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How to Start a Food Blog (on a Budget)

How to Start a Food Blog (on a Budget)

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My husband and I have created a few blogs in the past, but bakingkneads.com was the first one that we actually took seriously and put in the time and effort to help it succeed. That’s not to say it’s difficult, but when you don’t know the proper steps to take, it can definitely be a challenge.

I know when we first started out with this blog, we searched high and low to find the right steps. Since I know how overwhelming it can seem, I’m hoping this guide will help some of you on your journey to becoming a food blogger.

Step #1: Choose a Name

Once you’ve decided to start a food blog, it’s time to choose a name for your business. While choosing a name seems simple enough, it’s one of the most important decisions you will make.

Question Marks with a Light Bulb

Did you notice that I said “business” just above? That’s right. Unless you truly intend for this to be a side hobby, you should treat your blog as its own business from day 1. Treating it as a business means make the right decisions to get it front of your intended audience.

With that being said, when choosing a name for your blog, you need to think long term about your goals. Do you plan on only posting vegan or keto recipes? Do you plan on covering everything under the sun?

The answers to these questions will help you decide how broad to go with the name of your blog. If you’re unsure, go broad, meaning instead of naming your blog something like Sarah’s Vegan Desserts, go with Sarah’s Baking Desserts. That way, you can expand outside of vegan recipes down the road.

The last tip on choosing your name: try to keep it short. Shorter domain names are easier to remember and typically work better when it comes to marketing your business. Coming up with a good short name that’s not already taken is challenging these days, so take your time and think outside of the box.

Step #2: Purchase Your Domain Name and Hosting

Now that you’ve chosen a name, it’s time to secure it. There are many sites you can go through to secure your domain name, but I highly suggest going through Bluehost.

With Bluehost, you can secure your domain name and purchase your hosting (more on this next) all in one step. While you can go through different companies for your domain name and hosting, doing this in one step makes the process much quicker and easier.

Before choosing your domain name, you’ll first need to pick your hosting plan. Head over to Bluehost, then click the “Get Started” button to see their plans.

Bluehost - Choose Your Plan

As you can see in the screenshot above, starting a blog doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it’s very low cost in the beginning and only ramps up when you want it to (as in when you have a lot of visitors).

Whichever plan you decide to go with, I highly recommend adding the domain privacy feature. This keeps your personal information (name and address) hidden, which would otherwise be public.

Once you’ve selected your hosting plan, you’ll be presented with a screen to select your domain name (the one you chose in step #1 above). If you haven’t already purchased a domain name elsewhere, simply enter your domain name in the “Create a new domain” field, then click next.

Bluehost - Select a Domain

If the domain name that you entered is already being used by someone else, you’ll need to either choose a different name or change .com to .net, etc. However, I would try to stick with .com, as it has a high level of trust associated with it.

On the next page, simply fill in your billing and payment information, then click “Submit” at the bottom. Step #2 is now complete!

Step #3: Install WordPress

If you signed up for hosting through Bluehost, as shown above, this step will be relatively easy for you. Bluehost will create your WordPress site for you through the dashboard with a few simple clicks.

Log into your new Bluehost account, click “My Sites” on the left, then click the button that says “Create Site.” Follow the prompts and fill in the necessary information to create your site.

Bluehost - cPanel

Once your site has been created, the “Create Site” button will change to a “Log in to WordPress” button. You can click this button to log into WordPress to start working on your site.

As a side note, when using Bluehost to create your WordPress site, you’ll be able to manage certain aspects of your site, such as the users and plugins, from within your Bluehost control panel.

Personally, I just log into WordPress directly, which you can do by going to yoursite.com/login or yoursite.com/admin (replace yoursite.com with the domain name that you purchased).

Step #4: Install a WordPress Theme

You’re almost ready to launch. The next step is to pick and install a WordPress theme. You can think of a WordPress theme as the basic design of your blog. It defines how the navigation looks, the colors of the various elements, the layout of the posts, etc.

You can choose your theme from within your WordPress dashboard by going to “Appearance” on the left, then “Themes.”

Choose WordPress Theme

On the next page, click “Add New” to be presented with a ton of themes to choose from. Fortunately, many WordPress themes are free, and I highly recommend choosing a free theme to start.

Wordpress Themes

Once installed, you can customize a theme to your liking from within the WordPress dashboard. While the free themes work great when you first start out, you’ll want to look into purchasing a premium theme as your blog starts to gain some traction.

On bakingkneads.com, I use a theme called Contentberg. We chose this theme because it’s fast, we like the way it looks, and the price wasn’t too bad. However, I suggest doing some research for yourself when you get to the point that you’re ready to pay for a theme.

Step #5: Install WordPress Plugins

While a WordPress theme provides the basic framework for how your blog looks and functions, plugins fill the gaps for features that you feel might be missing. One of the biggest appeals of using WordPress to run your site is its large library of plugins, many of which are free.

We use about a dozen or so plugins that provide features that aren’t built into WordPress or our theme (Contentberg). I cover several of our favorite plugins on our tools and resources page, so I’m not going to go into too much detail about them here.

However, when considering adding plugins to your site, you really need to weigh the pros and cons. Every plugin that you add has the potential of slowing down your site or conflicting with another plugin that you already have installed. Some plugins even pose a security risk if they aren’t updated regularly.

Some functionality that you might consider adding a plugin for include social sharing, website security, and improved site speed. Just don’t go too crazy with it. Stick to only what you really feel is needed.

Step #6: Sign Up for Google’s Tools

While this step isn’t absolutely necessary, I highly recommend doing it. Google offers many tools for free that not only help your website to be found in searches, but also provide a lot of visibility as to how your business is performing.

There are two core tools that you’ll want to sign up for, and those are Google Search Console and Google Analytics. For either of these tools to work, you’ll need to install a tracking code on your site, which you can do through the Yoast SEO plugin.

Once your tracking code is installed, you’ll be able to use these two tools to keep an eye on where your traffic is coming from, what pages they’re visiting, what search terms they’re using to find you, and much, much more. You can also identify when there are issues that need to be addressed.

We use these tools regularly to make sure bakingkneads.com is up and running and use the data to help shape our marketing strategy.

Take Your Blog to the Next Level

Now that you’ve got your blog up and running, it’s time to shift your focus to running your business. This means publishing recipes or blog posts, taking high-quality pictures, building a mailing list, and much, much more.

If you want to make a living off of your blog, you’ll also want to learn how to get your posts and recipes found, either organically or through promotions. Then, once you start generating a good amount of traffic, you can look into ways of making money from your food blog.

You can see a lot of the tools I use for some of these steps over on my blogging resources page. These tools and services are what help us run this blog and reach our intended audience. Many of them are paid tools, but you definitely don’t need them when first starting your blog.

I hope you found this guide helpful. If you have any questions about any of the steps or about starting a food or baking blog in general, comment below.