How to start a food blog to make money, with up-to-date advice and tips from 2024 by someone who's successfully monetized. (I blog full-time.) If you've always wanted your own food blog, and "wanted to make money sitting at home" but have no clue where to start, this step-by-step guide is for you!
- Why Read My Advice
- What is a Food Blog?
- Summary Of Steps
- 1. Decide What Kind of Blog You Want
- 2. Choose the platform: Blogger vs WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
- 3. Buy the Domain
- 4. Hosting
- 5. Install WordPress, get a SEO Friendly theme and customise
- 6. Add Plug-Ins
- 7. Write and Publish!
- 8. Learn SEO
- 9. Promote Your Blog
- 10. Collect Emails!
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More Blogging Posts
- 💬 Comments
Greedygirlgourmet is the 3rd blog that I've started!
It's really easy to start a blog but there are some things that you need to take note of, besides just coming up with new recipes or posts.
Why Read My Advice
When I was looking at the Top 10 URLs for "how to start a food blog" I saw a lot of heavyweight bloggers on the list! They're much bigger than I am now, and so big I won't be able to grow to their level even 5 years later!
However, as my horse-riding instructor liked to say "Expertise Breeds Ignorance." When you're so successful at something, it can be difficult to remember and understand what troubles begginers are having!
I started focusing on my food blog end 2021, before I got into Mediavine 7 months later, so it's not so long ago that I've forgotten the struggles and the stuff I know now but wish I knew then! (I had a URL before that- but I set it up on the WRONG platform so I had to restart everything, which isn't great, because older sites tend to do better on Google :))
What is a Food Blog?
Before we go into the steps of creating a food blog, what is it?
There are so many types of food blogs:
- Recipe Blogs: this is the most common. The blogger shares recipes around a certain theme or cuisine.
- Reviews Blogs: The blogger reviews eateries and restaurants. In Singapore, where I'm from, most professional food bloggers are review bloggers. However, the main monetization for a review blog is through restaurant sponsorship, so there's a certain tension: can you really say something bad about the person who's paying you??? (If you want them to continue paying you in future, that is.) That's why I didn't go with a food reviews site.
- General Food Blog: you could be sharing about the culture and history behind the food. However, I've never seen one that did this without including something recipes!
Here are the steps to follow when starting a food blog:
Note: you can actually hire out the entire process of creating a food blog, if you don't want to get down and dirty. It will cost you, however!
Summary Of Steps
This is a summary of the steps of starting a blog, which I'll elaborate on more below.
- Decide What Kind of Blog You Want
- FREE if you brainstorm yourself
- Remember to focus on a niche- you want to establish yourself as an expert and authority in it!
- Choose the Platform
- Can be Free/ Paid
- Buy the Domain
- Can be Free/ Paid
- Choose a Reliable Host
- Can be Free/Paid
- I use BigScoots
- Install WordPress, get a SEO-friendly Theme
- Can be Free/Paid
- I use Feast
- Add Plug-ins
- Can be Free & Paid
- Some of my favorites include WPRM (for recipe cards), Thirsty Affiliates Pro for affiliate link management, ShortPixel (for image optimization) and more.
- Write and Publish
- Free if you do it on your own
- Learn SEO
- Can be free/ Paid
- Promote Your Blog
- Can be Free/ Paid
- Collect Emails
- Free till you get a certain number of subscribers
Note: as you can see, there are free and paid options for both. However, if you want food blogging to be a business, then you will need to invest (strategically) in your business!
1. Decide What Kind of Blog You Want
Do you want to share recipes, or review places to eat? Maybe both?
If so, what will they centre around:
- A location?
- A type of cuisine, such as Italian?
- A type of diet, such as gluten-free?
- An idea, such as party food or comfort food?
Note: Remember that if you want to monetize via ads, the American traffic pays the most, so you'll need to consider how well your niche works for the US!
Once you've decided, choose the name of your blog.
Tip: Don't stress too much about your niche. You can always pivot after a few posts, if you've decided on something else.
2. Choose the platform: Blogger vs WordPress.com vs WordPress.org
The first step is to find your blogging platform. There are quite a few out there now: WordPress, blogger, Wix, Squarespace etc.
I've used more than 1 content management system and find WordPress the most functional for publishing content. It's even used by "big sites" like Disney and Time! (According to W3techs, WordPress has over 60% market share.)
If you're looking to monetise via display ads (the most typical way of monetising a food blog), I highly recommend going with WordPress.org (self-hosted) as it makes it easier to build Google organic traffic and display ads.
