“You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
So you’ve always wanted to do it, start your own food blog to share your favorite recipes and eats with the world. That’s great! I wanna give you you all the information I wish I would have had years ago when I started my own.
Let’s be real though, it can seem really daunting and complicated to set everything up with all the tech and steps involved. I’m not even going to argue that it’s not because I think it’s important that you know what to expect. I mean, it’s a guarantee that you’ll face some challenges and probably have a few headaches through the process. On the flip side, I’ve never done anything that I enjoyed quite like creating and sharing on my own platform and I really think it’s worth it all.
Now, there are some basic steps that you have to accomplish to even get your site going before you can focus on reeling in all your new dedicated followers. I’m going to do my best to lay out everything you need to know to get started and we’ll go over the other stuff in a future post. Also, this page isn’t only for food bloggers. The steps and tips we go over are perfectly useful in starting just about any site you want.
Okay, are you ready? Let’s do this!
I first decided to start a food blog when I was 17 and living in a small cabin with my family in South America. I had ample time on my hands and some stir crazy inspiration to create something and connect with people. I was also cooking ALL the time because it was my go-to pass time and I love to make food for people. I had no idea what I was doing but I knew I wanted to do it and that was enough.
Of course, because of that I relied heavily on pages like this explaining what to do and how to start. I’ve always dreamed of the day when I could share my own experience and help others who are just starting out. I truly hope this tutorial is helpful in your journey!
Note: This guide contains affiliate links which allow me to earn a small commission, it helps support this blog and keep the recipes coming. I am only recommending products I am using and actually like. If I stop using a service or product listed here, I will make sure to update this guide accordingly.
1. DOMAIN NAME & HOSTING
Choosing a Hosting Site:
The first thing you have to do to start your website is to decide where you’re going to be hosting it. There are so many options out there but it can be confusing trying to decide what is right for you. I’ll do my best to steer you in the right direction based on what your needs are.
Now, before choosing where you’d like to host your blog it’s important to note the distinction between a self-hosted blog and a free blog. If you’re looking to grow an audience and make money with your blog I highly recommend going with a self-hosted blog. The upfront costs are going to be a little higher but the future flexibility to grow and change are so much better. You’ll most likely be saving money in the long run.
However, if you’re just wanting to start a hobby blog to share with friends and family and have no plans to turn it into a business then a free option might suit you fine. For the purpose of the rest of this post I’m going to assume you’re choosing to go with a self-hosted blog but I’ll list some free options here really quick. (Please note that, while the startup is free, these options will probably still have you running into charges if A: You you want more design options. B: Your audience grows and you need more bandwidth. Or C: You decide to later switch to a self-hosted blog for any reason.)
Bluehost has a great post HERE about the differences between Wix and WordPress if you’d like to read it. I found it really helpful.
Again, I just want to reiterate that as good as “free” sounds it definitely comes with it’s drawbacks. I only recommend going this route if you truly don’t have plans for growth. Takeaway: If you want to make money blogging, choose self-hosted. If you just need a creative outlet, free is a good option.
Wix is a full-service site builder that makes it easy for even the newest of users to quickly set up a website in a variety of different niches. You can have a fully functional and professional site started up in minutes.
If you choose to go with this route you’ll have the option to buy a hosting plan and domain name but you’ll also be able to choose a free site with a wordpress.com extension. As mentioned before, this might still be a good option if you are only interested in small scale blogging for friends and family.
There are many options out there for starting a self-hosted blog but my top recommendations are Siteground or Bluehost. Both are recommended by WordPress for their awesome customer support and reliability. If you aren’t familiar with what web hosting is exactly, think of it like your online rent for your little home on the internet. If you’re just starting out the costs are really low and you can even get your domain name free for the first year with bluehost.
Alright, you’ve got to come up with the name. If you’ve got a clear goal in mind this might be the easiest part, but if you’re not quite sure of your direction I’d recommend giving it some thought. I’ve learned from my own experience with past blog names that it’s best to pick something versatile to your niche. In fact, it’s been very recently that I went through changing my own blog’s name . It really is a difficult process that I wish I could have avoided.
Even if you have a very specific goal in mind for your content you never know when things might change and you’d like to go a new direction. For example, say you go with a name that’s very specific to chocolate desserts. Well, if in the future you’d like to try blogging about savory recipes or even something totally different like fashion it might be hard to fit that into what your readers are expecting.
