Almost every food enthusiast has been here before:
You know you have some solid cooking skills and you have fans among your family and friends already. You think your work should be seen by more people, and I believe so too.
The problem is, you don’t know the first thing about setting up a blog.
If this is you, know again that you are not alone. That is why I have set up this post to guide you through the processes involved in sharing your beautiful content with the world.
In short, you will learn how to start a food blog, and every other thing related to running one.
Spoiler: Every blogger deserves to be rewarded for their passion.
You will soon find out that while blogging might be a pleasant way to connect with people of like minds, it is challenging in its own way too. That is why I have thrown in a little extra something to make it worth your time.
Besides learning how to start a food blog on your own, you will also be getting tips on how to monetize your blog for some passive income.
There are two main ways by which you can have your food blog set up. This depends on how much time you have on your hands and your budget.
The two options are:
- Getting a professional to build your website: As you must have found out, there are a ton of website development and design agencies that will charge you a premium to get your food blog on the internet.
Even if you opted for the freelancers, you would still be paying anywhere from the high hundreds to thousands of dollars for a custom-made website.
This is best suited to those who do not have any time on their hands, or would prefer not to deal with any of the technicalities involved in building out a website
- Doing it Yourself: Rather than contracting the work to someone else, you can decide to build the website yourself.
This alternative allows you save several hundreds to thousands of dollars on the premium you would have paid to contract the job out in the first place.
Which Do I Recommend?
I see no reason why you should pay someone exorbitant fees just to do something you can also do, and for a huge fraction of the cost. You might be too busy, true, but the experience from building the blog yourself will also help you manage it better.
Besides, you don’t even need to worry about dealing with anything technical. In this guide, I will show you how you can build out your own food blog using WordPress as the CMS.
Being the most widely used CMS”>, you are sure to be getting a good-looking, premium website. Likewise, WordPress allows you build the site from start to finish without having the slightest knowledge of code.
Yes, you read that right – you don’t need to have any coding experience to have the most good-looking website in your niche.
Now that you know why you should get this done yourself, why not let’s get right into it?
Step-By-Step Guide To Starting A Food Blog
Since we are here, how about we open the business for the day?
1. Pick a Niche
What you want to do first is pick a niche for your food blog. Since food blogs are usually started by people who have actually been cooking, this should not be difficult for you.
Of course, it is not compulsory to pick a niche for your food blog. However, it is common knowledge that niche blogs do better than those with general topics.
Some of the reasons for that is because:
- Niche blogs are known as a source for specific topics
- They help you create a unique following
- Niche blogs make sure your content is tailored and not just all over the place
- They help you streamline your content and focus your effort, among other things.
Some of the common niches out there are sugar-free diets, carb-free foods, wholesome food cooking, desserts and snacks, and so much more.
You are absolutely free to go into any one that you have the passion for. If a niche food blog is what does it for you, that is.
2. Settle on a Domain Name
Once you have picked a niche, you will be in a better place to choose an apt domain name for your website.
You could select one which hammers on the niche you have chosen, amplifies the types of foods you will be blogging about or is simply your name.
The latter option works great because it allows friends and family identify with you on the blog. It is also a great way to build a sense of community among website visitors and prospects who do not even know the first thing about you before.
When picking a domain name, I recommend that you:
- Stay away from very long domain names. Trust me, they are not cute, and they don’t make any sense in the end. Personally, they give me headache.
- Make sure the domain name you settle on is relevant. For my blog, I went for bloggingdoneright.com because that is what this platform is about – doing your blogging the right way.
- Avoid hyphenations. They just make the name ugly in the end.
- Don’t pick names that are too narrow. Even if you are going for a niche (let’s say desserts), make sure it allows you to expand in the future (so, don’t add chocolate, vanilla or relevant limiting words to the domain name)
- Keep it as memorable and easy to spell as possible. Proper words put into domain names are better than generic abbreviations
- Take note of the number of words in the domain name. A good rule of thumb is to keep it at a maximum of 2 – 3 words.
