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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!
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.
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.
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. For those just starting out that don’t want to spend a lot of money, Bluehost is very inexpensive, typically less than $4 a month.
After about a year, I had to upgrade from Bluehost to Cloudways due to the growth of my blog. The tutorial below is for Bluehost for those starting out.
Bluehost is going to give you a few options. They will recommend the prime, but when starting out you really just need the basic plan. You can upgrade later if necessary.
Choose a domain name
When you sign up with hosting from Bluehost, you get a free 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.
Next, fill out the package info. If you went with the basic plan, choose that under Account Plan. As for the extras, I recommend the Domain Privacy Protection, but that’s it.
Then enter your account and payment info.
Congratulations! You now have a domain and hosting. Now let’s get started with the fun stuff!
How to Choose the Best 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
Once you’re all registered with Bluehost, it’s time to download WordPress. Log into Bluehost and go to your cpanel and click on Install WordPress.
Once you click install, name your site (I use my blog name), choose your user name and password, and select automatically create new database.
Once you click install, you will need to select your domain and click check domain.
Once WordPress is installed, make sure you go up into the right corner and click on View Credentials. It is important to write down all your log in info so you don’t forget it later on. I failed to do this and it caused me a bit of grief.
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?
Now, if you chose to go with Bluehost above, your account will be in a temporary status for up to 24 hours. You will not be able to switch to HTTPs until after that.
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 chang
- 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 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 Warfare – A good social sharing plugin is also highly recommended. Social Warfare has a free version and a paid version. The free version will work fine, but I highly recommend the paid version. Social Warfare gives you the ability set a certain photo for Pinterest, along with a description so you can control what people are pinning from your site. In addition, the share buttons are very customizable for your site, and the options for share buttons are seemingly endless.
- Google Analytics – you will want to download the Google analytics plugin (free) so you can see the analytics right on your dashboard. While not required, this can be very helpful.
- 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!
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 (I mean, I’m in a restaurant in mine…), but should be a photo that expresses some of your personality.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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:
– Daily Dish Pro Theme: $99.95
– Cook’d Pro Theme: $129.95
– Brunch Pro Theme (from makers of Foodie Pro): $129.95
– Daily Dish Pro Theme: $99.95
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, Gourmet Ads, Mediavine, 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.
Now get working on that blog guys!
**Stay tuned for my next post with additional details on How to make Money Blogging. Also, if you want more blogging tips, sign up HERE for email updates. I am in the process of writing up tips for a great Pinterest strategy, SEO basics, the best rates plugins, among many more. Don’t miss out, sign up for updates HERE! Plus, if you sign up, you’ll get a free copy of my cookbook, World Flavors.
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***
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