The end of food reviewing

I’ve just read all 94 reviews of Melbourne restaurant Chin Chin on Urbanspoon. Few are longer than a hundred words and a handful of photos, so you don’t come away feeling any great sense of achievement. If I was to then describe Australian restaurant review bloggers in a single word, it would be “compliant”. In general, restaurateurs have nothing to fear from Australian food bloggers apart from the risk of a damp backside from the prodigious arse licking.

There aren’t many barbed tongues.

When I started blogging, it was very much about having and fostering an alternative voice. For me, an alternative to the lazy, parachute travel journalism deployed in Cambodia and the sincere but ill-informed backpacker blogs that hopped from the Killing Fields to orphanage visit to “happy” pizza. The difference between the blogs that I liked and the ones that I avoided (or mocked) marked the difference between food criticism and food reviewing. Food criticism links what happens on the plate to the rest of the world, or at least, to the rest of the writer’s world. Food reviews just look at the plate in front of them and then move onto the next one; an endless stream of disconnected meals to be consumed in any order.

In the age of ubiquitous social networks and historically high patronage of restaurants, one of your friends has already been to somewhere that you want to go and has probably pressed their Like button. Facebook and Twitter provide a vast architecture of personal recommendations that sate any possible peccadillo.

The presses can’t keep up with the constant online feed. By the time a food review hits the newspapers, I’ve seen it on Twitter, discussed it at work and generally had somebody that I know visit the restaurant in person. There is no longer a need for printed food reviews when the ambient noise about them is faster, more trustworthy and tailored to my tastes.

I imagine with the collapse of metropolitan dailies in Australia, we’re going to lose most, if not all food critics. I don’t imagine that any of the food liftouts from Australia’s newspapers are financially viable and who knows if Gina Rinehart likes her food? If you’d like a summary of how this has happened elsewhere, Eater picks over the bones of newsprint food criticism in the US. Newspapers are not the lone bastion of food criticism in Australia but they are more likely than elsewhere to provide it and pay for it. Criticism is more important than ever because there is so little of it.

It seems to suggest that the era of earning a living wage through either food criticism or reviewing is well and truly over and the only financially viable platform is blogging. At least, financially viable for those rare few that can wrangle community management, SEO and sales whilst finding time to eat and write.

What makes a good food blog?

A few months ago someone asked me what makes a good food blog; a question that begs to find a common thread through the hundred or so food blogs that clog my feed reader with other people’s meals. As somebody that spends plenty of their working life measuring user behaviour on the web, I know that people’s actions are a much better measure of “goodness” than people’s intentions. If people say that they think the NY Times website is their favorite site but then spend 8 hours a day on Facebook which is the better website?

For instance, I love Converse’s This Is The Index Page campaign. It’s exactly what I wish more web marketers were doing: taking their brands less seriously and playing with the web in new and foolish ways.

I’ve been there a total of three times, once for the purpose of checking the above link. I average between eight and sixteen hours a day logged into Google. If someone asked me to name a “good” website, the Google sites wouldn’t be the ones that came to mind. Given that goodness is entirely subjective and what I say is good will be definitely the wrong answer, at the very least my online reading behaviour suggest which food blogs are good.

What I read is diverse.

There are the obvious choices. Firstly the kindred folk whom I’ve met, shared meals within their slices of Asia and whom frequently comment here. Austin Bush Photography, a few members from the crew behind Gut Feelings (where I also contribute far too sporadically), EatingAsia, Tomatom, Abstract Gourmet, Rambling Spoon. The food blogs that got me started on this crazy game like Noodlepie (currently not blogging about food) and Stickyrice (currently MIA).

The local Australian blogs that I read all have a bent towards either academe, taking the piss, or preferably both like Progressive Dinner Party or the sublimely-named Thus Bakes Zarathustra. I like The Old Foodie, if only because it is 100% history and no photos. Otherwise, I’m very slack at keeping in touch with my local blog scene. When I get a chance, I flick through whomever local has linked to me and comment at random.

