How to Start a Food Blog: Get Traffic and Monetize Your Blog!

Last updated on July 12, 2018

This article contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase!

What do Pinch of Yum, Cookie and Kate, and The Recipe Critic have in common?

They are all awesome food bloggers who’ve made a name for themselves in the food blogsphere, and are earning an incredible online income from their blogs.

But how hard can it be to start a food blog, assuming you are passionate about cooking and all things food?

Not hard at all. And I’m going to show you how simple it is such that you can start your own blog in the next few minutes!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here

First of all, you’ll need to pick a domain name.

Choose one that will be memorable for your readers, something like themeatpen.com (I just came up with that right now!) You can come up with a list of several names and find out if they have been taken or not.

A popular site where you can check that, as well as register your domain name is, namecheap.

Once you have picked a domain name, you’ll need to pick a hosting company. A web hosting service is what makes it possible for your site to exist on the net.

There are many hosting companies out there but you’ll want a hosting service that is reliable, that has good customer support and ofcourse, one that is pocket-friendly! That’s where Bluehost comes in.

Bluehost is recommended by top bloggers such as Pat Flynn and Michelle of makingsenseofcents. Also, it’s reasonably priced. You can start your blog at only $3.95 per month. Please check this article for a step by step tutorial

Another very important thing to consider is a theme.   A theme simply dictates how your blog will look.

Again, there are numerous themes in the market but choose a theme that is responsive (mobile responsiveness is key), one that is optimized for search engines and one that will make it easy for your readers to navigate.

You can always start with a free theme but plan to get a paid one later. Paid themes, unlike free ones, have awesome features and great customer support.

Some good food themes to consider from StudioPress (my favorite site for themes) are Brunch Pro Theme and the Foodie Pro Theme

Choosing  a Topic To Write About

However, like any business out there, you’ll need to plan. The thing is, there are lots of food blogs on the net. Instead of starting a food blog that covers all topics that have to do with food, it’s much wiser to pick a niche.

Maybe you need to write about food allergies. You can try breakfast ideas only. How about regional foods like Mexican cuisine or Italian delicacies? Choose a niche.

You’ll need to think about this before you create a domain name. If you intend to focus on vegan food, don’t register a domain name called themeatmaster. 😀

Standing Out From The Food Blogging Crowd

With all the food blogs out there though, how do you stand out from the crowd? One way to do this is by having great visuals.

When it comes to matters food, your content PLUS the QUALITY of your images and videos will determine your success.

You want your content and your images to be so good that your readers can’t help but to talk and recommend your site to others.

I’ve seen that happen countless times in different Facebook groups.

Also, if you’re into blogging about food, you’ll need to utilize the power of Google Trends.  Google Trends is an important tool in finding out about current trends in whichever industry.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, visit Cookie and Kate, and Pinch of Yum site.  Their sites are awesomely appealing, right from the images they share, to the choice of site color and layout.

It’s no wonder they have lots and lots of followers on all their social media platforms.

Food Photography Ideas for Beginners

The quality of your photos or videos goes, as said before, is crucial. I can’t say this enough times. A few ideas to start you out:

  • Get a decent camera. There are good camera phones but it doesn’t hurt to invest in a DSLR camera. Check out the Canon EOS T6 or Nikon D750. But that’s not all. You’ll also need to pick a good lens for your camera, preferably a 50mm /100mm lens. 
  • Learn to use photo and video editing software. These are used to improve the appearance of media and optimize them for maximum appeal. They include, but not limited to, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. 
  • It’s best to take photos under natural light. However, mother nature will not always make this possible. Here’s a video that’ll help you understand how to use artificial light in food photography. 
  • Practice multi-angle shooting. Some foods appear better from above (such as pizza) while some, like burgers, appear best when taken from the sides. Just be creative and take as many photos as you wish. Then choose the best and post them up.
  • Minimize clutter! You don’t have to throw in three spoons and four rosemary branches. Avoid distracting your readers from the main point of focus. 
  • Take food photos from surfaces such as wooden cutting boards and marble tops.  White surfaces are especially great for food that has lots of color. Make it a habit to visit different food blogs to get the needed inspiration. Other creative ideas include using kitchen linen cloths or ceramic tiles as backdrops. 

