So if you’re like me and you have (or want a blog) you can’t get enough of learning and reading from others about their blog. What cameras do they use? What services do they recommend to promote their posts on social media? How do they monetize their blog? The list goes on and on. So because of that, I thought I would put together a page dedicated to the food blogging resources that I use. These are the tools and resources I have come to use and rely on as I navigate around this blogging world. I am no expert and this is simply what I have used and this list is bound to change as my blog continues to grow.
Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links. I do make a small commission if you clink on the link and purchase the product. Every product though mentioned is a something I use and love and wouldn’t promote otherwise. I simply wanted to pass along the information that I have gathered over the years and help others who may just be starting out or really want to take their blog to the next level. If you have any questions about the products or services listed below, don’t hesistate to reach out and contact me!
- Blogger- First things first, you need a blog. Ok you knew that. When I first started blogging I used Blogger, a free blogging service by Google. Blogger was free and a great introduction to blogging. When I first got started, I had no idea if it was something I would be want to stick with or be able to stick with. So I believe if you are just starting out, free is better. Just until you get your feet wet and decide if this whole blogging thing is really for you.
- WordPress– Once I was blogging for about a year or so I decided to make the switch to WordPress. You can start out getting a free wordpress blog or you can upgrade to your “dot com” Fancy. The switch really was painless. If you are serious about blogging I believe WordPress is the way to go because of all the options it offers. WordPress really allowed me to grow my blog, offered more options for customizing my blog in the long run and I was glad I made the switch. You can get a free WordPress site (wordpress.com) or you can upgrade to a self hosted site (wordpress.org) for that you will need a hosting service…which is where Bluehost comes in. Keep reading..
- Bluehost– If you decide to become a self hosted website, you need to get a web hosting service. I use, love and trust Bluehost. Bluehost is cheap (less than $4 a month if you’re starting out) and offers a great protection service. They will get you up and running on WordPress in no time. You get to pick your domain name (I.e. Bostongirlbakes.com) and Bluehost will as their name suggest host your site (kind of like renting an online space). Your domain name is free if you host with them, which is great if you’re starting out. I like free don’t you? I can’ tell you how many times I’ve called them in a panic thinking my whole site had crashed or I erased it. Everytime Bluehost came through me. I mean let’s face it I’m a teacher, a baker, not an IT professional. Don’t pretend to be one either. And by all means protect your work. I can’t stress that enough.
- Genesis Framework and Themes– You still with me? Ok so if you have wordpress and bluehost, next you need to make your site all pretty. I mean that’s the fun part right? To make it pretty you need a framework and from there a theme of your liking. The best way to think of all this is the metaphor used by Studiopress- WordPress is the engine of your car, Genesis framework is the body of the car, and Studiopress themes is the paint job. You need all three working together but they are totally customizable. Genesis Framework is the framework that is currently run on Boston Girl Bakes. I purchased this framework at $59.95 and it’s allowed me to help design and customize my website. From there, you can purchase themes. I am currently using the Foodie Pro Theme, a popular choice amongst food bloggers. Before you pick a theme, check out the demos and see which is the best fit for you and which you think you will be able to customize. Some themes require more customization than others, so go with what you like but also what you feel comfortable with.
- Camera: When I first started blogging I had no idea about taking a photograph. Seriously, nothing. And trust me I am no expert now either. Before this blog, I never took a photo. I was always the person at the party who forgot their camera so when I started this blog I had no idea what I was doing. I started by using the phone on my camera. Now cameras on the phone have come a long way since I first started this whole thing, and I’ve seen many great photos taken with a phone, but at some point you may decide to upgrade. You can make the best dish in the world, but if your photo isn’t up to par it won’t matter. People come for the recipe, but I believe people come back fro the photos. We eat and surf the internet with our eyes. You need drool worthy photos that match the drool worthy dish. The camera that I bought when I decided to upgrade was a Canon 40D used on Amazon. A used camera was all I could afford, but I’ve had this camera for years and it’s never disappointed. I bought the camera body only and bought this lens. It was my go to lens for the longest time. Since then, I bought this lens. To be honest, I originally bought it for travel purposes, but I found it was perfect for my food photography. This lens can zoom out, zoom in, and has an image stabilizer on it. A key feature to getting crystal clear photos.
- Tripod-Last but not least, I have this tripod . This tripod was cheap, and I’ve read up how I should buy a more expensive tripod, but I’ve never had issues with this and we seem to get along just fine. For less than $30 I think it’s a great deal and a great place to start.
- Memory Card Reader– Ok this is not glamorous by any means. But trust me this memory card reader opened up my world. One of the parts I hated the most was uploading my photos. The process took forever, with many fails from camera to computer. Now this is just my experience maybe you have a fancier computer or know something I don’t. But after purchasing this memory card reader, photos were uploaded in seconds. Yes, seconds. The time it took for me to go from recipe making to posting decreased drastically. I can’t stress how much I love this little memory card reader. And again for less than $13, such a great investment.
