How To Start A Food Blog

Start A Food Blog

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If you ask any entrepreneur, starting a business comes with its fair share of challenges.

Starting a food blog requires a great deal of effort, dedication and most importantly passion.

If you're willing to put in the effort to build your own business, you're going to want to follow the critical steps to creating a successful brand.

We've created a guide that covers each step of the process - from making key financial decisions, to launching and marketing your business the right way, and tips/strategies on how to grow your business effectively.

market size
$400B
avg revenue (monthly)
$12.5K
starting costs
$26.3K
gross margin
55%
time to build
9 months
average product price
$100
growth channels
SEO
business model
Subscriptions
best tools
Pigeon, Opt-In Monster, BeProSoftware
time investment
Side project
pros & cons
33 Pros & Cons
tips
4 Tips

💡 Introduction To Starting A Food Blog

Is Starting A Food Blog Right For You?

There are many factors to consider when starting a food blog.

We put together the main pros and cons for you here:

Pros of starting a food blog

• Flexibility

You can put as much time into the business as you'd like. If you like the work and have some initial experience, you can start small and manage all aspects of the business on your own.

• Ability to start your business from home

It's not necessary to have a physical storefront or office space to get your business started. You can do everything from the comfort of your own home, at least in the beginning!

• Little startup costs required

The cost to start a food blog costs significantly less money than most businesses, ranging anywhere from 6,517 to 46,144.

• Scalable

With businesses and processes changing daily, there will always be demand for new features, products and services for your business. Additionally, there are several different business models and pricing tiers you can implement that will allow you to reach all types of customers.

• Traffic to your website

A food blog gives people a reason to visit your website and to keep coming back to you!

• No overhead costs

To get your food blog started, there are no costs associated with overhead, storage, packaging, etc. This will save you a lot of time and money!

• Control of workload

With starting a food blog, you have the unique ability to choose how little or how much you want to work. You also have the freedom to decide which projects you want to work on, and can turn down the ones that do not interest you.

• Gain exposure and experience

This career allows you to gain experience working for multiple different businesses - which will benefit your resume and also keep things interesting for you!

• You are your own boss!

With starting a food blog, you are the one to make decisions for almost all of the operations. Calling the shots can be empowering and liberating!

• Higher likelihood of getting referrals

This business is all about referrals, which can be a a very impactful way to attract and retain customers. It's critical that you have a great referral program in place that incentivizes your customers to tell their friends about your product.

• Simple business model

A food blog has the advantage of a simple business model, which makes launching and building the business more seamless.

• Express your opinions

With starting a food blog, you can express your opinions and knowledge to your audience, which allows you to build your own reputation and identity.

• You can work from anywhere!

Not only can you start your food blog from home, you can also run your business from anywhere in the world. This is the entrepreneur dream.

• Strong Demand & Relatively Recession Proof

The demand for food blog is increasing year over year and the business is known to be relatively recession proof.

• You get to inspire others

Your business is one that encourages and inspires others, which in itself, can be very fulfilling.

• You establish yourself as an expert

With starting a food blog, you establish yourself as an expert in your niche, which builds your credibility. In return, customers are more likely to trust you and refer you to other friends and family.

Cons of starting a food blog

• Crowded Space

Competition is high when it comes to your food blog, so it's important that you spend a good amount of time analyzing the market and understanding where the demand lies.

• Constant maintenance of publication

You may find yourself constantly needing to update your food blog in order to stay relevant for your audience and for those searching on google.

• Low margins

The gross margins for your food blog are typically around 55%, which can make it more challenging to incur new expenses and maintain profitability.

• Stressful work

This line of work can be stressful for both you and your clients. This type of transaction is a significant financial decision for your client, so expectations are very high for you. Although this career path can be very rewarding, it also comes with its challenges and stressful moments.

• Niche Market

A niche business is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact, it can be the key to your success. However, it can be more challenging and time consuming to find the perfect niche market and target audience.

• Time commitment

With starting a food blog, all responsibilities and decisions are in your hands. Although this is not necessarily a negative thing, work life can take over at times. This can place a strain on friends and family and add to the pressure of launching a new business.

• Complex development process.

The development process for a food blog can be quite complex, which may cause delays and challenges when launching and growing your product.

• Complex maintenance

Your food blog will require a long-term investment due to the need for updates, bug fixes, and security vulnerabilities. It's important that you (or someone on your team) stays on top of this at all times.

• You might struggle financially (at first)!

If you bootstrap your business or choose not to pay yourself (or pay yourself less than you were making at your corporate job), this can be financially taxing. It's important to adjust your lifestyle and set a plan for yourself so you don't find yourself in a stressful situation.

• Minimal physical activity

A big part of starting a food blog is sitting at a desk for the majority of the day starting at your computer. Some may enjoy this, but others may struggle with sitting for the majority of your day without much physical activity.

• Learning Curve

When you start your own business, you no longer have upper management to provide you with a playbook for your roles and responsibilities. You should know the ins and outs of every aspect of your business, as every decision will come down to you.

• Easy target for criticism

Since your food blog has the ability to reach a large audience, you'll need to be able to handle criticism. The internet can be a cruel place, and regardless of your intentions, many people will disagree with you and even take their criticism too far. To survive in this industry, you'll need to have tough skin (or at least learn this along the way).

• The job can be demanding

This is one of the major disadvantages starting a food blog. It's important to understand that you may need to make yourself available on a 24/7 basis.

• Takes time to see results & make money

Results and revenue do not come overnight with a food blog. Often times, it takes weeks, months or even years for your work to monetize.

• If writing does not come naturally, growth may be slower

The ability to write good content can certainly be learned and practiced, but if writing does not come naturally, growth may be a bit slower for your food blog in the beginning.

• Technical issues can be frustrating

Technical issues are common in this business. If you struggle with the technical side of things, you may want to consider outsourcing this responsibility to save yourself the time and frustration.

• More challenging to earn passive income

It can be more of a challenge to make passive income in this business. Often times, the amount of revenue you bring in is limited by the amount of time you have in the day.

Players

Big Players

Small Players

Search Interest

Let's take a look at the search trends for food blog over the last year:

How To Name Your Food Blog

It's important to find a catchy name for your food blog so that you can stand out in your space.

Here are some general tips to consider when naming your food blog

  • Avoid hard to spell names: you want something easy to remember and easy to spell for your customers
  • Conduct a search to see if others in the space have the same name
  • Try not to pick a name that limits growth opportunities for your business (ie. if you decide to expand into other product lines)
  • As soon as you have an idea (or ideas) of a few names that you love, register the domain name(s) as soon as possible!

Why is naming your food blog so important?

The name of your business will forever play a role in:

  • Your customers first impression
  • Your businesses identity
  • The power behind the type of customer your brand attracts
  • If you're memorable or not

It's important to verify that the domain name is available for your food blog.

You can search domain availability here:

Find a domain starting at $0.88

powered by Namecheap

Although .com names are the most common and easiest to remember, there are other options if your .com domain name is not available. Depending on your audience, it may not matter as much as you think.

It's also important to thoroughly check if social media handles are available.

As soon as you resonate with a name (or names), secure the domain and SM handles as soon as possible to ensure they don't get taken.

How To Create A Slogan For Your Food Blog:

Slogans are a critical piece of your marketing and advertising strategy.

The role of your slogan is to help your customer understand the benefits of your product/service - so it's important to find a catchy and effective slogan name.

Often times, your slogan can even be more important than the name of your brand.

Here are 6 tips for creating a catchy slogan for your food blog:

1. Keep it short, simple and avoid difficult words

A great rule of thumb is that your slogan should be under 10 words. This will make it easy for your customer to understand and remember.

2. Tell what you do and focus on what makes you different

There are a few different ways you can incorporate what makes your business special in your slogan:

  • Explain the target customer you are catering your services towards
  • What problem do you solve?
  • How do you make other people, clients, or your employer look good?
  • Do you make people more successful? How?

3. Be consistent

Chances are, if you're coming up with a slogan, you may already have your business name, logo, mission, branding etc.

It's important to create a slogan that is consistent with all of the above.

4. Ensure the longevity of your slogan

Times are changing quickly, and so are businesses.

When coming up with your slogan, you may want to consider creating something that is timeless and won't just fade with new trends.

5. Consider your audience

When finding a catchy slogan name, you'll want to make sure that this resonates across your entire audience.

It's possible that your slogan could make complete sense to your audience in Europe, but may not resonate with your US audience.

6. Get feedback!

This is one of the easiest ways to know if your slogan will be perceived well, and a step that a lot of brands drop the ball on.

Ask friends, family, strangers, and most importantly, those that are considered to be in your target market.

Here's some inspiration for coming up with a slogan for your food blog:

Now With 50% More Food!

Solid Consumptions Are What We Do

Solid Meals, Only Grocery

Fast Food, Let's Start Today!

Made In Scotland From Food.

Foods With Blood

There's Only One True Food!

Fast Meals, More Gourmet

Much Feedings Are What We Do

Own Nutritions Are What We Do

Position Of The Foodstuff

Food, Your Way!

