I get a lot of emails with the question: How do I start a food blog? As in, all the technical stuff. Do I use WordPress? What theme is best? What kind of hosting plan? etc. And the truth is that I don’t do it all myself so I’m not the right person to ask. Luckily, my husband Mikkel, who handles most of these things for me, has written this guide to how My New Roots began, and how you can start your own food blog too.
What is a good name for a blog or website?
Your food blog needs a name but instead of being caught up in .com domain name availability, I would actually recommend that you find a name that you really like when you start your food blog (because it is going to be with you for a long time). Sarah’s first name idea for this site was “New Roots” but since that was already used elsewhere, she added “My” and My New Roots was born.
Another important aspect of your naming is that it will force you to think about the focus of your blog so you can stand out in the crowd. With the abundance of blogs today, it is hard to get a following with a very general theme but if you get more specific, it is more likely that people will start following and recommending your blog.
Get a domain and a host
You can register your domain at a lot of different companies but registering the name and getting a hosting plan with the same company is the easiest way if you’re just starting out. I would recommend bluehost.com because you can get started for less than $5 per month and the domain name is free when you sign up for hosting too. Think about it: your cost of running your new business is less than $5 per month. Not bad!
When you’re up and running with a domain and WordPress, you can focus on what really matters: your content.
Plus, Bluehost has this neat little green button:
Once you’re up and running with a domain and WordPress you can focus on what really matters: your content.
Did you just come up with a genious name for your site? Then register it right away: choose the Basic plan and off you go.
Install a theme and design your blog
Already have a domain? Congratulations, you’ve gotten over the first hurdle! Now, to the blog itself. “What theme do you use?” This is probably one of the questions we are asked the most. My New Roots runs on a customized theme, but in its structure it’s very close to the free theme Twenty Twelve by WordPress. The free WordPress themes Twenty Twelve, Twenty Fifteen etc. are actually very good candidates if you are just starting out because their designs are very simple so you don’t have to remove a lot of colors and images to make them your own. Simply add a logo, change the font if you like and you’re ready to start posting. Because the “Twenty …” themes are made by the WordPress team there are frequent updates so your theme works with the latest browsers and is fast and secure.
If you want to invest just a little bit of money and build a solid foundation for growing your site, and you like having a support email in case any problems arise, then I recommend buying a licensed theme – you can find themes specifically for food bloggers at Themeforest.com or have a look at the excellent food blog theme Foodie Pro theme by Studiopress. Buying a theme like Foodie Pro will not only give you solid code that is SEO friendly, fast and reliable, it also means that you can build your website using the Genesis Framework, which is essentially a really user-friendly way to build a website without knowing a thing about code.
Finally, it’s a good idea to use a child theme if you make changes to a theme – this means that you keep your own customizations (logo, colors etc) separate from the main theme so you don’t risk getting your changes erased by an update. You can read a good introduction to child themes here. Or, if you run Foodie Pro with Genesis: congratulations, that’s all taken care of for you.
The biggest challenge of webdesign is that you can do everything but that doesn’t mean that you necessarily should do it. You can choose a really fancy font but some people with older computers may not be able to see it and it can make your site slow, you can make rotating slide shows and have nice effects but they may become something people scroll past the 100th time they visit the site. Therefore:
1. Make a simple logo or logotype. Less details makes it better for the web, in general.
2. Choose a font that is easy to read, and please keep the text left aligned.
3. Learn how to take good photos – here are some photography tips from Sarah
Do I need to hire a designer?
If you’re just starting your food blog and want to keep the budget in check, then no. You can easily get started on your own, especially if you’re a little handy with Photoshop and Illustrator. If not, watching a few tutorials online will get you comfortable with the most basic techniques that you will need in day-to-day photo editing, and making graphics for Facebook and Instagram. You can make a logotype just by using a font you like and adjusting it a bit (remember to get a proper font license or use a free font). Here’s a little guide to making a beautifully simple logo for your food blog.
Ready to publish!
This is what it’s all about: writing your posts, taking photos, and connecting with people who are interested in the same subject that you have chosen to write about.
Have fun, and feel free to ask questions in the comments!
Mikkel / My New Roots