Love cooking? Want to share the love with others? Than this tutorial is for you! A complete step by step guide on how to start a food blog in 2021 or 2022 for those who miss that one next step in their blogging journey.
With this article, I’d like to help those people who can create quality content, recipes in this case, but lack the technical or practical expertise on how to start a food blog. Or just need some motivational words…
The 6 steps of starting a food Blog
Let’s see first what you’ll find in this article. Read the whole thing or just click on the part that most interests you.
- Make up your mind – read this even if it sounds obvious
- Define your niche
- Select your blogging platform
- Find a good name
- Set up your blog
- Create Social Media accounts
- EXTRA: What special equipment do you need?
- My final but most important advise on starting a food blog
1. How to start a food blog: Make up your mind
Tip: Read this part even if you think it’s obvious.
It’s not that I want to emphasize that before starting anything (a food blog in this case) you should first make a decision. This is true but this website is not about mental well-being.
I only want to point out that starting a food blog, assuming that you want it to be successful, is a commitment. I am sure that the majority of food websites fail because of the lack of that commitment. People are enthusiastic at the beginning, but because they don’t see fast results, they give up.
Be prepared. The very first step of starting a successful food blog is to be committed to the task in the short and the long term. And to give you some practical help, here is what I mean about that:
- Posting regularly. It is commonly accepted that for any blog to be successful, you need to post at least once a week. And I can’t deny that. As I point out in my eBook, “How I got 2K daily visitors to my blog“, my initial success as a blogger was in correlation with the number of published recipes on my blog. And I would say you should even be prepared to post more at the beginning. (You can get the eBook free if you subscribe to my newsletter below this post.)
- Being open to learn new skills. To run a successful food blog you need to be an excellent cook, a good photographer, writer, and food stylist, and also have some knowledge about SEO and social media.
- Being very, very persistent. No successful food blog started with hundreds of thousands of visitors the first month. It is likely that your food blog will have very few visits even in the first year. Yet if you keep publishing, you can reach your goal with your food blog.
2. Find and define your niche
There are literally hundreds of thousands of food blogs on the internet, some of them having tens of thousands of recipes. How do you plan to get noticed unless you find one topic you can excel in?
The great thing about food blogging is that there are so many hungry readers interested in finding new content, that not only the simple number of possible niches, but even the ways of selecting your niche are countless. Just to give you a few examples, these are all ways of finding the right topic for your new food blog:
- National cuisine. You can pick almost any nation in the world and blog about it’s cuisine. If you do it right I promise you that you’ll have plenty of followers. You can even go further and select a regional cuisine (e.g. Sicilian instead of Italian, Cantonese instead of Chinese etc.).
- Diet. Vegetarian, vegan, raw food or even paleo cuisines are extremely popular blog topics these days. Or select the diet that you’re more comfortable with.
- Type of food. I can imagine a blog posting only sandwich recipes or pancake recipes or pick what you like the most, could also be very popular.
- Ingredient. Not that common, but you can choose one ingredient to run your blog around.
- What kind of people do you target? This is very similar to the diet option. You choose something that is common in your future readers and target them with your recipes and articles. Mom blogs are very popular and a good example for this approach.
- Occasion. Pick one occasion, e.g. Christmas, Valentine’s day, St. Patrick day (the options are limitless), and blog about food and recipes related to that event.
- Famous personality, Cookbook. Some blogs became popular just by presenting the recipes of one famous chef or cookbook. Just think about the original Julie Powell blog behind the Hollywood hit “Julie & Julia”. – I think it’s very inspiring to see even the trailer of this movie for anyone thinking in publishing their recipes:
- Many possibilities other than food. There are very successful food blogs out there that chose a niche based on something not food related. What am I talking about? You can be a great photographer and run a successful food blog in the niche of “best photo food blogs“; You can write about how to cook in a small kitchen; Or choose to be the “funny food blogger” and concentrate on humor instead of the food. Etc, etc. I hope you get it.
One more reason to select a smaller niche for your food blog is what’s called topical relevance. It is a technical word in search engine optimization, and something that has become one of the most important factors of ranking a new website. Long story short, if you cover a small topic extensively, you have much more chances to rank than trying to cover a large topic loosely.
3. Select your blogging platform
This comes down to one question in my experience. Are you planning to make money from your food blog or not?
If you don’t ever want to monetize your food blog, you’re okay with a free blogging platform. But if you ever want to make some money (which I strongly recommend), then you need to invest a couple of bucks.
a) Completely free solutions
Although I don’t really recommend them, here are some of the pros and cons of starting your blog on a free blogging platform.
- Pros: They are 100% free; Usually easier to start; You don’t have to take care of software maintenance; For some extent you have more possibilities to share and to be seen among people using the same platform.
