I thought it would be helpful to create a page of food blogger resources so you see the products, services, and a list of tools that I use with my blog. The list will be continually evolving as I find different resources that are worth mentioning.
About This List of Food Blogger Resources
This website was established in September 2016 and since then receives over 100,000 page views monthly. Yup, who would have thought a (mostly) food review site could generate so much traffic? When I started, I did not think it would get that far.
Consider this page a page linking to everything I’ve learned so far building this blog. I have free resources and ones I’ve paid for. I hope you can use it to help guide your journey.
Even if you are not in the food space, there should be some advice here that will be helpful to you regardless of which niche you are in.
I've broken this page down to 10 distinct areas. The number on the list corresponds to where you can find the helpful resources. Unlike college, there is no set path to follow. No checklist. Each blog and niche are totally different. All I can do is tell you what I did to get to this point. If you aren't in the same niche, that's fine as many of these topics transcend blogging topics.
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a small commission if you purchase through those links at no extra cost to you. I have used all of the products listed below, have paid for them out of my own pocket, and recommend them because they are companies and products that I have found trustworthy and worth the investment. I'll be taking you behind the scenes to share what use. Please let me know if you have any questions about anything listed below!
You've probably seen a bazillion ads and articles talking about starting a website. There are platforms like Wix, Blogger, Wordpress.com and Wordpress.org. All of them are very different.
Which should you choose? The pricing differs as should your reason for joining each of them. If your end game is to monetize your blog and make it a business, then hands down I recommend Wordpress.org. It's the best Content Management System of all of them that will allow you the ability and flexibility to create the site you have in your mind.
I personally use Wordpress. Now the question is should you choose Wordpress.com or Wordpress.org? I'll tell you why I chose Wordpress.com initially and why I've chosen to move to Wordpress.org on How to Start A Food Blog on Budgets of $0-1000.
Now, if you've chosen Wordpress.org, you'll need a Hosting company for your site.
When you are first starting off, you might go for cheap hosting, instead of affordable hosting. What is the difference? Cheap hosting means you are looking only at price. If you want the cheapest hosting, the Bluehost is the option to go with.
Why should you go with affordable hosting instead? You’ll pay a bit more, but the quality of the product being delivered to you is much better. Google will also penalize your site if it is too slow, which is often the case with “cheap” hosting.
My recommendation is SiteGround. They were the perfect balance of affordable, reliable service, and had the best customer service around. I had them for a year and they did a great job of dealing with my needs and problems when they came up. Siteground was a terrific place to get started.
While I’m an affiliate for all these programs, I highly recommend SiteGround to start. Once you get some traffic, then consider Cloudways. Steer clear of super cheap hosting. You get what you pay for. I personally experienced long waits for customer service and micro outages with “cheap hosting.” Part of the reason I was able to grow is getting on to higher quality hosting.
My one year was up with them, when I switched to Cloudways which allows me to scale as my traffic increases. When I was mentioned in Money Magazine, in one day my traffic doubled. If I were still on shared hosting, my server would have crashed and a lot of people might not have come back.
Every blogger dreams of going viral, but with shared hosting it can strain if not crash your server.
Bottom line: Even if you ignore my advice, just remember this: how many times have you clicked on a website (on your phone especially) to click back when it takes too long to load. If you are that person, please pay just a bit more so people won’t click off of your site while they wait for it to load.
So many choices. But do you know how to pick a theme?
When I first got started, I picked what is pretty. Duh? Who Wouldn't?!
But seriously, you can get by on a free theme for a bit. When you have the budget you'll need to know what to look for.
Here is what I look for:
- Is it going to load quickly for the end-user? Especially on a mobile phone (⅔ of my traffic is looking at my site on a phone).
- Is it actively maintained and developed?
- Is it friendly to Ad Networks?
While I would love to run a custom theme, that requires an investment of thousands of dollars plus a monthly retainer to the developer. For now, I'm using an out of the box theme.
Seasoned Pro with the Genesis Framework are affordable, tests quickly on Google Page Speed Tests and are actively maintained who push out regular updates. They are easy to use and have been worth the investment.
If you are thinking about buying any theme, run them through Google Page Speed. You might be surprised by what comes up.
If you've chosen the path of wordpress.org, you'll probably want to add some additional features and functionality to your page. Wordpress Plugins are how this is done.
Paid Plugins I Use
- Yoast Premium- This is what I use to keep my website search engine friendly. You can also get by with the free version.
- ShortPixel- Makes the photos I take and makes them smaller so they load quicker. When I take pictures they are many megabytes in size, this shrinks them down to just kilobytes.
- WP Rocket- Speeds up my webpage considerably which is a must in a mobile first world.
- Akismet- Keeps the spam comments off the blog
In the words of the Joker, "If you are good at something, never do it for free." There is truth in this. If someone has something valuable, they should make money off of their wisdom.
I've taken a variety of classes. Here is my list of best free and paid course to keep you on top of your game:
- Food Blogger Pro- If you choose to spend money on a course, bar none the absolute best money I ever spent was investing in a membership on Food Blogger Pro. You can read my whole review, here on How Food Blogger Pro Helped Me Grow. And yes, it is food blogging step by step by the same bloggers who brought you Pinch of Yum.
