This page is to cite the resources that I use for my blog and that I have found to be helpful and rewarding. Since I will keep using new products, this list will keep changing with time.
As we all (most) know, blogging is a Herculean task. Its not as simple as cooking,clicking and sharing on social media, although I swear that’s what it seems like most of the times. Nope blogging is the art of communicating with people, like minded viewers who come to your site for a particular reason. So if you are a food blogger like me, the most predominant reason someone visits your site is for food but it sure helps if you have pretty pictures and a way with words too 😛
Over the course of two years of blogging, there are a few things I know I cant live without. Resources that I am grateful to have with me coz I know without those tools or software, my blog wouldn’t be what it is. I am not an expert by any chance nor do I know a lot, but the point here is me sharing whatever little knowledge I have in the hopes that someone looking to starting a blog may feel a little less lost than I felt in these two years. Slowly but surely , now I have reached a momentum where I know I can fall back on these trusted resources to make my journey smoother.
Lets start by talking about resources that actually help you build a blog.
Resources to build your blog
1. A good theme + Good hosting provider + the Right platform = Good blog design! Here’s how to start your blog in a matter of minutes. (Click on the highlighted text)
Once you have installed the theme of your choice, let your inner designer take over and give your home the finishing touches it deserves. A beautiful logo with site title, a pretty header image and synchronized fonts are foremost. Also, choose a color palette for your site and stick to that in all your posts and for headings, subheadings etc. Download some free fonts at Dafont and start creating a pretty website on your own. With a little bit of help from the Google Gods and Youtube designers, you can even learn coding to some extent and take care of the basics on your own like I did. If not, hire a web designer who create the blog of your dreams without too much hassle from you.
2. Bluehost is the easiest solution to start your website. They provide simple and easy hosting solutions without costing too much. Win win for me. You can always change your hosting service provider like I did once your blog takes off.
If you are looking for something much better once you have higher traffic, I would say look no further than Media Temple!
3. WordPress: As mentioned in the How to start a blog that’s perfect for you post, wordpress is the best option you have when it comes to building your own blog. If you are a happy little DIY-er like me, I am sure you will love the ease and user friendly aspect of WordPress.
4. Vaultpress: I am a little obsessive when it comes to saving/ backing up my blog, especially coz I usually pretty much suck at these things. Enter Vaultpress. This is a pretty inexpensive option but one that works very well for me especially since now I know my 200 posts are safe! I pay just $5 and ensure myself some peace of mind.
5. Mailchimp: Every blogger must have an email newsletter that they send to the subscribers. I started with Mailchimp one year back when I had 0 subscribers. Today even though that number is up to 2878 and my account is no longer free, I still use and love Mailchimp. I also use their MCSnap app to send newsletters easily to my subscribers when I am on move and away from my laptop, which happens way too often.
6. Updraft plus: This is the free version for backing up and restoring your website. Although I first used this 1 yr back, I have since moved onto Vaultpress and feel much better about it. You can still use the free Updraft Plus as it is very easy to use and lets you back up your site seamlessly.
Get it here : Updraft plus Plug in
7. WordPress SEO by Yoast : is the easiest tool to quickly make your blog blog SEO friendly. Once this plug in is installed and switched on, you can rest assure that its doing its work in the background, quietly working to make sure the images are all optimized for google. Get it here.
8. WP to Twitter : This is a super cool way to embed a catchy twitter worthy phrase right into your posts and make them super easy for your readers to share. Get it here.
9. Akismet: This is a serious life saver! I hate spam, I am sure you do too. This handy little plugin makes sure that those super annoying spammy comments don’t enter your actual comment folder! I don’t know how I would ever read the good comments if it wasn’t for this awesome tool. Get Akismet here.
Another very important tool that I cant imagine my life without is the Limit Logins Attempts. There will be people who will want to hack into your site and you have no idea the scare you will get! But thanks to this plug in, you can limit the number of login attempts anyone is allowed and thankfully most dont get by the id and password. Definitely add this one, get it here.
