You probably landed on this page looking for tips on how to start foodblogging. Well, look no further ’cause you’ve come to the right place! This post is part of a three-part tutorial about foodblogging. In this part, I’ll touch on the basics to quickly get you started, including creating a WordPress account, Google Webmaster Tool and theme customization. I’ll end this post with a guide on how to write your first blog entry.
I was encouraged to write this article as several friends and relatives asked me about how to setup a foodblog after visiting my wife’s foodblog. So as not to repeat myself in the future and to provide a clearer answer (hopefully), I’ll be sharing a simple path to foodblogging using WordPress. There are of course numerous guides available out there such as this one in firstsiteguide.com, but my aim here is to give you an easy time!
Please note that this tutorial is meant to be followed using a desktop or laptop computer.
Creating a WordPress Account
The first step to foodblogging is to create a WordPress account. In case you’re wondering, WordPress is one of the most popular and powerful web platforms for blogging. What does it mean exactly? It means that you can use WordPress to design and host your blog. For the former, WordPress provides themes and plugins to aid you in manipulating the look and feel of your pages. For the latter, WordPress offers disk storage and bandwidth so you can save your pages (including media files) in their servers and people from all over the world can view them through the Web.
To create a WordPress account, point your Web browser to http://wordpress.com
You should see a screen similar to the above picture. (Note: This tutorial was written on March 2016. WordPress may have changed the landing page so you might be seeing a different page now.)
Click the button “Create Website”. You should see a screen that looks something like the one below.
Follow the steps which will ask you to select a theme, domain name, plan, e-mail, username and password. I’ll explain these terms below:
Theme: Look and feel of your blog which specifies the fonts, color schemes, layout, and other visual elements. When selecting a theme, always prefer those that are “responsive”. Responsive layout adapts according to the device used by the user viewing the pages.
Domain Name: This is like your address in the Web or Internet that uniquely identifies your blog. People who want to visit your site will type this in their browsers. Use domain names that are easy to remember and spell. Note that you’ll need to pay for a domain name if you don’t want the ‘wordpress.com’ in it. For now, choose the free domain option, which will give you a domain name that looks like ‘myfoodblog2016.wordpress.com’.
Plan: WordPress offers three tiers (Free, Premium and Business). For now, choose the Free plan. This entitles you to 3 gigabytes of storage space and limited selection of themes and other features.
E-mail, Username and Password: These will be your credentials to access your blog for posting articles and housekeeping. Make the best effort not to forget them! You’ll receive notifications from WordPress through the e-mail address that you’ll provide here. The username will be your chosen domain name, for instance if your domain name is ‘myfoodblog2016.wordpress.com’, then your username will be ‘myfoodblog2016’.
Congratulations! You now have a WordPress account for your foodblog. But before you can start posting articles, you’ll need to configure your site so that people can search your blog in Google, your readers will be able to follow you, and you’ll not be swamped by spam comments. You can do all of these, and many others, through the use of tools and plugins. (For the Free plan, you will not be able to install plugins, so we will not cover it in this article yet.)
Google Webmaster Tools
Now called Google Search Console, this is a free service provided by Google to “help you monitor and maintain your site’s presence in Google Search results”. I’ll give you a tutorial to link your WordPress foodblog to your Google Webmaster Account.
Step 1: Create a Google Account
(Skip this step if you already have a Google Account). To do this, go to https://accounts.google.com/ and click “Create account”. Follow the instructions to create your account.
Step 2: Login to Google Search Console
To do this, go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/ and enter your Google account credentials.
Step 3: In the Search Console, Click the “Add Property” Button
Enter the URL of your WordPress blog and click “Continue”. For instance, if your domain is ‘myfoodblog2016.wordpress.com’, enter ‘http://myfoodblog2016.wordpress.com’. See the picture below to get a hint on how your screen should look like.
Step 4: Click the “Alternate methods” Tab.
Note that there are two tabs: “Recommended method” and “Alternate methods”.
Step 5: Select “HTML tag”
Copy all contents of the text box, as shown in the picture below.
Step 6: Login to Your WordPress Account
Go to the WordPress Admin by clicking “WP Admin” on the left menu, as shown in the picture below (see bottom left).
