Are you looking to start your own food blog? Not sure , where to begin? It can be so overwhelming and I’ve been there. I scoured the internet for posts like this as any information on how others did it helped me. This post is aimed at the newbies, beginners in the food blogging industry, and those just starting out. I share my tips on How To Start A Food Blog, beware this is a long one packed to the brim with info!
So, I bet you have a million questions floating around your head. From what web hosts are out there, to what’s a good theme for a food blog, to what plugins should I install. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one size fits all scenario in food blogging. You’ll find that every single food blog is different and unique. And that’s the exciting part. You get to create your own individual slice of the web when you start your food blog..
I can’t recommend what you are doing NOW enough. RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH. Arm yourself with the knowledge so that you can make the best decisions for YOU. That's what I did and today in this post, I want to share that research with you to help you along your way. This is what works for me at this moment in time and I hope that you can take away a couple of useful tips that will work for you.
The post does contain some affiliate links of which I’ll earn a small percentage commission if you click through and sign up, but note it doesn’t cost you any extra, it just helps me out, so thank you if you do. (Another note...this is called affiliate marketing and is one way to monetise your blog...but that’s a whole other topic!!)
Food blogging is just like a recipe. You’ll need a whole bunch of varying ingredients to create your very own magic. Ok, grab yourself a cuppa, take a seat, this post is a long one!!
- Find a niche
- Work out a blog name and buy that domain
- Find a reliable web host
- Establish your blogging platform
- Choose a new theme for your new blog
- Invest in yourself
1. Find a niche
Before you even start to think of your blog name, you need to suss out what your actual niche is. This is the number one way for you to be able to gain traction in a highly saturated market. If you try and blog about too broad a subject then it’ll be hard for your ‘voice’ to be heard.
What excites you? What grabs your attention and passion? For me it’s desserts. Right from the start, I knew my food blogging niche would be sweet treats and desserts. As much as I love eating pasta, Chinese food, or pizza, I knew that savoury dishes wouldn’t appear on my blog and this decision has helped me keep super focused on my food blog.
Now, to be clear, I’m not saying choose either sweet or savoury, but what I am saying is choose a focus for your blog. That could be Easy Week Night Meals. Your savoury and sweet dishes will be focused on creating meals that aren’t time-consuming yet are nutritious and tasty. That’s just one example, it could be vegan baking, instant-pot recipes or gluten-free entertaining, but you get my drift. Pick it, then own it.
AI said, for me personally my niche to focus my blog on is desserts. But that in itself is a broad subject. So I narrowed it further to elevated homemade desserts and sweet treats that combine interesting flavour combinations.
By creating a focus you set yourself up as an authority in that field. As time goes on people will head to you for that subject matter and your audience will grow automatically.
2. Work out a blog name and buy the domain
Workout your blog name
So now you know what you want your blog to be focused on, you have to think of your blog name! Eek, this is the exciting bit but equally terrifying too! How do you choose? It's such an important factor when you start your food blog. Take your time, and don’t rush. It’s a huge hassle to change later on!
You know what area of the food world you will focus on so start by jotting down some keywords that describe it.
It needs to be: memorable, succinct and easy to spell!!
Think about using your own name. For me, I wanted my blog name to feel extremely personal and so added in my first and surname. Emma isn’t memorable as it's so common, but when teamed with Duckworth then it becomes unique. But it’s still too broad...is the blog about crafting, mum blogging, gardening? So I added ‘bakes’ onto the end which automatically lets my audience know that my blog is about baking, and this leads to desserts and sweet treats.
Buy your domain name
Now that you have an idea of your blog name, you’ll need to check that it’s actually available. The domain prefix will depend on where you're based ie in the UK it’s emmaduckworthbakes.com and in US it would be emmaduckworthbakes.com
Use a domain name checker to make sure your wanted domain name is actually available for you to use. The more individual your domain name is, the more likely it will be available.
An example of a domain checker is: www.name.com
If it’s available then buy it straight away so that it doesn’t get snapped up by someone else! Either buy the domain name on its own or in conjunction with a web host (we’ll come to this next).
