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Blogging 101: Getting Started

by Jamie on April 13, 2011

Within the last few weeks, I have received over 20 emails from MBA readers asking questions about starting a blog, gaining readership, social media tools, how to become successful, how earn ad revenue…well you get the idea. Since I am pretty much a one man band, I have a hard time keeping up with emails and since these responses can be lengthy, I thought I would just start answering some of these questions right here on the site.

Disclaimer: I certainly do not consider myself to be an authority in blogging, there are many individuals far more qualified to respond to these topics, BUT I do try to assist readers when they have questions, so let’s start with the basics.

Should I start a food blog?
Well, I cannot answer that question for you, but I do have some tips to help you answer that question for yourself. First ask yourself the question, “Why do I want to start a food blog?” If the answer is to earn an income, you may want to rethink your quest. Sure some food bloggers do earn a substantial income from their sites and parlay into Super Blogdom, but trust me, that is not the norm. We’ll get into ad revenue in another post.

If you want to start a food blog because you are passionate about food, writing and sharing your recipes and kitchen adventures with the world then I wholeheartedly suggest you take the leap. Blogging can be a lot of work, but if you are passionate about it, it will never really seem like work. In my opinion, blogging is a commitment, and most blogs that considered to be “successful” are updated with quality content on a regular basis. That’s not to say that you can’t have a blog and only update it once month, I just feel that consistent posts are what helps gain regular readership. However, not everyone is interested in having thousands of followers and that’s okay too, again this is something that you have to evaluate on a personal level.

What platform do you recommend?
This question comes up a lot, I have only had personal experience with two blogging platforms, so I cannot comment on the others.

There are quite a few choices here: Blogger, Typepad, WordPress, LiveJournal, etc., but hands down without a question, I recommend WordPress. Not only is it user friendly, it’s highly intuitive and insanely customizable. Once you decide on your platform, you’ll need to choose a template.

Why do you use Thesis?
When I moved to WordPress, Thesis was recommended by my web developer. I’ll admit, I was lost and yearned for my generic blogger template. In fact, there were brief moments when I thought I had made a huge mistake by changing to WordPress. But, I caught on fast and within about a month I turned into a WordPress and Thesis convert and couldn’t imagine blogging with anything else. There are definitely other templates out there, so I recommend doing your research and finding the template that best fits your individual needs. It is worth noting that Thesis is known for its SEO (Search Engine Optimization) capabilities. SEO is basically the process of improving the visibility of your site, which will in turn help search engines (Google) find and rank your site. If being found is something you are interested in, you will definitely want to research the dos and don’ts of SEO. I may cover this down the line, but as of now I’m still learning.

Should I hire someone to build my blog?
Again this is a question that you need to answer for yourself. Some of you may be completely content with an “out of the box” template. I used such a template for the first year I blogged on Blogger. It was simple, although generic, but it met my needs at that time. As I became more comfortable with blogging, I decided that I needed an upgrade. I knew I wanted My Baking Addiction to have a sleek, modern feel to it and most importantly I wanted it to be simple for my readers to navigate. So, after reading a lot of information on the web, I decided to make the move to WordPress.

When I decided to move from Blogger to WordPress, I knew I needed guidance and assistance- this was a no brainer. There was no way in hell that I would be able to create a site on my own. I had barely any knowledge of coding anything aside from bolding text. Pathetic I know, but hey at least I was honest with myself. I did some basic research and found a web developer that was a.) within my price range and b.) could build the site that I wanted at that time.

Hiring a web developer can be pricey, so set a budget for yourself before you start making contacts and getting estimates. Make a list of blog features that you want versus those that you need. If you have Cristal dreams on a Bud Light budget, ask if your web developer can complete the work in phases and/or allow you to make scheduled payments.

My Baking Addiction will never be a finished project. I have a list a mile long of features that will eventually be added, but I have these features added according to budget. I have an ongoing list of components to add that are organized by priority. This helps keep both myself and designer on track and allows me to stick to my allotted budget.

I hope this answered a few of your questions, I am really excited about this series and have some wonderful bloggers ready to share some great information with you. Next on the agenda, I’ll cover some must have WordPress Plugins. Have a topic you want to see covered in this new series? Send me an email to questions@mybakingaddiction.com


{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Maris (In Good Taste) April 13, 2011 at 6:59 pm

You have a wonderful blog and this is going to be an awesome series.

