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I get a lot of questions from people about blogging. So I have created a page of my favorite tools and resources.
Domains and Hosting – I personally use WPOpt for my hosting. WPOpt came highly recommended by many other bloggers. Some go as far as to say that the answer to any tech-y question is Charles Smith and WPOpt. They do a lot more than just hosting, and I am glad to have them as a resource. I have been very pleased with the level of service I have received, and I would HIGHLY recommend them.
WordPress – I use this for content management. It is relatively user friendly and FREE. There is a lot of information and support available for newbies. And it’s free!
Education and Support
Food Blogger Pro Community – I joined Food Blogger Pro for the first two years of my blog, and it was a HUGE help to me and my blog. I was been BLOWN AWAY by the value provided. They lay out everything you need to know on how to create a successful food blog, and they organize everything in a series of how-to videos. I wish I would have joined much sooner! I would highly recommend it, especially if you have a food blog or have always wanted to start one.
Photography & Image Editing
I used PicMonkey to edit photos for the first year and a half of blogging, and it is such a great service. There is a free version, which includes tons of features. Plus there is a premium upgrade which is very reasonably priced, in my opinion.
PicMonkey got me used to the idea of manipulating images. It’s kind of like Photoshop light. For me personally, if I had started with Photoshop right out of the gate, I most likely would have gotten overwhelmed and given up.
I still use PicMonkey occasionally to create collages, or if I need to edit something very quickly. And I have kept a premium membership because it is so affordable and convenient.
I am currently using Adobe Creative Cloud, which collects a monthly fee for me to use the latest versions of both Photoshop and LightRoom.
I shoot with a old DSLR – a Nikon D3100 – that is actually discontinued, but it gets the job done!
I shoot all my food photos with this Nikor f/ 1.8 50mm lens, AKA the “nifty fifty.” It is the best value for new bloggers and photographers. IT has great bokeh (background blur) and makes everything look beautiful.
I have use Tailwind to (1) grow my Pinterest following and (2) direct more traffic to my blog. I am LOVING Tailwind so far. If you are a food blogger, you MUST master Pinterest. If not, you are leaving out a major potential traffic source.
Tailwind offers a 30-day free trial, which is how I got started. If you are on the fence, I would suggest that you do the 30-day trial, look at your metrics over those 30 days, and decide if you think it is worth it for you.
Tailwind will also offer you a 1:1 consultation with a pro, which I would suggest that you take them up on. The reps will not only show you all the bells and whistles of the software itself, but they are also Pinterest experts who have a lot of valuable knowledge they can share. This will help you form your own Pinterest strategy.
Free Themes: If you are just starting out, you don’t have to drop any of money on a theme! In fact, I would recommend starting with one of the free themes. There are some great options out there. I used the Forever theme for my first year of blogging, and I was very happy with it.
I waited a year before I looked in to upgrading. Looking back, that was a wise decision. There is so much to learn, and I would recommend that new bloggers focus on creating great content and getting your stuff out there before worrying too much about design.
The Genesis Framework for WordPress is what I am currently using on this blog. A lot of web designers exclusively use this platform, and I am starting to understand why. It offers upgraded features, such as SEO, customization options and enhanced security.
I am running a customized version of the Brunch Pro Child Theme(requires that you purchase Genesis Framework above) currently using on A Pinch of Healthy. I used Foodie Pro Theme in the past. I love the minimalist design of both these themes, and they come with a lot of great features: various color schemes, layout options, recipe card styling, widgetized home & recipe pages, featured images and landing page templates.
All in all these are very nice themes, and I would recommend it to others.
Genesis Extender Plugin – Allows you to tinker with the design of your site and edit Genesis child themes without having to use FTP or write code. You can create custom content areas and tweak any Genesis child theme in real time. Requires you to already be running The Genesis Framework and child theme of your choice.
I enjoyed using this plugin in the past to make quick changes to my fonts, colors, sidebars. If you already work with a developer, you will not need this.
It is a great option, though, if you want to make a few customizations and don’t yet want to hire a professional designer/ developer to help you. It allows you to add new widget areas to your theme, which is really handy. It is actually helped me to learn code as well…an unexpected bonus! Here is a demo video from the developer if you are interested.
Professional Site Designer
If you are ready to hire a professional to help you with your website, I hired Lauren Gray from Once Coupled for my current site design, and I was very pleased with her work. Be sure and tell her I sent you!
Additional Info and Articles
- Pinch of Yum’s monthly income & traffic reports are very helpful.
- Sally’s Baking Addiction on blogging as a career
My Own Blogging Related Posts
Do you have a blogging related question? I would love to hear! Leave a comment below.