Food The Only Way To Go.

Get Busy With The Food.

Sufficient Lunches Are What We Do

Much Food, We Care

Designed For Food, Engineered To Last.

Foods With Bit

Solid Food, Satisfaction Guaranteed

More Food, Done Right

Media & Digital Subscription Business Model

When deciding whether or not to start a food blog, it's important to first decide what type of business model you want to choose.

For this industry, digital subscriptions are one of the best ways to make money (and fast)!

We see subscriptions working very well for big businesses (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc) but I think it can work even better for small businesses and small teams.

Why? Because the economics work even better. You don’t need to find thousands of paying subscribers. If you charge enough ($10-100/month), all you need is a few hundred and you would have a sustainable business.

Here are some of the different approaches to the subscription model for blogs, publications, and content creators.

  • The hard paywall - readers need to subscribe and/or pay to read anything
  • The metered paywall - when your publication limits the number of articles readers can read each month (such as the New York Times)
  • Premium newsletters - keeping your content free, but consistently upselling a premium newsletter to all readers
  • Courses - although not technically a subscription model, this is still a great revenue model for content creators.

Here's a great example of a subscription model that offers different pricing and features for readers:

article Offering different price tiers is an effective approach in “upselling” the product and providing new and exciting value for the end-user.

Here's a few tips when taking the subscription model approach:

  • Write content that doesn’t exist anywhere else.
  • Have at least one thing that readers couldn’t live without - as long as it has one thing you can’t live without, customers will keep paying for it.
  • Focus on strong word of mouth and high retention of subscribers.
  • Figure out a way to get people to “find” your thing since you can’t rely on social or Google traffic - may need to do sales or in-person events

To learn more about digital subscriptions and the different approaches you can take, we put together a full guide for you here.

Advertising Supported Business Model

When starting your food blog, it's important to first understand and identify what your business and revenue model will look like.

For online sites and publishers, an advertising supported revenue model is very common, and if approached in the right way, can be very lucrative for your business.

The general idea is to share services, information, news or feature articles that attract customers (typically for free) and then sell advertising space to other businesses that have a similar audience.

To find advertisers for your business, it's important that you are able to bring value to the equation. This could mean significant traffic to your website, number of followers, synergies with your target audience, etc.

One of the main benefits to an ad-model is that you are able to offer free services to the end-user, which can help organically grow your customer base. As a result, reaching a larger audience will attract more high paying advertisers.

Of course, there are disadvantages to every model. In this case, the main one being that your revenue largely depends on another businesses budget.. Advertising budgets often diminish, especially in tough financial times, which can put your business at risk.

To learn more about the ad-based business model and to determine if it's the right model for you, check out this article.

🎬 How To Start A Food Blog

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How Much Does It Cost To Start A Food Blog

If you are planning to start a food blog, the costs are relatively low. This, of course, depends on if you decide to start the business with lean expenses or bringing in a large team and spending more money.

We’ve outlined two common scenarios for “pre-opening” costs of starting a food blog and outline the costs you should expect for each:

  • The estimated minimum starting cost = $6,517
  • The estimated maximum starting cost = $46,144
Startup Expenses: Average expenses incurred when starting a food blog. Min Startup Costs: You plan to execute on your own. You’re able to work from home with minimal costs. Max Startup Costs: You have started with 1+ other team members.
Office Space Expenses
Rent: This refers to the office space you rent out for your business. To minimize costs, you may want to consider starting your business from home or renting an office in a coworking space. $0 $2,000
Utility Costs (office space): This refers to the first month's utility bill for your office space. If you are not responsible for this bill, this would not apply to starting your food blog. $0 $150
Office Supplies: Although these may seem like minor costs, things like your desks, chairs, pens, paper, filing cabinets do add up. To avoid these adding up too much, try to be as lean as possible and go paperless! $25 $1,000
WiFi: Whether you work from home or in an office space, WiFi is an expense that's tough to avoid. Although the cost is minimal in most cases, it should be appropriately budgeted for each month! $10 $100
Total Office Space Expenses $35 (min) $3,250 (max)
Employee & Freelancer Expenses
Payroll: This number depends on if you decide to pay yourself a salary upfront and how many employees you have on payroll. At first, many founders take on all responsibilities until the business is up and running. You can always hire down the road when you understand where you need help. Keep in mind, if you do plan to pay yourself, the average salary founders make is $50K. $0 $4,000
Other Employee Expenses: Aside from payroll and benefits, there are other costs associated with hiring employees. This includes the cost to advertise the job, the time it takes to interview candidates, and any potential turnover that may result from hiring the wrong candidate. $0 $1,000
Employee Reward Ideas: It's important to recognize and reward employees - whether they hit their goals or are doing an exceptional job. This doesn't have to cost you a lot - simply taking them out to lunch, giving them a gift card or offering a pay-check bonus are all ways to recognize your employee! Here are 65 ways to reward your employees. $0 $500
Total Employee & Freelancer Expenses $0 (min) $5,500 (max)
Equipment & Supply Expenses
Technology Office Equipment: This includes (but is not limited to) physical items such as: laptops, cameras, monitors, microphones, speakers, headsets. Technology needs grow as your company evolves, so to minimize costs, try and only purchase what is needed for you to run your business at the time. $500 $5,000
Total Equipment & Supply Expenses $500 (min) $5,000 (max)
Website Costs
Website builder: The cost of your website will vary depending on which platform you choose. There are many website builders on the market, so it's important you choose the right one for your business and overall goals. To learn more about your options + how to build a great website, check out this article. $15 $100
Web Design: Web design includes several different aspects, including webpage layout, content creation, and design elements.If you have the skills and knowledge to design your website on your own, then outsourcing this to an expert may not be necessary. There are plenty of other ways you can design a beautiful website using design tools and software. $200 $6,000
A Domain Name: Your domain name is the URL and name of your website - this is how internet users find you and your website.Domain names are extremely important and should match your company name and brand. This makes it easier for customers to remember you and return to your website. $12 $200
Email hosting: Email is a critical piece for running your business. Once you have your domain name, you will want to set up email accounts for each user on your team. The most common email hosts are GSuite (typically starting at $6+ per user, per month) or Microsoft Office (typically starting at $5+ per user, per month). The number of email accounts you set up will determine the monthly cost breakdown. $5 $75
Server Hosting: To start your business, you will need to set up and manage a server. The cost for this is typically billed monthly and depends on the platform you choose (typically ranging anywhere from $0-$50/mo). $0 $50
Website chat function: If customer service is a big piece of your business, you will want to consider implementing a chat bot on your website. Typically, there are different tiers of pricing and some businesses even offer freemium services. To find what chat software is best for your business, check out this guide. $0 $75
Total Website Costs $232 (min) $6,500 (max)
Business Formation Fees
Small Business Insurance: Depending on which state you live in and the business you're operating, the costs and requirements for small business insurance vary. You can learn more here. $500 $2,000
Permit and License Fees: Depending on your industry, there are certain licenses and permits you may need in order to comply with state, local, and federal regulations. Here is an article that goes over all the permits and licenses you may need for your food blog. $50 $700
Trademarking: Filing trademark registration will protect your brand and prevent other businesses from copying your name or product. USPTO has several different types of trademarks, so the cost to apply can vary (typically anywhere from $400-$700). $0 $700
Lawyer Fees: Although you may want to avoid attorney fees, it's important that your business (and you) are covered at all costs. This comes into play when creating founder agreements, setting up your business legal structure, and of course, any unforeseen circumstances that may happen when dealing with customers or other businesses. $0 $1,500
A Patent: Patents provide protection against others stealing or selling your idea.Securing a patent can be very valuable, but it's important that you are 100% sure this will be a smart business move for you, or if this is something to consider down the line.The process of securing a US patent can be both lengthy and pricey, and typically includes filing an application with the USPTO. $5,000 $15,000
Set up business: LLC & Corporations: The first step in setting up your business is deciding whether your business is an LLC, S Corp or C Corp. The cost for this depends on which state you form your business and which structure you decide on. We put together an article that goes over the 10 Steps To Setting Up A Business. $50 $500
Total Business Formation Fees $5,600 (min) $20,400 (max)
Software Expenses
Design Programs & Software: These programs might include the Adobe family of design tools: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and others. This is typically a monthly subscription ranging from $10-$50/mo. $0 $50
Email marketing tool: If you plan to grow your email list and email marketing efforts, you may want to consider investing in an email marketing platform (ie. Klaviyo, MailChimp). We put together a detailed guide on all of the email marketing tools out there + the pricing models for each one here $0 $100
IT Support: IT support installs and configures hardware and software and solves any technical issues that may arise.IT support can be used internally or for your customers experiencing issues with your product/service.There are a variety of tools and software you can use to help with any technical issues you or your customers are experiencing. This is a great option for businesses that do not have the means to hire a team of professionals. $150 $2,000
Accounting & Invoicing Software: It's important to have an accounting system and process in place to manage financials, reporting, planning and tax preparation. Here are the 30 best accounting tools for small businesses. $0 $50
CRM Software: CRM (customer relationship management) software is used to track your company’s interactions with clients and prospects. Although this is not a necessary tool to have for your food blog, implementing this in the beginning may set your business up for success and save you a lot of time later on. For a full list of best CRMs to use for your business, check out the full list here. $0 $250
Project Management Software: You may want to consider using a project management and collaboration tool to organize your day-to-day. This can also be very beneficial if you have a larger team and want to keep track of everyones tasks and productivity. For a full list of project management tools, check out this full list here. $0 $25
Internal Communication Tool: If you plan to have multiple members on your team, you may want to consider an instant message tool such as Slack or Telegram. The cost is usually billed per month (approx $5/user/month) or there are freemium versions available on many platforms. $0 $20
Social Media Management Tools: If you plan to do social media marketing for your food blog, you should consider investing in a social media automation or publishing tool. This will save you time and allow you to track performance and engagement for your posts. Here is a list of 28 best social media tools for your small business. $0 $50
Payroll Software: The main purpose of payroll software is to help you pay your team and track each of those payments (so that you don't have to do it manually). If you do not have any employees or have a very small team, payroll software may not be necessary at this stage. Here are the 11 best payroll tools for small businesses! $0 $200
Online data storage: It's important to make sure the information for your food blog is stored and protected should something happen to your computer or hard drive. The cost for this is affordable and depends on how much data you need to store. To learn more about the different options and pricing on the market, check out this article. $0 $299
Total Software Expenses $150 (min) $3,044 (max)
Advertising & Marketing Costs
Customer Research & Surveys: Many food blog's conduct industry and consumer research prior to starting their business. Often times, you need to pay for this data or hire a market research firm to help you in this process. $0 $300
Affiliate Marketing Commission & Fees: If you want to increase revenue for your food blog, affiliate marketing is a great way to promote your product to a new audience. When determining affiliate commission rates you will offer, you will want to take into account the price and margin for your product to ensure affiliate marketing is worth it for your business. According to Monitor Backlinks, the average affiliate commission rate should be somewhere between 5% to 30%. To learn more about how to set commission rates, check out this article.. $0 $250
Influencer Marketing: Partnering with like-minded influencers is one of the most effective ways to grow your social media presence. Many small businesses simply gift a free item in exchange for an influencer post, or pay the influencer directly. $0 $750
Press: If your business and story is unique enough, press and media attention may come to you, but odds are, you may need to do your own outreach and budget for this. We put together a guide here that discusses different press opportunities (both free and paid). $0 $500
Google Ads: With Google Ads you have the ability to control how much you spend by simply setting a monthly budget cap. Additionally, with these ads you only pay for results, such as clicks to your website or phone calls! It's okay to start with a small budget at first and make changes accordingly if you see valuable returns. $0 $300
Facebook & Instagram Ads: With Facebook and Instagram ads, you set your budget and pay for the actions you want (whether that be impressions, conversions, etc).You can learn more about pricing based on your impressions here. $0 $350
Total Advertising & Marketing Costs $0 (min) $2,450 (max)
Total Starting Costs $6,517 (min) $46,144 (max)

