Right, so you want to start a blog. If you have come here, it is because you want to start a food blog. And you want to know how.
Why a food blog? Because you love cooking and you dream about being best friends with Yotam Ottolenghi. You have a gazillion recipe books and have bookmarked tons of food blogs to read each week. You eat, sleep, breath and live food. Or is that just me?
So, what are the first things to do:
1. Name your blog.
Think long and hard about this one and choose a name that this is going to say you and what you are going to be blogging about – ie your niche, your style, your uniqueness. You will have to check that the name you choose is still available and you have to buy and register that domain name. Most hosting providers can let you buy and register your domain name through them as well. Another thing to consider (although this should not limit you) is that you have limited characters for your twitter name (providing that you intend to have a presence on twitter) so might also want to bear that in mind when naming your blog.
2. Choose a blog platform.
I use the WordPress platform as do a lot of blogs out there. It is simple to set up and use and has many free themes for your blog (more about themes shortly).
3. Hosting your blog.
To have your blog online you will need to rent your own litle bit of space on the web and that is what hosting is about. Web hosting can either be free or paid for (self hosted).
If you are blogging on WordPress you can host your blog for free on WordPress.com.
- Your blog is hosted on their server so your blog name would be something like yourblog.wordpress.com. So you would have the extra tag ‘wordpress’ at the end of your chosen name.
- It is easy to set up your site but you are very limited in the design, layout and plugins you can use.
- This option is suitable for bloggers on a budget, who don’t plan on growing their blog much and need only basic pages.
Self hosting would be on WordPress.org. This is my chosen option as it gives me full control over my blog.
- You get a custom domain name ie (yourblog.com).
- You can customise your blog with various themes and plugins thereby making it unique to you.
- This is a great option for those who want to blog long term, customise and even monetise their blog.
You would have to pay a bit of money for this but there are some great deals out there to keep costs low. If you decide blogging is not for you then you can easily stop your hosting subscriptions. Which brings me to my next section about hosts.
4. Choosing your host.
It is important to choose a reliable host for your blog. BlueHost is a well know and trusted web hosting company. It is quick and easy to set up your WordPress blog with them. Their services are priced very affordably and better still they offer free domain name registration. It is worth checking BlueHost out.
5. Installing WordPress.
Once you have registered with your chosen host you then have to install WordPress. This is as simple as logging into your hosting dashboard, looking under their services and pressing the install WordPress button. It is quick and self explanatory from there and in the unlikely event that you get stuck your web hosts can talk you through it.
6. Choose a theme.
Aka make it pretty and unique to you. One of the advantages of WordPress is that they offer tons of free themes that you can use to customise for your blog.
However I wanted a premium theme with a lot more options so I use Elegant Themes Premium WordPress Themes. They offer stunning themes that are beautiful, professional, very intuitive and simple to use. You can change the look of your site with just the click of a button (no code necessary). The themes come with inbuilt SEO options to improve your Google page ranking. Their dedicated customer support is superb and answer any questions very quickly.
7. Food photography.
Good photographs capture your readers imagination and keep them coming back for more. Drool worthy photographs are also more like to be pinned and shared across social media which will help you grow your traffic. It does take some time and practice to learn about food photography and styling.
One of my go to food photography resources is the Tasty Food Photography e-book written by the extremely talented Lindsay from Pinch of Yum. It is packed full of practical tips and tricks to help food enthusiasts improve their images, and make them look truly mouth-watering. All the information is laid out in a clear and concise manner and includes: how to take photographs in manual mode; setting up a good shot; lighting tips; prop and set up tricks; how to edit your photos and general workflow tips.
Tasty Food Photography is the book for you if you want photographs that make your readers keep on coming.
8. Writing your blog post and recipe.
Publishing your first post is as simple as writing it up, pasting it into the blog section in your WordPress dashboard and pressing publish. Simples. Just remember to write in your voice and your style as that is one of the things that makes your blog unique. Do remember to proofread, proofread, proofread – it is easy for mistakes to slip in there. It is worth using a recipe plugin like Easy Recipes to standardise and show your recipes.
9. Social media and sharing your recipes.
You have written your lovely post about that fabulous triple chocolate chocolate chip cookie. You have taken a mouthwatering picture and you have pressed publish. Next, is getting people to see your post and hopefully share it.
Visit other bloggers and check out their recipes, leave helpful comments and they will eventually start coming to check you out. Become part of social media sites and join in the food conversations. Plus you should try and submit your food photographs to the food sites – as if your photos get accepted, they will be shared and bring you visitors.
Photograzing via Serious Eats
10. Starting a blog with step by step video tutorials with Food Blogger Pro.
Food Blogger Pro is a fantastic site for people who want to know how to start or how to grow a food blog or both. The site is set up in two main parts. The video training section has a vast library of step by step video tutorials that include tips on how to create blog posts, search engine optimisation, how to generate an income and how to shoot using the manual mode of your DSLR camera. The second part of Food Blogger Pro is the community forum for bloggers by bloggers. After all there is no one better than other food bloggers to answer all those foodie bloggy questions that you would have. Sign up for Food Blogger Pro.
11. Other resources for food bloggers.
- A camera is a must. I current use a Canon EOS 700D digital SLR camera (for UK readers) which is called Canon EOS Rebel T3i 18 MP CMOS digital SLR camera in the USA. Use which ever camera you have. The main thing is to get to know your camera very well so you can get the best out of it.
- A good camera lens. I use the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II camera lens which I find very good for food photography.
- A memory card to store your photographs – I use the SanDisk 32GB extreme SDHC 45MB/s class 10 UHS-I memory card (for UK readers ) also called the SanDisk extreme 32 GB SDHC class 10 (in the USA).
- Food Blogging For Dummies by Kelly Senyei is a fab book for all newbie food bloggers.
- Picasa – free software for editing your food photographs.
- Google analytics for tracking your traffic.
Please do check out my resources for food bloggers page too.
I hope this list has given you a little bit of an idea of what you may need to start a food blog. Please do come back and let me know via the comments below section below if you do start your own food blog as I would love to come and check it out. This list includes resources and affiliates that I have used.
I thought it would be good to end with a list of some of the blogs I love reading. Do pop in and get some fab inspiration and drool over their lovely recipes.
Happiness is Homemade.
Pinch of Yum.
The Spicy Pear.
And some blogs newly on my radar.
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This whole post is a spooky reminder of my first incarnation as a food blogger. Fortunately, I did *most* of what you recommend first time around.
One thing that has changed, though, is that Bluehost is not the go-to WordPress hosting company it once was. Even when I was hosted by Bluepress (about 10 years ago!) I found the upload speeds VERY slow and my website sluggish, and it doesn’t appear they’ve upped their game since then.
Please don’t be frightened by review or comparison websites that compare different WordPress hosts. Sure, they’re going to get a bit technical, but they also use plain English and summarise very well.
Well done Bintu, what a useful post. So wish I’d had something like this when I started.
I must thank you ffor the effoorts you’ve put in writing this website.
I am hoping to check out the same high-grade blog posts by you later on as well.
In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to gget my own, personal blog now 😉
Nayna Kanabar (@SIMPLYF00D)
This is such a great post Bintu and very detailed. It is a great help for someone starting out.
Sylvia @ Happiness is homemade
Great tips Bintu and thank you so much for includnig me 😉
Sarah, Maison Cupcake
Thank you very much for the mention! This would have been very useful information when I was starting out, I’d not have known any of this then!
No worries Sarah, I am hoping this post can help some wanna be bloggers.
i’d love t do more food blogging sad thing is I can’t cook!
Chloeee I bet you can cook. Baby steps…