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Rita D April 13, 2011 at 7:00 pm

OH My Goodness! Thank you, Thank You, Thank You! This could not have come at a better time. I’ve wanted to make that leap from sharing my creations on a facebook page to a blog for some time now. Thanks you so much for sharing this information.

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Taylor April 13, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Thesis Rocks! Great information!

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Barbara | VinoLuciStyle April 13, 2011 at 7:23 pm

As the person behind Kinetic Webs, I love reading your experience from this view. It can be quite an adjustment from Blogger to WordPress but once that change is made and you reach a comfort level…there is simply no comparison! I’ll be blogging there as I can offering some more intensive information, including some great SEO information I want to share; now to find that illusive and critical commodity. Time. :)

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Heather McMullin April 13, 2011 at 7:26 pm

I think it is really amazing that you are taking the time to give back and teach others. Thanks for sharing!!

Hugs!
Heather

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Lindsey@Lindselicious April 13, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Wonderful post, in hindsight I wish I had gone with WordPress, but since my baby blog is only 4 months old, I agree with you and though ease of use and posting on a regular basis should be my first goal. Thanks for all the great info!

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DessertForTwo April 13, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Thanks so much for sharing your unique view! I’m excited for the rest of the series.

It made me smile to read that MBA is a constant project and you have a huge list of changes you’d like to make. I feel that way too and sometimes it can be overwhelming.

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wincy April 13, 2011 at 7:39 pm

I love your blog!! Thanks for taking the time out to explain about blogging. I can’t wait to read more about it. Since I just started a few months ago.

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Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen April 13, 2011 at 7:57 pm

You must be the nicest blogger in the blogosphere! What a great and helpful series, I really appreciate your insight.

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Colleen @ Colleen's Better Bites April 13, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Thanks for the advice. I just started my blog and there are so many things to learn!!

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Jen at The Three Little Piglets April 13, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Great series idea! I agree whole heartedly about Wordpress, but Blogger is a great (and free) option for people getting started. It’s very user friendly and a great way to learn about some of the ins and outs of blogging. Then when and if the times comes, it’s easy to transfer over to Wordpress – which has so many more options.

I found a great site – Blogging with Amy who helped tremendously in switching my blog from Blogger to Wordpress and learning my way around. She has a step by step tutorial that starts with why do you want to blog, finding your niche, and finding your unique voice. And she’s happy to answer questions…

http://bloggingwithamy.com/how-to-build-a-money-making-blog-from-scratch-step-1/

A great help might be to explain a little more about your design – why you chose a simple layout, why you chose a smaller header, the simplicity of your sidebars, and even things like why you chose to put your facebook and subscribe links near the top. That might help readers who want to set up a blog know what to look at when deciding what and where to put things on their blog…Just a thought!

Great idea though!

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Jamie April 13, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Jen-
Thanks for the link! I have a Blogging 101: Layout and Design planned for an upcoming post!
-Jamie

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Jen at The Three Little Piglets April 14, 2011 at 11:16 am

Great! I think layout and photography are the two things people struggle with most and what can really make or break a food blog.

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Amy @ BloggingWithAmy.com April 14, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Thanks so much, Jen, for the shout-out!

Jamie, such great answers to often-asked questions! I gotta say, I cannot agree with you more about passion — if you aren’t passionate about your topic, it’s definitely going to be hard to keep a blog going. And also, it’s so good to point out that blogging is hard work. I just answered an email today from someone who was hoping to make some quick cash. They were bummed when I told them it’s likely to take a while. On the other hand, blogging can be such a blast!

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Meghan April 13, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Thanks so much for the advice!

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A little bit of everything April 13, 2011 at 8:54 pm

looking forward to next episodes.
successful or not, we all need an extra hand sometime. :)

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Amber Hinckley April 13, 2011 at 9:00 pm

YAY! This is exactly what I need right now. I just started building a WordPress blog and have so many questions as to how to actually get it started. Maybe sometime you could cover exactly how we go about giving credit to those who inspire our recipes, if we can make someone else’s recipe ingredient for ingredient as long as we give them the credit, how to ask someone to do a guest post for your site, etc. Thanks so much!