Brett Lindenberg, founder of Food Truck Empire discusses his startup costs setting up his blog + his decision to outsource:

Like most bloggers, the launch of my business was low cost. I bought a domain name from GoDaddy, website hosting from HostGator, and had my initial website template customized by someone located in the Philippines. I was introduced to the designer from a friend who had worked with the individual for a Wordpress design as well. The total initial investment for the business was around $500. The majority of the costs went toward paying the designer to create the logo and set up the site.

At the time, $500 was a substantial investment for me. I fell into the trap of having around $40,000 in student loan debt another $10,000 in credit cards after college. Adding a monthly car payment shortly after graduation and the other bills (rent, cell phone, internet access) meant things were tight for me financially for the first 5 years after graduation.

In spite of financial woes, I forced myself to invest money in the design and setup of my blog. In retrospect, I’m glad that I did this because it saved me a lot of time starting the website.

When you start a blog, my belief is that you should outsource all the one-time technical work, design, and setup. There are so many people that spend months wasting time trying to figure out plugins and Wordpress themes when they could have solved the problem on Fiverr.com for a couple hundred bucks and be off to the races.

-  
Brett Lindenberg, on starting Food Truck Empire ($5,400/month) full story ➜

Raising Money For Your Food Blog

Here are the most common ways to raise money for your food blog:

Bootstrapping

You may not need funding for your food blog.

In fact, many entrepreneurs take this approach when starting their own business, whether they have a little amount of cash or a substantial amount to get started.

So what exactly does the term "bootstrapping" mean?

This method essentially refers to self-funding your businesswithout external help or capital and reinvesting your earnings back into the business**

Bootstrapping means building your company from the ground up with your own, or your loved ones, personal savings and reinvesting all earnings back into the business

Here are some tips to consider when bootstrapping your business:

  • Use your savings as your capital - one of the best ways to bootstrap your business is to collect your savings and use them as startup capital. This will also help you avoid using your personal or business credit cards when getting started.
  • Determine exactly how much capital you need and how much capital you have to get your business off the ground. Generally, when bootstrapping your business, you may want to consider starting a business that involves less startup capital.
  • Consider starting a business that will generate immediate returns so you can put money back into the business
  • Be as lean as possible - this refers to cutting down expenses as much as possible, such as payroll, fancy software tools, unnecessary travel, renting an office, etc
  • Consider outsourcing instead of hiring - in the beginning, you may not need to hire someone permanently to help run your business. It tends to be much less expensive to outsource work to a freelancer and hire someone permanently down the road!

Want to learn more about bootstrapping your business? Check out this article

What Skills Do I Need To Succeed In Starting A Food Blog?

As a food blog, there are several essential skills and characteristics that are important to identify prior to starting your business.

Let’s look at these skills in more detail so you can identify what you need to succeed in your day-to-day business operations:

Resarch and Writing Skills

Research and writing skills are critical when starting a food blog. Here's what this looks like:

  • Basic computer & technology skills (Microsoft office or Google sheets/docs knowledge, data input, and proficiency in typing)
  • Creativity & originality in your work and approach
  • Great communication skills and ability to meet deadlines
  • Understanding of SEO

Other skills that businesses find valuable include digital marketing skills, basic web design, and accounting abilities. Some employers may also look for a food blog that has a bachelor's degree or formal education.

Additionally, you may want to consider putting together a portfolio of past work and experience. This includes samples of writing/research pieces, from school projects to internship work to career experience.

Design Skills

Whether you are the one designing the product or the decision-maker for the product, an eye for design is critical when starting a food blog. Here's what this looks like:

  • Creative Thinking - the ability to develop or design different products or ideas
  • Visualization - being able to imagine or visualize how the product will look
  • Articulation - the ability to communicate what the design will look like and how it will be executed
  • Detail-oriented - paying close attention to all of the small pieces when designing or working on a project
  • Some technical skills - knowledge of the design software you are using to create the product or build prototypes.

Other skills that may be valuable to have when starting a food blog include digital marketing skills, branding experience, and basic business knowledge.

Business Savvy Skills

When starting a food blog, there are a few fundamental business skills you will want to learn in order to be successful:

  • Leadership and training skills: A great team starts with YOU. Make sure you have all company policies and training procedures in place prior to hiring your team
  • Decisive and self-confident: Over the course of your career, you will need decisions that could impact your business significantly. It's important you are able to think clearly and rationally about these decisions.
  • Ability to understand the financials: You don't need to be an accountant, but it is important that you are able to clearly understand and define metrics such as expenses, revenue, profit, margins, COGS, etc.
  • Strategic Thinking: Setting clear goals and benchmarks, identifying opportunities, risks. Ability to effectively communicate these insights to your team.

These are a few of many business savvy skills you should have (or work on) when starting a food blog.

For a full list, check out this article here.

Customer Service Skills

Friendly communication with customers and the ability to address service issues is a critical part of the job.

Here are some customer service skills you may want to consider prior to starting a food blog:

  • Professionalism: The way you act, present yourself, and respond to situations all leave an impression on your customer. It's important to stay professional at all times when handling customer requests or issues.
  • Problem-solving: When issues arise, it's important that you are able to think quick on your feet and address the situation with a calm and clear solution
  • Friendly-manner: This is an obvious one, but customers truly appreciate someone that can respond in a quick, efficient, and friendly manner.
  • Proficient in writing: These skills include the ability to write well-crafted emails, service tickets, and any other programs used by the business (ie. chat functions, SMS texting)

Advice For Starting A Food Blog

We've interviewed thousands of successful founders at Starter Story and asked what advice they would give to entrepreneurs who are just getting started.

Here's the best advice we discovered for starting a food blog:

Mason Woodruff, founder of Kinda Healthy Recipes ($15K/month):

Perfect is the enemy of good. If I’d waited for perfection to start, I’d still be waiting.

Read the full interview ➜

-

Brett Lindenberg, founder of Food Truck Empire ($5.4K/month):

Starting a business is time consuming and insanely difficult even if you’re doing it full time. Take the hours you have left after work and focus them toward one thing.

Read the full interview ➜

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Write a Business Plan

Writing a business plan from the start is critical for the success of your food blog.

