So you want to know how to start a Dessert Blog?
I often get asked how to start a dessert blog and how I started this blog. I started to think how could I help other women (and men) start their own dessert / baking / food blogs with the knowledge that I have learnt in the past 3 years..
This post is just that, to share everything I´ve learnt thus far, with all of you. As I continue to learn I will add more information here, so be sure to check back every now and then!
The following steps is exactly how I built my blog:
1. A name for your blog. The biggest tip I can give you here is to choose a name that is easy to understand and pronounce. Think about your target market when choosing a name. Add a keyword that represents your blog i.e. desserts / baking to your name, for example: Annie´s Baking Blog or Scrumptious Desserts. You get the drift.
2. Once you have a name for your blog, it´s time to decide if you want to start with Blogger (which I did because it was and is free) or with WordPress. I suggest you start with WordPress if you want your own domain name and if you´re serious about making money with your blog.
I changed from Blogger to WordPress after 2 years of blogging and lost alot of my traffic (even though I used an expert for the task to ensure there were no breaks in my permalinks – which is the url for a blog post). So think long and hard about what you plan to achieve with your blog. If you´re serious about making it a business, I would go the WordPress route, right off the bat.
3. So if you go the WordPress route, you should choose a hosting company. My blog is hosted by BlueHost. They have great rates and will give you a free domain name if you decide to host with them. See this article on How to start a successful blog by Saira Perl at MomResource.com. She explains in more details (including clear screenshots) on how to host your site with BlueHost. If you´re a Mom, like me, you´ll love her blog because it is a great place to connect with other Mom Entrepeneurs!
You also need to choose a design for your blog. There are many free versions that go with WordPress and for awhile I used the Theme 21 of Theme Forest and it worked perfectly for me. Although I recently changed to the Restored 316 – Delightful Pro Theme because it enabled me to Categorize my recipes and blog post. I chose the custom theme on this design because it allowed for all my Categories to be displayed on my home page. I love this design! Delightful Pro Theme. They have many other designs too.
Top Tip: Just a couple of months after I switched from Blogger to WordPress, my site was hijacked. It was devastating. My site was redirected to a porn site (awful right!) and when I realised what was going on, it was too late. I was blacklisted at Yandex and felt my world tumbling upside down.. This is when I learnt of Sucuri.net. They protect your site against viruses and hijacks. This does cost some money (99$/year) but for the piece of mind and to avoid going through what I did, I suggest you get it. Not getting it could cost you money in the long run. They also run daily backups for me but you could also install a backup plugin like BackupBuddy.
4. WordPress plugins are bits of software that can be uploaded to extend and expand the functionality of your WordPress site. Note: One of the primary advantages of using the self-hosted version of WordPress from WordPress.org is the ability to upload and use plugins on your WordPress site.) The Plugins that I suggest you get are:
- The Yoast SEO plugin. This plugin helps you with your SEO optimization (SEO is the practice of improving and promoting a website to increase the number of visitors the site receives from search engines. There are many aspects to SEO, from the words on your page to the way other sites link to you on the web). Read this article called Easy SEO for MomBloggers written by the Brilliant Business Moms but by all means you dont have to be a Mom to benefit from this. This article is packed with practical and easy to understand SEO tips.
- A social sharing plugin. I use Flare because you can customize the look to match your blog design. A social sharing plugin is vital because it allows your readers to share your content with their friends – a great way to spread the word about your blog! Something you´ll need lots of when you´re starting out 🙂
- A recipe plugin like Easy recipe Plugin which is free. They also have a Plus version, you can read more about it here.
- A plugin that will keep away spam. I use Askimet. It checks your comments against the Akismet Web service to see if they look like spam or not and lets you review the spam it catches under your blog’s “Comments” admin screen.
- A plugin that allows your readers to subscribe to your newsletter or feed. I use the ManyContacts bar on the top of my blog but also make use of MadMimi for my customized RSS feed newsletters, drip campaigns, webforms and more (I´ll do an individual post some time soon about the terminologies I just mentioned and what they mean and how they can help you to better your blog).I love working with the people at MadMimi.com, they are always super friendly and ready to help!
5. I use a company called Wp Curve for all my WordPress support. They have helped me a lot! They offer 24/7 WordPress tachnical support.
6. Perhaps you want to set up your own PayPal acount. It can be used to send and receive payments through the Internet. Once you sign up for a PayPal account, you can send and receive money online. When you send money, you can choose to fund your payments from your PayPal account balance, a credit card, or your bank account. I use my PayPal account all the time.
