How to Start an Online Dining Guide Business

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A dining guide online business is super easy to start and run for someone who loves the art of critiquing cuisine and sharing it with an audience. This business is regionally based because one should go to the restaurant and eat the meals to write the review. The content should remain current, and revenue can be generated primarily from advertising by local restaurants and eateries that want to be featured within the guide.

Your dining guide could be a simple searchable database of dining establishments in your local area or a comprehensive site with full menus updated on a regular basis, links to the restaurants’ Websites, and even reservation-taking capability. Alternatively, your site could be an independent restaurant review site.

Skills Needed to Start a Dining Guide Online Business

To run the Website single-handedly, you should have basic Web publishing and digital imaging skills. If you choose to run a restaurant review site, you should have a knack for writing about food, presentation, and service. It would be advantageous to have prior experience in the restaurant or culinary-preparation industry.

Cost to Start a Dining Guide Online Business

The approximate cost to start this business is $500 to $2,000. To start this business you will need to design, develop, and host your Website. Ongoing costs will include the time you commit to writing and publishing the guide.

Numbers of Employees Needed

You will need just one! But eventually, you may want to expand the guide regionally, and being online, this should be easy to do. You could establish a sales force to generate listings for inclusion, or for the food review website, you could invite food critics at large to contribute their articles and increase the advertising potential of the site.

Also Read: How To Start Earning Passive Income From Your Hobbies

Marketing Techniques

  • You might also consider using a viral marketing technique like “Tell a Friend about This Restaurant.” If one of your visitors is planning a dinner out with friends, this can be very effective. A novel feature like this might be worthy of developing a press release for distribution to your local newspaper for added exposure.
  • You will want to develop a comprehensive link strategy. You will want to establish links from local Websites that have large traffic volumes as well as links from sites that relate to restaurants.
  • You may want to participate in geography-specific cybermalls.
  • You may want to consider developing interactive press releases and distributing them to local publications, and also national and international food-related publications and e-zines.
  • Get linked from online advertising directories.
  • Develop a sponsored listings campaign to bid on appropriate keyword phrases with the popular search engines.
  • You might want to hold regular contests where the prize is a dinner for two donated by one of the restaurants on your website. You can add an element of permission marketing here, asking site visitors if they want to be notified when you have a new contest.


There is not very much international potential to this online business because it is based on actual restaurants that you can go to rather than recipes, but there is potential for international action.

The dining guide should have images to capture the visitor’s interest and provide richly detailed reviews of the chosen dishes, with proper credit given to all the restaurants included together with links to their Websites and so on. The content should encourage browsers to interact with the guide. There should be a facility for visitors to submit their own reviews and to win a free meal, for example.

The information on your site should always be current so that the menus you mention are available when a reader decides to go to a restaurant mentioned in your guide. The past reviews should be indexed in an archive and be accessible at all times.

Also Read: How to Start a Copywriting Business

Additional Income

The extra revenue potential is available if you add an e-commerce component to the site. For example, your guide could begin storing popular recipes in a virtual database and you could act as a reseller. Clients could purchase recipes and download them directly from the site. There is plenty of potential for advertising and paid feature articles in the dining guide.

You could participate in the affiliate or associate programs of websites that sell gourmet or food-related items. You could recommend specific recipe books from or other online stores that have affiliate programs. You can sell banner advertising or sponsorship space to restaurants for added exposure.