Today I spoke about food blogging at the New Jersey Agricultural Convention and 57th Annual Atlantic Coast Ag Convention & Trade Show in Atlantic City. The talk addressed the nature of food blogging and its role in promoting and marketing farms. Addressing farmers and agricultural professionals, I argued that food bloggers can serve an essential role a farm’s marketing efforts.

In a sense, food bloggers are the choir. They are already passionate about food and predisposed to appreciate and think about farmers’ hard work. The vast majority of food bloggers work on a volunteer basis in their little free time, so they are sympathetic to the fact that farmers are busy people without lots of time and unlimited funds to do marketing and promotion.

Fortunately there are some quick and free ways for farmers to engage with bloggers. Browsing blogs and leaving meaningful comments with a link to the farm, writing a personal email, engaging in banter on twitter are all great ways for the busy farmer to reach out. The prerequisites are few: a list of food bloggers (pp 81-83 of Convention Proceedings included a few), a twitter account (sign up for free here), and email account, and ideally a company website to refer bloggers to.

If a farm doesn’t have a website, setting one up is very inexpensive. No need to hire a company to do it (though Small Farm Central offers relatively affordable services). Just register a domain name (I recommend GoDaddy for this), purchase hosting (Hostgator is my go-to), and get started with WordPress.

Another way to do it is to start a microblog. It’s free! Twitter and Tumblr offer completely free and accessible ways for you to interact with consumers, other producers, food bloggers and journalists. Farm consultant, blogger and author Juliet Fay offers some tips on using social media here.

Sharing photos of your farm and your experience is another way to market your farm, by showing your work, property and fruits of your labor in a personal way. Flickr and Tumblr both offer one-touch sharing tools. Of course there is also Facebook for this.

I put together a slideshow to outline the types of food bloggers out there and suggested ways that farmers could engage them and maximize their marketing potential.

Some other resources:
-Juliet Fay offers up 15 ideas for fresh new content for your farm enterprise or rural business website.

-David Lebovitz, one of the world’s leading food bloggers, shares his ideas on how bloggers can use use social networking effectively here. These lessons can be applied to microblogging, as well.

-Lisa Kivirist, blogger and co-author of ECOpreneuring and Rural Renaissance, gives Five Tips to Launch Your Farm Blog

-Simon Huntley’s “5 Principles of Web Marketing for Farmers” on pp 79-80 of the Convention Proceedings

-Rick VanVranken’s “The Impact of Food Bloggers on Marketing Your Produce” pp 81-83 of Convention Proceedings

-“Matt Allison, Urban Farmer, Eco-Activist and No Jamie Oliver” guest post on Parla Food