You don’t have to be a professional writer, trained chef or Anthony Bourdain to start a successful food blog. Each day, hundreds and thousands of bloggers share everything from restaurant reviews to new recipes, attracting millions of avid and hungry readers. And what’s more—they’re making money off of their great passion which is food.
Jana W. wakes up every single day like many of us around 6:30 am. She routinely checks her email over her morning breakfast. But she doesn’t leave for work at 7:30 like many of us. Her office is her kitchen. Her lifestyle is her kitchen. Her business is her kitchen. And business is booming.
She estimates, “I average about a little over 200,000 followers a week on the main food blog”. “Instagram… that’s another few hundred thousand. YouTube… I frankly couldn’t begin to tell you. That’s just for my own personal fun, at this point.”
While passionate about food, Jana is neither a trained chef nor has any background in the restaurant and hospitality industry. When she started her blog in 2012, she researched and uses the best WordPress hosting for food bloggers. She designed her blog solely by herself in her spare time as a paralegal—a position she left five years later to devote herself to blogging full time.
“At first, these were just old family recipes I’d been making for a few years. And then, somehow, it snowballed from there.”
While Jana’s results are unique to her, Jana’s story is not unique. Every day, lifestyle bloggers share in near obsessive detail any and all facets of their preferred hobbies, from cooking to photography. And in the process, draw brand sponsorship, advertising revenue and a devoted fan base—despite the fact that they are simple enthusiasts. These food bloggers are not professionals, and not even seasoned veterans sometimes. They are people just like you; only they’ve transformed their simple interests into a money making avenue by sharing and expressing their ideas on a blog.
Curious about how to get started in food blogging? Read below…
1- Pick A Creative Domain Name Title
The keyword here is “creative,” not esoteric. The best food bloggers share as much of their daily lives as they might share secrets of cooking or fawn over the latest 5-star hidden gem in their neighborhoods. So it’s always good to think of a title that’s reflective of you as a person; not just a budding amateur pastry chef.
Take some inspiration with choosing your creative food blog domain name from this list of top food bloggers in the country:
2- Pick A Compatible Food Blog Host
Just like Jana W. I use Bluehost for all my websites and blog needs and have done so for the past 13 years. I now partner with them since they have been such a valuable asset to my online marketing career. There are literally thousands of great hosting providers out there, but if you want to save time & money you can simply cut to the chase and do what other successful food bloggers do which is do what they do (aka model after success). You can sign up with Bluehost and get a great discount by using my link here.
3- Install WordPress
I cannot stress this enough (and if you’re already using Bluehost, this will be automatic.) WordPress is the standard blogging tool. There’s a reason why WordPress powers over 30% of all websites in the entire world! If you can format in a Word document you can easily use WordPress for your food blog adventure.
4- Choose A Theme
Remember that food blogs are a little different than other blog niches. Food blogs focus as much on visual content as on text in your blog articles. So you want to avoid free WordPress themes and instead choose a premium WordPress theme like the ones I use over at StudioPress. They specifically code and design their themes for WordPress website & blog users. The themes load extremely fast helping your rank in the search engines much faster. They also have a few pre-built food-centric themes you can use right off the bat.
5- Install The Fundamental Blog Marketing Tools
There are two major blog marketing tools that are fundamental to your success being a food blogger.
First, you’ll need a way to track and measure your traffic on your blog. The best free system right now on the planet to use for all your tracking needs is Google Analytics.
Second, you need to have an effective email marketing automation service. Email marketing automation is different than having a simple way to send email. It’s much more than that. I suggest setting up your free trial with ConstantContact here. From there you will have a way to capture your food blog visitor’s name and email to communicate with them. Building an email list and having an automated system that will send out emails to your audience to nurture your relationship will help you increase your income in a major way.
6- Be Personable
The biggest mistake many first time bloggers on any subject make is assuming they have nothing to say. The fact is, eating is a shared human experience; something even those of us who manage to mess up a grilled cheese sandwich can attest to.
Don’t assume just because you’re no a professional you’re not entitled to your own opinion; and your own techniques. The most successful food bloggers don’t lead the colorful lives you might hear about celebrity chefs. But they’re successful because they’re literally the exact same audience as their readers and they are not afraid to speak their mind and share value consistently with their audience.
7- Start Writing About What You Know
“I remember writing about the first time I tried to cook Indian food,” says Jana. “I absolutely butchered it, of course. A few of my readers were kind enough to point out my mistakes, and it was humbling enough that I thought ‘Gee, maybe I should hold off on blogging about Indian food until I’m halfway decent at cooking it.”
8- Keep It Consistent
Many bloggers assume they should only post when the mood strikes them—which for many, might only mean once every six months. Professionals know that readers demand frequently updated content in order to hold their attention. Imagine being a professional journalist who only wrote “when they felt like it.” Or a lawyer practicing the bar when they were “in the mood.” You might not choose to post every single day (or even every single week!) but set yourself a minimum goal of 3 or more posts a month and stick to it!
9- Guest Posting
Guest posting is one of the most effective ways to generate natural traffic for your blog. It’s also a very effective back linking strategy to help increase your search engine rankings. As your articles are published and shared by 3rd party relevant blog owners, your free search engine traffic will increase.
Most daily lifestyle blogs are always on the lookout for fresh, new content and are more than happy to exchange both links and articles with you (food bloggers, in particular, are notoriously accommodating and supportive.) This can absolutely open your blog up to a whole new readership; so if there’s one particular writer you follow, ask if they’d be pen to exchanging guess posts. More often than not, the answer will be an enthusiastic “yes.”
10- Optimize Your Images
Food bloggers use lots of quality images to show off those luscious, tasty looking meals and food. You can use WordPress plugins to help you reduce the weight and size of your food blog images in your articles. Optimizing images cause your pages and articles to load much faster for your readers. And that in turn results in more traffic, engagement and sales for you. Sweet!
Two free image optimization plugins you can use are:
11- Leverage Affiliate Offers
One of the easiest and fastest methods of monetizing your food blog is to link out to affiliate offers that you personally vouch for. It’s best to share links for products and services you have vetted and know are legit. When you link out to stuff you recommend you are putting your stamp of approval on them. Here is a free list of the top affiliate marketing companies in the world you can use. Simply sign up with any of them. From there sign up for the companies or offers you believe in and find helpful to your audience. The commission rates on each offer will be different.
12- Prioritize Your Own Products/Services
In most circumstances it will be far more profitable to place a great emphasis on your own product and service promotions over affiliate offers. While other people’s stuff is easier and fun to promote, having your own offers to promote is really how food bloggers makes most of their money.
Some offers you can consider developing yourself are:
- dropship products
- membership access
- private consulting
- food preparation services
- recipe books
- coaching or mentoring
A food blog takes three fundamental things to be successful: valuable content, strategic marketing and time (technically four: lots and LOTS of images.) And valuable content always comes first. Don’t feel discouraged if you only have a dozen or so followers after a week or two. In time you can gain thousands upon thousands of visitors and subscribers. Above all, don’t worry about search rankings when starting out. Write naturally, write honestly and above all, have fun. Your readers will be able to sense when you’re writing from the heart, and will respond and share your content in kind. That’s what keeps the value to traffic cycle perpetuating.
Blogging about your passions around food and making money doing so is now within your reach using the 12 steps above. Anything in life that is worthwhile takes struggle. So struggle well. Get after it. As you help lots of people find and enjoy solutions that solve their problems you will find yourself enjoying the pleasant side-effect of financial growth and personal satisfaction.