I can hardly believe it, but the month of April brings our 2 year anniversary of sharing recipes with you at Tastes of Lizzy T. I’ve given out bits and pieces recently about how we started, but I thought it would be fun to put together a few posts about how to start a food blog, why we love blogging and how we do what we do here.
I’ll start with a short version of the story behind Tastes of Lizzy T. If you’ve noticed, our names are Julie and Maddie. Not Lizzy T.
So where does Tastes of Lizzy T come from? About 4 years ago Matt planned a special surprise dinner for me at home. The kids prepared a fancy meal and called our family restaurant Lizzy T’s Bistro, with each part of that name being a representative of the three kids. It was better than any restaurant I’ve ever been to. And the servers were adorable.
As Maddie got older, her love for baking grew and grew. We thought it would be fun school project for her to create a food blog. I discovered food blogs early in 2013, although I’m sure they were around much before that. I’m always late to the game. Food blogs looked intriguing to me since I love photography and trying new recipes.
The rest is history, I guess you could say! What we started as a fun school project has turned into a full-time job for Maddie and me. If someone would’ve asked me 4 years ago what my dream job was, I never would’ve said food blogging. Now that I’ve experienced it, I can definitely say it is my dream job.
What makes blogging so fun? I’ll share with you a few things!
1. Creating. This is our form of art. Recipe creation. Writing. Photography. We look at each part of this as a work of art. When you say that your family devours one of our recipes, it makes our day. When you leave a comment saying the photography is gorgeous, it makes us proud.
2. Learning. Each day there is something new to learn. Whether it is discovering how an ingredient reacts with another in a loaf of bread, how to develop our website, how to make casseroles look appetizing in a photo, or how to talk to and share our dreams with brands, there is always something to learn!
3. Communicating with you! One of the first things that drew us to blogging was the fact that we could talk to people from all over the world. Within our first two weeks of blogging, we had a missionary contact us from South America saying that she was going to make these cookies. We were thrilled! We cherish each one of your comments and love connecting on social media. Thank you for your support and for following along with us!
I’ve you’ve ever thought about starting your own blog, I’d love to share with you some things to think about and how to get started. We’ll have several parts to this series, but today we’ll focus on actually starting your blog.
Step 1: Name and niche.
Think about what you’d like your blog to be about. For us, a food blog was a no brainer. We love our desserts and comfort food.
Maybe you are a crafter or a DIY genius. Maybe you have wisdom in homeschooling or are a creative parent and can share ideas with other moms. You definitely have something you could offer! Find what that is and create your blog around that theme.
At first I was concerned that I didn’t have a niche since we shared very rich, you-can-only-eat-a-small-bit desserts, but also like to make healthy paleo meals. I felt like I was going two different directions. Matt has been my biggest cheerleader and encouraged me that if we eat paleo at meals and like to indulge in desserts now and then, that there were other families out there that were like us. The tagline for Tastes of Lizzy T is “Healthy with a little bit of happy” to reflect that thought. We’ve made it work! I apologize to all of my paleo friends who have to put up with chocolate chip cake and caramel cookies in between the paleo recipes. And those who come here for the desserts? You have to eat something good for you sometime.
As far as a name goes, choose something catchy and have it reflect you! At first I didn’t like the name Tastes of Lizzy T, but it’s grown on me and we get comments that it is unique and that people like it. Be you!
Step 2: Hosting
We initially started our blog on Blogger.com This site was free and our blog name was www.tastesoflizzyt.blogspot.com. Within about two weeks I started researching other alternatives to this. I knew nothing about websites and web hosting. All I knew is that other blogs looked way cooler than our blog and I wanted ours to look better! I made the decision to switch to a WordPress self-hosted blog. This allowed us to have our own domain name (our own .com!) and gave us the freedom to install plugins for all the pretty little bells and whistles you see around our site such as the photo index, sharing buttons and popular posts on the sidebar.
We self-hosted our site through Blue Host.com, which has been a perfect solution for us. Their customer service is fantastic and helped us through transferring our blog. They were patient with our many questions! BlueHost.com has the best prices, starting at only $3.95 a month and they register your domain name for free!
If you are anything like me, you like to be frugal with your money. At first I wanted to stick with a free website because well…I didn’t want to put money into a school project. Once we knew that this was something we’d have fun with , the service that BlueHost offered was totally worth it. It all depends on your goals. If you hope to grow your blog to unimaginable heights and would love to earn an income through blogging, a self-hosted site through BlueHost is the way to start.
Once my blog got to 500K plus pageviews a month, I had to switch hosts. I highly recommend Orange Geek once your blog is well established. Their customer service is top-notch!
Step 3: Blogging Software
BlueHost is a great host, but you’ll still need some blogging software, something to help you create those posts that you hope will go viral. I use WordPress.org for my blogging software. They offer a free 5-minute guide to setting up everything you’ll need.
Step 4: Design
There are many free WordPress design templates that you can download for your blog. We initially started with the Mantra free theme because it was fairly customizable. After blogging for about 15 months, we had our first custom design done. Then, early in 2017 we had our site redesigned by Lauren at Restored 316. This is what you currently see. She was great to work with and I HIGHLY recommend her gorgeous themes!
Step 5: Create, Write and Publish!
Once you have those things set up, you can get publishing your awesome content! Yes, you’ll want to research plugins to make your site unique and easy to use, but what is going to keep people coming to your site is great content. You’ll cringe that first time your mouse hovers over the “Publish” button. Actually, I still hesitate and take a deep breath each time I publish a post. Writing is letting people into my life and thoughts in a small way and there’s always a moment of anticipation in wondering how your family and friends will read what you share. But you can do it! Make sure it is your best work and be proud to hit that button!
Wondering how to balance blogging and life? Read here.
**I am an affiliate for BlueHost.com