One thing I have noticed on blogs I have seen is their advice on how to start a food blog. I think this is a great way to encourage people to make the jump and start theirs as I was, but instead of creating a retrospective look back at what I did to set up This Guy Cooks, I thought I would do it as I go along. This way I can share wins and fails as they happen.
A lot of the set up and design aspects to This Guy Cooks are elements that I have set up myself as I didn’t have a budget to play with when I first started. By doing this I’ve learnt not only about things that work, but things that don’t for me and why!
This first post will explain how I went about setting up This Guy Cooks.
Deciding what platform to use:
There are so many different platforms today that you can choose from to start a food blog. The most well used and respected of these would be WordPress. WordPress is an open source platform that gives you two options, host on their servers or install their software on your own hosted server. For people who are new to the blogosphere the thought of self hosting can be a scary one. It’s easy to be put off paying for hosting but ultimately the pros really outway the cons. For example:
Free wordpress hosted site offers you a great starting point if you’re dipping your toe in the waters of blogging, however, it is very restricted in terms of design and functionality. You can choose from a series of free templates or “themes” to populate with your recipes or you can pay for some premium ones too each with their own unique look and feel.
A self hosted wordpress site allows you the greatest gift in blogging and that is control. A whole world of support is available and that includes great tools such as specific themes for your blog, plugins to help you control how your blog works and even, dependant on the hosting company, support outside of the blog including brand enhancing tools such as cheaper website domains and personalised e-mail addresses.
Choosing your host!
If you’ve decided to self host your new food blog (excellent choice) you’ll need to find a host that works for you. I use a UK based hosting platform called TSO Host who are specialists with wordpress and offer an easy 1 click install. There are lots of different companies you can host with though. A popular one is Blue Host. Each are similar in price and scaleable so you can’t really go wrong.
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be able to search for and purchase a domain name. Think really carefully about this bit as it is a big commitment. Choose a domain name that fits in with you and your blog. I was lucky with mine as I had been toying with the name “this guy cooks” for a few weeks. The domain name was available and I jumped on it.
Once you’ve got your domain name and hosting sorted, and you’ve installed wordpress you will be given a username and password. They’re often jumbled letters for both so write them down. You can then log in using your new login details.
Getting your site ready:
Now this next step, to me, is very important but its one of those steps that you can chose not to do if you like and that is to lock, or password protect your site. I do this because the site isn’t ready. I didn’t want to let anyone see mine, including search engines until I was sure that the site was ready. I’m glad I did too because I changed the look and feel of This Guy Cooks significantly before I launched it. Had I not, anyone who had seen it in its “getting ready” phase may have been put off or confused by those changes and lets face it, first impressions are everything.
To lock your site I used a simple plugin called password protect. It is ludicrously easy. Find it in the plugin section on your new wordpress dashboard by selecting “add new” and searching for it. Click install and once complete, go to the settings on the left hand side and enter a new password. This will stop anyone or any search engine going onto your site but you can still view it live by typing in your password.
Choosing how your site will look:
The next part is a really fun part, finding a theme for your website. WordPress offers a host of free and paid for themes which will work to however you wish you site to look. Its a personal decision and can be changed quite easily. You can also find several food related themes on sites such as themeforest.net. A very popular food theme is on the genesis framework but comes with a price. I think you’re looking at $99 for the framework and then the child theme.
I myself chose to use the Sugar & Spice Pro theme by Webtuts.pl. It is a great theme that is designed to be easy to use and customise. I paid I think $14 for the pro version although there is a free version if you want to try it out.
Once you’ve done all of the above you will have your very own food blog. Customising a blog on wordpress is pretty easy and there are hundreds of tutorials online and thousands of people willing to help in the wordpress support forum. 9 times out of 10 your questions have already been answered there so keep an eye out!
The fun part is to start cooking and photographing your creations and populating your site.
Have fun and keep at it!