Why?

Because this allows you to roadmap exactly what you do, what your overall structure will look like, and where you want to be in the future.

For many entrepreneurs, writing out the business plan helps validate their idea and decide whether or not they should move forward with starting the business.

You may want to consider expanding upon these sections in your business plan:

  • Executive Summary: Brief outline of your product, the market, and growth opportunities
  • Overviews and Objectives: Overview of your business, target customers, and what you need to run your business
  • Products and Services: Specifics on the products and services your business will provide
  • Market Opportunities: Analysis of customer demographics, buyer habits and if your product is in demand
  • Marketing: Outline of your marketing plan and how you plan to differentiate yourself from other customers
  • Competitive analysis: Analysis of your competition and the strengths and weaknesses therein
  • Operations: Hierarchal structure of the company and what it will take to run the business on the day-to-day
  • Leadership Team: Detailing roles and responsibilities of each manager based on their specific skill-set
  • Financial Analysis Understanding of all expenses, operating budgets, and projections for the future.

Learn more about how to write a business plan here

Determine Which Business Bank Account You Need

There are hundreds of banks out there, and it can be overwhelming to find one that's right for your business.

Here are some factors you may want to consider:

  • Location - Is your bank close enough that you can easily make deposits or get cash?
  • Low Fees - Make sure to understand any and all fees associated with setting up and maintaining your bank account. Ask for a list - banks usually try to keep this hidden and in the fine print.
  • Online Banking Services - Make sure you can easily navigate through your online portal and you have easy access to everything you need.
  • Line of Credit - What do your options look like (even if you don't need this now, you may need this down the road).
  • Every bank has something that differentiates them from the rest, so make sure whatever that is applied to your needs and values.

Check out this list of the 13 Best Banks for Small Business in 2020 and what makes them so unique.

Setting Up Your Food Blog (Formation and Legal)

When it comes to setting up your business, you may find yourself in a place where you have to make some financial and legal decisions.

The first thing you'll want to decide on is whether you want to be an LLC, S-Corp, or C-Corp.

These three options are found to be the most common when starting a small business, and all serve to protect your personal assets and also provide you with certain tax benefits.

  • LLC: All income and expenses from the business are reported on the LLC personal income tax return.
  • S corp: Owners pay themselves salaries + receive dividends from profits.
  • C Corp: C Corps are separately taxable entities that file a corporate tax return (Form 1120). No income tax is paid at the corporate level and any tax due is paid at the owners individual expense.

Depending on where you're conducting business, you'll also want to consider securing the proper permits, licenses and liability insurance.

Learn more about securing the right permits and licenses ➜

Need to start an LLC? Create an LLC in minutes with ZenBusiness.

How Do I Pay Myself As A Small Business Owner?

Most entrepreneurs start a business to do something they love- but at the end of the day, you still have bills to pay (maybe now more than ever).

But it's important to strike the right balance - if you pay yourself too much, you could be putting your business at risk.

There are two common ways to pay yourself as a business owner:

1. Owner's Draw

Many entrepreneurs pay themselves through an owner's draw. This means that you are technically sean as "self-employed" through the eyes of the IRS and are not paid through regular wages.

At the point that you collect money from the draw, taxes typically are not taken out - so make sure you are prepared to pay these taxes once you file your individual return.

As an owner who takes a draw, you can legally take out as much as you want from your equity.

This type of compensation is suited for Sole props, LLCs, and partnerships. If you’re an S corp, you can pay yourself through both a salary and draw if you choose.

2. Salary

If you decide to pay yourself a salary, you will receive a set and recurring amount. This will be taxed by the federal government and the state you reside in.

The reality is that it can be really complicated to set your own salary, so we have some tips for you to consider:

  • Take out a reasonable amount that allows you to live comfortably but also sets your business up for success
  • Consider the number of hours you are working weekly + the type of duties you are performing.
  • Set your salary based on your industry-standard, location, and profits (or projected profits)
  • Look at your P&L statement: Deduct your own pay from that amount. This is important so you can first tackle important business expenses, and then pay yourself from the amount leftover.
  • Pick a payroll schedule (and stick to it)! In the US, it's most common to pay yourself and employees twice a month.

https://media.giphy.com/media/xT0xeLTRncS90ptpfi/giphy.gif

To learn more about how to pay yourself and what is a reasonable amount, check out this article.

How To Price Your Food Blog

One of the most challenging aspects to starting a food blog is determining how much to charge for your food blog.

When businesses under-price their product, this can be extremely detrimental to their bottom line and reputation.

Often times, businesses under-price their products to drive demand and volume, but that last thing you want is for customers to view your product/service as "cheap." Additionally, this can have a big impact on the type of customer you attract, which can be difficult to recover from.

On the other hand, when businesses over-price, this tends to be just as damaging to the business.

When customers buy, it's likely that they will explore the internet and look at other competitors to ensure they're getting the best value + deal. This is why it's so important that you research your competition and understand where you land in the marketplace.

Here are some factors to consider when pricing your product:

Understand your customer

It's important that out of the gates, you identify the type of customer you want to attract and how much they're willing to pay for your service. One great way to do this is by surveying your customers. Here are some important items you'll want to takeaway:

  • Customer demographic: Age, gender, location, etc.
  • Buying habits of your customer: What they buy + when they buy
  • Level of price sensitivity with your customer

All of these segments will help you identify the type of customer you're attracting and how to price your product accordingly.

Understand your costs

When pricing your food blog, it's critical that you first identify all of your costs and consequently mark up your food blog so you can factor in a profit.

The actual cost of your food blog may include things like:

  • The actual cost to make the product (ie. raw materials, supplies, manufacturer).
  • Shipping + overhead fees
  • Rent
  • Operating costs to run your business

You may want to consider creating a spreadsheet with every single expense involved in operating/owning your business. This will give you an idea as to what you need to generate in order to at the very least, break-even and will help you price your products to factor in a profit.

Create revenue goals

When determining the price of your food blog, you'll want to create goals for revenue + how much profit you want your food blog to make.

This process is simpler than you may think:

  1. Think about your breakeven cost (by completing the above step).
  2. Create a revenue goal based on your break-even cost
  3. Evaluate the # of items you plan to sell in a given period (make sure this is a realistic number)
  4. Divide your revenue goal by the number of items you plan to sell

This figure will help determine your estimated price per product in order to meet your revenue goals.

Evaluate your competition

The last piece in determining how to price your food blog is by simply looking at your competition.

The best way to do this is by finding like-minded businesses that offer product(s) with similar perceived value. Then, you can compare prices of the different businesses and determine where your food blog fits best in the marketplace.

All of these factors play an equal part in pricing your food blog, so it's important you evaluate each one individually to come up with an accurate price that will help optimize your business from the start.

Gross Margin Calculator: How to Calculate The Gross Margin For Your Food Blog

Our calculator is designed to be simple and easy to use.

The goal is to help you set realistic expectations and understand what is considered a healthy gross margin for your food blog.

Calculate your gross margin and profit margin here.

What Type Of Customers Will Buy Your Food Blog

It's important to first establish who you will be selling to, whether it's to businesses or consumers.

Typically, in this industry, products are sold to B2C markets (business-to-consumer).

Let's take a look at what this means for your food blog:

B2C (or business to consumer) is a transaction where businesses sell their products or services to the consumer directly.

In this market, consumer behavior is the primary driver for your business decisions - so it's important that you truly identify who your customer is, and what their buyer habits are when building your product/service.

The advantage

B2C is that you are able to cast a very wide net when targeting your customers. Your product may interest a large number of consumers or a specific niche.

The disadvantage

B2C is that consumers hold all the power - so if your website is not the most user friendly, or does not rank in the top search results on Google, chances are, your customer is going to shop elsewhere.

When building your food blog, it's critical that you hone in on who your target audience is, and why they need your product over your competition.

Here are some items to consider when identifying your buyer persona:

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Building an MVP (Minimal Viable Product)

When building a food blog, it's critical that you first validate your product/service rather than rushing to build it right away.

This could save you months, if not years of building the wrong product/service.

If you're hoping to decrease any sort of risk that comes with launching your food blog, designing a prototype can be a great way to de-risk your situation.

The point of your food blog prototype is that it doesn't have to be perfect.

In the beginning stages, it doesn't matter how rough V1 of your prototype is, it's more important to just get started and you can always refine from there based on feedback from your network and most importantly your customers.

How To Build A MVP

Here are several different ways of building a prototype/MVP:

  • Start by building a landing page to see if customers actually need your product and if they are willing to pay for it
  • Build a very basic version of your idea and ask for immediate feedback from potential customers
  • Present a problem and solution via Facebook/Instagram Ads and see what the response is like

Mason Woodruff, founder of Kinda Healthy Recipes dives deep into the process of designing and prototyping their product:

Our product is content, and I’m a believer in the “quantity leads to quality” way of thinking. Early content was rough, and I’ve since culled lots of content from the first few years of blogging.

