Niche Guides

How To Start A Cooking Blog Your Audience Will Drool Over

If you can't stop finding new fun recipes to try, then it's time to put that passion to work. Let's learn how to start a cooking blog!

Gene Schleeter January 5, 2023
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If you want to turn your passion for cooking into a side income or even a full-time business, then learning how to start a blog is a great way to make it happen.

Successful cooking bloggers make tens of thousands of dollars every month cooking new recipes and writing about their experiences. What’s stopping you from doing the same?

In this post, I’ll give you the framework to build a cooking blog that resonates with readers and drives revenue.

If you’re ready to become a cooking blogging authority, then let’s get started.

Why Should You Start A Cooking Blog?

If you’re already passionate about food, then cooking blogging is the perfect way to monetize and support your hobby.

Think about it: you’ll be spending money on cookbooks, ingredients, and appliances either way. Wouldn’t it be great if you could at least make your money back?

If your own cooking blog takes off and becomes a full-time business, that’s even better.

Whoever said, “If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life,” was lying. Work will always be work.

But if you love what you do, then work is much easier.

How To Start A Cooking Blog Step-By-Step

Creating an excellent cooking blog is easier said than done, but this process will make it much easier (without buying an expensive blogging course).

Here’s my step-by-step guide to creating a winning cooking blog.

Step 1. Do Your Research

The first thing you should do before starting a blog (or anything) is research.

There are three primary types of research you should do:

Niche Research

You’re probably thinking, “I already picked a niche! Cooking!”

But for the purposes of blogging, that’s not nearly specific enough, at least in the beginning.

There are monster sites in the cooking industry that already dominate the search engine results pages (SERPs) for the most competitive keywords in the niche.

The only chance you have of competing with them is proving to search engines like Google that you know more about a specific part of the cooking niche.

Here are some ways to find a Cooking sub-niche:

  • Pick a specific diet. If you write about recipes for specific diets, like vegetarian, vegan, or keto, you’ll build a better bond with your audience and rank faster in search engines.
  • Focus on a certain technique. Many cooking bloggers are raking it in right now with content exclusively about air fryers or Instant pots. You could do the same.
  • Write about one type of meal. Maybe your site could be the world’s premier authority on breakfast, brunch, or healthy snacks. (I’d totally subscribe to your snack blog).

We’ve written extensively about niche research for bloggers, but you should look for these qualities in your final choice:

  • A mix of big and small competitors. If the niche doesn’t have big sites, there isn’t much money to be made. If there aren’t small sites, you won’t be able to compete.
  • Income potential. A healthy mix of affiliate offers, display ads, and original products will allow you to diversify your income.
  • Keywords and link-building opportunities. You’ll do more extensive keyword research later, so right now you’re just looking for content gaps. Are there keywords you could realistically rank for and get traffic early?

After you’ve chosen a cooking sub-niche, it’s time to dive deeper into the research.

Competitor Research

Once you’ve chosen a niche, you need to find out who you’re dealing with.

Using a tool like Ahrefs, dive into each of the big sites you identified in your niche research.

Take note of their most linked-to pages. These will inspire your link-magnet content (content that you want other sites to link to).

Then, look at the highest traffic pages for the small sites you found. The top keywords for those pages will be your early targets. (If they can rank for it, so can you.)

Add this information to spreadsheets or Notion documents to reference as you produce content.

Early Keyword Research

After you’ve identified some target keywords in your niche, it’s time to double down.

Identify the keywords that are most relevant to your niche. These are your “seed keywords.”

Seed keywords are broad terms used to generate super-specific long-tail keywords.

Examples of seed keywords in the Cooking niche:

  • Healthy breakfast
  • Air fryer recipe
  • Keto mealplan

Take your seed keywords and feed them into your keyword tool of choice. I like using Ahrefs.

Add them to the report and hit search. Then, go to “Keyword Ideas” and click “Matching Terms.”

This list will be filled with thousands of possible terms for you to write about. I recommend starting by targeting the lowest-volume keywords possible, no matter the traffic.

