We often get queries where many readers wants to start their own food blog or they want to share their recipes in our blog. So if you are also one of them then this post is specially written for you. You can also check the post on Resources and tools for food bloggers.
Its always better to start your own blog than to share content or recipes in other sites. Because over a period of time the blog can give you earning, name, as well as appreciation from readers and it will develop your creative side too. Otherwise, if you send your recipe with a good photo then many bloggers like us might be willing to publish it but you might not get the monetary benefit of your effort and time, which we feel you deserve.
So how do we start a food blog:
There are many blogging platforms you can use to start your own blog. But two of the most commonly suggested blogging platforms are Blogger.com (powered by google servers and software) and self hosted wordpress blog. I am first mentioning the pros and cons of each of these blogging platform so that you can choose what suits your need and in the end I will suggest my ideal package for blogging.
Pros of blogger blogging platform:
1. its free and you can start blogging in less than five minutes.
E.g. Go to this link Www.blogger.com and sign in with your gmail id, choose the name of your blog and you can start writing your first blog post. It is that easy and might not take you more than 2 minutes. If starting a blog is so easy then why I am writing such a detailed guide. It is because after few months or year you might realize that blogger.com was not the best blogging option. So read on to know more about blogging platforms before making a decision.
2. in blogger, you also don’t need to worry about website speed, maintenance of website, hosting bill or virus/hacking attacks. Google does it all for you and that too freely. These two are the biggest features of blogger platform according to me.
3. blogger is continuously being developed and many new features are being added to it.
4. Blogger platform is ideal for people who are not tech savvy or who wants to keep the things simple and just want to focus on writing posts or publish recipes. I have personally suggested some blogger friends to continue with blogger and not move to self hosted wordpress because they are not much into coding or are interested in learning new softwares.
Cons of blogger blogging platform:
1. you cannot sell your blog and one can also say that you actually don’t own the blog and in worst case scenario google has the right to delete your blog. So you lose all efforts of making the nice looking blog. But honestly speaking, not many of us will like to sell our website. 2ndly, you can always move your website from blogger to self hosted wordpress in future.
2. it does not offer many cool functionalities which self hosted wordpress blog offers. That is one of the big advantage self hosted wordpress has over blogger.
3. it is difficult to customize and its not easy to give a professional look to the blog. For this, you might have to buy some premium paid themes and that will require some tech skills.
Who should use blogger: one who does not want to get involved in technical side of things, hobby blogger or you can use this platform for some time to get acquainted with blogging world and then move your blog to wordpress.
Pros of wordpress self hosted blog:
1. it offers tons of functionality and you actually own the site.
2. you can much easily customize the site as per your taste and need than in case of blogger.com. No wonder, most professional bloggers use self hosted wordpress and many blogger who are using blogger.com platform are moving their site to self hosted wordpress blog.
Cons of self hosted wordpress blog:
1. its not free like blogger.com and one needs to pay hosting charges per month. For starters it could be 4-5 USD per month.
2. it needs learning, or better to say constant learning. By the way, in blogging one needs to learn and update their skills continuously. Blogging has become 9 to 5 job and one can make living out of it. If you want to make your living out of blogging then better choose wordpress despite the trouble it gives once in a while. But again, to get maximum out of wordpress you need to be tech savvy. Its not that you just start the blog in wordpress and you will get the best out of it. You have to spend time in learning wordpress software. So for non-techie people blogger is better. For techie people wordpress is better.
3. you need to maintain the blog like choosing ideal hosting provider, taking the blog back up. Don’t get scared of all this. It is not so difficult and all tutorials are available in google.com. On a 2nd note, there are some companies like wpengine.com who maintains your server, keep it safe from hacking, take your blog backup etc so that you can just focus on writing content in your blog. But these managed hosting solutions comes with an added price.
Who should use wordpress: if you are OK to shell out some money. But that money will bring lot of cool features which in turn will drive more traffic and money. You should use wordpress, if you want to make a professional blog or want to blog seriously as a career.
My worst blogging mistake: five to six years ago when I was using blogger.com as a blogging platform, then I read many bloggers recommending wordpress platform over blogger.com. I just ignored their advise. The reason I didn’t tried wordpress before was because those bloggers were not very assertive in recommending wordpress over blogger. If I have to start a blog today for my friend or relative then I will insist strongly that choose wordpress as a blogging platform. So I insist again – wordpress is costly, needs maintenance but it gives far more features than blogger. You know mobile phones are available at all price ranges. Higher the price, better the features we get and more is the care we have to take for them.
My ideal configuration for wordpress self hosted blog:
1. For starting a blog you basically need a domain name and hosting space. if you are a beginner and want to keep the things simple then buy domain name and hosting space from same company.