Food photography was one of the biggest struggles early on, and it’s something I continue to work on every day. That said, I managed to get by with iPhone food photography until mid-2019 when I made the shift to shooting with a DSLR. If you’re getting into food photography, my biggest tips would be to always use natural sunlight, use Pinterest for styling inspiration, and check out The Bite Shot to up your skills once you’re ready to dive deeper.

how-i-started-a-15k-month-food-blog-for-fitness-enthusiasts

Two years of practice made a slight difference when shooting shredded chicken thighs and a Cheesy Gordita Crunch copycat.

Perfect is the enemy of good. If I’d waited for perfection to start, I’d still be waiting. And oddly enough, some of my best performing posts have photos taken on an iPhone.

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Mason Woodruff, on starting Kinda Healthy Recipes ($15,000/month) full story ➜

How To Find The Right Developer For Your Food Blog

If you (or others on your team) don't have the necessary coding/design skills to build the product on your own, finding the right developer for your food blog is a critical piece to bringing your idea to life.

Prior to hiring someone, you'll want to:

  • Have a very clear understanding of what your product (or MVP) will look like
  • Understand what the details of the user experience will look like (pages, how users sign up, backend administrative details, billing, reports etc). It may help to draw out the prototype and UX experience on a design platform such as Sketch
  • Understand what features you want to implement now and even those in the future
  • Understand the costs and time associated with hiring a developer and set a budget (more on that below)

Here are some ways you can find a developer:

Arielle Frank, founder of Clout Collective talks about her experiences and lessons learned when hiring a developer as a non-technical founder:

My first attempt to find a developer was a massive failure. I was basically screaming to be taken advantage of with my lack of technical knowledge and a heart full of hope. I signed an extremely unfavorable contract with a developer based in Morocco who claimed to offer “discounted” development services in exchange for equity in the company. By “discounted” I mean that it would cost only $40K to build the MVP. At the time I had no frame of reference for whether or not this was normal and justified it to myself.

Luckily, after a lot more internet sleuthing, I found my current developer, Adeva. Working with Adeva was the opposite experience of my initial encounter in every way. At $8K, Adeva’s quote for my MVP was literally 1/5th the cost of the original developer! I decided to save money on a front-end designer for V1 by using a template and designing things where I could in Figma.

I was forced to figure out many of the details and features of the platform upfront since Adeva couldn’t give me a quote without detailed user stories.

When building out the prospective features, I tried to focus on the end result and work backward from there.

For example, the end goal was for a content creator to be able to read a review and know whether or not they want to collaborate with a specific brand. I used this goal to inform the questions I collected for the reviews and the best way to display this info. During this phase, I also relied heavily on my beta testers for feedback about which info would be the most useful for them.

It’s tempting to add a bunch of cool, slick features when you’re building your product, but my brilliant mentor encouraged me to focus on doing one thing extremely well.

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Wilson Hung, on starting ARPU (/month) full story ➜

🚀 How To Launch Your Food Blog

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Build A Website

Building a website is imperative when launching your business, and with the right tools in place, this can be a simple task to check off the list (without having to hire someone).

  1. Pick a domain name that's easy to remember and easy to type
  2. Choose a Web Hosting Plan (ie. Shopify, Squarespace)
  3. Make sure you choose the right theme and design
  4. Implement the proper page structure (ie. about page, contact page, pricing etc)

To learn more about how to build a stellar website with little stress, we give you all the details on this step-by-step guide.

Best Website Platforms To Use For Your Food Blog:

There are a variety of websites platforms out there, and it's important to choose the right one that will set you up for success.

Here's everything you need to know about the two most common platforms for your food blog:

WordPress

Free and open-source content management system based on PHP and MySQL.

Free to use/open source but you will need to pay for the hosting.

Businesses using WordPress:

303 successful businesses are using WordPress ➜

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Get WordPress ➜

Squarespace

The all-in-one solution for anyone looking to create a beautiful website.

  • Personal Plan: $12/month
  • Business Plan: $18/month
  • Basic: $26/month
  • Advanced: $40/month

  • Pricing: Freemium

  • Twitter: @squarespace

  • Website: squarespace.com

Businesses using Squarespace:

66 successful businesses are using Squarespace ➜

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Get Squarespace ➜

Web Design

Once you have chosen the domain, web hosting, and platform, it's time to get started with the design phase.

Themes are a great way to produce the fundamental style and identity of your website - this includes everything from your font design to your blog post styles.

One of the best ways to get started is to simply explore the various themes (free or paid depending on what you're looking for) and test them on your site.

If web-design really isn't in the cards for you, you may want to consider outsourcing a web designer to help bring your vision and brand to life.

Get Press Coverage For Your Food Blog

The more buzz around your brand - the more the phones ring, the more traffic to your website, and the more customers as a result.

Here are a few ways you can get press for your business:

Press releases:

Press releases are a great way to share big announcements or news, but in order to get any traction, you'll need to find a way to make your press release stand out amongst others.

Try to convey a story that really matters, not just to you, but to the reporter and to their audience.

Here are some things to consider when submitting a press release:

  • Craft a catchy subject (keep it short and sweet).
  • Acknowledge the journalist's past work and interests - this is key!
  • Include the main point of the story in the first paragraph, heck, even the first sentence. Reporters want to hear the juice first and foremost.
  • Focus on the facts and try to limit the amount of jargon used.
  • Pitch yourself! Help them put a face to the story.
  • Make sure your topic is newsworthy. If it's not, find a way to!
  • Try not to include any attachments of your release!

Email is one of the most effective and preferred way to send your press release, so as long as you keep your pitch brief, interesting and personalized (no cold emails), you should stand a chance!

Get Press Using HARO

HARO, otherwise known as "Help a Reporter Out" is an outlet for journalists to source upcoming stories and opportunities for media coverage.

The best part is, HARO is free to use! There are, of course, premium versions you can purchase, but the free version is still an accessible way to get press.

Once you set up an account, HARO essentially will email you based on stories (that are relevant to you) that need to be covered where you will then have a chance to essentially "bid on the story."

Here are some tips when crafting your pitch:

  • Discuss your experience and expertise in the space. Make sure it's obvious why you're relevant to this story.
  • Answer the question in 3-4 sentences. Try and be as direct as possible
  • Offer to provide the reporter with more information and make sure to give them your contact info

Plan a Publicity Stunt

Planning a publicity stunt is an effective and quick way to raise awareness for your brand and gain some traction from the press.

If you're looking to plan a stunt, the objective should be to be bold and create something memorable

However, being bold has a fine line - it's important that you consider the timing of your stunt to ensure you don't come off insensitive or unethical. For example, timing may not be in your favor if you plan something during the general election, or in most recent cases, a global pandemic.

In order to measure the success of your stunt, it's important that you first determine your end goal, for example:

  • Is the stunt aimed to raise money for your business or a particular organization?
  • Is the stunt aimed to drive more traffic to your website?
  • Is the stunt aimed to get more followers and engagement on Instagram?

Here are a few tips for creating a great publicity stunt:

  • Research to ensure that there haven't been similar stunts done in the past by other businesses - this could easily turn off journalists and your audience.
  • Make sure you can explain the stunt in one headline - this will help grab the media's attention. In other words, simplify!
  • The stunt should be related to the product you are promoting. Even if the stunt is a success in terms of viewers, but it doesn't tie back to your original goal, then it's not useful.
  • Keep the stunt visual with videos/images.
  • Leverage the internet and social media platforms for your stunt by sharing your message across a variety of audiences. This will help with word of mouth and the overall success of your event.

To learn other strategies on how to get press, check out our full guide here.

Launch Strategies For Your Food Blog

There are various different ways you can launch your food blog successfully.

Here are a few different strategies to get customers excited about your food blog.

  • Build hype with a landing page: you can effectively do this through waiting lists, discounts, countdown timer etc
  • Create a teaser video: even just a 30 second video is a great way to exposure for your food blog, and possibly even go viral
  • Reach out to influencers: The right influencer for your product has the ability to reach your audience with just one post, and because of their loyal following, this could lead to a big return for you.
  • Get Press: Whether you plan a PR stunt or get exposure through a popular news outlet, this is a great way to attract initial customers
  • Launch on popular sites: A great way to get buzz about your food blog is to submit your launch to popular startup sites.

Here are a few popular sites to launch on:

Learn more about how to launch your business successfully ➜ here

Brett Lindenberg, founder of Food Truck Empire dives deep into the process of launching the business:

Like most bloggers, the launch of my business was low cost. I bought a domain name from GoDaddy, website hosting from HostGator, and had my initial website template customized by someone located in the Philippines. I was introduced to the designer from a friend who had worked with the individual for a Wordpress design as well. The total initial investment for the business was around $500. The majority of the costs went toward paying the designer to create the logo and set up the site.

When you start a blog, my belief is that you should outsource all the one time technical work, design, and setup. There are so many people that spend months wasting time trying to figure out plugins and Wordpress themes when they could have solved the problem for a couple hundred bucks and be off to the races.

At the time, $500 was a substantial investment for me. I fell into the trap of having around $40,000 in student loan debt another $10,000 in credit cards after college. Adding a monthly car payment shortly after graduation and the other bills (rent, cell phone, internet access) meant things were tight for me financially for the first 5 years after graduation.

