How to Start a Food Blog.

How To Start a New Food Blog

In 2011, I started a food blog. I have always loved to bake and I posted pictures of my cookies and cupcakes on Facebook all the time – each picture resulted in an email or message from a friend asking for the recipe. I followed blogs myself and loved the idea of using a blog as a way to share my family recipes. A personal little online outlet for cookies, if you will. I love to write, I love to take pictures, and I love to bake. A baking blog was my destiny. But how on earth do I create one?

I went to my friend and very talented photographer Harper for advice. She has a photography website and a personal blog. She told me I had a few options as far as platforms go – WordPress, Google Blogger, TypePad, etc. I didn’t know much about any of them but did my research and chose as my hosted blogging platform.

This means my website’s URL was initially

What is Self Hosting? 

There is a very big difference between a hosted blog and a self-hosted blog. The hosted solution is where a company houses and maintains your blog on its servers. It frees you from the stress of manually backing up your site and updating your software. And it’s free. Not knowing how much time I’d have to dedicate to Sally’s Baking Addiction, I chose the hosted solution.

Within four months, I wanted more leverage, more design control, more freedom, and the ability to install third party advertising on my site so I could make money and maybe one day call this my job? That was my goal.

I wanted a more professional URL (without the .wordpress) and I wanted to own my domain – I wanted the ability to install my own plug-ins, which are the little bells and whistles you see around these parts. I purchased my own domain before switching to a self-hosted solution, though – which is possible through  After 4 months using to host my blog, I transferred to a self-hosted blog through so I could allow my blog to really take off.

There is no right or wrong choice when you are considering a hosted blog or a self-hosted blog. It all depends on what your blogging goals are. To take total control of your blog with endless customizations, a custom domain, and so many plug-ins to choose from – I highly suggest bypassing the hosted option and head straight for self-hosting.

The Bluehost Solution

I self-hosted my website through Bluehost in the beginning. Bluehost has the cheapest prices around and you can register your domain name for FREE. At the time, I paid $6.95 per month to host my site. The whole hosting-domain stuff can be quite confusing at first, but Bluehost will be more than happy to walk you through anything. I highly, highly recommend them.

After Bluehost, I switched to Servint for my hosting solution. Bluehost is a wonderful option to get started in the self-hosted scene. Once I reached 25K+ views per day, I began to notice that readers could not access my website and it was very slow to load. That is a good problem! I switched to a larger server in 2012. Since then, I’ve had to make a switch again due to traffic increases. At the end of 2014, I switched to WP Engine who is my current host.

To self-host your blog, you need a host server like BlueHostServint, or WP Engine AND you need to install a blogging software.

Installing and configuring your own blogging software is very serious stuff to understand and to implement. To save myself from the headache trying to figure out .zip files and configure scripts (???), I hired help. does offer a 5-minute install guide but even step 1 left me confused. To avoid completely breaking my blog, I paid a web designer for help and a seamless transition.

Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 3.15.42 PM

For WordPress users – once your blog is self-hosted, you’ll be able to add in little bells and whistles all over your pages. These are called plug-ins and they can extend the functionality of your blog. There are so many available and they’re completely free.

My favorite WordPress plug-ins include:

  • Akismet – Akismet guards my blog from spam comments. As your site grows, this plug-in is crucial or else you will be monitoring thousands of spam comments on your own and ultimately go insane.
  • Comment Reply Notification – the most important plug-in I have, no questions asked. When a comment or question is left on my blog, more often than not I have a response or a thank you to say. Installing this plug-in will allow the reader to receive an email when I respond to their comment, rather than having the reader check back on the post. It’s most convenient for my readers and is a handy way to extend the conversation.
  • Related Posts Thumbnails – the bottom of each of my posts always have 3 tiny thumbnails with links to similar posts or recipes.  Based on the recipe category, similar posts are chosen at random to display at the bottom. It’s another easy & effortless tool to advertise your other posts.

Related Posts Plug-in

Website Design

My website was designed by Purr Design in August 2013. Purr Design transformed my blog to have a cleaner, sleeker look. They updated my Visual Recipe Index so each recipe has a category and photo.


