Food blogging is probably one of the most popular niches you will see around, and that’s not accidental; after all, what other niches can cover something that each one of us has to deal with every single day?
Writing about food and recipes has become a global movement, which hundreds of thousand food bloggers fighting for readers. Whatever country you’re based in, chances are that the larger food niches are already dominated by established bloggers, and it may take some serious efforts to break in.
That being said, like other blogging niches, people started exploring particular branches that would allow them to conquer the less saturated markets.
“The micro niches are taking over, and many new bloggers are trying to be as distinctive as possible.”
This is a great approach indeed if you’re looking into launching a new food blog! Several articles and tools can help you get to the most suitable niche for you; from this amazing piece of article describing to find a micro-niche, to Google Trends which can help you determine what new trends might be seen in a particular area.
Now, if you’ve already chosen your niche, decided to build a blog, and chose WordPress, this is the perfect article for you. Today we’ll discuss several plugins that can help you create an amazing blog with WordPresss.
What you need to consider first
Our aim here is to provide you with useful information about the plugins that will help you transform your WordPress into an amazing experience for your visitors. Whether is improving its performance, maximizing the conversions or suggest the best recipe plugin, our tips will likely contribute to boosting your business and increasing your revenue.
There are a few things, however, that you need to keep in mind when reading the article and afterward, when applying the suggestions you’ll find here.
Already installed WordPress themes and plugins
That is a basic rule of thumb but still needs to be said. When you look into any new plugin, the first thing you need to consider is the compatibility with the WordPress theme you already have.
Since there are hundreds, if not thousands of plugins, it’s impossible to know if your theme will be compatible with the new plugin. Save from extremely popular plugins that might be tested, generally, there will not be available information on the matter.
So, what can you do?
Make sure you have a backup (more on this you will find later in the article). It’s also a good idea to have FTP access or access through File Manager in cPanel; in case there is a fatal error caused by incompatibility between your new plugin and one of the old ones.
Should that happen, there is a simple trick that can help:
- Login via FTP or access the FIle Manager in cPanel
- Go to your site’s folder (it’s either its name or the main folder public_html) > wp-content > plugins
- Locate the folder of your newly installed plugin (almost always called as the plugin itself) and rename it
This will disable the plugin and you can later either uninstall it from the WordPress Plugin menu or directly delete the folder in the place we showed you.
If you still haven’t bought a theme, you can also try to search for a WordPress theme that might have one or more of these features integrated. For example, a lot of food themes have a recipe option, so this may save you the trouble of researching it separately.
YOU MAY FIND THIS USEFUL: The Easy Guide to Choosing A WordPress theme
Number of plugins installed
WordPress plugins are incredibly useful and everyone is a big fan. Thanks to the plugins, you can transform your WordPress site in pretty much anything you want - corporate sites, directories, community sites, online shops etc - options are truly limitless.
Of course, there is no free lunch, so here is the bad news - plugins do require additional resources, so the more you install, the heavier your site will become. Neither Google nor your visitors will approve of slow website speed, and users will likely leave before they manage to the enhancements brought by the plugins.
Furthermore, as mentioned in our previous paragraph, plugins may create incompatibility between each other. Of course, developers try to consider the most popular ones, but the existing plugins are so much, it’s practically impossible to ensure full compatibility. In simple words, this means that whenever the number of your plugins increases dramatically, so will the chance that something will break.
Backup isn’t optional
Updating a WordPress site, installing a new plugin, making major changes etc - all of this can cost you, not to mention the possibility of getting hacked. Every time you’re making any kind of change, you need to create a backup point, so if anything goes wrong, you can always roll back the changes.
Check your hosting for backup options or contact the support and ask if they have a backup option. In our help section, there is an extensive article explaining how to backup your WordPress site,and what different options are.
In alternative, you can also use a backup plugin such as BackupBuddy or UpDraft(https://wordpress.org/plugins/updraftplus/), which are great options, however, you need to keep in mind that if your site becomes completely inaccessible, you won’t be able to use backup from these plugins.
The Recipe Plugins
Let’s start with the most obvious plugin you’ll like gonna need - the recipe plugin. Generally speaking, when you get a food theme for WordPress, chances are it will already have some sort of recipe functionality. If you take a look at these very popular themes - Foodie Pro and Foodica you’ll see perfect examples of what I mean.
