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This article is a great place to learn the strategy of a cooking blog. If you want step-by-step instructions on how to start your own cooking blog, check out our free blogging course.
What Is Your Blog About?
If you are here and reading this article, the answer to this question seems obvious – you are writing a blog about cooking! Knowing what your topic is certainly required, but to succeed you will need to think a little deeper about the specific goals you have for your blog. Are you starting a blog about how to cook Italian food? A cooking gear review blog? A blog about cooking techniques?
Getting clear about what type of content you want to create will help you focus and ensure that you have a chance of standing out from the crowd.
There’s a quote that fits this situation perfectly:
"If you try to be everything for everybody, you will be nothing to no one."
Establish Your Niche
When creating a new blog, you need to find your niche. This is the corner of the market that you have the most knowledge about, the place you can establish yourself as an absolute authority. If you try to take on Serious Eats all at once, you will find yourself squarely outmatched and very disappointed.
You need to find a subject that is narrow enough that you can stand out, without being so narrow that you run out of things to say or cannot establish a large enough audience to sustain your blog. You want a subject that is more narrow than “cooking”, but wider than “how to make basil pesto”.
Some examples of niche cooking blogs are:
Name Your Blog
Once you’ve found your niche, it’s a great time to start brainstorming a name for your blog. You’ll want to pick a name that’s brandable and available. Use our domain name tool to check if your name is available. If it is, scoop it up before someone else gets to it first.
Brand Your Blog
The strongest and most memorable businesses are built on a solid brand. When developing your brand, think about what your business stands for. Customers and clients are looking for companies that have a compelling brand, as much as they are shopping for high-quality products and services.
Creating a logo for your business is vital for increasing brand awareness. You can design your own unique logo using our Free Logo Generator. Our free tool will help you brand your business with a unique logo to make your business stand out.
Finding Your Audience
Having a good sense of who is going to be reading your blog is one of the best ways to know what type of content to create, how to shape it, and, ultimately, how to grow your following. With a clear understanding of your niche, understanding your audience should come more naturally.
Finding your target audience - the people you want hanging out on your blog - isn’t only statistics and demographics. It requires a deeper understanding of who these people are and what they want. Your target audience is the people you’re writing to when you write your blog.
Are you writing to food lovers who are brand new to cooking? Or, are you writing to home cooking enthusiasts who are looking for ways to improve their skills? No matter what the core focus of your blog happens to be, thinking about the people you want reading it will make a big impact on how you write and what you write about.
Create a Persona
One way to understand your audience is to create a persona of your perfect target audience member. This essentially means creating a mock-up of the ideal person you hope to reach with your blog.
Here is an example of a target audience persona:
Having a persona for your perfect audience member helps you to visualize and understand who you are writing for and provides important direction to your content.
Be Your Own Persona
Another popular way to find your perfect target audience is to be your own persona. Many of the best products and services come from scratching your own itch. It’s possible you’ve searched for the perfect cooking blog to read, came up short, and decided to create it yourself. This makes you the perfect audience member for your own blog.
This can be a great strategy for creating highly effective content. If you’ve noticed a meaningful omission in blog content, chances are you are not alone. By writing personally satisfying content you are likely to reach an audience in search of the same things.
Where Is Your Audience Hanging Out?
No web content exists in a vacuum. While you should strive to create uniquely entertaining content for your blog, your target audience is almost certainly already out there reading other blogs, engaging on specialized forums, and using social media. Finding the sites where your audience already mingles is a great way to discover what topics they are most interested in, what language they are using, and what valuable content you can add to that mix.
Some examples for your cooking blog may include:
Visiting these sites is also a great way to begin engaging with your audience before your blog has even gone live. Jump into conversations on forums and in comments sections and get to know the people you’ll be writing for. This is a great, organic way to build relationships and direct people to your blog in its early days. Sharing your passion with like-minded people will make them more excited and passionate about supporting you in your blogging endeavor.
How Will You Present Your Work?
Traditionally, when most people think about a blog they picture written content on a page. However, there are several different ways to present your ideas on your blog, depending on your subject matter and target audience. Every blog will thrive with different formats, so it’s important to think carefully about how to best showcase your content before you start.
There are several effective methods of presenting the material on your cooking blog. They include:
As the name suggests, evergreen articles are composed of content that lasts. These articles are designed to have a long shelf life and continue drawing readers to your blog over time. They are typically long-form, text-based articles that delve more deeply into a particular topic.
A wonderful option for evergreen content on a cooking blog is cooking equipment reviews. There are so many different tools and pieces of equipment out there that you have used or would like to try out – whey not write reviews about them? Reviews are useful now and far into the future for your audience, which means the content can keep attracting visitors to your blog year after year.
