Food Blogging Basics & Tools: How to start

by on December 27, 2012

Welcome to our Food Blogging Series, our little hub of online info and insight from bloggers within our community.

Want to start a food blog? This write up is a long time in the making. Over the last few years we’ve been answering questions and mentoring new food bloggers behind the scenes. We receive many questions from people we meet at our conference panels and in private emails, that it’s wonderful to see this community grow with new voices, faces and content.

We realized that we needed to make this info we’ve been sharing behind the scenes public and honestly, much more manageable. Emails start to get overwhelming to answer and it would be even better if we can share this info with all our readers and those who have wanted to start a blog, but didn’t know how.

This will be a continuing series with information with not just basic technical information but also interviews from established food bloggers. The goal of these interviews is to discuss all issues associated with food blogging and how each person addressed problems they had in the beginning and what they did to solve those issues.

It’s important for everyone to understand that blogging  on all topics, not just food, is executed in different ways.

And how each person defines and achieves their success is vastly different. It’ll be nice to meet and see how each food blogger got to their point in blogging and what they consider is success to them.

We’ll also discuss later in the series our own journey in food blogging, the balance, the mistakes and focus it took to get to where we are today.

So to start on this post,  let’s discuss the basics.

Want to start a food blog?  Here’s how we started. Below are resources and affiliate programs we have used and work well for us.

Every blogger has a different network of resources and in those later interviews, they will discuss those resources that work for them. But these are what we use and love. 

 

 

 

1. Blog Name – Selecting a blog name to convey your voice, style and identity is very important. Quite honestly, we didn’t think about it too much when we came up with our random name and we pretty much broke all the rules. Our blog name, White On Rice Couple,  has absolutely nothing to do with food, gardening, photograph or travel.

Why did we choose our name? Because we were probably drinking and built this blog on a whim,  as a hobby and not as a business. A few margaritas late at night will do that to you— White on what? how about Rice? OK. Done.

So think about your blog name, what you want to do with it and where you want to go with it. Personal hobby or business?

-There are a ton of ways to do it, but we search for availability of a web domain and buy domains through Hover.

Hover is a internet domain name registration service. It’s a simple, clean and an easy way to manage your domains. If you like investing in domain names for future blog or websites, hover is a great place to manage all your lists.

Although Hover is not the cheapest,  their prices are fair and upfront. Unlike other sites that may charge cheaper, Hover doesn’t nickle-and-dime you on additional features like private registration.

 

 

 

2. Choose a Blog Platform: We use WordPress.org and we love it.

3. Hosting your blog: Hosting for Free or Self-Hosting?

Free hosting is available on WordPress.com (different from WordPress.org), which means that your blog lies on their server.

  • Your blog url will be FoodBlogExample.Wordpress.com
  • Read more about WordPress.com here
  • this is route is good for those of you who just want a simple place to share content without having to worry about servers and customization
  • If you don’t plan on growing your blog beyond the basic pages and without specific customization, then this option is fine.
  • Low to no cost option

Upgraded hosting and other features are also available on WordPress.com for additional fees.

  • You can use a custom domain for your blog such as FoodBlogExample.com .
  • Read about it here
  • You will need to spend some money

Self Hosting- (WordPress.org) is the most customizable and allows you total control

  • You can upload custom themes
  • Ability to upload plugins
  • You have complete control to change the code on your blog
  • This route is for those to hope to expand on their blog and make it very specific to their needs
  • This is what we do for our sites.

Still confused on WordPress.com vs WordPress.org? Here’s a couple links breaking down the difference- WordPress.com Explanation and  DIY themes Explanation.

4. Choosing a reliable host. If you are going to self-host, you’ll need a provider to park your blog somewhere.

There are many web hosting servers, some good, some very frustrating. We look for reliable hosts, with great customer service and both BlueHost and Liquid Web have fit that bill. We have used both and have had great experiences with each and are pleased to recommend them.

Blue Host is where we host our smaller, private-hobby blogs and they have great prices, including a free domain name. When you host here you get a free domain, so you wouldn’t need to buy your first domain anywhere else.

Blue host offers everything you need to get started at a great price: email accounts, domain hosting and much more.

Managed Web Hosting by Liquid Web When our traffic started growing, we wanted to move to a dedicated server. We had heard from our close blog friends that they loved being on a Liquid Web dedicated server so that’s where we moved over the WhiteOnRiceCouple.com blog.

Since being on Liquid Web, we’ve loved the experience and always have great technical support. They have amazing customer service when we needed it on technical issues and have been very responsive when we have problems.