7. Food Photography Course. Everyone that has a Dessert or Food Blog knows that you could have the prettiest, most glamorous of blogs but if your food images don´t look good, it means nothing. Images are everything. Images are what capture the attention of people. The better your image, the more people will be enticed to click on it. I can´t focus on this enough! This is why I highly recommend this eBook: The Food Photography Book. Nagi from Recipe Tin Eats recently launched her Food Photography Book and I´m loving it! Oh man I´ve learnt so much in just a few days.. Nagi grew her blog from 0 to 1 million views just within 8 months!!! This girl knows her stuff and her food photography is amazing!
8. Food Bloggers Pro is a community for food and dessert bloggers. Here you learn the essentials about what it takes to start and grow a successful food blog with easy to understand video tutorials. There´s a community where food bloggers can chat and learn from each others on an extensive list of topics for example creating an e-book, essential plugins, etc.
Bjork Ostrom and Lindsay Ostrom of the blog Pinch of Yum started this communtiy. Lindsay is also the author of the book Tasty Food Photography. There are more than 300 videos with in-depth tutorials to help you take your food blog to the next level!
Click here to Sign up for Food Blogger Pro. If you´re serious about Food Blogging this is the community for you!
9. You also need a good camera. I suggest a DSLR camera. I use a Canon 600D (European EOS Rebel T3i). The body of the camera is not as important as the lens. A great lens for food photography is the Canon 50mm F1.4 lens (the F1.4 number is the aperture setting. The lower the aperture, the more depth of field (bokeh .- background blur). I currently work with the Canon 50mm F1.8. It works perfectly and is much cheaper than it´s F1.4 counterpart. The next lens I would like to get is the Canon EF 24-70 mm F4.0 zoom lens. I´m saving for it *smile*.
You could use a digital camera and nowadays there are really good ones out there (I started with one) but if you want full control over your lighting (check out this post I wrote about Natural Lighting in food photgraphy) i.e. depth of field, ISO and shutter speed it´s better to go the DSLR route.
10. Then you need a good laptop or pc to use to edit your photos (I use Photoscape for this – it´s a free program and available for download on your desktop) or to write and edit your blog post. I love the batch editor feature that allows me to batch edit my photos and saves me alot of time! The next step would be to get Lightroom to edit your photos. You can learn how to work with Lightroom from Adobe and many other courses at Lynda.com. If you click in this affiliate link, you can get 10 days of free unlimited access to lynda.com.
I would suggest to get a laptop that has adequate memory and that is fast. When blogging, the last thing you need is a slow computer! You could get an external hard drive. This will help to free-up memory on your computer. Also when doing videos and working with editing software, you need a fast and good laptop/pc.
So how often should you post?
The answer is regularly, in the beginning I suggest once a week. When you post regularly your readers and Google see that you are serious about what you´re doing!
Dessert blogging is not just about making desserts or taking great photos, but it is also about writing a compelling post (click here to see how to write a compelling dessert recipe blog post)
I wish someone told me about this book before I started, called ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income written by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett.
Also check out this post How to Start a Food Blog by Amy Andrews. Amy knows her business and she has some great tips to share. Check out her book Tell Your Time: How to Manage Your Schedule So You Can Live Free. It´s an eBook that shows you how to control your schedule and by making sure the important things don’t fall through the cracks. This is great for planning!
What should I blog about?
My biggest tip is to bake desserts that you love. If you´re passionate about something, people see that and it rubs off on them. Don´t make things that all the other bloggers are doing, unless it is something you´re passionate about..
When I started this blog, I tried to fit in and make friends, met some very nice bloggers along the way but also some very (not nice) ones. You´ll meet them too. Don´t worry about them, move on and connect with the ones that are open to connect. Like they say there are many fish (bloggers) in the sea 😉
I then decided (when I finally found my groove and stopped worrying about the other dessert bloggers out there) that whatever I make, should be something that improves my baking skills. Since then, every new post, I make sure that at least one of the recipe components is something new for me – and this excites me!
One of the most effective ways, besides SEO, to get your name out there. To network on social media platforms. I mainly use Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook Pages, Facebook Groups (Dessert Bloggers 101 – a new group I started recently). In this group myself and other members share tips on baking and blogging. Join us! We would love to have you!
I also do have a LinkedIn profile but to be honest I haven´t really investigated the benefits of it or how to use it to my advantage. Perhaps I will post about it someday soon 😉
I hope this post about how to start a dessert blog will help you in some form or way. Please leave a comment if there is something else you would like to know or if you´d simply like to connect. I love connecting with other bloggers (No matter what you blog about! Especially Mom Blogs!).
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Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I have used all of the products listed and recommend them because they are helpful and are companies that I trust.