How to start a food blog
I often receive a lot of messages on my Instagram about how to start a blog or even how to grow a blog once you’ve started. So, I thought it would be helpful for me to lay-out exactly what I did and how I’ve come this far in just a few short years.
However, I do want to point out that I am no expert. I am still learning each day about this blogging thing and figuring out what works for me and what doesn’t. Instagram, and even just social media in general is making a footprint in this world. There are no crash courses on how-to become a blogger, so once you start you’re pretty much on your own figuring this out.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. But I am a firm believer in the best learning lessons comes from failure.
Why I started
Well, I should probably start from the beginning. Back in 2017 I was modeling part time and working in a restaurant full time. I created my own schedule and that was something that I truly loved. However, I promised myself that if I wasn’t doing anything big in my modeling career a year after graduation, then I would retire that dream and start using my degree and working full time.
Truthfully, I think I burned myself out from working consistently 24/7 with little to no breaks in between. Long story short, I started working at my first ever 9-5 corporate job. It didn’t take me long to realize I hated it. Like absolutely dreaded it. I think part of the reason is because I was working in sales, and most of the day that meant sitting around and researching or just waiting for calls to come in. Something that wasn’t of interest to me, at all.
I also found that I HATED to sit. I went from being on my feet as a waitress for 10-12 hours a day to now sitting for that duration of time. It was brutal and not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
The company that I worked for soon went under and had to close their doors, consequently, letting me go in the process. I have never been let go of a job before in my life, but it was so liberating. I felt free, but I was still jobless…
Luckily, just a few short weeks later I was offered a job at a fashion company which is where I am still at today. This job was much better than the first as it was something that I was actually interested in. But it wasn’t long before I realized I was still bored and I needed a creative outlet.
That’s when the idea of blogging part-time came into my mind. I mean, I worked with bloggers and influencers on the other realm of things for my full time job. So I felt like I already had an idea of what it took to make it. So, the first thing I did was think of a concept and a name. What did I want to spend my free time doing? What brought me joy, happiness and something that I turn to when i’m stressed?
I didn’t want to do the fashion route- but I will admit that I tried it. After a short time I realized that fashion wasn’t my passion. Sure I modeled for years and I worked in fashion, but it didn’t bring me joy the same way food and health and wellness did.
I was eating an acai bowl one day and talking to my boyfriend. I kept saying how lovely this bowl was, it was so good, full of nutrients and just made me so happy. “This is so delightful”, I said. Then BAM, I looked at my boyfriend and I said this is such a LOVELY DELITE. I created my Instagram account that same day and posted my first post- the acai bowl.
Lovely Delites was created back in July of 2018.
Before I started Lovely Delites, I was struggling with my relationship with food. As I mentioned previously, I modeled for several years, so there were tons of foods that I was actually afraid of eating, cooking with etc. Fast forward to today, I thank my Instagram account for saving me and helping me form a better relationship with food. I did this by creating recipes that I love but with better-for-you ingredients and learning that no food is a “bad” food. Carbs are not bad.
This account has allowed me to create a balance in my diet. Still eating things I love, but not feeling guilty for it. I’ve also connected with so many great people through this account that have gone through the same thing. The sense of community is something i’ll cherish for a lifetime.
How I started
I get this question frequently. HOW did you start your account? Well, it might seem obvious, but I simply just STARTED. I thought of the name that I wanted for my blog, and then I created my instagram account.
FIND YOUR NICHE
Think about what you want to do, what brings you joy and happiness and what do you want to spend your free time doing? This is so important, because if you don’t love what you’re doing, then why will anyone follow you while you’re doing it? Also, you’re going to be spending a lot of time on this blog- make it something you love to do so it will never feel like work.
Stick to one niche in the early stages. This will allow you to build a community first. If you’re all over the board it will be harder to grow. Stick to one thing first and then expand later if that’s what you want to do.
Then, just freaking START. I posted my first picture the day I create my instagram account. I posted almost every single day since the start. However, for the first half year, I wasn’t as dedicated to it as I wanted to be. I kept making excuses for why I didn’t have enough time.
I work full time, and at the time that I created my IG account I was commuting over an hour to work each way. By the time I got home from work, it was dark. So I figured I couldn’t take any pictures of my dishes as there wasn’t any natural light. BUT, I did it anyway.
I found a schedule that worked for me. I would create the dishes at night, plate them, place them in the fridge and then take a picture first thing in the morning before I went to work in the natural day light. Sure, this meant I had to wake up earlier to make it happen, but if it means a lot to you, you’ll find a way to make it happen.
I did this for about a year. Until I moved closer to work. My commute was cut in half and I now had more time to work on my Instagram account.
