Starting a Food Blog: The Big Four
How do I start a food blog? What company should host my blog? How do I customize my site? These are all questions that ran through my mind as I prepared to start Story Nosh. I thought it might be useful to others if I made my process transparent. Since I started about a month ago, it is all fresh in my mind! If you are thinking about starting a blog, I hope you will find this helpful! Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links.
Starting a food blog comes down to four initial choices. I say “initial” because it never really ends. Yet there are some big choices to make up front. If you aren’t good at making decisions when given lots of options, find some trusted friends to help! Here are the four big, initial choices:
The Domain Name
The Blog Platform
Choice 1: The Domain Name
Choose the Name
The domain is the part of your URL that is your main home page. In my case, StoryNosh.com. I had lots of ideas for what to call this blog. I brainstormed with my husband, and asked friends their opinions. Then I searched to see if it already existed. In some cases there was already a website by that name! In some cases not, but the name was going to cost a small fortune to purchase. That’s because some domains are more expensive because they use frequently searched or popular words. Some domains have been purchased, but not used, and are for sale at higher prices. Domains ending in .com are more expensive than those ending in .net or .org
My recommendation is to poll as many friends as you can about your choice, prior to purchasing the name! They can help you realize if you overlooked an alternate or embarrassing meaning of the word. Also consider searching social media platforms for the name to see if it is available. You don’t want to have multiple versions of your name across various platforms. That will hinder people from finding you.
Also consider how the name may be shortened in hashtags. #storynosh Then search those hashtags to see if it is used for other companies or references. Getting a good sense of what’s out there already will prepare you for promoting your blog when you launch.
Buy the Name
There are multiple avenues for purchasing domain names. We chose to purchase through Google Domains. We like Google Domain’s simple layout, and you aren’t bombarded with additional advertising for upgrading or adding on. We have also used Namecheap in the past and been happy with them also. Most domain sellers have the same prices.
Choice 2: The Host
The hosting service you select will be based on the amount of traffic to your site. I don’t have much traffic right now because I’ve just started. But over time, as the site and traffic grow, you will need to upgrade to keep your blog running smoothly and loading quickly.
There are lots of options. Two popular ones for food blogs are StableHost and Blue Host. We have chosen to use StableHost. One great thing about both options is the price! An entry level plan is less than $4 per month.
Through StableHost’s cPanel dashboard, you can set up email accounts, backup schedules for your site, security settings, and keep track of important metrics. I log in to the cPanel to get a detailed list of all the referring sites that link to my blog so I know where people come into contact with Story Nosh first. (I’ll talk more about how to get traffic to your site in a later post.)
Choice 3: The Blog Platform
There are approximately one million options out there (at least that’s what it feels like)! We chose to use WordPress. Not only does a large community of people use them for their websites, but they are also a big name so there are lots of helpful resources.
There are three different options: a WordPress.com free account, a monthly subscription, or hosting and customizing your own page.
You can get a free account, but you are limited in your name. For the free account your blog will end with .wordpress.com
If you would like to use your own domain name, then you can pay monthly for a subscription service.
The third option (what we did) is to create an account, then install WordPress through your cPanel dashboard. One thing we love about StableHost is that there is software included in the cPanel called Softaculous. Opening Softaculous makes installing WordPress extremely easy. It’s a click of a button to open the wizard. It will walk you through the process.
Choice 4: The Style
Finally you can play with the look and feel of your site! This is the fun part.
I had a basic idea of how I wanted Story Nosh to look. In WordPress your style is called a “theme.” Same thing as a template. I searched the Themes for a “magazine” or “newspaper” theme. I wanted a theme that had a block of images on the homepage, and could easily visualize my categories: Stories, Food, Recipes.
Ideas for Increasing Traffic to Your Food Blog
A Web Developer’s Guide to Customizing Colorlib’s NewspaperX Theme