foodgawker: Is It Still Worth The Effort?

My adventure in submitting to foodgawker (they don’t capitalize their name for all who just started twitching) began May 30th, 2013.  After more rejection than acceptance, I began to wonder if having my photographs featured on their site was still worth my failing efforts.

foodgawker: Is It Still Worth It?

The Photographs (note: all of the following photos have text, but the ones I submitted were sans text, because FG doesn’t allow any on the photos you submit to them):

This was my first submission to FG.  This pic of my Manhattan Cheesecake got rejected for “food/photo styling” and upon reading said rejection, I was instantly all eye-rolls and huffy-talk.

Manhattan Cheesecake

Yeah.  I now see the food/photo styling issues, but back then it was a mystery to me.  I just wanted another piece of cheesecake and some validation, yo.

Awkward angle photo: Customizable Cheese Ball

Easy Peasy Customizable CheeseballDoesn’t look awkward to me: I’d eat it.  Gosh.

Low lighting pic: World’s Easiest Cheesecake Pie

Easy Cheesecake Pie

My rejection obviously didn’t matter too much to me because I didn’t spent much time at foodgawker doing my homework, like noting what type of photos they were looking for or paying attention to the photos that got featured, I simply sent whatever food post I currently had available.  Cooked pasta meet wall.  Did it stick?!

After 17 rejections over a year’s time (I’m a persistent monkey), I decided that instead of scoffing at foodgawker’s generalized feedback when I was rejected, I’d pay closer attention to the styling they were publishing and resubmit the same post with the same pic, albeit tweaked anew using their feedback.

It worked.

Examples of foodgawker’s feedback:

* low lighting and/or underexposed (I think that some of FG’s pics are overexposed, so I would frequently argue with the email rejection)

* composition – awkward angle ( I got this one frequently!)

* composition too tight (I love me a close-up)

* food/photo styling (I still have no idea what they mean)

* Please recrop with more space around the dessert, please submit images without text. (I got this rejection on the coffee cake muffin post, which they then accepted after I bumped up the exposure, yet didn’t touch the crop because the original shot was tight and it would have been impossible)

I know lots of you have seen these same reasons for rejection and that’s okay!  It simply means you are one photo-edit closer to getting featured (I’m also an optimistic monkey).

My best advice, if you really want to get featured at foodgawker, is to go to their site, roam around a bit and get a feel for the pics.  The one thing I don’t really do is stage my food pics with props.  I am not a food stylist.  Thinking about it makes me break a sweat.

Here’s what I do: I look at the food, be the food, and try to photograph it in a way that is appealing and drool-worthy.  I like clean lines, bright backgrounds and as little periphery noise as possible.  That being said, I love looking at highly stylized photos of food as well; I just don’t execute them very well.  Go with your strengths.

To date, these are my features at FG.  Click the graphic and it will take you to my gallery.

my foodgawker gallery

I still contend that the muffins are overexposed.

Traffic Gained From Being Featured:

The word on the Internets is that if you’re featured on FG, you can expect an increase of hits by the 1000s in one day.  That’s not my experience.

My experience for my four features was that I saw a bump from 500-1000 hits in one day.  Not bad.  I’ll take it.  I might even dance a little (I will totally dance a little).  Yet, these numbers are not what most folks think such an acceptance will garner.  Maybe it’s because I’m a newbie, or maybe it’s my content, or maybe that’s what one can come to expect as one of the many submissions accepted daily.

I’m always happy to have new eyes on my site, so for me, it’s a win.

Getting Rejected:

The pain!  The agony!  The disappointment!  The rationalization!

There are lots of posts in the cloud about how FG no longer matters, how FG is no longer of any consequence in the food game, how FG is too big for their britches.  How dare they reject me!

There are new contenders for FG’s throne.  There are sites where it’s easier to get accepted.  There are sites that are more inclusive.  Ha! Take that FG!  They accepted me!

Does it matter?  Does FG matter?

I think so.  Pro Food Blogger thinks so.

Cliff Notes on Pro Food Blogger article: It’s simply not about the numbers you gain in traffic from FG, it’s the quality of those numbers.  Folks who work in the industry hang out there, always on the prowl for the next thang.  It’s about networking in a community that loves food, lives for food, is all about food.  It’s about making foodie friends.  FOOD FOOD FOOD!  So, yes, it still matters to get accepted at foodgawker.

Is It Worth The Effort?

That depends.  I think with everything, you need to ask yourself what it is you want or expect.  You.  Not them.  Take a hot minute and decide if the extended effort is worth your time.  Can you take rejection?  Do you welcome constructive criticism (however vague)?  Can you handle frustration when faced with no easy or concrete answers?  Are you looking for just an uptick in traffic numbers or are you looking towards building something?

