So you want to be a blogger? That’s great! Blogging is simple and fun but not easy. Definitely not easy. Even though you can set up a WordPress blog in less than 10 minutes, it takes countless hours of focus and patience to make things look the way you want. So my aim is to help you set up a food blog on the world’s most awesome blogging platform – WordPress.org.
How To Start A Food Blog In 8 Steps: Quick Glance
- Buy A Domain Name & Web Hosting Plan
- Domain name is the .com address that people type in their web browser to visit your blog.
- It costs around $10-15 per year.
- Web Hosting is your storage space on the web (to host your content, images, files, etc.)
- It costs $60-$150 per year.
- Minterest readers, you can buy InMotion Hosting via a special offer and it costs only $107.88 for 3 years (including one-year free domain registration).
- Install WordPress
- It’s a blogging software to manage your content.
- It’s free forever!
- Install A WordPress Theme
- It’s your food blog’s design.
- It’s free if you are opting for a free WordPress theme.
- It costs around $50-$150 (one-time) for a premium WordPress theme.
- Import WordPress Demo Content & Install Necessary WordPress Plugins
- Personalize WordPress Profile & Settings
- Install & Configure Essential WordPress Plugins
- It’s to change the look and feel of your WordPress blog and to enhance its functionality.
- It’s free forever!
- Customize WordPress
- Setup Essential Blogging Tools
- Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Google Analytics
Note: I’m starting a real food blog here for demo purpose and I’m calling it: mKitchenette (mkitchenette.com). You can click on the Step-by-Step tutorial under each heading for full screenshots.
1. Buy A Domain Name & Web Hosting Plan
The first step in building an online business is registering a domain name. It’s like incorporating a company when you want to set up a business. The only problem is, it takes a lot of thinking and patience to find a perfect domain name that reflects your personality, or business, or both.
A domain name is your identity on the web. So try to find a name that’s unique, memorable, short, readable, and brandable (preferably a .com). You will also have to make sure that it doesn’t conflict with other brand names or trademarks.
A website can’t exist without a domain name and a web hosting plan. There are a ton of web hosting companies on the web but there’s no such thing as a perfect web hosting company. You need to select a web hosting plan based on your actual requirements and budget. I’m recommending a shared hosting plan by InMotion Hosting (oh yeah, Minterest is also hosted by them and that’s my word).
Just in case, Shared Hosting is the most popular — and also the most affordable — web hosting plan. It’s super-easy to manage a shared hosting plan and it’s equally good for beginners as well as experienced bloggers.
Shared hosting basically means that you’re sharing your server (resources as well as the cost) with hundreds of other websites. And that makes it affordable for everyone.
The majority of websites on the web are actually hosted on a shared hosting plan. It can cost as low as $1 per month to as high as $25 per month depending upon the hosting brand and their resources. If you are new to blogging or have an existing WordPress.com or BlogSpot.com blog that’s not getting a lot of traffic, a shared hosting plan is all that you need.
Also, shared hosting is good for a personal website or a small business website (assuming that you don’t expect too much traffic every single day, and all you need is an online presence plus business email).
And hey, a shared hosting may also be suitable when you need to host multiple websites — as long as you don’t expect hundreds of thousands of visits an hour to each website.
So let’s get started!
InMotion Hosting Homepage
Go to InMotion Hosting homepage and click on “Business Hosting” to select a shared web hosting plan.
Shared Business Hosting Plans
InMotion Hosting offers 3 shared hosting plans and I would recommend LAUNCH plan (or their basic plan) for beginners as it’s good for hosting up to 2 websites. If you are planning to start multiple blogs or have existing blogs elsewhere (on WordPress.com or BlogSpot.com) that you might want to import then you may have to opt for the POWER plan as it supports up to 6 websites.
Again, it’s a good idea to pick a 3-year web hosting plan as it offers the best value for money. For instance, when you pay annually, your total cost over 3 years would be around $250 whereas it costs only $106.20 for 3 years (when you pay for 3 years).
Configure Your InMotion Hosting Plan
Review your web hosting plan and term, server location (ignore this if you don’t know what it is), and of course the price and click “CONTINUE”.
