If you want to be successful at blogging, make sure you love what you choose to write about, and if you love food, love trying different recipes. Here is a guide for you to learn how to crease a successful food blog.
Having created a successful food blog myself for my wife, I am going to tell you the exact process you need to follow to set up your food blog all by yourself.
Choosing and Buying a Domain Name
You must be aware that you need to buy a domain to set up a blog on, many people turn down their idea of creating a blog just because they have to deal with all the technicalities of buying a domain name and setting up a blog on it.
Use Godaddy.com to register your domain name, there are many more companies but I like GoDaddy.
Recommended Reading: Tips to Choose a Perfect Domain Name for Your Blog.
It’s not that tough to buy a domain name and doesnt cost much either (just $10/year), just decide a name you want to choose as your domain name, if can be your full name or it can be something descriptive, for example, foodmagic, foodmagazine, evergreenrecipes etc. While all these fancy names might not be available now, but you can still try by combining two words to make a unique name for your blog.
Also, make sure you can get the twitter and Facebook username using the same term, it will help you in branding.
For example, twitter.com/foodmagic, facebook.com/foodmagic and so on,
But don’t be sad if you have found a good name for your domain name and it is not available on Twitter or Facebook, you can always use _ or prefix/suffix to your social media profiles.
Buy Hosting and Connect Your Domain Name with it
Now that you have bought a domain name, you have to buy the hosting for your blog.
Hosting, in plain English means, a remote hard disk where all your blog content will get saved and gets browsed by people who visit your site. The companies that offer hosting, maintain these hard disks that are always connected to the internet.
The most recommended hosting is Hostgator, it is the hosting I am using for this blog. There is another awesome company called Bluehost, which is equally popular. Choose any of the above and you will thank me later for the ease of use they bring for users.
Choose the plan that lets you host one domain name, if you plan to expand and create multiple blogs later, you can buy the other plan that lets you host multiple domain names.
When you register for either of them, you will get an email with the information that is required to connect your domain name with the hosting,
Find Nameserver values in your email and put them in your domain by going to GoDaddy, it will take few hours for nameservers to propagate and connect the domain name with hosting.
Setting up the Blog on the Domain
Now that you have bought a domain name, hosting and have connected them with each other, you have to set up the blog on your domain.
We use the WordPress.org script for our blog, which is the most popular platform for blogging, it powers over 40% of the websites on the internet, which is huge.
The above hosting services offer a one click solution to install WordPress on the server so the process is really smooth.
Download the eBook to set up your first blog
If you still don’t get it, I have written an eBook explaining about it, it is for some other blog the process of setting up a blog is almost the same. Download the eBook from above.
Installing Plugins on Your Blog
This is the step where you will realize how awesome WordPress really is, it lets you install plugins that lets you increase the functionality of your blog without doing and coding stuff.
We will be installing few plugins that I am using on my own food blog.
Here is a list of Plugins
Akismet: For preventing your blog from spam comments etc.
Evergreen Post Tweeter: Food Recipes are timeless posts, you can use this plugin to tweet your older posts which will help you get more visitors from Twitter.
Go Codes: This plugin is useful if you plan to monetize the blog using affiliates, this plugin will turn those long urls into sweet one which will be much easier to remember.
Google XML Sitemap: Use this plugin to create Sitemaps, which is very important for your blog to get indexed in Google quickly.
JectPack by WordPress: Jetpack is a plugin that has too many great features like Wp-Stats, Endless Scroll, Short Links etc.
jQuery Pin it Button for Images: This plugin will enable a ‘Pin it’ button on your images, which is a great way for visual content to get shared on Pinterest.
Quick Adsense: This is a great plugin to put ads (not just Adsense Ads) in different areas of your blog, like below post, above post, afters 1st paragraph, after 1st image etc.
SEO Friendly Images: It tags the images with the title of the post, which makes it useful for people to land on your blog when they do image search for a particular term.
W3 Total Cache: Optimize your blog and improve your site speed.
Wp-Optimize: It helps you delete spam comments, post revisions, empty tables in the database. Will be helpful in the long run.
