If you have a passion for cooking, baking, eating or drinking, you can turn your passion into money and find a new hobby by becoming a food blogger and starting a food blog!
Many people start food blogs because they are passionate about a certain aspect and want to share their passions. Are your friends always asking you about your potluck dishes, or the food you show off on Instagram? Why not share it through a blog and turn a profit from it in the meantime?
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This is at no additional cost to you (in fact, in many cases you get a discount).
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The Basic Technical Details
If you are an absolute beginner, there are some common terms you are going to hear, and you may be wondering what type of budget to expect to spend. Let’s cover that first to get you up to speed.
- Web Hosting – This is the terminology used to describe the storage space of your actual website files. Technically speaking, your files are stored on a server (aka, a computer) in a “data centre” specifically meant for websites. There are technically ways to host your website from your own computer, but they are highly technical and often times unreliable.
- Domain Name – The URL of a website (ie. www.google.ca)
- TLD (Top-Level Domain) – The extension of your domain name (ie. The TLD of google.ca, is .ca)
- WordPress – The most popular user-friendly software to create a website or blog. (it’s also, free!)
- Niche – By definition, it is “a specialized segment of the market for a particular kind of product or service.” In simplest terms, it is the primary topic of your blog.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – This is the practice of meeting the requirements to help your website appear higher in search engine results.
Basic Budget Scenarios
There are many opportunities to spend more to upgrade certain aspects of your website, or tools for your food blog. Here’s a sample budget for the first full year of blogging with the core basics.
- Web Hosting, $71.40/year (HostPapa’s Business Plan on Canadian servers)
- Domain Name, $0.00 (included with web hosting plan)
- Website Design, $0.00 (we’ll use a free WordPress theme)
- First Year Total: $71.40 (yes, this is in Canadian Dollars)
If this is too high of a commitment for you, we can look at a monthly plan with DreamHost:
- Web Hosting, $4.95/month (USD, DreamHost is not Canadian)
- Domain Name (you cannot register a domain for less than one year)
- $6.99/year for a .com domain (USD)
- $16.95/year for a .ca domain (USD)
- Website Design, $0.00 (we’ll use a free WordPress theme)
- First Month Total: Up to $21.90 (USD)
- Monthly after first month: $4.95 (USD)
By the end of the first year you will have paid $76.35 USD (roughly $90-100 CAD) with the monthly option. I highly recommend opting for at least a 1-year plan with HostPapa. This will save you money in the long run, and there is a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Step 1: Choose a Niche
Food blogging is a very popular, and successfully niche within the blogging world.
As a whole, it is a very vague niche and you will want to narrow it down a bit. You may have already narrowed it down, but if not you’ll want to target your niche first.
Having a more targeted niche will help you to maintain a more loyal following of readers who can relate to your niche. This will also help you stand out from the competition by speaking more directly to your readers.
Some things to think about to narrow your niche:
- Will you focus on a specific culture of recipes? (French cuisine, Indian dishes)
- Are you speaking to a specific demographic? (meals for one, working moms, penny-pinchers)
- Targeting a specific diet? (keto, weight-loss, vegan)
- A specific style of cooking? (baking, air frying, microwave cooking)
Think about your own personal style, what you’re passionate about. You’re going to be posting a lot of content on this niche, so you’ve gotta love it!
Step 2: Choose a Name & Domain
The name of your blog is the gateway to your whole brand. It should capture what your blog is all about, while staying clever and catchy.
Do you want to incorporate your own name into it? Slip a pun in there?
Here are a few of my personal favourite food blogs for inspiration.
- Closet Cooking – Kevin cooks from literally a closet-sized kitchen. His brand and name is quirky, and personally relatable to me! Living in Toronto, I’m used to making the best of tiny spaces.
- Crumb Blog – Isabelle is just hilarious and I love her style. A simple blog name that’s easy to remember.
- A Canadian Foodie – Valerie’s blog name is very simple and straight-forward.
Once you’ve landed on a name, it’s time to find a domain name.
- Keep it Short and Sweet – Shorter domains can be harder to secure due to their popularity and ambiguity. I can tell you, without having to look it up, that “food.com” is already taken. A long domain name can be confusing, easy to mess up, and harder to remember.
