HI! & Welcome to the behind-the-scenes of a food blog launch aka “month zero”!
The “The Food Blog Experiment” is a series of posts where I document my experience as a brand new food blogger (in unprecedented times, might I add… yikes!!).
This is month zero. My blog hasn’t launched yet and as I’m typing this, I have no idea where this blog adventure will take me.
Damn Spicy is sitting at 0 views and I’m no one in the food blogging industry. Or the blogging industry in general.
The short story is: I’m always up for a new challenge and I’m an extremely creative person. I *LOVE* spending time snuggled up in front of my computer screen doing different things so blogging seeemed like a great option for me.
The long story is: as a teenage girl, I used to spend a ridiculous amount of time on forums and free blogging platforms (anyone remembers Livejournal and creating cute icons with Photoshop actions? OMG!!!), I just loved creating stuff. That’s how I first got into basic (*VERY* basic) coding and graphics.
I started creating (simple) blog themes, forum skins, and (tacky) Myspace-style graphics with tons of crazy effects (uhm… blinkies??? I spent hours making blinkies in Animation Shop lol).
I’m telling you all of this to drive my point across: I love spending time in front of a computer creating away which is something that you *REALLY* need to be passionate about if you want to get serious about blogging!
Now that I’m older and dollmakers and blinkies aren’t really a thing anymore (lol), I decided I would give blogging another try. But this time I wanted to actually *PURSUE* blogging, investing time and money into it.
I’m fully aware of the fact that this is the “social media influencer” era where everyone makes money off Instagram and TikTok but I chose blogging because I wanted something a bit more stable than a social media account on a free platform (no shade but if a platform wants to change their algorithm or shuts down completely and your business was on that platform, you’re gonna suffer).
At first I thought I wanted to do lifestyle and create this really cool lifestyle blog with tons of tips and articles and inspirational stuff but I ended up changing my mind after taking into consideration all the pros and cons of the lifestyle niche.
I then decided to go for something a bit more creative and because I’m a huge foodie I obviously ended up going for a food blog. I don’t follow a specific diet or lifestyle so I didn’t pick a super specific niche for Damn Spicy.
*BUT* I do have a thing for cooking dishes from different cuisines. I’ll cook Thai on Monday, Russian on Tuesday, Greek on Wednesday… you get the idea.
And on top of that, all my recipes are seasonal and from-scratch so those are my strengths: seasonal, from-scratch recipes from all over the globe. It’s not as specific and niche as a vegan gluten-free blog but it’s still something.
Creating a blog can get expensive (especially if you make expensive mistakes like I did… yikes) but I tried to keep the costs as low as possible!
Here’s a lil scheme for ya:
Hosting + Domain name: 117$/year
Genesis child theme: 60$
Feast Plugin: 149$/year
Lightroom plan: 144$/year
Lightroom presets: 50$
Facetune 2 (don’t know if I’ll keep this one): 61$/year
Stuff from Anthropologie: 128$
Pinteresting Strategies: 57$
Expensive mistakes: a few hundred dollars 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Budget – Explained
Hosting and Genesis
Hosting and domain are necessary because, like I said, I’m not going to put all my time and effort into a free platform like Instagram. I want to own my content and not depend from a trendy app that might end up ruining all my efforts in a few months or years.
The Genesis Framework is necessary if you’re serious about blogging and want to build your blog on a secure and search engine optimized foundation, so there ya go, another thing to add to the cart!
The Foodie Pro theme is the one that I’m currently using and look, I like it but this was the beginning of a series of very expensive f*ck ups. Before Foodie Pro, I got a bunch of other themes and I literally wasted *SO* much money on themes that I’ll never use because at the time I didn’t know that you could buy themes created specifically for food bloggers.
So I got one off Etsy, one off Creative Market (I think? I don’t even want to know), and one or two more off another place and *THEN* I found out about Feast. They basically offer a bunch of optimized themes designed specifically for food bloggers. I got Foodie Pro because it looked simple and aesthetically pleasing and ended up realizing that I absolutely did *NOT* like the recipe index 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
*SO* I googled how to create a better recipe index, tried to come up with a solution and realized that I had to buy their plugin to change the freakin index. So I did. I bought the Feast Plugin and it’s pretty amazing, you get tons of great options with it but man… 149$/YEAR. And hold on, cherry on top: I got *ALL* their themes for free with that purchase 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 I wanted to rip my hair out. My fault, absolutely, but holy hell…
I also got Lightroom because Photoshop wasn’t going to cut it, if anything I was going to need Photoshop *AND* Lightroom and that turned out to be right!
To that, I added 5 food photography presets because honestly, I wasn’t doing a good job with Lightroom and buying those presets allowed me to understand exactly what people were doing with all the different Lightroom settings.
Now Facetune… I have mixed feelings about this one and I might let my subscription expire. I wanted a good app for my phone, just in case I wanted to snap a quick picture and post it directly on the ‘gram but… eh… I haven’t really been using it. At the same time I haven’t really started with social media yet so maybe I’ll use it?! Ugh. I have no idea. All I know is that most bloggers are using Snapseed and Lightroom (mobile) so maybe it’s not even right app? Food doesn’t have wrinkles?!
I also got a bunch of stuff from Anthropologie because uhm… I don’t have all those cute plates and bowls that I see on Pinterest and honestly I understand why people want plates with fun textures and stuff, they just look *SO* good in pictures. My basic white plates aren’t cutting it.
Pinteresting Strategies is a Pinterest course that is supposed to take you from newbie to Pinterest success. I’m halfway through it and I’m loving it. Carly from Pinteresting Strategies gives you a step-to-step strategy to kickstart your Pinterest account and (hopefully) convert saves into clicks (aka traffic). Without this course I wouldn’t have known how to tackle Pinterest. I’m definitely not a social media person or a Pinterest person.
Starting a food blog also meant that I had to get into photography and food styling and look… I didn’t even know what “manual settings” meant when I first picked up a DSLR. Should we add the DSLR to the budget by the way?!
I’m still nowhere near where I’d like to be when it comes to food photography/styling but I’m trying!! I’m always practicing. I take pictures of *ALL* the food I eat like a mad man. I’m losing my mind (just a liiiiitle bit) but I’m seeing progress so I’ll keep going.
Here are some progress pics:
Blogging is hard work and this is month zero, folks. There is *SO* much to do! I thought that my Photoshop skills + Livejournal/Myspace background was going to be useful but no, there is so much to learn and the cycle of education is never-ending, I mean the internet is constantly changing and blogging is constantly evolving.
You have to be willing to put time & money into blogging if you want it to work. Serious time and serious money. It’s like starting any other online biz. You gotta take it seriously and be prepared to sacrifice hours and hours of free time with no guarantees.
It’s time to go live.
I’ll see you next month for my first update – EEK!!!! (spoiler alert: I’m not expecting overnight results it’ll probably be just me and a bunch of Google bots 🙁 ).