A food blogger holding a camera taking photos of ingredients.

11 Tips for Food Blogging in 2024 (From an Actual Food Blogger)

Thinking about starting a food blog? Or already running one but not sure how to make it grow? Whether you’re trying to get your first site visitor or reach that elusive threshold for an ad network, this post will share some of the top tips for food blogging that are still relevant in 2024.

Let me preface this article with a word of warning – a lot of the blogging advice that you find on the Internet or in Facebook groups may be outdated or from someone that has never actually run a food blog.

I want you to know that I’m there, with you, in the trenches. I’ve run my fitness and food site for more than ten years, and it’s my full-time business. Granted, that site is multi-niche – but I also have three other food blogs that I’ve started. One of which is a smaller profitable business that I still own, and the other two I grew then sold for a nice chunk of change.

Here are some of my best tips…

11 Must-Know Food Blogging Tips

*Note – the first three tips here are more for brand new bloggers; tips four through eleven are relevant for new and experienced bloggers.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. As an affiliate, I earn a commission on purchases.

1. Niche down.

Food blogging is more competitive than ever. I can’t find data on exactly how many food blogs exist, but it is certainly more than there were ten years ago. And of those that have started in the last few years, many did so with the intention of making it a business (rather than “hobby blogging” which was common in the early 2000’s) and came into the industry read to learn and hustle.

Because it’s competitive, it’s hard to make a “general” recipe site. It’s tough to establish an audience base (you know the saying – “if you speak to everyone, you speak to no one”) and it’s tough to establish your expertise in Google’s eyes.

Instead, think about how you might go a bit deeper into something you – and readers – would care about. For example:

  • Delving into a specific course. For example, a site about appetizers, desserts, or breakfasts.
  • Writing about a specific cuisine. Think Italian recipes, Southern cuisine, Korean cooking, etc. Note: Be cautious about cultural appropriation. Be authentic to yourself and don’t try to misrepresent your food or expertise.
  • Going all-in on one food. I recommend choosing something that has a strong following if you go this route, like bacon or chocolate (rather than something more obscure like starfruit recipes).
  • Catering to a particular dietary need, like egg free recipes for families with allergies or plant-based recipes for those who choose to follow that type of diet.

2. Build your site on WordPress and use a recipe card.

This is a two-parter. First, get self-hosting and build on the WordPress (dot org) framework. It is the gold standard in food blogging. It allows you the most control over your site, offers the ability to use a recipe plugin, and just has a lot more functionality than many of the drag-and-drop builders.

Self-hosting ensures that you’re building your “house” (aka your website) on the right “foundation” (aka fast servers). BigScoots is an excellent host. They may cost slightly more than some of the shared hosting site offers, but they are fast and extremely responsive as far as customer service goes.

When you are creating recipe posts, you need to use a recipe plugin that creates a recipe card. That’s not just for pretty looks – it adds schema to your post telling Google that your site is a recipe. This is essential if you want your recipe to be shown in the carousel of recipes in search results. I use WP Recipe Maker. Here’s an example of what a recipe card looks like:

An example of a recipe card.

Speaking of which – fill out all the key info on the recipe card. Prep and cook time, servings, calories…it’s useful to make it as complete as possible.

3. Remember that building a blog takes time.

Sometimes I’ll get emails from folks asking if I can teach them how to make 100K in 3 months from starting a blog. I don’t want to say that’s impossible because there are exceptions, and I’m not trying to be a dream crusher. But realistically, 99% of folks will not achieve this. (Heck, a ton of bloggers do not ever hit that six-figure income level, let alone in 3 months.)

Don’t let that discourage you! But let it be food for thought into how you plan your goals and define success. If you think you’re going to make 100K in 3 months and end up making $10, that’s a pretty big disconnect and can feel terrible. But if you set your expectation that you’ll make $1 in 3 months and then make $10 – well, you’ve done amazing then, right?!

For context, most bloggers who approach blogging from a business standpoint may take 1-3 years before they are making a decent income from this job. Perhaps less if someone has a ton of time to commit and a good understanding of how to grow a site. Perhaps more if someone never learns the fundamentals and doesn’t pay attention to trends in the market.

It takes time to build up your content and your authority so that you rank in Google. It takes time to gain traction on most social media platforms. It takes time to reach the benchmark for major ad companies (like 50K sessions/month for Mediavine’s primary program) or get enough targeted traffic for affiliate posts.

The way to grow faster? Learn as much as you can quickly about driving traffic to your site, publish a lot of awesome content, assess what’s working (type of content, platform, etc) and do more of that. Simple in theory but takes a lot of work.

4. Be aware of AI in search results (but there’s good news).

Google is set to release their AI answers, called Search Generative Experience (SGE), this year. When they release that, people will get an instantaneous answer from Google before other search results appear in the results.