Be honest with yourself.  No right answer here, simply what you are looking to gain.

If you think you’re up for the challenge, then absolutely, foodgawker and all that it can offer you and your site, is worth the effort.

One more thing, just because I’ve been accepted and featured at FG doesn’t mean I’m always accepted.  Matter of fact, while I was writing this post, I got a rejection email.

Primary reason: Photo/food composition

No biggie.  I immediately thought of the next photo that could be tweaked and submitted.  Try, try again, mah babies!

What do you think?

Is foodgawker still worth the effort?

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  1. For me.. as of now.. it’s a challenge. In my head, I think ‘I am going to win this! I will NOT BE TOLD NO’. So if the or when the day comes that I am accepted it will make it that much more exciting. I’ve only submitted 3.. I like how they tell you the ‘why’s’, but for me… I’m no pro.. it’s hard and I forget to even submit.

  2. Great post! I have heard that it depends on the editor per day, and a lot of it is not done by photographers, but just people like you and me and what they like. That being said, they have BEAUTIFUL photos up there, so I get the whole exclusive thing. I submitted photos actually more FOR the feedback because I liked mine but wanted to see what they thought. Rejected for underexposure. This helped me learn about light and be more aware that I tend like LIKE what they consider underexposed. A great tool to help is the food photography ebook by Pinch of Yum! Thanks for posting this and letting us know we aren’t alone getting rejected! And OH it feels so sweet when they are accepted. 🙂

    • I’ve read the same things. The feedback is definitely vague, and it’s for that reason that I think becoming familiar with the kinds of pics they publish is important. And you’re right…feels good to get accepted!

  3. It’s funny – I just barely discovered foodgawker & have been rejected both (or was it 3?) times I submitted. It was I think usually the noise that did it, but a lot of that is just the camera I have (I can’t push the ISO up very high). I’ve vowed to make friends with my tripod so I could decrease my shutter speed & lower the ISO, but for me it’s way more about the challenge of getting a worthy photo than the numbers. And yet, I gotta admit that those numbers sound awesome! This was a really informative post for me – thank you!!!!

    • I got another photo accepted today, yet feel it’s overexposed, but I think I’ve figured out something. They only do a smaller version of the pic and when you take a regular shot and it’s reduced in size it can (to me) look overexposed in the bigger version. The photo that was accepted today was the cheesecake pie. Those chips are dark chocolate chips, yet in the pic appear to be milk chocolate. Makes we want to go in and decrease exposure on that baby! Glad I could shed some light (groan) on foodgawker for you.

  4. I get the same rejections from craftgawker. Dwellinggawker hasn’t given me problem though. I suppose them being picky about what they accept is better for us because when we do get accepted, we know the readers are there for great photos and that means we puff out or chests and pat our cameras on the head and know we did a good job….that time 🙂

  5. I don’t get a tremendous amount of traffic from Foodgawker when accepted but it does make me try harder to take better pictures. WIth every photo I take, I have this crazy desire to get it onto FG. It if gets denied, I tweak the lighting or find a better photo. I become obsessed with getting it right and getting it accepted. Although my traffic from FG isn’t huge, you’re right that food experts are browsing the site. I’ve gotten noticed by a couple of big publications who asked for permission to use my photos and link to them because they saw it on FG. Worth it in my opinion.

    • Oooooh! I love hearing that the biggies have contacted you. Hope for all of us! (i do the same thing with my photos. i submitted one photo with tweaks at least 5 times before it got accepted.)

  6. I always get ‘lighting’. No explanations other than that!

  7. I’ve been accepted once on foodgawker and the funny thing is it’s for a photo I was sure would get rejected! I find it really useful though, not so much for their feedback because it is very vague but it does make me push to get a better photo since I really started from the bottom with food photography. Lately the main rejection reason I get is “unsharp”, and I think that’s mostly down to my lack of a decent camera (latest was a photo from this post: .But I’m hopefully getting my hands on a decent camera soon so can start having a bit more of a shot at it! (I can’t help but wonder what they’d say if they knew the photo the accepted from me was taken on an iphone haha)

    Great post, thanks for sharing I’m glad to see others feel like me when it comes to foodgawker!

  8. With the plethora of professional looking food blogs online I feel reluctant to blog my recipes or submit to foodgawker, even though I know many of my recipes are family heirlooms that should be shared.

    I hope you won’t give up submitting–for every rejection a n accetance is waitng!

  9. Hi Patti. I saw this post at A Stroll Thru Life’s link party and wanted to check it out. Very interesting and irritating to say the least. I haven’t tried their site but I believe they are similar to TasteSpotting and they have not accepted any of my photos to date, but I only submitted a few to see how it goes. Strange, because I read their rules and guidelines and thought they would’ve accepted them. Oh well! There are many other foodie sites to submit our photos and links to.

