What Is Freelance Food Writing

If you have a​ good appetite and a​ way with words,​ food writing may be a​ career option to​ consider. Not only is​ doing research for food writing one of​ the​ more enjoyable tasks in​ freelance writing,​ but you'll never be short of​ restaurant recommendations and potential free meals -- though you may run short of​ well-fitting pants.

To become a​ successful freelance food writer,​ you'll need to​ know how to​ describe food well. the​ key to​ description,​ at​ least in​ traditional literature,​ is​ to​ make focused,​ concrete comparisons. to​ see why,​ ask yourself which sentence you find more appealing: "It was the​ tastiest shrimp I've ever eaten,​" or​ "The lime-pressed garlic shrimp,​ grilled over applewood,​ had a​ texture between the​ crunch of​ caramelized sugar and the​ soft resistance of​ a​ medium-rare salmon filet"?

The fundamental law of​ food writing is​ to​ make your reader wish that he or​ she had some of​ whatever delicious dish you're writing about,​ to​ make the​ reader personally invested in​ the​ food. And there's a​ strange quirk in​ the​ human mind: whenever we​ think about an​ object or​ activity,​ we​ activate the​ parts of​ our brain that turn on​ whenever we're interacting with that object or​ engaged in​ that activity. in​ other words: if​ we​ think about throwing a​ baseball,​ the​ nerves in​ our arm twitch. Or,​ if​ we​ think about eating a​ thick steak,​ our stomach grumbles and our mouth waters. When you're writing about food,​ you want to​ activate those same parts of​ the​ brain to​ make your reader feel that he or​ she is​ sharing in​ the​ experience of​ eating it. Words like "tasty,​" "delicious,​" or,​ worst of​ all,​ "really good,​" won't do anything for your reader's emotions. Only words related to​ food -- or​ words and images with strong emotional connotations -- will really get your readers' mouths watering.

Once you've written your articles,​ where do you market your food writing? if​ you live in​ a​ large city,​ you can write for a​ local newspaper or​ an​ alternative paper (i.e. the​ LA Weekly,​ the​ Austin Chronicle,​ etc.). Millions of​ people read these papers daily or​ weekly,​ and a​ good portion of​ those millions read the​ food section. When anyone in​ a​ major city needs to​ make restaurant reservations for a​ date,​ business dinner,​ party,​ or​ other social engagement,​ they look in​ the​ food section of​ the​ local paper for hot new restaurant reviews. Stay on​ top of​ restaurant openings and closings in​ your city. New restaurant openings can be your “bread and butter.” Local newspapers and online city guides are always wanting to​ print new restaurant reviews.

If you have a​ favorite local hangout that not many people know about,​ write an​ article on​ it. Submit your article with a​ proper query letter to​ a​ local newspaper. You might be the​ first one to​ write about the​ place,​ throwing needed business their way. in​ the​ end,​ you collect a​ decent paycheck from the​ newspaper,​ along with a​ published clip,​ a​ byline,​ and hopefully more work and referrals.

Another option is​ to​ write for magazines dedicated to​ food,​ dining,​ city nightlife,​ general lifestyles,​ or​ for the​ tourist market. if​ you plan to​ write for magazines,​ your choice of​ what to​ write about becomes much broader. You can write how-to articles,​ interview pieces,​ cookware reviews,​ and so on. if​ you plan to​ write for local tourism guides,​ your best bet is​ to​ write restaurant reviews. Tourists may not know about any of​ the​ well-known restaurants or​ diners in​ the​ area. Tourism guides provide insight and guidance to​ what’s hot and what’s not in​ the​ area. This means that there's a​ steady flow of​ potential readers for your restaurant reviews and other food writing.

If you don't live in​ a​ large city,​ it's much more difficult to​ become a​ food writer. the​ mom n' pop cafe downtown may have some of​ the​ best omelets you've ever tasted,​ but how are you supposed to​ sell an​ article if​ everyone in​ town already eats at​ that cafe every Friday night? Consider selling your articles to​ regional magazines. the​ Department of​ Transportation in​ several US states often publishes a​ monthly magazine about regional news. the​ editors of​ these magazines often look at​ local restaurant reviews as​ a​ source of​ human interest,​ or​ a​ way of​ boosting out-of-state tourism to​ non-traditional destinations.

Additionally,​ you might try writing sample copy for cookbooks,​ press releases for food suppliers,​ or​ ads for food companies. Companies and book publishers hire good food writers to​ help market anything from new varieties of​ pasta sauce to​ gourmet steak dishes. Even a​ nearby supermarket might be willing to​ pay for copy in​ weekly ad flyers.

Unfortunately for rural types,​ full-time food writing is​ more often than not an​ urban game. For urban types,​ food is​ one of​ the​ products that won't ever stop being popular,​ especially when it's offered as​ part of​ a​ good restaurant experience. Thus food writing means job security,​ and more importantly than that: it's just outright enjoyable writing. So get to​ it!

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