You’re obsessed with making and talking about fabulous food??? ME TOO! Let’s talk. And eat. Just not exactly at the same time. Our mamas taught us better.
I plan to chronicle the growth of this blog for three reasons: 1. I found others’ posts on their blogs incredibly helpful and I believe if one is to be part of a community, one should always give back, 2. I am a huge nerd and I love to share the business knowledge I gain, and 3. I’d like to document what works and what doesn’t for me since this is a new venture. I have had blogs before – the blog on Goodie Godmother was actually officially started in November 2012 – but they have never been my primary focus. You’ll notice if you check dates between some of my early posts that the blog was more of a “when I have time” project.
So let’s start with the basics to get a site up shall we?
1. Pick a name, search to make sure no one else is using that name, and then register your domain name.
To me, this step comes before any decisions regarding design and branding. Once you find a unique name that speaks to you, it’s important you register the name on the off chance that someone else is inspired by the same name at roughly the same time. You can register you domain name independently from a hosting plan, but it’s usually a feature included with new hosting packages. You can start a free blog on certain blogging sites (wordpress.org, blogger, etc), but your domain name will read www.yourblog.HOSTINGCOMPANY.com. This is fantastic for a personal blog, but if you are looking to grow your blog, a self hosted, stand alone name is easier for people to remember and looks more professional.
There are many hosting options out there, I personally use Host Gator. A friend recommended them many years ago and I’ve used them for almost 5 years now for various sites and always had a great experience with their customer service, site up time, etc.
2. Pick a blog platform.
There are many different platforms on which to run your blog, I use WordPress. It’s easy for the non-tech crowd and there are thousands of custom themes available and resources online, some free, most at a very reasonable price. I like the option to choose both fixed and blog page templates for my site depending on the look I want for a particular page.
3. Pick your look!
We’ll definitely go into the basics of branding more later, but everyone has a look they like. Your website is your “home” and you want to decorate it to express your personality and welcome visitors to stop by for a while, maybe sit on the porch, sip some mint lemonade. You can go as simple as picking a few of your favorite fonts and colors to use on the site, or have a custom logo designed to use on your favorite template, or even have the entire look created by a graphic designer.
My logo was designed by Heather, a Santa Barbara based artist. She was able to take the very broad hopes I had for the logo (clean, elegant, fun) and create a fantastic logo that fit beautifully with everything I envisioned for the Goodie Godmother “calling card”.
For the current incarnation of the website, I’m using a template I purchased on Creative Market from designer BluChic, called Lynette. I also considered the Isabelle template. Creative Market has templates from a lot of different designers and a huge assortment of fonts, backgrounds, design images, etc. It’s like etsy for the design world, I dig it. They also give away free downloads each week from different vendors if you’re into collecting.
I also consulted with A Walking Kind of Bird (on Facebook here). They are a full-service “mom and pop” design firm based in Lompoc – everything from websites to social media management, promo videos and email. Very chill and great to work with, and if you ask nicely, they may send you pictures of the adorable goats they get to play with in their off hours.
Once you have the framework set up you will need to…
5. Create FABULOUS content!
This is the fun part! Share your passion, fill the pages with anecdotes, pictures, ideas, anything that will convey your message to your readers. For food blogs, this means lots of playing in the kitchen to come up with new recipes, test, and photograph. Please don’t “borrow” recipes off other websites without providing at least inspiration credit and a link to the original post. There are only so many ways to make certain dishes, so your recipe may end up similar to another posted just because, but if it happened because you read something on another site and just added your own spin, please give credit where credit is due.
6. Take pretty pictures
I’m working on this. Most of the current pictures on the blog are iPhone 4 photos. If I was feeling snazzy, I’d edit in Instagram. In the crowded food blogging world, that just doesn’t pass muster. I recently invested in a Canon 40D SLR, a 100mm macro lens, and a standard lens (28mm-135mm). I’m still learning how to work the camera settings as it’s quite a dramatic upgrade from my phone. You don’t need to invest in a DSLR, a quality point and shoot will probably do just fine to start.
The mind “eats” first through the eye. If you want your recipes accepted by sites like FoodGawker, and pinned on Pinterest, you need to submit appealing pictures. It’s a lot more challenging than it looks… I think my current favorite resource for improving my food photography is the ebook Tasty Food Photography. I purchased the book one night after having a near meltdown over working with my camera (see the dark photo in the first business blog post and the blurry pictures in the corn dog post to see why). It’s become my go-to reference for learning the basics to create my own food photography “style”, something I’m working on as I keep practicing and getting more comfortable with my camera and it’s gajillion settings. To check out the book, click here to visit Pinch of Yum.
7. Be Social!
Get on social media! You didn’t put all that work into creating something delicious not to share it. 😉 Get on your favorite social media networks and set up your business profile or page. Goodie Godmother has a Facebook page, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter (links to all in the sidebar).
I think this is a pretty solid introduction to starting a blog. I’ll be sharing more as I continue building the Godmother blog.
I’d like to add a disclaimer that some of the above links are affiliate links. This means that if you click on the links and make a purchase, you help support Goodie Godmother at no additional cost to you. Not all are affiliate links, but every. single. one. is for a product or service that I myself do or have used. It’s important to me that I only ever feature products on this blog that I myself use. Look for a post in the future talking about affiliate links.