Step 7: In WP Admin Console, Click “Tools”
You should see a screen similar to the following picture:
Paste the code that you’ve copied from Google Search Console into the text box for “Google Webmaster Tools”. Click “Save Changes”.
Step 8: In Google Search Console, Click “Verify”
You should see a page similar to this, indicating that you’ve successfully completed linking your blog to Google Search.
That completes the linking of your foodblog to Google Search Console. To know more about what Google Search Console can do, read the Help in Google Search Console.
Basic Theme Customization
During your WordPress account creation, you selected a theme that will be used for your blog. As I mentioned awhile ago, the theme specifies the visual elements of your blog pages. You can customize (to a certain extent) the look and feel of your blog by modifying the theme settings. To do this, go to the WordPress Admin console of your blog and click on “Appearance” on the left menu. You should be taken to a page that allows you to select the theme to use.
Select the theme to you’d like to use. As you can see, some themes are not free. For this tutorial, I will choose the Dyad theme which is free. I will now show you how to perform basic customization. Please note that different themes will offer different levels of customization. To begin tailoring the theme, click “Customize”, either on the theme itself, or on the left menu under the “Appearance” menu.
The image above shows you the settings that you can change. “Custom Design” is only possible for premium accounts. The first three settings (Site Title, Tagline, and Logo; Color & Backgrounds; and Fonts) are self-explanatory. Try to change them and see how they affect the appearance of your pages.
Header Image: This is the picture that will appear on the top part of every page of your blog. To use your own image as header, just click on “Header Image” and follow the upload instructions. For best appearance, use an image with the recommended dimensions. Different themes will recommend different image sizes.
Menus: These are navigation aids to help readers jump around your blog. You can follow this user guide on WordPress Menus for more information. A basic item in your menu should be a link to your “About” page.
Static Front Page: This is the page that will be loaded when a reader types in the address of your blog. Note that support for this feature is dependent on the theme. For the Dyad theme, clicking on “Static Front Page” will bring you to this page (see image below), which allows you to define the static front page to be either the page that contains your latest posts or a static page. If you choose, the latter, you’ll have to specify the page. Since you have not written any article yet, you’ll probably not be able to choose this. (Note: The basic installation of Dyad includes a page called ‘About’.)
I will not talk about Widgets and Featured Content for now. I will tackle them in future posts, together with other “advanced” WordPress features.
Your First Blog Entry
Finally, you are now ready to write your first blog post. Do note that WordPress has two types of blog articles: post and page. What’s the difference between the two? You can read this page to know more about the difference between posts and pages, but as far as you’re concerned, you can use pages for content type that is unique will not repeat, and posts for content type that will repeat or accumulate over time. For instance, you can use page to contain an article about yourself or your food blog, and post to contain your food recipes. Your posts will actually be contained in a page called the “main posts page”.
About Page: The first article should introduce yourself or blog to the world. As mentioned, write this article as a page. To do this, simply click “Pages” on the left menu of your WordPress Admin Console. Click “Add New” to create a new page.
After completing the article, you can either save it as draft, preview it, or publish it. It’s usually good practice to preview your article before publishing it. If you’re satisfied with the preview, you can proceed to publish your first article. Now, open another browser tab to visit your blog. You’ll notice that the page you just created and published will appear in the menu. If you do not want this behaviour, you’ll need to customize your menu. You can follow this user guide on WordPress Menus for more information.
Recipe Post: To complete this tutorial, I want you to write a simple recipe post. Just click “Posts” and “Add New”.
After completing the article, you can either save it as draft, preview it, or publish it. Again, it’s usually good practice to preview your article before publishing it. If you are satisfied with the preview, you can proceed to publish your first recipe post. Now, open another browser tab to visit your blog. You’ll notice that your post will be displayed on the main page.
The WordPress editor is user-friendly and easy to use. In addition to providing you with buttons to change your text to bold, italics, etc, you should also be able to add pictures, and links to other websites. For more information, please visit this page.
That’s all for now, folks! I’ll be posting the sequel of this tutorial soon. In the meantime, do explore the various features of WordPress. Enjoy!