- Cons: You can’t have your own domain; Generally they are harder – sometimes impossible – to rank in search engines; Limited design; Limitations on monetization; Somewhat decreased value over a full domain in the eyes of visitors; It’s not yours legally – should the service be shut down, you might lose everything; Much harder to move from these platforms once you decide to use your own domain; You are limited to one provider.
If you still choose to start on a free platform, WordPress.com and Blogger are the most popular. You also have the option of starting a free microblog on Tumblr, but that’s not really for publishing recipes.
b) Ready to invest a few bucks?
If you are willing to spend a few bucks a month, you can expect much more in return. You can have your own domain name, and technically limitless options for your food blog.
Here is a short list of what you need in this case. But don’t be overwhelmed, below you’ll find instructions and suggestions on each of these in step 5.
- Domain name
- Hosting account
- CMS (Content Management System)
- Some kind of design/skin/theme to start with
4. Find a good name
Well, this is where real creativity comes in first. I find that most bloggers consider finding their name one of the most important steps. Go and check the About section of any food blog and most of them will write about how they found out their name.
There is no best solution for naming your blog, anything can be good. And to tell you the truth, the real success of your blog won’t depend on the name but on the effort you put into it. But feel free to find the perfect name and enjoy this creative part – I know it’s quite an inspiring process. To help you with that, I give you here an example of the most popular food blog naming methods:
- The famous two ingredient approach – Chocolate & Zucchini. This method used to be very popular in the early days of food blogging – to tell you the truth I think its a waste of intelligence these days as no one will remember the 1000th likely named blog.
- The creative approach – Delicieux. This can turn out to be really good if you are really creative. And please don’t forget than less is sometimes more.
- The funny approach – smitten kitchen, Cupcakes Take The Cake.
- The personal approach – David Lebovitz, chez pim. Some people love this, and some people have cool names to fall into the creative section.
- The SEO approach – Love To Eat Italian. Sometimes looked upon as a substitute for people without creativity and humor 😀 .
- The descriptive a.k.a. very boring naming approach – still working – Kath eats real food, The Pioneer Woman, Sugar Free Londoner. No comment.
Also browse this excellent list of top 50 blogs from Glen Allsopp to get ideas.
One more thing to note here. If you want to start a food blog, chances are you will need your own domain for it, see step 3 above. So make sure to look up if your desired name is free to register. Try this Namecheap banner below (affiliate link):
5. Set up your Food blog
This is the technical part – the bad news is that you can’t escape it. The good news? Generally you only have to do it once. And when ready, you can go publish and be immortal online. 🙂
Once again I concentrate here on how to set up your food blog on your own domain. If for any reason you choose the free blogging platform route, the set up part is usually easier there. Just register an account and follow the instructions and you’re ready to go in no time.
Setting up your food blog can be very different depending on a number of factors, and I don’t want to go into too much technical detail here. As I stated above, I highly recommend you to invest a few bucks per month and choose your own domain for food blogging. Also I find WordPress to be the most easy to use blogging platform, so I outline the steps needed to set up a wordpress.org food blog.
5.1. Select and register your domain
Your domain should be something related to your name of choice in step 4, and easy to remember. I also recommend you to use a .com domain. This is still the most popular top level domain.
Registering a domain is pretty easy. There are tons of services out there, I use and recommend Namecheap.com (affiliate link). They are cheap but very reliable and straightforward to use. Also you don’t have the feeling that the only thing they want is to sell you up on more services, opposed to some other well known registrars.
Simply go to namecheap.com, type in your desired domain where it says Enter Domain to Search. If it is available, you are lucky. If it’s not, than feel free to find any other domain name. Do this as part of step 4, finding a name to your blog.
Once you’re satisfied with an available domain, follow the easy steps to register it for yourself. A .com domain will cost you between 10-15 USD per year and you have to pay it up front each year.
5.2. Subscribe to a web hosting company
You need a web host to store your food blog. They have so called server farms with thousands of computers and provide different services based on your needs. As a starter, you typically don’t need a whole server which would be very expensive to maintain. That’s why these hosting companies offer shared hosting, where hundreds of websites are located on the same computer. This is a great and cheap solution to start.
As a shared hosting company I use and love Bluehost. I have never had any issues with them, opposed to other hosting companies where I experienced some very unpleasant situations. The shared hosting costs between 7-10 USD per month, depending on the term you sign up for. For this price you can host an unlimited number of websites, you get your own email (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org), and I tell you it’s not that difficult to earn back this amount of money from your blog. Read my Bluehost review if you’re more interested in this topic.
To start your food blog, go to bluehost.com, click on Sign Up Now and follow the easy steps to set up your unlimited shared hosting.