When you first start your cooking blog, it’ll be hard to get traffic. But you can get it by targeting keywords that other site owners ignore.

TIP: When you first start your cooking blog, focus on info content (question keywords). The content will be more helpful for your audience and less competitive since monetizing it is more challenging.

Step 2. Set Up Your Cooking Blog

Once you choose a niche, it’s time to set up your site. The first step is picking choosing a domain name and purchasing a hosting plan.

Register A Domain Name And Set Up Web Hosting

A bunch of services can help you register a domain name, but I recommend getting one from your hosting provider. (They usually include a free domain name when you buy hosting.)

CAUTION: I’d stay away from Godaddy. They have awful customer service, and there are better options at the same price.

Here are a few hosting companies that are great for beginners:

Once you’ve decided which hosting company you want to build your site with, you need to decide on a domain name.

How to choose a domain name

Please don’t create an exact-match domain name, like bestcampingtentsforcouples.com.

It’s limiting, has terrible branding potential, and just looks amateurish. You can do much better.

Instead, spend some time brainstorming cooking blog names that have the following:

  1. A keyword related to your niche
  2. A feeling, emotion, or quality you want your website to communicate
  3. Three words or less

So, instead of the example used above, you could register a domain like:

  • acouplecampers.com
  • campingeasier.com
  • expertcampingadvice.com

All three of those are available at the time I’m writing this, and all would be easy to build a brand around (not to mention better for Search Engine Optimization, or SEO).

After you’ve chosen and registered your domain (following the instructions from your hosting company), you’re ready to install WordPress and start building your site.

Set Up WordPress

The first step to setting up your cooking site is to install WordPress.

Note: WordPress is an open-source software found on WordPress.org. WordPress.com is a premium blogging platform, but you never need to pay to install WordPress on your website, even if it’s self-hosted.

Any legitimate host these days will offer automated WordPress installation with the click of a button. Follow their instructions, and reach out to their support if you get stuck.

Once you’ve installed WordPress, go to your WordPress Admin Dashboard and start customizing your site.

TIP: You can find your dashboard login page at yoursite.com/wp-admin

From the sidebar, go to Appearance>Themes, and choose a WordPress theme you like.

These are the free themes I recommend for new bloggers:

  • GeneratePress
  • Astra
  • Kadence

You could also buy a premium theme, but free themes are fine in the beginning.

Install Essential Plugins

A lot of people are afraid of plugins because they think more plugins will slow their site down.

However, any good plugin these days is built for speed, so you shouldn’t worry too much about it.

If you’re still worried about site speed, our Cloudflare review shows how to perfect it.

To install a new plugin, click on “Plugins” in your WordPress dashboard sidebar. Then, click on “Add New” and either upload a plugin ZIP file or search for free plugins in the WordPress Plugin Repository.

Here are a few plugins that I recommend for every new cooking blog:

  • Lasso Lite – The best way to insert product displays and affiliate links into your content is to use Lasso. Lasso Lite is the free version of Lasso and is great for new sites.
  • Cloudflare – I recommend the paid Cloudflare plan, but even the free CDN will do wonders for your site speed.
  • Imagify – Big images are the biggest thing that slows down websites, and an image optimization plugin like Imagify fixes them instantly.
  • RankMath – RankMath is my favorite SEO plugin, but you could also use Yoast SEO or All-In-One SEO. SEO plugins provide guidelines rather than done-for-you solutions.

Now that you’ve installed and set up WordPress and your plugins, it’s time for some branding.

Design Your Site

I’m not a web designer, but here are a few guidelines for beginners to create a professional-looking site:

  • Use two colors: You only need two colors for your brand, a primary and an emphasis color. The emphasis color should contrast your primary color and only be used for CTA buttons.
  • Use one or two fonts: You don’t want to overwhelm your audience. A tried and true technique is to use one font for your headings and one for your body text. It also helps to have one serif font and one sans serif font, so they stand apart.
  • Start with a text logo: Too many marketers get hung up on details like logos. You don’t even know what your site is going to be yet. Give your brand time to develop by starting with a simple text logo.