    Thanks for sharing and have a nice week.

    • Heather, while it has been a challenge, I have learned a few things from submitting. You’re right, there’s lots of site to submit our work to and lots of folks submit to many sites other than FG. Thanks for the thoughts and thanks for popping in!

  10. This was really interesting to read because I’ve struggled with foodgawker myself. I’d say yes, it is still worth the effort for me because my blog is pretty small so any new views is a blessing. However, I do get really frustrated in the submission process. I’ve had some accepted that now I look back I think ‘how did they not say that was poorly lit’ and have seen some accepted from other people that I know were of much lower quality than some of mine that were rejected. Recently I’m having a lot of trouble getting accepted and the reasons are obviously purely opinion based. I’ve had a lot of awkward angles and food styling based rejections. My thoughts have been is it hell awkward, I’ve used that same angle for most of my photos, and what’s wrong with the styling, I’ve just seen a page full with that same appearance! And yet I keep trying. I need all the help I can get to grow my little blog. Plus, it does feel good when you do get one accepted doesn’t it? =)

  11. I love this post . What to say, what to say about food gawker. I’ve just learnt to accept them for who are. Acceptance of photos i think is down to the editor. What is awkward angle though?

  12. First of all I am stopping by from the Grand Social and I think your photos are lovely, but I’m far from being a photographer. I just know what I like. I’ve never heard of “awkward angle” that just sounds weird but I guess you have to keep trying I checked out the ones they accepted and I really didn’t see any difference but I don’t have that trained eye.

  13. Always informative and helpful. I am a new blogger and haven’t even thought to try food gawker yet… my photos are still a work in progress, but this definitely gives me something to work toward.

  14. Such a great post!
    And you soooooooo remind me of myself.
    When I submitted my first photo I didn’t know nothing(!) about taking photos. Honestly – no wonder I was rejected. And like yourself – I was very(!) persistent.
    And then one I decided to take a few photo-lessons and WOWWWW – what a difference !!
    I think it’s worth it because my blog look a lot more attractive with good photos, so first of all it’s for myself.
    And yes – I get much more visitors now (actually my site collapsed the day before yesterday because of too many visitors at the same time)

  15. It took a couple more rejections and tweaking, but my chocolate chip pancakes finally got accepted! Thanks for inspiring me to keep trying!

  16. They sure can be picky! I’ve had at least as many photos rejected as accepted. One time I just cropped the photo and resubmitted. It was literally the same picture, just cropped really tight, and they took it the second time! Go figure. I keep submitting, but I don’t fret, fuss, and resubmit the same recipe again anymore. Visiting from Create it Thursday!

  17. Great post! I have always wondered about this. I think I submitted once and never went back. I just did not have the time (plus I am still improving on my photos – at least I hope I am), but glad to know your persistence paid off! Congrats!

  18. Wow, very interesting topic! I’ve only recently submitted a few things to bigger websites, and you are so right…it’s really important to know their style! I found you through the Naptime Creations linky party- just wanted to let you know I’m hosting one starting on Saturday nights at 8 pm & would love for you to join! It’s called “Found & Foraged” at Hope to see you there! xo.

    • Thanks for weighing in. I have found to know what the bigger sites are looking for is important for an accepted submission.

      • Wanted to stop back and let you know that I submitted a recipe and totally got rejected, hahaha. BUT then I submitted a craft to craftgawker and they accepted it! Just goes to show I should stick to what I’m good at, LOL. Anyway, I had never heard of the gawker websites until I read this post of yours, so just wanted to come back and say thanks for the information!! Hope to see you Saturday. xo, Laura

  19. The muffin is totally overexposed. I kinda think the cheesecake is too. I’m bothered by super bright food photos… or well any super bright photos unless it’s like, a photo of the sun. I’ll let that slide.

    I’ve never used Food Gawker because…… well I’d have to start caring more first lol

  20. Ha!! I have a love hate relationship with the gawker sites too!! love all your examples!

    • Thanks, Emily. I also have a love/hate relationship with them. The love: a nice traffic bump and new eyes on my site. The hate: you want that pic’s exposure lighter?! Gaa!

  21. I had the same problem!!! I submitted a photo, thinking the lighting is perfect, and then it would be a rejection becaus eit’s “underexposed”. And I did as you said about browsing the site, and now what i do is I always submit 2-3 versions of the same photo, with different crops and different exposures. That way I’ll know what they prefer and can tweak my next submissions to their liking.

    I think foodgawker can be about the editors’ own taste as well, so it’s not a suprise that we see some photos that we would think is not appealing at all, but is still accepted. I have to admit that out of the 3 photos of mine that was accepted, there was one that I was so sure would be declined, and yet they took it. So yeah, to each his own I guess 😀

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