Wondering how to start a food blog? Some of the oldest, most-established blogs on the internet today are food blogs. They became popular in the very early days of blogging, after all, most of us love our food! And the internet provided the perfect platform to showcase fabulous food and talented chefs. This market continues to take up acres of blogosphere and social media real estate to this day.
Things may have come a long way from Chowhound and eGullet, but food blogging is still going from strength to strength. Fancy getting in on the food blog action? Want to know how to start a food blog? Now’s your chance, so read on as we show you how.
First things first - every blog needs an angle. Now, if you’re part of the small percentage of people who are blogging purely for their personal interest or the benefit of friends and family, skip on down to hosting and domains and don’t worry about your direction, monetization, or promotion.
Most bloggers, however, will have slightly loftier ambitions. Even if your plan is to simply start blogging and “see how it goes”, it will stand you in good stead to do a little planning around your approach before you start committing words to screens.
There are literally hundreds of niches to choose from, as well as a variety of ways of approaching those niches. Straight up food blog niches include general recipe or “cooking” blogs, where a blogger simply cooks and then documents that cooking. There are many blogs like this organized by type of food, like Japanese food blogs, bread baking blogs, or gluten free cooking.
There’s also the “challenge” type blog, where someone tackles a particular goal and documents it via their blog. A good example of this is the classic (but now defunct) Julie/Julia blog, where the author attempted to cook all of Julia Child’s recipes, or 101 Cookbooks, where the author works her way through the recipes in her enviably vast cookbook collection.
Another major food blog niche is the travel/food blog, where (exceedingly lucky) people eat their way around a trip, country, or part of the world. Musings of a Travelling Foodie is a particularly laid-back example of this, while FoodFunTravel is a far more commercial take on the subject.
The latter blog is also a great example of how to take a niche that seems somewhat limited, and expand it significantly. While most people can’t travel all the time, these guys intersperse their travel posts with informational and top lists, which really up their ability to post frequently (and monetize their blog).
Review blogs are becoming increasingly popular whereby different restaurants invite the food blogger to try out their dishes. Foodie influencers have become an important element of any restaurant’s marketing plan. The restaurant gets a backlink for SEO purposes, they reach a new audience and the blogger gets paid or just gets a free meal.
It would be remiss to forget about all the blogs that are about food, but not necessarily recipes. There are blogs that review restaurants, like GrabYourFork, and other, specialized blogs that review kitchen equipment, for example. If you really like to push things to the extreme, there are plenty of blogs out there that combine one or more of these areas for a very specific focus - I don’t personally know a blog that chronicles Japanese bread baking equipment, but I’m sure it’s out there!
You’ll probably have a natural inclination towards one type of food blog over another, and it’s totally understandable that you’d want to concentrate on your particular interest or passion. That said, some food blog niches are particularly crowded with some heavy-hitting blogs - just take baking blogs or vegan food blogs as an example.
If your blog happens to be in one of these highly congested areas, you have two options. Firstly, you can plow ahead and accept that gaining serious traction online will be even more difficult than it might otherwise be. Or secondly, you can refocus, and invest that foodie energy into something different or more specialized.
Now it’s time to sit down and do some serious planning. There are a number of decisions you can take at this early stage and every decision you make now will make things easier down the line.
Firstly, decide what your food blog niche is. Research similar blogs in the area, see how popular they are, what aspects or topics they miss, what they do well, and what they do badly. Also, check out what social media platforms they’re on. Blogs and social media are related, and there might be a gap you can leverage - for example, if you want to blog about cruffins, but there’s a competing cruffin blog, check out to see what social media platforms he or she is dominating. If they’re all over Facebook, but haven’t really gotten the hang of Instagram, it might be the in you’re looking for.
Then, think about the way your blog looks - food blogs are very visual places. Things have come a long way from the days of grainy uploads from a DSLR and people expect a high standard of design and photography from the food blogs they read. Some of the most popular bloggers out there are undeniably graphically gifted. Take SallysBakingAddiction. Right from the homepage, it is slick, professional, and inviting. Sure, the blog probably didn’t start out like that, but these days, most food blogs look great and, unfortunately, that’s the standard you’ll be judged against. Let’s take a look at the most visually important aspects of a food blog.