Don’t worry too much about your site’s design in the early stages. You can change all this stuff later when sales start coming in.

Step 3. Write Great Cooking Content

Now that you officially have a site, it’s time to fill it with top-notch content.

You won’t get really good at it until you’ve done it for a while, so it’s best to start as early as possible.

Here are a few ways to publish better cooking articles from day one.

Immerse Yourself In The Cooking Niche

This may be obvious to some, but you won’t be a successful blogger without first-hand experience.

Search engines and readers can tell if you’re blowing smoke. If you’re writing blog posts about products and topics you don’t have experience with, someone will call you on it.

You’ll need to invest in your cooking blog for it to succeed. The problem is a lot of cooking bloggers can’t afford expensive expensive kitchen appliances, cooking courses, or even quality ingredients.

Find what cooking experiences you can afford, and document them. If nothing else, write it off as a business expense.

Invest in your blog and immerse yourself in the cooking world, and it will pay off later.

Build a Solid Framework

Before I ever write a blog post, I build an outline using Dynalist.

I look at what competitors have published for my keyword, write down my version of the headings, and move the structure around until the flow makes sense.

Not only does this give me a solid foundation to build my article upon, but it helps me pace my article. If I’ve written 300 words under an H3 heading, I need to wrap it up and move on to the next point.

You should take a similar approach to your cooking posts. If you’re reviewing a destination, jot down your thoughts about things like transportation, accommodations, and attractions.

If you establish solid guidelines, your posts will practically write themselves.

Add Photos and Videos

Adding photos and videos to your blog posts will provide countless benefits.

First, original images tell your audience that you’re legit. If you say you’ve visited a place and have a photo of you at that place, there is no doubt you’re telling the truth.

Also, images and videos increase the time readers spend on your page. That signals to Google that your article fits what readers are looking for.

Lastly, images encourage clicks and make your posts look better. They also break up a post and allow your readers to take a breath before reading the rest of the article.

Step 4. Promote Your Blog Posts

Once you publish a blog post, you need to promote it.

Seriously, most cooking bloggers post and pray. If you use even one of these promotional methods, you’re doing more than 99% of the competition.

Build A Mailing List

There’s a reason why email marketing is the only form of online marketing that’s barely changed in the past 15 years. It works.

It’s also really difficult. Most cooking blogs ask readers to join their mailing lists, so you need to give them a special reason to sign up for yours.

It could be diet-specific meal plans, calorie-counting spreadsheets, or anything else that sets you apart from other cooking bloggers.

Why go through all this headache? Because anyone who signs up for your mailing list is devoted to what you have to say. These people are your congregation.

If you recommend a product to your mailing list, they’ll likely purchase it. At a bare minimum, send your new blog posts to your mailing list to pump up early traffic numbers.

Be ethical, but find things your mailing list will appreciate and sell, sell, sell!

TIP: You can find a bunch of premium sales email templates on Canva. Work smarter, not harder!

Leverage Social Media Platforms

Most bloggers are secluded by nature. We spend time in front of a screen creating content.

However, it’s recently become more evident that social media and blogging go hand-in-hand. Especially in the cooking niche, where readers care about the person behind the blog, social media can be a game changer.

I don’t recommend spending all day on Twitter, but comment on popular threads, respond to outreach, and share helpful things. Also, shout out when you have a new blog post!

Collaborate With Other Cooking Bloggers

As website owners, we tend to think of our competitors as enemies, which is a bit silly. When you think about it, they’re just like us, trying their best to hustle and make things work.

Instead of worrying about how other cooking bloggers will outrank you, reach out and see if you can work together.

If you build a network of small cooking bloggers who all promote each other’s content, you’ll stand a much better chance of competing with established cooking authorities.

Step 5. Monetize Your Cooking Blog

So you’ve built a site, written content, and promoted it. You’ve built an audience. Now it’s time for the fun part.

Let’s make some money.

Affiliate Marketing

I recommend cooking bloggers start with affiliate marketing before any other monetization method.