CREATING A WEBSITE
After doing a little research and seeing what I needed to grow, I found that a website is so important. However, without doing much research, I created a WordPress account. My very first website was disastrous. I had no idea what I was doing and I couldn’t figure out how to work WordPress. It was like a foreign language to me.
After a few months of frustration, I switched websites and got a SquareSpace account instead. This was much easier to navigate. HOWEVER, if you want to GROW your website then WordPress is what you need. Squarespace is great for selling products, but for blogging you really need a wordpress account, especially if monetizing your blog is something that you want to do in the future.
So what did I do? I had to work even harder to switch everything back to WordPress, which is what I started with initially. I didn’t do this until about 1.5 years in and actually just about 9 months ago this year when quarantine happened.
What I learned, is that if I had just done proper research in the beginning, I would have saved a lot of time, money and frustration.BUT… Remember guys, everyone starts somewhere. There is no college course on starting a blog. No one starts at square one understanding exactly how to start a blog, or even creating the world’s easiest blog. These things take time, and in my opinion, it’s better to have something than to have nothing at all.
Join Food Blogger Pro. As I mentioned previously, there is no crash course on how to start a blog. But the closest thing to a course about food blogging is all found on Food Blogger Pro’s website. For $35 a month, you can access to unlimited resources, discussion board and COURSES on all things blogging.
It’s focused on food blogging, but this is actually great for anyone who is interested in learning about blogging and what it takes.
There is no right or wrong way to start. Just jump in and do it. Be active every single day. Show up to your blog as you would any other job. Consistency is KEY when it comes to growing a blog.
Although WordPress has the ability to host your site, I recommend using SiteGround as your hosting. SiteGround is great because it is faster than most services, and they also have a customer service option that is available to you 24/7. I have used this countless times while I was switching.
I do need to point out that once you pick your hosting it is really hard and time consuming to switch. So, I would recommend doing a lot of research into what hosting you want before committing to it. I switched from wordpress, to squarespace, back to wordpress just to switch to siteground. It was a lot of back and forth and very time consuming, especially for someone who has no idea what they are doing.
Luckily, the people are SiteGround and WordPress were both very helpful and were there for me along the way.
Difference between SiteGround and WordPress
SiteGround is the server that hosts your website. Think of it as the place that holds all your information, while WordPress is the software that actually uses the server. So you need BOTH. WordPress manages and controls the actual website while SiteGround is more of the ‘behind-the-scenes guy. You’ll need both if you ever want to monetize your blog with ad’s.
Whenever I have an issue with my site, like if things aren’t loading properly, I use SiteGround’s live chat and usually connect with someone right away. I love that there is 24/7 support there for me whenever I need it. The people are also very nice, friendly and helpful.
WordPress is the front-of-house guy. This is where you can make your website uniquely yours by editing it and adding in different plug-ins (which essentially are apps for WordPress). If you aren’t tech savvy, I highly recommend spending money on buying a template website. Also, do some research into this as well. There are a ton of different templates that you can purchase on Etsy or even google. But before you buy, read the description to make sure it’s compatible with the WordPress site that you have. I made the mistake of purchasing two different templates that ultimately weren’t compatible with my site.
You can find a template on Etsy for a minimum of $10. If you’re just starting out this may be a good option for you. Ultimately, I decided to purchase a more expensive template from Cookly which ran about $80. As I mentioned before, I’m not tech savvy so I also purchased the feature where Cookly will actually go into my WordPress and download + setup the template for me.
One thing I learned with having a website is that you can’t be afraid to spend money. I’m a firm believer in, “you have to spend money to make money”. Also, at the end of the day, time is money. I’d personally rather spend the extra $20-$30 to have someone help me set up my site rather than spend a good portion of my day learning how to do it myself and wondering if I messed anything up.
This is just a personal preference, I encourage you to do what you think it best for yourself!
So to recap: Once you have your site name, decided which hosting site you want to go with, and then pull the plug. My recommendation is to sign up for SiteGround (hosting), WordPress and to purchase a theme.
WordPress also has training sessions and I believe you get three free ones when you sign up. I utilized these and someone took me through WordPress step-by-step and showed me the ropes. This was extremely helpful so I recommend to anyone to try this out. There are also a ton of resources out there as well. Youtube is a great place to start!
I hope this was helpful! Starting a blog can be scary but it doesn’t have to be. I encourage everyone to follow their passion. This blog and my Instagram account has changed my life for the better. But i’ll be the first to admit it’s not easy. It takes a lot of time, effort and money to grow. But if it’s something you want to do and are passionate about you can totally do it, anyone can!