People love to eat. And when we’re not eating, we certainly enjoy talking about food or looking at pictures of food. There is a huge interest for food online – just look at all the attention pictures of food are getting at Instagram, Pinterest and other picture sharing platforms.
According to a study from Google cooking is one of the most popular topics people search for when needing advice and instructions.
Starting a food blog is a great way to document your recipes, share your love for food and cooking with others and become an even better and more creative cook. It is also a great way of getting in touch with other foodies, and exchanging tips and ideas.
How to choose your content angle
Christine Chitnis recommends: “Write about what excites you, and what is authentic. Don’t try to be someone else, or try to be something you are not. Be yourself, and people will appreciate your honesty and come back for more.”
In order to stand out in the sea of food sites, make sure you think about your own niche. What is it that you want to cover? Do you want to post about easy cooking? How about healthy eating? Maybe you’re a master at making desserts? Or is baking your specialty? You may even be an all around chef who perfects a dinner from start to finish and would like to teach others how to create dinners for parties?
What’s important to note is the narrower your niche is, the easier it is to make yourself stand out and be different compared to all the other foodies out there. Catherine McCord from Weelicious says: “Find your passion and niche and stick with it. Keep your interest narrow at first and build an audience. After that you can venture out and those who love reading your site will follow as you branch out.”
Sarah Zinkel says: “Be true to yourself. There are so many blogs and bloggers out there and it’s easy to try to imitate someone’s style. Really listen to your gut and do what feels right to you. That’s how you will get the most out of your blog and so will others!”
Debi Wayland from Life Currents says: “Do what makes you happy. Write about things that interest you. If you’re just doing what “sells” it isn’t you, and people can tell. Writing about healthy food isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it works for me, and it makes me happy. I see other bloggers struggle with the concept of keeping the followers happy. They talk about how they lost followers because of something they said or something they did. But, you can’t make everyone happy, and above all else, it’s really important to be true to what you love.”
Sophia Breene from Greatist says: “Keep your finger on the pulse of what readers want to see more of and what they love/hate/need/want. It’s always good to read opinions other than your own! Have your own message and don’t be swayed by what’s trendy or popular at the moment. These two pieces of advice seem to be in opposition, and that’s pretty much correct. Maintaining a successful site is all about balancing between writing what you are passionate about and making content that’s interesting and accessible to all kinds of people.”
Think hard about what you can bring to your site and then put everything into making it happen. Blogging doesn’t work if it doesn’t contain a piece of you. Readers want to know there’s a human being at the other end. Take a look at my article for more on the topic of passion.
Starting your food blog
Starting a food site is actually a pretty simple process after you know what you want to post about and you know what to name it. You should use WordPress, the most popular publishing platform, to run your site. WordPress is an open-source platform that powers more than 60 million sites. It allows you the complete control over the look and feel, features and other aspects of your site. I love it and run all my projects on it.
Anne-Marie Nichols from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet says: “My biggest mistake was not switching over to a self-hosted WordPress blog sooner! Once I did that, my traffic and opportunities grew.”
Michael Natkin from Herbivoracious says: “Choose your platform wisely; moving is a non-trivial exercise! I’ve moved to self-hosted WordPress now and I’m super happy with it. But whatever you choose, realize it has a big impact on what will be easy or hard to do.”
Kiersten Frase from Oh My Veggies says: “Before my site was called The Type A Housewife. It was a joke, but no one understood that. The name had nothing to do with vegetarian cooking – it was confusing. Other writers told me that changing the name was the worst thing I could do, but I did it anyway and my site has only grown since. I brainstormed and came up with several different names and asked around to see what people thought of them. Definitely get feedback on your domain name before you commit to anything!”
You need a domain name and a hosting account to be able to run WordPress. A domain name is the address people will type to reach your site and a server space is where your images and other files are hosted. If you need help on finding a name for your blog do take a look at my guide here.