Some key things to think about when choosing a name:
1. Keep it as simple as possible (and easy to spell).
2. Make it relevant to your topic.
3. Try to make it easy to remember. (You can do this by choosing a witty name or simply making it a variation of your own name.)
You can buy your domain straight from your hosting company or buy it from a site like GoDaddy.com and move it over. If you buy your domain through Go Daddy, then you will need to connect your domain to your hosting account. Go Daddy has a full support page for Setting nameservers for your domain names.
2. CHOOSING A PLATFORM & A THEME
Now, assuming that you’ve chosen to go with a self-hosted blog, you’ll need to install a blogging platform like wordpress. It’s really easy if you’re using Siteground or Bluehost because they’ll be able to auto-install it right after you get started. If you’re feeling a little confused about the difference between hosting and a blogging platform right now, that’s totally okay because I was too when I first started. Think of it like this, if hosting is your business rent then your blog platform is like your office and the tools you’ll need to work with everyday.
I’m going to highly recommend WordPress here. They really are the golden standard of blogging platforms. Over 35% of the internet is built on WordPress believe it or not. Now here’s another distinction. WordPress.org and WordPress.com are very different even though the names look so similar. Both are free and open to use but WordPress.org is what you’ll be installing to your self-hosted site. It will give you the freedom and flexibility that every blogger should have. While WordPress.com, liked mentioned above, is a shared hosting site that allows users to create blogs but your options will be very limited.
Once you’re all ready to go with setting up hosting, choosing your theme, and getting things going you’ll want to add some plugins. These will be the things that add personality and make your blog unique. Other plugins allow you to protect your site or easily make small changes to your site without coding knowledge.
This has been one of the greatest tools for adding design flexibility to my website. I remember starting my blog years ago and wishing there was an easier way to create the look I wanted when I didn’t have any of the skills. Well, Elementor is that answer. In fact, I’m currently using it to design this page. It’s the perfect bridge between having no web design skills and having a proffesional looking site.
This plugin protects your blog from possible security attacks, malware, and automatically backup all your data every day. So if anything ever happens to your stored file backups you can always restore them from Jetpack.
WP Recipe Maker:
For creating all your recipe templates inside your posts you definitely need a recipe plugin. There are quite a few but I’m currently using and loving WP Recipe Maker.
If you spend any amount of time looking for blog advice I’m sure you’ll come across people talking about email lists. It’s the best way to help stay in touch with all your readers and keep them coming back for more. MailChimp makes email lists so much easier and gives you a ton of options for your email campaigns.
This is my most used tool for blogging. I use Lightroom everyday and it makes all the difference in the world for making good photos look incredible. I honestly can’t recommend it enough. There are lots of free photo editors out there but none compare to Adobe Lightroom in my opinion. It also allows you to organize and sort your photos which is so helpful when you take tons of photos every month like I do.
Premiere Pro is definitely not as essential as Lightroom but if you’re planning to do any type of video content I think it’s one of the best options out there. I personally haven’t messed around with video much but every video I’ve made has been using Premiere. It allows you to create professional looking videos very easily. There is definitely a learning curve to all the Adobe products but you can find some really great video tutorials that will help make things way easier.
So recipes. Obviously if a food blog is your goal this is gonna be a little bit important, lol. By this step you’ve set up your site, installed a recipe plugin, and now it’s time to share all your delicious creations so that others can enjoy them.
My typical routine from start to finish is something like this:
Get inspiration! I draw my ideas from all over the place. From real life food experiences, online bloggers, seasons, cultures, social media, and food sharing sites.
Test, Test, Test. Once you’re ready to go with an idea, you’ll want to make sure that try them plenty of times so you can test and tweak until you get the final results that’s ready to tell the world about.
Plate it up. In the next step we talk about props and photography but, first things first, you need to have a little practice in plating up your different meals to look beautiful. Something I always do before plating and styling is to think about what ingredients are in the dish. That’s what we’re going to be highlighting. Grab a few handfuls of herbs to garnish and sprinkle on top, add a lemon wedge, or put a little sprinkle of colorful berries on top. If you’re not sure what your style is, don’t worry. As you practice and grow you’ll find your own style that looks best to you.
Picture time. I love this part so much. Taking food photos, most likely, is going to be your biggest area of practice. This is a subject for a whole other post because there are so many tips I could give. For now, just focus on learning your camera, discovering your style, and getting familiar with editing your photos.
Write it up. Last but not least you’ll need to write your recipes and posts to go along with them. I know that some bloggers prefer to keep their posts very short and concise, while others like to write about their whole lives. The sky is the limit here so it’s up to you.