This is a great guide from Cookie and Kate! Thanks for sharing!
How To Start A Food Blog
Want to start a food blog but don’t know where to start? I know how frustrating it can be to deal with technical stuff when you really just want to share that killer recipe. Whether you want to start a cooking blog, or you want to become a more successful food blogger, I hope these tips will ease your technical troubles. Ready to start a beautiful food blog? You have two options:
- Hire a web designer to do it for you. I recommend my friends at Wooden Spoons Kitchen. Custom designs usually cost thousands of dollars.
- Do it yourself. I’ll explain how to build your own self-hosted WordPress website below. It will cost you as little as $3.49 per month in hosting, plus the cost of a theme (free to $130). You can do this!
Please note that this page contains affiliate links. I only link to products I trust and wholeheartedly recommend. Thank you for your support.
Start your own food blog: the basic steps
Here are the basic steps to set up a beautiful and functional self-hosted WordPress food blog that is all yours. Your blog will have your own domain name and your own distinct look. Take your time and be thorough for less trouble down the road and a greater shot at success.
1) Name your blog and buy a matching domain name.
2) Find a reliable web host.
A web host stores your website and makes it accessible to the world wide web. In other words, your website “lives” on your web host’s servers. Cost: $3.49 to $15 per month.
3) Install WordPress.
WordPress is top-of-the-line, industry standard blogging software. Cost: free!
4) Install a WordPress theme.
Your WordPress theme will determine the look, feel and functionality of your website. Cost: free to $129.
5) Set up Google tools.
Google offers invaluable tools and services like Google Analytics, Webmaster Tools and Feedburner. Cost: free!
6) Install WordPress plugins.
WordPress plugins extend the functionality of WordPress in certain areas. For example, one of my recommended WordPress plugins helps prevent spam comments. Cost: free!
7) Start blogging!
Publish those recipes, stories and photos. Cost: hard work!
Step 1: Name your blog and buy a matching domain name.
Coming up with a name for your new blog might be the hardest step. You can start brainstorming by coming up with a short mission statement or by listing words that describe your cooking style, your lifestyle, etc. Throw in your name and/or your dog’s name. 😉 Talk it out with friends. There are tons of great names out there that aren’t yet taken, I promise!
Characteristics of an ideal blog name
- Easy to spell
Once you have some potential names in mind for your blog, you’ll need to check their availability. Since .com is the standard domain suffix, keep trying potential names until you find one that is available in .com. Don’t resort to hyphens or other punctuation marks to make it work! Here’s a handy domain name checking tool from Bluehost. Enter your desired domain name, hit “Check domain” and it’ll tell you if your domain name is available. If so, snatch it up quick! Once you have picked your perfect domain name, you can buy it for around $15 a year at GoDaddy and connect it to your web host later.) Buy it quick, before someone else does!
Step 2: Find a reliable web host.
When it comes to web hosts, I’ve learned the hard way that you really do get what you pay for. You’ll want to start with an affordable shared hosting plan that offers one-click WordPress installation. I know this hosting stuff sounds complicated, but pick one and power through! Your food blog awaits.
The best web host for food blogs:
BlueHost: Affordable, reliable, easy to set up, 24/7 customer support. Food bloggers seem to have better luck with BlueHost than GoDaddy (I cannot recommend GoDaddy hosting based on personal experience). Bluehost’s “starter” plan is about as cheap as hosting gets. Click here to get started with BlueHost for as low as $3.49 per month and get a free domain name! How to get the most from your Bluehost plan:
- Choose your plan: I recommend the starter plan, which is the least expensive and offers everything you need to get started.
- Choose your term: In order to get your free domain name for a year (a $15 savings) and a great discount on your monthly rate, you’ll need to pay for at least one year of hosting upfront.
- But don’t worry: Regardless of your selection, you can cancel at any time and receive a prorated refund for the months you don’t use (domain fee excluded, which you’d pay for elsewhere anyway).
- The only add-on option I would choose is “Domain Privacy Protection,” which will make sure your personal address is kept private. Otherwise, your personal information will be available to marketers and the public at large. (Be safe!)
Step 3: Install WordPress.
This part should be pretty easy. If your web host is BlueHost, here’s how to install WordPress on BlueHost. Once you’ve installed WordPress, go to Settings > Permalink Settings page and change your permalink structure to “Post name”. Hit save. Now it’s time to make your blog look pretty.
Step 4: Install a WordPress theme.
