Did you know it’s incredibly easy to get started blogging? You can go from having no blog, to having a fully functional, beautiful blog in less than a half hour—and for not a lot of money.
Blogging is an absolutely wonderful way to earn an income doing something you love (whatever you love, cooking, sewing, gardening, photography—whatever it is, you can write about it). If you’re holding off because you think you’ll never “make it” big enough to make serious income, let me tell you, I never thought in a million years I could make a living wage doing this blogging thing. But now, I get to do something I love, and make more money that I ever did at an office job. You can, too! But first, you gotta get started. Let me walk you through how to start a food blog.
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First up, you gotta set up a home for your blog. There are two parts to this—the first is the domain name (like, say, wholefully.com). That’s what people type into their browser to get to your blog. The second part is hosting. Hosting is like the bucket that holds all of your words, photos, recipes, tutorials, etc. You have to have both parts to make your blog work.
There are no less than a million different companies that sell both domain registration and hosting, but my recommendation if you’re just starting out is to go with Bluehost. They are affordable, reliable, and they make starting your blog super easy! I used Bluehost exclusively on my blog for the first four years, until I eventually outgrew it (I’m now with AcceleratedWP, an excellent option for premium hosting, or if you aren’t comfortable setting your blog up yourself).
Once you’re ready to get started, head over to the Bluehost website, hit the big, green “Get Started Now” button.
Next up, you’ll be asked to pick a package. If you’re just starting out, and aren’t 100% sure this blogging thing is for you, I recommend choosing the Starter Package.
And, if you select that package, you get a free domain registration. Don’t you love free stuff?
On the next page, you select your domain name. Go ahead and type into the box what domain name you’d like to have in the “New Domain” section. And then click “Next”.
If the domain is taken by someone else, Bluehost will let you know, and send you back to try again.
But if the domain is available, and is open for you to register, you’ll get the golden ticket, and you can move forward. Yay!
Go ahead and fill out all your personal information as requested by the form. Once you get to the “Package Information” section, I recommend checking the “Domain Privacy Protection” option. If you don’t, anyone can look up your domain registration and see your full name plus mailing address. Not so great for privacy, eh? The extra $0.83 per month is totally worth it.
They also automatically check “Site Backup Pro” for you, which you want to use if you don’t plan on using another backup system. I personally recommend unchecking that, and doing backups through Vaultpress.
Put in your credit card information, hit “Next” and, guess what? You’ve got a website! YAY!
There are tons of ways to go about blogging on your newly created website, but the way I recommend (and what I use) is WordPress. It really is the gold standard of blogging software—so much so that Bluehost has installing the WordPress software built right into their service. They make it crazy easy!
Just login to your Bluehost account (you should have set up a username and password when you created your account in Step 1). And then head over to the hosting section. Scroll down to the “website” section, and then click “Install WordPress”. Pretty easy, right?
It’ll shuttle you over to another website to help you install it. Just click the big green “install” button.
Make sure your domain is the one listed in the box, and then click “Check Domain”.
On the next screen, check the “Show Advanced Options” box. And then fill out all your blog’s information. This is the info you’ll use to login to WordPress everyday, so make it something that is secure, but that you’ll remember.
Read the terms and conditions, and then check that you’ve done so.
Then click “Install Now”.
Are you excited? You should be, you’re SO close to being done!
Once it’s done installing, you’ll be shuttled back out to a page that has all your login credentials—including the URL to the page where you login to your WordPress account.
If you click that link to the Admin URL, you see this screen:
Type in the Admin username and password into that box, click “Login” and voila: you’re logged into your blog! Shiny and new! Go ahead and bookmark this page—it’s where you’ll always go to login to your blog.
If you just want a blog that functions well, you could start writing in your blog right now and not even deal with step three (just go to Posts > Add New in your left-hand menu). But what fun is that? Let’s make it pretty!
In WordPress, the designs that a blog uses are called themes. They are pretty much like skins that go over the frame of your blog. There are lots of different places to get themes—ranging from $0 to thousands for a completely custom theme. The installation for each theme is a little bit different, so I won’t go over it here, but whatever theme you find should come with directions for how to install it. Here’s a few options I recommend to start off:
- WordPress Free Themes (Free!) — These are the easiest to install, and also, being 100% free, they are also the cheapest. These themes are a great place to start off with a new blog! You can also browse these in your WordPress installation by going to Appearance > Themes > Add New.
- Elegant Themes ($69) — Almost $70 seems expensive, until you learn that you get almost 100 themes for that price. They’re all really well designed, and have a great support staff behind them. This is where I started when I first started blogging, and I highly recommend it!
- Genesis Framework and Child Theme ($110) — The Genesis Framework is the gold standard for WordPress themes (and what I use!). It requires two parts—the framework (the foundation for the design) and the child theme (the decoration part). There are a ton of great child themes to pick from, but I highly recommend the Foodie theme—I’m running a modified version of it.
Alright, your site is up, running, and looking mighty fine! Yay! You’re done. Although, if you really get into blogging, the truth is, you’re never done. There is always something to tweak, change, and improve. If you’re looking to take your brand new baby blog to the next level, here are some of my favorite resources for the next steps:
- How to Monetize Your Food Blog eBook— If you’re looking to make an income off your new blog, this eBook is THE place to start. Since you just started your blog, you’re at the distinct advantage of doing these things from the start, unlike me, who didn’t find out this stuff until I’d been blogging for five years. I shutter whenever I think about the lost revenue I had!
- My Favorite Blogging Tools—Check out my list of the services and tools I use to make this blog. There is everything from camera equipment to accounting software on that list!
- Food Blogger Pro—This is an awesome website put together by the blogging team behind the powerhouse food blog, Pinch of Yum. It’s a community full of awesome tutorials, videos, and support forums to help you build your food blog both content-wise and financially.
- Pro Blog School— This is a blog written by the business manager for the mega food blog, 100 Days of Real Food. There is a ton of useful information here!
Happy blogging! Feel free to shoot me an email with any questions you have. I’d be happy to answer them.