In spite of financial woes, I forced myself to invest money in the design and setup of my blog. In retrospect, I’m glad that I did this because it saved me a lot of time starting the website.

When you start a blog, my belief is that you should outsource all the one time technical work, design, and setup. There are so many people that spend months wasting time trying to figure out plugins and Wordpress themes when they could have solved the problem on Fiverr.com for a couple hundred bucks and be off to the races.

how-i-started-a-profitable-food-entrepreneurship-blog

Above is a screenshot of the Google Analytics traffic to my website for the first 6 months. In month number one, I had a grand total of 124 website visitors. When my website was went live there was no fanfare. There were no viral moments or big surge in visitors lining up to read my content.

Naturally, some of those visits were me logging in from different computers. The biggest day of traffic during this time period was 112 visitors. Audience growth would continue to be slow, but steady, for the next couple years. This is what early success looks like for most bloggers. You need to be able to take the long view.

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Brett Lindenberg, on starting Food Truck Empire ($5,400/month) full story ➜

🌱 How To Grow Your Food Blog

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Social Media Advertising

Social Media Advertising is one of the leading ways to get the word out when it comes to food blog.

There are various different Social Media platforms available to you. Some may be more critical for your marketing efforts than others, however, it's important to have an understanding of what's out there and available to you.

Let's talk about a few of the main platforms and what makes them unique:

  • Facebook Advertising - more than 2 billion monthly users. Facebook is the best for lead generation + capturing email addresses for e-commerce businesses.
  • Instagram Advertising - approximately 500 million monthly users and has a higher audience engagement rate than any other platform. Instagram ads are best for linking to a product page or landing page and reaches the 18-29 age group most effectively.
  • Twitter Advertising- Small businesses typically use twitter ads to drive brand awareness, but the platform is meant more for organic engagement (and is not as heavily used for paid advertising)
  • Pinterest Advertising - 175 million monthly users and most effectively reaches the female audience. Pinterest is great for promoting products without "promoted". The promoted pins have a way of blending right in.
  • LinkedIn Advertising - 227 million monthly users and is geared towards the B2B market and generates the highest quality leads. Great platform for recruiters, high-end products and services that will help businesses

It's important to first define your goal/objective so that you don't waste time and money into the wrong platform:

Here are some different questions to ask yourself as it relates to your goals:

  • Do I want to simply drive brand awareness?
  • Do I want to drive users to my website to gather information?
  • Do I want to increase sales and get my customer to take action?

From there, choose the platform that targets your audience best and start experimenting!

Learn more about social media advertising ➜ here.

Founder Andy Hayes talks about mastering FB ads and the pixel:

The biggest bang for your buck will likely be mastering Facebook and it’s platform - which we all know is pay for play, so you’ll have to come up with a small amount of budget to start for marketing.

We’ve spent countless hours (and paid numerous coaches) before we cracked the code that works for us on Facebook, but it is working really well for us now.

Some of the most important things to know when it comes to FB Ads:

  • Start with retargeting (that’s showing ads to people who already know you but did not purchase). Master this - and start building information on your Facebook Pixel - before you do anything else
  • Once you have that down, try working with the 1% “Lookalike” audience to prospect for new customers. This may take awhile because your pixel audience is small, so try layering on interests - 1% Lookalike and your largest competitor, for example. Don’t use interest-only targeting until you master this.
  • Great photography and videography is key, as is smart copy. Research what’s out there in your industry and constantly test - what works for one company may not work for other people.
  • Make sure you have good offers. For example, we have a $5 trial for our subscription, which converts affordably - if we promoted our subscription with the standard $30 front charge, it wouldn’t be as cost-effective.
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Andy Hayes, on starting Plum Deluxe Tea ($75,000/month) full story ➜

Host A Social Media Giveaway

People love free stuff and love competition. Giveaways and contests are a great way to create awareness for your brand, grow your email list, and eventually convert leads into customers.

If your goal is to gather email addresses, make sure the entry criteria is to "enter your email." You can do this by leading customers to your landing page where they can then enter their email to be in the giveaway.

One of the most important aspects of promoting a successful giveaway is having an amazing prize. The better the prize, the more engagement you'll get.

This doesn't necessarily mean choosing an iPad or an expensive/trendy watch, but instead a prize that is actually relevant to your brand/target audience.

Giveaway Example and Tips

Example from TJ Mapes, founder of RIPT Apparel

Our most recent successful giveaway was when we gave away a PS4 + the new Spiderman game. I hosted the giveaway on our site and then let our audience know about it via email/social channels.

Entrants earned different amounts of entries for entering in different ways (tongue twister!), for instance; enter via email, get 10 entries. Follow us on Facebook, get 5 entries. Subscribe on Messenger and get 25 entries.

how-three-friends-launched-2-4m-t-shirt-startup-ript-apparel

I also built out a drip sequence in Klaviyo that contained four emails to encourage entrants to take more action, like referring friends and liking us on social.

Email #1: Thanks for entering!

how-three-friends-launched-2-4m-t-shirt-startup-ript-apparel

Email #2: Explained how to earn bonus entries:

how-three-friends-launched-2-4m-t-shirt-startup-ript-apparel

Email #3: About us

how-three-friends-launched-2-4m-t-shirt-startup-ript-apparel

Email #4: Coupon for entering

This last email in the sequence just thanked them again for entering and also included a coupon to a specific (related) collection of designs with an expiration date on it to incentivize purchases.

how-three-friends-launched-2-4m-t-shirt-startup-ript-apparel

how-three-friends-launched-2-4m-t-shirt-startup-ript-apparel (this screenshot is actually a flow from when we gave away an xbox, but you get the idea - huge open and click rates 💯💯💯)

PS4 Giveaway Results:

We ran it for 2 weeks and recorded results in a meticulous spreadsheet to analyze the data. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Giveaway page pageviews - 67,355
  • Total entrants - 26,137
  • Conversion rate - 38.80%
  • Total entrants in Klaviyo (not suppressed) - 24,515
  • New emails acquired - 16,363
  • Emails we already had - 7,521
  • % of new emails - 66.75%
  • Cost of item - $350
  • Instagram visits - 10,618
  • Instagram followers gained - 3,496 ( total followers lifted by 6.9% )
  • Twitter followers gained - 4,194
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TJ Mapes, on starting RIPT Apparel ($200,000/month) full story ➜

Grow Your Email List

The more engaged list of emails, the more engaged customers, which ultimately leads to more sales.

One of the best ways to start growing your list is by providing your customer with something free (or discounted) in return.

This could also be anything from:

  • Ebook
  • Fascinating case study
  • Video series
  • Free week of the product
  • Discount on the product

Learn more about how to grow your email list and improve email marketing ➜ here.

Dylan Jacob, founder of Brumate states their email collection tactic that is proven to work:

We use Spin-a-Sale for this (you spin a wheel for a discount code in exchange for subscribing to our email list). This has been the best email-collecting tool we have found because the customer truly feels like they won a prize rather than just a coupon code.

Even if a customer doesn’t convert right away, if we have their email we have a 19% chance of converting them into a future customer whether that is through future promotions, new releases, or simply just sending an email at the right time for a purchase to finally make sense for them.

We also have a return customer rate of over 14%, so one out of every 6 people we convert will end up buying from us again with an average order value of over $60.00.

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Dylan Jacob, on starting BrüMate ($12,000,000/month) full story ➜

Add an exit-intent popup to your online store

A great way to double, or even triple, your email opt-in rate and to grow your list is to add an exit-intent popup to your site, and offering a discount or content upgrade for subscribers.

Here's an example of what that might look like:

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One thing that I spent years NOT doing, that I now kick myself about, is adding an "exit intent pop-up" to our site, which lets people enter a sweepstakes to win a Xero Shoes gift certificate.

That one idea has added over 100,000 subscribers to our email list, which is one of our most effective marketing channels.

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Steven Sashen, on starting Xero Shoes ($1,500,000/month) full story ➜

Improve Your Email Marketing

Different types of emails

Here are the most common types of email campaigns you can send to your customers and their benefits:

  • Welcome emails - the perfect way to provide information from the start with a clear CTA. Make sure to tell your customer everything they need to know about your product or service.
  • Newsletters - a great way to give customers updates or send out your latest content
  • Product launch emails - the quickest (and easiest) way to increase sales is by selling to current customers. Make sure they're the first on the list to know about your new product
  • Promotional emails - promote discounts, deals coupons etc. Try and make this feel exclusive and for a limited time only
  • Abandoned cart emails - give your customers a reason to complete their purchase!

Here's a great resource for finding curated email designs, for all types of email campaigns!

Abandonded Cart Flow

The abandoned cart workflow is one of the most effective strategies for turning your lead into a customer, and a powerful tool to have if you're an e-commerce business.

Think about all the times that you went on a shopping frenzy only to add items to your cart and then either forget or realize nows not the right time to pull the trigger.

Then, minutes later you receive an email saying "Hurry up! Your cart is waiting - and we want to provide you with 20% off your order."