What to look for in a WordPress theme
You want a theme that is:
- Well designed. Your theme should suit your aesthetic and offer the features you want. The theme should also be coded by someone who knows what they’re doing.
- Responsive. Responsive designs are built to provide an optimal viewing experience for your visitors, whether they’re visiting from their computer, phone or tablet. That means your visitors won’t have to pinch and zoom just to read your posts—your text will already be a legible size.
- Optimized for search results. This goes along with the last couple of points, because a well-designed site will naturally rank higher in search results than a site built on a theme that is full of errors.
- User friendly. Find a theme that offers built-in design options so you don’t have to edit code to change basic stuff. These features will save you a ton of time. Your theme should make it easy for you to change your logo, color scheme, etc.
- Backed by great support. When you experience technical issues, a responsive support team and/or community forums are invaluable resources.
My bottom line: You can start with a free theme, but I recommend that you pony up some cash for a premium WordPress theme from a reputable provider. The time and headaches that you save down the road will make it money well spent.
Recommended premium WordPress themes
My blog is built on The Genesis Framework by Studiopress. I believe that Studiopress offers the most gorgeous, functional themes available. Most of the themes are responsive, which is a big plus! Their community forums are helpful, too. Check out Genesis themes, available for a one-time fee of $59.95 and up. Foodie Pro Theme is a fantastic Genesis theme for food bloggers. It was designed specifically for food blogs. After seeing how nice my friend’s new blog looks right out of the box, I wish I’d gone with the Foodie theme. The built-in recipe page template is a huge plus. Check out Foodie Pro Theme, available for a one-time fee of $129.95.
Tips for designing a user-friendly food blog
When you’re tweaking the settings on your WordPress theme, keep these points in mind. You want to make sure that your blog is easy for visitors to:
- Navigate. Keep your blog design clean and uncluttered.
- Become followers. Place prominent links to your RSS feed, email subscription option and social media on every page.
- Comment. Don’t require CAPTCHAs or ask them to login first.
- Share your content. Provide social media sharing buttons at the end of each post.
Step 5: Set up Google tools.
First, set up a new Google account and email (Gmail) address for your blog. Create a new Gmail account here. Once you have a Google account, log in and set up the following tools:
- Google Analytics: helps you track blog traffic. (Note: install the tracking code in your WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin settings.)
- Webmaster Tools: makes sure your website is up and running. (Note: install the tracking code in your WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin settings.)
- Feedburner: allows your visitors to subscribe to your posts by RSS or email. Also helps you keep track of your subscriber numbers.
Step 6: Install my recommended WordPress plugins.
Each of these plugins provide valuable features that do not automatically come with your theme. Recommended WordPress plugins for food blogs:
- AddThis: I use this social bookmarking plugin to add a Facebook like button, Pinterest’s Pin-It button, etc. at the bottom of each post. If you don’t use AddThis, use a plug-in that provides similar capabilities so it’s easy for visitors to share your posts.
- Akismet: Filters out spam comments without requiring CAPTCHA. Nobody likes CAPTCHAs.
- Easy Recipe: Formats your recipes for search engine optimization. This plugin will help your recipe’s photo show up in the search results, for instance, and we all know we’re more likely to click on those links, right?
- WordPress SEO by Yoast: SEO is a complicated, multi-faceted beast and this plug-in will help you make sure you have covered your bases. You will need to take the time to go through all the steps and set it up properly, though. Be sure to use it to set up Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. It will be worth the effort!
FoodBloggerPro – Learn the essentials about what it takes to start and grow a successful food blog with easy to understand video tutorials. This has been one of the most useful programs that I have found!
Step 7: Start blogging!
Now you’re ready to start publishing posts on your new food blog.
Further resources for food bloggers:
- Search engine optimization (SEO): Following SEO best practices will help your posts rank well in search results. Recommended resources include Moz’ SEO: The Free Beginner’s Guide, Onextrapixel’s Complete Guide to WordPress SEO and Bake Your Day’s SEO For Food Bloggers Guide.
- Recipe attribution: Always cite your sources and give credit where credit is due! Learn more about recipe copyrights and attribution etiquette from the Food Blog Alliance.
- Food photography: Find my tips and links to further online resources on my food photography tips page.
- How to make money with a food blog: Kiersten of Oh My Veggies wrote an extensive ebook, titled “How to Monetize Your Food Blog,” that covers everything from ad networks, affiliate links, sponsored posts and more. Includes ad setup tutorials and a media kit example. Worth every penny. Click here to learn more and purchase for $15.
Please leave them in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer them. Don’t forget check out my other resources on food blogging,