An easy and simple product guide to blogging resources and products that have helped me get set up and look like a pro.
Some of the links on this page are affiliate links of which I’ll earn a small commission if you purchase, but at no additional cost to you.
I had no idea it took so much to run a blog, and while there are some big bloggers that list some of the products and services they use, I wish there was a more comprehensive list/template that I could just follow.
These are the services and products that I use that make blogging life MUCH easier for me.
Believe me when I say I am a penny-pincher and I wanted to do everything manually/inexpensively. And believe me even more when I say I made the right decision to cave and pay for some of these. Blogging life is MUCH easier, although still challenging with a 2-yr and 1-yr old and no daycare!
Website Domain and Hosting
- I bought a domain and hosting from WordPress.com. You can purchase a domain anywhere for a few dollars. Do NOT purchase a domain from WordPress, because it’s about $20. You will still be able to use WordPress plugins when you purchase a domain and hosting elsewhere.
- Had I known this I would’ve done it and saved some money; however, since I did purchase through WordPress, I ended up buying the premium package which has given me immediate access to their real-time support and that has been a big time saver and stress reliever.
- The “.com” limits you from doing certain things, and at the recommendation of Pinch of Yum, I’ll be switching to WordPress.org at the end of the year.
- Apparently the (noticeable) difference between the two is that “.com” pretty much walks you through setting up and makes some things easier whereas “.org” requires you to build from scratch. Pinch of Yum explains it much better.
- Go to Pinch of Yum’s How to Start a Food Blog page and they walk you through 3 easy steps to set up on a very inexpensive host server (not WordPress).
- If you need help building from scratch, Food Blogger Pro has step-by-step videos to walk through building your site and so much more. Check it out!
I’m not an ad pro by any means but the first and easiest company to sign on with is Google Adsense. Food Blogger Pro also has a full video course explaining the ad world, and it’s included with all of their other tutorials.
This will be the easiest out of everything! It doesn’t matter what your blog is about, you NEED to have a Facebook page, Instagram account and Pinterest account.
Facebook pages are super easy to set up and take no time. Make sure you opt in for business insights. Throw up a couple of photos and invite your friends and tell them to invite their friends. Facebook is a place for community, so whatever your niche is, you and others interested will be able to interact with one another there. It’s a place where people hang out and linger, so it’s there that you can expand on issues and be long wined at times.
Instagram is a bit different. It’s a place where you have a split second to catch someone’s attention. It’s also a place where you can express your brand and yourself. But IG is useful to gain a following of people that wouldn’t otherwise know about you through the usage of hashtags. So make sure you sign up for the business account (it’s free) so you can have insight as to who is viewing your profile.
Last is Pinterest. It’s a place where people go when they intend to take action. Someone finds your easy 10 minute dinner and pins it, then it gets repinned by a few others and suddenly it’s been viewed by thousands and has driven that traffic to your site.
I started out using my iPhone 6s+ and completely forgot that there are attachable lenses to improve the camera. I never bought one, but you can search for one on Amazon. Also buy a phone tripod like this one because your wiggle and can cause a blurry picture.
If you have a Samsung smartphone, or plan on getting the latest iPhone, don’t even consider getting a camera or any lens accessory. Samsung has great phone cameras and Apple upgraded their camera big time!
DSLR cameras have three parts that they need to function: the body, the lens and a memory card. (A battery should always accompany the body.) The packages below include all necessary parts plus a carrying bag and more.
Other included items are just bang for your buck, like a tripod. If the bundle you choose doesn’t have a tripod, buy it separately. I paid $150 for mine because the head tilts both sideways and back and forth. I thought I would need all those directions and I don’t. So don’t do what I did.
I use a Canon Rebel T7i because it was recommended by my knowledgeable photography friend. The entire Rebel series is known as great introductory DSLR cameras for beginners. However, looking at the differences between the T6i and T7i, I should’ve saved the money and bought the T6i. The differences aren’t notable enough to justify getting the latest version, unless that’s your thing. Everything I do now can be accomplished with the T6i. The ONE thing I will say is that you can buy a remote control for the T6i, but the T7i doesn’t have a compatible remote because the remote is in the Canon smartphone app. You can Google the differences.
I avoided buying a camera bundle because I thought I wouldn’t need all of the things that came in it, and guess what…I ended up buying all of the items, separately. So these links are for great-value bundles for the T6i and T7i. The T7i bundle shows that it comes with a bluetooth remote, but remember that it isn’t programmed for that and will not work.