I’ve got a vague side interest in the molecular which comes from Ideas in Food, and have been reading back issues of marginal academic journals like Meat Science.

From the mainstream press, the newspapers are getting more blog-like with social sharing, user commenting, or just straight down the line blogging. I read Ruhlman, Observer Food Monthly and the associated Word Of Mouth blog, Jay Rayner, AA Gill, Robert Sietsema. Anything in the New Yorker that I can get my hands on. I read glossy food magazines at random, generally whenever I’m going to pitch an article at them rather than through loyalty or habit.

What I don’t read is multitude and what seems to run through all of those blogs is a sense of myopia. The pictures emulate the short depth of field, blurred macro shots that place food in the centre of the photograph and blur the background into deep bokeh territory. The context where the food sits fades into a characterless void. It is a seductive form of food photography because it ignores the rest of the world. The chaos of culture and politics that produce food is left in that hazy background.

The writing does the same. If you solely focus upon the plate or recipe in front of you, I don’t read your blog. There is a pantheon of well-edited, professionally photographed recipe books that fill that niche for me.

A sense of context seems to be what sets apart the blogs that I read from the ones that I don’t. Good food blogging contextualizes food. It makes it feel as messy and imperfect as the world from whence it comes and not like it appeared spontaneously, teleported in fresh from Planet Donna Hay. For me the hazy background is the interesting part of a food blog’s photography and writing; it just happens to have a plate of food in it.

Hellish hosting issues followed by rewarding breakfast

Bacon and egg

Sorry about the outages to the site over the last week. My hosts have been having problems with their DNS servers, which for laymen, means that the name of my site hasn’t been pointing to where my site is really located. Some people could get to my site, others could not. I’ve fixed it by quitting my other host for Bluehost.

Any further problems, let me know.

I also ate more bacon.

Making money with your food blog

Selling eggs near Psar Toul Tom Poung, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Selling eggs near Russian Market, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

As I mentioned in “How to start a food blog“, food blogging is a terrible way to make money if you enjoy living in the First World. This year, food blogging will pay my rent but not much else. Here is how to do at least that, without devoting your entire life to blogging:

Advertising for your food blog

Which ad network? Or which combination of ad networks?

There is no single ad network that is right for everybody. The most profitable blogs tend to use a mix of networks and play to each of the networks strengths. This list of networks is by no means exhaustive: there are hundreds of ad networks out there.

Google Adsense – Everyone has Google Ads; the number of people getting rich from them apart from Google shareholders is miniscule. Google’s biggest coup is that it has realised that most bloggers are happy to get paid nothing as long as a few dollars trickle through. The advantage of Google is ease of use: they’re dead simple to add to your site, customise in a bare bones fashion and earn a few cents a click. You can use them on every blog network. They’re the ultimate in low maintenance. The disadvantages are the low pay and the complete lack of control over which ads turn up on your site. Because the ads are geographically targeted, the ads that you see won’t be the ones that anyone else sees. This is fine if you don’t care.

Yahoo! – Just like Google but second best!

Text Link Ads – if you want to people to find your website by searching on Google, this network is dead in the water. Google penalises your “page rank” if you use it, but I use it over at Phnomenon because in most of the categories that I write in, I have no competition on the web. It pays very well, doesn’t rely on clicks (so you make money whether people click your ads or not), and if you place them judiciously, people won’t even notice that they’re being advertised at.

A similar network has beaten Google for now. They’re still in the early stages of development (as the spelling mistakes on their beta site attests) but worth watching.

Blog Ads – the specialist ad network for bloggers. They’re a handy way to make money when you have low traffic because they pay regardless. The downside of this network is that if you do receive big, unpredictable spikes in the number of people visiting your site, you won’t be getting an equally large spike in earnings. They’re invite-only which is a strategy that I still don’t understand.

