You’re a committed home cook and want to share your culinary creations with the world. Or maybe you have a food website, café, catering service or bakery — maybe you’ve even written a cookbook. Those are just some of the reasons why you might want to become a food blogger. Blogging can be a creative outlet, an avenue for sharing recipes and tips or a way to attract more patrons to your business. But like making a soufflé from scratch, how to start your own food blog can seem like a daunting task to the uninitiated.
Food blogging is a crowded field, but don’t let that deter you. There’s always room for one more at the table. Starting your own food blog is as easy as following a recipe. Just use these steps.
How to start your own food blog — the recipe
Much like cooking, how to start a food blog is really a matter of following instructions. Here are the basics.
Give your food blog a good name.
Choose a blog platform.
Design your online kitchen.
Write a post.
Promote your post.
1. Give your food blog a good name
First, you’ll need to buy a domain name, which becomes your blog’s web address. Popular food blogger Deb Perelman chose SmittenKitchen.com for her blog domain name. Chef David Lebovitz went the direct route and used his name for his cooking blog. Your blog name should tell readers what your blog is about. In addition to web extensions such as .com, you might consider .cooking, .kitchen or .recipes. You have more blog name options than ever.
Your blog name is like your signature dish: it sets you apart from the crowd.
Get creative and come up with a domain name that’s short, easy for readers to remember and not identical or similar to someone else’s blog name. To make it easy for readers to find you, avoid numbers and hyphens in your domain name.
It might seem like every blog name is already taken, but play around until you come up with one that’s available. Give yourself a day or two to mull it over. Like naming a child, naming your food blog is a commitment. So, choose a name you can live with indefinitely.
Give it a shot now — type the name you want in the box.
2. Choose a blog platform
The next step in how to start your own food blog is choosing a blog platform. There’s TypePad, Blogger, Tumblr and many others. But WordPress is the go-to for many food bloggers because it’s easy to set up and versatile. It has lots of plugins (additional software) you can use to make your blog do more, like add an email signup form or selling functionality.
If you don’t mind handling your own technical updates, you can install a free version of WordPress to an existing hosting plan. Not interested in tech tasks? GoDaddy offers Managed WordPress hosting that takes care of the tech stuff for you and makes getting started easy.
Now just a few more steps (skip both if you’re using Managed WordPress, since these will be done for you):
Pick your web host
If you’re using the free version of WordPress, you’ll need to pay for hosting. Web hosting makes it possible for readers anywhere in the world to see your posts. Your blog will take up space on the web host’s server. It’s like renting an apartment in a building. Without a web host, your blog won’t be visible to others.
Link your domain name to your food blog
The hosting company you choose will show you how to do this. Most have a tutorial on how to connect your domain to your blog. This step is typically fast and easy.
3. Design your online kitchen
Your blog design is the packaging for your content — it’s how your blog will look to the world. If you’re using WordPress, you’ll need to pick a theme — these are templates with different styles and layouts. A simple Google search for “WordPress cooking themes” will bring up thousands of options (some are free, others cost). This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Pick a theme you like, then change out the photos and text to make it yours.
The design is the fun part, but it can also be frustrating because you’ll have lots of decisions to make, such as which colors, fonts and photos to use. Not sure how to start your own food blog without going crazy? Take short-cuts like you might with your recipes. Check out GoDaddy’s Managed WordPress Themes Gallery. Find something you like? Start setting up your blog right away with its easy drag-and-drop page builder.
4. Write a post
Putting your first post out there is exciting because you can communicate directly with your readers. For your first post, just announce your new blog, welcome readers and tell them what your blog will be about. To keep them coming back for more, be sure to answer the all-important question: Why does the world need your blog? What specific purpose will your blog serve?
It’s OK to keep your first post short. For your next posts, write a little more and add a juicy photo or two. Take your own photos or scan the web for food photos. You’ll soon get the hang of it. Write to your readers like they were your friends. Be yourself.
5. Consider keywords
When it comes to learning how to start a food blog, don’t skip the keyword factor! Without keywords, search engines can’t find your posts. Since most people use search engines like Google for everything, it pays to make sure Google “sees” your articles. If search engines can’t find your post, neither will readers.
So before you hit publish, you’ll want to:
- Find a unique keyword/phrase for each post that describes what the post is about
- Add that keyword or phrase to the post title, the first paragraph, one subhead and naturally throughout the rest of the post
You can find keywords with Google’s Keyword Planner (you might need to create an AdWords account, although using the keyword tool is free). The keyword you choose should relate to each post’s topic. It should have a healthy amount of traffic (more than 1,000 monthly visitors), but low competition. Choose a different keyword or key phrase for each post.
In addition to keywords, add meta tags to each post using a plugin such as WordPress SEO by Yoast. Meta tags are snippets of text that describe your blog post’s content. They help ensure that your blog will appear on search engine results pages.
6. Promote your post
Once you publish your first post, you can help more people see it by promoting it on your social media networks. How to start a food blog and build blog traffic is really all about writing posts and promoting them.
Pro tip: Make sure you’re active on the platforms that make sense for your foodie business, and then tailor posts accordingly to fit each individual medium. Professional pictures for Instagram? Maybe insider access with Snapchat? You decide.
The secret sauce
What to write in your food blog can sometimes be as difficult as deciding what to make for dinner, especially if you’ve been at it awhile. How to start your own food blog — and keep it going — is all about publishing delicious, high-quality content frequently.
To break through writer’s block, try these tactics:
Adding the voices of other food bloggers, chefs, restaurant owners or cookbook authors can make your content more interesting. Bonus: The people you interview might promote you on their social networks.
Write around themes
Create round-up posts with links to blog posts that center around a specific theme, such as your favorite kitchen gadgets, restaurants, ingredients, cookbooks, local chefs, food tours, episodes of TV cooking shows, etc. Round-up posts are usually quick to put together. Consider them filler for your blog, like breadcrumbs in meatloaf.
Give your posts a twist
Instead of focusing on the nutritional content of a dish, for example, focus on how to save money making it, or a travel aspect, such as what it’s like to try the dish in a different country while on vacation.
Pro tip: Decide how often you’ll post and try to stick to your schedule. Your readers will start to expect posts from you. If you’re short on time, write a batch of posts in advance and schedule them for future posting on WordPress. Batch writing, like batch cooking, is a big time saver!
Keep it cooking
There are many recipes on how to start your own food blog. But the basic one I’ve outlined here is all you need, especially if food blogging — like trying to master pickling or perfecting pavlova — becomes your passion project. Check out some of the best food blogs here for more ideas.