A question I am being asked quite a few times “ How to start a Food Blog? ” and before describing the technicalities I often discuss the scenario and I believe both are equally important when it comes to the know-how of food blogging. I am not a techie and naturally, my basics started with the age-old concept of “content is king” in fact till date I believe mostly on my content. However, all these years has taught me one thing with food blogging, a basic (in fact a bit more than basic) knowledge is must to run a blog successfully. We cannot really go to a consultant for each and every problem coming up with a blog and it is better to know the things before going to a consultant for setting the blog. With that thought, I have decided to come up with the basics to support people like me, who wanted have a food blog and to answer the question “ How to start a Food Blog ” more properly, obviously as much as I can.
Before going further with the processes how about asking a few self-questions!
Why a Food Blog?
The very basic question, you need to ask yourself why you need a Food blog at all. Is that because you found other food blogs good, or you want to record your food stories, recipes, reviews or anything else related to food, whether you wanted to learn or you just want a blog because you have seen many people having one and the perks are lucrative to you!
I was very clear from the very first day that I need a blog to record my food stories, to write the recipes, and to create a place for my own where I can share my food for thoughts. The reason for having a Food blog may and must vary person to person and based on the reason. I firmly believe in particular genres and for me “Jack of all trades, master of none” is not the option when it comes to blogging and for that matter food blogging. However, there are many popular mixed-bag blogs with no genre at all and they may not feel the same way that I am.
What Language to choose?
I use English as the language for my blog from the beginning, however, I use microblogging platform like Facebook to write in Bengali, which is my mother tongue.
There are friends who have opined that I am much better with Bengali than English and I should have the blog in Bengali instead of English. However, I always feel that having a blog in English will give a person more audience than a blog in Bengali or any regional language for that matter. Here, I must mention, how fond I am of the regional blogs, BongPen, a famous Bengali blog or Nishamadhulika, one of the pioneer food blog of our time but in Hindi to name a few. So the choice, at the end is yours, but it is better to decide first then start.
The Difference between any other kinds and Food Blogging?
For that matter, food matters and when it is a food blog, people expect at least 75% of the content related to food. Now, you may ask, “it is my blog and it is up to me what should I have there.” but my friend after being with blogging a few years, you are liable to your readers else you should have a restricted document with no access by anybody else. We cannot make people confused with a variety of content, can we? Well, the choice is yours again.
How about reading different blogs?
Do read others that helped a lot. I try to learn from different blogs, and my list is not limited to the Food blogs but blogs from several areas.
Stability, regularity! Those matters or not?
“Everybody else is having a food blog, that food blogger is working with so many brands or that food blogger is being invited to so many events; there are so many perks and I should have a food blog as well.” If this sounds similar to what you are thinking of starting a food blog, then I suggest you give a thorough thought to the entire process again and you may think in the light of the below points!
Recipe blogging means cooking something, then clicking decent pictures, editing those and finally come up with a decent blog post with good content and obviously after thorough research and may be after writing around 100 full-proof recipes you can say you are in the game!
A review blogger or food critique needs to understand the food before reviewing a Restaurant for their food and especially before writing about them. Here again, photography matters a lot these days. In addition, you have to be loyal to readers who are going to visit a restaurant after reading your review.
The lucrative parts (or the so-called perks) come much in the later state when you are continuous with the process of blogging. So it is better to start blogging out of passion but not to take this as one of the easiest ways of getting popular or whatever people feel.
You can start a blog at any point but are you sure that you can continue with the process of regular blogging for at least for one year.
After considering all these if you feel you can have a food blog and you are planning to write regularly here’s my answer to the question “ How to start a Food Blog ”
How to Start a Food Blog! The requirements
In this part, I will be elaborating different technical things that are part of a food blog. The basic requirements for running a food blog is much required when you have decided to start a blog.
To have a blog, one must decide on the blogging platform first. In fact, this needs to be decided at the very beginning. Coming to my journey, I have had my blog on blogger for 1.5 years and then when I decided to shift it to WordPress, I lost each and every data as I didn’t take the backup and I used to write directly from the dashboard instead of writing and saving a document on my system.
There are several blogging platforms available, WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, Wix, Joomla, Medium to name a few but WordPress.org and Blogger are the popular most among those. However, the comparison between WordPress and Blogger is almost similar to that of Nikon and Canon. There are numerous popular blogs running on the both platform. I have used both and [resently using WordPress as the basic platform and what I found, Blogger is much easier to use but restricted with functions and flexibility. WordPress, on the other hand, is much flexible and even a non-technical person like me can use it very easily. There are several articles available on why to choose a particular blogging platform so I am not getting into that details much instead I am sharing what I am using presently, the costing etc. just to give a brief example.
