I’ve been running a survey of food blog readers as part of my master’s research project. I’ve just closed the survey, and thought I’d share some of the responses. My research looks specifically at recipe blogs (rather than restaurant review blogs), so the questions are more focused around recipes.

In the end, I surveyed 130 people who read food blogs. Of these readers, 71 (55%) had their own food blog, and 59 (45%) were non-bloggers. I’ve filtered the results to look at some of the differences, when it comes to reading blogs, between bloggers and non-bloggers. In my project, I have considered readers as important community members, although they can be invisible and difficult to access at times (unlike bloggers, who are obviously more prominent).

So, first, some things about food blog readers that showed up in the survey that probably won’t surprise anyone:

  • the majority (86%) of blog readers surveyed were women
  • they were most commonly (47%) 25-34 years old, with the second most common age bracket being 35-44 (26%)
  • bloggers seemed to follow more blogs than non-bloggers
  • bloggers were more likely to comment on blogs than non-bloggers
  • more bloggers have attended a blogging event than non-bloggers.

Using food blogs

Most of the respondents (83%) said that they read food blogs for inspiration and recipe ideas. For bloggers, the second most popular reason (79%) was to keep up to date with particular bloggers. For non-bloggers, the second most popular reason (73%) was to find recipes.

I was impressed that of the 130 participants, only one (1%) said they never cooked from blogs. Overall, 33 (25%) said they often cooked from blogs, 75 (58%) said they did sometimes and 21 (16%) said they rarely cooked from blogs. These figures were pretty similar for bloggers and non-bloggers.

Overall, people were more likely to trust the recipes on blogs, at least to some degree, than to not trust them.

Finding food blogs

Ninety per cent of readers (both bloggers and non-bloggers) said that they found new food blogs through links on other blogs. Internet searches and word-of-mouth were the second and third most common ways of finding blogs. Bloggers were more likely to use aggregator sites such as TasteSpotting to find blogs than non-bloggers were.

Using other food media

Both bloggers and non-bloggers were similar in their use of other food media. Cookbooks are evidently still popular, with 93% of respondents saying they use them, while 76.15% of respondents said they used food magazines, and 75% used other food-related websites.

About the blogger

Overall, most respondents (67%) said they were interested in knowing about the person writing the blog. Still, this leaves almost a third (33%) of readers saying it isn’t important for them to know about the blogger, which is perhaps surprising.

Non-bloggers were most interested in where the blogger lived (74%), while bloggers were most interested in what the blogger was like as a person (85%).

In the free text ‘other’ field, respondents commented that they were also interested in health issues, food politics, experience and credentials, food preferences, cultural background and their reason for blogging.

Comments and community

Almost all the bloggers surveyed read comments on blogs, with 46% saying they often did and 48% saying they sometimes did. Only 6% of bloggers said they only read comments rarely, and no bloggers said they never read comments.

Of non-bloggers, 27% said they often read comments, 51% said they did sometimes, and 20% said they rarely read comments. Only one respondent (1%) said they never read comments.

Perceptions as to why people commented on blogs varied between bloggers and non-bloggers. Most bloggers (94%) thought that people commented to interact with the community, while most non-bloggers (93%) thought it was to give feedback to the blogger.

When it comes to commenting themselves, 41% of bloggers commented often and another 55% said they commented occasionally, while no non-bloggers commented often and 58% did occasionally. Almost half (42%) of the non-bloggers never commented. Most non-bloggers (44%) said they didn’t comment because they didn’t have comments to make, and in the ‘other’ free text field some said that they didn’t comment because they were too lazy or couldn’t be bothered, didn’t have time, didn’t see the point seeing as the blogger didn’t know them, or didn’t think their input mattered.

Of the respondents who did make comments, bloggers were more likely to do so to engage with the blogger (88%), while non-bloggers were more likely to comment to give general feedback (70%).

Overall, the comments respondents had left on blogs were positive, with 98% saying they had left positive comments, while 44% had left neutral comments and only 18.63% had left negative comments.

Food bloggers, again perhaps obviously, were more likely to have attended a food blogging event, with 56% of the respondents saying they had and 27% saying they would like to. However, perhaps surprisingly as food blogging events are often exclusively for bloggers, 10% non-bloggers had attended an event, while 25% said they would like to.

So what?

What does this all mean? Well, I’m still working through that, but thought I’d share the results now for people to read without too much interpretation. This survey will be incorporated into my master’s thesis, which hopefully will be finished soon.

