What could be better than getting paid to eat? That’s what I thought when I decided to pursue food writing.
Food writing is one of my niches, and although lots of people think it’s a tough area to break into, my experience has shown that it’s easier than many people think.
When I was starting out, food writing was a far off dream.
When I was starting out as a freelance writer, food writing was a far off dream. I thought to be a food writer you had to be a critic or an established chef with a profile. In other words, I thought that to be a food writer you had to be a household name.
I assumed I would have to do a food writing course before I could call myself a food writer. But I wasn’t interested in critiquing food and I hadn’t studied food writing, but I did have a passion for food (and let’s face it, eating!) and I was a freelance writer.
So in my build up to full time freelancing, I decided I would pursue food writing as one of my niches.
In 2016 I had 16 food related articles published, and I now have editors approaching me to write food stories for them.
I’ve found three easy ways to break into food writing:
1. Look for the Intersection
Success in freelance writing comes down to intersections. If you want to be a food writer, think about the other niches or specialties you write about and pitch stories in that sweet spot or intersection.
It’s an equation that goes something like this:
food + another specialty you write about
So you might write about food + agriculture, food + healthcare, food + sustainability, food + trends, food + history, food + employment.
Food is universal, and so whatever your niche, I believe that you can find an intersection that includes food.
But what if you write about technology, surely that can’t be an intersection with food? Yes, it can be. Check out this article about how tech-enabled food service can make patients happier.
I know of a blog where the focus is on the food at Disney theme parks and there’s a website dedicated solely to breakfast and brunch, so whatever you are interested in, if you pair it with food, you’re sure to find a paying market.
2. What Kind of Food Writer Do You Want to Be?
Think about the type of articles you want to write. Do you want to write recipes? Restaurant reviews? Do you want to write round-ups of the newest offerings in cooking classes? Or are you interested in the farm to table movement and sustainability?
The benefit of thinking about what kind of food writing you want to do is that it narrows down the publications you will send your queries to.
Don’t limit yourself and think only about magazines, newspaper sections or websites that focus predominantly on food, but publications in your other niches.
Perhaps you are a keen outdoors enthusiast – you could pitch an article about the best foods to take on a multi-day hike, if you’re a health writer think of articles about particular foods that can relieve certain symptoms or conditions, or if you have experience writing for families, you can write about fussy eaters or including vegetables in sweet treats for children.
Once you start brainstorming, you can see the possibilities are limitless.
3. Look for New Trends
Focusing on trends and openings of cafes or restaurants is one of the easiest ways to get into food writing. That’s how I got my start. I live in a small country town and a great new café was opening, I pitched the idea to an online food publication and they accepted.
In print publications, you can pitch to the editor for the ‘front of book’ section, which is the opening part of the magazine. The front of book section for food publications usually includes 100 – 500-word articles about trends, openings or new research.
When thinking of ideas, ask yourself:
Are there restaurants or cafes near you that are just about to open? Is there someone at your local farmers’ market using new agricultural techniques? Are you spotting any trends when you go out to eat?
Editors love to publish articles that offer something ‘new’ to their readers, and this is super easy in food writing – there’s always a new café or restaurant opening or a new product that is being launched.
It’s also important to remember that food writing is not just for B2C publications – there are loads of B2B and trade magazines that focus on food or at least will feature food content in their publications.
And if you want some serious inspiration about how you can make good money from being a food writer – listen to this podcast with Kate Kordsmeier.
Do you dream of being a food writer? What would your intersection be?