Choose Your Domain Name
It’s a food blog so the best name that I could imagine was “mKitchen” (as it mimics Minterest in one way or the other). However, when I tried mkitchen.com it was not available. So I checked the synonyms of the word “Kitchen” and got the word “Kitchenette” which means “a small cooking area”.
Check The Availability Of Your Domain Name
Enable/Disable Domain Privacy Protection
When you buy a domain name (no matter where), your address, email, phone number, company name, domain registration date, and hosting details will be publicly available on the web so that ANYONE can fetch those details by using a simple WhoIs Lookup.
With Domain Privacy Protection, your personal details will be masked and will be replaced with the contact information of the domain registrar (InMotion Hosting in this case) and it helps to prevent telemarketing/email spam.
I haven’t enabled domain privacy protection for any of my domain names and hence I chose to disable it for mKitchenette.com as well.
InMotion Hosting Account Creation
Enter your email address and click “CONTINUE” to start the account creation process.
Account, Billing, & Payment Information
Enter your name, address, company name (optional), phone number, email address, and payment information and click “REVIEW MY ORDER”.
Review Your Order
Make sure that everything is correct and click the “CHECKOUT” button. You will see the confirmation that your order is being processed, and will receive an email confirmation as well.
Account Activation & Get Started
Get started by setting a password for your web hosting account. InMotion Hosting calls their dashboard “AMP” (or Account Management Panel) and it’s from there that you manage your web hosting account (including contact & billing information, account password, support ticket, bill payments, domain names, etc.).
2. Install WordPress
Now that you have purchased a domain name and a web hosting plan, it’s time to get to know your web hosting account and setup WordPress on your server. InMotion Hosting calls their account dashboard “AMP” (or Account Management Panel) and it’s from there that you manage various aspects of your web hosting account (including contact & billing information, account password, support ticket, bill payments, domain names, etc.).
Log In To Account Management Panel (AMP)
Log in to AMP (Account Management Panel) by using your primary email address and the password that you have set (as part of the account activation).
Get To Know The AMP
It’s your InMotion Hosting dashboard. You can see a handful of options there but its use depends upon your requirements. Anyway, I have highlighted few options that you need to pay attention.
- Contact Information — To make sure that your contact information is up-to-date.
- Submit Support Ticket — To get support (including technical assistance) related to your web hosting account.
- cPanel — To manage your website (note that its purpose is different from that of AMP). You use the AMP to manage your web hosting account and you use cPanel to manage your website (including email accounts, subdomains, web applications, files, etc.).
- Account Technical Details — Shows various technical aspects of your web hosting account and server.
- Email — To manage your custom email accounts ([email protected]).
- Softaculous — To install dozens of web applications on your server at the click of a button.
You can click the “Softaculous” icon (from the AMP) to install various scripts like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, phpBB, etc. You want to install WordPress, right? So, you can either click on the “WordPress” icon from “Softaculous” or you can click the “WordPress” icon from cPanel itself (as WordPress is already listed there as a “TOP APPLICATION”).
Enter the basic details to set up your WordPress blog.
- If you want to install WordPress on your domain’s root (i.e. example.com or mkitchenette.com), then you need to leave the “In Directory” field blank (as shown above). And if you want to install WordPress on a subfolder named blog (i.e. mkitchenette.com/blog/) then you need to enter “blog” in the directory field.
- Enter the Site Name (or the name of the blog) and Site Description (or the tagline of the blog). Oh yeah, you can change it anytime.
- Enter the Admin Username (or login id), Admin Password (or login password), and Admin Email (to reset the password and for all notifications).
- Enter an email address (can be different from your admin email) for the “Email installation details to” field.
- Click “Install”.
Now that WordPress installation is done on your server. And you can access your WordPress site by clicking on your domain name. You will get the WordPress installation details to your admin email id (provided during installation step).
Step-by-Step: How To — Start A Food Blog — Install WordPress
3. Install A WordPress Theme
When you browse a WordPress theme, you need to visualize your future website. That’s why picking a theme/template is the toughest part of setting up any WordPress site. Seriously. There are a large number of free and paid WordPress themes out there so selecting one from so many themes can be extremely difficult.
