How to Start a Food Blog in 3 Easy Steps
A little about myself… If you don’t know me already, my name is Jess. I am the founder of Paleo Grubs. I started the blog a little less than a year ago, and have been making a living writing about the Paleo Diet ever since!
I was probably exactly like you before I started blogging. Terms were being thrown at me left and right.
Hosting, domain names, WordPress… What the heck!? I know it can seem very daunting if you have never blogged before, but let me tell you, it is so much easier than you think!
Now, this part is really uncomfortable for me :/ I am not use to talking about “making money online”, but I just wanted to be able to show you proof that it really is possible to make a living blogging about what you love!
Here is a screenshot of just one of my income sources for Paleo Grubs for last month…
I am going to help you get your blog up and running in 3 easy steps. By the time you finish your Paleo muffin you could have your very own, fully functional Paleo blog.
Even if you want to start a blog on something other than Paleo, all of these steps still apply! Just do what you love, that is the most important part. If you’re happy, everything else will follow.
So hold on, grab your favorite Paleo snacks and get ready. This is going to be fun!
Step One: The Essentials
A. Decide on a Name
What you name your Paleo blog is important, but it’s not so overly important as to become a huge stumbling block to getting started. Pick something clever or cute, make sure it has the word Paleo in it (although you don’t need to), and most of all make it something that you like and that you can get behind for the long term.
I chose the name PaleoGrubs.com on a whim. I loved how the name “brought us back to our roots” and also was slang for food. While you can’t take my name, there are SO many good available Paleo domains out there.
Here are some names that were still available at the time of me writing this:
IEatDinosaurs.com- Okay, this one is just a bit of a stretch. But the longer I think on it, it grows more and more on me. And if you want to go in that direction, DinoSteak.com is also available 🙂
When you have a great name in mind check to see if it’s still available to buy.
If the name you wanted is taken, just brainstorm a little more and you’ll come up with one that isn’t. And don’t fret too much, as long as you’re producing great content your domain name won’t be the make-or-break feature of your success.
Once you find a domain name you love, reserve it right away! You would be surprised at how quickly domain names can get scooped up. Even if you’re not ready to start blogging, reserve it now to make sure you can use it in the future.
B. Hosting Your Site
Once you have your domain name picked out and registered it’s time to host your site. Hosting is giving your website a place to live, so to speak. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of companies out there that would love to host your site so it can be hard to know which one to go with. Over the years I have tried out several and have come to the conclusion that you just can’t go wrong with BlueHost.
The way I did it was to sign up for a year at first to see how things go, and pay a bit extra to keep my personal information private with Domain Privacy Protection. Have a look:
Step Two: Making It Work
IMPORTANT: Make sure you have your hosting set up before moving on to this step.
A. Use WordPress to Manage Your Site
WordPress is hands-down the easiest content management system to use to make your blog work. Best of all it’s totally free, and with BlueHost you can install it in a few clicks. Once it’s installed and ready to go, making a new blog post is as easy as composing a new email.
The nice thing about using WordPress is that there are a bunch of Themes to choose from. Themes are what make a site look the way it does, and really sets the tone for how visitors will view your site and how they will interact with it. I am using a Theme called Typegrid from WPBandit. It’s easy enough to change themes within WordPress, but I recommend picking one you like at the start and sticking with it.
B. Setting Up WordPress
If you go with BlueHost you’re only a few minutes away from having your very own WordPress site up and ready. Once you’re logged into your new BlueHost account you’ll see the WordPress logo under Software/Services. Give it a click.
There will be a green “Install” button suggesting that you go with a brand new version. Click that button.
On the next page you’ll want to go with the “Stable” version, as we wouldn’t want any bugs or other issues on the site. You can leave the blank space blank and you don’t have to worry about the “Advanced Options” to get this rolling. Click on the “Complete” button at the bottom.
The next screen you’ll see is the “Installation Complete” screen, and this will contain the username and password they generated for you. Write them down so you don’t have any trouble with the next step. If you get an error message like this one below just opt to overwrite the files.
You’ll then be presented with the WordPress login screen, and you’ll be able to successfully log in because you just wrote down the information you’ll need to do so. If it looks like something you’d never remember, don’t worry, you’ll be able to change it later.