- Choose a Simple TLD – Always go with a .com or .CA domain name when possible. If your target audience is specifically Canadian, choose a .CA domain name. Canadians are 4x more likely to prefer .CA over .com website for shopping when they have a choice. If your audience is not specifically Canadian, choose a .com name. This is the easiest TLD for the average visitor to remember.
- Availability – With millions of websites live and running today, many domain names are already spoken for. When we set up web hosting in the next step, you’ll be able to search to see if your domain is available. Make sure to search it before getting to attached to a domain name.
I don’t recommend purchasing a domain name separate from web hosting (if it’s your first domain name). Most web hosting plans include a free domain name!
Step 3: Set-Up Web Hosting
Now, let’s get to the fun part and start getting things set up! For the sake of this guide (and to stay true to our heritage!) we are going to walk through setting up with HostPapa. HostPapa is Canadian, and offers everything you’ll need to get started.
We reviewed the Top 4 Web Hosting Companies, if you want to compare.
If you opt for a different web host, your options may be a bit different, but the premise will be the same. Keep in mind most non-Canadian web hosts list their prices in USD.
Choose a Plan
Navigate to HostPapa’s website here. You’ll see discounted rates for using our affiliate link.
Any of the plans are likely to be sufficient for getting started. HostPapa offers a 30-day money back guarantee (domain names are not refundable – if you get a free domain name, you’ll be charged $14.99 for it that if you cancel within 30 days. You’ll still own this domain name for the year, in case you decide to come back to it later).
Here are some key difference between their plans:
- Starter Plan
- Host up to two websites on one plan. If you do want an additional website, you will have to purchase an additional domain name. (Chances are, you’d be doing this later down the line, not now)
- 100 GB of storage space, this is plenty for most blogs. If you find it’s not enough, you can upgrade very easily at any time.
- 100 email accounts (ie. email@example.com)
- Business Plan
- Host unlimited website (same as above, additional domain names would cost extra)
- Unlimited storage space (the starter plan likely has enough storage space for your needs, but sometimes you just don’t want limits)
- Unlimited email accounts
- 2x CPU resources (this means a faster website)
- Business Pro Plan
- Same as Business Plan, but with 4x CPU resources (much faster website)
- Automated Website Backup (if anything were to happen to the server – which is rare – you would have a full website backup. More importantly, if you accidentally make an irreparable mistake on your website, they can restore a backup for you)
- Domain Privacy (personal information for the person who owns a domain is publicly available without Domain Privacy – .CA domains include the option for Domain Privacy for free already)
Overall, my recommendation is always the Business Plan, because I loathe having any restrictions. Ultimately, you can upgrade or downgrade your plan at any time, so don’t stress too much over it.
Click on GET STARTED > under the plan of your choosing.
Scroll down to see your order details.
Choose the billing term of your preference. The shortest term offered is 1-year, but you’ll notice as the length of your term increases, your price decreases. Another thing to keep in mind, is after your first term, your plan will renew at the regular price ($10.99/month for Starter. $15.99/month for Business. $25.99/month for Business Pro).
You’ll find their “website essential” add-ons can add-up rather quickly. You can un-check all of the add-ons if you want and get started just fine, but here are my recommendations if you are just getting your start in blogging:
- Protection Power Website Security – Scrap it. HostPapa already offers the basic security features needed. If you start to grow your traffic or sales exponentially, you can revisit this later.
- Automated Website Backup – Keep it. $19.95/year is a small price to pay for this peace of mind. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but I see it as “insurance” just in case.
- Single SSL Certificate – Scrap it. If you’re starting a blog, their Free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate is sufficient. If you plan on selling products and accepting credit cards directly from your website, then you should keep it.
- PapaCare+ – Scrap it. HostPapa offers amazing support as it is, and this is a substantial added expense.
Once you’ve chosen your billing term, server location and website essentials, click NEXT STEP >.
Add Your Domain Name
Type your desired domain name into the box, click GET MY DOMAIN then ADD AND CONTINUE >.
Hopefully by now you already know what domain name you want, and if it’s available. If it’s not available, HostPapa will let you know the name is taken, and make other recommendations.
Enter your personal information here, followed by your payment information.
Before clicking PLACE YOUR ORDER > be sure to double-check your options on the right hand side.
- Is the number of months accurate for the term you wanted?
- Is your domain name spelt correctly? (if you make a mistake, you will have to purchase a new domain name)
- Are the Website Essentials what you wanted?
- Does the total seem accurate?
