Learning how to start a food blog can seem intimidating for first-time bloggers, but it’s not as difficult as you might think. If you’re thinking about starting a food blog, chances are you already follow some of the most popular food blogs on the web, including such blogs as I am a Food Blog, Smitten Kitchen, Pinch of Yum, and Cookie + Kate.
These are blogs ran by people just like you, an at-home chef who wants to share their recipes with the world and maybe even generate a little income on the side. Top food bloggers have even been able to quit their jobs and transition to full-time blogging.
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We can’t guarantee you’ll get there. That depends on you. But we can help you get your blog online and ready to start pumping out delicious recipes on a beautiful website.
Let’s get started.
How to Start a Food Blog with Bluehost & WordPress
We’re going to learn how to start a blog with Bluehost and WordPress. This is called a “self-hosted WordPress installation,” which differs from blogs built on WordPress.com. Self-hosted WordPress sites are built by downloading WordPress from WordPress.org, but we’ll show you how to do this directly through your web host.
Setting Up Bluehost
Click here to open Bluehost in a new tab, and click the green Get Started Now button:
We recommend grabbing the Basic plan. It’s the most cost-effective plan and is suitable for new and growing blogs:
Come up with a catchy, short and easy-to-remember name for your blog, and enter it as one phrase in the New Domain box. Click Next to see if that domain is available. Move on to the next step if it is. Come up with another name if not.
The first part of creating your account is easy. All you need to do is enter your name and billing address just as you would with any other online purchase:
Next up is the package information. The boxes for Site Backup Pro, Search Engine Jumpstart and SiteLock Security – Find might be ticked by default. Untick them if so, and learn how to back up your site with plugins and services like Duplicator or BackupBuddy and secure your site with plugins and services like Wordfence Security, iThemes Security and Sucuri once your site is set up.
You do, however, want to make sure Domain Privacy Protection is selected. Anyone will be able to learn the billing information you entered in the previous step if you don’t.
Next is your payment information. Enter your credit/debit card information if you want to pay by card. Click More Payment Options if you want to pay with PayPal. Confirm that you’ve read the Terms & Conditions, and submit your order.
Sign into your new Bluehost account. You should land on the Hosting home screen. Scroll down until you find the Website section, and click Install WordPress:
Click Check Domain on the next page:
Wait for the installer to check your domain.
Once that has finished you now have your brand new blog installed! You can click “View Credentials” to see your blog login URL and you will also receive an email with links to your new blog and the admin page link.
Click the link for the Admin URL and you can login with your username and password and begin choosing a theme.
Choosing a Theme
Design and presentation are two key components of the web’s best food blogs, so you should take a little care and consideration into your site’s design.
Make sure you take a look at our post “30+ Best WordPress Food Themes 2016 for Food Blogs & Recipe Websites” where we have collected together lots of suitable themes for food blogs.
We offer a number of different themes here at ThemeFurnace, and our Stacker theme would make a great contender for your new blog:
Stacker is a Pinterest-style theme available here at ThemeFurnace. It’s a stunning, minimalist theme that relies on beautiful imagery, making it an ideal theme for beauty blogs. The homepage uses a masonry grid style that lets you use images of different sizes, giving readers a stunning way of consuming your content.
Blogetti is a premium WordPress blog for food bloggers. The theme is designed with readability and best user experience in mind. We did our best to pack the theme with all necessary features making the life of the blogger easier.
Narcos is a powerful multi-purpose theme by TeslaThemes, and it’s quickly becoming one of the developer’s most popular themes. It’s a theme that can be used for a variety of different purposes. It’s a also great theme for beauty bloggers who intend on using high-quality images.
Vegetexia is a ready-made Food Blog WordPress Theme that can be used to start blogs or recipe websites. Its clean styles draws the users’ eye to your content, without distracting their attention with heavy design elements
Relive is a “storytelling blog theme” by TeslaThemes. It’s built to create an “immersive reading experience,” making it a useful tool for beauty bloggers with vibrant personalities.
Cooking websites are terribly useful as you don’t have to wrack your brain for great recipes. Such resources are considered to be a great visual inspiration to get you in the cooking mood.
Epilog is a stunning blog theme by TeslaThemes. It uses a minimalist, modern, clean-cut style and uses different post formats to give you plenty of different ways to share your knowledge on beauty, makeup and style with the world.