10. WP Ultimate Recipe: This is a slick recipe tool that is fully responsive, comes with a hosts of amazing options, can add images to your instruction area, is optimized for google recipe search, is easily translatable and had integration with Chicory and Big oven! I used Easy recipe plug in earlier, but started seeing some problems with that plugin, hence I switched to WP Ultimate recipe plug in and have never been more happy! If you are looking for another recipe plug in, Meal Planner Pro is equally awesome!
Get them here: WP Ultimate Recipe Plug in
Food Photography Resources.
You cant be a food blogger without doing food photography. Food photography is a highly personal experience for me, its my magic calm pill, its what my soul yearns for and its something that’s just an extension of me. My pictures have evolved over these last two years and I do believe that now I have found my style and know what excites me and what doesn’t. For example, I am naturally drawn towards the drama that moody photography provides vis a vis the usual commercial or white bright pictures. Dark/moody photography requires more technical knowledge but the results if done well, will leave you enticed. Over time, they even become a signature move like so many of the bloggers I admire, WhatKatieAte, A Brown Table, Call me cupcakes, The Kitchenmccabe to name a few. Here’s what I use to take the pictures and help me with editing pics and creating graphics for the blog.
1. Camera: Needless to say a good quality DSLR is the key. I am currently using my 6 yr old Canon EOS 1100D but I am planning to upgrade it soon. Get it here.
2. Lens is more important than the camera. Obviously you have to choose the right kind of lens for the kind of photography you do. For food bloggers, we work with close range shots, so there is no need to invest in telephoto zoom lens. A good portrait lens or prime lens like the Canon 1.8f 50mm lens suits everyone. Its super easy on the pocket, I paid 6k 5 yrs back and obviously its been paid for atleast 40 times in just 2 yrs! Get the lens here.
3. A better version of the above mentioned prime lens is the Canon 1.4f 50 mm lens. Although that’s more expensive, its definitely a boost up from the 1.8f 50mm and your picture quality will improve. Get it here.
4. I finally bought a tripod. Most of the days I shoot really early in the morning or after 5:30 pm which makes it darker than the ideal conditions. Hand held camera had worked till ow, but ever since I have been getting more and more professional assignments, I felt I needed to make his investment. I finally bought a basic Vanguard tripod that was super easy on the pocket, reaches upto 6′ and is quite sturdy. Get it here.
5. Memory Card is a resource for sure. Why? Coz if you are a photographer like me you will always be running out of space and seriously its the most annoying thing on earth to not have enough space when you are ready to shoot or mid shoot! This little unglamorous thing here is a lifesaver! Get one here.
6. Lightroom – Most blogger are either pro Photoshop or pro Lightroom. I have somehow always been a lightroom girl. I love that software and the intricate changes one can do to a pic on it. It has some presets and you can get many more downloadable presets on Pinterest easily. But the most important thing is, it edits like a dream, is very user friendly as compared to PS and even has a mobile version that’s beautiful! Start editing now.
7. I have a penchant and love for designing, so much so that I designed and learnt basic coding to tweak this website that you seeing now. I didn’t take any professional help to do this and when I created this site, it was one of the happiest days on my life. Creating anything makes one happy. Be it graphics for blog or Instagram, long collages for Pinterest, Saucy Saturdays announcement one pagers, I do it all on this completely free and super easy to use website called Picmonkey.
8. It goes without saying but books are the biggest resource anyone can have. Especially important for a banker who had never taken a pic of food before 2 yrs or ever thought she would get paid and published for her pics! I learnt almost everything that I know by doing. That it, I took pictures. Lots and lots of them. My daughter was my biggest inspiration. But when it comes to food photography, you need someone to hold your hand and show you the way. These three books have been that to me.
I hope this will help you in getting started with your dream blog and making it google and user friendly, while keeping your work safe. Hope you guys find this helpful!
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links, at no extra cost to you whatsoever. Please let me know if you have any questions about anything listed below!