These are some basic resources and recommendations for food blogging (or any type of blog) based on my experience in starting a food blog. In this food blogging resource guide, I will use a simple analogy of building a new house to illustrate the different pieces and parts involved in setting up a food blog.
Hosting is like finding some land to build your new house on. Your blog needs somewhere to “live” and this is where hosting comes in. There are resources out there that will host your blog for free, but I highly recommend paying for hosting and I will explain why in a little bit. Hosting for a new blog is not very expensive. I use a company called Bluehost and their price of $6.95/month can’t be beat for a solid host with unlimited space. They include a free domain name and occasionally will run a special offer price as well.
Bluehost offers something called shared hosting which is what I currently use. I would equate this to building a townhouse or condo. You share part of it (walls, parking, etc) with others living near you. In the case of your blog, you share the space it lives on with other websites and blogs. This can be OK when you are just starting out in your first home, but one day you may want a single family home. In the blogging world, this is when you would move up to a dedicated host because your traffic has increased enough that your blog needs its very own dedicated space. Maybe one day I will reach that point with this blog 🙂 Bluehost does also offer dedicated hosting which is a lot more expensive than shared hosting.
Just like your house has a physical address, your domain name is your online address for your blog. This will be what people type in their browser address bar to go directly to your blog. The fun part here is that you actually get to choose what your address is going to be for your blog. Be creative, but also think about your target audience and the main subject of your blog. See if you can incorporate that keyword into your domain name. For instance, the focus of this blog is dip recipes so I wanted to make sure that I incorporated this into the domain name. I’d also suggest not making your domain name too long.
You can register your domain name when you purchase hosting. In fact, as mentioned, Bluehost offers a free domain name when you buy their hosting package.
Think of this as the foundation for building your house. WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms in the world. Right out of the box, WordPress has all of the basic features of a blog. WordPress also serves as a content management system to help you manage and organize all the pages and other content on your blog, not just your actual blog posts.
There are two ways to setup WordPress blogs:
WordPress.com hosted version (free)
Self hosted version of WordPress
The free version hosted by WordPress.com is like renting an apartment. It provides a place for your blog to live, but you have limitations and rules to follow. You can’t knock down walls or install new counter tops and you might not be allowed to have a large dog….OK, you get the picture 😉
Remember above when I suggested to pay for hosting? This is one of the big reasons. The WordPress.com hosted blog is free, but severely limits you in terms of functionality. If you just want some free space to share some thoughts and photos with friends and family then a free WordPress.com hosted blog is most likely just fine. But if you want to have complete control over your blog and be able to really utilize the power of the WordPress platform, then you’ll want to go with a self hosted version.
For a self hosted version, you buy hosting (see above) through a company such as Bluehost that offers full support of the WordPress platform. Then you install your own version of WordPress (the WordPress installation is free) and you are ready to go. You can add plugins (tools that provide added features) and manage all aspects of your blog including changing the look and feel. For instance, food bloggers can add in a recipe plugin to format your recipes into a standard and friendly format.
Now it is time to add some paint, furnishings, and decorations to that new house…I mean blog. A theme helps make your blog look pretty so that it stands out from others. The default theme that comes with WordPress is very basic. Think “contractor white” walls in a new house! But thankfully, there are tons and tons of themes out there though to help add some color and life into your blog. Many are free and many do have a price tag although the cost is usually very reasonable.
This is completely personal preference and there are themes out there designed specifically for food bloggers. However, I highly recommend The Weaver WordPress Theme. The free version of Weaver offers A TON of great functionality and the paid version offers some nifty advanced features. What I love about Weaver are the endless options and possibilities. It is so easy to use for non-techie folks, but is so powerful that it is great for advanced web designers as well. The Weaver Theme is completely mobile and tablet friendly which is a big deal these days. Dip Recipe Creations is built on the paid version of Weaver II.
OK…now off to blogging! 🙂