How Do I Start a BBQ Website?
How do I start a BBQ website? It’s not very hard. We did it, so obviously anybody can.
You make some outstanding BBQ and you want to take your superior grilling skills to another level: to share them with the world. Maybe you want to start a blog/website or even start a catering company or both. Whichever route you take, you need to establish a brand, both online and in real life. Let’s start with the former. You need a website. The good news is, you can have a website for nothing, but I would suggest paying a little for a domain name that you own and can center your brand around.
The first step for this process is you need to come up with a name. To do so, go to one of a thousand domain name purchasing sites and plug in the options you have for names into the site and find out what’s available. If you come up with a great name and someone already owns that domain, you need come up with a new name.
Once you find a great name that is available, buy your new domain name, whatever that is. Ours is GrillinFools.com, but we also own GrillinFools.net, TheGrillinFools.com, TheGrillinFools.net, GrillinFool.com (remember, this site started as a one man show), and GrillinFool.net, amongst many others like the ones for our BBQ contest which is BackyardBBQBash.com, as well as a few iterations of that.
Why so many different domain names? To protect the brand. What if I only owned GrillinFools.com and someone came along and bought GrillinFools.net and did a step by step, picture by picture, foolproof grilling website? We would lose traffic to them.
Buying the domain name doesn’t cost much. Usually less than $10/year and costs less per year the more years you add to the contract. I would recommend purchasing the .com and .net iterations of your name to start. As you grow, then purchase other similar names. The good news is, it’s easy to point all those names to one location. If one were to go to either GrillinFools.com or GrillinFool.com, they both go to the exact same place, this website. Even the domain BestInSmoke.com takes users to this site despite the fact that there was a show on the Food Channel with that exact same name, because we used that as our grand champion trophy in our BBQ contest well before that show aired for the first time and I bought that domain and pointed it to GrillinFools.com.
Once you have the domain name, it’s time to create your own BBQ website. The cheapest and easiest way is through blogspot.com. It’s what we used to make our first one. We used one of their canned templates and were online in under an hour. Blogspot has plenty of tutorials on how to do this. As soon as you create the website, set up a business page on Facebook and a Twitter account of that name. There are many more social media outlets, but those two are a must. Realize that you will not be able to have a huge presence on all social media sites. Pick a few to promote yourself on and stick to them. It’s better to do well on a few than poorly on all of them.
If you have a little money to spend, shop around and find a logo design company to create a logo for both your site and possibly a t-shirt or hat. There are thousands of logo companies, charging anything from $10/logo to $10,000 or more. Shop around. Also make sure to keep it simple. A very elaborate electronic logo might look fantastic on your site, but won’t translate to a t-shirt. We learned that first hand. This was our third logo. Our first was just the name in text, the second was decent but this was out of this world:
We removed the flames we loved because they didn’t translate to non electronic formats in order to keep our brand consistent.
Keep the logo simple and iconic and make sure to drill that into your logo designer. S/he works for you. Don’t let them talk you into something that won’t work outside of the innerwebs. Once you get your logo, plop it in at the top of the website and now you have a brand!
Now you have a presence on the web with your new BBQ website and a brand, but how do you get people to that website and create some traffic or some catering customers or both? It’s time to create a presence in the real world: to expand your brand beyond the internet. There are a million ways to do this: make some flyers and put them up at relevant businesses around town like meat markets or grill stores, with owners permission, of course; print up business cards with your name and logo on them; grill up a bunch of food while tailgating at a major sporting event and give the food and flyers away (something we did at a college football game).
Now it’s time to establish a bigger real world presence outside of your BBQ website. Whether you have a blog/website or are doing catering or both, you will be doing events of some sort or another. At those events, don’t miss out on doing promo work or marketing your brand by using a company like Quality Logo Products to make up some swag with your logo and domain name on them for giveaways. Hand out magnets or t-shirts or hats with your logo and domain name so people will know how to get in touch with those folks that make that great BBQ that only you can make and hire you for future catering events or come to your website for great grilling tips or both.
Reading back over this article, you’re seeing dollar signs and not the good kind. I suggested paying for a domain name for your BBQ website, paying for a logo design, paying for business cards and paying for swag with your logo. It would also probably be a good idea to incorporate or form an LLC. And yes, all of that costs money, but none of it costs very much. And the best news is all of it is tax deductible. So are any ingredients you buy to make that fantastic BBQ as well as charcoal or gas you need to cook it. All your meat’s tax deductible? I bet that caught your attention. It caught mine too and that’s why I started GrillinFools.com to begin with! Look how far we’ve come!