The problem with free WordPress themes is that its developers may not update their themes regularly. And when the codes of your themes are not up-to-date, it becomes vulnerable to attacks in the future.
The same applies when you buy a paid WordPress theme from an independent theme developer (or freelancer). You may get the theme you really like at first, but eventually, the theme will become outdated.
I personally recommend buying WordPress themes from a premium WordPress theme marketplace because they make sure that their WordPress themes are up-to-date. And that’s why they release new updates regularly and even add additional features when WordPress updates its core software.
That said, there is no need to go for a StudioPress theme or another premium WordPress theme unless you have a budget and you’re not in a hurry to build a professional blog. You can always build that perfect blog step by step. Almost all the bloggers were once a beginner and chances are they started with a free WordPress theme (myself included).
There are hundreds of thousands of free WordPress themes in the official WordPress theme repository and it’s more than just enough to get started. You can always upgrade later!
I’m installing Foodie Pro by StudioPress (for this tutorial) as it’s already optimized for a food blog. Feel free to browse the StudioPress theme marketplace to find something else or try 25 Hand-picked Genesis Child Theme Marketplaces (to find a Genesis child theme from a third-party WordPress theme marketplace).
Add New WordPress Theme
Step-by-Step: How To — Start A Food Blog — Install A WordPress Theme
4. Import WordPress Demo Content And Install & Configure Necessary WordPress Plugins
I’m pretty sure that you buy a WordPress theme only because you loved its demo site. In other words, when you buy a WordPress theme you expect your website to look like its demo site, right?
Well, it’s not that easy. When you install a WordPress theme for the first time, it looks ugly because it doesn’t have any content or images or menus or anything else.
For instance, here is a preview of my food blog — mKitchenette (that I have created to write this tutorial) — before importing the demo content.
Import all the demo content (provided by the theme developer) and install all the necessary plugins (specific to the theme).
Install Necessary WordPress Plugins
The following are the necessary WordPress plugins recommended by the theme developer in order to replicate the demo site.
- Widget Importer & Exporter
- Genesis eNews Extended
- Genesis Simple Edits
- Genesis Simple Share
- Simple Social Icons
- WP Featherlight
- WP Instagram Widget
5. Personalize WordPress Profile & Settings
Now let’s get to know the various settings and configuration of WordPress. The good thing is, most of them are set and forget kind of settings.
6. Install & Configure Essential WordPress Plugins
Plugins extend the functionality of your WordPress site (just like we add new features and functions to a web browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox) with custom features. WordPress Plugins are independently developed by third-party developers across the world.
There are over 50,000 plugins in the official WordPress Plugin Directory and you can install any of them using the plugin browser or the installer available in your WordPress dashboard.
If you know what you want then you can use the Search to find it. Or, you can browse the Featured, Popular, Recommended, or Favorites (favorite plugins of a particular WordPress.org user) to get an idea of what’s possible.
As mentioned, there are over 50,000 WordPress plugins available and I have hand-picked only 6 of them. There are actually a lot more plugins that are essential or super-useful but I guess the above list is good enough to start with.
Step-by-Step: How To Install A WordPress Plugin (Step-by-Step)
Install Essential WordPress Plugins
Install Recommended WordPress Plugins
- Disqus Comment System
- Editorial Calendar
- jQuery Pin It Button for Images
- Print, PDF, Email by PrintFriendly
- Simple URLs
- W3 Total Cache
- Wordfence Security
- WP Author, Date and Meta Remover
7. Customize WordPress
So you have already imported the demo content (provided by the theme developer) & installed all the necessary plugins (recommended by the theme developer), personalized WordPress settings, and installed and configured all the essential WordPress plugins. The next step is to customize WordPress and the goal here is to create a WordPress site exactly as it is on the demo site.
mKitchenette: Before Customization
mKitchenette : After Customization
Step-by-Step: How To — Start A Food Blog — Customize WordPress
8. Setup Essential Blogging Tools
Now that you have configured your food blog with all the essential WordPress plugins and have customized it. But there’s one last thing. You need to setup some blogging tools as well.