Selling other people’s products

When people read your favorite cake recipe, it is unlikely that they’ll click on the ingredients to buy them online. When people read a digital camera review, the opposite is true. Selling other people’s products and making a commission is a popular way to make money for most bloggers but it is difficult for food bloggers to do well because of the nature of the subject. Most of society does not buy the bulk of their food online. The easiest way to sell products is via Amazon affiliates program or the lesser known Chitika (Probloggers swear by it, because unlike Amazon, it relies less on you making sales and more on click-throughs)

If you want to spend your time writing reviews of products then this is a possible way to make money and there are still a few niches where food bloggers could be making huge amounts of cash: major appliances and kitchenware. Most of the top food bloggers already use Amazon to link to cookbooks but most of the time it is just a half-hearted link rather than a ringing endorsement.

Selling your own ads

Selling your own ads is by far the most profitable way to make money for your blog because it is one of the few avenues by which you’ll firstly be in direct contact with the advertisers’ money and secondly, will be able to charge what your blog is worth. The only downside is that you have to do the selling. As much as I love marketing, marketing is not sales. The low effort way to sell your own ads is to put a banner where your ad would be and link to your rates page. How much should you charge? Here’s blog network Gawker Media’s rates for their network of professionally produced and edited blogs. That will at least give you a point for comparison.

Unconventional means


A few food blogs sell their own merchandise: Chubby Hubby was selling notecards for a time; Ideas in Food sell their photo book; I’m considering turning Phnomenon into a book. If you can find a niche this may be worthwhile.

Make money from every link

I was going to call this bit “monetize your food blog”, but I get a sharp stabbing sensation in the part of my brain that stores verbed nouns every time I write “monetize”. Whenever you can throw in a product link, make sure that you make money from it. For most bloggers, this means the occasional link to an Amazon product, but you’ll notice that practically every link on this page has my referrer code on it. If you sign up for anything then I make money from you! It doesn’t affect your income but I benefit.

Get hired by someone else as a food blogger

This isn’t as hard as you think it might be. B5 Media are always on the lookout for good bloggers. Problogger keeps a handy jobs board: at last check there were two paid food blogger positions. The biggest advantage of making money from your food blog in this way is that (generally) you need not worry about the technical side of the blog or selling ads as the blog network/business will do the design and marketing. The down side is that the pay is terrible and you have no control over design and marketing.

Sell your posts and photos

If you think that your posts and photos are magazine quality, try selling them to magazines. For me, selling a single article to an American newspaper earns just a little less than the income from my two sites for a month. Get over to mediabistro and to your local press to get started. Scoopt started a business selling blog posts to mainstream magazines as ScooptWords (e.g. these food bloggers in Olive Magazine) but have since seemed to have discontinued the blog side of their business to concentrate on cellphone snaps of celebrities.

As for photos, the online stock photo business is well on its way to destroying a valuable income earner for the bad professional photographers who take the photo of the guy climbing the mountain with a briefcase. Good pro photographers will always have a business. To sell your food photos online, see the links below.

Sell out entirely

Get paid to write reviews of other websites at somewhere like ReviewMe. If I no longer valued human decency, I’d make $60 every time that somebody wanted me to review whatever shit that they thrust in my direction.

Where should I place ads to make the most money?


blog ad heat map

Google published the above heat map to show which ads are clicked the most with the red areas being the most clicked. They have also produced one targeted at blogs which is a little more rudimentary and when I’ve tested it, doesn’t seem to work well.

Also useful are themes for your site designed with making money in mind. See below for links.

The easiest way to make money from blogging is writing about making money from blogging.

Just because I’m making a Third World income from blogging doesn’t mean that you can’t earn more. Read Shoemoney or Problogger. They’re earning 6 figure amounts but they’re also devoting the entirety of their lives to doing it. Sadly, that is the bare minimum amount of time you’ll need to spend.

