start your own food blog

Did you know food blogs are big in the blogging world? Yep, we all have to eat, and many of us LOVE to read, write and talk about it. If you have a passion for reading blogs, why not start one of your own? After all, the world cannot have enough people talking about and/or creating good recipes.

If you’re a passionate foodie and you love to read about the ever changing atmosphere of the food world, then there are many reasons why starting your own food blog may be a good idea for you:

  • 1) It’s a really, really fun hobby. And, if you find that you are head over heels in love with this hobby and would like to take it into fulltime territory, there are many ways to do so. When you’re a serious blogger, the food community takes you seriously. If you’re just getting started, what better way to build your writing (and cooking) chops than by simply diving in? It’s great practice on many different levels–and chances are, you’ll learn skills you never even thought you’d want to master, from writing simple code to creating original knock ‘em dead recipes, there are many talents to be gained from blogging about food.
  • 2) There’s a great community out there just waiting to connect with you. I have honestly met most of my nearest and dearest friends through food blogging, and I couldn’t imagine how different my life would be now if I hadn’t started this humble little blog back in 2009. Not only do you connect with people all over the world who share your passion for food, but chances are, you may find a few pals who end up being true blue friends. I’ve personally connected with a few soul sisters from this blog, and I am forever indebted to the remarkable world of blogging for bringing these amazing gals into my life.
  • 3) You could make some money. Now, I’ll be the first to admit, to make good money (or even decent!) from food blogging, you have to put in a ton of effort… but just like any job, generally what you put in pays off. Hey, blogging landed me a couple of book deals, freelance photography work, television appearances, and a nice gig as a contributor for my favorite magazine–so I’m not just blowing smoke around here. :)  If you are dedicated to your blog and professional in every sense of the word, there’s nothing stopping you from making some extra pocket change from your food blog. And if you’re really serious, it could turn into a fulltime gig. From advertising to sponsored posts, there are many ways to monetize your blog once your traffic hits a good number (generally more than 15,000 unique visits per month); and again, if you’re dedicated, you can reach these numbers in just a few months.

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Sound good? Here’s how to get started!

Step 1:

Choose a topic and blog name. This could be as broad as you’d like or as narrow as you’d like. Keep in mind though, there are a ton of food blogs out there, so what will make yours unique? Are you a master of knishes? Then by all means, start a blog about that! As you can gather from my site, I specialize in vegan and gluten-free food, which makes me stand out a bit from the other blogs (the numbers in this niche are growing daily too)–but what matters most is that you follow your passion. If you’re quickly bored with your idea, or change diets frequently, then your food blog could suffer. People generally like routine when reading specific blogs and will seek your unique opinion based on the content you regularly offer. If you change it up a lot, readers could get frustrated or confused and decide not come back. So, find an idea you think you could write about forever (yes, I seriously will never get bored of gluten-free vegan recipes) and stick with it. Then, choose a domain name that reflects your passion. An easy place to check if the name you like has been taken is here: Instant Domain Search .

Step 2:

Find a webhost Generally, you can purchase your domain name from the same company you purchase your web hosting. I highly recommend the host Site 5, as I have dealt with other hosts and had issues. With Site 5, I get exceptional customer service and hosting at a great value. When I first started hosting with Site 5, my traffic was lower and as my traffic grew, grew, grew, site 5 was there to keep it all smooth and running with affordable plans that I was able to migrate my traffic to seamlessly. They are really great. Check them out.

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Step 3:

Decide on a web platform. There are many free platforms available, but the one I most recommend is WordPress.org. It gives you unlimited control of nearly everything. WordPress.org also supports hundreds of free themes and if you’d like to take it up a notch and purchase a cool theme, or take it up even further and build/modify one of your own with CSS, you can do that no problem with wordpress. I’ve used other platforms, and while they are just fine and dandy for publishing quick and easy blog posts, in my humble opinion, nothing beats wordpress.org.

WordPress.org also has an amazing support forum. It is where I learned the ins and outs of building child themes and modifying existing themes. Highly recommended.

If you decide to go with wordpress.org (you should, you really should!), a few plugins I recommend implementing immediately are:

  • Akismet (for catching spam)
  • Feedburner Email Widget (for folks who like to read blog posts via email)
  • PDF & Print Button Joliprint (for seamless conversion of recipes from blog posts to PDF)
  • Quick Cache (if you have a lot of content or a lot of images, this will help keep your site running smooth)
  • Ultimate Coming Soon Page (if your site’s ever down, this page makes it look much nicer than an ugly 404 page)

Step 4:

Choose a theme. Again, depending on your platform, there will be a wide variety of themes to choose from. Since the start, I’ve approached blogging from a professional standpoint (ie: I knew I wanted to do it for a living), so if this is you, choose your theme wisely. But, if you make a gaffe, no worries! Themes are easy to switch–almost as easy as changing your shirt. Almost.