While the video format is not new, the explosive growth of YouTube and the advent of new and innovative video-based tech like Snapchat and TikTok have shown the true power of video as an online medium. While you may think that creating video is much more difficult and expensive than writing your content, you have access to all the technology you need to make high-quality video content right on your smartphone.
Video is a must-have for your cooking blog, so you will need to think carefully about how your niche relates to video. There is a good chance that you can create video how-tos based on your niche. If you like to teach readers knife skills, for example, you could give demonstrations and/or lessons using video on your blog. If you are more focused on making a particular cuisine, you can create how-to videos for different recipes you want to showcase. Whatever your focus, you can find ways to make video work for your cooking blog.
News articles or other “announcement” type content can be a great way to gather new readers. One benefit of news content is the short-term but powerful increase in search volume during an event. While this bump may be temporary, it can be a great tool for grabbing new readers who end up coming back for more.
Writing about current events or new happenings also means there will typically be less competition for readers. Other blogs and media sources are all getting the information as it develops. Since the base of knowledge available is smaller, this gives you a good opportunity to add your own flavor to the article.
The downside to news-type articles is that they tend to lose popularity much more quickly than evergreen content. While the interest for an event may be very large one day, the next day people may already be moving on to the next shiny object.
The key to finding good news-type content for your cooking blog is to think about what you look forward to as the writer. Are you anticipating the release of new cooking tools or equipment that may make your job in the kitchen easier? You can write news-type pieces about upcoming developments in cooking gear. Or, if you are interested in cooking healthy food, you can write news-type articles about the latest studies in nutrition.
While most people expect to be reading when they visit a blog, image-heavy content can be very appealing and break up your text-focused posts to keep people’s attention. Depending on the topic of your post, displaying multiple images per page on a single subject can give your audience a better sense of what you are trying to convey.
While some topics may take to images very easily, like a car blog or a celebrity gossip site, others may require some deeper thinking to make this strategy work.
A cooking blog gives you so many opportunities to include great images. Whether you use photographs released by businesses and manufacturers, or you take your own photographs, you can find many ways to incorporate images into your blog.
If you write a blog about cooking various recipes, you can take photos as you go through the process and include them in your content. Or, you may spend time visiting different chefs to learn more about cooking. If so, you can take photos during your travels and interviews to post on your blog. You will learn the best times to capture images as you grow your blog and will eventually develop a system to ensure you always have plenty of high-quality images for your content.
Mix and Match
Your blog does not need to use only one content delivery strategy – nor should it. The most effective blogs use a variety of formats to create exciting, dynamic content, and so can yours. You will probably find yourself more comfortable creating certain types of content than others, but try to avoid focusing on only one kind exclusively. Stretch yourself by producing a variety of content, including images, video, and various written formats, to learn more ways to serve your audience. The more you step outside of your comfort zone, the better it will be for you and your readers.
How To Make Money From A Cooking Blog
One of the main reasons people start blogs is to generate some sort of profit. Whether you’re looking for a few hundred dollars per month or a job-replacing income, blogging is still an excellent way to make those dreams a reality.
There are a few great ways to make money from a cooking blog:
Display Ad Networks
Display ads are the simplest way for websites to generate any sort of income. Ad networks, like Google Adsense, are fairly simple to be accepted into, and implementation onto your site is streamlined and clean. If you’re just beginning to see some traffic to your blog and want to turn this into dollars, display ads are where most people start.
There are a few downsides to display ads, however. The first is that some feel they detract from the user experience on your blog. Most people have been to a site where large ads pop up and block the content in the middle of reading. This can be distracting, frustrating, and even drive people away from your blog. While it’s possible to clean up and control the type of ads you use, it can be a constant battle to balance effective ad placement with aesthetics and readability.
The other main downside is that they don’t pay a lot. These networks generally use a pay-per-click (PPC) model which, depending on the niche, can pay anywhere from $0.01 to $1.50 per click, most on the lower end.
While display ads are a great way to make your first dollars, you’ll want to make sure any negatives they bring are worth the profits they provide. Once you develop a solid following, you can consider moving on to more lucrative and effective profit-making options.
Affiliate marketing programs like Amazon Affiliate have become much more popular over the past few years, as they take the payment model from pay-per-click to cost-per-acquisition (CPA). This means you can refer as many users to an advertiser’s product as you want, but will only get paid when the user makes a purchase.
Both advertisers and publishers benefit from an affiliate marketing setup. The advertiser pays nothing until a sale is made and the publisher enjoys much higher commissions than the pay-per-click model.
