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A step-by-step tutorial showing how to start a food blog and make money. Learn how to sign up for hosting, download WordPress, choose a theme and what plugins you need to get started. Also, how to start creating awesome content that your readers want to see!
Originally posted in Sept 2018.
Starting a food blog is not hard. It’s actually pretty easy and takes a minimal amount of time and money to get set up.
Now the actual blogging part? Not quite as easy. It takes quite a bit of work. I’m not going to sit here and tell you blogging is easy.
There are a lot of articles out there telling you to start a blog and the money will start rolling in. Well it’s not quite like that. Don’t get me wrong, blogging CAN be lucrative with an incredible amount of hard work and a touch of luck. There are food bloggers out there that make up to $1 million/year blogging!
But it’s not a get rich quick scheme. You have to work for your money.
That said, I absolutely love blogging. I started this blog to make a side income, but also because I love food and love to share that with other people. It brings me such joy when I can help someone create an amazing dish.
So the hard work is worth it.
How to Start a Food Blog and Make Money
1. First, you need to decide what to blog about. This is where you choose your niche (i.e. what your focus will be). I know there are some bloggers that only create vegan recipes, soup recipes, recipes with under 10 ingredients, etc. Choose your own niche. Went Here 8 This is focused on creating internationally inspired recipes that can be easily made by the every day cook (I am constantly working to refine this).
2. Once you know what you’re going to blog about, choose a name. But seriously, don’t obsess about the name. That’s not going to be what drives people to or away from your blog. And as long as it generally reflects what you’re writing about, you’re fine. Like, don’t choose the name www.ilovepuppies.com for a food blog…. NOTE: try to choose a domain with a .com.
3. Once you do these things, you will need to set up hosting, download WordPress, choose a theme and choose/download your plugins.
How to Set up Hosting
Once you’ve decided on your name, you need to set up hosting. In order to get your blog online, you need it on a server. That’s where hosting comes in.
I highly recommend using Cloudways for hosting. A lot of “start a blog” tutorials out there will tell you to start with Bluehost because it’s cheap, but if you are looking to start a blog as a business, I don’t recommend them.
Cloudways has multiple different plans. For those starting out, I would recommend the Vultr plan. It should cover all your needs for around $10-$15 a month.
When you sign up, you will start a chat with the customer service and they will help you get set up.
Choose a domain name
I always recommend trying to go with a .com domain as it appears more legit. You can use anything you want (that’s not already taken). I use my blog name (wenthere8this.com) as my domain name.
How to Choose the Best Blogging Platform
Once you have your domain name and your hosting set up, you’ll need to choose a blogging platform.
I highly recommend using WordPress.org. Be careful not to choose wordpress.com (I know, it’s very confusing). WordPress.org is a self hosted platform which provides you with more flexibility, especially if you are planning to monetizing your blog. Yes it costs a little more, but it’s totally worth it in the long run. There are other options, but I am only going to recommend WordPress.org here. If you plan to start a food blog to make money, you really should be using WordPress.org.
How to Download WordPress
On the Cloudways panel, click on the applications tab. You will want to click add a new application. Here you can name your application – I use my blog name, but you can actually use anything you want. Under the “select application” select the latest version of WordPress.
Now you need to attach this blog to the domain you selected above. Click on the www to the right and select the application you just created.
Head over to this post on Cloudways for specific instructions on attaching your domain.
Once you have attached your domain, under application management, click on the Access Detail. This is where you will get your login information for your site. click on the eye next to the password to see it. Make sure to write this information down!
How Do You Login to your WordPress Site?
To log into WordPress, go to yourdomain.com/wp-admin. Remember, WordPress is where you manage your blog, posts, pages, photos, etc. This is where you will spend a lot of time. Get to know it well.
How do you get an SSL Certificate?
It is important that your blog has an SSL certification. Follow these instructions to get the certificate on your site. Please don’t skip this step.
Why Do We Need SSL?
The “s” after on the HTTPs mean the site is secure. When a site is encrypted with an SSL certificate, it keeps information (like credit card numbers, user names, passwords, etc.) transferred between computers secure.
If your site is not secure, you will get less visitors for a couple reasons. First, people will not want to visit a website that is not secure. I mean, would you want your data compromised? Second, you will be less favorable in Google’s eyes. And guys, Google is king. You want to rank as high with Google as you can so you can get your content seen by viewers.
So in short, GET HTTPS as soon as you can.
At this point, your blog is not yet live. I always recommend using a paid theme as you will regret using the free theme in the long run. HOWEVER, at this point just select the free one that comes standard while you work on getting some content ready. You can change it before your content goes live if you’d like.
- Get familiar with your WordPress dashboard and gain an understanding of how it works.
- Write your About Me page
- Start writing great content
Unless you are very familiar with HTML and coding, plugins are going to be your best friend. But you do need to be careful, because plugins can also bog down your site, making it slower to load. Always consider the benefit vs. the cost of using a plugin vs. making simple coding changes.
The below plugins are the basic ones you need to get going on your blog. Most of these won’t bog down your site too much (these are all plugins I use (or have used) and love – some of the below include affiliate links):
- Yoast – this plugin will help you get started in optimizing your posts for SEO. You can read this guide to help you get started in using it. However, there is a lot more to SEO than just using this plugin. Check out this podcast for some amazing tips to get you started.
