I’ve written a detailed overview of resources in How to Start a Blog, but I also wanted to create a brief summarization. All of these resources work to help create a successful blog. This includes products, services, and recommended plugins. You don’t need all of these to be successful, since not all of them apply to your particular niche. Some of them are essential elements in creating your blog and others are just tips and tricks to make your life as a beginning blogger a little easier. I’ve created a specific section to target fellow Food Bloggers as well.
Note: Some of the products that I link to below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission off of them should you chose to make a purchase through my link. I am not simply recommending them solely for my benefit- I can fully attest to the quality of all of these products since they are the ones I use myself. They are each highly regarded in the community of bloggers.
HostGator- When you first setup your blog you will need to chose a hosting company (a place to store your websites information). This is the hosting company that I use. Their setup is a quick and easy process- I have a video tutorial of exactly how to do it here and I will also help you setup for free if you’d rather! I prefer HostGator over the rest simply because of the customer service I have experienced. I’ve created a couple of glitches in my site and needed immediate rescue. HostGator was always right there to help me even though sometimes it wasn’t a web hosting-related problem. They’re awesome.
WordPress Free Themes- If you are just starting out and aren’t sure how serious you want to be about your blog or are on a budget, a free theme is the way to go. Test out the waters for a while. See how you feel. There are 1,000′s of free options out there. If you want to have more control over the design of your blog than you will want to upgrade to a “premium” theme, like Thesis, discussed below.
Elegant Themes and Genesis- These are two great priced options for people looking to purchase a more advanced theme with a variety of options for customization. They are like the middle man choice between WordPress Free Themes and the Thesis Theme. A great option if you want something you can customize but don’t know code well enough to do it by yourself.
Thesis- I debate the merits of a FREE theme versus a PREMIUM theme here and give a video tutorial on the options of both. This is the Theme that I have and I LOVE it. (Currently working with version 1.8.2)
MediaTemple- Eventually your blog might get more traffic than it can handle. It will start running slowly, slugging through the loading process. That is when you need to upgrade to a dedicated virtual server. It is more expensive than a web hosting plan, but if you want to keep up the success, you’ve got to be able to handle the traffic or your going to lose your readers.
Blog Building- These are my two of my favorite resources for blogging information: Blogging Your Passion and The Blog Builders. All three of those guys know exactly what they are doing and are readily available to help you. They have tons of tips and tricks to get your blog on its’ way to success.
Adobe Photoshop Elements- Having a photo editing program is essential to creating good imagery for your blog. Not only can you edit photos in Elements, but you can design logos and icons in it too. I have Elements 8. I found it on Amazon for $20 somehow and it has been a key component in my editing process ever since. It is more than adequate for my purposes- I don’t feel the need to spring for the top of the line photo editing software, but maybe you do. The most recent version is Elements 11.
Adobe Lightroom- This is another photo editing programby Adobe. It doesn’t have as many technical abilities as Elements, but it does all the basic editing. The big feature of Lightroom is that it stores and organizes your photos. Plus it’s very affordable. I have Lightroom 4 and I LOVE it! I probably use it more than Elements.
PicMonkey- I recently discovered the PicMonkey website. It’s a FREE site where you upload/create your own images using all their editing features. It’s a lot easier to use than photoshop if your not entirely familiar with the way photoshop works (like me). I made all my logos for my How to Start a Blog posts on there, as well as the logo at the top of this post.
Tasty Food Photography eBook- When I bought this I was already producing pretty decent photos of my food, but I came away with a lot of new information after reading it. There were a few editing techniques I didn’t know about and a couple tips about food staging that I never thought about. It’s a great book that is well written with lots of visual examples.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens- This lens is an incredible buy! It shoots great images and is priced at just around $100. Most lenses are a few hundred bucks so you can’t get much better than that. The Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 Lens is the more expensive, slightly better version of this lens.
Silver Screen Light Reflector and/or Diffuser- These both help to create better lighting for your photography. A silver screen reflects light back and a diffuser is used to soften harsh light and decrease the effects of shadows. You can usually buy a 5-in-1 screen that includes both of these as well as a gold light reflector, a black screen, and a white screen. But that doesn’t help if you want to use both at the same time haha. I have a 5-in-1 round reflector and a large rectangular diffuser.
To Boost Traffic- You can submit your food photos to the following sites. If they’re accepted then you will see an extra bump in traffic as people come from their site to view your recipe. Yay for more visitors!
Contact Form 7- A simple way to setup a contact page.
Akismet- Protects against spam in comments.
Easy Recipe- Enter, format, and print recipes on posts.
nrelate Related Content- Show related posts at the bottom of each post.
Pinterest Pin It Button For Images- I LOVE this! Creates a Pin-it button to appear when cursor hovers over an image.
Tweet Old Post- Tweets whenever you put up a new post as well as old content at selected intervals. Helps old posts stay alive and drives extra traffic to your site.
Blogger Importer- If you want to import past posts from your Google Blogger Blog onto your new WordPress blog, this plugin makes an easy job of it.