Posting Schedules

As far as post schedules go – I have to admit that I currently do not follow a strict one. But I do believe being on a regimented blogging schedule is important for time management and for loyal readership.

I typically post 3 times per week, with an occasional personal post or recipe-round up post. I write my posts in the evening and weekends and plan out which recipes will go live on which days. 3 or 4 posts per week is all that my schedule allows.

Consistency, I believe, is more important than frequency. My readers can depend on a certain number of posts per week and that is what matters most.

Two things to consider as you start your blog:

  • Dedication. How dedicated are you to your new blog? I was not sure if the whole blogging thing would work out for me given my schedule limitations and commitments. I have a full time commitment to running, yoga, my family, friends, fiancé, and our dog. Within a few months, I realized how much I enjoy blogging and how much time I am willing to dedicate to it. I immediately wanted to take it to the next level. I do wish that I began my blog as a self-hosted site, but starting with a free blog from allowed me to get my feet wet before taking the self-hosting plunge. As of April 2013, my full time job is my blog! Food writing, baking, food photography, connecting with readers, cookbook writing, and recipe development. And boy, does it take a lot of work.
  • Budget. If you are looking to significantly increase your traffic and really make a career out of food blogging, you have to make an investment in your site. Paying for a web designer, paying for a server, paying for technical support, etc. Then there is the camera, lenses, food props, groceries, etc. You may, of course, design and maintain your blog on your own but being quite tech-clueless, I opted to pay for help in the technical area. If you truly dedicate yourself to your blog, the money invested into the start of your blog will be paid back to you plus more. Trust me. I have made a career out of my blog through very hard work and am able to support myself financially.

Final Comments 

(Does this girl ever stop typing?!)

Don’t let the millions of other bloggers out there intimidate you as you take the blogging plunge. What began as a mere way to share my recipes with my friends has grown into something that now means the world to me. I still remember the first day I reached 100 site views. Then 1,000. And it still makes me smile to read an email, a picture, or a comment from a reader saying they made and enjoyed one of my recipes. It takes a lot of time and effort to grow your blog and the journey is far from over!

Be sure to check out my other blogging pages:



180 Responses to “How to Start a Food Blog.”

  1. #
    yusra abdullahposted December 14, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Hi sally!
    am totally inspired with your work. awsome!
    as a beginner in blogging i need to ask you something

    how do insert your recipe template in your blog post? I have made a templete for my blog, but I cant just insert it as image. I have to save it as jpeg file with the ssimple software “paint” and then i upload that image in my posts. do u do the same way? am facing a lots of difficluties going this way. sometimes, the image quality gets bad and the recipe i have typed doesnt look nice n all. can you tell me how you recipe templates look this way? what do u do? is it an image uploaded like all other images on a blog post? or what?

    thank you so much in advance


    • Sallyreplied on December 15th, 2013 at 8:37 am

      Hi Yusra, congrats on your new blog! Happy my blog has inspired you. My website designer designed a special recipe template formulated for my website, so I apologize – I’m not much help with it.


      • yusra abdullahreplied on December 15th, 2013 at 8:53 am

        ohkaaayy :) no problem at all :) thanku for the reply

  2. #
    The Rustic Pear {Miranda}posted December 16, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    So I’ve published my blog! {insert happy giddy/scared intimidating dance} And I’ve noticed on food bloggers recipes they list the source of the recipe… So I just want to make sure I’m doing this kosher and everything… if i find an amazing recipe online, recreate it/make it and publish it on my blog as long as I list the source with blog link I’m covered?? :)

    Thanks for all your help Sally, I really do appreciate all you have done for me through your blog posts & blogging philosphey! I love ya!!!

    Miranda @therusticpear


    • Sallyreplied on December 16th, 2013 at 1:24 pm

      Hi Miranda, yes always list the source of your recipe if you are taking/modifying/adapting. Congrats on your blog!