If, however, your theme doesn’t have such feature built-in, or for whatever reason you don’t like it, you can get a separate plugin in order to create your recipes.
Honestly, the plugin is awesome, and more importantly, so is its free version, which more often then not doesn't happen with freemium plugins. It has been around for a few years now and it was designed very carefully, with a wide variety of options: you will find things like time-table of the recipe preparation, ingredient fields and a feature that will allow you to create a step-by-step process.
The design is rather user-friendly and quite intuitive, so you should get use to it pretty fast. The new releases are compatible with Guthenberg, which is great news for all fans of the new WP editor.
The plugin has a lot of useful features already integrated, such as schema.org recipe structured data (optimized specifically for recipes), Pinterest Rich pins and compatibility with Google's AMP.
structured data for recipes, showing things like calories and prep time
WP Ultimate recipes allows you to segment several things within your recipes, such as ingredients, course types, cuisines and even keywords. While tag clouds aren't as popular as they once were, this will still help you categorize the above-listed criteria.
Fields are highly customizable, from the ingredient ones where you can input custom measures (clove, pinch) to the steps of your recipe, where you can attach image to every step.
Of course, the upgraded version is even more amazing. One of the most important differences you will find is the possibility of creating your own recipe templates within the Template editor, including custom fields for your recipes.
There are also cool extras such as their meal planner (with included shopping list), automatically added nutritional value of your recipes, switch between Imperial and Metric units (basically, US measurments and the rest of the world) and other interesting features.
Import from other recipe plugins has been also implemented, so if you're had previously a recipe plugin such as EasyRecipes you can directly import without rewriting everything.
Overall, it's an extremely good plugin even in its free version.
This is a product, developed by the same company that owns the previous plugin - Boostrap Ventures. Initally their fans (of which they had many) were a bit confused as to why there was a new plugin released, but then they released an explanation, as new development of the WP ultimate recipe were stopped altogether.
Basically, WP Recipe maker is the improved version of its predecessor, with better compatibility and of course, new features. Their old plugin is still updated though - if you prefer the layout we showed earlier, feel free to go there.
In this plugin, the new features that premiered are centered around better customer expereince, to no suprise. One of the newly developed options we saw premiering in here was the author field, which might seem like a small thing, but it contributes greatly to personalizing the content.
The adjustable servings are another nice touch we can find there and quite franckly, as someone who likes to cook, this can be of great use, considering the rather annoying calculations I've often made during the years.
As the other plugin, this one is compatible too with Guthenberg, but the upgrade is that you can use Elementor too! Elementor can be used directly, while other popular page builders such as WPBakery can be implemented too, but they will require a shortcode, as explained in this article from their help center.
There is also the schema.org smetadata option, and this time you can even integrated it with the Yoast SEO schema graph.
The free features selections seems to be wider, yet you can still get a nice upgrade if youd ecide to purchase the premium version.You can get pretty much everthing you need with their midrange package at the cost of 99 euro (the most expensive bundle inludes only collection option and extrernal submissions, which most food blogs don't really need).
As with the other two, we have a freemium product here as well, meaning that you can have a free and a premium version. The free version is once again quite good, offering nice features such as Nutritional information.
The layout is also very nice, as the tabbed display on the backend helps greatly with the information management.
Personally, I'm under the impression that this plugin operates slighly more smoothly then the previous ones, although nothing drastic, to be honest.The general feeling is definitely more contemporary, which is likely due to is modern design and graphics.
The one specific feature that I found was the integrated Social sharing, but frankly, it seems to be rather limited with only 4 social networks available. Overall the features are quite what you would expect from such a plugin, and if there is a competitive advantage, it's probably the simplifications of the product and the slighly lighter code.
One of the most common mistakes that you may see bloggers make is disregard the art of content distribution. People invest in amazing cameras, they spend hours cooking, filming, editing and crafting their content. They work extremely hard, sometimes for day,s to create valuable, attractive content. And then...
Your content just stays there, on your blog, relying only on organic traffic, which is great traffic, but hard to get. There is also a correlation between the # of visits and your Google ranking, so the more visitors you drive to your blog, the more this signals to Google that your site is a quality place and it ranks better in the search engine.
Content distribution isn't just installing a sharing plugin on your WordPress, of course, but part of it is sharing the content to social media, so why not start there? This will certainly make things easier for your visitors and give them a slight psychological push to share your content indeed.
