One thing that I’ve often been asked to write about is starting a blog. MarocMama started out primarily as a food blog and has expanded to include a lot more. If you are contemplating starting your food blog, above all, enjoying cooking is not enough. There are quite a few different things you need to keep in mind and know how to do.
Cooking and creating recipes is one step. You also need to know how to document a recipe, take photographs, learn SEO, manage a website, learn some technical functions, as well as social media. While it’s impossible to really detail each and every step, in this post I’m going to share some of the steps to take if you want to get started. While this is aimed a bit at food blogging, many of these same things apply no matter the subject matter area you choose.
Choose Your Specialty
There are thousands of different websites online and each of them is unique and interesting in its own way. Choosing something that helps you stand out from the crowd will make a big difference. For example, a general food blog that has any and every kind of recipe will have a harder time getting established than a very specific type of website which has less competition.
Here are some suggestions to help you find your niche:
- vegans or vegetarian recipes;
- International food – refine it even mroe to specific cuisines;
- Trialing and writing about new food products;
- Street food while traveling;
- Review of cookbooks;
- Food photography website
- Breakfast recipes
These examples are just a few of the ways you can specialize your website. It’s important to pick a topic that not only has potential but is interesting to you. Remember you’re going to be writing about this topic for many, many articles. A good way to start is to sit down and brainstorm to see if you can come up with 50 different topic ideas. This sounds like a lot, and you’ll likely veer from these ideas but it’s a start.
Choose the Platform
Many people start blogging, or at least building a following, on social media like Instagram, YouTube, or Tik Tok. This isn’t necessarily a bad idea but keep in mind you don’t own those sites. Any of those platforms could decide (and this has happened to many people I know) to close your account or delete it accidentally. You will have lost everything with little way to retrieve it. Building a standalone website is much safer. I’m a big fan of WordPress but Squarespace is another decent option to consider.
You can start blogging for free, however, with most free platforms you’ll be limited as to what you’re able to do. You can generally purchase a domain (that’s the www.yourwebsitename.com) and hosting to start your website for under $100 a year. It can be a little bit of a challenge to set up, and there are services you can hire to help you however YouTube is your friend! If you can follow along with a video you can most likely do a setup yourself.
Picking Your Website Name
What’s in a name? Quite a bit actually. Give some serious thought to whatever name you choose. You want it to be easy and catchy; it should give the reader some insight into what they’ll find when they access your site. Consider how easy it is to tell someone what your website is. Avoid complicated spellings and punctuation as this will be hard for people to remember and type in.
Blog Appearance and Navigation
One of the most fun and frustrating parts of building a website is its appearance. You want to design your blog to make a good first impression. Carefully consider the visual design, primary colors, and fonts. You also will want to set up clear and simple navigation so readers can reach your material easily.
- Choose a few basic colors that will match all your posts. This will make your blog look more aesthetically pleasing. I like to use Canva Pro to save all my colors, fonts and logos. I also use it for many other design elements.
- Your blog design should be responsive. Most users browse content on their smartphones. A responsive website means that what you see on a desktop translates to a smaller screen efficiently and clearly.
- Create a basic sketch of the layout. This will assist you when it’s time to put plans into action. If you can see the design you like, you can more easily translate that to a screen. Or, if you’re hiring someone they can see what you have in mind.
- Create simple and straightforward navigation. Think about which pages you are directing to and place them on your site. Some of the main pages to include are: an about me page, work with me page, and category pages as a few examples.
Planning Your Content
Posting content is the cornerstone to blogging. If you’ve gotten this far and aren’t scared off yet it’s time to really dig in.
Remember that brainstorm you did when coming up with a topic? This is a good starting point! Consider building a content plan ahead of time to help keep yourself organized. Keep a regular spreadsheet or use the schedule posting tool.
The following tips will also help you with content creation;
- Decide how often you will post. Then build out a plan for what you will publish on the dates you have indicated.
- Consider batching your creation. Can you spend one day a week preparing dishes, another writing content, another editing photos and and another posting? This may not be as necessary when you start out but as you grow and potentially publish more often you may need to have a workflow.
- Take a peek at your competitors. If there are others in your niche, take a look at what they are doing or what they’re not doing and use that for inspiration and ideas. Don’t copy but it’s always good to keep a pulse on what’s happening.
- Constantly improve and share your knowledge. You’re an expert – that’s why you chose your subject. Use your knowledge to inform your readers.
- Back up your writing and recipes with mouth-watering photos and mind-blowing video content. Images and video are really important to a food blog so plan to either do this yourself or outsource it.
- When creating videos, use a Mac video editor, or a Windows depending on your platform. This will let you slow down or speed up your cooking, use amazing filters and add transitions between frames. Video is a big time investment however it is becoming more and more important.
- Add photos of your dishes and the cooking process to each blog. Learn to work with light to achieve full detail on all objects and ingredients. To add additional visual effects, use a photo editor.
- Share your posts to any social media channels that you decide to create.
- Once you have content up, analyze your posts. This will help you see what is popular and what people like- then create more of that!
Promoting Your Content
So what happens once you write all of this great content and have all of these amazing recipes? Sometimes readers will find you through search. But having other promotional methods is also important.
1. SEO is one of the most important things you can do when writing blog posts. This can be a complex and confusing world but spending time to learn about best SEO practices from the beginning will save you a lot of time and effort later on.
2. Build a social media following. You don’t have to be on every platform, to start it’s a good idea to pick the one that most appeals to you. Then be consistent and learn the ins and outs of that platform. You can add more later but it’s better to do one well than more only sort of good.
3. Grow an email list. Along with your website, having a strong email list is one of the best and most effective ways to reach readers. I like to use ConvertKit for my newsletter but there are several different platforms that exist.
How are you feeling?
This is a lot of information and truly just the tip of the iceberg. Food blogging – and any blogging for that matter – is not quite as easy as it looks however it can be very rewarding and lucrative. It does take time and effort to get there but if you truly feel a drive to do this, it’s possible!