Show off your cooking and recipes with this great quality WordPress food blog theme.
Blogojoy is a simple, minimalist blog theme by TeslaThemes. The design cuts out unnecessary elements so you can use beautiful imagery and your own words to bring your blog to life.
Share your recipes with the world, Tasty Blog is a responsive WordPress Food blogging theme.
Peak is a minimalist blog theme by Themify. It uses a masonry grid on the blog page, creating a stunning way for your readers to check out your latest beauty tips and insights.
Grain & Not
Grain & Knot is fully responsive, feature rich and beautifully designed WordPress theme perfect for every food blog. It is tool for publishing, managing and sharing Your recipes with world.
Zillah is a simple WordPress theme that uses a minimalist design. It gives bloggers a stylish way of sharing their latest posts. Beauty bloggers can use it to display their latest posts in an aesthetically-pleasing way.
Elegant is a simple and elegant theme by Themify. It was built for bloggers that rely on style, and that includes beauty bloggers who use stunning, chic and glamorous imagery.
Infinite is a simple theme by Themify. It was designed for fashion photographers but can also be used by beauty bloggers. Its fashion photography-intended design may give you motivation to up your photography game.
Pico is a clean and elegant WordPress Theme with a focus on your content and was designed with Food/Health/Lifestyle Blogs in mind, but can be used for anyone who wants to have a beautiful blog site.
Installing Your Theme
Once you decide what theme you want, purchase it if need be, and download it. Log into the WordPress admin account of your site, hover over Appearance, and select Themes:
Click the Add New button at the top of the page:
Click the Upload Theme button at the top of the page:
Click Choose File, and select the ZIP folder you downloaded for your theme. Click Install Now:
Click Activate to activate your theme:
Free WordPress Plugins for Food Blogs
There are a number of different food-related plugins you can install for WordPress, and we’re going to go over a few which you can download and install for free.
This is a recipe card plugin. The general WordPress post editor doesn’t allow you to create recipe-optimized posts, so you need another way of doing so. That’s what this plugin as well as the plugins we’ll introduce below allow you to do.
This plugin also handles SEO for you so your recipes stand a chance at appearing in Google’s Recipe View search.
This is another great recipe card plugin. It lets you create beautiful, well-designed recipe cards complete with ingredients, prep time, images, instructions and more. The developers work with ESHA Research to include accurate nutritional information for your recipes so you can keep your readers informed on what they’re eating.
This is a simple recipe card plugin that lets you create recipe post types. You can add an image for the recipe, prep time details, ingredients and step-by-step instructions.
Chicory Recipe Ingredients is a newer recipe card plugin, but it’s got an interesting twist to it. It connects to such food services and retailers as Peapod and Amazon to help you monetize your blog by linking ingredients directly to shopping lists.
WP Ultimate Recipe is a well-designed recipe card plugin that breaks your recipe down into a visually-appealing structure.
Nutrition Facts Label is a great addition to a food blog. It lets you display a nutrition facts label on your recipe page so you can help your readers stay informed on what they’re eating. It’s especially a great option for healthy food blogs.
This plugin helps you step up your social media marketing game by adding a Pinterest Pin It button on top of every image you place on your site. You know that stunning images play a huge role in a food blog’s marketing tactics, and you know you love sharing your latest recipe finds with your friends, family and followers. This plugin lets your followers do the same with a simple click.
Photography Tips for New Food Bloggers
This is the cornerstone of every lifestyle blog, including a food blog. This is the thing that will send readers to your website from your Instagram page, Pinterest post or Facebook post. A well-shot food photo will stop them in their tracks and get to them to think, “I need to know how to make this” while they browse social media.
It all starts with a quality camera, typically a DSLR. Don’t rule out your smartphone if you have a flagship device. The right settings, lighting and photo editing software can bring out the best in your phone’s camera. Some companies have even made special lenses for these phones.
However, if you have the budget for it, you really should consider getting a professional camera. Don’t get hung up on brands. Nikon and Canon are safe bets, so stick with them while you’re learning the ropes.
Here are a few entry level DSLRs.
