Creating a blog nowadays is not hardly as difficult as it was ten years ago. However, there are still many considerations and decisions that need to be made. Some will cost you money.
Below I’ll try to summarize the parts of the blog and it’s building blocks.
Some of the links below are affiliate links for which we get compensated, but all recommendations are from personal experience.
How much to spend?
You can make a blog for free using wordpress.com, and that is a perfectly valid way of going about it. However, if your blog is a business, you will end up spending a couple hundred dollars up front, and a few every months.
Hosting is a term used to describe the computer that your blog is essentially on.
That computer is not your own computer, but rather a powerful server with large internet bandwidth that is accessible to anyone who wants to visit your site.
You will be using the software this host makes available to manage your blog, upload files, etc. If you have not done that before, please know: it is simpler than you imagine.
Picking a hosting service
There are many many sites and servers and services that can host your site – so how to choose?
I evaluate hosting based on four criteria:
- Hardware: Is there enough processing g power to handle the needed number of visitors?
- Software: How easy it is to manage your site?
- Support: How easy it is to get help?
- Cost: If all above is great, can you afford it?
For sunnysidehanne.com we use siteground.
Siteground is very affordable, offers great software to manage your site on a robust hardware platform.
Maybe what we like best about site ground is the support. There’s a nice, knowledgable support agent you can chat with 24/7 with hardly any wait.
Siteground has three membership levels starting at under $5
We use the GrowBig level.
- The StartUp plan is perfect for people with one website that are starting now
- The GrowBig plan is a great value for money offer, including the option for multiple websites and the SuperCacher that greatly improves a WordPress and Joomla website speed
- The GoGeek plan is perfect for people with e-commerce and larger sites, or more geeky development needs like staging and GIT integration
I highly recommend SiteGround.
It is estimated that 1 of 4 sites on the web run on wordpress.org platform.
While WordPress has it’s weaknesses, it’s strengths more than make up for them.
When working with WordPress, it’s very important to pick a good theme and plugins that will help you get your site up and running.
Selecting or buying a WordPress theme
A theme is like a template that determines, among other things, what your blog looks like.
A good theme loads faster, has better Search Engine Optimization and is easier to customize and mold to your needs.
Being that a theme determines so much of your experience as a blogger and the experience of your readers, spending $50-100 on a good theme is the best foundation you can give yourself. I
A good theme and Framework is an investment you will not regret – don’t go cheap here.
We use Foodie Pro Theme, which takes advantage of the Genesis Framework.
Genesis Framework provide a well-tested base to your blog and is widely used, highly rated and highly recommended.
Genesis Framework also has it’s own set of plugins to get you started.
Click here to download The Genesis Guide for Absolute Beginners (PDF – 1.4 MB)
StudioPress, the company that makes Genesis Framework has many other themes you can explore. Click here to see all StudioPress Themes
Plugins allow you to add specific functionality to your blog. While WordPress with a good theme give you a solid foundation, plugins make your blog better by adding better interaction with social media, better SEO, image optimization and in our case, a great way to add recipes to your blog.
Here are some of the plugins we use and recommend:
For social media sharing we use the plugin Social Warfare. Sharing your content on social media is perhaps one of the most important free promotions you can get. Wth the power of Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram you can promote your content like no other way, and you can do it for free.
Social Warfare allows us to customize how posts are shared. For example, we make a good vertical pin that we want readers to pin on their Pinterest board. Social Warfare allows us to specify exactly what pin users will see and post. It also allows us to determine the image that will be shared to Facebook – otherwise you are at the mercy of Facebook, and that’s not a place any blogger wants to be.
For recipes we use Recipe Maker. Recipe Maker has several features that make a huge difference on a few fronts:
- They have great SEO! Not only many of Hanne’s recipes get first page (or top!) position on google, but they look great! They show the featured image and star ratings right on the search page making them more likely to be clicked.
- Recipe Maker makes all your Pinterest pins Rich Pins by default. This means that instead of your pins being just images, they behave more like recipes. They show the ingredients and prep time and have a link to the blog page titled “Make This”. Super helpful! Some of our pins have 20K re-pins, much of it thanks to Recipe Maker and Social Warfare.
- Recipes are easy to write and organize. Using Recipe Maker‘s interface, there’s a place for description, ingredients, steps, features d image and more. You can even link ingredients to a separate page if you want.
- Recipes look great on your blog! You can choose between a few presentation formats for your recipes and make your pages stand out, but also present a familiar recipe look. No need to reinvent the wheel.
- Recipe Maker company BootStrap Ventures have great tech support. This is so important because you will get stuck at some point.
We use Smush for compressing images. This help reduce loading speed for the site.
We use Thrive Leads for collecting subscribers. Thrive Leads give us the ability to test signup forms, and improve conversion. It also integrates with Aweber which we use for our paling list.
Our mailing lists are managed using Aweber, a veteran site for managing email lists. We use it for broadcasts and campaigns. Aweber is secure, affordable, easy to use, and has many modern features for managing your mailing lists and broadcasts.
One of my favorite features of Aweber is Blog Broadcast. With it you can set your readers to automatically receive a mailing every week, two weeks or however you set it up with all the posts you published in that time period. This makes communication with your readers easy, automatic and informative.
Hanne uses Nikon D3 with a 50mm 1.4 lens for most of her photos. However, the camera body we recommend is the Nikon D810. It is a perfect combination of features and price.
A more expensive version will be the brand new Nikon D850
A sub-$1000 DSLR camera that will take you far is the Nikon D7200
She also uses this 35mm lens for wider angle shots, which is a steal for under $200.
No photo editing software comes close to the capabilities you get with the adobe Photography bundle
For $10/month, the package Includes Photoshop CC and Lightroom Classic.
While there’s a bit of a learning curve involved in using Photoshop, if photography is an important part of your blog, the adobe Photography bundle is the way to go.
If you want to take graphics to the next level, you can get the complete Creative Cloud package with Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere and more. You can create amazing Pinterest pins, recipe videos and other graphics. It costs $50/month but gives us all the capacity we need.
A membership allows you to install all apps on two computers!
If you are a student or a teacher, Adobe offer great student and teacher discounts on their Creative Cloud packages.
You can find all the stock photos you need in the Adobe Stock Photo site
We use Macbook Pros for all our blog operations and iPad for mobile testing.
There are several ways to monetize your set.
Perhaps the easiest one to get started with is Amazon Associates, which is just amazon.com affiliate.’
You can add links to your site that when clicked, will earn you commission on anything the user buys in the following 24 hours.