3. Check for Domain Name Availability
When you want to start a food blog, or any other blog at all, you might sometimes find out that the domain name you finally picked has been chosen before.
That is not the end of the line. Just go back to the step above and let the recommendations there guide you again.
So that you don’t risk registering an already selected domain name, I recommend using the WhoIs tool.”> This internet resource has been made in such a way that it tells you what domain names have been registered, and when.
However, that is not why I love the tool.
It also tells you if a domain name has been registered before in the past before being made available again, usually due to the expiry of such domains. If such is the case, I advise that you stay off that domain name and look for a fresh one anyways.
The reason for that is not far-fetched.
Some webmasters might have bought that domain name in the past and gotten penalized by Google and other search engines. They might even have used that domain name to commit various atrocities in the internet.
In some other cases, the domain name was just left to expire without reason.
From WhoIs, there is no way to know why a domain name was left to expire. To be on the safer side, I strongly recommend not having anything to do with such expired domains.
Once you have chosen a free domain name which has never been taken up before, you are ready for the next step.
4. Buy the Domain Name
So that you can lay claim to that unique name you have come up with, you would have to buy it from a hosting company. Depending on where you want to host your website, you can either get it for free or pay a sum to buy that domain name.
I will be talking more about that in the next point.
When buying a domain name, it is recommended that you go for the dot com (.com) extension over the others. This helps your website get seen as a blog on the internet and improves the way search engines crawl you.
Likewise, I do not recommend buying a local extension (such as .com.us, .com.uk, .com.au, etc.). They will be largely limiting in how far your blog can reach, and can seriously dampen your SEO potential.
5. Choose A Reliable Web Hosting Company
There are a lot of web hosting companies out there with juicy plans to lure you in, but web hosting platforms are made more equal than others. While cheapest is not always the best, that does not mean you should go for the most expensive offering in the bunch too.
I personally recommend that you use the BlueHost solution”>, given how they have matched their pricing to what they offer, affording you one of the very best value for money offers in the web hosting market.
If you are a beginner blogger, I recommend BlueHost because of the friendly learning curve and easy setup they offer. Besides, you get to enjoy 24/7 customer support to take care of every issue that might come your way.
OF course, that is besides the further discount you get from buying the 12-month package over opting to pay monthly.
6. Install WordPress
I have mentioned this before, and I will say it here again:
WordPress is easily the best content management system (CMS) which you can run your food blog on. Some of the reasons for that is because:
- WordPress allows you set up your website from start to finish without having the slightest knowledge of codes
- You get a working website out of the box, and all you have to do is click on desired options
- Managing your content is as easy as pie on this platform
- It comes with a ton of plugins and themes to make your work easier
- Support is prompt and reliable
The ideal way to install WordPress will be listed by your web hosting company. Check through their website or ask customer support staff for help when you get to this point.
7. Install a Theme
However, it does not look that way – and that is because those websites have used unique themes to help them stand out from one another. Having a library that contains thousands of free and paid themes”>, you get a ton of options to consider here.
I don’t recommend installing themes from outside the WordPress catalogue because they might contain malicious code in them, or not have been built to standard.
The best thing is that WordPress allows you search themes by category, and the food niche has one of the best collections out there. This does not mean you cannot use themes from other categories if that is what serves you best.
When choosing themes, it is always great to check for:
- Responsiveness: This makes sure your website scales well on any screen it is opened on – be it desktop, smartphones or tablets. It is a very good thing to ensure great user experience and better your SEO too
- Features: Choose a theme that gives you the things you would need to run your website. Some common features are nested menus, video sliders, carousels, banners, etc.
- Support: Personally, I don’t recommend getting a theme that doesn’t have a good customer support theme behind it. That said, you should know that paid themes are the ones that populate this category the most
- Optimization: It would help to start your SEO right from your theme. Some themes have been built with codes to help you do better on search engine and allow users navigate your website better too.