Once you’re into the backend of WordPress you’re officially behind the wheel of your very own Paleo food blog! But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, since Step Three is where the magic really happens.
Step Three: Making It Interesting
A. Creating Great Content
Now that you have a fully functional blog it’s time to load it up with great content that visitors are going to enjoy, bookmark, and share with their Paleo friends.
The best piece of advice on this part of the blog is to inject your personality into your posts. There are hundreds of Paleo sites these days, and the ones that people enjoy the most are the ones that showcase the personality of the blogger behind it. If you’re funny be funny, if you’re analytical be analytical. If you were a Paleo skeptic connect with others out there that are still on the fence. Just be you and you’ll attract followers that share the same mindset.
B. Pictures Are Worth 1,000s of Words
As entertaining as your writing is, most people’s eyeballs will be drawn to the flashy pictures of the food you make. There are a TON of lousy pictures of Paleo food out there, so don’t become yet another Paleo blogger that is using their smartphone to take dark, blurry, or otherwise unappetizing pictures of food. If your creations are works of art, do them justice and learn how to take great food pics with this Tasty Food Photography guide.
C. Shortening the Learning Curve
If you want to get up and running and get this thing successful as quickly as possible, you’ll benefit greatly from comprehensive steps that walk you through the entire process, even to the point where you’re tracking visitors and measuring your progress from month to month. Food Blogger Pro is a community of food bloggers that can prove to be an invaluable resource when just starting out.
Need more help? Take a look at my resources page. It has all of my favorite blogging tools and services that I use everyday and recommend to anyone just getting started or trying to grow their blog.
Or take a look at some of the helpful resources below…
10 Good Reasons to Start Your Own Blog – Still on the fence on whether or not to start your own blog? Here are ten reasons why it makes sense, and why you’re just person to do it.
3 Ways to Increase Your Blog Followers & Get More Traffic – Once you have your blog online and have populated it with some really good content, it’s time to bring an audience to see your new creation. Take away the mystery of getting traffic with these easy ways.
12 Ways to Monetize a Paleo Blog – The next logical step once you have your blog up and people are enjoying it is to make some money from it. Find out a dozen different ways you can make money from your blog while still being helpful to your visitors.
So I took your advise and started my own site today!!!!!! Thank you for the post and advice!!! My new site is paleoyogamomma.com
Do you have an email that I can send a few questions on this subject to?
I am so happy that I inspired you to start your own blog! I have been following you and you have been doing an awesome job so far. Keep on creating delicious Paleo recipes 🙂
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them on this page.
Thanks for sharing your story. How do you drive people to your website? I could use some pointers.
Also, where can I purchase a veggie pasta maker?
I would be glad to help 🙂
First things first, make sure you have awesome content with beautiful pictures. I can’t stress enough how important pictures are. Pictures will be your main source for getting traffic to your blog. Without them, it is a lot harder to share your recipes and articles on social media.
These are the 2 ways I used to drive traffic to Paleo Grubs when I first started…
1. Facebook: This is a must! Create a Facebook page for your blog and start building a community. Facebook is my favorite platform to interact with my followers. You can share new recipes, ask them questions and get important feedback on what they want to see next.
2. Pinterest: This is why pictures are so important. If you have beautiful pictures, then people on Pinterest will repin them. The easiest way to begin getting traffic on Pinterest is to create an account, build your profile with beautiful boards, and ask to join related ‘Group Boards’. The awesome thing about group boards is that they already have a built-in audience. So if there are 100,000 followers for someones group board, and you get accepted, you can pin your recipes to 100,000 followers instantly! Just be aware that some group board owners don’t accept Pinterest users with a low follower count, so it might be a good idea to get at least 100 followers before asking to join a group board.
This is how I built Paleo Grubs from 0 followers, to over 120,000. If you build awesome content, eventually it will pay off.
Let me know if you have any other questions!
Hi Jess, great blog and valuable advice! Any suggestions on how to grow the facebook community beyond personal network of friends? Is it still the same logic, keep improving photography so there is more chance the recipes get shared?
Your post on getting started is great! Thank you for the terrific advice.
Did you use wordpress.com or .org to start your site? Any themes you would recommend that make it easy to post printable recipes? thanks!!