5. Choose a Theme or cool design for your blog

How smart is your Theme?  How good is your support? Check out ThesisTheme for WordPress. Thesis became a game changer for wordpress themes. It allowed an enormous amount of customization without needing to know code. A click of a button can change your site from 2 columns to three, change the fonts, colors, etc…

Today it has also developed into a great community of support when you want to customize further and continually works on becoming easier at the same time as being very SEO friendly. We love it and use a customized Thesis theme coded by Paul at ZelCreative.

4. Statistics and Analytics: as you build your traffic you might want a more advanced way to analyze your blog stats to understand more about where your traffic is coming from and what your readers are reading most.

 Google Analytics is a great tool and it’s free.

This is a service offered by Google that allows you to see detailed specifics about visits to your site. Google analytics lets you measure basic information about your visitors and where they’re coming from.

Clicky Web Analytics Clicky is where we go to for real-time data and analytics. Interface is easy and straight to the point. Accessing real-time data is a piece of cake on whatever platform you have on you, Droid, iPhone, iPad, laptops, etc. It is another great tool for knowing how and when people are using your site.

5. Food Photography & Styling – capturing nice food photographs can be helpful in gaining attention to your recipe. But this takes patience, dedication to practicing and studying the art of food photography & styling.

Some great resources for food photography tips can be found here:

Once you start learning food photography and want to add to your collection of gear.

Adorama and B&H are great resources to start buying.

These are where we make all our camera gear online purchases. The prices are always competitive and you’ll often find products in which they’ll offer free shipping (B&H free shippingAdorama free shipping).

6. Setting up social media & where to share your recipes.  Start being a part of the online food community by connecting with everyone.  Also, there are many great community sites that you can submit your recipes to. If accepted, your recipe will be shared within their community.

7. Other resources for food blogging:

These resources is just a start and we’ll be adding more as we build this list for you!

We’ll be continuing with this series on how to sustain and succeed in food blogging, as well as interviews from experts in the community.

Have Fun,

diane and todd

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Averie @ Averie Cooks December 27, 2012 at 12:58 am

Awesome post and very thorough. Covers everything (and way more!) than someone just starting out needs to know. Good info about your host. I moved from Bluehost about 2 years ago go my current host and am happy but having options & tried-and-true recommendations is always nice.

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2 Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic December 27, 2012 at 6:44 am

Great article – I wish I read something like this when I was just starting! Very useful tips :)

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3 Sharmila December 27, 2012 at 7:37 am

Diane, Todd, thank you for being as gracious and helpful as you are, and for all the information you share. You have been an inspiration to me ever since I started. This is a great post.
I’m crazy about that first photo.

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4 The Frosted Vegan via Facebook December 27, 2012 at 7:45 am

Thank you so much for this!

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5 alison @ Ingredients, Inc. December 27, 2012 at 8:02 am

fabulous info! Love y’all!

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6 LiztheChef December 27, 2012 at 8:26 am

I always learn from you two – today, I’m shooting a white bean soup and rereading one of your how-to-shoot soup posts was so helpful. Soup is difficult…but so tasty.

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7 deeba December 27, 2012 at 8:31 am

You guys are the best. Heaven knows how helpful a resource like this is. Great great post!

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8 Geri Miller December 27, 2012 at 8:35 am

Although I had the pleasure of getting this info firsthand from you guys (lucky me), I’m delighted to see that you’re putting it all down in writing as this will benefit so many more people!

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9 Gerry @ Foodness Gracious December 27, 2012 at 10:07 am

I love this! Thanks for taking the time to actually explain items and with such amazing knowledge. Funnily enough I was given Kelly Senyei’s book for Christmas, Food Blogging for Dummies and just started reading it last night. When my daughter saw what I was reading, she felt the need to tell me quite lovingly that I was not a dummy :)

Take care.

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10 Colette @ JFF! December 27, 2012 at 11:34 am

I have a friend who is a WICKED good cook.
She cooks everyday for her family anyway. Why not post?
I’ll forward your post to her. Great advice!

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11 Linda | The Urban Mrs December 27, 2012 at 12:23 pm

This is a must-read post, especially for a newbie like me. Thanks for putting it up!

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12 Marko Saric December 27, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Great and very detailed advice for newbie bloggers in this initial post. We need more people to start blogging and to experience all the benefits. I am looking forward to checking out the rest of the series.

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13 Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar December 27, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I would have loved to have this post at my fingertips when I started. Great job!!

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14 fiona maclean December 28, 2012 at 3:22 am

Great article. And, for what it’s worth I did always wonder about your name…I thought it might be some strange American dish I hadn’t heard about before…

Interested that you are using Thesis too, I am in the process of thinking about a new theme and it seems to be Thesis or something based on Genesis…

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15 Cassie | Bake Your Day December 28, 2012 at 6:46 am

You guys are so wonderful for sharing your knowledge…I wish I would have known all of this before I started! Happy new year! :-)

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16 Sini December 28, 2012 at 8:24 am

Great post, thank you! Do you (or other readers) have any experience with Squarespace? I’m thinking about maybe starting a food blog and been looking around for a web host. It seems like Squarespace offers an “all-in-one” package.