I am using the Self-hosted blogging platform WordPress since 2012 with a few added things.
Name, Domain, and Hosting:
A name is what you need to decide at the very beginning of the blogging as changing the name in the later stage is not advisable. I from the very beginning decided to give a touch of my mother tongue to my blog and hence I used the Bengali term of Kitchen, “Rannaghar” while naming my blog Debjanir Rannaghar which means Kitchen of Debjani.
A domain name, or the URL, again is very important and should be spelled easily and must in lieu with the theme of the blog. I have chosen kitchenofdebjani.com as the name of my blog. Domains are not free, and you need to purchase one. In India, we have options for purchasing a domain name from Bigrock, GoDaddy, Bluehost.com, dreamhost.com, hostgator.com etc. I have purchased mine from Bigrock. The price varies from INR 400 to INR 2000-3000 based on the availability to the specificity of the name of the domain. Domains are not on purchase basis instead are subscription basis, you need to pay well in advance before the last date to own your domain.
To purchase the hosting you can opt for any of the sites I have already mentioned and you may find several hosting plans over there and can choose based on your requirements. Initially, a starter plan is enough which however can be replaced in future. I presently am using Bigrock for this particular service and below screenshot that can give you the basic idea about the hosting cost. For a Basic plan for one year, it may cost you around INR 3000.
Once you are done with the process of purchasing the domain and Hosting, you need to install WordPress with the hosting you will be provided with the CPanel and you may choose from the two options below:
You may opt for the One click free installation of WordPress following the instruction is given by your hosting company or
You may choose the manual installation
If you found the process a bit critical, appointing a consultant is the best option, however, you need to know the basic requirements so that you can discuss productively with the consultant and the person may not come up with the things that you don’t need.
The Blog Theme
Once the hosting in place, the blog has a name and a domain name as well, a theme needs to be chosen. There are several free themes available and I initially have used a free theme, however, moved to a paid one a few years back. For a beginner, free themes, work perfectly and the theme needs to be chosen best on how responsive it is. These days, though most of the WordPress themes are responsive. Below is the list of a few popular paid themes:
There are several food-related themes available that include, Bravia, themes from Themefores, GemPro, Monochrome, Genesis and Foodie Pro by Thesis, etc. I presently am using Foodie Pro theme. The cost varies from $100 to $500 for a paid theme which is a onetime cost.
The theme company provides the installation details once the purchase is done and the process is not much complicated. However, for the free themes, the installation is almost a one-click process.
The Basic Plugins:
Once you have your CPanel for the blog activated, you may choose a few plugins to add to your blog. It is not at all advisable to load a blog with unnecessary plugins as that will slow down the blog’s performance and moreover it is always advisable to use plugins from trusted sources. I use both paid and unpaid plugins based on my requirements and again for the plugins if any payment involves, that is yearly. Below is the list of a few plugins I found really useful over the years:
- Akismet: Akismet is a very useful plugin that helps in preventing the blog from spam comments. This has both paid and unpaid versions available and for the beginners, the unpaid version works perfectly.
- Comment Plugin:There are several plugins available for arranging the comments and I am presently using Disqus which is a free plugin.
- WordPress Backup: This is something is much needed to store the data carefully. The Backup services are mostly paid and Backupbuddy is a really good backup option and so is Vaultpress which come along with Jetpack and Updraftplus. These are, however, paid services apart from Vaulthpress and Updraftplus which has both free and paid versions available.
- Recipe Plugin: There are several recipe shortcode plugins are available which are really helpful for the recipe bloggers to post the recipes, that includes WordPress Ultimate recipe, Yummli or Easyrecipe etc. Both paid and unpaid plugins are available and again to be chosen based on requirements.
- Social Media Plugins: You may add a few social media plugins to your blog for easy sharing of the blog post.
With all these, you will be able to create the food blog skeleton. As I already said, a blog is all about the content, regularity of posting, the pictures (especially in the case of food blogging). At the end, it is all about passion and our urge of learning new things and that’s how I started blogging in 2012. I will be sharing a few more details under this series on Writing for Food Blog, Food Photography for Food Blog, The Basic SEO, Social Media and Food Blogging shortly and if you feel there is anything else that can be covered under the head of ” how to start a Food Blog “, please let me know.