There are hundreds of blogging tools on the web but you don’t have to try all of them. I’m focusing only on 3 tools: Yoast SEO Plugin, Google Webmaster Tools, and Google Analytics. Everything else is optional and subjective as it entirely depends on your blogging/personal preferences.
- Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Google Analytics
BONUS: Food Blogging: What You Need To Know
“The holy trinity of food blogging is gorgeous food photography, wonderful writing, and rock solid recipes.” — Irvin Lin
- Food blogging is expensive. I mean, it involves real costs apart from your time. For instance, I do not spend much on promotion or marketing or content creation. So all it takes is my time to craft a new blog post. On the flipside, when it comes to food blogging, you need to buy real kitchenware and groceries to actually cook those recipes.
- Food blogging is time-consuming too. And no, I didn’t mean the countless hours that you actually take to cook food.
- You will have to spend a lot of time on social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, StumbleUpon, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, etc.) and other websites as part of the blog promotion.
- Think about a blogging schedule. Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Fortnight? Remember, it’s much, much, much better to write one quality recipe than 10 mediocre recipes.
- No one is going to read your blog when you get started.
- Food blogging is super-competitive. If your food blog is not unique enough then your blog presence doesn’t matter. But the good thing is that we’re all different in one way or the other and there’s something interesting in every single individual. So leverage it and put your dent in the blogosphere.
- You’ve to build your personal brand (start with your blog’s About page and social media presence).
- Don’t just limit your topics to recipes, if you are a health freak then offer diet and fitness tips as well. That way, you can attract a wider range of targeted audience.
- Follow other (successful) food bloggers as well and see what they are doing and think about how to stand out from them.
- Always give credits (as Thanks, Inspired by, Credits, Adapted from, etc.) when you publish a recipe from another blog or when you adapt a recipe from another food blog.
- Blogging involves a lot of technical aspects and you will have to figure out how you are going to manage it (a lot of WordPress plugins that I have recommended here are actually complex).
- You need some photography skills plus the required gadgets and accessories (camera lens, tripod, etc.) and whatever it takes to click amazing photos.
- Remember, awesome photos are what makes a simple recipe looks amazing on the web (even if it doesn’t taste delicious).
- It’s absolutely okay to use your mobile camera (or whatever camera) as long as you are improving. When you can, buy the best affordable camera.
- Nobody has ever started a perfect food blog. It’s all about whether you are doing a better job than yesterday.
- You will need a great design for your food blog (even if you are using a free WordPress theme at first).
- Improve the navigation and user experience of your blog with a great design and also by minimizing the number of ad units and unwanted features. Because it can significantly increase the number of pages visited by a user (or page views).
- Use WordPress tags and categories wisely so that your recipes will appear more organized.
- Interlink your recipes so that it will increase the number of pageviews and eventually your organic traffic as well.
- A blog is not a get-rich-quick kind of thing.
- Do not expect any revenue at least for the first 6 months. And never give up (at least as long as you are doing a better job than yesterday).
- Be yourself when you write, blog, and talk. Because everyone else is already taken. When you are writing you can easily come up with original content because you will be writing your own experiences and not someone else’s. And it will be something that your readers can’t find in a book or another blog and that’s what it matters.
- If you have been thinking about starting a food blog then today is the best day.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” — Calvin Coolidge
Start a new food blog. Publish recipes. Publish even more recipes. Monetize it with ads. Make money. Make even more money. Sounds simple, right? Well, it doesn’t work that way. You can’t make money out of ads from a new blog unless you’re getting hundreds of thousands of visits a day.
Look what other successful food bloggers are doing. And think about what you can do in the already crowded food blogging space. You don’t have to copy other bloggers in your space. Instead, be yourself and learn from others.
Just remember that their success is the result of countless hours of reading, writing, experimenting, researching, clicking, and whatnot. So again, think about how you are going to stand out from the crowd (because that’s going to be your value addition).
For instance, you can Google search “how to start a food blog” and you will see hundreds of other tutorials. So why me? Well, I just added more value by adding my own blogging experience. My version may perform better than others or it may not. But I did my best and that’s what it matters.
Happy (Food) Blogging! :)