It takes some five minutes for you to get your first food blog up and running. No tech know-how or prior experience needed! I recommend Bluehost for the easiest setup process. It is simple to use, offers a free domain name, an affordable hosting account with unlimited space and WordPress officially recommends it. For full step-by-step instruction on starting a site, take a look here.
Disclosure: I do earn a commission if you signup to Bluehost using my link at no additional cost to you. Please know that I only recommend products and services that I find helpful and useful. If you do choose to purchase through my affiliate link, thank you for your support!
Time to start cooking and typing
So now that you have your site online what is the next step? Blogging is all about doing, and not thinking or planning too much.
Just think about Julie Powell from the movie Julie & Julia who posted her way through a cookbook and became a huge success. She didn’t spend much time planning about starting and dreaming too much about success, she just started cooking and typing. Start cooking, taking pictures and typing yourself!
So, what exactly should you cook and how should you write about it? Many new food writers may be insecure about whether they’re bringing something new to the table, but writing about food doesn’t have to include inventing a new dish every day.
There’s only so many ways a person can make a tomato sauce. Food blogging is also about putting personal touches on traditional dishes or maybe serving them in a new and interesting way.
Providing value with your personal touch
Kiersten says: “Never publish something on your site that you wouldn’t read yourself. You need to be willing to look at your site with a critical eye. Would you subscribe to it? Would you like it on Facebook? With millions of other sites out there, you need to offer your readers something unique and compelling that will make them want to come back again and again.”
Michael Natkin says: “Focus on quality. There are lots of things you can do to bring people to your site once. But if you want them to keep coming back, they have to think that they will find something wonderful and relevant to them when they visit.”
Deeba Rajpal, the author of Passionate About Baking, says: “Once you’ve established your niche, find ways to improve the content. Listen to your readers and build that most important relationship. Read other related sites, blogs, magazines, look at trends, or set a trend. Innovate and post regularly.”
Lori Alper from Groovy Green Livin says: “When I began blogging a well-respected blogger gave me some good advice which has stuck with me: “write from your heart”. When I’m writing I always think about what I like to read or what catches my attention and try to apply that to the piece that I’m working on.”
Jenny McGruther from Nourished Kitchen says: “Make your work meaningful. Before you write about random things in your life, focus on how it might sincerely help and support someone else. Take the time to write well and grow your audience before jumping ahead of yourself to monetization strategies. I research my subjects impeccably and seek to give real, workable solutions for my readers.”
Peef and Lo say: “Don’t accept too many freebies. Taking every sample that someone offers you feels like a great idea. But, you often end up in a situation where your page looks more like an advertisement for products than a great place to go read about food. I don’t love pages that do too many product promotions, as I don’t find that they seem very genuine. It’s actually a bit of a turn-off. We have a pretty strict policy about what types of products we will write about. They have to be a good fit for the site, or we won’t take them.”
For more details see: How To Build Awesome Content That Gets Visits And Shares.
Pictures are a virtue
Like with many other topics, when it comes to food, pictures are a virtue. You want to present your food recipes in such a way that it makes your readers hungry, hungry to share your pictures – and hungry for even more recipes. Make sure you showcase the process and make fun photo series about the making of a certain dish.
Deeba continuous: “Be original and find your niche. Take inspiration yet build your own style, and do add photographs. Nothing holds the reader more captivated. Good pictures must connect to well written prose. Please respect copyright. There is no room in the world for plagiarism.”
Christine Chitnis says: “If you take good pictures, join Flickr, once there, link your pictures back to the post where you posted them, join groups, get your pictures out into the Flickr world. Again, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs. And finally, keep at it….building an audience takes time.”
Deby Wayland says: “I do a little processing on the picture, like sharpen it or brighten the colors. I’ve learned a lot about photography. I love taking pictures. I look back on my early pictures and I can see right away how much better they are now. I still learn all the time. I read other posts and watch tutorials. It takes a lot of time. It takes commitment. But, it’s worth it to share your passion, your art. And, yes, I consider food to be my art. Whatever your passion, go for it.”