Considering all of the above points, Divi Themes are one of the top solutions in the market right now”>. They might have tons of installations to their name, but they allow tweaks that will turn the theme into a very personal and unique setup in the end.
8. Install Relevant Plugins
The reason why you can install WordPress and run it without the use of code is because they have allowed the use of plugins across the platform. To get the most out of your food blog would mean installing the relevant plugins.
There are a lot of relevant plugins to install, but the must-haves (for me, at least) are:
- Askimet: This plugin helps you manage and get rid of spam comments and messages on your website.
- Social media tools: You should totally leverage the power of social media to grow your blog presence and following. That is why you should consider setting up some social media automation tools to get you going.
- Content management: Website content (texts, images and videos) can get quite cumbersome over time. This can also lead to slower page loading speeds which will negatively impact the user experience and search engine rankings of your website.
Caching tools will take care of these, and a lot of them are in the Plugin library
- Contact form: I don’t recommend putting your contact address on the website lest you get spammed a lot. What you can do, instead, is set up a contact form which redirects all messages to your inbox.
- Google Analytics: You will want to track the performance of your posts and content. Seeing the engagement rates, bounce rates, average time spent on page and relevant metrics can help you plan and create better content for your audience.
- WordPress Related Posts: This allows for great internal linking with little to no input from you.
It is the best way to lead your readers to other parts of your websites/ related posts. By so doing, you get to keep them interested in your content and increase the average time spent on your pages
- Yoast SEO: If you want good on-page SEO done for your content, this plugin will lead you there.
Besides the above plugins, you should also totally install industry-specific plugins to make your work better. I suggest EasyRecipe”>, but there are a lot of other great ones out there too.
These plugins will help you provide your recipes better and even optimize them to look great in search engines.
9. Start an Email List
One mistake that many new bloggers make is wait till their blog is older to begin building an email list. I call BS on that.
If you would build that list at all, the best time to start is now.
You can start with the in-house WordPress email subscription service on your website, but that won’t hold much promise for you when it comes to performing the real operations of an email responder. That is why I advise using a very good email autoresponder service to manage your email lists, send them fresh content and maximize conversions.
Personally, I prefer using ConvertKit due to the ton of features that it offers”> the user.
10. Start Adding Recipes
I know you must have been waiting for this moment.
Everything we have been doing so far has been leading here: where you get to share your amazing recipes with the world. Once every other thing is set up, I recommend sharing about 10 recipes right away.
That should be the barest minimum. This ensures initial readers don’t just get one recipe but options to read when they get onto your website for the first time.
Once that is done, you will need to set up a blogging schedule to ensure new recipes get added frequently.
Choose a blogging schedule that helps you say consistent and works with your personal life engagements too. Afterall, you would have to create time to cook something if you are to come up with the next best recipe.
When adding recipes, ensure you are as detailed as possible. It would be advantageous to keep track of every small step you take while sourcing ingredients and cooking too, so that your readers get to replicate the amazing results you have promised them.
One way to do this is to keep your thoughts and processes organized in a note-taking app (such as Evernote”>).
Of course, you would have to take amazing photos of your procedures and final outcome too. How else would your readers know what to expect?
If you are comfortable with going on-screen, and you know how to handle a camera, videos are not such a bad idea. They could come everytime or once in a while, but make them count.
Now, Let’s Monetize Your Food Blog
You have the food blog already, so we are done with the first part of the promise.
You are free to experiment with the setup parts of the whole thing till you get a food blog you are pleased with. Before any other thing, I wish you success.
But then, we all know that attaining success is more than just wishful thinking.
So, you know how to start a food blog for free (except for the costs you incur during setup yourself, that is). Here’s how to make some money from it:
1. Develop Your Email List
A good email list is very important in making money from a blog. A good way to build your email list is to offer your audience a lead magnet for free, asking for only their contact details in return.