I built the blog on the WordPress platform. I decided not to do the WordPress.com hosted site, because it gives you less control and really limits the functionality. Not to mention I really wanted to have my own unique domain. paleogrubs.wordpress.com just doesn’t have the same feeling as paleogrubsdev.wpengine.com
There is the option of starting your site on a WordPress.com URL, but it is a very big hassle to switch over once your blog is established.
I personally love the Thesis Theme and Genesis Framework. They are not free, but are super customizable, easy to use and are supported by hundreds of third party plugins. They are both also SEO friendly right from the beginning, and super intuitive to use.
Also, the free plugin I use to post all my recipes is the Recipe Card plugin. I absolutely LOVE it and is as easy as using a Word processing program like Microsoft Word.
Anyway, that is what I would suggest 🙂 I hope that helps! Please let me know if you have anymore questions.
Thanks so much for the info! Did you find it hard to use wordpress.org? I’ve heard people say it’s confusing for beginners. Or did you not use wordpress.org at all and I’m just still super confused about how all of this works ? 🙂
I would be happy to help you in anyway I can! That is the beauty of hosting with Bluehost. This is literally all you need to do to get a WordPress driven blog up and running when you host through them…
1. Sign up with Bluehost with the domain you would like to use.
2. They will send you a password to login to the backend of your site.
3. Login and use their free tool to install WordPress automatically for you.
4. Login to your blog with the username and password you created when you had WordPress installed.
That’s it! You will now have a fully functioning blog. You can of course customize things like your WordPress theme, colors, etc…
Please let me know if you have anymore questions 🙂
Thank you for all of this information – you make it sound very easy and do-able! I am pretty tech-challenged- do you think this is still do-able for someone without a lot of experience? I’m doing my best to learn all that I can about wordpress and will now look up Bluehost! This is something I really want to do but have be hesitant because of my lack of computer skills!
Hi Jess. Thanks for all the helpful tips. I am wanting to start a blog, and get rolling with a lot of stuff you wrote about here. Curious to know, do I need to do both Thesis Theme and Genesis Framework? I have a wordpress website and would like to start really using it as much as I can.
Many thanks, Angi
I am so glad the tips have helped you!
So the theme I would really suggest the most is the Thesis theme. It is my favorite and is super easy to set up and use, and is very customizable. If you do decide to go with the Thesis them you will not need to get the Genesis framework.
Their showcase really shows off all of the ways you can customize it and make it personal to you and your brand.
Ask me anything, anytime 🙂 I am more than happy to help.
I actually started a blog on wordpress.com and didn’t go to Bluehost? Will that be an issue? Do you have to start with blue host or does WordPress host as well
I paid the $26 to have my blog own domain (it’s not pale driven) but about what’s happening in my life right now?
Thanks for the help..
BTW: I love your site!!!
Good for you for taking the first step! That is the hardest part.
You will be able to use WordPress.com just fine, and will be able to have a functional blog, However, there are some major drawbacks of using WordPress.com instead of a host like Bluehost…
1. Bluehost is cheaper: The cheapest package for a full year of hosting with custom domain using WordPress.com is $99/year, while a 12 month package with Bluehost is $83.40/year. Mind you, there is not much difference in price, but WordPress.com hosting offers a lot less for more, and if you take advantage of the Bluehost discounts (24 and 36 month packages) you can save $12/year or $24/year when you get the 36 month discount.
2. All savings aside, WordPress.com offers much less than Bluehost. They don’t offer any premium themes and there is much less control over everything. Also, if your blog outgrows the shared hosting package with Bluehost they will transfer your whole blog for you to a faster and more powerful hosting package. This is HUGE! If you have ever tried to migrate a site from one host to another you know it is a big old pain in the butt!
Anyway, sorry about the rant :/ All things aside, either would work well for starting a blog, but I am obviously much more biased towards Bluehost 🙂
I’m confused. . . what is bluehost?
In order to have your own domain (yourdomain.com) without hosting at a place like Blogspot.com, which would make your blog address yourdomain.blogspot.com, you need a host.