Maybe that's the special touch (and discount) you needed to pull that trigger.

Implementing this workflow can automatically trigger this for your business every time a customer abandons their cart.

Here's a great example of an abandoned cart email from Brooklinen:

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Things they do well:

  • Showcase 5-star reviews from other customers
  • Offer a small discount + free shipping
  • Great design + clear call to actions!

Improve your SEO

SEO is not just about driving traffic to your site, it's about driving the RIGHT traffic to your site, and ultimately, converting leads into customers.

One of the most important aspects of SEO is understanding what your customers are searching for, otherwise known as "keyword research."

Here are some tools that can help you choose the right keywords for your food blog.

Publish Great Content

Finding keywords is an important piece of the puzzle, but Google also ranks your site based on the actual content you produce, as this is what your customers are reading and engaging with.

There are various different "forms" of content that you may want to consider diversifying on your sites, such as blog posts, articles, studies, and videos.

So let's discuss what google considers "good content:"

  • Length - This will vary depending on the page, however, generally having a sufficient amount of content helps search engines recognize that your site is a good source for a specific topic
  • Engagement - The longer people stay on your website to read your content, the higher Google will rank your website. It's important to have informative and "thick" content that keeps people reading
  • Avoid Duplicating Content - Google will recognize this and may consider your content to have low value
  • Ensure pages load quickly - This will also help with engagement and time spent on your website
  • Shareability - Create content that people want to share, and is easy for them to share, especially to their social media accounts (ie. "click to tweet" is a great example of this).

Another element of creating good content is creating consistent content.

If (and hopefully you are) publishing content frequently, it's important to stick to a schedule - this helps build brand trust and easy user experience with your customers.

Planning out your content with a content calendar is key to staying consistent.

Here are a few great content calendar tools that can help you:

  • Trello
  • Airtable
  • If you prefer to keep it simple, your average spreadsheet is just as useful!

Backlinks

Backlinks are an important piece to SEO, as they allow for other websites to link to your content.

Search engines recognize that other sites are essentially "verifying" your content and essentially rank you higher because of this.

Of course, some links are more valuable than others and can affect your site in different ways.

For example, if a highly valuable and credible site like the New York Times links to a page on your website, this could be remarkable from an SEO perspective.

Aside from organically getting mentioned from other sites, there are other ways that you can increase and earn backlinks:

  • Create infographics with relevant data that people want to share
  • Promote your content on different sites/look into "guest blogging"
  • Contact influencers/journalists/bloggers and ask them to mention you!
  • Write testimonials for other sites in exchange for a backlink
  • Leverage existing business relationships

Learn more about the fundamentals of SEO ➜ here and check out Neil Patel's 3 Powerful SEO Tips below

Build A Blog

One of the most effective ways to build brand awareness and grow your business is through consistently blogging.

We've outlined some useful tips for you to consider when creating content:

Consistency and Quantity

Quality is important, but it should be the standard for any content you publish.

What’s more important is consistency and quantity.

Consistency is as simple as committing to publishing and sharing a certain number of posts per week. For me, that’s three per week right now.

This kind of commitment is key, because one day, a random post will blow up, and you will have never expected it.

Oversaturation

The easiest mind trap is to think "I’m posting too much", and “I need to give my readers/audience/this platform a break”.

This is nonsense.

There is no such thing as oversaturation. Well, there is, but it is just someone else’s opinion.

For every person that tells you you are posting too much, there is another person that wants even more of your content.

You should ignore people’s opinions on how much you post.

Patience & Persistence

Keep posting, keep trying, and keep putting out good content on the regular. Your time will come, and when it does, it will change everything.

The only thing you have control over is your content.

You can’t control how people will react to it. You can’t control pageviews, likes, or shares.

So the only metric you should focus on is how much content you can put out in a week, month, etc.

Where to share your blog content

Mailing List

I know it sounds obvious, but the best places to share your content is on your mailing list. It is guaranteed traffic and it is a great way to get rapid feedback from your most loyal readers.

Send newsletters often. I have done once a week since starting, and I’m moving to twice a week soon.

Work on increasing your mailing list as well. Look into ways to increase your conversion rate to your mailing list. I added a flyout popup thing to my site and now I’m collecting ~30 emails per day.

An email newsletter is one of the most powerful assets you can have and it is worth its weight in gold.

Reddit

Reddit is one of my favorite places to promote content.

It is a very scary place because you will often get banned or heckled, but it can really pay off.

Create social media accounts for your blog, the main ones I use:

Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn

Set up Buffer and share all of your blog posts to all of your accounts. All of these little shares really do add up.

Automate this as much as possible. I automated all of my social media for Starter Story.

Facebook Groups

When I started out, I put together a spreadsheet of relevant Facebook groups for my niche, and I would post to these groups whenever I had a big story I wanted to share.

Build A Facebook Community

Building a community is a great way to grow your network and your business.

There are several different ways of building a community, one of the most effective (and simplest) ways is to build a Facebook group

Setting up the group page takes less than 10 minutes, and we've outlined ways the top 5 ways to create an engaging and successful group:

  • Make the group exclusive. This may sound counter-intuitive, however, this ensures privacy and that the group will feel comfortable posting and engaging with members.
  • Try to be warm and welcoming. A great way to do this is by having a "Member Monday" where you welcome new members and ask them to introduce themselves in the group
  • Use polls/surveys. This is a great way to know your audience and see what people want more of in the group (more business tips, networking opportunities, etc).
  • Include influential people & conduct AMA's (ask me anything). This is a great way to get members engaged
  • Host an in-person (or virtual) event with members in the group. This will create stronger relationships and build a strong community.

Mike Doehla, founder of Stronger U, an online nutrition company noticed that his customers needed a little motivation and sense of community:

Most diets are lonely so we wanted to give support and a community.

I think many people fail diets because there is no one to talk to and no accountability.

You can by a book, or google a meal plan but who’s going to keep you on track? We will. The entire SU community.

We give our members access for life to our Facebook community filled with people around the world who are looking out for everyone’s success.

Most diets make up arbitrary rules and we thought they just didn’t make sense. Meal timing, Cutting carbs, butter in coffee, sugar being the devil? Ehh no need to overthink that stuff.

We’ll give you the science behind of what we do and show you what actually matters based on real research.

Luckily we have a PhD at our disposal to educate our staff and members so everyone is getting the most up to date information out there.

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Mike Doehla, on starting Stronger U ($500,000/month) full story ➜

The Freemium Model

Offering free trials to your platform is a great way to gain exposure for your business and potentially get new customers!

Finding the right food blog is a big deal for most people, so it can be important for customers to try a free version with limited features prior to making a big investment.

Once your customer reaches the limits of their free account, they're much more likely to invest in the premium version so they can gain access to all of the features your product offers.

There are a few different ways you can limit certain aspects of your product:

  • Usage quotas: Storage limits or limiting the number of times they can utilize a feature
  • Limited features: Only allowing your free user to utilize certain features vs all features - this is also a great way to upsell during the user's experience
  • Limited support: Customer support can be time-consuming, by limiting the level of support to free users this is a great incentive for them to upgrade (and will save you a lot of time and money)!

🏃🏼‍♀️ How To Run Your Food Blog

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How To Retain Customers For Your Food Blog

Retaining customers is one of the most effective ways to grow your food blog.

Oftentimes, it's easy to find yourself focusing on generating new customers, vs retaining your current ones.

Look at it this way - you are 60-70% more likely to sell a new product to an existing customer than you are a new customer.

That's not to say that finding new customers and revenue streams is not important, however, the easiest (and most inexpensive) source of new revenue is right there in front of you.

Here are some ways you can retain customers for your food blog:

  • Responding to comments on social media
  • Send discounts (or freebies) to loyal customers
  • Provide valuable content, for free
  • Write a hand written thank you note
  • Provide awesome customer service and build relationships with customers

To find out more tips and tricks on retaining customers, check out this article ➜ here

Brett Lindenberg, founder of Food Truck Empire dives deep into the process of attracting and retaining customers:

The foundation of my business is around conducting interviews. Interviews are the reason people visit the website to learn about how people started food trucks or restaurants. These interviews are produced in different formats using text, podcast, YouTube, or a combination of the three.

There are a few different levels of why interviews work. Beyond creating content that helps you attract an audience, interviews get you access to people. It’s amazing that you have the opportunity to speak with almost anyone by scheduling an interview.

I’ve learned that you should never be reluctant to ask for an interview. More often than not, people will jump at the opportunity to share their experiences and expertise with you. If someone doesn’t want to participate, they will in most cases ignore your message and that will be that.

In my opinion, asking for an interview is the easiest way to “network” on the planet. It’s less awkward than approaching people at a tradeshow too. Best of all, interviews allow you to lead with value. Most guests want additional exposure for their own business or project and will jump at the opportunity to talk to you about it.

Occasionally, these interviews can even turn into business relationships. One example of this happening for me is with a food truck manufacturer, M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks. This food truck manufacturer has been a sponsor of the blog now for over 3 years and we’ve become good friends in the process.