Maintaining your audience

How often should I write?

As often as you like.

The standard answer to this is that if you are looking to increase your audience, often is better. If you look at Technorati’s top blogs, most of these sites are updated multiple times a day. You’ll also notice that none of them are food blogs, unless you count which is substantively about cats perverting the English language.

I’d prefer to be reading blogs that update once a month and write 15,000 word articles rather than one that writes two 250 word posts a day. I’m not most people, but nonetheless, I’d encourage you to write for me. What seems to matter as much as frequency is consistency. If you plan to write once a week, stick to your schedule.

I’m burnt out and sick of blogging. What do I do?

Take a break.

What I tend to do is write articles that aren’t time dependent and change their post date to two weeks in advance (you can do this in WordPress). If I have enough content in two weeks time, I push it forward another two weeks. This maintains the appearance that I’m equally motivated all of the time. I’m quite clearly not. The scary thing is that my blog will continue to run for a few months if I’m dead.

People don’t comment. How do you make them?

Ask a question at the end of your post. People are that easy to manipulate…or aren’t they?

Links of note:

Selling your photos online

WordPress themes optimised for making money

Handy “monetizing” links.

How to start a food blog, part 2: Design and building an audience

Food Blogging

This post follows on from How to start a food blog.

How do I design my blog?

Don’t. Get someone else to do it, unless you’re lucky enough to be a web designer or are keen to use the blog to practice your web design skills. Good design counts.

Firstly, all of the major blogging platforms come with a template system where you can easily pick and choose between their stock (or easy to modify) designs. Links for a few template sites where you can download free to use (or free with attribution) templates are below.

Secondly, you can hire a web designer to make a template for you. This is costly for your average blog, but if you’re setting this up as a part of your broader business, it is well worth the expense for your site to both stand out from the crowd and fit with your brand. For a decent designer building a unique template, budget for between US$450 and US$900+ depending on the amount of work involved. Alternately, you could pick up a non-unique but well designed theme from somewhere like Template Monster for around $45.

Building your audience

Building your audience is not about being the biggest food blog in the world: it is about capturing the readers who you want to be reading your blog. If that audience is just your family and friends, I’ve already told you twice to stop reading this guide to starting a food blog, and get over to Blogger in the previous post. If it’s to capture the minds of other food bloggers and accordant readers with a passing passion for food: read on.


Being social is almost more important to gathering an audience than writing blog posts. Make valuable comments on the blogs or forums (e.g. Chowhound, eGullet) that are similar to yours or you think has the readers who’ll lap up your thoughts on food. As much as I love it when someone writes “Great post!” and nothing else in the comments (cue stock response below), I like it even more if somebody writes something substantial that builds on the post or completely disagrees with it. If they do that, I’m likely to have a look at their food blog. Controversy is good for traffic, even if it makes you look like the fool.

For food blogging, networking isn’t limited to online. You can always try inviting another blogger for a meal/drinks, emailing them for suggestions, or attending one of the organised blogging meets. It shouldn’t be any great surprise to people that food bloggers like free food. Physically meeting people is more powerful than just commenting for building relationships.

Online Food Blog Events

Is My Blog Burning? – tracks blogging events/posts where individual bloggers host a themed post and encourage others to write about the same topic. Both hosting an event and being involved in them are great ways to attract likeminded bloggers and build incoming links to your site.

Menu For Hope – is the food blogging world’s superbowl: a raffle in aid of a charitable food cause (last year the UN’s World Food Programme) hosted by Pim from Chez Pim and others around Christmas.

The cynical web marketer in me still screams out that the money spent on pepper in Cambodia has paid off one-thousandfold in incoming links. You couldn’t pay the world’s bigger food bloggers to link to your site, but once a year, you can get it practically for free. And the money goes to a good cause.