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Cristi Monge April 13, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Great blog post!!! just in time!!! im Just starting my blog recently!! thanks!

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Christina April 13, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Thank you so much for this topic! I’ve been wanting to take the next step with my blog for a while now and I can’t wait for more tips and words of wisdom!

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Knitstamatic April 13, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Fantastic! As a new blogger here on wordpress I am looking forward to reading this series.

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Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen April 13, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Thanks for all this info! For a future post I’d be very interested in hearing about how you transitioned from Blogger to Wordpress – like what the process of transferring posts is, if it’s even possible, etc.

If you’re comfortable sharing or advising on this, I’d also be interested to know what a reasonable budget would be to hire a web developer. I don’t know what a standard amount would be to even plan for. $100? $500? $2000? It’s something I’d like to do 6 months to a year down the line, as I’d like for my sister/co-blogger and I to focus on improving our pictures and building our readership for the time being.

Thanks again for sharing your expert advice!

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Tracy April 13, 2011 at 11:54 pm

Wonderful, practical tips for beginning bloggers!

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Vimitha April 14, 2011 at 6:08 am

Love ur blog and this is gonna be a successful and wonderful series.

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strawberry CAKE April 14, 2011 at 9:03 am

Thanks for this post. Since I am right in the middle of switching my blog over to Wordpress…and worrying if I am doing the right thing…your post was very encouraging. Looking forward to more like it.

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Carole April 14, 2011 at 9:22 am

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. I’ve been on the fence between Blogger and WordPress and I think you’ve convinced me to use WP. You’re the best.

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sprinkle land April 14, 2011 at 9:25 am

love your blog and was a reader for a while. your site looks great. im in the transition to move to wordpress…played around a little and very overwhelmed :S ……what is thesis? is that the blog theme you chose? also how are you able to get your name out there? by twitter and ….ect. because with blogger i like the feeling of “followers” weather they read mine or not..i like to know that possibly there is one reader. lol….keep on baking and ill keep on reading your wonderful site! would love some advice.. :)

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Bourbonnatrix April 14, 2011 at 9:56 am

great post! i can’t wait to read the next one in the series as i’m new to blogging and eager to learn :) i’m using blogspot because i wanted to start blogging NOW and was to lazy to figure out wordpress, but i might look into it…

thanks!

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megan @ whatmegansmaking April 14, 2011 at 10:07 am

great post! I love reading stuff like this, getting other bloggers take on things. And I think you are definitely qualified to answer these questions! :) And you confirmed my decision to move to wordpress :)

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Susan April 14, 2011 at 10:11 am

Can I convert my blogspot into a wordpress? I downloaded wordpress software, but that is as far as I got. Also am interested in the secret behind your beautiful photos? Can you recommend a camera, lens ect for your readers please? Thanks for starting this series. It will be very useful indeed.

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BevE April 14, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Maggie has a lot of good questions – looking forward to you blogging series : D

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Dena April 14, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Yea! I can’t wait to learn more from you. I’m hoping to get a blog started by the end of Summer so I will be reading & taking notes!!
Thanks again for taking the time to do this for us, now we don’t have to do all the footwork, you are amazing!

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Zoe Says April 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Thank you so much for starting this series. I have had a blog on WP.com for a few years and have been wanting to make the leap over to .org for a long time but have been intimidated by not knowing what to do or how to go about it (and how much it costs).

Looking forward to reading more! Thanks again.

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Heather April 14, 2011 at 1:10 pm

You are a wealth of information! Thank you for sharing!

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Mrs. Jen B April 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm

What a fabulous series! You’re a blogger I have a great deal of respect for – and I know I’m not alone – so I look forward to reading more of your tips!

I have to say, moving to Wordpress is one of the best things I’ve ever done for my blog so I am 1000% behind you on that tip! :)

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Katrina April 14, 2011 at 2:18 pm

This was really helpful, although I don’t know what “thesis” is. I’ll google it :)

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Anita Menon April 15, 2011 at 1:41 am

Thank you so much for this series that you are about to write. This wouldbe of immense help to bloggers like me who are on wordpress but still struggling to find how to tweak it according to our tastes.