2. Choosing Domain name: i would choose a domain name which is easy to remember, easy to spell, catchy and contains the “keyword” which is part of the niche/topic on which I am going to blog about. E.g. This blog is about vegetarian recipes. So we choose the domain name VegrecipesOfindia.com.
3. Hosting comapny: go with a reputed hosting company. Don’t save money on hosting. I won’t recommend any particular name as the hosting companies experience depends upon many factors.
4. Installing the wordpress software:
A) one click wordpress install:
Login into your site control panel using the login details (username and password) received in your email and in control panel there will be a option to install wordpress and it is simplest and the easiest method to install wordpress. But I suggest you to install wordpress manually.
B) or installing wordpress manually: for this you will be needing free ftp software. It is quite easy. So don’t get scared. Follow Official wordpress guide to install wordpress software. there should be many videos in youtube also for installing wordpress. It is quite easy.
If you are planning to start a food blog:
Many food bloggers show step by step photos of their recipes. Now each photo takes time to load and slow loading pages are not liked by readers as well as google.com. Most of the traffic of a blog comes from search engine. So as a blogger we have to keep our blog fast.
So there are two options: either to reduce the photo size or to upgrade the server which means paying more money for hosting the site. One of the alternative which many blogger use is this:
A) use one high quality main image (size under 250Kb) and all other step by step images should be under 40-50KB
B) few bloggers host their images on flicker. I have not used this method till now and mentioning it for your information, in case you would like to try.
Later addition to the food blog:
1. Premium theme: once you have installed the wordpress then you have the option to go for paid wordpress theme or continue with free theme. There are thousands of free themes which are available and you can use them freely. But if you want to blog seriously then sooner or later you have to go for premium themes Genesis or Thesis version 1.8.5. I would suggest to wait for some time and get acquainted with wordpress working before going for any paid theme as otherwise it will be too much learning for your head.
I was personally using Thesis theme version 1.8.5 till april 2014 and then we moved to genesis. It was bit of learning to move from thesis to genesis and start learning about new theme again. I think genesis has now got a slight edge over thesis theme. Genesis and thesis comparison is like comparing apple smart phones with samsung phones. I hope you understand now that these two themes are rivals with their plus points and weak areas.
2. Paid email subscription: you can give the facility for your loyal visitors to subscribe to your post updates so that your latest blog post goes directly to their email. It brings some returning traffic. I would suggest you to Stick with feedburner email subcription method. but if you plan to launch a ebook or product or sell any service through your blog then you should go for premium email softwares like Aweber or mailchimp. We used aweber for a while and then moved to Madmimi and quite happy with the decision.
Again, I have not used mailchimp but all the reviews which I have read in internet has given thumbs up to aweber over mailchimp. Aweber is an expensive software and is only good if you want to sell any product or ebook on your site. Otherwise for just sending email updates of your blog feedburner free service is great.
3. WordPress backup plan: Its important to take backup of your blog from time to time. There are many services avaiable which automatically takes the backup of your blog like Vaultpress.com or Codeguard.com.
Frequently asked questions:
1. Is blogger.com really a bad platform for blogging.
No. Blogger is a good blogging platform and in some cases it could be the ideal blogging platform too. But self hosted wordpress is one of the best blogging platform.
2. Can I move my blog from blogger.com to self hosted wordpress blog later on.
Yes, that is possible and I recommend this Migration guide to do so. Best part of this migration method is that you don’t lose any SEO juice.
3. How to get traffic to my food blog?
Nowadays making a blog is quite easy as compared to the situation 5 years ago. The real challenge is not in starting a blog but in getting traffic to your blog.
A) choose a topic for blogging on which you are passionate about and you have enough knowledge.
B) decide your blogging niche and stay focused on it.
C) write quality content on your niche. In the world of internet “good content is king… Its the good content which will insure the success of your blog in long run”. Good content will bring facebook shares, tweets and google plus to your profiles thus bringing more blog traffic and can also lead to more traffic from google search results. Occasionally it might also bring links from other sites which are very valuable.
D) if you are making a food blog then you to have present the food very well. I mean good food photography and food props will help.
E) good blog design. Keep the blog neat and not cluttered. Navigation of the blog should be easier so that visitors can easily find your most important posts. Keep the search box in a visible location.
F) networking: social networking is very important. Add social networking buttons of facebook, twitter, pinterest and googleplus in each post so that readers can share your post. Also connect your blog to your profile or site page in these social networking sites. Connect with fellow bloggers by writing comments on their good posts. Linking your blog to google plus page is very important.
G) learn about search engine optimization and optimize each post for a keyword.
H) food bloggers can submit their photos in these food photos submission sites to bring some more traffic. E.g. Tastespotting.com and Foodgawker.com.
I) stay focused and keep on building good content. After 6 months or one year your blog will start showing results.
Disclaimer: The links in this post are my affiliate links.