Get listed on the aggregators

At the moment, there are only two important sites that specifically aggregate food blog content: foodpornwatch and tastespotting . Food Porn Watch provides a text link to your updated posts as they happen. To get listed, after you’ve written some quality content on your site all you need to do is email them your RSS feed details at . Tastespotting highlights food photography with an emphasis on well-lit macro shots of styled food: the sort of shots that bore me pantless but the rest of the world seems to love with gay abandon. (Thankfully, Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl thinks along similar lines, so maybe this trend will swing back to either shots of unstyled food or my hope, to the bad, oversaturated food shots of the 1950s) To get yours up at Tastespotting, go to

Writing for search engines (SEO)

When you write for the web, you write for two audiences: your human readers and search engines. At the moment, a search engine reading your site is like a blind person breaking into your house and trying to guess the color of your clothes by the way they smell. If they’re lucky, your clothes will be tagged. If they’re not lucky, they’ll guess that your clothes are all brown.

Writing for search engines is like putting Braille labels on your clothes. If it’s done well, only the actors who matter will notice.

Unlike blind burglars, search engines are more easily tricked and this manner of prestidigitation forms a whole new field of marketing called “Search Engine Optimization”, the goal of which is to list your site as highly as possible on a search engine for a particular keyword and thereby attract more readers when they search for that keyword. Most of the tricks are as easy as finding Braille labels. Here are the five most important things to do to raise your website’s profile in the unseeing eyes of the search engine:

  1. Keywords in your titles – if you’re writing about “How to start a food blog”, name it thus. As much fun as it is to write wacky titles, search engines can’t find them because they have not got the semantics worked out yet. I will be a happy man when search engines like a pun.
  2. Keywords in incoming links – Incoming links from other websites form much of the basis for your ranking in search engines and are even better when they contain the keywords that you target. For me “Cambodian food” is a better link than “Phnomenon”. You can encourage this by writing them yourself. If you’re commenting on another site and have a post that illustrates a point, make a proper link (e.g. “I’ve written about Cambodian food before” rather than “I wrote about Cambodian food at“). For businesses, do the same in press releases, which often will end up on news websites unedited. Having keywords in your titles also helps this because when another blogger writes about your fantastic post, they’re likely to link to the title.
  3. Incoming link quality and quantity – Lots of incoming links from respected sites helps.
  4. Relevance of the page that the incoming link is on – submitting your site to off-topic pages will not help. Get a mention on a Wikipedia page or a University research site dedicated to your niche helps a great deal
  5. Age of your site – Older sites rank more highly. Stick with what you’re doing and it will come to pay off.

Social Media (apart from blogs)

“Social media” is any site that relies on user generated content and where said users can interact with each other. The most important thing to remember about using any social media to promote your blog is to maintain a consistent presence. Saying that you know nothing about food on your Facebook page then writing about eating in all its glory on your own site is inadvisable. The amount of work that you put into promoting your blogs on social media sites is limited only by the amount of time that you can spare.

FlickrFlickr is a handy place to store and share your photos as well as build links back to your blog. On every single photo that you post on flickr, provide a link back to the blog beneath it. On the social side, there are ten thousand flickr groups devoted to food, so post your photos to likeminded groups.

Technorati – is useful to see how your blog links to every other blog (if you’re not keen on doing any further analysis); and adds yet another place for people to find you.

StumbleUpon – I discovered StumbleUpon recently, but it seems to deliver a much more relevant food audience than other social networking tools. Login and “stumble” through sites tagged by other users, tag your own sites as “food”, tag your friends’ sites, and get in touch with other Stumblers. – Amongst the bookmarking tools is a favorite. It doesn’t send huge numbers of people to my sites, but the ones that it does send are pure gold: they spend more time reading multiple pages than any visitors from other directory sites.

Facebook – Like most web marketers, I regard Facebook as a marketing tool where I can harvest demographic information from anybody foolish enough to post their personal details there and then use it to target them with closely tailored advertising in perpetuity.