Getting Traffic to Your Food Blog

Pinterest for Food Bloggers

A good platform for getting food enthusiasts to follow you is Pinterest.

The ideal thing about Pinterest is that images speak loudest, and then text follows.

In fact, the company revealed, earlier this year, that foodies really love the food category. More and more people are pinning Pins that have to do with food and drink. 

There are many things that you need to consider if you want to get traffic from Pinterest such as:

  • The quality of your pins. This matters a lot. Once you spend a little time on Pinterest, you’ll notice that vertical images are the in thing on Pinterest, not horizontal images. Make high quality and pretty vertical images using a tool such as Canva.
  • Be an active Pinterest user. Pin content from other food bloggers even as you pin your own content.
  • Use a scheduling tool such as the highly recommended Tailwind to schedule pins that you want to pin on your boards. This will help you become more consistent in your pinning.
  • Join relevant group boards (in this case food group boards) so that your pins can be seen by more people than just your followers.

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Instagram

Instagram is another great platform for food bloggers. After all, it is a photo and video platform.  Some of the best practices that top food bloggers do on the platform are:

  • The obvious one: they post high quality and great looking photos on their Instagram pages.
  • They interact with their followers and respond to their comments, thus building a loyal and ENGAGED community of followers.  Brands consider this when they want to work with you.
  • They use Instagram regularly and consistently.
  • They understand the importance of using hashtags and they use them appropriately.

Guest Posting

Another way to acquire traffic is by writing guest posts. Write articles on other food blogger’s sites. You don’t have to start with popular/authoritative sites as it’s not easy to get a guest post accepted there.

You can start with mid-level sites and then work your way up. 

How do you know how authoritative a site is? Use this tool: link explorer. It will show you the domain authority of a site. The higher the domain authority, the more authoritative the site is.

The good thing about guest posting is that it is a sure way to “share” followers with like-minded bloggers. 

Email List

A lot of people may visit your blog but few will return. And you can’t blame them either. With a bajillion blogs out there, it’s hard to remember the awesome blog you bumped into yesterday.

That’s where email lists come in.

When readers visit your blog, you will want to get their email address so that you can keep them coming back to your blog.

All you have to do is create a sign-up form on your site, using the services of email marketing providers such as Aweber, the email marketing service that I use. 

This way, everytime you publish a new blog post on your food blog, you can let your email subscribers know about it. 

YouTube

Did you know that YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world, processing more than 3 billion searches per month? 

Food channels are popular on YouTube. A good number of people turn to YouTube when they need recipe ideas, and tips on great cooking. 

You can put up videos regularly on your channel, and turn those visitors to blog readers. 

Food Sharing Websites

Finally, use food sharing websites to gain traffic by posting your food pics.

People from across the globe frequent such sites to get new cooking ideas. If they find yours appealing enough, they will visit your blog to get a taste (pun intended) of more.

Some popular food sharing websites include:

More Tips for Food Bloggers – PlugIns That Will Come In Handy

There are some awesome recipe plugins that food bloggers swear by. 

  • WP Recipe Maker – renowned for its SEO, customization features, and great customer service.
  • WP Tasty – from the Pinch of Yum founders. 
  • Cookbook – loved for its neat interface and user-friendliness. 

How to Make Money With Your Food Blog

All the above information is great but at this point, you’re probably wondering how you’ll make money from your food blog, right?

Unless you’re blogging as a hobby, you’ll want to monetize your site like the rest of the top food bloggers do.

Here are some of the proven ways to do so:

Via Your Own Products

Provide premium recipes on your blog. Entice the audience with some free recipes – make sure they’re really good.

Once you have built a reputation, post up some recipes (in text, audio, photo or video format) for sale. 

Set up a payment system on your site so people can pay to access and/or download the recipes.

