Five Things to Know Before You Start Your Food Blog (Plus a Giveaway!)

BlogHer Original Post

From the technical considerations to the practical plans, starting a food blog encompasses so much more than simply reviewing restaurants or photographing fajitas. Since the launch of my food blog Just a Taste in 2008, I’ve kept a long list titled “Things I Wish I’d Known.” The list has proven to be invaluable, and it formed a strong basis for much of the guidance I offer in my new book, Food Blogging For Dummies.

Food Blogging for Dummies

Some of the pointers are (fortunately or unfortunately) the result of making mistakes and living with the consequences. As great as learning from those mistakes has been, there are some errors that are not worth your time or tears. Read on for the top five things to know before starting your food blog, then leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of my new book that hits shelves worldwide today and is also available as an eBook!

1. Consider Self-Hosting Your Blog

The endless debate between hosting and self-hosting your blog: Do you give away the control and leave the maintenance up to the pros, or do you keep the control and inherit the technical headaches that come with it?

It’s entirely a personal decision as to whether or not you self-host your blog, which means paying to register a custom domain and sign up with a host. But choosing the self-hosted route, such as WordPress.org, rewards you with the freedom to fully customize your site and grow your blog’s functionalities along with your budding readership.

2. Embrace Editing

Never fear the red pen. As a blogger, you are your own editor and copy-editor, and the biggest advantage you can give yourself is to embrace the editing process. I’ve cut words, sentences and even entire paragraphs that I’ve been so in love with it was actually painful to part with them. In the end, editing is always the right decision. Remember my editing mantra, “Follow your gut and don’t be afraid to cut.”

3. Know Your Free Resources

There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but there definitely are free blogging resources online. From photo-editing software to SEO strategy, take advantage of any of the following resources before your first post ever goes from private to public:

  • Photo editing: GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is a free program for photo retouching and image composition.
  • SEO: Google Insights for Search allows you to compare what words or phrases are most searched for across categories, regions or times.
  • Food safety: FoodSafety.gov is your one-top shop for all questions tied to proper cooking temperatures, food storage, sanitation, and more.

4. Avoid an Obsession with the Numbers

Plain and simple: Don’t let your blog’s unique visitors or pageviews get the best of you. Easier said than done, right? Although it’s difficult to avoid measuring success from the numbers, it’s critical to not dwell on traffic, particularly when you’ve just launched your blog. Remember that no food blog starts as a success; rather it becomes a success over time.

5. Back Up Your Blog

There may be no use crying over spilled milk, but I guarantee you tears will fall over failing to back up your blog. It takes mere minutes to save you potential heartache thanks to countless backup options available through your host, your blog platform, or available plug-ins such as the DropBox backup plug-in.

We're giving away three copies of my book! To enter for a chance to win a copy of Food Blogging For Dummies, leave a comment below that answers the following question:

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started your blog?

This giveaway closes at 5 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on April 20, 2012. Read the official rules and alternate entry options here.

For more tips and tutorials about all things food blogging, pick up a copy of my new book, Food Blogging For Dummies.

Kelly Senyei is the creator of the food blog Just a Taste and author of Food Blogging For Dummies.

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