In my opinion, food blogs are actually one of the safest niches in the blogging space for two reasons: 1) The AI answers are currently displaying teaser text and directing people to actual links for full recipes, and 2) Even if the AI answers shift to providing an entire recipe, I think many people still like seeing photos of a recipe and reading comments/reviews from others first.

For example, let’s say I’m looking for a ginger cookie recipe. Here’s the SGE response that I get:

A screenshot of the AI search result for ginger cookie recipe.

Now let’s compare that to the type of content provided if I look for an informational nutrition keyword, like “supplements for triathletes”:

A screenshot of the AI search result for supplements for triathletes.

Do you see how much more dangerous that SGE result is for a nutrition blogger? Some folks will certainly still seek out more in-depth blog posts, but some folks will see that SGE answer and feel they have enough information to end their search journey.

Let’s keep fingers crossed that it stays the way it is for recipe answers, though it can of course shift over time.

5. Learn about search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO is all about creating content that a) helps people, and b) allows Google to realize how great your content is. Keyword research is a major SEO skill that I wish I had learned earlier in my blogging career.

Essentially, you want to create content for keywords that people are searching for, but that are not overly competitive. Competitive could be defined as having a billion simple recipes already out there on that topic (i.e. chocolate chip cookies) or as being dominated by a ton of huge, high-authority sites with excellent content for the keyword.

Here are two keyword examples that I personally wrote about early on in my blogging journey, both of which were poor ideas from an SEO perspective:

  • Pumpkin muffins – This is way too competitive; there were already so many high authority sites with excellent recipes for pumpkin muffins. It was unlikely I’d ever rank for this on a new site.
  • Butter bean blondies – This is a delicious recipe and ranks well, but it also is something that very few people actually search for. As such, it doesn’t get much traffic from Google.

Now that I know more about SEO, I always start my process with keyword research, and use that to drive the recipes I create for organic traffic. (Note, I still do some other recipes and content specifically for Pinterest though).

I personally use KeySearch to do keyword research, but there are other tools out there too. You can read more about exactly how to use KeySearch. (PS – you can use code KSDISC to save on your KeySearch subscription!)

6. Diversify your traffic.

While it does seem like food bloggers will be safe for a while from the wrath of AI, it’s also smart to diversify your traffic sources. Leaning too heavily into any one particular traffic source can be dangerous. If an algorithm changes, you may suffer from a catastrophic loss of traffic overnight.

Think of all the ways you could diversify food blog traffic:

  • Post in recipe Facebook groups that allow for links and have an engaged audience (niche groups tend to work better than broad recipe groups)
  • Create click-driving titles that drive traffic from Google Discover and Facebook pages
  • Post pins to Pinterest, a great visual search engine that works well in the food space
  • Dive into building an email list, and regularly send messages to your list
  • Create Instagram content that regularly directs people to your recipes on your site

7. Lean into Pinterest.

This is an extension of the last tip, but bears elaborating on. If we compare all social media platforms, Pinterest is likely the one that has the best chance at driving large amounts of traffic to your blog. In fact, here’s a screenshot of Pinterest analytics for one of my websites – you can see the outbound clicks (aka traffic to the site) are pretty lovely!

A screenshot of Pinterest analytics.

It doesn’t mean that traffic can’t happen with Instagram or TikTok or YouTube. It can. But the amount of effort it takes to create a vertical pin image for a blog post is far less than the amount of effort to create polished video. Pinterest can be a relatively small investment of time for a large payoff of traffic (if that is your primary goal).

Here are some key tips for Pinterest:

  • Pin regularly. This is easier once you have built up a considerable amount of content on your blog. Don’t pin once this week, fall off for a month, then go back and post 12 times in a week. Try to choose a number you can do consistently (like one pin a day) and stick with it.
  • Focus on pinning your own content. If you see someone else’s content that comes up and catches your eye and it’s in your niche, feel free to pin that just like a normal user would! Just don’t put a ton of time and energy trying to find other people’s content to pin to follow an arbitrary ratio or guideline.
  • Pinterest is a visual search engine, so make sure that your visuals catch people’s attention. Most of the time, people in the food space have more success with pins that have text overlays with a catchy hook about the recipe. For example, on a healthy chocolate oatmeal pin, you might have a text overlay that says “The Healthy Chocolate Oatmeal You’ll Want to Eat Daily (With 20 Grams of Protein)!”. Remember to make sure the text size and font are easy to read on mobile, which is where most users are. (Of course, some accounts also have success just posting images alone without text overlays, so play around with what works for you.)
  • Create good descriptions for your pins that feature the keywords you think people would use to search for your pin about that topic.
  • Try creating some outside-the-box recipes. Pinterest is mostly search, but also has a discovery aspect to it as far as the home feed. Sometimes it can be fun to get creative in the kitchen and see if those recipes take off on Pinterest.
  • Look at Pinterest trends. You can visit the page and filter by interest for “food and drink”. Take a look at the growing trends and monthly trends. Is there anything there that you can create an awesome piece of content around? Or maybe there’s a broader topic trending that you can put your own niche spin on? Here’s an example of some of the trending topics on Pinterest at the time of publish:
A screenshot of Pinterest trends for food bloggers.