When a new visitor lands on your blog, it should be easy for them to immediately get a sense of the topic and style and quick to find the different sections of the blog. Many blog platforms have gorgeous food blog themes you can install that will do much of this work for you, but you’ll still need a good eye to keep the theme looking fresh and making sense when you begin to expand and modify your site.
It’s also important that your individual posts are well formatted and illustrated. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, it will be important for the overall “feel” of the blog - if your homepage is stylish and the post is not, it will be jarring and discouraging for your readers. Appropriate formatting and images also help hugely in terms of SEO and, since you’ll be a small fish in a big food blog pond, you can take all the help you can get. Finally, especially if you are publishing recipes, it’s going to be really important to get the formatting right so that people can actually use and interact with what you’ve written.
Finally, there are few food blogs these days that don’t have an associated social media platform. We’ll discuss this in more detail below but, for now, remember that the visual aspect of your blog will be under a microscope on social media. If you don’t have it under control on the blog, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to keep pace on Instagram.
You now have some tough decisions to make. You’ll need to realistically assess your ability to make a good-looking blog, and decide where and how you’re going to improve if you’re lagging behind. Are you already up to scratch, will you learn on the job, or will you get some outside help in the form of a graphic designer or photography lessons?
Now you have some context and definition for your food blog, there are some technical requirements you’ll need to get to grips with. None of it is complicated, but it will require you to make some decisions. Read on…
We discussed naming your blog before and you’ll definitely find the task easier if you’ve done some brainstorming and planning. When you have some final contenders for the blog name, check the following.
Once you’ve decided on a name, you’ll have to look at your local domain providers to see if the name is available as a URL (website address). If it is, you’ll pay the provider a monthly fee to rent that URL. The more desirable the name, the more expensive it is likely to be. Finally, remember that the more you “mess” with your website domain name (alternative spellings, wordplay, domain alternatives to .com), the less likely they are to be successful.
Picking a food blogging platform takes effort but is worth thinking about. Most people find the choice boils down to Wordpress.org VS everything else.
Wordpress has been around for decades and is what many food blogs are based on. The veteran platform has a lot of good things going for it and it’s also highly customizable, so if you have the right know-how, you can build a really impressive blog on the platform. CookieandKate, MinimalistBaker, and BudgetBytes all use Wordpress, and they’re some of the most popular blogs around.
But...there’s a but! Wordpress can be used to create amazing food blogs, but it’s unlikely an inexperienced blogger will immediately be able to use it to create an amazing food blog. Wordpress.org has a steep learning curve, and takes expert knowledge to keep it in excellent working order. You’ll also have to secure hosting for your Wordpress.org blog, which is a technical hurdle that often scares off beginners.
Luckily for you, there are plenty of other platforms that make great homes for food blogs. By moving away from Wordpress.org, you won’t need hosting and you’ll find it much easier to get started. When your blog is well-established and looking to grow, a professional would have no problem moving it to Wordpress.org if needed.
Picking the right blogging platform is an important first step.
Once you’ve got a blogging platform, hosting (or not), and a domain name, you’re good to go. When everything’s set up and ready to blog, this is how you should proceed:
At the very least, make sure you know how to add a post or recipe, format it, add images and publish it. Understand the basics of SEO, know what a theme is and how to install one, find out what under-the-hood changes you need to optimize the platform or make it easier for people to use and, finally, learn how to keep it safe from viruses and hackers.
If you’re serious about making a go of your newly hatched food blog, then you’re going to want to plan a content calendar. A content (or publishing) calendar will allow you to plan topics and posts in advance, so you can prepare ahead, publish fresh content regularly, and include anything topical or seasonal on your blog. Really organized bloggers will always have a few “spare” posts ready to go in case something gets in the way of publishing, and it’s always good to have an overview of your blog posts, as it makes it easier to see gaps in content or possible areas to expand on.
As soon as you put words to screen you’ll need to go about it in a logical way, so that people can find their way around your site and have the impression that your blog is a little more established than it really is.
