Learn how to start a food blog and make money within a month
I’m a numbers guy and have loved my experience working the personal finance blogs I’ve started. I just finished up helping a friend start their food blog though and can tell you, it was SO MUCH FUN! Read on as I share with you how to start a food blog and make money FOR REAL!
Her food blog explored emotions and took her places I can only dream of with my money blogs…and she’s discovered some amazing ways to make money talking about the topic she loves. Not only did starting the cooking blog allow her to grow as a chef and make money doing what she loves, it’s becoming a full-time business and bigger than either of us imagined.
I wanted to share what I learned about setting up a food blog, how you can get started and how much food bloggers can make.
We’ll start with the basics like the different types of food blogs and how to set up your blog. We’ll cover how much foodies make and how to grow your blog to make as much money as possible.
Want to start making money blogging? Don't know how to start? I want to set up your blog and get you started! Find out more here!
What is a Food Blog?
I’m going to be really loose with the definition of a food blog here and say any website that covers food, cooking or eating out. I want to make the definition as inclusive as possible so you can take the idea and let you find your own niche within what’s possible.
That said, a food blog can take so many forms and reach so many different audiences.
- Recipe blog where you share recipes in a particular niche (breakfast, lunch, dinner, entrees, desserts, drinks)
- Cooking blog where you share how to cook specific meals and cooking techniques in general
- Healthy eating blog where you show how to plan a diet, healthy meal recipes and how to cook healthy
- Restaurant review blog talking about your experience at local places
- Travel food blog sharing your experience eating all around the world and different food customs
You can even combine some of these ideas like a travel cooking blog where you share recipes and cooking tips on foods you find all over the world!
As with all blogs, successful ones anyway, you want to pick a niche so you build an authority and grow a community faster. A blog about all types of food from everywhere in the world wouldn’t really appeal to anyone in particular and you’d have a tough time showing up in Google search because you’d never be an authority. A blog about cooking healthy meals for time-rushed millennials though…that’s going to put you in a much smaller field of blogs to compete, you’ll build up authority fast and you’re still looking at a target audience in the hundreds of millions.
But let’s back up because I see a lot of you out there saying, “Yeah, I know what food is…but what’s a blog?”
A blog is just a website that isn’t built around a specific company or product. It’s more of a content site sharing views and information rather than selling one product…though that doesn’t mean you won’t make money.
Before you think, “OK, the food part sounds easy enough, but I don’t know about all the blogging and website stuff,” it’s actually really easy to set up a blog and I’ll cover that in this next section.
Why Start a Food Blog?
Do you like to cook? Do you like to take pictures? If the answers are ‘yes' and ‘yes', then it's time for you to start a food blog! You don't need any experience or specific skills for you to start your own engaging food blog. All you need is a little bit of motivation and an eye for photography, and we're here to help you.
As we mentioned before: You don't need any experience or special skills. Still, if your cooking and photo taking skills aren't that good yet, it might be a good idea to practice those first. Try out new recipes on friends and family members, take pictures of anything edible like trust us, even sandwiches look good as photos. Soon enough, your cooking and photo taking skills will improve and you'll feel ready to start your own food blog.
Where can you find recipes? One good way is to search for recipes with keywords such as “easy recipe”, “simple recipe', or anything else of this sort. There are also websites like All Recipes, which provide all types of recipes, from appetizers to deserts and healthy meals as delicious dishes that everyone can enjoy! You could even try out some international dishes; maybe include a little note with the ingredients and instructions translated into English (if needed). You know it's always fun to learn about new cultures!
If you're not sure what people might like best, why not ask them for their opinion? Maybe you could have an online poll where people vote for their favorite new recipe?
If you already decided on the recipes that will appear on your blog, it's time to find out what goes into making a great food blog. Get started now and find out if your cooking and photo taking skills are good enough to see the world, one delicious bite at a time!
How to Become a Food Blogger
Setting up a food blog is easy and will take a few minutes. I’ll list out the steps here but keep reading for the planning you need to do to get started right.
- Sign up for web hosting and register your blog name. This is all done through one step on Blue Host which offers a free domain name and other extras for less than $3 a month [special negotiated offer only through this blog].
- Pick a theme from the free themes available or buy a premium theme. Themes are the layout of your blog and the free ones are fine to start.
- Download some basic plugins. Plugins are software that lets you do things like remove spam comments and protect your blog from hackers.
- Set up an account with an email service provider to start growing your list. I use ConvertKit because it makes sending out regular newsletters and emails automatic. Get a 14-day FREE trial and start building your list with this offer.
Once you’re set up and online, it’s really just a matter of sharing your stories and recipes with people on the web. Google will pick up on your blog articles and will show them when people search for a topic related to your post. This is how the majority of people find your blog, through Google search, though we’ll talk about a few other ways later.
