What's the Best Platform for Your Food Blog?
By: Michael Benninger
Launching a food blog to share your recipes and restaurant adventures with the world is an exciting endeavor. But before you start posting your mouth-watering content for all to see, you need to decide on which tech tools you’ll be using to keep your blog online. There are several blogging platforms and several do-it-yourself website builders from which to choose.
Among the first steps to take when learning how to set up a food blog—beyond naming your blog and securing a domain name—is determining which platform you’ll use as the foundation. Choosing a blogging platform for your website can be a bit overwhelming if you’ve never built an online presence before; not all platforms are created equal and each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.
Here we’ll take a look at the most popular options, and what distinguishes one platform from the next.
Founded in 1999, Blogger is among the oldest and most well-established free blogging platforms on the Web, and has helped millions of people learn how to setup a blog. Owned by Google since 2003, Blogger is designed to be simple enough for anyone to use, and is truly one of the quickest ways to start publishing online. Its intuitive interface allows anyone with a Google account to build a blog in as little as five minutes.
Though Blogger is one of the most secure and maintenance-free platforms out there, it is also less customizable and offers far fewer features than many of its competitors. Yes, Blogger does offer its users an array of templates to choose from—including attractive cooking recipe template options—but the selection is much more limited when compared to many other modern blogging platforms.
Tumblr is a very popular free blogging platform that has more of a social element than most other options. In existence since 2007, Tumblr was purchased by Yahoo! in 2013 and currently hosts upward of 200 million blogs across the Internet. Tumblr is easy to use from desktops and laptops, and its mobile apps make it simple to instantly share images, audio, and video with a few taps on a touch screen. This platform also has more of a community feel to it, as it accentuates social sharing on your posts, and makes it easy to rapidly develop a following.
Tumblr does offer a variety themes for its websites, and simplifies your search for the perfect recipe website template. In terms of downsides, Tumblr lacks many of the bells and whistles that more robust platforms offer, and it you’re interested in generating revenue from your blog, Tumblr doesn’t provide many options in that regard.
Squarespace is a popular choice for many culinary bloggers, because the platform offers some of the best food blog templates around. Founded in 2003, Squarespace has grown into a powerhouse of the realm of do-it-yourself website builders thanks to its clean design, ease of use, and affordable hosting packages. Another factor in Squarespace’s success is the utilization of responsive-design technology in all of its templates. Responsive design is a type of Web interface that automatically scales websites to look good on whatever size screen they are being viewed on, whether it’s a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop.
Though Squarespace is relatively easy to use, its interface is nowhere near as intuitive as that of Blogger or Tumblr. And although Squarespace does afford users a great amount of freedom when it comes to the kinds of content they wish to feature on their sites, users still do not have complete control over every single aspect. Another consideration is the incorporation of third-party apps or widgets. Squarespace operates in a closed environment, which is good for security, but limits interoperability with many other Web services.
As the foundation of more than 60 million websites—including 10 million of the world’s most visited sites—WordPress is far and away the most popular blogging platform available and the preferred choice for many food bloggers. WordPress comes in two primary forms: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com is for bloggers who wish to pay WordPress to host their websites, whereas WordPress.org is the home of open-source software that can be downloaded and installed on Web servers from any host. Each of these WordPress flavors offers an abundance of free food blog themes to install on your site, though users of the self-installed WordPress.org option will have more choices than their .com counterparts. These same users will also have far more choices when it comes to integrating third-party plugins that expand the functionality of their blogs. And if you’re looking to monetize your website, no other platform provides the options that WordPress does.
A consequence of all this freedom, though, is that the WordPress learning curve is far steeper than the alternatives listed in this article, and getting started with the platform can be a little overwhelming if not downright frustrating. Plus, the ability to incorporate third-party plugins into WordPress can compromise the security of more elaborate sites.
Which Platform is Right for You?
If you’re starting your food blog as a hobby and aren’t too fussy about how the site looks, Blogger or Tumblr might be your best options for quickly sharing recipes and restaurant reviews. If, on the other hand, you want your site to stand out, Squarespace is a great place to get the ball rolling. And if you want limitless possibilities and don’t mind learning a whole new set of skills, WordPress is where it’s at.