I’ve used countless themes, and the ones I love the most are from Graph Paper Press. GPP offers many high quality themes at affordable pricing, and the best part is, they function beautifully straight out of the box, OR, if you’re a nerd like moi, you can tweak them to your hearts content with a good dose of CSS. Also, and this is a big plus, the support forum is worth its virtual weight in gold. Nothing beats having a knowledgeable team of folks to help you out if something goes wrong.

There are also countless other themes available to fit a variety of personalities. Play around, have fun, and choose a theme that suits you best–after all, it’s your blog!

Step 5:

Get yourself a camera. Even though it’s not impossible, it is difficult to have a delicious and tempting food blog without a least some food photography. If you’re blogging recipes, it’s always a good idea to have a fairly high quality camera so you can show your readers the final product of the recipe you are sharing. Even if you’re just planning on including long musings about food or restaurant reviews, it’s still a good idea to have a decent camera as most readers enjoy the photos accompanying the posts as much as the posts themselves. I began this blog with a simple Sony point and shoot and eventually moved onto using a DSLR. Nowadays, you can find older beginner models (such as Canon Rebels) super inexpensively and often those are a great place to start. If you don’t want to invest in anything over a $100 or so, start with a point and shoot (or your iphone) and just go for it. I did, and it worked out just fine until I upgraded.

 

Step 6:

Start blogging!! You’ve done all your prep, and now it’s time to put up a post! It may seem intimidating at first to publish your first post, but don’t be shy! When I first started blogging, I wasn’t very nervous about it because I didn’t think anyone was reading what I was writing anyway. When I found out they were in fact reading–and they liked what I had to say– well, it only made me want to publish posts more often. Chances are, this will happen to you too.

Start off by just writing. Whether you’re sharing your favorite recipe for mashed potatoes or giving a thorough review of your favorite neighborhood restaurant, just start. When you feel like the post is in a good place, hit publish and then do it all over again. A good pace for posting is about once or twice a week to start off. You may find that you want to blog every single day–or only once a month. There are no rules with blogging. You are your own publisher (and unfortunately editor… so use spellcheck like a mad!) so you make the rules.

Step 7:

Get out there! Social media is a blogger’s best friend. It can seem time consuming to have to update your blog and all the other ever changing social media sites, but there truly is no better way to reach a wider audience than by simply putting yourself out there. At the very minimum, I recommend starting a twitter account and facebook fanpage (include your blog name/url in the profile) and keep it consistant to what you blog about. If you have your own personal social media channels that you post to regularly, that’s all fine and dandy, but err on the side of caution and keep them separate–unless you want your blog readers to know every detail of your personal life, which can end up biting you in the ass if you’re not careful. Best case scenario is you lose readers if people don’t jive with your personal views/opinions; worst case scenario is you could end up with a frightening fan turned stalker–which is nothing I would wish on even my worst enemy. I have kept out of social media on a personal level and still have had run-ins with questionable people who come too close to my personal zone for comfort. But, be cautious, be professional and you will be all good!

Some other social media outlets I highly recommend getting acquainted with are Pinterest, Stumble Upon, Google +, and Linked In. All these sites bring me regular traffic and I have connected with countless people on each platform.

Along with social media, a really great way to connect is by visiting other blogs and reaching out to the blog author via comments or even email. They may not always respond, but you never know. Word of advice though, don’t leave direct links to your blog in comments–it’s annoying and chances are you’ll just go automatically into the spam box. If you fill out the comment box properly, there will be a nice link back to your blog via your username, and you’ll leave a courteous and friendly impression with the blog owner. Win win.

Step 8:

Monetize! If you plan to have ads on your site, I think it’s a good idea to start off with them if you can, rather than adding them at a later date. Some ad networks require you to have a certain number of visitors to your site before you can be accepted into their network, but many do not. A few I have used and had a good experience with are BlogHer, FoodBuzz, BlogAds and Google AdSense. Read the fine print and see what works for you. Many of these networks offer sponsored posts and giveaways as well to their publishers, which offers another means of making some money.

A good tool that I have used from the start to monitor my traffic is google analytics. It’s easy to implement and is pretty darn accurate. Use it to track your daily page views and monthly stats. These numbers come in handy when you’re trying to figure how much $ your blog is worth for advertising payments. Affiliate programs are also nice. Viglink and Amazon are easy ones to start with.

Disclaimer: I do have a few affiliate links listed here, but I wouldn’t be an affiliate if I didn’t wholeheartedly believe in the products I advertise and use them personally. 

Step 9: 

Have fun! The most important part of blogging is to enjoy yourself. If you’re not having fun, chances are you’re doing it wrong (or you’re not cut out for blogging; and that’s okay!). There are countless ways to have your own food blog, not one standard–so feel it out and do what makes you happy. If you’re doing what you love (and even if your traffic isn’t through the roof), there’s a very high probability that your readers will love what you’re doing too.

So, go forth and blog. And fill hearts and bellies all around the world.