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17 Jessica December 28, 2012 at 10:20 am

Wow thank you for such an great post. I love your photos and site so it’s really great hearing some tips that helped you along the way.

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18 Toni | Boulder Locavore December 28, 2012 at 2:01 pm

As always a thoughtful post chock full of great tips for those starting out. A personal thank you for the Clicky advice which I just installed on my site and love! It’s comprehensive but friendly-feeling at the same time. Best of everything to you both in 2013!

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19 Herbivore Triathlete December 28, 2012 at 5:45 pm

This is a great post, very thorough and informative. I have bookmarked it and will be reading and re-reading frequently I’m sure as I’ve just recently started my own blog. Thanks for sharing all your knowledge.

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20 Mallory December 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm

Thank you so much for these tips! They are super helpful especially for someone basically in the beginning stages of starting a blog. I hope you’re having a great holiday season!

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21 julie December 29, 2012 at 5:29 am

Thank you for sharing this informative post. I shall look forward to perusing all the links you have provided.
There goes my afternoon ;)

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22 Evi December 30, 2012 at 5:26 am

Thanks for this- it’s very helpful. As a blogger for 2+ years, I’ve been wanting to upgrade from Wordpress.com, and this is very helpful! Appreciate you sharing this!

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23 Cookin Canuck December 30, 2012 at 8:24 am

This is great info for someone starting out. Believe me, I wish someone had written a post like this when I first started!

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24 Archana December 31, 2012 at 1:39 pm

This is such an informative post! I struggled with all these questions when I was a beginner blogger. This will surely help out a lot of new food bloggers!

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25 Sarah January 2, 2013 at 11:36 am

Thank you for taking time to share this post! I love wordpress.com too.

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26 nancy baggett January 4, 2013 at 9:22 am

Though I’ve been blogging a while, there was still a lot to learn here–many thanks for this info-packed post. One little suggestion I can add: I started submitting my photos to Foodgawker and Tastespotting and really paying attention and responding to their criticisms (there were many) to help myself take better pics. It was such a useful, gratifying process I’ve posted about it–and have gotten a good response.

Wishing you good health, happiness, and more successes in 2013. Did you hear that Simply Sensational Cookies made the NPR TOP TEN Cookbooks of the Year list? A kudo we should ALL be proud of!

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27 Kelly Senyei (Just a Taste) January 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm

This is such a wonderful feature to be launching, Todd and Diane! Thanks so much for the shout-out to my book :)

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28 Marcie @ Flavor the Moments January 6, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Having just started my food blog a few months ago, I’m finding loads of useful information here. Thank you for sharing all of your resources and tips!

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29 Mr Lady January 10, 2013 at 7:51 am

You two rule. That’s all. :)

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30 Blu January 15, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Thanks, especially for numbers 5 and 6. I’m still working on mine, and with my pinched time, those are exactly what I need.

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31 Miss Kim March 12, 2013 at 1:16 am

Todd and Diane, this post was very informative. I first came across it when I googled “How to Start a Food Blog,” Your post was extremely helpful, breaking down all the basics in step by step directions. I just launched my blog this week! And your guidance is much appreciated. There is still so much for me to learn in the world of food blogging, and I think the tips and advice you guys provide on all of your wonderful sites will help budding food blogs as mine, blossom.

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32 Mary Genotti Collins August 6, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Ok, I’m very new to this. (my blog is on wordpress). http://beansoupandpretzels.com.

I’ve created the blog, and paid for the site through Wordpress…..Do I still need to choose a host? Is this going to allow my site to be seen?

I’d appreciate any help you can provide.

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33 White on Rice Couple August 8, 2013 at 6:30 pm

In your case, you are paying for the hosting when you pay wordpress. We can see your site now. Good job!

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34 Shakti September 29, 2013 at 6:57 am

Excellent! I am just wondering how to Thank You :-D! I was wondering on how to start my blog and I just landed on the right place. Thank you very much. God bless more success for you.

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35 Mary Genotti Collins October 21, 2013 at 11:53 am

Hi,

I’ve been adding to my blog. But I don’t seem to get many people who want to “follow”…..I do have seemingly a lot of people on the site as I added facebook and Pinterest. I don’t think these are “willing participants”…..

Seems to be just because I added FB? Can you give me some hints on how to increase the visibility and traffic to my site?

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36 Michele November 17, 2014 at 12:51 pm

A great post and very helpful – thanks for sharing all your tips and advice.

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