Peef and Lo say: “The time spent setting up and photographing the food is as much about timing as anything. We depend almost entirely on natural light, so have to make sure to leave enough daylight time to get a good shot of the finished product. Then it’s all about sitting down, choosing photos and writing the post. It’s quite possibly the part I enjoy most – as it’s the mechanism by which we connect with our readers.”
Get more inspiration here: 18 Resources For Finding Stunning Images For Your Content.
Get into videos
You should also consider getting into the video format. People love watching videos with cooking tips and instructions. People want advice on how to cook better, how to make it easier and how to make cooking more exciting. For example “food hacks” are some of the most widely used searches. Making a video of you cooking, or showing a certain technique is a great way to attract the reader’s attention.
Think how can you create beautiful, interesting and instructional videos from your blog post recipes? Identify different topic areas and moments you think people struggle with and want advice on. Be their resource and answer their questions in your videos and blog posts.
Check here for my complete guide on starting with YouTube videos.
Promote your content
After you have published your recipes and pictures, don’t forget to also spread the word about them. Without you spending some time in marketing it will be difficult to attract at audience so this is an important task of a food blogger. There are many great websites that you can use to promote your food site.
Anne-Marie Nichols says: “Find time to promote content on social media sites like Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook by being active in those communities as a helpful person, not a promoter. If people like you and what you’re saying, they’ll come to your site for more.”
Other than of course heavyweight champions Twitter and Facebook, FoodGawker and TasteSpotting are two of the most famous that are relevant to you. Pinterest is a photo network that is a perfect platform to connect with people interested in your food niche – there are many foodies on Pinterest sharing their content, sharing recipes and pictures of other people and ready to connect to new bloggers.
Debi Wayland says: “When I started blogging I would post and no one would see it. I didn’t really understand what being involved in the community would do for me. Play around on Facebook and get to know other bloggers; they’ll be the ones who help you grow your site the most. Go to link parties. Submit to websites like FoodGawker. Make comments on other people’s sites. Link to others sites. Share.”
Lori Alper says: “Form community. Visit other websites, comment, compliment and be sincere. Add your powerful and important voice to the discussion.”
Christine Chitnis says: “Building my site has been a ton of work. Some sites are overnight hits, with tons of commenters and readers, mine is not one of those. I have built it through hard work, time and effort. I am constantly striving to make it better and more original. Here are a few ways that I have managed to get the word out about my site:
- Link – you should always include your link in your email signature
- Comment – the more you comment on others sites, the better your chance that someone will like your comment and click over to your page. Think of links to your content as breadcrumbs. You want to create a trail of breadcrumbs all across the internet, so that people from all over will find their way to your content.”
For more ideas see: 33 Places To Share, Promote And Distribute Blog Content.
It’s time to tighten your apron
Now, it’s time to tighten your apron, cook something nice and write about it! Michael Natkin says you should be patient: “Those first few months are hard, when you are lucky if you can get your brother-in-law to read and comment. You have to be in it for the long haul, be consistent about posting, and don’t be in a rush to monetize.”
Dori Story from Riches to Rags says: “Blogging is very rewarding, it has taught me that I have a lot more to offer people and has become a therapy. Don’t do it for the money. Start out doing something you are passionate about and love because that passion will come out in your writing. Be patient, it doesn’t happen over night. People want results and money overnight and it doesn’t happen like that. It takes time to build a following, but when you do they will help you and share your content with others.
Giving up too early on your site before it has had a chance to shine is a common mistake. There are going to be hard times, slow times, etc. but you charge through it and keep going.There are so many people who need what we as bloggers have to offer. There are people who need this connection and many friendships have been made.”
And remember, the hardest part about being a food blogger is not about coming up with new things to cook, it’s having patience to take photos before digging in!
Thanks to Milana, Daniela and all the other bloggers for contributing to this post.