Note: People often differentiate the 2 by saying that WordPress.com is free whilst WordPress.org is paid but that's not really true anymore. Both have paid options (but WordPress.org is still the "better", self-hosted one.) WordPress.com now has a premium option that you have to pay for so don't be suckered into getting that! (I made that mistake previously- I thought "Oh this is the paid one so it must be self-hosted!" Nope.)
Tip: Some people start their cooking blog with Google Adsense straightaway but, if you can afford to wait, it's best to wait for a quality ad network such as Mediavine or Adthrive. Ads slow down your site, making it harder to rank on Google, and you don't earn much with Adsense.
An alternative, great way for a new food blogger to earn money is through affiliate marketing. That's when you earn a small commission at no cost to the buyer, if a buyer buys something through affiliate links on your site. (You need to be registered as an affiliate for that company!)
If you plan on doing affiliate marketing, I highly recommend Thirsty Affiliates Pro. I installed it 2 days ago and my Amazon Clicks have SKYROCKETED by over 1000%. (Of course, there are so many other better affiliate programmes than Amazon out there, but it's 1 of the most famous hence I'm using it as a benchmark!)
I'm taking some courses on affiliate sales at the moment and will review them once I'm done. It can be tough to find decent affiliate programs for food blogging though, so let's see.
However, as the earnings of these highest paid recipe bloggers show, anything is possible!
3. Buy the Domain
You check whether the name you want is available on a domain name registrar or with your web host.
If available, buy it for 1 or several years, again through the registry or the hosting company.
Note: some hosts include the domain in their offering.
A reliable web host is also super important.
For web hosting, I use Bigscoots and am super happy with it.
It's pricier than BlueHost (which many SEO experts have warned about so I'd beware- a lot of bloggers recommend it because it earns them VERY nice commissions. Last I checked it was $65 per referral!) but Bigscoots is SO hassle-free.
I used to think Cloudways, my 1st host, was cheaper but after starting my friend and my 2nd site on Bigscoots, I realised that's not true! Good news as Bigscoots is so amazing, they even did the WordPress installation for my new blog for me!
Note: be very thoughtful about your blog name. My site was blocked by a friend's company as the IT department thought that it was, shall we say, an adult content website??? (My Mom thought it was hilarious. I find it semi-disturbing.)
Tip: You might also want to check that the name you have in mind is still free for social media accounts.
5. Install WordPress, get a SEO Friendly theme and customise
The next step is the theme!
I use the Feast theme and plugin, which runs on the Genesis framework via StudioPress. I am super happy with it in terms of website performance. I never stress about passing Google's Core Web Vitals these days!
Note that you still need to set it up so it's not completely plug and play, but the set-up is pretty easy thanks to their video tutorials. (It's basically a lot of checking of boxes etc etc.) They also recently introduced a "limited option" which is more or less set up for you. You won't have to do much, but at the same time you won't have much control over your site, so it's not for everyone.
Click here to read my review of the Feast theme- I particularly like how the team keeps itself (and me) up-to-date about SEO best practices.
However, do note that the design is pretty restrictive if you don't know much about coding. If you go with something else, make sure it has rich snippets so that you can get a boost in Google rankings!
Note: you can get a free theme on WordPress but not all are built for site speed (which is important if you want to make money off your site!)
6. Add Plug-Ins
This is entirely optional but WordPress plugins do add a LOT of functionality for a blog, and some can help it perform better in Google search too! (I've never heard of a successful food blog that doesn't have at least a few on their site!)
Note: I highly recommend the WP Recipe Maker plug-in for writing your recipes. I started with Create, but WPRM offers a better user experience. They have a free and paid version, but you can just use the free version for now. The team is amazing too- I emailed them with a question and Brecht, the founder, got back to me in an hour!
It's so good, my Mediavine colleague who uses them too decided to go for their Affiliate plug-in without doing too much research. (However, I recently shared my screen with her when I was using Thirsty Affiliate Pro, and now she wants to switch! :P)
Note: whilst not a plug-in, I suggest setting up your Google Analytics and Google Search Console too. You need to know what posts your readers like, to help inform your content strategy!
7. Write and Publish!
Congratulations, you are now a blogger!
All you need to do to make it official is to start writing and publishing blog posts!
Here comes the million-dollar question though: what do you write your first blog post about? You'll need to decide on your:
- content strategy
- editorial calendar
- photography style
8. Learn SEO
You could just write about what interests you and fits your food blog niche but that can make it hard to build an organic audience. I highly recommend learning keyword research so you learn what topics you can write about that interests you and your target audience yet still appear in Google search results!