Cooking blogs and the Amazon Affiliate program go together like peanut butter and jelly. The program is so easy to incorporate into your blog that anyone can do it, and every sale that happens through your site gives you a small percentage of that sale.
The process of integrating the program into your cooking blog can be seamless – you write about recipes, cooking techniques or cooking equipment, and you place links to products on Amazon into your content. Your readers will expect links to the products you talk about and many will appreciate the ease that comes with clicking a link and being able to purchase exactly what they need. Each time they click a link and buy a product, you get a cut from Amazon.
Many cooking blogs start with Amazon Affiliates as their first source of income, and most stick with it for years because it is so easy to use. A small blog may make a few dollars a month from the program, while a big blog can make thousands.
Sell Digital Products
Digital products are an online entrepreneur's dream. You create the item once, then sell it as many times as you can, with little to no cost of reproduction. This means that you can scale your business to infinity.
Examples of digital products are:
- Ebooks - A piece of writing, generally in PDF format. These can contain literally anything that your audience would want. They can either be true book-length all the way down to a few pages of content. Depending on your niche, audience, and subject, these can run from $1 to $100 per sale fairly easily.
- Gated Content - This is content that is served on your website just like any other article, except that is behind a “paywall”. If you are creating content that you don’t want to be released to anyone but your true followers, you have them sign up for an account on your site and charge them a subscription fee for access. Generally, authors charge anywhere from $5 to $200 per month for access to gated content.
- Online Courses - If you can teach a skill that your audience wants to learn, you can create an online course to sell to them. These courses can be formatted in whatever way makes the most sense to you, but most nowadays are video courses. Online courses can sell from $10 to well over $10,000 per course, obviously depending on the subject matter and audience.
A great example of a digital product that a cooking blog could sell is an online course on how to perform a complex or unusual type of cooking. For example, if you are writing about fermentation, you could create an online course on how to ferment various foods. You could get feedback from your audience to find out exactly what questions they have about fermentation, then offer them a course that answers those questions in depth. A well-produced course in this niche could sell for several hundred dollars or more per sale.
Sell Physical Products
Selling physical products is the original money-making strategy. You gather an audience that is hungry for something, you sell it to them, and everyone wins. You don’t have to be an inventor, designer, or manufacturer to sell products. Sites like Alibaba and AliExpress import already-made items into the United States and sell them for a markup.
The two main methods for the distribution of these items are: dropshipping and self-fulfilled.
Dropshipping is a method where you advertise a product on your site that you do not own. Once you make the sale, you inform the manufacturer, who will handle the shipping and handling to the end-user. While this is simple because you don’t have to worry about storing or shipping any items yourself, you’ll find that the margins can be quite slim.
Self-fulfilled sales are much more of a hands-on approach to sales. You buy the item from the manufacturer, store it, then ship it to the end-user once you have made the sale. While there is much more work involved, you’ll find that the margins per sale are much higher.
Product sales through a cooking blog do not have to be difficult if you think carefully about your niche. If you are ambitious, you can develop a product that will help make cooking in your niche easier and sell that product to your audience. Or, if you are not interested in developing a new type of cooking tool, you could simply brand products for your audience – like stationary, buttons, stickers, recipe journals, etc. Such products may only cost a few dollars to produce and then you can sell them for a considerable mark up.
While it can be very profitable when done well, selling products is not generally recommended for the beginner blogger. It’s best to secure an audience that you know will be receptive to the product before making a large investment in product development or acquisition.
Create A Service
Providing a service is another very basic money-making plan. If you can provide a service that you know your audience needs, you have a viable business on your hands.
Whether this service is delivered through one-on-one interaction with the user, through a piece of software that you develop, or by directly completing a task for the user, this is a great way to monetize your skillset and your blog.
The service you offer through your blog will depend on your niche. You could offer to cook for others – such as creating a pop-up restaurant in your area – or you could offer classes and/or seminars to teach others to cook based on your niche.
You have positioned yourself as an expert through your blog, which means you can charge a premium for your services. You will need to guard your time carefully, though, because it is easy to overextend yourself when so many people are demanding your services. You will also want to be studious in maintaining your blog output, because it is your blog that drives customers to your service.
Next Steps To Get Your Cooking Blog Started
Now that you have the strategies in place to build and grow your own blog, check out our free course: How To Start A Blog.
This course includes all the essentials on how to get your blog out of your head and onto its own website. Starting a blog is simple and inexpensive, so there’s no reason that you shouldn’t start today!
Free Course: How To Start A Blog
Free Course: How To Start A Blog
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