  3. #
    Kimberlyposted December 18, 2013 at 10:41 am

    I have been wanting to start a food blog and I read yours all the time and just noticed this information today. Thanks so much for all your details!


  4. #
    Noelleposted December 23, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Hi Sally, I would love to start a baking blog, I actaully am using wordpress, I’m just about done but how do you get your blog out there on google???


  5. #
    Radhika @sugar 'n' spice by radhikaposted December 31, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Whenever you write about your blog’s beginning and how you grew it, you amuse me! It is so similar to what I’m experiencing right now! Sometimes, I do compare my baby food blog to yours and other big blogs and feel lost. I have to remind myself that it only has been 8 days! I guess I just want it to grow super fast and since I’m looking to make my blog a full time career, I’m thinking of a self hosted site. I have however set a deadline, as soon as I hit 3000 views, I’ll get a self hosted website (what do you think?). I feel like right now wordpress bloggers, who are following me are giving me a lot of traffic because of our interactions.
    When you originally switched to a self hosted website, where did you get your majority traffic from? I’ve read about people pinning your pictures and food gawker getting traffic, but how soon did you start to get major traffic from search engines?
    (on a sidenote: can people ‘follow’ you on a self hosted website? or the email subscriptions are the only thing?)
    Sorry for the lengthy comment, I’m a curious!
    Best wishes to you Sally!


    • Radhika @sugar 'n' spice by radhikareplied on December 31st, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      Another question Sally! When do you think (in terms of views) that a site has taken off? I read that you have about 25k views per day! 😮 Not comparing to yours or anyone else’s, but for a food blog, how many views per day means that you’re ‘popular’? What’s the industry standard, if there is any for a relatively new blog? And what should my monthly views target should be to start getting paid (through advertising)?
      Sorry for so many questions! This was the last one! (on this post at least) :)

      Much Love!


      • Sallyreplied on January 2nd, 2014 at 10:38 am

        Hi Radhika, I think that a food blog is truly successful not based on the amount of page views it receives, but how often readers actually make your recipes. That’s how I measure my own success. My blog receives well over 25K hits a day, but that doesn’t measure its success. It’s the amount of emails and comments I receive from readers saying how much they appreciate my blog. That’s what counts the most for me! I feel that you should switch to self hosting whenever you feel more comfortable. I saw my traffic grow after I switched from hosted to self-hosted because my blog had a more professional redesign, as mentioned in this post. People can follow your self hosted blog through blog readers and email subscriptions, yes. Good luck!

  6. #
    Radhikaposted January 2, 2014 at 10:57 am

    I agree with you. I feel the beauty of your blog lies in your community building efforts.. I’m trying to walk that path too.. I feel like being prompt and taking time to engage builds a loyal reader base.. You’ve nailed that bit! But to monetize my blog I will require more than that.. I was wondering if you could give some numbers in terms of views! If you decide it not share that info, I come rely understand! Best of Luck Sally. You’re doing a great job!


  7. #
    Vanessaposted January 18, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Awesome information, Sally. Thank you so much. I’ve been thinking a lot about starting my own blog, because like you, I love photography, baking and writing. Definitely an inspiration for me. I’m going to save this page on my “favorite’ tab :)


  8. #
    Amy @ What's Baking Baby?posted February 1, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Hi sally, Love your blog! I was just wondering, when you first started your blog how did you get followers? I read where you wrote at first your only follower was your mom. That’s where Im at right now lol. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


  9. #
    Courtney Parsleyposted February 3, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    Thanks for the great tips on how to get started with food blogging! I have been a dedicated follower of your site for a while and you are truly an inspiration to me. I’m just getting started with this whole blogging business and you have answered some of the questions that I’ve had.

    I hope that one day I can be as successful as you have been at this. :-)


    • Sallyreplied on February 4th, 2014 at 7:09 am

      Best of luck!!


  10. #
    Linda Burtonposted February 10, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    Thank you for your tutorial. I am in the planning stages of my blog and am really excited to get out there. Your tips and tools are extremely helpful!!