As for lenses, you’ll do just fine with the 18-55mm lens kit that most of these cameras come with when you buy a version that comes with a lens kit. Pick up a 50mm 1.8 lens that matches the brand of your camera if you can fit it in your budget. This will set you up for a while.
It’s important for you to remember that your camera body isn’t as important as the quality of your lens, so when you feel it’s time to upgrade, focus on adding another lens to your collection rather than buying an entirely new camera.
What the Pros Use:
- Pinch of Yum
- Camera: Canon EOS 6D Camera
- Main Lenses: Canon 50mm 1.4 and Canon 100mm 2.8 L IS
- Other Lenses: Canon 28mm 1.8
- Lighting: Lowel EGO.
- Recommends Canon EOS Rebel SL1 camera with a Canon 50mm 1.8 lens for beginners.
- I am a Food Blog
- Camera: Nikon D810; used to use Nikon D700
- Main Lenses: Nikon 35mm 1.8 and Nikon 20mm 1.8
- Other Lenses: Nikon 50mm 1.8 and Nikon 28mm 2.8
- Lighting: SB500
- Cookie + Kate
- Camera: Nikon D750; used to use Nikon D80 until 2015
- Main Lens: Nikon 50mm 1.8; used to use Nikon 35mm 1.8 with Nikon D80
Keep in mind these cameras use an SD memory card to transfer images between the camera and your computer. You’ll need to buy a USB card reader for $5-$20 if your computer does not have a port for this card.
The most cost-effective form of lighting for photography is natural light. Not direct sunlight but a room that receives plenty of light from a window. Food blogging pros use expensive lighting setups, but if you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty, you can build a few decent DIY lighting setups for next to nothing.
You can also use foam boards from a craft store or your local department store to enhance the lighting of your photos. Use white and black foam boards to manipulate and bounce light to and from your light source in different ways.
Getting the Perfect Shot
Photographers do everything they can to get the perfect shot before they edit images on their computers, and you should, too. Take a few different images for every dish you make so you have a few different shots to pick from.
Try taking photos from different angles, with different lighting, in different locations, with different props, with and without props, and so on and so forth. Pick your favorite later rather than stressing yourself trying to get that one perfect image.
Use Adobe Photoshop and/or Lightroom to edit your images. You can get both of these programs for $9.99/month using Adobe’s Creative Cloud.
Expanding Your Knowledge in Food Photography
Pick up this ebook from Pinch of Yum to really amp up your knowledge in food photography. It contains a full guide on how to create beautiful photos for a food blog.
Instagram is a huge source of traffic for many food bloggers. Start out by getting your profile together with at least 9 posts, and make your profile look as beautiful as possible. Do this before you even start following anyone.
Look to your own personal network for followers at first. This includes friends, family and any friends you’ve already made in the online food community. Hit them up on their own Instagram accounts, or publish a post about it on Facebook.
A popular tactic many use to gain new followers on social media is the courtesy follow. All you need to do is go on a follow frenzy. It’s best to follow other folks who post food pics on Instagram. Stay away from big names with thousands and thousands of followers when using this tactic. They likely won’t follow you back.
The number one way food bloggers gain followers on Instagram is by using hashtags in their posts, such as #foodbaby, #eeeeeats and #foodgawker. Don’t be afraid to rely on your smartphone when it comes to posting food pics regularly on Instagram. Save the professional images for your blog.
Lastly, you can use a service like Iconosquare to analyze your marketing efforts on Instagram.
How to Make Money with a Food Blog
The best way to make money with a blog by creating your own products, such as ebooks and courses, and market them to your audience. The easiest way to make money is through the use of affiliate marketing and advertising.
Do you have a few favorite tools you use in the kitchen, such as a particular mixer or cutlery set? Create a Resources page, and link to them using an Amazon affiliate link. You’ll receive a commission whenever one of your followers makes a purchase using your link.
You can also include affiliate links on specific recipe pages, whether that means adding a list of tools you used to your recipe card or including affiliate links to a Peapod or Amazon grocery list.
Advertisements typically include Google Adsense, but you can also open up ad space on your site for sponsorships from particular brands.
We hope we’ve made the process of learning how to start a food blog a little less daunting for you. Setting up the technical stuff can hold a lot of people back, but once you get a workflow going, you’ll be publishing recipe after recipe in no time.