I also use it to play Scrabble.

You can certainly use it to pimp out your food blog – David Lebovitz, for example, has six hundred friends whom he spams with links; I’ve got a Facebook fan page that I don’t promote because I’m too busy playing Scrabble. In Australia, Facebook is becoming the dominant social network.

Digg – Digg is nigh on useless for most food bloggers at the moment unless you’re blogging about the intersection of food and technology, humour, or junk food. The traffic spikes that I have received from having the occasional article being “dugg” have not translated into my goals of attracting long term readers, rss subscribers, or even ad clicks.

Twitter – Twitter, the social network that just wants to know what you’re doing, seems like a distraction rather than a useful tool for food blogging with one caveat. If your audience is interested in you as a person rather than food content (you chose “I’ll write about whatever I like” as a reason for building a food blog), twitter is a simple tool to let them know where you’re at. As Twitter grows and slips into the mainstream, it will become more useful.

Next Thursday, I take on maintaining your audience and making money with your food blog.

Links of note:

Blog templates

Search Engine Optimisation

How to start a food blog

Honestly ask yourself “Why am I doing this?”

I want to share recipes/restaurant recommendations/my boundless food wisdom with friends – If you want nothing more than to share your thoughts about food with people whom you already know (and you are being honest), your best bet is to get over to and start writing as soon as you finish reading this sentence. Reading their help section is all you’ll need.

You are wasting valuable time reading anything past this point.

I want to meet people who write on the web that aren’t freaks and be a part of a community of like-minded, passionate food junkies
– I haven’t physically met any food bloggers whom I don’t like, but then again, I was living in a country where I was the only food blogger. My neighbours in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, China and Laos were all fantastic as were the few that dropped by Cambodia.

I want to make money – If you’re in Australia, writing about Australian food, this is not going to happen in at least the next five years. The online advertising market in Australia is growing but is too small at the moment. If you’re going to rely on Google Ads, Yahoo or other big ad networks, you need either a huge number of visitors to your site or to attract a very valuable niche who will be convinced to buy whatever products you pimp from Amazon or Chitika.

The alternate route is to sell ads directly to businesses – which is not impossible – it’s just that you’ll probably end up spending more time pitching to businesses than you will writing about food. I briefly made a living from my blogs alone but this was because I was living in one of the world’s poorest nations and I sold ads directly to an ad agency who thankfully hadn’t noticed that I had called the product that they were advertising “insipid”. In the First World, I’d have starved.

I want to be a famous food writer/photographer
– Name five famous food writers that began as bloggers. If you said Clotilde or Julie five times, it does not count. I’d doubt that you’d know who they are unless you have already started foodblogging, in which case, this guide is not for you.

Sure, blogging has only been around for a few years but it doesn’t yet seem like the springboard to you being the next Steingarten. If you want to be a food writer in the offline press, your time is better spent hassling editors and pitching stories to the offline press than it is blogging. A great place to start this is Mediabistro or with your local media. This doesn’t mean that you can’t do both but every minute that you spend on your website is time that could be used to develop your offline work. As I mentioned earlier, every major food media outlet will have a food blog within the next few years and it requires a skill set different from your average journalist – starting blogging now will put you a long way ahead.

If you want to publish a recipe book, why would you give away all of your valuable content for free on the web? Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails are clavicle-deep in experimenting in this model, as is science fiction writer Cory Doctorow. More relevant to food writing, Chefs Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot from Ideas in Food have self-published a photobook of their molecular madness but still haven’t landed that publishing deal that they richly deserve.

Any writing is good practice and doing it in public gives you the chance for people to write back to you, telling you that you’re crap (or otherwise). If you want to be well-known amongst a small cadre of other food bloggers, food blogging is the best avenue for this. I imagine that it’s kind of like being world famous in New Zealand. Domo Arigato, Dr. Ropata.

