We started Edinburgers over 5 years ago now. Amazingly we haven’t put on too much weight in that time despite endless visits to eateries in and around the city. However we have learnt a lot about blogging and decided now would be a good time to start to share some of that knowledge with those who are just getting started. The first of these knowledge share posts is aimed at those of you who are wondering how to start your own food blog.
Starting a food blog to make money
Can you make money with a food blog? You can and many do however there are a few caveats.
I know a lot of people want to start a blog as they have a passion for a particular niche (food in this case hopefully!) and an interest in writing. They want to explore their chosen topic further and spend their time writing, sharing and connecting with others in that space. This is the perfect reason for making the decision to start blogging.
Some people are more interested in just making money and think that starting a blog might be an easy way to do this. Now, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get paid, everyone does right? However if you think you are just going to set up a blog and start making money overnight then you are going to be very disappointed. You certainly can make money from a food blog, however it is hard work and takes a lot of commitment, time and effort.
Ideally you will be looking to start your blog as you have a passion for food. At some point down the line if you decide you want to monetise your blog and try to make money from it then that’s great! However if you start out with your only motivation being to make money then food blogging, or any type of blogging, probably isn’t for you.
How to start a food blog for free?
There’s a couple of options when setting up a food blog and that is whether you go down the completely free route or the paid route. There are a number of free blogging platforms with WordPress.com (not to be confused with WordPress.org which we will talk about later) and Wix.com being two of the most popular.
So if you really don’t want to have any cost associated with getting started then there are still options available to you.
Set aside a small initial outlay for the best chance of success
This is obviously your decision to make however I would strongly suggest that you avoid using any of these free platforms and instead go down the route of setting up your own, completely independent blog. There are a couple of reasons for this;
It’s more professional: Having your own domain means you are not at the mercy of any company who might decide at any point to pull the plug. It also means you can install your own custom theme and decide on exactly what software you want to use.
There’s no limitations: If you go down the free route most of the platforms only provide basic services for their free account. Most people will find as soon as their blog starts to grow, if not right away, that the free service isn’t really suitable. For example WordPress.com or Wix will show their own branding on your site if using the free account. You will not be able to run ads on your site. You are also limited to what themes and plugins you can use to customise your site.
In my opinion for the small initial outlay and ongoing cost if you are serious about giving blogging a go then really the only option is to go down the paid self hosted route. It also means that you will be much better positioned to monetise your blog in the future if you decide to do so. If you are wondering how much we are talking about here it can be as little as £10 or less up front and no more than £6 monthly for hosting.
Starting a Food Blog: A Step by Step Guide
Step 1: Choose a blog name
Right this is the fun part. It also might be fairly challenging depending on a number of factors, for example if the sector you are going to be blogging about is already fairly saturated a lot of good domains might be taken. Grab a coffee and get your thinking cap on.
Don’t just pick any name obviously but also don’t agonise over it. You want to pick something that is related in some way to your location if the blog has a local focus like ours.
Or if it’s not location specific you could choose something food related in some way or maybe even use your name if you plan to be the public face of the blog.
Part of the consideration of naming your blog may also come down to whether or not the particular domain name you want is available or not. You can play around searching for your ideal domain and see what is available and what’s not using the tool below:
Regarding which TLD to choose (.com , .co.uk , .net etc.) it doesn’t really matter so much these days. We’re obviously UK based and personally .co.uk is my preferred choice. However there’s no reason not to use a .com if that’s your preference. There’s also a ton of TLDs available these days that are specific to various sectors like .photography , .cafe , .football etc. I believe .food domains are pending release at the moment and may be available soon.
Step 2: Purchase your domain
There’s a ton of domain name sellers and you can shop around to find the cheapest if you prefer. However for easiness I would recommend buying the domain from the provider you are planning to use for web hosting. This just makes the whole process easier and you dont have to think about anything technical like changing nameservers.
Personally we use 20i.com for our hosting and this is who Edinburgers is hosted with. An alternative provider who I’ve also had positive experience with is Bluehost.com. Both are a strong choice and both offer dedicated WordPress hosting. Blue Host are currently cheapest and they will throw in a free domain!
Step 3: Pick a reliable hosting provider
Not all hosting providers are created equally! I speak as someone who has been involved in the online space for over 20 years, worked in it for over 10 years and has purchased more domains and hosted more sites than I care to remember. Trust me when I say it’s important you get this part right and could help you avoid a number of headaches down the line.