  11. #
    Susan Monkposted February 14, 2014 at 11:38 am

    I LOVE all your recipes – but will do anything with chocolate. would love a signed copy of your book – any one will do. not picky – thanks


  12. #
    Jamie Pizanoposted February 16, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Hi Sally! Congratulations on all of your wonderful work. I extremely enjoyed your blog.


  13. #
    Emma and Carla aka THE MERRYMAKER SISTERSposted February 27, 2014 at 6:19 am

    Sending lots of love tonight all the way from Australia! We have spent like an hour just looking in awe at the quality + functionality of you amazing blog! Has really inspired us, thank you! Just shows what a lot of hard work can do.


  14. #
    Marthaposted March 27, 2014 at 2:34 am

    Hi sally!

    I have recently published a blog relating to food for a class project. I have to say food (and everything about it)is one of my passions, yet sometimes I find myself with writers block. Do you sometimes experience this? And if so where do you draw your inspiration from?

    Hope to hear from you :)


  15. #
    Tijanaposted March 30, 2014 at 6:26 am

    Hi sally! I’ve just made the start to creating my own blog. As a COMPLETE beginner, seeing that you took the time to tell beginners like me how you first started your blog makes me feel more comfortable in my own blog.
    I was way too shy to post my creations on facebook so i made myself a tumblr. To me, getting myself out there is definitely the biggest challenge, but after seeing this and seeing that you started off at a similar place made me feel more confident in pursuing the idea of creating my own blog. This made me feel more confident in myself, so thank you :)
    P.S I love the marble cupcakes and have tried out the recipe myself, and i posted my results on my blog ! (with the link to your recipe attached)


  16. #
    Aryaneposted April 9, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Bonjour Sally!
    I just discovered your blog and I must say I really like it, thank you for the great advice on blogging!
    I am getting ready to launch a travel/food blog soon and was wondering how many posts are necessary for the beginning. Did you start yours and upload several posts at once?
    Also, do you think it’s possible to do a bilingual blog without too much of a hassle?
    I am excited to join the blogging community, thank you again for your input!


    • Sallyreplied on April 9th, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      I posted about once per week. Some days, I posted more than 1 recipe. It was very inconsistent and random until I found a flow that worked best for me and my life at the time. So do whatever feels natural to you and whenever you’re inspired to publish a new post. Good luck!


  17. #
    Luke Bakerposted April 15, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Thank you for such a useful post, Sally! I’ve really been drawn to creating recipes and sharing them as of late, and this post really helped clear a few things up for me. Like you, I’m a bit daunted about the whole hosting issue and how to go about it, but now I think what’s most important for me is to just start working on quality recipes and getting them out there – the complicated stuff can be dealt with as I get into the rythym a little more. Your blog is beautiful, and I’m so happy that you’ve managed to grow it to the size it is now! Best wishes all the way from New Zealand!

    It’s my day off work, so it’s time to start cooking and writing! Yay!


  18. #
    Misty Ehretposted April 17, 2014 at 7:28 am

    Quick question…… would I need to purchase a domain name first and then use bluehost to maintain it? I’m not a techy person and this is all very confusing.



  19. #
    Luposted April 17, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Hi Sally! I read here that you use Ziplist to format your recipes. I’ve been doing the same on my new food blog, but today when I updated to WP 3.9 the Ziplist plugin appears to be incompatible. Have you encountered this issue? Do you know of any quick fixes I could try out?



    • Sallyreplied on April 17th, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      I’m unsure, I haven’t upgraded yet. I’m not the person to ask in this situation!


  20. #
    Nadiaposted May 14, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Hi sally,
    Hooked to your blog right from the moment I found it. Around 4 tabs of sallysbakingaddiction are open right now. Thanks for sharing such insightful posts on bloggin,photography and ofcourse recipes. Am a blogger as well but needs to revamp big time. Will definitely use all the pointers.


  21. #
    Lindsayposted May 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm


    Thanks so much for sharing your tips! This is by far the best and most informative post I have read on starting a successful food blog. I love your blog and read it daily!