Bluehost is a web host. I don’t want to get too technical (I’m not even sure if I could explain how it works!). But all you really need to know is that Bluehost will allow you to have your own domain name and a fully functional blog, as well as custom email [email protected], [email protected], etc…
I know it can be confusing when you are just starting! I hope this helped you a little. Just remember that you don’t need to worry too much about the technical details. It is very easy to get set up, and Bluehost will help you if you have any questions.
Hi Jess, people starting a blog with recipes, are these personal creations like a chef would do, or different recipes that are found out there on the Web?
Good question! You can really go either way 🙂 If you are doing a blog on a specific diet like Paleo, and are really not as comfortable with how the recipes work yet, I would suggest starting out by recreating other people’s recipes (just make sure to give them credit with a linkback to the original recipe).
However, if you are comfortable creating recipes of your own for whatever food niche you choose, do that! There is nothing better than original recipes, and people will love trying new recipes that are not everywhere on the web already.
@Kris I feel your pain! I was in exactly the same situation as you were when I started. It really does seem daunting in the beginning, but I promise, it is not as hard as it looks!
I have made the comparison before, but using WordPress is as easy as using a word processing application like Microsoft Word.
For the hosting, it is all laid out for you, in terms of the exact steps you need to take to get your blog up and running. Plus, most of it is completely automated. You don’t need to create databases, you don’t need to dig into code. To install WordPress on your web host, all you need to do is click 1 button, fill out a simple form, and it installs WordPress for you!
I know it feels overwhelming, but you can do it! Just take it one step at a time, day by day 🙂 As long as your passionate about what you are blogging about, everything else will follow.
Thanks for the encouragement! I set up my site last night without too much trouble – just followed your step-by-step and so far its been smooth sailing! I still need to set up a theme, but I’m on my way! So excited! I have a question about blog etiquette. If I want to link to another site/blog or quote someone else’s blog is it best to ask for permission? Also, if I were to want to do a book review or something similar what is the protocol for that? Thanks again for all you help this info have been invaluable!
That’s awesome! I am so happy I could help you get started 🙂
In terms of blog etiquette…
If your just linking in a post, you don’t need to ask permission. The only time you should ask for permission is if you are using another bloggers images or content.
A short blockquote is more than fine, just make sure to link to the bloggers original post.
In terms of book reviews, it is pretty much fair game. Most writers/bloggers LOVE to have reviews done of their books. However, if the review you write is negative, please know that the blogger may have issues with it, and if you are using any of their copyrighted materials (pictures of the book cover, logo, etc…), they may tell you to take down the review.
I want to note that I am by NO MEANS an expert on copyright issues, and that it would be best to talk to a lawyer on the legalities of it all or get permission before posting any copyrighted material.
I hope that helps!
Thanks Jess! That makes perfect sense! As far as pictures or images used to say illustrate a point or even just to liven up the post – is there a source for images that are available for use or do you just always use your own pictures/images?
I use mostly my own images, however when I need an image I don’t have i use Shutterstock.com
They offer a subscription of $249/month (it’s not cheap), but it allows you to download 25 images/day.
If you want to use the free route, you can use Creative Commons images that would work for your needs. Just make sure to pay attention to what type of license the image is, as some can be only used for specific purposes, and some require attribution when you use them.
Really, you are making that much money in a years time. I have a food blog, mealsalone.com that I started on Nov 17 2013 and I have yet to make a dime. I just started Hooked on Health about 2 months ago and desperately need to make a living from them. I am new to paleo and am not comfortable enough with it to really start creating recipes but eventually I will.
I would love to get your input on either or both blogs. Not sure what I will be doing with Meals Alone now that I am paleo.
Question? you show how much you get paid for Blogging, but sorry I am new to this how to you get paid? please explain more, thanks Sue
Hello – how does the income from your blog affect your personal income tax? I would be worried that it would mean having to pay in instead of getting a refund. Any thoughts on that?
I’ve been wondering about starting a blog for a few months now and love this post. How is it you can make money doing this though?
Thanks so much for the great info! I really should have read through the comments before jumping in. I’ve gotten my feet wet, but I agree with you – the themes on WordPress really limit functionality. There’s things I want to do that I just can’t. I’ve tried probably six or eight different themes now and, yeah, just not floating my boat.
