How To Start a Food Blog

Starting a blog is one of the best ways to build an audience, get your ideas out into the world, and possibly make some (or a lot) of money while doing what you love. Everyone has different reasons for beginning a blog and different goals in mind when they do so. Your personal path will dictate some of the choices you make along the way. One thing that is true for everyone, however, is that the only way to succeed is to get started.

Taking that first step can be a huge challenge, but by the end of this article, you should have the tools you need to feel confident and prepared to start your food blog today.

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This article is a great place to learn the strategy of a food blog. If you want step-by-step instructions on how to start your own food blog, check out our free blogging course. 

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What Is Your Blog About?

If you’re here, the answer to this question seems obvious. You’re writing a blog about food! Having a topic in mind is the right first step, but to succeed you will need to go a little deeper and determine what, specifically, you want to accomplish with your blog. Are you starting a healthy food blog? A vegetarian food blog? A decadent food blog?

Knowing on a deeper level what you want to create with your blog will help you clarify your focus and ensure you take the right steps to differentiate your work.

There’s a quote that fits this situation perfectly:

"If you try to be everything for everbody, 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 Food.com all at once, you will find yourself supremely outmatched and on the road to disappointment.

Your goal is to find a subject that is more narrow than “food”, but broader than “capers”. If your topic is too broad, you will not stand out. If it’s too narrow, you will fast run out of things to say or never establish an audience big enough to sustain your blog.

Some examples of niche food blogs are:

  • Easy Recipes Blog - A Simple Pantry
  • Attempting Recipes From Cookbooks Blog - Bon Appetempt
  • Recipes with Salt Blog - Not Without Salt

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.

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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 want to achieve chef-level results, or are you writing to an audience who just wants to get food on the table for their family after a long day of work? No matter what the core focus of your blog is, considering the people you want reading it will have a significant effect on the tone of your blog and the content you produce.

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:

Tanya Teragon 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 food 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 food blog may include:

  • FoodNetwork.com
  • EatRight.org
  • FoodandWine.com
  • Saveur.com

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 food blog. They include:

Evergreen Articles

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.

One great option for evergreen content on a food blog is book reviews – whether they be cookbook reviews, cooking instruction book reviews, nutrition book reviews, or other food-related books. You can mix up new book reviews with older, classic book reviews, to bring in more and more readers. People will continue to search for reviews on classics year after year, so you are creating evergreen content with your classic book reviews that will serve your site well into the future.

Videos

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.

Compelling video is a must-have for your food blog – so what subjects should your videos cover. All your content, including videos, should come from your niche. If you are teaching people how to cook, you have obvious video opportunities! You can create how-to videos to teach cooking lessons. If you review restaurants, you can create video reviews of your experience. Don’t worry if your first videos are not amazing. You will get better with practice!

News-type Articles

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 news-type articles you write for your food blog should cover things of interest to you based on your niche. If you are writing about Italian cuisine in your area, you can write news-type articles about new restaurants opening, for example. You are already exploring the internet for ideas for your blog, anyway, so it should not be difficult to pick up news-worthy info here and there to include in your blog.

Image-heavy Content

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 food blog is an ideal place for image-heavy content. You only have to look at some of your favorite food blogs to see how much photography comes into play. Many successful food bloggers are also skilled in food photography, and it shows on their blogs.

You may be excited to try your hand at food photography, or you may have little interest. Whatever your feelings for taking photos, you can start developing a habit of planning images as part of your blog research. You may collect images as part of your research process, or you may start taking photos to include in your blogs. You could also do both! Just keep pushing yourself to incorporate images into your work so that your audience will keep coming back for more.

Mix and Match

Your blog doesn’t have to follow just one of these content delivery strategies. In fact, it shouldn’t! A successful blog requires multiple types of content, and you want your blog to be successful. It is normal to prefer one type of content over another, especially when you are only comfortable producing one type – like long-form articles, or short blog posts. But keep pushing yourself to try out new types of content. Take photos. Record videos. Write news-type posts. Eventually, you will gain the skills you need to incorporate all the types of content your readers want.

How To Make Money From A Food 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 food 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

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.

The Amazon Affiliate program is a great fit for a food blog. This platform has a very low barrier to entry and pays commissions to publishers for sales that they help facilitate on products from Amazon. Every single time you facilitate a sale through your blog, you get a cut!

Your food blogging is going to give you a lot of opportunities to incorporate Amazon links. You may be reviewing books, using ingredients, trying out new equipment – all of these subjects are perfect for placing links to products on Amazon. Your readers are going to want and expect such links, so it is in your best interest to give them those links. And each time they click and purchase something, you will get a commission.

Many food blogs start with Amazon Affiliates because it is such an easy way to start making money from a blog. Small blogs may pull in a few dollars, but larger blogs can make thousands from this model.

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 on a food blog is an Ebook of recipes that you develop. If your food blog is focused on cooking, baking, fermenting, or any other type of food production, chances are you are going to want to come up with some recipes. Your audience will certainly be interested in those recipes. While you may give many away for free as part of your blogging, you can reserve some for a cookbook and sell it in Ebook format. An Ebook of recipes from a popular food blog can sell for $10 - $30 or more.

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 food blog will be based on the niche you are in and the kind of blogging you do. Many food bloggers wind up selling hardcover cookbooks and/or books of food photography to their audiences. Cookbooks in hardcopy are much easier to use in the kitchen, which is why so many food blog lovers jump at the chance to get a real-world book from their favorite blogger.

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.

If you teach people how to cook on your food blog, you can easily sell tickets to cooking lessons or seminars in your area. As long as you have a strong base of readers, the demand for your in-person instruction will likely be high.

Since you have positioned yourself as an expert in your niche, your time is worth a premium. Just make sure that you do not overextend yourself, especially at the beginning. When the demand for your time is high it can be hard to say no, especially when the pay is good. But remember, your long term business relies on your blogging, so you need to keep your blog going strong to keep business coming in.

Next Steps To Get Your Food 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!

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