Few things are as exciting as running a food blog and making passive income. You get to talk about food – undoubtedly one of the most delicious topics in the world – and make a tasty living out of doing what you love.
If it was 2000, a domain name and a bevy of mouthwatering recipes would do to make your food blog successful. But today, the digital space has evolved significantly, with steaming competition – in the food niche and a ton of other types of blogs.
In this guide, I’ll guide you through the process of starting and running your food blog – with minimal technical expertise. Who said you needed an MIT degree to be a food blogger?
Let’s get right into it.
Step 1: Pick Your Food Niche
As limited as it appears, the food niche is an expansive world with an overwhelming spectrum of sub-niches like wine pairings, vegan baking, college student meal prepping, and even Mediterranean dishes.
I wouldn’t expect much success from you if you generically try to hit it all in the food space, producing content about pantries today and wine pairings tomorrow.
Be specific. Surely, you can expand later when you have started gathering reasonable traffic in your concise sub-space.
When picking your niche, it is fundamental to choose a category you have a special affection for. You want to have fun blogging, don’t you?
Certainly, you have to be mindful of the competition in that precise niche. There must be a sizable opportunity for your blog to break into the top of that niche soonest if you diligently apply yourself and consistently produce spectacular content.
After choosing your preferred niche, your next job is picking a name. While this choice tends to vary across individuals, there are some fundamental ground rules like choosing something quick to pronounce and easy to remember.
Some bloggers prefer to give their blogs that touch of personality by adding their names. I wouldn’t frown at this, but I would frown at adding special characters or numbers in your food blog name.
Step 2: Setting Up Your Food Blog
This is where the main work starts. Aside from your domain name, you need two major “technical recipes” to get your food blog cooked and ready to serve your audience. These are reliable web hosting and a befitting blogging platform.
Let us talk about these, shall we?
How to Choose a Web Hosting Service
I have often seen aspiring food bloggers fail because they started this supposedly exciting venture on the wrong note. Yes, they chose the wrong web host.
And by the time the torrent of site crashes, security breaches come pouring in, they do the only thing they could: QUIT!
Oh, I can hear you asking how important the choice of a web host is. Saving you the technical details, your hosting is where your website is stored.
Think of your web host as your kitchen cabinet. It is where all your blog images, files, and all that awesome content are stored.
Can you now imagine how woeful it is to get the choice of a web host wrong? Well, you can thank me for saving you that impending anguish by enlightening you on how to choose the perfect web host for your food blog.
1. Web Hosting Uptime
What is heartbreak? For food bloggers, it is seeing your website crash after spending tons of days developing that amazing cuisine post.
Trust me, few things kill the reputation and reliability of your food blog (in the perspective of your readers) as quickly as a perpetually offline website. Yuck!!!
Well, Google doesn’t like it much either as such food blogs are thrown down the ranking for organic search results. Uptime is, therefore, the measure of the online availability of your website.
Good web hosts are famed for spectacular uptimes. Take Bluehost, for example. They have very high uptimes shooting as far as 99.98%.
2. Hosting Storage
Your food blog content and files are not going to hang in empty air, would they? They need to be stored on a server. Many food bloggers make the error of choosing web hosts that are incompatible with their storage needs.
If your food blog needs sizable storage – as typical of food blogs with heavy traffic density and file sizes – you should go for higher plans. Yes, this could mean more dollars in subscription packages.
3. Web Hosting Load Speed
Sorry, the 21st century is severely malnourished of patience. If you expect your prospective visitors to wait for your food blog to load patiently, you may as well expect the Pope advertising cigarettes: IMPOSSIBLE!
Your visitors like it fast. Yes, they love your mouth watering recipes, but they want to access them FAST. Statistics show that a supposedly forgivable 3-second delay could slash your traffic by 50%. (Source) Sound like a horror movie?
It makes sense to choose a web host with excellent loading speeds. For instance, Bluehost has averaged a loading speed of 641 ms over the past 12 months. This is massively inspiring given how affordable Bluehost web hosting packages are.
4. Traffic Volume / Capacity
If your food blog is just intended for your vegan grandma to come to check out her meal plans, you wouldn’t have to bother about traffic when choosing a web hosting provider.
When the volume of visitors – and consequent site activity – on your food blog exceeds the bandwidth stipulated in your plan, your cherished food blog could crash.
Picking a Blogging Platform (Use WordPress)
Great, I have reasonably assuaged the central considerations you should make when choosing a web host. Let me now tell you about choosing a blogging platform for your food blog.
A blogging platform is no more than the software you leverage in producing and publishing your blogs. Your choice of a blogging platform goes as far as influencing your blog layout and the ultimate design you emerge with.
For me, WordPress is my favorite. WordPress powers an estimated 35% of the websites. Specifically, more than 600 million websites use WordPress. (Source: Ricky Wang)
Such fanaticism with WordPress isn’t really misplaced as the flexibility, wealth of plug-ins, user-friendliness, and being open-source make WordPress almost irresistible.
