So you want to start a food blog, or any blog for that matter, but you don’t know where to start… I hear you! Its actually very easy to get started and this little step by step tutorial will help get you started.
Here we go, first things first…
Disclaimer: some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you click through on some of these links, with no extra cost to you, we will get a small commission of the sale. We have had a personal experience with each product or service that I recommend below or they have helped me in my self-education journey.
Setting up your Site
Domain Name and Hosting
The first thing you need to do is come up with a name for your blog! This is fun, but it can also be SUPER difficult! It took us months to come up with a name we liked! But we finally did it. You will too.
Once you do, head on over to BlueHost and on their front page click the “get started” button. (There are a couple other hosting services, but we use BlueHost. They have such amazing customer service, I would recommend them to anyone)
You will then be directed to a page with 3 package options. I suggest you start with the “starter” or the “plus” package. You can expand your service to a dedicated server later if you need to. You wont be charged anything yet.
Next, you are sent to a page where you can search for a domain. You want your URL or Domain to be the same as your blog name. For example, if your blog name is going to be “I Love to Cook” then you want your site URL to be www.ilovetocook.com.
When you purchase a hosting package, your domain comes free!
Purchasing your domain and hosting package is very easy as BlueHost will walk you through each step. However, if you need any technical assistance, they have EXCELLENT customer service! I have needed them desperately once or twice and they always patiently explain how I need to do things or they help me from their end as well. I cant say enough good things about their customer service…
Good, now you have a domain. On to the next…
Set up WordPress
Setting up Worpress on your site is pretty easy, but it can seem confusing at first. Once you have selected your domain, click on the “cPanel” (or control panel) which will take you to a new page. There you will see a section called “Website Builders”.
Click on “WordPress”. Then on the next page, click “Install”
The next page will ask you to select the domain that you want to install WordPress on. So choose your domain from the drop down box and leave the rest of the options blank. Hit “Check Domain”.
On the next page, simply check the “advanced options” box and another box will drop down. Here is where you enter your admin user name and password for your site. This will be how you log into the dashboard of your site. Make it a good one! Then check the “terms and conditions” box (after reading them of course) and hit “Install”. Your install will begin right away and it wont take long for it to finish!
Once its complete, you will be in the MoJo marketplace. On the left hand side you will see an option called “My Installs”. Click this and you will be directed to a page with a list of your installs/sites. You want to click on “Admin Login” and then log into your site.
Sweet! Now you have a site!
I remember when I first got our site live. I had to go and check the URL in google just to make sure. It was exciting! Even though it was just a bare bones site then…
Designing Your Site
The easiest way to make your site look pretty is by installing a pre-made theme. A theme is like an outline that allows you to make your site beautiful without writing a stitch of code. You can preview the theme before you install it on your site and see the available options and customization’s. It can actually be quite difficult to pick a theme because there are so many options!
You can find free themes by visiting the WordPress Themes directory or you can access it from your sites dashboard under “appearances” → “themes” → “add new”. From there you can either choose a theme by clicking on it and then clicking “activiate”, or you can choose “upload” to load a theme that you have downloaded elsewhere, free or purchased.
If you choose to go with a free theme, you can always change it later on pretty easily so don’t get too hung up on this. If you like a free theme, try it out.
There are a million themes out there! A million! Which makes it so difficult to choose. I have tried out a whole bunch and finally settled on this one that I love:
Genesis Framework – The Genesis Framework by StudioPress is used by SO many food bloggers, and for good reason. Its easy to use and highly customizable. Its more of a framework than a theme in itself. It is the ‘bones’ of the site and then you can build on to it. It has great support (this is so important) and with so many people using it, its easy to find answers to questions you may have on forums because someone has likely asked it before.
Foodie Pro Theme – Our site uses the Foodie Pro theme which is a child theme of the Genesis Framework. There are a lot of food bloggers using this theme, but it is easy to make it your own with a few tweaks of color and an original logo. Its beautiful and so easy to work with. The creator of Foodie, Shay Bocks, has also created a number of tutorial videos and if you follow them, its extremely easy to set up your theme and customize it how you like. If you know a little HTML, you can customize it further. You can buy the Genesis and Foodie theme together on the Studio Press site or you can purchase them separately.
Plugins are funtions. They make your site do, or not do, things that you want. You dont need them, but many of them are important for you to install on your site.
Here are some of the important ones that we have installed on our site:
Akismet – no one likes spam and trust me, you will get it. This plug in will greatly reduce, if not eliminate, spam comments on your site.
All in One SEO Pack – you want your recipes to get found in search engines and this plugin will help you do just that. Well! Its very simple. When you are finished writing your post, scroll to the bottom and enter a post title, description and keywords. Another alternative to this plug in is WordPress SEO by Yoast. Both are great plugins.
Easy Recipe Plus – this one makes your recipes look professional. Sleek and well formatted. It has an easy print button and offers the option to integrate Ziplist so readers can save their favorite recipes to Ziplist straight from your blog. The free version is great, but the paid Plus version offers more options like adding a photo to the recipe card.
Google Analytics – I am obsessed with Google Analytics. This plugin, links with Google Analytics to give you real time numbers of visits to your site, page views, where the traffic is coming from and what pages are getting action. You will need to to sign up for a separate Google Analytics account and link it to your blog through this plugin. They also have a mobile app so you can check your stats from anywhere. I love this!
Limit Login Attempts – Luckily we have never had anyone try to hack our site, but I have heard of many other sites being hacked or they have had hack attempts. This plugin limits the number of times a person can try to log into your site.
WP to Twitter – totally not essential, but its pretty cool. When you hit publish on your blog, it automatically sends a tweet out notifying your followers of your new blog post.
Tools You Need
Vaultpress – I cant think of many worse things than spending countless hours creating your site and adding content only to have it crash and you loose everything! Vaultpress backs up your site and you can restore it with the click of a button if something were to go wrong. ESSENTIAL! And starting at $5 a month, its affordable too.
And thats it! Your ready to start cooking and posting.