How to Start a Food Blog
So you want to start a food blog — congrats! You’re on your way to a fun journey of photography, recipes, HTML and cookies ← the eating kind, not the tech kind. Ahem. (I’m already doing a great job of this, huh.)
Since I’ve been doing this since the stone ages (OK, like more than five years), I’ve learned a few things along the way about how to start a food blog. I’ve compiled a handy and easy list of steps you can take to make this happen in just minutes. And it’s a user-friendly list, too — because if I could do it, TRUST, you can certainly do it.
So here we go!
Note: This page does contain some affiliate links so I can afford to keep this blog up and running and make all the yummy things for you. Kthanksbye.
There are three basic steps to starting your own food blog:
1) Set up a website.
2) Install WordPress.
3) Customize/optimize your blog.
First, you’ll want to choose a name and a domain name. Domain names (like www.girlversusdough.com) typically cost up to $15 a year. You can get a domain name for free through BlueHost, or you can purchase one (or more) for $15 a year through GoDaddy and then connect it to your webhost.
Once you’ve established a domain name, you’ll need a webhost for it. Here are some examples of great webhosts for food blogs:
Bluehost — Bluehost is great web host for new bloggers looking to get in with a solid hosting company as they build their blog presence. They are very popular among bloggers for their ease of use and affordability.
If you go with BlueHost, I recommend starting with the Starter Plan, which has everything you need to get started and is the most inexpensive way to do so. Be sure to also include Domain Privacy Protection on your plan, which keeps your personal information private.
Liquid Web Hosting — You guys, I cannot rave enough about Liquid Web as a web host. I have had nothing but positive experiences with them. Any time my site goes wonky (so far through no fault of theirs), they are super-quick to respond and resolve the issue. If you’re looking for reliable workhorse of a web host, I highly recommend them.
If you go with Liquid Web and your blog grows and grows, they also have an incredibly easy upgrade system should you need your own dedicated server.
I know, it sounds intimidating! But it’s really easy, pinky swear. I have used WordPress from the beginning and it’s hands-down the best software for blogging, in my opinion.
If you use BlueHost as a webhost, here is how to install WordPress using BlueHost.
If you use Liquid Web as a webhost, here is how to install WordPress using Liquid Web.
Now you’re ready to customize!
There are approximately a gajillion ways to customize your blog so I won’t share all of them with you (would that I could). But there are a few recommended themes and plugins I’ve used or have seen other bloggers use with great success.
First things first: Themes. Your WordPress theme is what determines the look and feel of your site. You’ll want a theme that is well-designed, preferably mobile responsive (meaning it is easy to navigate on phones and tablets) and user-friendly. However, to get that, it’s best to forgo the free WordPress themes and spend a little cha-ching on premium paid themes — it will save you so. many. headaches. down the road. Here are a few premium themes that fit the bill:
The Thesis Theme for WordPress — This is the theme I used on my blog just before my redesign by Wooden Spoons Kitchen. I LOVE it. It’s super versatile and easy to navigate (and I’m no techie, trust me). I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a classy but affordable, build-it-yourself theme.
Elegant Themes Premium WordPress Themes — I used Elegant Themes way back in the first days of the blog, and I loved using it as a starter theme. The templates are clean, no-fuss, easy to navigate and customize and professional-looking, too. I’d definitely recommend one of their themes for newbie bloggers, or for anyone who likes working with a template design.
Genesis Framework — I personally do not have experience with this theme, however, I know a lot of bloggers use it and love it. It’s not free, and it won’t run on its own (you’ll need to purchase a “child theme,” such as Foodie Pro Theme, which I hear is a great option for food bloggers!), but once it’s up and running you’ll have a very clean, efficient and polished design.
Secondly: Plugins. WordPress plugins are what allow you to customize your blog. They help you do everything from filter spam comments to feature a “Pin It” button to optimize SEO (search engine optimization, which is fancy talk for keywords that will bump up your blog in search results). Here are a few plugins I recommend you install on your blog:
CoSchedule — CoSchedule is a scheduling plugin that creates a calendar within WordPress to help you organize all of your posting and sharing of your posts. It’s amazing. It helps me stay organized with promoting my content across all platforms and is easily viewable within my WordPress dashboard.
Akismet — Akismet filters out spam comments so you don’t have to (and a CAPTCHA doesn’t have to, either). Trust, you will want this lifesaver of a plugin.
Easy Recipe (Plus) — There are two versions of this plugin: Easy Recipe and Easy Recipe Plus. Both are great for formatting recipes for search engine optimization, and they package your recipes in your post in a pretty little box. I use the paid Plus version, which allows for further customization, and it was worth every penny to me.
jQuery Pin It Button for Images — This plugin creates a “Pin It” button that hovers over your images, making it easier for visitor to pin your content.
WordPress SEO by Yoast — Again, that lovely, complicated term: SEO. This plugin helps you navigate those waters in a way that non-techy people (read: me) can mostly understand. By using this plugin, your recipes can be more easily searchable on Google and the like.
Shareaholic — There are a ton of plugins out there that do what Shareaholic does (which is offer visitors all the social media options to share your content at the bottom of each post), but Shareaholic is the one I’ve found to be most user-friendly and visually appealing. If you want your content shared, don’t skip this one!
You are all set to start blogging! All that’s left is to make that yummy recipe and publish it on your blog for all the world to see. Exciting!
For more information and resources (on things like how I make money food blogging, eBooks, photography equipment and props, etc.), visit my FAQ page.