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Ask Sac Mag: How Can I Become a Food Writer?


Posted on January 19

I want to become a food writer. Any advice?

Hank Shaw
Hank Shaw

According to local food blogger Hank Shaw, the best way to get started is—you guessed it—to start a blog. “It’s the easiest way, because you can generate your own clips,” says Shaw. Well, it’s certainly worked for him: Shaw’s Hunter Angler Gardener Cook (honest-food.net) was nominated for best food blog by the James Beard Foundation in 2009, and he recently signed a book deal.
     His second tip? Write for local publications—something Shaw’s done for Edible Sacramento, The Stockton Record and more. “Try your local food co-op’s newsletter, or cold call your local paper with a pitch for a story,” he suggests.
True, Shaw came to food writing with a couple of advantages: He’s a longtime journalist and a former line cook. Still, as he points out, “No one knew me in the food world when I got started.”
     Having a niche also helps, says Shaw. “Burrow into your area of interest, whether it’s vegan cooking or bread baking—something that really floats your boat.” Work hard on your writing. And be realistic: Making money as a food writer is tough.
     Last but not least, don’t quit your day job—advice Shaw shows by way of example: He’s a full-time staff writer for The Capitol Morning Report, an online political newsletter.

Got a food- or dining-related question? E-mail us at food@sacmag.com.