If it all looks good, go ahead and PLACE YOUR ORDER!
You may get a handful of emails from HostPapa for the various aspects you registered for. Most importantly, look out for “Welcome to the HostPapa family!” which will contain your Client ID and Password, to log in to the Dashboard.
Step 4: Install WordPress
WordPress is the top Content Management System, with endless possibilities for customization, without having to know a lick of code. Best of all, it’s 100% free for life, and most web hosts make it super easy to install automatically.
Log In to cPanel
Your cPanel is the hub to control everything within your new hosting package. It’s very powerful, but can appear a bit overwhelming at first glance.
Some neat things you can check out are:
- Subdomains – Create subdomains (ie. sub.yourdomain.ca)
- Email Accounts – Set up email accounts @yourdomain.ca
- Forwarders – Forward email send to @yourdomain.ca to another email account
- Awstats – Gives you some helpful statistics about your visitors
I won’t be covering these topics here, but feel free to have a peek at them!
Scroll down to navigate to WordPress Toolkit or search for it at the top of your cPanel account. You should see a screen like the one below, then you’ll want to click Install.
You’ll be given some options for your installation. These should be pretty straightforward.
- Installation path – You’ll want to select “https” if available, and make sure the right domain name is selected. If you’re installing WordPress on a subdomain or in a sub-folder, you’ll want that to be reflected here. For the sake of this guide, you will want to select your primary domain, without a sub-folder.
- Website title – The name of your website or blog. This can be changed later, if you’re still unsure about the name of your blog.
- Plugin/theme set – You can play around with these later, but for now choose “None”
- Website language – Likely you’ll want to select “English (Canada)”, but choose the language most appropriate for you
- Version – Make sure to select the “(current)” version
- WordPress Administrator – This will be your information to log in to your WordPress Admin area. The default username will show as “admin_” followed by random letters and numbers. This is because just “admin” as a username is not secure. You can change this to whatever you’d like, but it shouldn’t be easy to guess.
- Database – The values here do not need to be changed. They are all randomly generated for security. This will create what’s called a MySQL Database, which stores all of your website information.
- Automatic Update Settings – The default values here are also fine.
Now, let’s click Install! This process will take a few minutes, be sure not to close the page before it’s finished. Once it’s complete, you’ll see the screen below;
You can select “No, thanks” because we will Install plugins and themes from the Admin page!
Log in to WP Admin
To log in to your WordPress Admin area, you can either click Log in from your WordPress Toolkit, or just navigate to yourdomain.ca/wp-admin
You’ll want to bookmark this page to come back to it more easily. We’ll come back to this page shortly to install our Theme!
Step 5: Choose & Install a Theme
One of the (many) amazing parts about WordPress, is that it’s styled using Themes. You can find thousands of Free Themes in WordPress’ Theme Directory.
If you have some extra budget to spare for a Premium Theme with added functionality, check out Envato Themes.
Here are some amazing Free & Premium themes that are perfect for food bloggers. Click on any of the links to see more details on the Theme and preview Demo sites.
Free Food Blog WordPress Themes
Foodie Diary has a unique, modern, light and clean design which will make your website look awesome. It is completely built on Customizer which allows you to customize most of the theme settings easily with live previews.
This theme comes with 3 different archive layouts and other exciting features that allow you to customize the theme easily without coding knowledge.
This is a Child Theme of WP Diary, which means you’ll have to install both themes (don’t worry, they’re both free!)
Typically, I suggest a clean minimal theme for any food blog. Your photos do the talking for you. If you’re looking for a bolder option, Receptar is perfect for you.
It features split-screen book-like design inspired by a modern cookbook with emphasize on beautiful imagery and typography.
Premium Food Blog WordPress Themes
TinySalt provides rich blog styles and layouts. It’s easy to create and manage your recipes.
The theme is compatible with popular plugins such as WooCommerce, MailChimp for WordPress, Contact Form 7, and more. With WordPress customizer, you can easily change colors, fonts, and more theme appearance with instant preview.
CheerUp is a theme with luxury design options, tailored to be exceptional on all kinds of blogs and minimal magazines.
Not only the built-in modern design choices are aesthetically pleasing, it’s packed with over 1000+ possible layout combinations suitable for blogs and elegant magazines.
Do It Yourself (without coding, for free)
If you’ve got a creative mind and a design in mind, you can create it yourself, customizing every little piece of your blog – without writing a bit of code!
