You'd like to start a food blog? Or maybe you're a little like Private Detective Adrian Monk from the USA show Monk, and you're "thinking about thinking about" creating a food blog. When I got started with my food blog, I didn't even know what I didn't know. I couldn't even think about thinking about what to do to get started. Along the way, I have found a few resources that helped me make the jump, which I am including here. Hopefully, they'll help you, too! Wherever you are on your journey, please check back regularly. I'll continually enhance and add tools as I find more resources to help you on your way.
Hosting - If you're still thinking about thinking about a food blog, then starting with a free site might be the best option. Sites like these will look something like yourdomainchoice.wordpress.com or yourdomainchoice.blogspot.com. They are free and great for getting started. But they won't have the capability of a full-fledged site. As your site grows and as you decide to do more and more with your blog, upgrading to a self-hosted site may become necessary. If you are ready to self-host a food blog, then it's time to shop around to see what platform will be best for you. Spirited and Then Some is hosted by HostGator. And I have to say, I have been incredibly pleased, especially with their customer service. Other hosting companies such as Blue Host or Awqua provide backdrops to compare and contrast your options.
Theme - Picking a theme is a big deal. The theme determines the layout and function of your blog. Ask yourself, do you want posts to be displayed by category (think breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes) or chronologically (with the most recent recipe posted first, regardless of category)? Spirited and Then Some is driven mostly by category using the Genesis Child Divine theme. However, there is a "Recent Posts" scroll along the right sidebar that allows visitors to see what I have published most recently, regardless of whether it has to do with food, family, kid's activities, or any other category I might write about. If you aren't sure where to start, visit a few of your favorite websites and scroll to the bottom to see if they list what theme is used. For my small biz website, I actually emailed a website owner to ask her what theme she used and who her designer was. You know what? She responded within 24 hours! And the web designer? I not only hired her to design my small business website, I also hired her again to design Spirited and Then Some. It pays to ask around. 🙂
Camera - A client of mine once said, "People eat with their eyes." He was so right. If you're going to start a food blog, a good camera will go a long way. If you are in the early stages of planning, using whatever camera you already have is a good idea, even if it's the camera on your phone. The best thing you can do with your food blog is start somewhere. As you play around with the kinds of photos you take, then you can upgrade to a camera that will do what you want. I started out with a rinky dink point and shoot. The photo to the left, I took on my phone and did a slight edit to it. Then I commandeered K-Hubs' digital SLR camera and haven't looked back. But, he knows where to find me if he needs his camera, so that makes it okay.
Editing software - Over the course of my career, I have worked with a variety of graphic design and editing software. Some quite simple to use, other's considerably more complicated. If you're starting out and wanting to stay budget conscious, a tool like PicMonkey, which is what I use for this blog, may do the trick. Typically, the idea behind editing is to do as little as possible. If you are overhauling a food photo you took, it's likely you just need to reshoot the photo. And don't feel bad if you do. I have been there many a times.
Lighting - Getting natural light is the key to a great food photo. Orange light isn't so pretty. And yet, when we take indoor food photos, that's often how our photos look. Orange. Orange. And more orange. Sometimes I shoot my food photography outdoors. But that doesn't work so well in the dead of a midwest winter. Purchasing an indoor lighting unit is a great way to get clear, crisp shots. I have tried a few indoor lighting options, and my favorite has to be the Lowel EGO Digital Imaging, Tabletop Fluorescent Light Unit. It's portable and easy to set up and strike for whatever shot I am trying to achieve. As a point of reference, below are before and after photos that show the evolution of food photography, a la Morgan.
You want to eat the mixture on the left, don't you? Spirits, I don't even know what it was supposed to be. Perhaps the faux flowers were meant to be a seasonal clue? Nonetheless, the image on the right is considerably more appetizing. Indoor lighting unit for the win.