So, you’re thinking about starting a food blog.
Congratulations on deciding to share your passions with the web, and become your own boss!
Making the decision to start is the first big step towards making your food blog dreams come true!
Starting a blog can be one of the most empowering things you can do for yourself. We know from experience what it’s like to put that company employee hat, act in your role, and come home to take the hat off.
Maybe you do like your day job, like we did, but it was complicated..
We worked as professional chefs in restaurants, simply because we love to cook.
Although we were technically in the right field of work, were we actually able to cook what we wanted, professionally?
No, not exactly.
Long story short, it wasn’t our restaurant so we couldn’t put whatever we wanted on the menu.
When we were able to produce a dish the owner or head chef liked, did we really get the credit we deserved?
Eh, no, not really.
The credit went to the restaurant or the chef/owner.
If you’ve ever watched “Chef’s Table” on Netflix and seen the episode on Grant Achatz of Alinea, you’ll know what we’re talking about. If you’ve never seen the show, (highly suggest doing so) here is basically what happened.
While Grant was working at the French Laundry, he came up with caviar and melon dish. Thomas Keller, owner of the French Laundry was so impressed he said “you know what’s going to happen. We put this dish on the menu. This is now a Thomas Keller dish and you’ll never be able to do it again. Are you okay with that?”
Like every ambitious, dedicated, talented and young, chef, the answer was yes! For It is quite the honor to have your dish on the menu. Later Grant does the same thing to his sous chef. His Sous chef Mike Bagale, creates a sugar balloon that actually floats. Grant says to him “As soon as that goes on the menu, that’s an Alinea dish forever. Are you okay with that?”
Mike says yes, but does note that it would have been cool if he had come up with this revolutionary dish for his own project. As you can see, this is really norm in the industry.
Reasons to Start a Food Blog
So one day, after making a dish for the menu, and no recognition for it, we decided to start a blog.
We had no idea what a blog was, only that it was a place we could add our own recipes and get our own recognition instead of forever needing to wear that employee cap and being a cog in the wheel.
Why Chefs Should Start a Food Blog
- Creative outlet
- Own your content
- Get recognition for your own dishes
- Experiment with food in your own style
- Make passive income
- Build a public portfolio
- Published content brings credibility
- Eat your own food instead of constantly feeding others (If you’re a chef at a restaurant like we were)
- Teach skills that can benefit others on their cooking/eating journey
- Have a recipe archive where you can actually see in exact measurements what you did haha
Every blogger has a unique story, let us know in the comments what moved you to start a blog. We’d love to hear it! Even if you have not started a blog yet, let us know why you would love to start a blog.
But man, we did not realize of how much of a learning curve there would be.
After realizing how many technical steps were involved, we began to do our research on how to start a blog. What helped us the most was reading about other bloggers, and how they made their blog into a functioning website.
With time, we went from restaurant chefs to semi-techy food blogging chefs.
With time you can do the same too.
Essential Five Steps
1. Find Your Niche
A niche is a particular topic that is relevant and important for you personally. We’re very passionate about being vegan and cooking vegan so our niche is vegan food. It’s possible to get even more specific than that. Some of our favorite bloggers literally only blog about different kinds of vegan burgers. Some only do vegan Asian food. Some vegan pastries. Some only do colorful smoothies and smoothie bowls.
It’s up to you to decide. Maybe you’re really into making different types of pastas, or noodles.
That honestly sounds like a really yummy blog.
Just remember that a niche will be the overall theme of your blog, and what keeps people coming back. Your audience will eventually relate your niche to you, and will continue to come back because they know what to expect. As your blog expands, your content can expand too but in the beginning focus on finding your niche.
You don’t need a fancy camera to start a food blog. If you have a really good phone camera that’s a good place to start. Eventually you’ll want to upgrade your camera though.
2. Choose a Domain Name
Your domain name will be the title of your blog. So for us Cooking Up Vegan is the name of our blog, and cookingupvegan.com is our domain name.
There are many websites like Godaddy and Blue Host that sell domain names.
It is best to pick a domain name with .com at the end because most people will write “.com” in their search box. So avoid using .net, .org, ect. Sometimes when searching for your domain name it might not be available in .com and only available in .org or .net.
Really consider how important that domain name is. If it isn’t 100% the perfect name for your niche, that’s okay, if not then maybe reconsider. The point is to have your domain name easy and memorable to everyone.
Some domain names are really cheap and others super expensive. I’m talking $20,000 expensive. The reason for that is someone already bought the name, and they are trying to make a profit. For example, last time we were domain name searching, holyguacamole.com was being sold for $20,000.
Other domain names with the words “guac” “avo” “avocado” “guacamole” were also really expensive because those are high ranking keywords. Meaning many people type those words into google on the daily. So their website had a higher chance to be found organically through a search with the terms “guac” “avo” “avocado” & “guacamole.”