I first met the owners of M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks, Bob and Richard by emailing them to see if they’d be interested in doing an interview. The proposed topic of the interview was about the food truck buying process. As you might imagine, purchasing a reliable food truck that will pass health code inspections is an important and costly aspect of a food truck startup process.

This first interview didn’t go as smooth as I had planned, however. In fact, I forgot to hit the record button for our podcast. Doh!

Fortunately, I realized mistake about 20 minutes into the interview. When I let Richard and Bob know I forgot to hit the record button and that we would need to start over, they both laughed. This mistake actually helped to loosen everyone up and created a better episode as a result.

It’s important to note that this food truck builder did not become a sponsor right away. It wasn’t until about 9 months after the interview aired when I emailed the owner to about sponsoring the program that they came onboard.

My email pitch was pretty simple. I explained that the visitors to the site had been growing, and the business would get a sidebar ad, podcast ad, and named the price to be a sponsor. If they were interested, I proposed a short call to discuss the specifics. The owners said they were interested, we had a 15 minute call to discuss details, and agreed to terms. It was a very simple and low-stress process.

The majority of the interviews you conduct will never turn into direct business. I’ve done well over 100 interviews and only a handful have become advertisers or sponsors. Still over the long-term, if you’re able to sell something of value to the folks you’re interviewing anyway, it’s a nice side benefit of going through the process.

Traffic Building Strategies

As mentioned in the introduction, at the time of writing FoodTruckEmpire.com now generates 300,000+ monthly page views and has over 35,000 active subscribers. The majority (about 75%) of the traffic is comes from Google Organic Search. Below is a screen shot from SEMRush.com that highlighting organic growth over the years. The number two traffic source is Direct Traffic, meaning people come directly to the website.

how-i-started-a-profitable-food-entrepreneurship-blog Steady organic traffic growth over the years per SEMRush.com.

I wish I could give you a magical way to generate traffic by month 3 of starting a website from organic search. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to do that. If you can find someone that does, they are probably trying to sell you something.

Before I get into the actual tactics, the main piece of advice I can say is to be consistent and view this as a long-term game.

I’m in a mastermind with a diverse group of bloggers (mom blogs, food blogs, health and wellness blogs). While everyone’s blog topic in this group is different, each blogger published regularly for 3-years before hitting full-time salary status (loosely defined as $36,000 - $55,000 per year). You might be able to get there faster, but this is the time frame you should be preparing for. It’s crazy how many people share this same time frame.

From a tactical standpoint to generate more search traffic, build a plan and stick with it. Don’t get focused on the day-to-day analytics. Look month-to-month to access your traffic gains. If you follow this basic process it will still work in 2019 and beyond. This is literally the same process I’m following this year.

Create a Content Goal to Publish 2 - 3 High Quality Pieces Per Week on Blog

Focus on quality of the posts. Focus on finding topics with 100 or more monthly searches in SEMRush.com. Add images, spreadsheets, videos, calculators or something else in your content to make it truly unique from everything else published online. Each post should be over 1,500 words in length or more to ensure you’re going in-depth on the topic.

Find Ways to Get Other People or Organizations Involved in Each Piece of Content

When you get other people involved in the content of your website it’s more likely to be shared. Don’t just write about your own thoughts on a topic. Gather the opinions and get quotes from other experts on the topic you cover. This is a great way to meet people and help promote your own content. The more you do this the more you’ll get referenced by other bloggers or experts which will generate more inbound links (important for search) and social traffic to your website. This is critical in the beginning to get noticed.

You can help people get involved in all sorts of ways. Interview them on a topic. Get a quote from them on a specific topic. Have people take surveys and then provide data about the results.

As an example of this in action, here’s a recent piece of content that includes survey data and interview responses from independent coffee shop owners. To create this piece we got quotes from over 20 small business owners to get their opinion on the main reasons coffee shops fail.

After hitting the publish button, I email each person to let them know their interview is live and encourage them to share the link on social media. I also to tag the handle of each coffee shop on Twitter to make sure they were alerted that way as well. The more people you can get involved in a post, the more exposure you’ll get in return.

Find a Foundational Subject Matter Expert on a Specific Topic

If you’re going to be deep diving on a certain topic it can help to conduct a deep-dive interview series with one featured expert. If you run a podcast or blog that includes interviews, you already know that conducting outreach, scheduling a time to talk, and all of the administrative back and forth associated with booking guests takes a lot of time.

To make this easier you can find one person to deep dive on a certain topic. I’ve used this approach numerous times to create pillar pieces of website content. Instead of spending time booking a dozen different guests, you can do a few long interview sessions over Skype, video conferencing or the phone to go really deep on a topic. If you schedule three different, two hour sessions with a guest you can go extremely deep and get really comfortable with someone. Based on the information you get in a long-form interview series, you can start to build out entire new categories of content for your site.

A couple areas I’ve used a foundational subject matter expert for my own website is in the Food Truck Business and Hot Dog Business. If there’s someone you’ve already interviewed that you really connect with and has valuable subject matter expertise, they are the perfect candidate to interview for an in-depth series on a topic.

One final thought while I’m on the subject of content creation. If I were starting at square one today, I would start building my platform on YouTube and not Google organic. There are many niches that aren’t competitive on YouTube because bigger businesses think video content is still expensive to create. After building an audience on YouTube, I would add blogging and my own website as a phase two since it takes more time to see results. YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world and is much easier to break into right now than Google. It’s worth considering if you can create helpful and entertaining video content!

Email Subscriber Strategies

You need to come up with a good reason for someone to sign up to your email list if you want to grow subscribers fast. I hear all the time about that people don’t want to subscribe to an email list in 2019 or that email is dead. Nobody wants their inbox spammed of course, but visitors will gladly share their email address if you give them something good in return.

Based on my experience building an email list over 35,000 active users, the biggest tip I can give you is to offer different incentives for the different types of website visitors. For example, my website caterers to people that want to start a food truck. That’s pretty narrow right there. Here are some of the different bonuses I offer to visitors that are of interest to the visitors of the website:

  1. Free Guide: How to Fund Your Food Truck - This guide teaches you how to raise funding for your food truck through loans, crowdfunding, or savings. This bonus appeals to people that don’t have enough money to start a truck yet.
  2. Top Interviews: 6-Figure Food Truck Secrets - In this email bonus, I organize interviews from food truck owners that are doing over 6-figures in revenue annually and provide them for free to subscribers.
  3. How to Build a Food Truck Guide - This free guide shares information about building a food truck.
  4. Food Truck Business Kit: This free guide gives you a business plan template and other information you can use to start a food truck.
  5. Hot Dog Business Kit: Email list built around people that want to start a hot dog trailer or truck. Includes interviews from hot dog vendors.

how-i-started-a-profitable-food-entrepreneurship-blog Above is an image of one of the free bonuses available on FoodTruckEmpire.com. When someone signs up for a bonus they are enrolled in the email list.

The examples above show five different ways people can subscribe to my website through different free bonuses. Most websites only have one or two subscription options.

I plan to create a more unique subscriber bonuses this year too. If I create bonuses that are hyper relevant for each type of visitor, the more email subscribers I’ll get. I use Opt-in Monster to test a lot of my email subscriber bonuses. This wordpress plug-in lets you quickly change the marketing message for subscribers or set up exit intent pop-ups with minimal tech knowledge.

If you want to create compelling offers to subscribe to your email list, one of the easiest ways is to look at the different content categories of your website. Each category of content you write or vlog about should have its own unique email subscription bonus relevant to the category. This will increase opt-in rates significantly for your website. It’s worked well for me anyway!

-  
Brett Lindenberg, on starting Food Truck Empire ($5,400/month) full story ➜

Diversify Your Product Line

Adding new products to your business is a great way to expand into new markets and grow your business.

It's important to note that adding new products and diversifying may not be in the cards for you right this moment, and that's okay. You can always consider it down the road.

Here are some reasons you may want to considering adding/diversifying your product

  • Meeting the needs of your customers
  • Establish yourself as a top provider in your industry and stay ahead of the game with competition
  • Resistance to downturns/trends fading
  • Create new revenue streams

Word of Mouth

The most tried and true way to grow a food blog is through word of mouth - some entrepreneurs would say it's more important than all social media.

Why you should focus on word of mouth:

  • Consumers trust word of mouth above all other forms of marketing
  • 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising
  • 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe it is the most effective form of marketing

Learn more about word of mouth in our guide: 30 Ways Founders Grow Their Business ➜

Authenticity

As a brand, you want to deliver an experience that authentic, honest and transparent.

Don't make the mistake of giving your audience less credit than they deserve.

Be Authentic

If you go around chasing every trend and only focused on yourself and money, you’re going to lose very quickly.

There have been many times where we have been tempted to do this but stayed true.

Sure we sacrificed sales, but we kept our integrity, played the long game and people saw and appreciated that, and really began emotionally investing in the brand.

-  
Valentin Ozich, on starting I Love Ugly ($300,000/month) full story ➜

Resources

We put together the best resources on the internet to help you start your food blog.

Tools

Books

Web Resources

Videos

Case Studies

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