I have a food business/restaurant/am a food professional and need somewhere to honestly link up with the punters/debate my awesomeness – There is nothing better than blogging to keep you connected and no easier way for people to meditate on how terrible your business is, to your face. You need a thick skin and to be responsive to criticism.

I love writing about food and photographing it and don’t honestly know why I want to start blogging
– my guess is that 90% of food bloggers have this as their sole reason to start writing about food on the web. It is not a bad reason. At least you’re being honest.

If you answered honestly, this will divide you into two categories:

I don’t care how many people read my blog, apart from my friends
– You said that you just wanted to share things with friends. I told you to stop reading earlier, and go over to Blogger, which I guess means…

I care (or at some time in the future, I might care)
– from here on in, I talk about the nuts and bolts of building your blog; then attracting, maintaining and measuring an audience.

What to write about

I’m going to write about X
– You have an unwavering passion for or business interests in X. You might be addicted to eggs, bacon, chips and beans; eating what you shoot; or Cambodian food. In the biz, this is called your niche and if you’re doing this for any sort of professional/money-making reasons then it is easier to build an audience if you start like this. People who have a vague interest in X will gravitate towards you and over time, you’ll become the world’s leading proponent of X. It’s also a great way to link up with others who have an unhinged obsession with X.

Every single post that you write on the web should somehow add value to X. Linking to someone else’s news article about X doesn’t add any value to your blog unless you have something insightful to say about it.

Traditionally, this is what most web marketers will recommend that you do when starting your blog but ultimately, most food bloggers don’t stay on mission. Once you’ve built an audience of readers, they’ll either forgive you (or love it) when you stray off topic. Here is RealThai eating real Swedish, Ed Charles talking about his dog, me talking about obscure Cambodian/Vietnamese geopolitics.

I’m going to write about whatever the hell I feel like. Not even food sometimes. You can’t stop me
. – This is a harder path because the appeal of your site isn’t going to be the subject matter; it’s going to be you. If you’ve got self confidence and know that your voice alone is going to attract readers, then go for it. I’ve begun thinking that one of the reasons that many food bloggers burn out within a year is that they run out of subject matter (X) and don’t know what to do next.

Michael Ruhlman, David Leibovitz and Aun from Chubby Hubby all tend to write about whatever they choose but the focus stays on food. They all also have offline food industry experience (or readers of their books) to back them up.

Technical issues – the nuts and bolts

Which blogging platform?

I’m not going to do an in-depth review of the best blogging sites and software out there. Others have already done this in an approachable manner – see the links below.

As for my recommendation for food blogging, I choose WordPress – It’s flexible, relatively easy to extend and most foodbloggers who start with another platform and don’t quit within the first year of blogging end up moving to WordPress. The downside is that you’ve got to pay for hosting (between US$6 and US$12 a month) and have some confidence with technology. I recommend Bluehost for hosting – they have an auto-install function for WordPress and they’re currently less than $7 a month.

For more information on WordPress, visit their site. Their documentation on getting started is expansive and tailored to all levels of knowledge.

If (after looking at WordPress) you’re not feeling confident with the technology (or simply, just don’t want to pay), sign up at TypePad, Blogger or LiveJournal. It’s as easy to start blogging there as signing up for email. If you don’t mind paying just a little, I’m impressed by newcomers Squarespace – their stock blogs are world’s apart of getting something off the rack at a free blog site.

Regardless of which platform you choose, I strongly recommend buying your own domain name (e.g. before starting for a few reasons:

  • It is painful if you move platforms and lose the incoming links that you’ve built over time
  • If you’re good at blogging, someone else will buy it before you. This happened to Pim of Chez Pim, who only recently moved from Typepad to

For more information on choosing a blog platform

For more “getting started in food blogging” articles

In my next instalment (next Thursday), I fill in how to design your blog, attract the audience that you want to attract and make (a little) money. Continued at “How to start a food blog, part 2“.

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