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Tech trends have transformed the food industry several times over in recent years. It wasn’t that long ago that the idea of ordering food delivery from any restaurant through a phone app was unheard of. Since then, many more trends have emerged and taken root. Today, people can order home-cooked meals with a few taps on their phones.
The cottage food industry is nothing like what it once was. Aspiring home cooks can use digital tools to market and sell their goods, all from the convenience of their own homes. It’s easy to break into the business by using a website builder for cottage cooks. The builder enables cooks to design their business as they see fit. They can even use digital resources to find metrics on the best products to sell online to make money.
Since anyone can make homemade food to sell, the industry has seen explosive growth in recent years. The cottage food industry eclipsed a $20 billion market cap in 2019, and it’s one of the few industries that was spurred by the pandemic. In response to that growth and demand, many states are loosening cottage food regulations, making it easier than ever to break into the industry.
Once an aspiring cook decides on products to sell online from home, it’s a simple matter of time and effort before sales come rolling in. For anyone interested in giving this market a try, it all boils down to using digital resources well. Use digital research to determine what exactly you want to cook. Then use your website builder and app resources to present your home business to the world.
When you want to get started selling homemade food online, it all begins by figuring out what you want to cook. It helps a lot to do some market research. Get on the cottage food apps that serve your area and see what is popular. Make a note of what is missing. If there is something you would like to cook that is underserved in your area, it could become a hit.
Once you pick your food, you have to set up your business. This is where you get into the nuts and bolts of how to sell home cooked food online. The first issue is navigating the law. That will be covered in more detail in the next section, but you should check your state regulations on cottage food laws. You need to know whether or not your food can be legally sold. It’s important to check that before you get too deep into the process.
Assuming your food is legally acceptable, you can learn how to start online food business from home. Essentially, you want to let food ecommerce companies do the heavy lifting for you. They can help you find the best food products to sell online. They can also supply you with website builders and app systems that handle the bulk of the logistics that will enable you to successfully sell your food.
Some food selling websites to keep in mind are Castiron, Shopify and Chefs Without Limits. There are plenty of other resources that might be available in your area, but these three can get you familiar with the online food space. These are what you will use to display your menu and pricing online. They will help you set up your delivery system (such as delivering directly to customers or arranging for them to pick up the food they order). The ecommerce companies are invaluable in helping you manage all of the operational components of your business.
When all of it is set up, you can go live and accept orders. If you’re wondering “Can I sell homemade food online,” you will ultimately determine the answer. The resources are there. If you put in the effort, you have every opportunity to become a part of this growing industry.
The mechanics of selling home cooked food to the public are one thing, but you have to look at the legal side as well. There’s a simple question. Legally speaking, can you sell homemade food online? More or less, the answer is yes, but there are rules, caveats and considerations to review.
For the most part, the food you sell online will be governed by cottage food laws and commercial food laws. Each set of laws varies by state, so selling prepackaged food in Florida will be regulated distinctly from selling food online in Texas. Out of all of the states, New Jersey has the strictest regulations, and even there you can sell some homemade food items to the public.
Starting with cottage food laws, do I need a license to sell homemade food? The answer still depends. The very concept of cottage food laws is to regulate homemade food that is sold to the public. In most states, there is a pre-approved list of items that can be sold in this way. If the stuff you are making is on the list, then you have to follow the cottage food regulations in your state. For some states, you won’t need any certificates, and you can simply sell what you want. In most states, you will still need some kind of license for home-based food business operations. The majority of foods that will fall under this purview are jellies, baked goods and snacks. Food operations that do not need permits will almost always be limited to these kinds of foods.
If you want to sell things that are not on the cottage food list, you will need a commercial license. In this case, do I need a license to sell food from my home? Yes. You need the permit to sell food from home, and it is not a simple set of requirements. You will have to undergo state-approved health inspections to prove that your facilities and methods are up to regulatory standards. Selling home cooked food to the public without doing so can incur heavy fines and expose you to business-killing liability issues.
So, even if you are selling prepackaged food in Texas, you will need some level of licensing to operate legally. Provided you do live up to all of the regulatory requirements, your home cooked food business can operate with ecommerce platforms and online tools to great success. As long as you do things legally, you have every reason to expect plenty of success in your venture. Keep in mind one final thought. Most food-from-home regulations also put a cap on how much business you can conduct. Pay attention to those limits before you overinvest in your home food business.
Even if you know how to build your home food business and navigate the legality of the venture, there is still plenty to learn and do. Getting the kitchen up and running is only the beginning. At some point, you will want to grow your brand. You need customers to stay in business, and that is a completely different animal from choosing and producing your food projects.
Once you are ready to cook, expanding your brand is best done through the use of food blog websites. They can help you reach a wide audience, and that will generate business.
In general, you can learn how to start a food blog pretty easily. The guiding principle is that your blog will provide valuable information to your readers. To do this, you can explain recipes, talk about healthy foods or help readers understand different styles of cooking and what makes them appealing. It doesn’t really matter what you cover, as long as people find it interesting and informative. If you meet those requirements, search algorithms — like those used by Google — will push traffic to your blog and help you grow.
There are basically two ways to go about food blogging. You can do guest posts on existing food blog sites, or you can build your own blog. Ideally, you will do both. Guest blogs help funnel traffic back to your site from well-established resources. When that happens, your own blog will captivate your audience and ultimately lead people to your kitchen. This is where you build your following.
So, how do you learn how to write a food blog? The first step is by exploring food blog examples that you see on the internet. Tasty is one of the biggest in the world. You can look to Instagram as well. Draw inspiration and ideas for your food blog template and how to present information. By studying the best, you can learn how to be a food blogger on Instagram as well as other online resources. You’ll find plenty of food blog ideas and inspiration, and that will allow you to approach your own blog with tried and true methods.
The last thing you have to decide is how to present your blog. You can stick to social media sites like Instagram, but it helps to have a WordPress food blog. This is a website that you can completely control, and when your other online efforts point to it, it can generate the most traffic for your kitchen.