How do I start a food blog? Do you have any advice you could give me as a new blogger? I’m travelling for a year, can I pick your brain on how to have a successful travel blog? Can you give me some advice to help me start up a new blog?
These are some of the questions I have often been asked over the years. So following from the last post, How to Start a Food / Travel Blog in 3 Easy Steps and in the lead up to Gourmantic’s 6th birthday tomorrow, I am going to share my top 12 tips for new food and travel bloggers.
These tips are not limited to the type of blogs mentioned. They can apply to lifestyle, hobby and any other type of blog you wish to start.
Some of the links below are affiliate links which means if you make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Like everything we post on Gourmantic, I only recommend companies I use and trust.
1. Find a niche you like
Find a niche or a subject that you love and try to fill it. There’s no point writing about a topic you don’t like, the words won’t flow. Be informative and find useful information to share with your readers like Where to Stay in Queenstown, or Insider Guide to the Haymarket or Top 10 Paris Gourmet Stores.
2. Pick a good name for your blog
The name you choose for your blog will become your identity. Whether you want to call it “My Travel Eats Around the World” or “Gourmetraveleats”, think of the name of your blog as your brand. Once you’ve decided on the domain, you need to check if it’s available so you can buy it. If you buy it through Bluehost (see below), you’ll get the domain for free for a 12 month period.
3. Choose a reliable host
A good friend has put me onto Bluehost years ago and I’ve been using it ever since. As I mentioned above, if you join Bluehost, you will be given a free domain name for a year. Refer to this step by step tutorial post on How to Start a Blog in 3 Easy Steps.
4. Design your blog
The look and feel of your blog is not only important to you but to your readers. A good layout and design helps them stay on your blog longer so make it easy for your readers to find information. I have used a number of premium paid themes like the Thesis Theme for WordPress from DIY Themes and Genesis from StudioPress Themes for WordPress.
5. Create a post schedule and stick to it.
It’s all very well to create a blog but you need to publish good content and you need to post on a regular basis particularly when you’re starting a new blog. Before I launched Gourmantic, I had 15 articles pre-written and I published one every couple of days. The key is to post regularly, be it daily, weekly, or every Tuesday. Don’t push yourself into updating daily then find out that you’ve lost interest. Be consistent and your readers will get to know your schedule.
6. Write well
Write good engaging posts and pay attention to grammar, spelling and punctuation. There’s nothing worse than reading an engaging blog post and it’s marred with errant apostrophes and spelling mistakes. Know your palate from that pallet in your parents’ garage or the palette of colours you used in art classes. And avoid the use of exclamation marks to show how excited you are!!! Your words should convey the excitement you feel.
7. Take good photos
Blogs are visual so it pays to take good photos with the best camera you can afford. I don’t mean go out a splurge on top of the range DSLR. Find one within your price range, or a good compact camera – these have come a long way. Sometimes all you need is good lighting, a steady hand, good composition and an iPhone.
8. Be unique
When you’re new, you may be tempted to copy someone’s style or ideas. But let’s face it, there are so many blogs out there that are all the same. When you’re new, it takes some time to find your voice but you’ll get there eventually. Before I started Gourmantic, I had several blogs with an established voice yet it took me some time to find the right tone and voice to suit the magazine style I wanted to achieve. Don’t give up, it will come. And don’t post media release dumps under your name. That’s not blogging. That’s just being lazy.
9. Understand copyright
You wouldn’t want anyone copying your material and using it as their own so don’t take content from other blogs, websites or social media before asking permission. Online material is copyrighted be it text, recipes, photos and ideas. Some bloggers are happy to have their content used by others through attribution, others, like Gourmantic have full copyright which means you cannot take content even if you credit it. Crediting without asking permission can still land you in copyright trouble. The internet is a very small place and you will eventually get found out.
10. Be positive
If that restaurant experience didn’t come up to scratch, if your soy latte was served tepid, and if that famil you went on was a trip from hell, don’t write a scathing review. Let the the people involved know by giving them constructive criticism. The first new restaurant I wanted to review was a shocker. We just paid the bill and left. At Gourmantic, it is our policy not to publish negative reviews regardless of whether it is by invitation or as paying customers. A positive and honest tone gives you credibility.
11. Don’t start a blog expecting perks
When you first start a blog, it takes a while to build a reputation and get established online. If you’re blogging for the sake of getting freebies, invitations to dine, travel famils or making money, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. When we started Gourmantic six years ago, we were totally anonymous. Our first “public” event came 14 months after we launched when I won a competition on twitter and attended an event. It was scary to go public. I often cringe when I hear bloggers approach restaurants for free meals in exchange of a positive review. Sadly, I am told it still happens.
12. Have fun
The last point is a no brainer. Blogging is a labour of love not money. If you enjoy writing, sharing your ideas, connecting with people, then start a blog. Many new bloggers don’t realise that blogs take up a lot of time and effort, and they give up in the first 6 months. That’s ok, and if at some point you find yourself getting bored or it becomes a chore, take a break and reconsider. You may get new ideas, you may change your post schedule, you may stop doing it altogether or you may come back refreshed just like after a holiday.
This is the third post in the blogging series. If you’ve missed the earlier ones, you can catch up below:
Next in the series… The Ugly Side of Social Media.
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