Other things to consider, if you’re looking to make your blog a business do your research and don’t name your blog something very similar to another business name. For example, your name is McDonald and you’re starting a blog about vegan burgers. If you name your blog mcdonaldsburgers.com or mcdonaldsveganburgers.com, there is a very high possibility of being sued.
This actually happened to us. Our original blog name was “Lettuce live in Peas,” like “Lets live in peace” like don’t kill the animals, ya feel me? Veggies are great too, thus the “lettuce” and “peas”,
Pretty cute and clever, right?
Since it was so clever and didn’t want anyone to steal it, we decided to trademark our blog name.
Once we trademarked our name, we were put on the big boy watch list. AKA all the big fish can now see the small fish in the pond. It turns out a bigger company who uses the term “lettuce” for “let us” sent us a letter from their attorney stating that they own the word “lettuce” as “let us” and we had to change our name or they would sue.
Long story short, thank goodness this happened a year into our blog, and it wasn’t that hard to change the name. But if it did happen years down the road after the Lettuce Live in Peas we could have been sued for everything because we used the term “lettuce” for “let us.”
But alas, Cooking Up Vegan was born!
No where on the internet did we ever read of another blog mentioning this so we felt it was our duty to spread the word about doing your research before choosing a name.
3. Find a Host
A host is a space on the internet where your website will be located. Think of the domain name as a house and the host your address or neighborhood where you keep your house.
We first started out with Godaddy because we had friends with websites who used Godaddy. No super cool story there. Customer service at Godaddy was okay. Sometimes we had to call multiple times to get an answer because some representative didn’t know. Or we received different advice from one rep to the next.
Godaddy was also always trying to sell us plans and protection services we didn’t need. Since we were really new to the whole website game. it was like having a baby and wanting to do everything in your power to protect it from hackers and viruses and all that. So we fell for it a couple of times and purchased things we didn’t need looking back.
Once we started to work with a web developer we moved our hosting to SiteGround. SiteGround is an easy platform to use with really great customer service and fair hosting plans. Highly recommend using SiteGround.
4. Install WordPress
You might read this and be thinking, “What the heck is WordPress?”
Going back to the house and address analogy, wordpress is your contractor, plumber and electrician. WordPress is the platform used to build the actual website. While you don’t need to know code, we didn’t and still don’t, it is helpful if you do. There are other programs like WIX and Blogspot that are similar to wordpress but all professional websites are built using wordpress.
Highly recommend using WordPress. Any site that adds their company name at the end of your domain name, for example, cookingupvegan.blogspot.com, means that blogspot owns your content. On WordPress, YOU own your content.
We’ve read about other bloggers who started out on blogspot then later had to move their website to wordpress. It becomes a whole technical process and difficult thing. Avoid the stress and just get WordPress.
5. Customize Your Website
Back to the house analogy, think of customizing your website as the interior designer of your house. All of which is done through wordpress. You want people to come over to your house right? Want them to stay a while, take a look around… That’s why it’s important to install or build nice themes. Color, font, and sizing, are all important.
While it’s not necessary to hire a web developer, if you can, do so. We started working with a developer nine months into our blog. It’s totally worth it. Honestly we would have done this from day one if we had the means.
Web developers help with the coding and building of the actual site in a more detailed and customizable way than what you’ll get with the default WordPress.
Again, it’s possible to start without a web developer. Though once you can, it’s definetly in your best interests to work with one you can build a relationship with over time. If not you will essentially have to put yourself through years worth of learning how to code, master SEO, and troubleshoot technical problems.
The basics are done, so now what?
Well congrats on your website! Congratulate yourself for making the moves and creating your own space on the web.
Now that you have your niche, domain, host and theme in place it’s time to start writing!
Writing your about me page is so important. Let people know what you do and what they’ll find on your website!
Also write a contact page. It’s important to have engagement with your audience. So maybe create a gmail account just for your blog! Ours, for example, is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, starting an account for your blog on whatever social media platform will get the word out that you have content people NEED to read, see and cook! Add these links to your contact page!
A privacy page is also important for legal and liability reasons. It’s easy to go online and read about what the appropriate writing terminology is. Maybe even check out your favorite bloggers and see what they have written for their legal and liability page.
The next and best part of it all, GET COOKING. Start cooking, taking pictures, recording your recipes and writing good quality content!
Not to completely overwhelm you, but set up google analytics. This way you can see stats on how many people come to your page and what recipes are bringing the most traffic.
It’s so rewarding when you can actually see how many people are viewing your work.
A blog takes dedication, and patience. There’s so much more, but for now, this is all you need to know.
Congrats again, and good luck!
If you tried one of our recipes or found our articles helpful, let us know in the comments below how it turned out!
Follow us on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. Take a picture of your creations and tag us using #cookingupvegan.
Luna & Nate