It’s been almost a year since I started The Charming Detroiter, and I feel like I’ve learned at least a few things along the way! Here I outline what I think are the five most important aspects for how to start a food blog.
There are so very many food blogs out there now-a-days that a catchy name can make a difference. Try to think about what you want to convey with your name. For example, with my blog name I wanted to convey that my content was easily approachable with the word “charming” and I wanted to stress the importance of home and my roots by using “Detroiter.” Using your name to reflect your POV is also a good route to take, which brings me to…
Your blog’s name goes hand-in-hand with the POV because it can be used to reinforce your food blog’s POV. Your POV is an important concept, and while it may seem like an unnecessary step, I really recommend defining what you want the focus and purpose of your food blog to be prior to starting. Here are some pointers to help get you started:
- Who are you and what is your background?
- What do you have to offer the world that is different and unique?
- What kinds of recipes or food tips do you want to share?
Brainstorming answers to questions such as these is a great way to begin shaping exactly what your food blog will be and what it will contribute to the blogosphere! For more help with these concepts, check out my post on my top favorite books for beginner food bloggers.
Another important first step in food blogging is deciding on a platform. The two big platforms out there that are the most versatile are WordPress and Blogger. I have only had experience with using the WordPress platform, and I can say that I really like how adaptable it is to what I want to accomplish. There are a ton of great add-on’s also, in the form of themes, widgets, and plugins. Some of my favorites are:
- Yoast SEO: This plugin helped me immensely with learning how to use SEO. While you’re at it, read this post by Nagi at Food Bloggers Central that explains how to use SEO correctly. This changed my blogging life with regards to how I selected keywords and made other important choices about my posts.
- WordPress Editorial Calendar: To be truly serious about food blogging (or any type of blogging, for that matter), I think finding an organization system that works for you is critical. I shuffled through several different systems before I landed on one that works for me, in the form of this Editorial Calendar plugin.
- Recipe Card: A plugin for displaying your recipes is an integral part of any food blog, and I love Recipe Card because it gives you a lot of versatility. It has a number of different designs for the recipe “cards,” which allows you to choose a style that fits the design of your own blog.
- EasyIndex: Lastly, a plugin to help you organize your recipes into some sort of visually appealing archives page is a must. I’ve found EasyIndex to be very flexible in terms of design and easy to use on the backend. Check out my Recipe Archives for one example of how it can be formatted.
For a succinct post that outlines the differences between Blogger and WordPress, check out this post. You can also check out more of the specifics of the plugins, themes, and other items I use for my site on my FAQ page.
One of the most important methods for connecting with the readers of your food blog is through your food photography. Unless you are already a professional photographer, you will be bad at this at first. Looking back on my food photos (even from just a month ago!) I can already tell you the steps I’ve taken to improve my photography! It takes practice, it takes time, and it takes a willingness to get it wrong multiple times before you find the right shot. Food photography is extra hard because your food is either losing or gaining heat with every second that you take. I’ve had popsicles literally melt while I was shooting, so I had to use photos from earlier on in the shoot because the last half of the photos just weren’t going to cut it! You don’t have to have a crazy expensive camera, either. I use a Nikon D50, which is pretty decent. I have three different lenses for the camera also, which I love to alternate between for different types of shots. Honestly, though, I know of food bloggers and Instagram-ers who use their iPhones with great success, so use what you have!
5. Lighting, Lighting, Lighting!
Last but not least, I cannot express enough how important lighting is. Regardless of what type of camera or camera phone you are using, the correct lighting can make all the difference. Generally speaking, using natural daylight on a day that is somewhat overcast and cloudy is going to be your best option. Of course, this is not always feasible (okay let’s be honest: with a full time job, a wedding to plan, and two puppies to take care of: it’s near impossible). In some situations it is even preferable to have artificial lighting, and I really am growing to love my indoor lighting setup because it gives me a lot of flexibility. I am by no means an expert on lighting, however, and so I have compiled my top favorite resources for how I learned to develop great lighting for my shots:
- Artificial Lighting Tips for Food Photography: A Pinch of Yum is a fantastic blog and they have really great tutorials and tips for food photography. One article that helped me a lot was their post about artificial lighting tips.
- 10 Household Items that Can Improve Your Food Photography: Quick and simple techniques using household items that can improve your photography instantly.
- DIY Distressed Wood Photo Backdrop: A financially sound choice for creating multiple different backdrops for your photography.
Now it’s your turn: what is your top tip for beginning food bloggers? Let me know by commenting below!