NOTE: Also check the availability of your blog name for your other social media handles like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. If you're wanting to create a ‘brand’ for yourself, you’ll want to keep this streamlined and unified across all platforms.
3. Find a reliable web host
What is a web host though? Basically, it's a service that allows the likes of you and I to house our website on their server. The web host provides the technology for your website to be ‘seen’ on the internet. It's the back end, the space that stores all your website files.
There are many webs hosts out there but when I first started out, I took notes from other food bloggers who have shared which web hosts they use. For me, a recommendation for a web host was the starting point and I could list the most popular and then research them to find the best for me.
Cloudways comes really well recommended for food bloggers and I’ve been really happy with them. I recommend starting with a basic package and as your site grows and you increase the content on it then you can think about upgrading to the next package.
Cloudways.com also offers 24/7 customer service which is crucial for a non-techie foodie like myself!
One of the most beneficial offerings of Cloudways is the ability to set up an automated backup of your website at an offsite location at the frequency of your choice. If something goes wrong with your website, at a click of a button you’ll be able to restore the previous back up. This also cuts out the need for a separate backup plugin.
4. Establish your blogging platform
This is the front end of your website. It’s the software that you use to manage the content, upload your images onto, and create the look of your blog.
By far the most popular for food bloggers is WordPress.org (not to be mistaken with WordPress.com). It’s the number #1 blogging platform in the world and is used by major businesses like Adobe, Microsoft and The NY Times Blog. It’s interactive, easy to use and customisable and above all it’s free.
Now you’ve established these first 4 steps, what else do you need to know on How To Start A Food Blog?
5. Choose a new theme for your new blog
It gets just more and more exciting as you work down the list right?! Now you have to decide what your blog will look like when your audience lands on your website.
You have two options:
Choose a Free Theme
There are thousands of free themes out there that you can choose from or ones that have been created by WordPress themselves. They're for the most part great and super easy to use as they're aimed at the beginner blogger but as you evolve you’ll notice their limitations. You may find some of these aren’t conducive to using with a food blog, plus you're restricted with the way it looks and is configured.
Pay for a Premium Word Press Theme.
I would highly recommend this. If you're serious about making a go at food blogging and wanting to develop a professional-looking, well-designed site then this is the way to go. Premium themes are designed by experts and have more functionality, ongoing support and updates. On top of that, you have more ability to customise the theme, like adding a recipe index (an important component for a food blog) and making your site look totally unique, which is beneficial in the long run.
What do I use on my site?
For my site, I use the Genesis Framework by Studio Press which is the ‘parent’ theme for your blog. In simple terms, the Genesis Framework creates the framework for your site and allows you to fully customise it whilst also adding fab SEO capabilities.
Alongside the parent theme, you’ll then need to choose a child theme for the actual look of your site. (Make sure the child theme is compatible with your parent theme).
I use Foodie Pro by Feast Design Co. This is by far one of the most popular food blog themes out there. I absolutely LOVE the Foodie Pro Theme. It has the perfect clean, minimal design to suit my aesthetic and is super easy to use (even for struggling technophobes like me!). There are a ton of tutorials so that you can set up and customise the theme. You can alter the font, colour, size, layout and so much more. Minimalist Baker also created heaps of tutorials to help you along. (All of which I’ve watched!) If you're wanting to stay in control of the look of your blog and be able to make simple changes in the backend without getting overwhelmed with tech spiel- this theme is brilliant!
You can buy the Genesis Framework and Foodie Pro Theme in one simple package. Bonus! And if you want to change your theme by Feast Design to another one of their great themes, you won’t have to re-buy the Genesis Framework.
What is a plugin, I hear you ask? Basically, it's a piece of software that will help your website in terms of functionality but also to add new features to your website.
There are literally hundreds of plugins out there for you to choose from, many free, many that you pay for. This is another area where one size does not fit all. You get to add however many you like and each website will be unique because of it.
What plugins do I use on my site?