I’m wondering, if I get the Thesis theme you mentioned, will it transfer all of my posts over like other WordPress themes do? I worry about paying for something and then having to start over. Not that it would be the end of the world, but…
I’m hours and hours into this and it just seems to be there should be an “easier” way. I’m thinking a more functional theme could be the answer. The rest? You did a great job outlining it in this post. Many thanks. And here is hoping I’m half as successful as you. 🙂
You are amazing. I’m so impressed that you not only took the time to write this post, but have answered so many people’s questions so thoroughly. Thanks for this!
Thank you for all your tips and inspiration. I was able to get the confidence to create my own blog by following your site instructions. I also love your blog!
What are copyright rules on blogging. If I find a recipe or product I like or don’t like and want to share it on my page (non existent right now) how can you pin somebody else’s recipe without running into trouble? I have been toying with blog idea for awhile, but always wondered what I could post safely. Thanks
Thank you Jess for all the wonderful info. and inspiration!!
Is there a recommended amount of time(s) per week to update a blog? Once a week, daily?
I’m apprehensive, but excited to finally take the plunge. We have an empty nest now and I thought this would be a great time to start. Wish me luck:)
Hi Jess 🙂
This may seem like a silly question, ( I feel like I may be dumb asking it…lol) but how do you make money/career off the website? If all your recipes are listed and printable with no fee for them. Is it from people signing up and following you? Like a monthly subscription? For example if I can access your website and make all these yummy paleo dishes at no cost, how do you make an income?
ps – which I do, I make your stuff all the time! I LOVE it 🙂
I’ve created blogs before but never made any money off them. How do I do that? Also, I’ve used hostgator in my previous blogs & websites. Are you familiar with hostgator and if so which one would you prefer? Thx!
Hi Jess! I want to echo the appreciation and gratitude of so many others for your generous time and effort to share with your followers how to start their own blogs and answer so many questions.
I see many have asked — exactly how DO you generate income through the blog??
I am really inspired and raring to go– and I would be most appreciative if you would kindly explain how it is that you generate income??
THanks so much!
And blessings on your work!
Gee … you seem like such a caring and giving person. I’ve been blogging 5 years but just learned of monetizing, etc a little over a year ago. I’m told I have super content … and I’m getting there but it’s been a struggle. Would you possibly be willing to look my blog over and advise … I’d LOVE to be doing as well as you are … goodness.
I write about holistic healing and other things as well … but lean more on healing the body naturally. I’ve just become really interested in Paleo Diet after finding out that a good friend was on it to try and put her Mystemia Garvis in remission and I have really become fascinated.
Would LOVE for you to analyze my blog if you have time…LOVE yours and your photo’s are unbeatable! Kay
Thanks for sharing your tips! I’ve always wanted to blog, but when it comes time to actually write, I never know what to write ABOUT. I definitely think food/diet is a great idea. You’re an inspiration to me.
This may seem like a silly questions, but how exactly do you make money from the blog?
Thank you for the info. I have always wanted to start a blog. I want to start one about fighting anxiety and depression. This may sound like a silly question but how do you get paid and also could I still use all these steps to start a blog that isn’t going to just be a food blog? Thanks
I so glad that I landed on your site. I was speaking to a doctor of mine and told her my daughter was diagnosed with gastroparesis, where her stomach muscles do not function properly and the food moves slowly. She told me about the paleo diet. I started checking into and im excited that this just might work for my daughter. She wasn’t putting on weight but steadly loosing, mind you she only weights 99 pounds at 23 years of age. She is now eating lots of salads, fruits and veggies and has put on 2 pounds. I am using the same diet and hoping it helps as I have a spactic colon. Any way thanks for being out there. I am going to try and start a blog hoping to reach out to those with the same issues. Thank you for listening.
Hi Jess……Wow! First let me say that you seem like such a loving & kind person to offer advice in a way that is simple to understand & interesting. I have wanted to start a blog for many years (just haven’t decided on what yet…funny). You have shown interest & sincerity to each of these people asking for your guidance, opinion & advice. You are patient & never condescending in any of your answers. You come across as someone I would enjoy following in my life. I came on your site from a facebook link that came across my page & I am glad you did! God Bless you & keep up the good work. Linda from Mississippi