My blog as of Nov 2017 is hosted on WP Engine. Before that it was hosted on Bluehost servers for many years with a self-hosted WordPress engine and it uses Foodie theme. Do not worry if these words do not mean much. I did not know them too. And that is why I wanted to write this post. Read on.
I started my blog on blogger.com as that is what I knew about at the time. I was blogging infrequently, taking bad pictures and the recipes were written in any which way I felt like. Fast forward to some years down the line, when I started taking better pictures, when readers started finding me online, started cooking my food. In those years, I learnt to write better, learnt to develop recipes better, learnt photography all by myself and was often faced with the question of sticking it out on blogger or moving to wordpress. Eventually I moved to self hosted wordpress in 2014. Yes, before that it was all blogger.
Whether you want to start a blog to post food, thoughts, other interests, whether you want to keep is small and personal or make a larger responsive website to reach a larger audience, you can do it much more easily now with numerous options available.
My blog wasnt always this pretty and responsive. First the different services you can use to start a blog. Once your blog is set up, head on over to Resources for food bloggers.
Blogger vs WordPress
Blogger.com and WordPress.com are both blogging services where you can create a blog for free. Your blog would have a url like something.blogspot.com or something.wordpress.com. You can get a domain and point that to the blog so it looks like a .com website. Blogger is connected to a google account, has a decent set of templates and gadgets (widgets) and is relatively easy to figure out and start blogging. It literally takes 2 minutes to start a blog on blogger.com. Similar pros apply to a wordpress.com blog.
The third option is a site on self hosted WordPress, which is not free. You will need your own hosting, themes and domain name. However, there are several pros to a self hosted wordpress site. I pay for hosting, domain (which are recurring) and Genesis framework and foodie theme which are a one time payment. There are many more options available in terms of design, appearance, support, widgets, plugins, responsiveness, speed, monetization (ad networks) and other services.
If you want a simple space to blog and not worry about SEO(Search Engine Optimization – a Post coming soon), monetization etc, then blogger.com or wordpress.com is the quickest option for you. If you would like your blog or website to grow in traffic, manage search-ability, monetize using ad networks, be able to provide a service that you control, then self hosted WordPress is the way to go. For many years I was on blogger. It just was easy to maintain without getting much into the backend. This is probably the reason there are several big blogs still on blogger. I have much more traffic now, more control, and much better SEO because of the move to self-hosted WordPress, but I do have to keep learning the tech.
Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means I earn a commission if you make a purchase through them. I only recommend products I personally use and trust.
Lets get to it.
1: SET UP YOUR DOMAIN NAME AND HOSTING
Think on what you want to name your blog/website! It took me some time to figure out what I wanted the name to be. My original blog was named hobby and more. Seriously.. beats head on the wall. Then I thought of some general terms as vegan curry etc. 2 things to think of when coming up with names
- easy to remember and spell
- not too generic a term. For eg, vegan curry is too frequently used by many in recipe names, in sentences and what not. This will confuse search engines. You want the blog name to show up on the first page when anyone specifically searches for your blog.
Once you have a list of some possible names, head to Bluehost to see if your domain name is available by entering it in the box that looks like this:
If you already have a domain name, you can use that as well. You will also need to host your domain name. Hosting is a space to put your site on rented space. Bluehost has great rates and gives you your domain name for free if you decide to host with them.
Pick a plan and decide on the package additions.
The Domain Whois Privacy shields your personal address and phone number from being displayed to the public. I added BlueHost is WhoIs Security for our domain. It’s only a few dollars a year and it prevents people from being able to look up your home address.
2: INSTALL WORDPRESS
WordPress is a publishing platform which you can use to publish a blog or website online easily.
Login to Bluehost and find the Website Builders section. Click on the WordPress logo.
On the next page click the “Install” button in the “Do it yourself FREE” section. Set up the domain, admin username and password. Once the installation is complete, you can head to the admin url, enter your credentials and you are ready to start posting.
No hosting service is perfect. There are other similar options that you can shop for as well.
I had initially started with basic shared hosting. With the kind of traffic I get on the blog, I chose to upgrade to Optimized for WordPress hosting on Bluehost, that gave me a dedicated Virtual Private server, CDN caching and other features. You might or might not need this.
3: THEMES TO DESIGN YOUR BLOG
Time to prettify the blog. Find your theme! WordPress has tons of free WordPress themes to pick from. You can scan through the options here. If you’re looking for a premium themes that are more customizable, responsive, have features needed for specific type of blogs such as food blogs , check out these options:
- The Genesis Framework – This is the current framework I am using on the blog. The design theme I use is Foodie by Studiopress.
- The Thesis Theme – These is a very intuitive and customizable theme. I know several food blogs that use thesis.
- Elegant Themes – Elegant themes has some great cheaper options
4. BACK UP YOUR BLOG WITH VAULTPRESS
What no one tells you about starting up on wordpress without much technical know how is how easily things crash. Some plugin is not compatible with the new WordPress roll out or a new theme update. boom, the website stops working. Your server or database can crash and you lose all your data. Always have backup.
Once your blog is set up, head on over to Resources for food bloggers.