Interestingly enough, when it comes to recipes, Pinterest likely beats Facebook and Instagram in terms of popularity. While I don't have any statistics to back this up (and I could be wrong) the demand for recipes on Pinterest is notorious, due to its overwhelmingly female audience and possibly other factors.
Therefore, one of the main options you must have is a Pin it option. If you are inexperienced in Pinterest, you can check these guides - here and here - but in the meantime, make sure that you give your readers the option to pin your recipes.
If you are looking for semplicity and you'd like to have a plaing ‘Pin it’ button on your site, the easiest way to do that is with the plugin Pinterest Pin it.
It comes with basic functions like Pin button on hover and integrated buttons in posts and pages.
For anyone who is looking to something more sophisticated, the plugin is an excellent choice, given the wide variety of features it offers (and keep in mind, it's still free). The plugin developers indicate that with just one plugin you will have
- Pin it button on image.
- Put follow Pinterest button on website.
- Pin board widgets.
- Pinterest profile widget.
- Latest pins feed., which allows you to display some of your boards via widgets, have a Pin feed etc.
Of course, if you are already installing a sharing plugin, you may want to go all the way and simply get one that will give you the entire array of social media.
This is one plugin that will offer you a very impressive range of icons. It's also fully responsive and AMP ready, so it's pretty much all you may want from your social media sharing plugin.
Another rather distinguishable plugin is the Swifty bar. What is particular about it is the positioning of the bar, as it comes under the form of a sticky bar and ncludes not just sharing options, but the name of the author and the tme to read.
Conversion Optimization Plugins
Optimizing your conversion rates is something that you're probably familiar with, if you sell anything on your blog. Even if you are serving ads and nothing else, your traffic still needs to convert if you are looking to earn from it.
One greatly underestimated fraction of CRO oriented plugins are those related to collecting data.
Such plugins can help you for example by collecting emails - your visitors then will be converted to leads and these leads can be further nurtered via email marketing and other tactics.
Optinmonster are quite popular among fans of email marketing. The platform will help you grow your subscriber's list, but it's true strenght lies in the insrease of the sales conversion.
Their toolbox is quite large and includes a wide selection of popups and floating bars that can have a huge impact on your visitors. From coupons, targeted ads and limited offers, to exit intent popups, this is the ultimate tool to get more value of your traffic without actually increasing it.
All of this comes with detailed analytics and A/B split options - truly, these guys thought of everything.
The bad thing? It's paid only and the subscription plans are billend only annually, so t can be quite the expense.
If you aren't ready to commit with such an investment, worry not - there is a lighter plugin Called Popup maker, which is also quite useful and comes absolutely free.
This one is easy to integrate with other forms and popup builders, so if you find it lacking in some areas and you want to add something to it, chances are you will be able to do so.
Popup maker specifically focuses on email marketing growth, and while it's free it still carries a decent range of options when it comes to popups, bars etc.
Another very simple yet versatile option is Hello bar, which became rather popular due to its large range display options packed in a relatively simple interface.
YOU MAY FIND THIS USEFUL: The Easy Guide to Email Marketing
Image Optimization Plugins
Food blogs require a lot of visual media, and unfortunately, more often then not the images you'll find are large and uncompressed.
The regular user might not be able to tell - in fact, they will likely enjoy the high-quality shot of that blueberry muffin - but the site speed is often affected. Considering the vital role fast loading has in the overall user experience, it's absolutely a necessity that you optimize your images.
Many bloggers choose to manually compress their images through Photoshop and that can be really the best option, if you are an experienced PS user. You can also use an online service like TinyPNG - just keep an eye on the quality, as sometimes these services tend to compress the images a bit too much
In alternative, you can simply install a plugin that will help you optimize your images and make them light as a feather. Some of the most popular ones that you may find are Optimole, ShortPixel and Imagify
Most of the plugins we suggested above manage to find balance between quality and size (in other words, to compress the image while keeping a decent appearence of the image and not making it look like an 8-bit image)
Optimizing the site is vital in terms of providing the best user experience and getting the most out of your traffic. This means that you need to carefully select each and every plugin (remember, you don't want to overdo them or you risk slowing down significantly your WordPress).
The bonus tip we can give you, however, is to never lose the most important part out of your site - the quality of your content! Invest time and efforts in creating useful and attracitve content and watch your project grow the way it deserves.