I love affiliate marketing because it’s a low-effort way to monetize your website without ruining your reader’s experience.

To monetize your cooking blog with affiliate marketing, first, you have to identify products your audience will find helpful. Then, find the affiliate program for those products.

For beginners, I recommend focusing on the Amazon Associates affiliate program. The conversion rate is incredible, and you can diversify when your site is more successful.

For products that aren’t available on Amazon, just do a Google search for “[Product] affiliate program,” and you’ll find their program’s signup page.

To save you some time, here are a few of the best affiliate networks for cooking bloggers:

TIP: We maintain a database of the best affiliate programs. Click here to see the best food affiliate programs.

Once approved for your chosen affiliate program, add your affiliate link to products and images, and you’re good to go. You’ll earn a commission if a reader clicks on your link and makes a purchase.

Make More Affiliate Income With Lasso

If you want to take your affiliate marketing strategy to the next level, I recommend you sign up for Lasso.

Lasso is a WordPress plugin that helps affiliate marketers manage links and create product displays that convert.

Let’s say you’re monetizing your site with Amazon Associates, and you want to recommend air fryer.

All you need to do is paste the Amazon link in your Lasso dashboard, add some spicy sales copy, and you’re ready to insert that link into your blog posts.

Your product displays could look like this one:

[LASSO NICHE DISPLAY]

If you ever need to change the link for that suitcase, you can change it once in your Lasso dashboard, which will update the link across your entire website.

That’s not even mentioning things like Tables, Grids, Lists, Link Alerts, and more.

If you want to monetize your cooking blog the easy way, sign up for Lasso today.

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Display Ads

Another great way to monetize your cooking blog is with display ads. Display ads use cookies to advertise products your readers will love, so it’s a very individualized experience.

Display ads are also the most passive way to monetize a cooking blog. You turn them on, configure the settings, and wait for the money to roll in.

The drawback to display ads is that nobody likes them. It’s why so many people install ad blockers in their browsers (which stop you from making money, by the way).

Tip: If you use display ads on your cooking blog, make sure you configure the settings to prioritize user experience. You’ll make more money in the long run by being selective with your ad placements.

Here are the best ad networks to join based on your site’s page views:

  • 50,000+ Visitors per month – Mediavine
  • 10,000-50,000 Visitors per month – Ezoic
  • <10,000 Visitors per month – Google Adsense / waiting to grow

NOTE: With the low rates ad networks pay, it won’t be worth running display ads if you have less than 10,000 monthly visitors. You’re better off focusing on affiliate offers and creating more content to grow your following.

Digital Products

Selling digital products is the easiest way to transition from advertising other people’s products to selling your own.

That’s a great step to take because it means instead of earning 3-8% of the profit, you’re taking 100% of the profit.

The drawback to selling anything is that you’re responsible for the bulk of the work. You need to provide customer service, handle returns, and find a way to process payments and distribute products.

Examples of high-potential digital products in the cooking niche:

  • Digital recipe books
  • Guides for popular diets like keto, paleo, and vegan
  • Recipe-specific shopping guides

Once you’ve created a digital product, connect a payment processor like Paypal or Stripe to your site with a plugin like Woocommerce.

Then you can use a tool like Convertkit to automatically email the lead magnet to customers after they’ve finished checking out.

It’s a lot of work, but the extra profit is well worth it.

Consulting

Cooking is an excellent niche for selling consulting services.

If you’ve done what I recommended and immersed yourself in the cooking world, you’ll have gained valuable knowledge that you can now sell to your readers.

The best thing is they’ll tell you what they need help with.

As your audience grows, there will doubtlessly be people reaching out and asking you for recipe tips or meal-prep hacks.

Offer them an hour of your time for $100. The worst thing they can do is say no, right?

If you find you’re selling a lot of consulting services, you can even create a section of your site dedicated to your services.

TIP: You can use Lasso to increase your consulting sales. Set the destination link to your contact page, and you’re all set!

7 Tips For Building A Successful Cooking Blog

Now that you know how to build your first blog, here are a few tips to accelerate your success.