These are the plugins on my website that I can recommend and that work well for me:
Akismet Anti-Spam: This provides a block against spam comments from being left. I didn’t install this until a couple of months after I started blogging, and the spam comments kept increasing daily. The minute I installed it, the spam stopped. And it’s free!
Smash Ballon Social Photo Feed: Displays images from your Instagram feed on your website. You get to customise how those images are shown.
Simple Social Icons: This is a customisable way of displaying icons to link your web page visitors to your varying social media platforms
Tasty Pins: One of the Plug-ins created by WP Tasty, set up by Bjork of Pinch of Yum fame specifically designed for food bloggers. This is one of the best plugins to invest in if you want to up your Pinterest game when you start your food blog. Tasty Pins also allows you to enter Pinterest descriptions, set alt tag descriptions, and disable pinning on certain images (some of those process shots just aren’t worthy of flying around Pinterest). On top of that, it automatically adds the Pinterest button to your images so that the user can easily pin directly from your post to their Pinterest boards.
Tasty Recipes: Another must-have from WP Tasty that allows you to format your recipes for SEO. You get to format a beautifully styled, printer-friendly, recipe card incorporating all the relevant recipe information including nutritional info if you choose. Tasty Recipe's literally one of the easiest ways of publishing your recipe on your blog plus shows the recipe image on google search, and I for one am more likely to click on a recipe link if I can see the image!
Word Fence Security: This is a security plugin that protects WordPress sites from unwanted intrusion and all those pesky hackers trying to infiltrate your site.
WP-Optimize: A plugin that cleans your website of unnecessarily stored data and compresses images in order to increase site speed. Enables a fast, lean and efficient site.
WP Related Posts Thumbnails: At the end of each blog post you can add related post customisable thumbnails. It helps keep the viewer on your site by sparking interest in browsing another recipe and this helps increase page views.
WP Rocket: Boosts the performance of your site with increased load times and overall performance. A win-win for your site. Nobody likes slow loading times, they’re just more likely to bounce right off your site.
Yoast SEO: A super important plugin for food bloggers when you start a food blog. This plugin helps with SEO, and the end of the story. It helps guide you on what to include in your blog post (think the title, meta description ) to improve your rankings on google. In a nutshell, it improves your site optimisation which in turn increases the likelihood of it being seen via google search.
7. Invest in yourself
So now that you’ve learnt how to start your food blog, what next? It's time to take your food photography game to THE NEXT LEVEL.
Investing in yourself will fast track you in standing out from the crowd.
When I first started out I knew that my photography was nowhere near where it should be. I was downright embarrassed as to the images that I was producing. I knew I need help from the best and that’s when I enrolled Foodtography School.
Sarah of Broma Bakery fame who founded the school, teaches all the basics for styling and composition, to the best angles to use in food photography, how to deal with different light and colour theory.
Foodtography School also delves into the business side of creating a food photography business by teaching you how to create a brand and visual identity, market your work and yourself, grow your audience and reach out to brands and develop working relationships.
Foodtography School is for you if you're SERIOUS in turning your food photography PASSION into a business.
Check out these before and after images. From learning the skills in Foodtography School I then set about putting them into practice. And look at the transformation.
- Foodtography School
- Restaurant Foodtography School
- Advanced Foodtography School
- iFoodtography School
I can’t recommend this course enough- it has been a game-changer in my career. Reach out if you have any questions. I have a super in-depth Review of Foodtography School here. For other Courses that will help on your journey, check out my Blog post on Courses for Food Photographers.
8. Now start!
If you’ve done all of this, then you have yourself a fantastic, fully functioning website. I’m proud of you. It’s a lot of work setting up a blog! As time goes by, your blog will develop and change and grow...which is a good thing. But for now, the next step is to just jump right in. Set yourself a blogging schedule, publishing a post once or twice a week or even daily, but try and remain consistent.
I truly hope that my recommendations and suggestions in my How To Start A Food Blog Guide have helped you. I am by no means a tech wizard with all the blogging know-how. But as I mentioned earlier, this is part of your research and can only increase your knowledge in order to make more informed decisions. Enjoy the process of blog creating!