- WP Recipe Maker – you absolutely need a recipe plugin that has JSON-LD structured data. This plugin is fully optimized for SEO, and the support is awesome.
- Social Pug – A good social sharing plugin is also highly recommended.
- Imagify – as a food blogger, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you optimize your photos for your site to reduce site speed issues. Imagify provides image compression without the loss of quality. You can try a free trial and then it’s only $4.99/month for 10,000 images.
- WP Rocket – This is a caching plugin that will help speed up your site. It is a premium plugin, but totally worth it. I just got it a few months ago and have definitely seen an increase in my site speed!
- Simple Social Icons – this plugin gives you the opportunity to add social media buttons to your blog so readers can visit your social media platforms. This is a free plugin.
- Vaultpress – This is a backup plugin. If there is something you don’t want it is your site to crash with no backup. While many hosts provide a backup service, it is not always reliable. I highly recommend using Vaultpress. It is incredibly easy to use, and provides daily (or more if desired) backups and security scans. This part might be boring, but it’s totally necessary!
Check out the Top 10 Essential WordPress Plugins for Blogs.
How to Write a Perfect About Me Page
When new visitors come to your website, you want to tell them what you’re all about. This is where you get a chance to show how awesome you are and why they should keep coming back to your blog.
First, you want a good photo of yourself. It doesn’t need to be professional photo, but should be a photo that expresses some of your personality while looking somewhat professional at the same time.
Your about me page should really show your reader what value you can offer them. What is your blog about? Why will they love it? What makes you credible on the topic? This is extremely important. You need to show your readers why they should trust you. Prove it.
These are all questions you should be answering in your About Me page. I recommend going out to some of your favorite bloggers sites and reading their pages to get an idea of the kind of info to include.
Check out my About Me page.
How to Create Awesome Content
Now this is what blogging is all about. Content is king. If you don’t have good content, you will not get readers. Period.
If there is one thing to focus on when you’re starting out, it’s creating awesome content. Awesome content should contain all of the following elements:
– Figure out who your audience is. What do they need? What type of information will be valuable to them? Write about this.
– Use Google Trends to determine what is popular right now. What are people looking for?
– Do keyword research. This is a whole article in itself. For more information on keyword research, check out this post by Nagi at Food Bloggers Central.
– For recipe posts, include 2-3 photos of the dish, as well as process shots, and make sure you are using a recipe plugin. I highly recommend using either WP Recipe Maker or Tasty Recipes.
This is definitely not an all-inclusive list of what makes good content, but it will get you started. The key takeaway is to asses whether the content you are creating is what users want to see.
Important NOTE: You will get better at this over time. Some of my first recipe posts were horrendous. And that’s ok. Just get started.
How to Change a WordPress Theme
Once you feel comfortable with the WordPress dashboard and have started creating some content, it’s time to finalize you blog theme. There are some great theme options out there. I use the Foodie Pro Theme from Genesis personally, as it is incredibly easy to use, beautiful, and requires very little, if any, customizing. Here are some other great themes:
All the themes above are StudioPress Themes, which are very popular and well rated. Some other popular themes are:
– Soledad: $59.00
– Meridian Recipes: $64
Personally, I recommend using one of the Studiopress themes. The genesis framework for these themes is SEO optimized for the best search results in Google. They are worth the higher price tag in my opinion.
To change your theme first follow the download instructions of the theme you purchased/selected. On your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance then choose themes. On the upper left corner you have the option to add new. Select this if you purchased a theme and need to upload it to WordPress. This will also give you the option of choosing a free theme if you choose to go that route.
Once you’ve got your theme in place and uploaded, make sure it is selected in your dash board.
Now that you’ve got your theme, your About Me page, and some content, you are ready to go live!!
How to Make Money Blogging
And now the question on everyone’s mind….when will I start making money? Like I said earlier, you’re not going to set up your blog, start posting, and have money start rolling in. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
That said, there are several ways you can make money blogging:
- Display advertising (Google Adsense, Mediavine, Adthrive, etc.);
- Affiliate Marketing (Amazon affiliates, etc.);
- Sponsored posts
- Publishing e-books, cookbooks, etc.
But first? Get that content written – you need readers before you need to worry about the above. I recommend waiting until you are somewhat established before adding ads to your site.
Check out my income reports here for more details on making money blogging.
Food Blogger Pro
I belong to a community called Food Blogger Pro. It is an awesome community, especially for those bloggers just starting out. It has an amazing library of tutorials ranging from food photography to SEO to social media strategies. They do podcasts on a regular basis to discuss current happenings, and there is a huge community of bloggers to connect with and discuss issues in the forums.
If you’re a member, you also you get discounts on services such as Tailwind, Viraltag, Boardbooster, BlogTutor, Coschedule, Erickson Surfaces (beautiful photo backgrounds), Warfare Plugins, as well as free access to Nutrifox (a nutrition plugin).
Food Blogger Pro only opens enrollment a couple times a year, but you can Join the Food Blogger Pro Waiting List!
***If you want to know more about Food Blogger Pro, read more about it in this post***
Did you like this post? Was it informative? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!