Keep in mind that it can take 6-12 months to actually build some traction on Pinterest, so be consistent and patient.

8. Take beautiful photos.

People eat with their eyes. While you can have success with quick camera photos in certain realms (Facebook groups are one that come to mind) – it will be difficult to grow as much with SEO or Pinterest if you don’t have decent recipe photos. If people aren’t enticed to click on the content based on the photo, your content a) is missing traffic, and b) will start to drop in the rankings because people are skipping over it.

There are courses and workshops out there for food photography (Pretty Focused is one course I’ve heard good things about). But you can also take time to simply play around with the manual settings on your camera or phone for an afternoon. What happens if you change the aperture? What happens if you change the shutter speed? What about the ISO? (DSLR cameras will have all these settings; phones may only have some of them). The more you play around with the settings, the better understanding you’ll have of how the camera works and how to use it.

9. Consider diversifying your income.

In addition to diversifying traffic sources, it may be a good idea to diversify income. The primary source of income for most food bloggers is ad revenue, through a network like Mediavine or Raptive.

Ad revenue is amazing. However, we will likely see some drops in ad revenue with the upcoming loss of third-party cookies in Google Chrome. In addition, if you suffer from an algorithm change and lose traffic, you want to have a back-up plan for how you might monetize your site outside of ads.

Here are some ideas:

Sponsored Content: Partner with brands to highlight incorporate their product into a sponsored recipe, either on the blog or on social media. In exchange, you get paid a flat fee up front. In the last few years, I’ve seen a big shift in brands moving towards short-form video sponsored content on Instagram and TikTok, rather than sponsored blog posts. Keep that in mind if you want to build that revenue stream. (Interested in learning more? Read about how to do sponsored posts as well as some blogging networks that can be a good first step into sponsored content).

Affiliate Marketing: While sponsored content pays up front, affiliate marketing pays a commission on every sale made. This can be tough for food blogs, that focus mostly on recipes with relatively inexpensive ingredients. However, there is still opportunity here. Think about reviews of meal delivery boxes or specific equipment that your readers may need to make the recipe.

Digital Products: You could create and sell digital products such as e-books or meal plans. These tend to work better in a specific niche rather than a broad website. Meal plans could also be a monthly subscription service.

Courses or Workshops: Create in-person or online courses or workshops related to cooking or baking. Think of specific skills someone would want to learn – like how to meal prep 5 dinners in under an hour, or how to perfect a swirly frosted cupcake.

Freelance Work: Food blogging takes a lot of skills, including writing, recipe development, and food photography. Leverage these by doing freelance work with brands, digital or print publications, or other bloggers.

10. Build a brand.

About 5 years ago, it was very popular to lean into a niche site, go heavy on low-competition keywords, and rake in cash. I’m not saying that’s not possible anymore (and it certainly is more possible with a food blog than certain other niches) – but it is tougher.

These days there appears to be more and more emphasis on the importance of a brand as a whole. Consider getting some quotes in the media, doing podcast interviews, building a specific social platform, asking a blogging friend to feature a blurb in their email list and you repay the favor, etc.

This is both for Google (identifying your site as one with expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trust – also known as EEAT), as well as to help build your audience. Ideally, you want people to associate your brand with your food niche, so that if a friend were to ask them – “Hey, where do you go to find (insert type of) recipes?” – they’d automatically reply with your brand.

11. Consider short form video.

It may be good for some food bloggers to tap into short-form social media videos, especially if it fits their brand goals and monetization goals (for example, this is becoming more of a must-do if you want to do sponsored content). Short-form video content has experienced explosive growth in recent years, especially on platforms like TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts.

Plus, in 2024, more and more short form videos are starting to be shown in Google results. For example, here’s a mobile search that shows a video block for “apple muffins” after I scrolled down through a few recipes.

A screenshot of the video block results for apple muffins in a search engine.

Creating short form video can thus be part of your plan to build your brand and get more eyes on your content. It doesn’t have to be part of your plan – you may choose different routes, like email marketing or Pinterest – but it can be one potential option.

The Bottom Line

You may be reading this feeling motivated and ready to write your next blog post. Or you may feel overwhelmed, and that’s OK too! Choose one tip to start with and just get started. Analysis paralysis never gets you anywhere. It’s OK to start and pivot later. Just start taking one step at a time, and reassess your progress frequently to make sure that you’re heading in the right direction. You’ve got this!

It’d be great if you’d pin this post to share with others! 🙂

A food blogger taking a photo of a meal with their phone, with a text overlay that says 11 must-know food blogging tips.

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