The lead magnet could be a lot of things. For your niche, you should consider offers such as:
- An eBook containing the top recipes for a particular diet
- Your secret ingredient recipe to making a delicacy/ snack
- The premise of exclusive recipes being delivered to their emails, and so much more.
With a good email list, you are more in touch with your audience and can always keep them interested in your content. That gives you a steady stream of traffic that you can sell something to (say recipe books), make affiliate sales from (when they buy cooking utensils or food-related items from your blog), etc.
2. Promote Your Blog
To make money from your blog, you also have to spend money to promote it. This promotion will earn you traffic and loyal readers who can be converted to income via some of the models suggested above.
One thing you should know is that people won’t just stumble upon your blog if you don’t actively bring them to it. When the blog gains grounds, it can then join the elite list of blogs that always get stumbled upon.
The first thing to do is develop a marketing plan for your blog and its content. If you don’t have experience here, hire a digital marketer off Fiverr for a nominal fee”> to get that done for you.
Some of the various ways to promote your blog include:
- Creating social media accounts for your blog. If you don’t know yet, 72% of Instagram users have admitted to buying something solely because they saw it on the platform”>
- Create videos that can be shared on your website and across your YouTube channel too
- Set up social media automation tools for your website. For an image-based niche such as yours, one social media automation tool you should get is Tailwind which allows you schedule pictures for Pinterest.”>
- Write articles and blog posts with keywords in mind to better your potential for rankings
- Take high performing blog content and repurpose them as promotional materials (giveaways, cooking guides, lead magnets, etc.)
3. Determine How You Want To Monetize Your Blog
Yes, this is a thing.
There is more than one way to earn money from your blog. It is left to you to decide whether to go for one or more of these monetization models.
One common thing to all of these approaches is that they require you to have traffic. That is why the points on promoting your blog and building an email list came before this one.
That said, here are some of the recommended monetization options:
- Leverage contextual advertising platforms such as Google AdSense”>
- Affiliate programs are yet another recommended option. All you have to do is promote products related to food and cooking, and you earn a commission with every sale.
You can start with the Amazon Associates program”>
- Look out for willing sponsors in your niche who will fund your cooking campaigns
- Write personal cookbooks and sell them for a profit. With a good email list and an autoresponder set up, you will be making some serious money on autopilot
- Offer online cooking classes to those who might be interested. Charge what you feel is worthy of your skills and services.
Skills You Need to Run A Successful Food Blog
To make headway with your food blog, here are some must-have skills:
Be it video, text or images, you should be able to create good content.
That your content has good intentions and message is not enough. How you pass that message is also a very important consideration.
Whatever the form of your content delivery, ensure it is:
- Straight to the point
- With a clear voice
- Developed with good grammar and sentence structure and
- Relevant, among other things.
Believe it or not, your photography skills should be impressive. You don’t need to be on the level of advanced photographers, but you should be able to take and edit good photos anyways.
This skill will come in handy when you are learning how to start a food blog on Instagram, alongside your normal food blog. That works because of the image-based nature of the social media platform.
To take great pictures of your food, you should:
- Ensure the lighting is uniform so that all parts of the food pictures come out with their good sides
- Clean your tabletop before taking any picture
- Minimize the busy-ness of the table top. Extra elements will draw the full focus away from the food
- Let all the relevant steps have a photo to describe them, but don’t go overboard
- If possible, keep the same lighting, focal length and photo conditions for all of your shots
- Refrain from over editing. You don’t want to alter the authenticity of the food you are trying to portray to your audience
- Save the file in a .jpg or .png format.
In fact, this should be the first thing.
Either you know how to cook good food and come up with amazing recipes, or have someone who can. Without that, there is no wisdom in running a food blog at all.
How about that?
Get started with your food blog and start making money from it too!
Know that running every blog requires dedication and commitment, so don’t be found wanting on those fronts. Like before, I wish you the very best with your food blog.
Got questions, comments or other inquiries? Let me know about them in the comments.