How To Start A Food Blog: A Step-by-Step Guide + Additional Resources
It’s sometimes hard for me to believe that I started this blog nearly NINE years ago. Nine years! That is an extraordinarily long amount of time, isn’t it? When I first built this little space, there were only a handful of food blogs out there. I did it on a whim over a weekend and it was merely a hobby for quite some time. When Brown Eyed Baker popped up in early 2007, there were no such things as brand pages on Facebook, Twitter was less than a year old, and Pinterest didn’t exist.
Blogs are a much different animal nowadays and I get at least five emails a week from readers who are interested in starting a blog and wanting to know how to get it off the ground. I thought that for every person that emails there might be another handful with the same question, so I put together a little tutorial on how to get the ball rolling! I hope you find it helpful; feel free to ask any question you may have in the comments section!
The 5-Step Plan to Start a Food Blog
Step #1: Pick a Name and Register the Domain
This is admittedly the hardest step – picking a name! Give some thought to what you’ll be writing about and try to choose something that encapsulates what you envision the blog’s identity to be. In this instance, I think it’s better to err on the side of general versus specific, in the event that you switch directions along the way, your name will still be relevant.
Once you settle on the name for your blog, the first thing you’ll want to do is register the domain. There are tons of different companies out there that sell domain names, but I have purchased all of my domains from Bluehost. And a bonus – if you also get your hosting from Bluehost (see step #2 below), you get your domain for free.
Step #2: Choose a Blogging Platform and Hosting Company
My very first iteration of this blog was started on Blogger, however, I soon moved over to WordPress and highly recommend that platform. It’s easy to use and has virtually limitless customization capabilities. WordPress has two options: WordPress.com (the blog is hosted directly on WordPress) and self-hosted (WordPress.org). My recommendation is to use the self-hosted version and acquire your own hosting so that you can operate the blog as a standalone website, instead of an extension of WordPress.
There are countless options when it comes to hosting, and it can be overwhelming and confusing if you’re just starting out. Below are the hosting options that I have used along the way with some information about each:
Bluehost – I started out with a Bluehost hosting plan when I purchased my domain and it’s my opinion that it is the absolute best option for beginners. It is incredibly affordable (less than $10/month) and the support is outstanding. They can help get WordPress installed on your domain and you’ll be on your way! Reminder from above – if you purchase a Bluehost hosting plan, then you get your first domain for free.
LiquidWeb – I moved to LiquidWeb once my traffic reached a point where shared hosting was no longer a viable option and I needed a dedicated server. Obviously more expensive, but the dedicated server space and support are definitely worth it once you get the point where it is necessary.
WP Engine – This is the hosting company I have been using since February of this year (2015). While the most expensive of the options listed here, their servers are optimized specifically for WordPress-powered sites, and they keep on top of WordPress updates, plugin issues, and have superb customer service.
Step #3: Theme/Design
Okay, now that you’ve picked your name, secured your domain and have your hosting set up, it’s time to make your website look pretty! There are countless free themes available on WordPress that you can customize (I did this when I first started), or you can take it a step further and purchase a theme that allows for even more customization options:
Thesis Theme – About five years ago, I redesigned Brown Eyed Baker myself using this theme.
Genesis Framework by StudioPress.com – This is an incredibly popular theme among food bloggers, as it includes many “child themes” that can be installed and further customized. Some examples of food-centric child themes are: Foodie Pro Theme, Daily Dish Pro Theme and Crave Theme.
An additional option, depending on your budget, is to hire a web designer to do the design work for you. The current version of Brown Eyed Baker was done by Purr Design.
Step #4: Content!
Okay, your site is built and looking snazzy… now it’s time to populate it! The best piece of advice I can give you about what and how to write is to be yourself. Write about things you feel passionate about, and it will come through to your readers. It’s not necessary to start out posting new recipes every single day… depending on your time commitments, pick a schedule that works for you (once a week, even!), and try to be as consistent as possible.
If you’re new to food photography, check out my photography page for more details on my approach to taking photos and the equipment that I use. I’ve also shared links to a couple of food photography e-books below that I think are quite useful.
Step #5: Build Your Community
As I mentioned above, social media was virtually non-existent when I started Brown Eyed Baker and most of my interaction with other bloggers and food lovers came in the form of Internet forums. If I were starting a blog today, one of the first things I would do after I secured my domain name would be to set up accounts using that name on all of the major social media networks. At the very least, I would sign up for a Facebook business page, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. I think anything associated with Google is a good idea for organic traffic purposes, so I would also snag a Google+ business page. Snapchat and Periscope appear to be popular now, but I haven’t started using either one.
Once you’re all setup, I would suggest checking in often and connecting with not only your followers and readers, but other food bloggers and any other personalities or businesses that you follow.
Below is a list of articles and resources that you may also find useful as you begin your journey into food blogging:
- 5 Things I Would Tell You if You Told Me You Wanted to Start a Food Blog (The Little Kitchen)
- Books: Food Blogging for Dummies, Will Write For Food, The Recipe Writer’s Handbook
- eBooks: Tasty Food Photography, The Food Photography Book
- Elite Blog Academy
- Food Blog Code of Ethics
- Food Blogger Pro – A huge library of resources, for both beginner and current bloggers.
- Food Bloggers: 150+ Links to Everything You Need to Know (Recipe Girl)
- Food Blogging- Advice (David Lebovitz)
- Food Blogging Guide (Just a Taste)
- How to Be a Better Food Blogger (Chef Dennis)
- How to Share Another Blogger’s Recipes Correctly (The Spunky Spatula)
- Recipe Attribution (Food Blog Alliance)
Most importantly, enjoy your blogging journey!