For a more detailed article on setting up a blog, including the free plugins you should use, click through to this five-video series.
How Much Do Food Bloggers Make?
To all the people that say only certain topics make money in blogging, I say bull$h*t! The idea that only bloggers talking about investing or insurance can make money is totally bunk.
Are advertising rates for food topics lower than those of insurance and investing…yeah. The average cost-per-click paid on ads in the Health & Medical industry is $2.62 while the average CPC in Finance & Insurance is $3.44 per click. I would say that within Health & Medical, the food subgroup is probably even lower but that doesn’t mean you can’t make A LOT OF MONEY!
In a survey of 130 bloggers from different topics, more than one-in-three (36%), said they make over $3,000 a month from their blog. Check out the different ways to make money below, really grow your site and you can easily break into the one-in-five (23%) of bloggers that make over $5,000 a month.
In fact, not making as much in ads from a food blog compared to the money topics like finance and insurance isn’t as big a deal as you might think. I don’t run ads on my blogs because they just don’t pay as well as selling my own products or promoting affiliates (and that’s in those prized money niches).
As a food blog, you’ll want to focus on the money-making products and services that go farther and those you can build once but sell forever.
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How to Start a Food Blog
We covered the technical stuff about starting a blog, setting up your website and getting hosting. Now let’s get more into the conceptual and talk about picking your food blog topic and getting things rolling.
First is just to pick your niche, your topic within food. This has to be something general enough to attract a large audience but also specific enough that you can stand out against the competition. And that’s getting more difficult to do as more food blogs flood the internet.
For example, the first food blogs were pretty much about all things cooking but probably wouldn’t cut it these days. Julie Powell’s idea of cooking all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook might work because it’s got an interesting hook, 524 recipes in 365 days, but today’s new bloggers need a more focused niche.
Some ways to niche down your topic include:
- By type of food; spicy, sweet, tart
- By course: Hors d’oeuvres, entrees, desserts
- Healthy vs Traditional
- By region: geographic region, country, city
You can also niche by ideas like quick-cooking or by generation. While it might not seem like a Gen X would cook any differently than a millennial, it’s not just about the differences but about appealing to that target market more by focusing on them.
A lot of bloggers will tell you to work on growing your blog and worry about making money later. I say start on your plan to make money BEFORE you start your blog! Whether you just want to share your message or make money, being able to at least pay for your time and supplies through the blog profits is huge for your motivation to keep posting.
That’s why, from day one, start thinking about the different products or ways you’re going to use to make money from your blog. We’ll talk about some of these later in the post so I don’t want to steal my own thunder here.
Finally you need to put together a content strategy and a social strategy. This is probably the one thing almost all new bloggers forget, or just don’t think about entirely. Most bloggers jump on Blue Host, create their website, and just think it’s about writing out a few paragraphs every once in a while.
That’s not going to cut it.
Your content strategy is a plan for how often you’ll post on your blog and what you’ll talk about. You should be creating an expectation in your readers for when they can see a new post and why they want to click back to your blog. This means posting at the same time each week and creating posts that fit together.
- Do a series of posts that work together like cooking each course in a meal or cooking your favorite five desserts from easiest to sweetest.
- Plan on doing posts regularly where you can link to affiliates, your own products or sponsored products.
- Share off-topic posts occasionally where you talk about yourself or someone in the community and how food has changed their life.
Your social media strategy can be just as important, especially for new bloggers. This will cover ideas like how often you’ll post on social media and which platforms you’ll use most. You’ll need to decide on a mix between posts that promote your blog or YouTube channel, taking readers off the social platform, and posts that engage with readers directly on the platform.
Growing a Food Blog for Massive Traffic
Food blogs can be insanely popular! I’m not even a foodie but still can’t resist the 30-second clips my Aunt shares of Facebook of someone making cinnamon rolls.
The thing to remember about food blogs is you’re not really talking about food. You’re talking about the emotions and reactions we get from food.
- Travel food blogs appeal to our sense of adventure and the mystery of new places and new tastes.
- Healthy food blogs appeal to our sense of mortality or our desire to look great in that bikini.
- Cooking blogs appeal to those insatiable urges around our sense of taste, a sensory reaction that can bring on just about every emotion in the book.
Understand those deeper reasons and emotions that are satisfied by your topic and you can tap into that more directly with your posts, pictures and messages…and that’s going to bring viral traffic!
Writing posts and sharing your experiences on a blog is only one half of what needs to be done to grow a truly big blog though. You also need to get your message in front of people so they can start sharing it.