  22. #
    Teresa @ A Cup of D.I.Yposted June 26, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I have enjoyed reading your whole blogging series. It is all very informative! One question though…how did you customize your ziplist recipe boxes? Yours look so much nicer than the plain ones.


    • Sallyreplied on June 26th, 2014 at 5:27 pm

      Hi Teresa – my website designer made a custom design. Purr Designs is who I used.


  23. #
    BuoybyBposted June 29, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Hi Sally! Who is your website designer? Looking for references!


    • Sallyreplied on June 29th, 2014 at 8:41 am

      Purr Designs


  24. #
    Kateposted July 10, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    Thank you Sally for all your wonderful recipes & posts! I love reading them! I can tell you really love what you do! I just had to tell you this post was so helpful when I started my blog! THANK YOU! (:


  25. #
    BiancaMillerposted July 20, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    Hi Sally, I too wanted to start up a food blog and this wonderful article of yours truly shed some light on what do I need to do in starting my own blog. (BTW, the blue berry muffin got me salivating, it look really yummy I might bake one tomorrow.)

    Also, I do have a question, how much do think should I spend if I start a blog? A rough cost will do. Thanks.


  26. #
    Chelsea @ A Duck's Ovenposted August 19, 2014 at 9:32 am

    I’m really glad to read about this from someone who made the switch! I’m considering switching from Blogger to self-hosted, but am super nervous. I think I most likely will- I’m feeling a bit limited, like you were, and I have the time right now to make it happen. I just need to talk myself into taking the plunge 😉


  27. #
    Hannahposted August 24, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Hi Sally. Thanku for this post, it has helped me a lot!!! I am wanting to start blogging and am very passioante about it, its 100% what i want to do. The only problem is, i have no money to pay for the technical support etc. Would you recommend i begin with the direction first until i get some money and income or wait until i can afford it? any help would be brilliant. Thanks again x


  28. #
    Barbara Tidwellposted September 23, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    I’ve been reading your blog and am intrigued by the fact that you were able to get this up and so popular so quickly. I’ll be looking at doing a lot of these tips on my blog The Culinary Camper ( Thanks for the information!



  29. #
    Dustinposted October 17, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Thanks for the mentions :) Great article. I know its a little delayed but congrats on making this full time.


  30. #
    Sarahposted November 18, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    Hi Sally! I’ve pinned a ton of your recipes and am about to start my own food blog and came across this article when looking for tips. I figured you are definitely a very good source of advice for food blogs! I’m wondering if you published several recipes at one time, or several blog posts in one day, when you first started your blog or if you only did one at a time at roughly the same rate as you do now?


    • Sallyreplied on November 19th, 2014 at 11:16 am

      Sarah, when I first began I posted a few recipes per day to build my recipe archive. that is not necessary at all. do what you can! best of luck and congrats on your new blog!


  31. #
    Joleenposted December 8, 2014 at 2:16 am

    Hello Sally! So glad I stumbled upon your blog :) Really appreciate all the posts about self-hosting and photography because I’m definitely hoping to make some changes to my blog once school starts getting less busy. i’ve always wondered with food blogs-do you come up with the recipes entirely on your own? Or do you model your recipes after other recipes and tweak some of the ingredients here and there and add your own touch to it?


    • Sallyreplied on December 8th, 2014 at 9:24 am

      I mostly develop them on my own through trial and error. I have a lot of “basic” recipes I work off of. Sometimes I’m inspired by recipes in cookbooks and on cooking shows– of which I’m sure to credit in the recipe itself. Just takes practice.


  32. #
    Jimi Cposted December 26, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Just a quick question to clear up the self-hosting vs. wordpress. I didn’t fully understand if you stopped using wordpress all together or if you still use the paid version of wordpress. Or does your designer design from scratch? I’m trying to decide if wordpress – that you pay for – is a good place to start or if I will get more hits using a designer. Does that make sense? lol


  33. #
    Nicoleposted January 9, 2015 at 10:16 am

    Hi Sally,

    I have been developing a cookbook for the past year, and I’m not sure what the best process is for publishing it. Should I try to get it published first, and then start a blog? Or should I start a blog and build a following first before trying to get it published?