- White Balance Filter– Now when taking photos, you want your white to be well white right? Not blueish white or have a green or yellow tint. This little filter, helps to remove any unwanted color casts. Now I toyed with more expensive filters, but then opted for this cheaper white balance filter in the end. For less than $12, it works great. Sometimes, cheaper really is better.
- Lighting: Another thing to a great photo is the lighting. It’s ALL about the lighting. I can’t stress that enough. Now I’ve heard time and time again that natural is best. Well I don’t know about you but I have a full time job of normal hours, and living in New England great hours of daylight isn’t something I have access to. So what is a blogger to do? Buy light. Literally. I purchased this Lowel Ego Light a few years ago (actually it was birthday gift, best one ever). My photography seriously improved when I purchased this light. I use it 100% of the time now. Good lighting is key to a good photo.
- Editing your photos: This part might seem scary, but go with me. Editing your photos is important. I rarely take a 100% perfect photo the first time. Ugh, I wish. That’s when Lightroom comes in. When I finally decided to start editing my photos with this program it was a game changer. If you’re taking good photos with a good camera and good lighting your photos should need little editing let me state that first. When I found I was editing my photos too much, it probably means it wasn’t a great photo to start. So first, be sure you have the other stuff down first. But Lightroom is an easy photo editing program to use. It allows you to zoom, crop, increase the amount of exposure (or lighting), lighten, darken, you get the idea. It’s the final little touches you want to add.
Promoting your content and social media
- Social Media– So you started a blog, you have a phone or camera, you created a crazy good dish, and you finally hit publish on your computer. Great, you’re done right? Wrong. So wrong. In a world saturated with food blogs, you need to promote your post. That part took me a while to get used to. Promoting my blog meant I was really going to put myself out there and it was scary. But when I finally got over the fear, I really watched my blog grow. There are so many different social platforms, so my advice choose 3 to really focus on. It can get stressful to keep up with social media and all the different platforms. So don’t choose them all. I use Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (both on my personal page but mostly my blog page). I try to post on each once a day. Sometimes more if I can. The best thing to remember is to not only post your content, but also it’s about sharing others. Blogging is about sharing. So share!
- Boardbooster– Let’s start by saying Pinterest is huge in driving traffic to your site. To help me with that I use Boardbooster. Boardbooster is a tool that utilizes Pinterest. Pinterest is HUGE for traffic, but unfortunately I can’t be pinning my stuff and others all day long. #reallife With Boardbooster, I can set up campaigns to have my pins repinned throughout the day even when I’m working. Boardbooster is also fairly cheap- you can decide which plan works for you but for me it’s only $5 a month to promote 500 pins each month. I also use CoSchedule. Coschedule allows me to schedule all my posts AND my social media posts with each post before hand. Which means I can have posts written ahead of time, schedule when they will post, and automatically set up promoting those posts to Facebook and Twitter. Um, genius. It comes with a handy dandy calendar as well linked up to my WordPress account so I can stay super organized. And when it comes to organization I need all the help I can get! I tried out many other social media scheduling services as well, but this is the only one I missed when the tria was over. It also allows me to promote and schedule my old posts well with ease. For me having a full time job and being able to have my posts and social media all set up before I walk out the door each day is such a game changer.
Monetizing your blog
Now this is an area I am still really learning about. I’ve only in the past 6 months start to get a handle on this whole concept. There are so many ways to monetize your blog and I feel like I have barely scratched the surface. Here is what I use:
- Amazon Associates affiliate program. This is a great place to start when you first decide to monetize your blog. You can include ads within a post, and also elsewhere on your page like the sidebar. You can also include links within a post. With this program, you make a percentage of any sales when people click on the ads or links on your blog. I only promote items I use and personally believe in. I would never promote a product I didn’t personally love. I include links within a post if it makes sense, but also at the bottom of a post. Amazon is a great jumping off point.
- Google Adsense- This is another ad network I use that if I can figure out so can you. You can set up ads to run on your blog. Once you have them set up, you’re done! Ads will run continuously even when you’re fast asleep…
- Social Fabric– This is something I’m brand new too but so far love, love, love. With Social Fabric you get an opportunity to create paid sponsored posts with big name brand companies.
- If you are looking for more ways to monetize your blog here are some great articles to read by Paleo Grubs, Urban Tastedbuds, RecipeTin Eats
- There is also a great ebook by Pinch of Yum for only $5 you can read to learn more!
So there you go! A complete guide to getting you started on having your own blog! If you have any questions please do no hesitate to reach out to me 🙂 Happy blogging everyone!