That means SEO, collaborations and social media.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is what you do on- and off- your blog to get ranked on Google for that massive search traffic. There are a lot of tricks and ideas we’ve covered on the blog but the easiest is guest posting. This is where you write a post for someone else’s blog and insert a link back to your blog. Not only does this help increase your search rank on Google but it also helps get your message in front of other people for instant traffic.
Collaborations with other bloggers are another way to start growing your food blog. Guest posts also fit in this but you’ve also got ideas like round-up posts, either on your blog or another, or just asking other bloggers if they would link to your content from their website. Just like that guest blogging idea, this all serves a dual purpose of improving your search rank as well as getting in front of more readers.
Social media was made for food bloggers! Put a slow-motion, extreme close-up video of someone biting into a cinnamon roll on Facebook and see if it doesn’t get shared at least half a million times (ok, enough with the cinnamon roll references, I’m getting hungry).
That doesn’t mean you need to be on every social media platform. I would suggest starting off focusing on two or three social platforms at most; maybe the most visual ones like Pinterest and Instagram and possibly Facebook.
- Develop a plan of how many images and posts you will share each day to each platform
- Start a conversation by asking questions or sharing ideas
- Collaborate with other food bloggers by sharing each other’s posts in your social accounts
How to Start a Food Channel on YouTube
You CANNOT have a food blog and not be doing YouTube videos! OK, technically you can but you’re missing out on so much. Sharing pictures of your recipes or the meal out at a restaurant is fine but it misses out on so much emotion and sensory-experience.
What if instead you could show the emotional reactions of people when they take that first bite? How much richer would it be if you could share the sounds of the skillet sizzling or the crunch as someone bites into fresh fruit?
Yeah, you can do that on YouTube!
If you need any more convincing, I ran my blogs for three years before getting serious about YouTube. I made good money, making over $108,000 and averaging just over $6,000 a month towards the end of 2017…just two years into adding YouTube videos to the business and I’ve cleared over $17,000 in each of the last two months!
YouTube is a game-changer for any online business and it isn’t nearly as tough as you might think. I’ve shared my experience starting and growing the channel but it really comes down to just getting started and constant improvement. If you look at my first videos (please don’t), they were horrible but I committed to doing at least one a week and improving each time.
- Make a point to take your phone out and grab some video of you cooking, grocery shopping, eating…everything related to your food blog. This is going to make for great b-roll footage, the video you show while talking about something.
- Just sit down and talk about a recipe, what you had heard about a specific restaurant or some tips for cooking a type of food.
- Check out what’s working for other food bloggers on YouTube. Search for a couple of keywords and see what channels come up the most in different searches related to your topic. Then go to their Videos tab and sort by Most Popular for some instant crowd-pleaser video ideas.
Ways to Make Money as a Food Blogger
Would it be cliché to say that how much you make as a food blogger is only limited by your imagination? Yeah, I guess but this is one blog topic I really get excited about when thinking of the possibilities.
Cookbooks are the most obvious way to make money off a food blog and these can be anywhere from multi-recipe books you self-publish on Amazon or quick one-page printables you sell directly on your blog. You can create cookbooks for any niche and even a single food blog can do multiple books.
For example, if you had a desserts blog, you could do cookbooks for healthy desserts, sinfully-sweet desserts and quick dessert ideas.
How to Cook Guides are similar to the cookbook idea but are more general, talking about how to improve your cooking skills or sharing your funniest cooking stories.
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Sponsorships are another big source of revenue for food blogs, charging local restaurants or food companies to talk about their product or your experience eating out. These can range from getting a free meal to a couple hundred dollars and even into the thousands per post.
Your own line of seasonings or mixes is one of the most interesting ideas I’ve seen used by food bloggers and definitely one with the biggest money-making potential. Grow your blog or YouTube channel into the millions and you’ve got a ready-made market for products you know they want.
Courses are similar to the cookbook and self-publishing idea but just with a video component. It is so easy to create a video course. You’re already writing out the content with your blog and books. You’re already creating videos with your YouTube channel. Why not put the ideas together into a course and make MORE money?
Of course there are the other usual suspects for making money on a blog and YouTube channel like affiliate marketing and YouTube ads. I make over half of my monthly income from these two sources, so it’s not like they’re unimportant, but they’re pretty easy to set up and not quite as exciting as the money-making ideas above.
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Starting a food blog and growing it into a full-blown business can not only make you a lot of money but can also be one of the most enjoyable types of blogs to start. There is just so much of our emotions wrapped into food and our experiences with it, you can’t help but have fun. The best time to start a food blog was yesterday but the second-best time is TODAY…so get started!
Read the Entire How to Start Blogging Series
- How to Start a Music Channel on YouTube
- How to Start Blogging for Introverts
- How to Start a Travel Channel on YouTube
- How to Start a Blog about My Life
- How to Start a DIY Channel on YouTube