1. Be Authentic

I said it before, but it bears repeating: people will know if you’re faking it.

To be an authority in the cooking niche, you need to live in that world. Cook exciting new recipes and gain experience.

That way, when you write about your experiences, your readers will relate to you and believe you know what you’re talking about.

2. Encourage Engagement

A lot of cooking bloggers get to a point where they struggle to find things to write about. Which is silly because all you need to do is ask your audience.

If you ask your Twitter audience what they want you to write about, they’ll give you three months of post ideas in a snap. And, since it’s what they asked for, you won’t need to wonder if it will resonate with them.

3. Niche Down

If you’ve published 100 articles, but only ten are getting traffic, you probably need to niche down for a bit.

Since some of your articles rank, it means Google considers you an authority in something. Look for similarities between those articles and double down on them.

Wait until most of your content gets traffic, then start broadening your content strategy.

4. Provide Better Offers

A simple way to increase your cooking blog’s revenue without increasing traffic is to focus on conversion rate optimization (CRO).

By adding product displays to posts, changing CTA button colors, or even tweaking your sales language, you can increase your site’s sales overnight.

5. Diversify

If you follow any of the creators on niche site Twitter, you may have noticed many creators get hit by Google algorithm updates and panic. Or, when Amazon cuts commission rates, people have meltdowns.

When you diversify your traffic sources and revenue streams, a large corporation can’t destroy your site on a whim.

6. Outsource And Automate

Hopefully, after following my advice, you’ll create a cooking blog so wildly successful that you’ll be burdened by your success.

When your site is taking off, you’ll likely hit a plateau. You’ll be limited by your ability to churn out content. That means it’s time to hire a writer (or a team of writers). You can find good writers on ProBlogger and Upwork.

If you’re spending a lot of time searching through spreadsheets for the correct affiliate link, it’s time to automate that process with a tool like Lasso.

There are only so many hours in the workday. Spend less time on things that can be outsourced or automated, and invest your time in more important tasks.

7. Repeat What’s Working

The major difference between successful and unsuccessful cooking bloggers is that successful people run tests and track results.

If you track your clicks with Google Analytics and see what kind of products your audience resonates with, then publish more content about those products.

Test everything you can think of and measure the results. When you spot a trend, jump on it. This strategy will grow your revenue exponentially.

How To Start A Cooking Blog | FAQ

How Much Do Cooking Bloggers Make?

The income range for cooking bloggers is enormous. Many bloggers make no revenue, while some cooking blogs make over six figures per month. It all depends on traffic and how well you present your offers.

How Can I Monetize A Cooking Blog?

The best way to monetize a WordPress blog is with affiliate marketing, but you can also use display ads, sell digital downloads, or even sell coaching services.

Click here to learn more about how to monetize a blog.

How Do Cooking Bloggers Get Paid?

Most cooking bloggers make money through affiliate commissions and advertising fees. Both of these monetization methods pay out one or two months after the fees have been generated.

Some cooking bloggers also sell sponsored posts, consulting services, or their own products. In these cases, a payment processor like PayPal or Stripe is necessary.

Is Cooking Blogging Easy?

Nothing worth doing is truly easy, but that doesn’t mean cooking blogging isn’t fun.

As a cooking blogger, you’ll get to go places, try new things, and meet new people. And it will be part of your business! What could be cooler than that?

Is It Worth Starting A Cooking Blog?

It’s absolutely worth it to start a cooking blog. Not only can you make a living from it, but you can also build a community and control the conversation.

Once you’re an established authority, people in cooking-related industries will take you seriously.

How To Start A Cooking Blog | Final Thoughts

That’s all my advice for someone wondering how to start a cooking blog.

This is a harsh industry. People work for months and even years before their blog earns its first sale. You might lose money in the first year. But it’s worth it.

If you want to become a successful cooking blogger, follow the tips in this guide, be persistent, and publish the type of content you’d want to read. It’s a lot of hard work, but if you stick with it and keep learning, you can do it.

After you build something incredible, come back here and tell me how it went. Good luck!

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