What’s the Easiest Way to Break Into Food Writing?

What could be better than getting paid to eat? That’s what I thought when I decided to pursue food writing.

Being a food writer 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.

What’s the Easiest Way to Break Into Food Writing?

When I was starting out, food writing was a far off dream.

When I was starting out as a freelance writer, becoming a food writer 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 become a food writer.

How to Break Into Food Writing

1. Look for the Intersection

Success as a food writer 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 Writing Do You Want Write About?

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  food writing? What would your intersection be?

Lindy Alexander is an Australian freelance writer specialising in food, health and human-interest stories. She writes for newspapers and magazines as well as content for businesses and organisations.

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Thanks for sharing! I’m currently pitching ideas relating to food+agriculture and food+environment to various digital platforms. Do you have any advice for finding prospective clients?Reply to Briana
Hi Briana, Thanks for your comment. I think those are both great intersections. I would probably start by Googling “food and environment” but rather than doing a plain “all” search, I’d click for “news” and get a sense of the publications that are covering these issues. But most news outlets will cover these issues (think about The Guardian’s Sustainable Business section) and lots of digital food publications will too. Good luck!Reply to Lindy
Thank you for sharing this information with us! I appreciate this since I’ve run into the same thing as a writer in the mental health niche. I thought I had to be some sort of psychiatrist who was well-known in order to break into the field. This article gives me hope that this myth is not the case. (Well…that and the fact that I have someone very interested in working with me in the coming weeks.) Thank you for writing this article, Lindy!Reply to Lisa
Lindy Alexander Thanks so much for your comment Lisa! That’s great that you have someone keen to work with you. From my experience, you definitely don’t need to be an expert in your chosen niche to get work – just a good hook/angle and from there you build authority in the area and then you’re on your way!Reply to Lindy