort it took to find the ingredients, tell a story of where they first had the food, or cite a restaurant as the inspiration. It’s immersive to read these stories. Sometimes the authors chat about something unrelated, finishing the post with essentially “by the way, here is a recipe.” More so than that, it’s about fitting recipes into the aspects of our lifestyle. Holidays, busy week nights, how to pack nutritious lunches for your children, what to consume post-workout: these reasons and more allow food to expand into lifestyle.
Within the Paleo community one example of a food blogger that transitioned to lifestyle blogger is Juli Bauer of PaleOMG. Her site runs the gamut of recipes, workouts of the day, “what I eat in a day”, beauty, travel, The Bachelor, and fashion. Phew…if I were saying that instead of typing, I’d be out of breath! She began in a narrow niche as a Paleo recipe blogger and Crossfitter, but expanded to successfully integrate many topics, with a side of sass, to paint a picture of her whole lifestyle.
Another blog I enjoy is The Small Things blog founded by Kate Bryan. I found Kate on YouTube while searching for hairstyles several years ago and have followed her ever since. Over time, I’ve watched her blog evolve from just hair to include beauty, and now she even has a tab dedicated to lifestyle which includes parenting experiences, fashion, recipes, and home styling. It’s easy to understand the evolution: questions about hair rolled into questions about her makeup, then clothes, then she shared experiences about becoming a parent which of course doubles back into her choices of hairstyle, beauty, and clothes. It all blends seamlessly on her blog.
Of course the list could go on for lifestyle bloggers, but I wanted to give examples of ones that I have actively been following over the years and have witnessed their expansion across topics.
Even I am trying to cross over into lifestyle topics. I’ve dabbled in fashion posts, “What I Eat Wednesday”, “Monday Musings”, and travel. It’s definitely challenging to hit up all these topics and considering I have regular job. I also feel overloaded with the potential ideas I could share. Additionally, there is a fine line between sharing and oversharing, especially if it negatively impacts the people in your life. Feelings that you “owe” readers information about your lifestyle may lead to burnout. It reminds me of a scene from one of my favorite movies, “Julie & Julia,” where Julie laments about her readers being upset about skipping out on her blog, to which her husband compassionately responds, “They’ll live!”. (By the way, if you’re a foodie and you’ve never seen that movie, change that immediately).
Some questions that are teasing me on the topic of lifestyle blog are: if lines are blurring between food/family/travel/beauty/fashion/fitness, will it be harder for bloggers to find their voice? How will new bloggers, who typically start with a distinct niche, deal with the broad concept of lifestyle blogging?
My final question on the subject is: If most blogs become lifestyle blogs, what will it take to stand out?
What is your view on the subject? Comment below!