Going this route will take more time to put together, but it will help you get exactly what you want.
Elementor is the world’s leading WordPress website builder. Elementor is referred to as a “front end” editor, meaning you’re getting a more realistic idea of what your published page or post will look like, as you build it.
The website builder included with WordPress (Gutenberg) is great as it is, but it’s a “back end” builder so often takes a bit of saving-and-refreshing to get the look you want with a page or post.
While Elementor can be used to edit most WordPress themes, Hello Theme is made specifically to be a starting point for Elementor.
There is a Premium version of Elementor, too – but the Free features are a wonderful place to start.
Customizing Any Theme
All themes have different customization options. Whether you’re using Elementor or the default Gutenberg site editor, you will still have access to the standard Customization options. Your options will vary as some themes add customization options.
From your WordPress Admin area, on the sidebar head to Appearance > Customize.
You’ll see a handful of options here. I recommend clicking through all of theme to get an understanding of what options are available to you here.
Step 6: Set Up Static Pages
On your blog, you will have two types of content: Pages and Posts.
Posts are the recipes or food tips that you’ll be posting. You’ll be posting many posts throughout your journey.
Static Pages (or pages) are your corner stone pages that will generally remain top-level pages on your site, with crucial information about your site itself.
The three standard static pages are: Home, About, Contact.
Your Home Page
Your Home Page is the landing page of your blog. The first page people will see when they land on your website.
There are many exceptions to this being the landing page, such as if you post a recipe on Pinterest, your reader will see that page first – but in general you should treat your home page like the first thing a new reader will see about you.
You can choose which page is displayed at your Home Page by heading to your WordPress Admin panel, clicking on Appearance > Customize, then go to Homepage Settings.
Your Home page should be simple, and quickly give readers an idea of what they can expect from your website.
My advice would be to get some Posts up first (in the next step) then come back to your Home Page. That way, you can feature some of your best or newest posts on your Home Page.
There should always be a page about you, or your blog. People love connecting with people, so it would be great if you talked about yourself as a human here.
If you prefer to remain more anonymous, you can just talk about your blog – which you should do either way.
Give readers a summary of what to expect from your Food Blog. What inspires you to blog about food? What questions or issues will you solve for your readers?
I recommend keeping your contact page simple and to the point.
Include your contact information (at least an email address) and social media accounts. It’s common practice to include a contact form here too, which you can easily do with the Contact Form 7 WordPress plugin.
To install the easy to use (and free) Contact Form 7 plugin, in your WordPress Admin panel head to Plugins > Add New.
Search for Contact Form 7, click Install, then Activate.
Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, you’ll see a new Contact section on the sidebar of your WP Admin Dashboard. Let’s add a form together.
Navigate to Contact > Add New.
It will automatically populate the bones for a basic contact form, which could be perfectly fine for you as is. Let’s add a title, then select the Mail tab above the form.
The settings here, are what will happen when someone fills in the contact form. Again the default values could already be perfectly fine, but you can adjust them as needed.
Once you have your form how you want it, click the Save button on the right.
Now go to the Edit view for the page you want to add the form to. Click the + in the top left to add a block, and find Contact Form 7 under Widgets.
You’ll be prompted to choose the contact form that you’d like to place, then click Update in the top right to save the page. Et voila, your contact form is live!
Step 7: Create Stunning Content
Your website, name, theme – these are all important pieces of your successful blog. However, the most important piece by far will be: your content.
As a food blogger, you’re likely to get two main types of readers – loyal readers who follow your blog, and people who skip right to the recipe. Either way, you should be able to accommodate both readers.
Don’t just post a recipe, include a story behind the recipe. What inspired it? Do you make it on a busy weeknight, or is it a holiday party pleaser? Give some context to the ingredients, why do you use smoked gouda instead of regular gouda?
However you write your posts, keep it consistent. Write genuinely and the consistency will come naturally.
To make your posts more skim-able, and especially friendly for those just looking for the recipe, I super highly recommend using a plugin.
The most powerful free plugin, in my opinion, is WP Recipe Maker. There is a premium option, but this is not sponsored! Please trust me, you need this plugin.
WP Recipe Maker lets you add a recipe to the bottom (or anywhere, really) of your posts. It will make the recipe stand out in your post, break down the ingredients, steps, costs, calories, total time – honestly everything you could possibly want.