Also, there are people who would love to have all the recipes in one place and this is where you can consider putting the recipes in eBook form. 

Ad Networks

Most bloggers start with Google AdSense. Some food bloggers also use Gourmet Ads. However, the thing about ads is you need to have a sufficient amount of traffic to earn good money.

MediaVine is another very popular option. They don’t like being called an ad network; they prefer ad management company.

This company puts ads on your blog that they have sold to advertisers. and then pay you. 

You need to have at least 25,000 sessions on your blog (you can get this information from Google Analytics) to be approved. Adthrive is a popular alternative to MediaVine.

Both of these ad management companies are awesome but they do have requirements which new food bloggers aren’t able to meet for a period of time.

Affiliate Marketing Programs for Food Bloggers

What is affiliate marketing? This is where you promote a product or service and when someone purchases said product, you are paid a commission.

A well-known affiliate program is Amazon Associates. Amazon Associates provides a wonderful opportunity for food bloggers to earn a good income from their sites.

How does it work?

Let’s say you’ve written a blog post on baking or best baking tips. You can refer your audience to that electric cooker that you’ve been using for years.

Link them to it using an affiliate link and once they purchase it, you get a commission from Amazon.

Other affiliate programs include:

Smart Kitchen: An online cooking school. They pay affiliates 30% of new member sign-ups. Sign up via Shareasale.

Thrive Market: An online marketplace that sells wholesome healthy food.  Receive $20 for every customer who signs up and makes a purchase. Sign up via Commission Junction.

Plan to Eat: A commission of 20% of the subscription fee is paid to affiliates via Paypal. 

Sunfood: An organization that sells organic, healthy superfoods and are passionate about healthy living. Affiliates are paid up to 20% in commissions.

Pays every month as long as you have accrued a minimum of $50 in commissions. Apply here

Sponsored Posts for Food Bloggers

A sponsored post is when a company or brand asks you to write about their product or service in exchange for payment.

There are two ways to go about this.

As a food blogger, you can reach out to a brand and let them know that you have a good following who are eager to hear about their product.

If you are not confident enough to do this, you can join blog networks. A blog network will connect you with brands and do all the heavy lifting, so you don’t have to.

In return, they take a percentage of your earnings from the sponsored post opportunity.

Sponsored post networks include Blogher, IZEA, SocialFabric and Tap Influence.

Food blogger central has some awesome insights on how to monetize your site via sponsored posts. Get all the details here.

Freelancing

Here’s another idea. You can set up a hire me page on your blog and offer your clients services such as recipe development and/or food photography.

You can get paid anything from $100 to $400 for recipe development (and can be much more if the client wants photos included as well. It also depends on whether your client is a blogger or a bigger brand)

But this pricing thing is not an exact science.

This article, How to Price Food Photography, will guide you accordingly and help you identify the key factors that you should consider when charging your clients.  

Recommended Resources for Food Bloggers

Are all ya’ll cuisine connoisseurs convinced that you can turn your passion into profit?

With your enthusiasm, an awesome plan and good writing/photography skills, you will well be on your way to building a successful food blog.  

 Still, a little hand-holding wouldn’t hurt.

Here are some highly recommended resources to help you in your food blogging endeavor. 

  • Pinch of Yum’s Tasty Food Photography eBook. An awesome eBook that’ll help beginner food bloggers a ton with stuff like camera settings, natural vs artificial light usage, and more.   
  • Food Blogger Pro – An invaluable resource judging from all the accolades it receives from beginner food bloggers. This is a membership site for food bloggers hosted by Bjork and Lindsay of Pinch of Yum. 

And we’re done.If you enjoyed reading this post, please share it 🙂

Off you go to prepare that delectable delicacy! 


About the author

Virginia Nakitari is a work from home mom passionate about making money online. She's here to show you legitimate companies offering full-time, part-time and remote jobs from home! Stay tuned!

  • Great post and great tips! People always ask me how it all started. It’s been such a journey and sometimes tough to explain everything without missing a beat, so I’ll just pass any future inquiries off to his pos

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