- Pitch It Perfect-Whether you are a writer by nature, or asking for things is new to you, then this is a very well thought out course in the art of pitching, working with brands, and seeking media coverage.
Website Tools & Services
Let's face a quick reality. We want to make search engines happy. We want the end users to be happy. And a fast site is always better than a slow one especially since most people are now surfing the web on their phone.
Here are my favorite tools and services for keeping things running smoothly.
- Nerdpress- Andrew and his team handle the tech related stuff so I can focus on food. A worthy investment if you are a blogger. I can't speak highly enough about him and his team.
- MediaWyse- Casey did a search engine audit for me and it's been nothing but upward traffic. If you are trying to figure out what you are doing right AND wrong, and you are in the food space, he is the guy to hire.
- Tailwind- This is the service I use to schedule Pinterest posts, it saves me a lot of time and is well worth the investment considering Pinterest has grown to be between 10-15% of my traffic.
- LinkinProfile- This is the service I use to connect my Instagram account with clickable links so that way I can drive traffic directly to various posts whether they are new or just new to my audience.
I'm not a graphic designer. I'm barely organized in real life. But the web has some absolutely fantastic tools to elevate your game.
- Canva- the design tools I use to make everything pretty. They have so much to offer and their site is very user-friendly. Using it is free, but if you resize images or see pictures you like it is absolutely worth the upgrade.
- Biz Template Babe- Canva is great, but having templates ready to go in your niche have been an invaluable part of this blog. This was a worthy investment to save me time from fiddling with all the little details. And yes, it is so easy to fiddle with things for hours on end.
Camera Equipment & Setup
When I first got started with the whole blogging thing, I was doing it all on my phone, a Samsung Galaxy 7. Seriously. Now, fast forward two years and one of the best investments I've made is in a DSLR and some solid lenses.
Here is what is currently in my camera bag and my current video set up:
- Canon EOS Rebel- I actually own two of these for food photos and video. I bought a second one (used off of Amazon) because I figured I already had the accessories for it. I shoot video and it is great to have a second camera for those side shots in addition to the overhead.
- Canon EF 1.8 50mm Lens-My first lens that was not from a kit and I feel deeply in love with the fact that it is affordable and give such a great depth of field.
- Canon EF 1.2L 50mm Lens- With time and practice, sometimes you upgrade your most beloved lenses. This is my new work horse of a lens.
- Canon EF-S 18-135mm Lens- I use this for overhead and video shots. This lens can only be used with a crop frame sensor, but takes incredibly clear shots.
- Extra Rechargeable Batteries- DSLR Cameras devour batteries. Keep a few extra charged ones around just in case you did not get the shot you wanted.
- Memory Cards- A digital camera needs somewhere for those huge files to go. Consider getting an extra memory card for when you forget one in the computer.
- Glide Gear OH-100- My rig to keep my camera over my work area for both Photography and Videography.
- Replica Surfaces-My go to store for surfaces that look real in the photos.
If your blog is starting to look more like a business rather than a hobby, then maybe it should be treated like one. I'm not a lawyer. Nor is this legal advise, but there are some considerations you should look into.
- Wave-Free to use accounting software, plus should your blog/business grow you have the ability to invoice AND do payroll with a simple upgrade. Very user friendly.
- Accuranker- This is how I track how blog posts are doing in search rankings.
- AppSumo- Running a blog does require some investment. This is a great place for me to get deals on services that I'm looking for whether it is image compression, video, or business tools. There are also free items to try.
When I first got started blogging, I heard that there are people who made money doing this. I wasn't 100% sure I believed them. Can't believe everything you see on the internet, right?
Well, I started my own money making experiment to see if I could just cover costs while I was on Wordpress.com Pro Plan. Here is my whole article detailing my experience and earnings: Is Word Ads Worth It?
Since April of 2018, I've been on Mediavine. I hope to put up a page really soon about my experience with them. If you reach over 25,000 sessions then I would absolutely recommend applying.
Mediavine and AdThrive are the top paying ad networks out there.
As of January 2019, I've moved to AdThrive as I've crossed over the 100,000 page views monthly requirement.
There are days where this is a job, without being my full-time job. It's a part-time job, a labor of love, but one of the things I enjoy most in my day. Every now and again, I have bad days. I have some great days as well.
Here are some quick tips for you:
- The first six months is the hardest and you will know how much you love your niche in that amount of time. This blog is my 3rd attempt at blogging.
- You will feel every emotion imaginable. Including the one that wants to hit the delete button. You'll also have amazing highs too.
- It's a journey, not a destination. There will never be a point where a blog is "done."
- You will underestimate the number of skills you need to do the blogging thing well.
- There is only one constant in blogging: change. The field is ever evolving, technology and social media will always be changing.
- But you will look back at your earliest posts and be totally embarrassed. If you are still at it a year later, you will be amazed by how far you've come.
- The answer is out there because someone HAS figured it out.
- Burnout is a thing. Take time off, but don't forget to come back.
- When you have a bad day and feel like quitting, get support. You need blogger friends. They will understand you in ways others won't.