I’m not going to get into slagging off companies I’ve not had good experiences with and I would encourage you to go and do your own research. Just keep in mind that cost isn’t the main consideration here. You want a reliable host to ensure that your site is live 99.9% of the time and that you can get good support from your hosting company when you have any technical issues you need help with.
As mentioned previously I would highly recommend 20i.com or Bluehost.com. No this isn’t a hard sell and as mentioned previously feel free to go ahead and do your own research but having had experience with a number of providers I can highly recommend both. Prices start from just £4.99 per month with 20i and £3.19 per month with Blue Host (due to a current offer) if you sign up to an initial 36 month term. Which also includes a 30 day money back guarantee. Both offer free SSL certificates and dedicated WordPress hosting and Blue Host will even chuck in a free domain.
However the customer support is where they really stand out for me. Response times from support tickets are lightning fast regardless of time of day. They are also super friendly and very knowledgeable. I consider the support level important, even as someone with reasonable technical experience, so if you are a novice and this is going to be the first site you have set up then it could make the difference between success and failure.
Step 4: Install WordPress
If you have gone with one of the hosts recommended above then this part is easy! As both have built in one click WordPress installs. It’s literally a case of clicking on the install WordPress option and they will take care of it for you. Both hosts have how to articles and fast support available if you have any issues.
Step 5: Set up email mailboxes
Regardless of which host you have gone with this is a straightforward process. You can choose whichever email addresses you prefer but I would recommend one for email@example.com and a contact / hello or something similar to handle enquiries that come through the website if you want to keep those separate.
Step 6: Decide on a WordPress theme
When it comes to choosing a WordPress theme you can either go with one of the thousands of free templates available. Which you can browse through and preview once you have installed WordPress. Or you can go down the route of a paid for premium theme.
Again it’s entirely up to you which route you go down but a few main differences are:
If you pay for a premium theme then you are also likely to have some form of bundled support where if you are having problems with something you can get help from the theme creators.
Paid themes will also likely include future updates which evolve as WordPress does to ensure everything carries on working smoothly.
Sometimes you get what you pay for. That’s not to say there are no good free themes as there definitely is. However generally speaking a paid for premium theme is going to look and perform better than a free version.
Themeforest is a great site for paid theme’s – some are great and some are not so good so make sure to pay attention to the reviews and check out the live previews. Theme’s start from as little as around £10.
Studiopress is another excellent option for premium themes – the selection is much more limited but the sites are solid, nicely designed and focused on function and speed. Keep in mind that the more complicated your theme is the more likely you will run into problems or experiences issues with site load speeds.
Having said that one of the key aspects to food blogging or of course any form of blogging is just to get started. Content is the key here so try not to get too bogged down in picking the perfect theme and spending a fortune to do so.
The content is what’s going to make your blog a success so focus on that first and you can worry about how to make your site look perfect further down the line. You can always change your theme later without losing any of your content so it’s not a decision you are going to be stuck with.
Step 7: Eat! Oh and also Start Writing!
If your food blog is going to be focused mainly on munching your way around the various eateries in your city or local area then just get out there, enjoy what’s on offer, take a few snaps and start sharing your thoughts. You don’t have to be an expert to be a food blogger, you just have to enjoy food and be honest. You will find that a lot of people just want the opinion of a regular Joe Bloggs (no pun intended), someone they can relate to. So don’t be shy – write your content, publish it on your blog and start making connections on social media to start growing an audience.
Similarly if you are going down the route of a home food blog where you are sharing your recipes, successes and failures in the kitchen then just start doing it. Take your pictures, write the content and start publishing. Try and not worry about how good your photos or content is at the start and just enjoy it. The rest will come with experience.
One final tip here is to not judge yourself based on other bloggers! They have likely been doing this for a long time. For some it may be their full time job so they have much more time to put into it. Remember everyone has to start somewhere so the sooner you stop worrying about it and just do it the quicker you will get to where you want to be.
This post is the first in what is planned to be a series of food blog tips and advice based on our experiences over the years which we will be publishing over the next few months. Hopefully for anyone thinking about starting a food blog you have found this useful. If so we would be delighted to hear from you. Similarly if you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments below or get in touch and we will do our best to help out.