Check out this video where I show you how to set up a domain for your food blog like that:
5.3. Install WordPress
Installing WordPress, the best free Content Management System is pretty easy and straightforward. You have basically two main choices, #2 is that I recommend in most cases:
- Go to wordpress.org and follow the easy steps to download and install WordPress.
- Most webhosts offer automated ways to install WordPress. I show you how to do that on Bluehost in this video:
5.4. Select and install a theme to feature your recipes
This is where you choose the ‘clothes’ and ‘makeup’ for your blog. Although you can find lots of free WordPress themes online, these generally suck in some way. They might be difficult to set up, include unwanted links, don’t offer support, and other issues. So you might want to spend a couple of bucks on a premium WordPress theme.
What I use and recommend these days is either the Divi or the GeneratePress themes (affiliate links). They are both very popular, relatively easy to manage, very customizable, and you can create a really amazing food blog with them. My Jumping Pumpkin food blog is using GeneratePress, check it out if you are interested.
5.5. Set up WordPress
For this you should follow my how to set up WordPress guide, and also read carefully and follow the guide of your purchased theme.
Premium themes generally come with an initial XML setup file. Use this to make the site look the same as the demo version (without pictures). You can play with this a lot, and I see that generally it takes month for someone new with WordPress to get their preferred set up. This doesn’t mean your site is not working in the meantime, I’m just telling that you’ll fine tune your site every day in the beginning, and this is OK. Also a site with only a few posts needs a very different setup than an already established site with dozens or hundreds of posts.
5.6. Use A Recipe Plugin
A recipe plugin let’s you manage recipes in your content. It will give you an option to add a recipe with ingredients, steps, pictures, and many other options. Also such a plugin is indispensable these days if you want to correctly present your food content to search engines such as Google.
My recipe plugin of choice is WP Recipe Maker, probably the best solution for WordPress these days. They have a free version that can be a good option to start your food blog. Later you want to switch to the premium edition (affiliate link) for added benefits.
5.7. Publish at least 3 recipes
If this is the first time you’re starting a recipe blog, getting here is not child’s play. I already set up dozens of WordPress sites and could do all these steps in less than an hour. But I remember the first time, I spent hours figuring out how to properly set up my hosting, install WordPress etc.
So if you followed my suggestions until now, you might feel a bit tired and maybe dissatisfied with the process. Lots of new things learnt and done, and the result? A basically empty site which is far away from even your worst expectations. Don’t worry, I can completely understand your situation.
And this is exactly why you should not stop right here. A brand new site with no real content is always ugly. You expect something at least as beautiful as the WordPress theme demo site examples, and what you get is basically an empty website with your name on it. Lots of people give it up here – which is the worst solution. You already spent hours if not days on this project, why not finish it?
So here is my suggestion. Make, write and publish 3 recipes as fast as you can. Don’t care about how good these recipes are. Just write and publish them.
This way your recipe website gets some real content, and you’ll feel less that it was much ado about nothing.
6. Create Social Media accounts
You just can’t skip this step. Creating social media accounts is the key to easily promote your new food blog, and also inevitable for good search engine results.
You should create your recipe blog’s page or account on the following social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok (even if you don’t plan to publish videos right now). Make sure you link back to your website from these social media accounts.
How to start a food blog EXTRA: What special equipment do you need?
You are basically ready to go live with your new food blog. As long as you publish at least one recipe per week, no one can stop you becoming more and more popular and getting more visitors every week.
For a successful food blog you don’t really need any special equipment, persistence is perhaps the most important factor. But I found that having good pictures is a key in achieving success, so let me tell you my recommendations.
- Camera. You can start with any camera you like, but if you want nice food pictures then you’ll need one where you can set the aperture. Look for “aperture control” or “aperture priority”. What I currently use is a high end phone and a Canon EOS M50 Camera. A high end phone is something I figure almost everybody has these days, and it is perfect to start. An entry level camera like the one I’m using will take you a long way with your recipe blog unless you want to be a professional photographer.
- Picture editing software. Even the best photographers post-process their pictures, and sometimes this makes the real difference between an average photo and one that sells itself. Gimp is an excellent free option, but you can also find very good editing apps.
- Accessories. I think to start a food blog it’s OK to use your current tableware – I used our initial “set” for more than 2 years. But you should consider buying a couple of plates, tablecloth, bowls, and cutlery. Don’t need a whole set, just one piece. Selecting the right color and style for every food can make a difference in your pictures.
My final and most important advise on starting a food blog
And at last, my one and only biggest advise on how to start a food blog: do it now.
Doesn’t matter what you know or what you don’t know about the subject, doesn’t matter how difficult you think it is now. Every day you delay starting your recipe blog, you just make your dream come true one day later.