You’ll likely have a few posts already in mind - perhaps a restaurant review, cookbook review, or new recipe you’ve already cooked? Create these and put them online at once, so any visitor has a few posts to browse through. Try and build up a bank of anywhere between 5 - 10 posts that haven’t been used - they’ll help you get on your feet and will save your skin if you struggle to write a new post to schedule.
Also take care and time over your homepage, about page, and contact page. The homepage will be where a large percentage of your visitors arrive to. Make sure it looks good and sets the tone for the rest of the blog. The about page is key to people being able to connect with you as a person and finding out if it’s worth their time hanging out at your blog - and if you go on to monetize the blog, you’ll find it has a big impact on your branding and traffic. Finally, a good contact page is essential to allow you to interact with your readers and the food industry, and might be what makes or breaks the chances of brands sending you foodie swag or other cool opportunities.
As we mentioned before, sooner or later you’re going to wonder how you can encourage more people to read your blog. As you might have guessed, it’s not easy (which is why big companies employ dozens of people whose sole job it is to drive more people to their website!), but with a niche that works, regular posting, and consistent low-level effort, you might surprise yourself.
Most bloggers plan on integrating social media platforms with their blogs and it’s a great way to encourage more people to read your posts. What platforms you use really depends on your own interests, where you think your audience hangs out, and what social media user handles you’ve been able to secure for your blog.
Whatever you do, remember that marketing in 2020 is all about the conversation, so make sure that you’re ready to interact on that platform, rather than just dropping your link and leaving.
Instagram is a natural choice for many food bloggers, but remember that photography standards are very high. Pinterest might be of interest, and there’s always the old favorite, Facebook. Whatever you choose, make sure you enjoy being there - it’s hard to be successful on social media these days if you don’t invest some serious time building a tribe or joining someone else.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of blogging, you might be interested in attracting more blog readers via SEO or paid ads. It goes without saying that neither of these is for beginners - especially in the case of paid ads, where it’s possible to spend hundreds or even thousands and see absolutely nothing in return.
SEO is the art of optimizing your food blog so that when people search the internet for terms related to your niche, your blog is suggested close to the top of the search page. It’s a complex subject, but there are lots of different small jobs that you can take care of that will help without necessarily getting deep into the nitty-gritty. Do what you can, and then, with time, learn what you can do to expand on your knowledge.
Paid ads involve paying various websites and services to display your blog as, you guessed it, an ad. Your success here depends very much on how well you understand your audience and how popular the topic you want to promote is. The more popular, the more expensive your ads. Paid ads are considered an advanced topic, partly because they’re expensive and easy to get wrong, and partly because there are a million businesses that will offer to manage paid ads on your behalf - some are genuine and some are not, and you need to know what’s going on in order to tell the difference. Start learning about paid ads now, but don’t make a move until you’re really, really sure you know how they work.
At some point, especially if your blog is proving popular, you may begin to think about monetizing it. In other words, you’ll want to know if it’s possible to use your blog as an income source or to use it as a launchpad for something else that might become an income source. If you want to see a great example of this, you need to look no further than The Pioneer Woman. This food blogger started out small in 2006 and today, well, she has her very own Wikipedia page. Ok, ok, she also has a hotel, a series on TV, a range of cookware, dog treats, and reputedly makes more than a million dollars a year!
Monetization is basically using your blog to make money. The most direct way to do this is by placing ads on your blog or working as an affiliate (you get a tiny percentage of the sale if someone buys via the link hosted on your blog). Beyond this, you can use the “fame” you gain from your food blog and related activities as a catalyst to write books, appear on-screen, present events, or sell an almost unending range of products. Build the audience and give them what they want - you’re really only limited by what people are willing to pay for and, as we’ve seen in this internet age, that’s pretty much anything!
We hope this article has done two things - firstly, shown you that it’s actually pretty easy to start writing a food blog and, secondly, illustrated how a little advance planning can set you heads and shoulders above the competition.
Our best advice if you want to start a food blog is to start researching now. See where the gaps are, where you might be able to fit in and decide what it is that you want to publish once you get started. If you’re really hoping your new food blog will propel you to dizzying heights, well - it might take one or two false starts.
If you’re just planning to dive in and see where it goes, however, do it right now. The planning and research you need to do can be written in a notebook and carried out on a phone - if you’re a budding food blogger, there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from getting started today!