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. Here’s how to get started.
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.
How to launch your food blog
Starting a food blog is actually a pretty simple process. You should use WordPress, the most popular content platform, to run your site.
WordPress is open-source and it powers more than 75 million websites. I love it and run all my projects on it. It allows you the complete control over the look and feel, features and other aspects of your food site.
Anne-Marie Nichols from This Mama Cooks! On a Diet says: “My biggest mistake was not switching over to a self-hosted WordPress 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 blog 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 content and a server space is where your images and other files are hosted.
I recommend Bluehost for a host of your site.
They offer a free domain name, 24/7 live support and WordPress recommends them.
More than 2 million WordPress sites are hosted there. And you can get hosted at $2.95 per month.
It takes some five minutes for you to get your food site up and running. No tech know-how or prior experience needed!
Disclosure: I do earn a commission if you sign-up using my link at no additional cost to you. Please know that I only recommend products that I find helpful and useful. If you do choose to buy through my link, thank you for your support!
How to choose your concept and 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 content, 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 blog 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 website 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 content and then put everything into making it happen. Content 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.
Time to start cooking and typing
Producing successful content 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 blog that you wouldn’t read yourself. You need to be willing to look at your content 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 blog 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 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 influencer 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 blog, 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 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 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 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 content.
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 blog 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 blogs. Link to other blogs. 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 blog 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 blog:
- Link – you should always include your link in your email signature
- Comment – the more you comment on other blogs, 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 Content.
How to use Pinterest to get your content spread
Pinterest is a social network that lets you create inspirational sets by pinning images from around the web.
People are visual beings. It is no news that we love looking at and drawing inspiration from beautiful images, which is exactly why creating your own universe of images on Pinterest can spark an interest and send more visitors your way.
Pinterest is a lot better than Facebook for food content, as Pinterest is a more natural place to post photos and create sets consisting of recipes.
So how do you go about getting visitors with the help of Pinterest? Take a look at the steps below in order to build and grow your own Pinterest profile.
1. Make your content visually appealing
You must make your content visually appealing first. You won’t stand much chance of getting attention on Pinterest without using great imagery in your content.
You need to revamp your content in order to integrate larger images and more images into them. Make sure to pin images that aren’t small thumbnail-like size. No one likes super small images.
Focus on very large images such as horizontal infographics and other stunning imagery.
Use beautiful images in your posts to get the attention and make people ‘repin’. The more repins you get, the more opportunity you’ll have for people to click on the your link.
2. Create a Pinterest business account
Start by creating a business account or converting your existing account into a business account. Add a description to your account and connect your site to it with the validation code.
3. Create different boards for different content themes and categories
Create different boards for different categories. Build up some attractive boards first and fill them with really inspiring photos.
These boards will act as your portfolio and have to explain a lot about who you are so make sure you create them according to the topics you cover on your site.
When creating boards, always keep a specific topic and purpose in mind. That way, you provide personalized inspiration to others, increasing the chance of getting ‘repins’ and new followers.
It also helps you get discovered through Pinterest or even Google search.
Pinning some really pretty photos to these boards is key in getting attention. You can do that from the search system alone, from the different sections and trending lists or by finding them on other sites and Google.
Add a lot of your own photos to your boards from your site. Don’t upload them directly from your computer, but upload them from your URL. That way the image has its original source connected to it.
You can also put descriptions and an URL in the text area underneath the images. Include hashtags in the description of the pins so they can be found when searched.
4. Be active
Don’t just pin your own images. Create beautiful, interesting and valuable sets by using images from all sorts of websites that you find interesting and useful to yourself and your own audience.
Pin regularly, be active on the platform and make it a part of your daily routine.
5. Follow relevant Pinterest users
Search for pins under subjects that are of interest to you. Follow Pinterest users who have pinned these and have quality pins on their boards. Follow tastemakers and influentials who follow you.
You’ll automatically ‘Follow All’ boards of this specific user, but you can unfollow the boards that are not of interest to you. Similar to other networks, everyone you follow will get a notification and may take a look at your profile and follow you back too.
6. Engage with the relevant users and content
“Like” or ‘’repin’’ items that you find interesting and that you think your followers will value. This action will show up on the sidebar of the user whose pin you’ve liked or repined.
It will also send an email notification to the user, permitting he or she hasn’t turned it off.
‘Pin/Repin’ rather than ‘like’. There is a difference between the two. When you ‘pin’ or ‘repin’ something it will be shown on the front page of the people who follow you. ‘Like’ will not.
You will be used to this from actions such as retweet and favorite on Twitter.
Use the comment section to spike a conversation. Ask a question. Make people think and respond.
7. Share on other social platforms too
8. Learn from the Pinterest analytics
You can check out who has pinned images from your content and other data by using Pinterest Analytics. Figure out what works best and do more of that. Ignore the activities, boards and imagery that doesn’t bring you many results.
9. Include a “Pin It” button on your posts
Make it easier for your readers to share your images by adding a WordPress plugin that lets you attach a ‘Pin It’ button to the bottom of each post. Write your own description and choose a photo that will automatically appear when people click the “pin it” button.
You should also enable Rich Pins by using a plugin like ABG Rich Pins in order to add extra details and information to your pins to make them more useful. This could get more views to your pins and even more clicks to your website.
For your personal pinning, I recommend downloading a ‘Pin it’ widget to your browser that lets you pin from around the web easily and in no time directly from your browser. Saves time so you don’t need to manually go to Pinterest every time you want to pin something.
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!