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Janine April 15, 2011 at 7:18 am

I’m definitely following this series – I’m one of those who finally decided to get started on a blog after looking and lusting at the goodies featured in other people’s posts and I’m learning so much more blogging on my own :) I’m still on blogger, but am toying with the idea of a self-hosted wordpress site, so am definitely looking forward to this series!

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Amy @ A Little Nosh April 15, 2011 at 11:10 am

Really helpful information. Thank you!

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Lauren at Keep It Sweet April 16, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Great tips! I use WordPress and am really happy about that. Even as a reader, I find WordPress blogs more visually appealing and commenting on them is easier as well.

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lisa p April 17, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Thanks Jamie,
I had asked questions previously and am soooooo glad you are going to be running this series. Thanks for sharing and getting other bloggers to participate. You rock!

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Chaya April 21, 2011 at 6:55 pm

This is a wonderful idea, something that is needed for all of us, new or old bloggers. Thanks for taking on the job or pleasure.

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Shane R. April 23, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Thank you so much for posting these Blogging 101 posts. I’ve just started writing a cupcake and sweets blog and have been trying to figure out the best way to do things. I’ll be following along if you have anymore Blogging 101 posts. Looking forward to more in the future. Also, I love the content on your blog. I’ve been following your posts for a few weeks now and it’s part of the reason I decided to start a blog too. :)

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lola23 April 26, 2011 at 1:59 pm

I’m very concerned about strangers reading my blog, tracking me down or at least tracking the server my blog would be on. Can you speak to the issue of safety and how a blogger can keep their location and identity secure?

Thanks,
lola

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Quite Contrary May 2, 2011 at 4:19 pm

As well as discussing properly crediting recipe sources (as another commentor suggested), it would be great if you would cover some of the legal aspects of blogging such as how to copywrite your content/photos. This is encouraging me to get back on the horse, so to speak. I stopped posting to focus on home and a new baby but am ready to refocus and reorganize. I find Blogger does not do what I want it to, so hopefully Wordpress will give me the freedom and ease of use I desire. This time around I will get well versed in the system BEFORE I go public. Hopefully having some posts written but unreleased will also help for those times that I need a break.

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Tiffany@FizzyParty July 31, 2011 at 12:33 am

WOW! I JUST started my blog this week and this has been so super helpful. I’m on Blogger because well, it’s easy and I know ZIP about computers. Lifting weights and running I know, but computers ha! Thanks to your information I’ve just registered my Domain name and am so excited. Thank you again for posting this.

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Leah @ LoftyBites September 8, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Hi Jamie – I am addicted to your blog! Beyond the great recipes and pics, I love the different sections – fundamentals, essentials and especially blogging 101. I would like to see a post on WordPress plugins (I really like how your site is set up) and tips for new food bloggers. All the best!

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Dana B November 1, 2011 at 2:11 am

Thanks for doing this. Looking forward to seeing more!

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carla February 28, 2012 at 11:09 pm

I love your blogs, so helpful in every form thanks so much! ps – i also love the look of your blog!
xxCarla

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carla February 28, 2012 at 11:09 pm

ps – pls check my websiite if you have a chance :) http://www.carlascakesonline.com i learn from the best :)

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Baking Secrets January 9, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Thank you for very useful information. I just started my new blog and your help was very useful.

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Sinead April 23, 2013 at 4:59 pm

I’m carefully reading through all your “blogging 101″ articles – they’re really helpful. Thanks so much for sharing what you know, much appreciated :-)

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Lauren May 24, 2013 at 10:26 pm

Thank you so much for this information. I love your blog and was thinking of emailing a few questions when I came across your blogging 101 tab. I am a new blogger and enjoy reading about the experiences of others in the community. Thank you for sharing.

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Jamie May 25, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Lauren-
I am glad you find the Blogging 101 tab useful. Thanks so much for stopping by – have a great weekend.
-Jamie

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Heather@castlewalkkitchen February 5, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Thanks so much for this great information! I am ready for the sequel . . . I have the blog up and running, but have no idea how to get people to come to my site (I am on social media and submitted to http://www.foodgawker.com today!). Any suggestions for a new food blogger? Any help would be great!!

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