  34. #
    Rosemary Hansonposted January 15, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    I stumbled across your blog a few months ago and it inspired me to put the idea that I had for a blog into action. There is so much information in your Blogging TIps series and your energy for blogging that you show is completely contagious!! Thank-you so much!


  35. #
    Sarah @ Sprinkled Cakesposted February 9, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, Sally! This really helped me get started and take the plunge :) especially the plugin recommendations!


  36. #
    KWposted February 16, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Hi Sally
    Thank you so much for posting your tips. I have my own food blog hosted through wordpress since about a year, but haven’t had much action, but I am hanging in there! Maybe I will go thru the self-hosting route.
    I am not a baker, but I love your baking recipes, simple and delicious! Thank you for sharing them with us. :)


  37. #
    Sarah P @ Sprinkled Cakesposted February 19, 2015 at 8:43 pm


    Thank you so much for sharing your insight and writing this series! Your blog helped me fall more in love with baking, and inspired me to start my own blog. These posts have been super helpful and encouraging for those of us who are just starting out!


  38. #
    Maya @ Maya - Kitchenetteposted March 2, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    Sally Thanks for the tips on site design and growing the blog really appreciated :)


  39. #
    camilaposted March 17, 2015 at 9:56 am

    Hi, Sally! First of all I’d just like to say that I absolutely ADORE your recipes, especially cookies, I’ve tried maybe 5 of them in the last couple of weeks and my husband and son thank you very much… xD I was looking for something delicious for dessert today when I stumbled upon this post… which is amazing, since I’m also designing my own food blog. So many helpful tips! what I wanted to ask you is this: My blog is in Portuguese, and I could never find a single Brazilian website that has recipes half as delicious as yours. So do you think it would be alright if I translated and posted a few of your recipes that I’ve tried? I would, obviously, link every single one back to the original… Please, let me know, and keep on being awesome!


    • Sallyreplied on March 17th, 2015 at 3:52 pm

      Hi Camila! Congrats on your food blog! You can use my recipes as long as you link to my blog as the inspiration/source. Thank you!


  40. #
    Hillary Steffenposted May 5, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Hi Sally,
    I love your blog and have found many of your delicious recipes via Pinterest. I’m brainstorming and in the beginning stages of starting my own baking blog but it will all be converted to dairy free recipes.
    I often find recipes that look delicious but due to my husband’s dairy intolerance I change certain ingredients so that he can enjoy it. Is this an okay thing to do in the blogging world? If I reference and link to the original recipe is that all I need to do, or should I be asking the author for permission each time? I have some of my own family recipes but for the most part I find recipes on Pinterest or online and then make them dairy free for my family.
    Thank you so much for your help!


    • Sallyreplied on May 6th, 2015 at 12:58 pm

      As long as you credit the source of the recipe, I welcome sharing recipes on other blogs!


  41. #
    Manidipaposted May 7, 2015 at 12:55 am

    I think the pictures play the most important part for a recipe blog. More pictures with step by step process can make a recipe blog successful and popular instantly. But I think this niche has become saturated.


  42. #
    Amanda @ Diary of a Semi-Health Nutposted June 14, 2015 at 11:58 am

    Thank you SO MUCH for all of your blogging posts. I’ve been blogging 5 years and haven’t made a full time income yet, but all of your posts are so inspiring and make me feel like I can do it too! :) 


  43. #
    Nettie Byrdposted June 29, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Hi Sally! I was just about at the end of my rope with my blogging dream, and then I came across this wealth of information, thank you! Every question that I was thinking of was mentioned here and I just had to say thank you! I was so confused, and questioned if I even wanted to blog anymore.

    Thanks again,

    Nettie Byrd


  44. #
    Priyankaposted August 20, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Wow, wonderful post. Insightful, informative and to the point. For someone looking to start a food blog, this is a gold mine. Thank you for sharing your knowledge :)



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