Pictures are important to any blog, with any niche. With food blogs, it’s even more critical to have stunning photographs.
People eat with their eyes – you know that, you’ve heard it many times before.
Getting the photos right for your posts will take some practice. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. A few months down the line, you may end up wanting to recreate your first recipes to do a re-shoot.
You don’t need a fancy camera when you’re just starting out – most smartphones come with great cameras already. Play with the focus, the lighting, the angles. Add some props around your food – maybe add a nice cocktail next to it? Anything to add colour.
Step 8: Making Money with Your Food Blog
You’ll come across many blogs online boasting about how they made 10k in their first month of blogging. While this is possible, it’s not exactly the norm.
You should manage your expectations so you don’t end up disappointed right out of the gate.
Many factors go into how quickly and how much money you can make from blogging. Two of the biggest factors that will make an impact are how much time, and how much money, you invest into blogging.
If you’re blogging part-time as a side-hustle and minimizing your costs, a good goal would be to break-even in six months, and making a small profit in a year.
Some people dive head-first into blogging, spending 40-hours a week writing content and doing marketing – this route should expect to be making a profit by the six month mark.
Either way, I would try and expect to not see much (or any) money really coming in within the first couple of months. It’s definitely possible, but I like to be realistic!
Three key methods of making money with a food blog are: Advertising, affiliate marketing, and sponsored posts.
There are many other ways to make money with your food blog, but these are the best ways for your first year.
Advertising with Google AdSense
Displaying ads on your blog of course has its pros and cons. It’s one of the top ways food bloggers make income from their blogs, but it also steers readers away from your site, and too many ads can deter readers.
Google AdSense is easily the most popular ad network out there. They make it very simple – you apply (once your website is live), then place a snippet of code on your blog where you want the ad to display, and they sell the ads for you!
With Google AdSense you get paid per click on ads on your site. You’re not allowed to incentivize people to click your ads, and you can never click on your own ads. These are two key ways to get banned from Google AdSense.
Once your blog sees some growth, you can check out MediaVine for higher-paying ads. MediaVine requires websites to have over 50,000 sessions per month on your site.
Earning from Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate Marketing is the second highest way food bloggers cash in on their hard work. From a high-level, Affiliate Marketing is using a unique link on your blog to promote products and earn a commission from any sales you generate.
Amazon Associates is the simplest way to earn commissions from a wide-range of products sold on Amazon.ca. Average commissions are under 3%, but you can earn up to 10% on certain products.
If you have one or two specific products that you plan on promoting heavily, you can look at the retailer’s website to see if they have an affiliate program.
Leveraging Sponsored Posts
I’m writing this last because it’s not quite something I’d suggest hitting the ground running with in your first few months. You need to have guilt up a bit of a base of traffic to your blog before being able to sell yourself as an added value to brands wanting to promote their products.
The great part about sponsored posts, is it will rake in a good chunk of change right away, but there is a lot of work involved. Companies may have long lists of requirements (such as number of words, number of mentions, specific language and tone, imagery to use), but it could be well worth it.
Many bloggers opt out of sponsored posts as a regular revenue-generating option, but most will at least do one here and there.
Step 9: Promoting Your Blog
There are many ways to promote your blog, but the most effective method for generating traffic for food blogs remains: Pinterest!
I’m personally not a Pinterest-pro, so I’d much rather lead you to the pros here than try and pretend and give you low-quality information!
Check out these articles on Pinterest Marketing:
- WP Tasty – Pinterest Marketing Best Practices for Bloggers
- Simple Pin Media – Pinterest Marketing for Food Bloggers
- Wishpond – 9 Ways to Use Pinterest to Drive Traffic to Your Blog
For Pin scheduling, automatic, and designing, TailWind is the most popular app to use. It is not a free app, but there is a free trial. What I love about the free trial is it’s not time-based, you just get to schedule 100 pins with it but it’s not limited to 30-days or anything.
You don’t need a Pin-scheduling app, you can definitely do it all manually.
A great alternative for designing stunning Pins is Canva. You may have heard of it before, as it’s a great design tool and it’s free! There is a paid option, but honestly you don’t need it especially as you’re starting out.
If you have a passion for food or drinks, becoming a food blogger can be such a rewarding experience. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a great way to expand on what you’re already passionate about.