WP Smush.it: You will use High Quality images of your recipes which will be very heavy sized images that will take up a lot of bandwidth of your server and will make your site slow, this plugin will decrease the size of images without decreasing the quality of images.
Rich Schema: It’s a lovely plugin to put rich data into your posts that will reflect in the Google search and make your blog stand out in the search results.
WordPress SEO by Yoast: Being a newbie, your whole focus should be on creating quality content, but the least you can to to help your blog with SEO is install this plugin and do a little bit of on page SEO, like proper title, tags etc.
Designing Your Food Blog
Now, the design part is interesting, you might think it’s beyond your limits, but it’s the power of WordPress themes that let you create nice designs without actually doing any coding stuff at all.
WP-Prosperity is an amazing theme that lets you create any kind of layout you want, I have been recommending this theme to every blogger no matter which niche he is in. I am using it on this blog as well.
Here is a list of amazingly beautiful WordPress themes for a Food blog we have tried and tested and recommend to everyone.
Publishing Recipes on the blog
Use of Categories and Tags
Now that you are all set to post recipes to your blog, let’s understand the use of Categories and Tags to organize yours recipes properly.
Categorize the recipes into parts like Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Healthy Recipes, Fast Food etc. Basically what you can do is create different categories for the type of recipes you will be posting on daily basis.
Use Tags like Drinks, Pasta, Tomato, Salt Free, Sugar Free, 5 Minute Recipes, etc and use them for recipes you put in different categories, like one type of Pasta can be in Lunch and the other can be in dinner, or a recipe from any category can be under the tag of 5 Minute recipes. Same goes for drinks, tomato, salt free etc.
The basic funda is to easily link to similar kind of recipes into one post, or, say, someone asks for salt free of sugar free recipes, you can just give them the link of the tag or mention it in a blog. It has many uses and makes life easy once you have a lot of recipes posted on the blog.
Formatting the Recipe Posts
Decide a format for your recipes and stick with it. This will be easy for regular readers to understand your recipes, proper formats is really important for a blog’s success.
Usually food bloggers post a main photo of their recipes on the top and then they provide preparation time, ingredients etc, there they write the method along with step by step photos followed by the final photos of the recipe.
This is the format we have been using on our food blog since day one and it has been appreciated by all the readers who tell us how easy it is to read and follow the recipes.
So, I suggest you to create your own format and stick with it.
Capturing Photos of Recipes
You may have visited many popular food blogs on the internet, all have one thing in common, excellent photos. You can invest some money in a nice dSLR for that. We are using Olympus EP1 Macro Four Third Camera which produces fairly nice photos, but we are looking to upgrade the camera whenever the budget approves.
The all this comes to a point that you should invest in a good camera only if your budget approves it like ours was under $500 and I really don’t see the point of buying a $1000 camera to slightly increase the quality of pictures, there are other things to worry about. So, if you don’t have a budget to invest even $500 in a camera, that is perfectly okay, use your smartphone, most of them have quality nice cameras these days, mine has a 13 MP.
Always remember, the best camera is the camera you already have, make use of it. Use photo editors like Gimp or Picnik to make them look good, here is a list of free photo editing tools.
Promoting Your Posts on Social Media
Food recipes is a type of visual content which works really well on Social Media, so you should use your primary images to lets users know what exactly you are sharing. Pinterest and Facebook works really well for food blogs because of the same reasons.
Sharing your recipes on all Social Media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus etc is also very important as it lets you showcase your recipes to as many people which will directly influence visitor count. Use services like Buffer, Hootsuite to automate the process of sharing, These tools also let your schedule your posts so that you can reach maximum audience.
Alternatively you can also bookmark the pages of your social media accounts to share your recipes in one click.
Monetizing your Food blog
It is recommended to even think of monetizing your blog after at least three months, I have already written a couple of posts related to monetizing a blog, A food blog has it’s limitation because of the lack of advertisers or at least lesser than any other niche out there. But you will can do pretty well with a food blog.
I talk about giving three months to the blog so that it can gain some momentum and you can put your energy on things that will grow your blog. Three months time you give you a lot of idea about how things work on the internet. This article will give you some idea about what you can do in these three months.
After three months, you can try the advertising model, of the affiliate model, or maybe product selling model in later stage.
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