24 responses to “Research

    • Jen

      No worries! I’ve found the food blogging community to be very supportive and helpful with my research, so it only seemed fair to share it.

  • Simon Food Favourites

    that’s a lot of great research you’ve done there. thanks for sharing. BTW some charts or graphs might be good to add to make it a bit more visually interesting to decipher some of the information. also did you know that trying to read ALL CAPS makes it harder to read than lower case text — I hope you don’t indeed to write up your thesis that way 🙂

    • Jen

      Thanks Simon. I agree, some graphs would be useful, but I’m pretty busy at the moment and just wanted to share this overview with the community sooner rather than later. Hopefully in the future I can put some more detailed information up.

      Also, I’m a bit confused about your ‘all caps’ comment – this isn’t how I write, so I’m wondering if perhaps this is displaying incorrectly in some browsers? But obviously I don’t intend to write a thesis in all caps 🙂

  • Lizzy (Good Things)

    Interesting, thanks so much for sharing your findings.

  • cathy x.

    Thanks for sharing Jen! 🙂

  • Johanna GGG

    interesting stuff – I wouldn’t have expected some of the non-bloggers to be commenting as much as they do – nice insight into a group that is harder to get a sense of in the online community

    • Jen

      Yes, I was a bit surprised by that. Of course, they may have another type of blog, the question I asked was if they had a food blog. But I think it suggests that readers, at least some of them, do feel like they’re part of the community.

  • Karen @ Lavender and Lovage

    Fascinating and extremely interesting, and not that surprising in many instances. Karen

  • Grazing Kate (@grazingkate)

    Interesting to read the stats and see what’s happening in the wider community of food bloggers. Here I go, fitting the mould, commenting as a food blogger would!

  • Katie @Creature of Habit

    I wouldn’t have thought that cookbooks would be as popular as they are with so many people making the switch to cooking from blogs. I use blog recipes 90% of the time but when I need something that I know won’t fail (usually a in the baked goods category), I’ll reach for one of my few cookbooks.

    Very interesting research!

    • Jen

      Thanks! The question I asked was about what other food media they use, so this doesn’t reflect how often they use cookbooks, just that they do at least occasionally.

  • Roz

    Just tweeted your post, thanks for the info and for qualifying some of my instincts about food blogs. I write a blog that is both food and travel and cut back on the recipe side a little but my gut feeling is that very specialised blogs are more popular. Fig Jam and Lime Cordial is my favourite though and you are right knowing the person is important. We arranged to meet and both were not disappointed.
    I am based in Brisbane and East Coast of Tas, do I take it that your Paddington is in Brisbane or is it Sydney?
    PS I also write for SBS Feast magazine. Roz

    • Jen

      Thanks for the tweet! I’m in Paddington in Brisbane. Your blog is great, and I love Feast magazine – this month’s issue looks fantastic!

  • Jan

    I am astonished at the number of people who just like reading recipes, but not necessarily cooking from them and I am included in that number.
    I suppose I read food blogs for the “culture” rather than the “how-to”. I am particularly thrilled when someone from Australia or New Zealand blogs because the Americans’ seasons are always the reverse of ours and they seem to be unaware they are the only people in the world who still use the imperial system. Of course that only matters if one is really going to follow the recipe, but I hate the “arrogance” or “naive” (which ever) in any event. It’s nice to be assured that the Internet is really INTERNATIONAL even if some bloggers act as if it weren’t.

    • Jen

      Thanks for your comment! One of the things I love about food blogs is that you can find out about what people all over the world are cooking – I find that so interesting. But it’s also great to find one in your own country too, I agree!

  • totsienskids

    Dear Jen: Great research. i work for a food company and I wonder if you know what percentage of your sample are moms. I am trying to intercept that core group — food bloggers who are moms as a rich target for a food product. Happy to reciprocate with any media research you may need.

  • thepaddingtonfoodie

    Hi Jen
    Having just set up my very first blog 2 weeks ago I stumbled across yours doing a google search on mine. Love your research – makes fascinating reading. I set up my blog as an easy vehicle to share recipes with friends and acquaintances, and hopefully end up with a recipe journal of all the things I love to cook. Nothing more, nothing less. The majority of my traffic would definitely be non bloggers – although they might be shy to comment they certainly love to spread the word. Good luck with your thesis!

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