Many would ask why they should pay for web hosting from providers like Bluehost when there is a deluge of free options. Well, the answer is simple: YOUR SANITY.
If you don’t want to lose your mind over crashing websites. If you don’t want to wake up waking up one beautiful morning and discover that your beloved food blog is forever gone. And if you want to have maximum control (in terms of customization options) over your food blog, it makes sense to spare a few dollars and invest in a hosting provider right from the start.
Step 3: Create Content for Your Food Blog
Now that we’ve covered most of the technical aspects of starting a food blog, it’s time to talk about what you really love: blogging.
Your website is ready to be spruced with the right content, but what exactly is the “right content?”
Some food bloggers like to keep it exclusively to recipes. Still, if you have more extensive plans of monetizing your food blog, you can consider pages like Contact Me, About Me, and even a dedicated page for selling your cookbooks. Let talk about these conventional pages.
As you can readily tell from the name, the About Me is the destination for telling your prospective audience about you, your career, and your family.
The About Me could also be garnished with an epistle of your cooking journey. Make sure to add your social media profiles (as links) so that your bromance with your readers can extend from just your blog to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
This way, your audience have a more encompassing way of keeping in touch with you – and you maintain your relevance.
The Contact Me could be as simple as embedding a facility where your readers can readily message you. A contact form would do.
If you were using a web host like Bluehost, a contact is pre-installed in the form of WPForms, which shouldn’t take your visitor more than 6 minutes to fill up.
You can add more pages to your food blog menu as you deem fit. If you were using WordPress, publishing a blog is super-easy.
Get on your dashboard, click on Add New Post, and you can quickly get your way around adding your text content, images, or videos.
When you are done, you could preview that blog post to have an emphatic feel of how your visitors would see it. You can go back and tweak it if need be for some touches, or you can publish it straight if you are fine with what you see.
Remember that just the deliciousness or brilliance of your recipes will not do. Your blogs need to be rightly formatted to attract readers.
This would involve leveraging high-resolution pictures for your visuals, captivating headlines for the blog titles, and yes, being true to your style.
If you notice, in this article, I am not writing like the bald college professor bores your life out. I am animated, lively, and fun. Choose your style and produce blogs that genuinely reflect your voice.
Step 4: Promote Your Food Blog
Come on, the work is not totally finished yet. Many food bloggers think the work ends at choosing an excellent web host and pumping out spectacular recipes out there on their blog. NO!
A blog doesn’t sell itself – at least not in 2021 anymore when there are an estimated 1.7 billion websites globally. (Source: Ricky Wang)
Don’t be frightened yet; there is still a buoyant possibility of getting a considerable number of eyeballs on your food blog if you do your promotion right.
The good news is that there are many amenities to promote your food blog without mortgaging your house. You can leverage search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, and social media marketing.
1. Explore SEO
SEO is one of the most reliable and sustainable ways of acquiring traffic to your food blogs. The idea here is to increase the search engine visibility of your food blog. This way, your website comes out higher in the search results of your prospective websites.
Say you were blogging about wines, and I type into Google “Best wines for 2021”, good SEO should get your wine blog appearing as high as possible on the results I get from my query.
To achieve this, you have to strategically leverage keyword optimization and link building. Keyword optimization entails building your content around high-value keywords that give you the best chance (with the lowest difficulty from rival food bloggers) of penetrating your desired space’s top search engine results.
In link building, you accumulate a valuable horde of links from authoritative websites related to the food industry linking to your websites.
Search engines’ algorithms are built to perceive such food blogs (with an appreciable packet of incoming links from top websites) as authorities in that niche; hence they show those blogs higher to give their users more value.
2. Maximize Your Social Media Influence
Visually optimized social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest are vital for promoting your food blog. Invest in building a sizable social media community and sharing content from your blog there.
You don’t even need to be an influencer. You’ve just got to know where to start – that’s what this guide is for.
Pinterest is fantastic for sharing recipes, Instagram for powerful photos, and YouTube for your video. Life gets much easier when you tap into the power of software and tools to publish your blog posts on designated social media platforms. There are a ton of social media management tools out there to help you automate and scale the entire process.
I wouldn’t advise you to jump on just any social media platform. Sustainable social media marketing takes effort and time, and you should prioritize depth over width. Invest in solidifying a fantastic audience in 2-4 social media platforms at most.
3. Tap Into Email Marketing
I don’t joke with emails – and millions of others in the world don’t. What if I told you 293.6 billion emails were sent daily in 2019? (Source: Ricky Wang)
Yes, email marketing is yet in vogue – only because it still works remarkably. After picking a reliable email marketing platform, you can build vibrant email newsletter communities that drool for the next email about the recipe you just published.
Make sure your emails are solicited and valuable. If there is anything more annoying than spam in our world, it must be mistakenly wearing torn pants to that cherished first date!
Lastly, there are a couple of ways to monetize your blog. You can go the traditional way of displaying ads (say Google Adsense), selling recipes, or more innovative ways like selling branded swag materials. All in all, food blogging can be pretty lucrative if you get the crucial components like web hosting, content production, and promotion right.