In addition to learning SEO, you'll need the help of a keyword tool, such as RankIQ, KeySearch or SEMRush to help you choose keywords that you can rank for, and that people are looking for.
I took this keyword online course. Together with RankIQ, it helped me get to 50,000 sessions within 7 months (the number of sessions you need to join Mediavine, 1 of 2 "quality" ad networks which pay better.)
If you don't have time to learn keyword research, I recommend RankIQ, a SEO tool which has already picked out all the keywords with high volume but low competition AND which tells you what are the important words to include in your post to rank on Google! (I wrote a full review of their keyword library here.)
I took the Cooking with keywords course I mentioned above and my top 10 posts are STILL from the RankIQ keyword library! (There is a course for food bloggers as well as a separate course for non-food bloggers, available through the same link.)
Note: I recommend signing up for RankIQ ASAP as the keywords get removed from the library after a number of reports have been run on them. Another alternative is Food Blogger Pro, which is like a general course on food blogging- I've signed up and will share my thoughts on it once I have time to actually go through the modules!
9. Promote Your Blog
Set up your socials!
I get most of my traffic from Google organic traffic through SEO (I think at least 80-90%.) I'm happy it got me to Mediavine but I wish I had paid more attention to social media before, especially Pinterest.
Tip: Get a social sharing plug-in. It will create social share buttons like the ones you see to the left, for readers to easily share your posts. (I started with a free version before moving to the paid Mediavine Grow plug-in.)
Firstly, I like to have diversified sources of traffic as Google has been doing SO many core updates. It's a bit nerve wrecking when all your eggs are in the same basket!
Secondly, Pinterest traffic usually pays more because they're mostly from the US.
Lastly, third party cookies will be going away soon, so I would like to have other income streams, such as sponsored posts, and not just ad income. (A lot of sponsors like you to have a good Instagram or Tik Tok following.)
Note: having said that, Pinterest actually is more of a visual search engine and NOT social media. I just group it together since some peopel think it is social media!
10. Collect Emails!
I highly recommend Mediavine's FREE Spotlight Subscribe feature. It's a great way to get people to give you your emails without doing anything!
As for the sending of emails, I currently use Mailer Lite- and have an affilaite link for it. However, Ihave to honestly say I'm not sure whether I would recommend it. (I can't decide if it's me being a tech-noob or it didn't work properly, so I'll have to look into it then update you guys.)
Tip: start building your email list from Day 1. It took me years and I wish I'd started sooner!
Frequently Asked Questions
NO, not without permission. Some blogs do give permission for you to use 1 of their images IF you give them a do-follow link. (For example, I do! Backlinks help blogs, which is why many recipe bloggers participate in round-ups. To find out more about recipe round-ups, click here.) To see if a blogger has such a policy, check out their About Me page, or Editorial Policy page.
As with everything, some do and some don't. You'll be surprised how much some of the ones who DO earn money actually earn! We're taking more than 7 figures here! (Click here to see how much the top food bloggers earn.)
Nope. I know a full-time blogger with million views a month who doesn't take any photos at all! I take all of the ones used on Greedygirlgourmet, except for the ones I use in round-ups and 2 others (that I tried creating with AI! Can you tell which ones they are? If you can, I'll give you a FREE 1 hour Skype or Zoom coaching call to help you set-up your food blog!)
That would depend on you! Why are you starting a food blog and what do you want to get out if? For me, although I don't earn as much as I would have if I had stayed on the typical MBA (Masters of Business Administration) track, I LOVE what I do, and I'm happy at work everyday! (Stressed too, because there's only 1 of me and so much to do, but this sure beats my old corporate life!) However, if you had asked me this question before I monetised the blog, I would have been a bit on the fence. (It sucks not having any money for a long time!) So... the answer is, like so many things in food blogging, IT DEPENDS!
More Blogging Posts
- Thirsty Affiliates Review 2024: How it Increased my Affiliate Income
- 11 Tips: How to Write a Recipe Round-up
- Pinterest Strategies Course Review: Jumpstart Your Pinterest
- Best Indoor Gardening Kits for Edibles 2024
- Keyword with Aleka Review (SEO)
- Highest Paid Food Bloggers (2024)
- RankIQ Review After 10 Months (2024)
- Food blog SEO: how I increased Google traffic by 8x
This is not the end of the journey though!
Unless you used to work in Search engine optimization, you'll need to learn about SEO and how to get your own blog to rank on search engines (usually Google.) It's hard work but it's a lot of fun!
P.S. It will take a while for Google to start ranking a new food blog, so don't be discouraged if the 1st few recipes don't immediately show up in Google search!