If you click on any of the camera links, check the price, then do a quick Amazon search because discounts are always flashing.
These are an absolute must have in my opinion because they allow you to see the photo as if it was already finish. This cable connects your camera to your computer for a live view so you have better insight to what your final product will look like. I was amazed the first time I did this. It made such a difference! I didn’t need to take as many photos as before. The shoot was a breeze and better quality!
If you don’t know what I mean, watch this video.
I did natural lighting outside for 7 months, but after swatting flies and neighborhood cats and waiting for the clouds to pass I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to buy lighting and knew it would be expensive. Then I got this set. I only used one light and used a reflector, but the other light was there as a back up.
Then I bought these and now I’m satisfied. It’s better to go with good quality the first time. I also got the miniature version and they’re good too. I still have the other lights – they were good until I got these and now they’re just ok.
Go to Michael’s or Hobby Lobby and buy a white poster board. It’s best to get one that’s sturdy so that it stays where you need it. You can also use a sheet a white paper as a reflector. I learned that from the amazing Tasty Food Photography ebook.
I wish I had gone to Hobby Lobby before buying backgrounds. They have so many printed papers for less $1 – $6. Tape a few on a sturdy poster board and you have a background.
For the Phone
I use Snapseed and it’s great! You can edit professionally and type font on pictures. Youtube Snapseed Tutorial for help.
The Tasty Food Photography ebook suggests 6 other apps that she has used, but I haven’t.
On the Computer
After much avoidance because of the price tag, I bought Adobe Creative Cloud. It’s $50 a month and it gives you access to many graphic and editing softwares, two of which are Lightroom and Photoshop. I cringe when I think about the price, but the quality and capability are far superior.
You can try all three of these programs as a trial and see if they fit what you’re trying to do. Aside from these, the last option I know about is PowerPoint. It’ll be limited, but you can make it work with some hacks. It all depends on what you’re trying to do.
I mention the Tasty Food Photography ebook later for purchase, but the Food Photography Blog by Christina Peters has been really helpful as well. She offers great freebies for subscribing to her, and she’s been in the food photography biz for 20+ years!
- Chelsea Lords from Chelsea’s Messy Apron wrote an ebook called How I Made $40k My First Year of Blogging. I had already been set up for 6 months when I bought this ebook but I learned so much from it. Super helpful tips to get traffic to your blog, but that’s already included if you sign up with Food Blogger Pro! She did a really good job writing this and giving insight to her first year’s journey.
- Lindsay Ostrom from Pinch of Yum wrote the ebook Tasty Food Photography. I truly don’t think it could be any better! It’s to-the-point, concise, extremely helpful and easy to understand; well worth the $29! My photos improved immediately! You also get access to video tutorials on how to edit in Lightroom and Photoshop.
There are many free apps to choose from, and WP Recipe Maker has a free version as well that’s perfectly fine. I upgraded to the WP Recipe Maker Elite Package because I really wanted those features for my viewers (mainly the meal planning option). The product is fully customizable and their customer service is fantastic! I truly have never loved a brand more, except maybe Krispy Kreme as a kid. Tasty Recipes is also a good option. It was created by PinchofYum and has features similar to WP Recipe Maker.
In case you’re wondering, I haven’t enabled the meal planning feature just yet because I need to get things together for it. Give me a few months.
- Amazon – It’s easy, they have everything, and everyone shops there.
- EasyAzon is an app that allows you to save time and make more money as an Amazon affiliate.
- ShareASale.com – Lots of companies across the board.
- FlexOffers.com – Lots of companies across the board.
I used MailChimp because it’s free until you hit a certain number of subscribers, and because I’m able to send targeted emails to subscribers based on their interests. This is something you can’t do without an independent provider – like if you’re just using Gmail.
MailChimp has a steep learning curve, but guess who has video tutorials? Yup: Food Blogger Pro!
Another service is ConvertKit. I’ve switched to them and I love how easy it is to set up, but it comes with a $30 a month price tag, no matter how many subscribers you have.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s very important and a very hot topic. Expert knowledge in SEO costs $$ but there’s plenty of free information to access. It seems like everyone has tidbits to offer in this subject, and they’re great for beginners, but getting real traffic from SEO requires a little bit more work. Check out Suzi from StartaMomBlog.com. She’s awesome with tons of free info and detailed courses for purchase.
Digital Nomad Wannabe is dedicated to SEO, and she has tons of free information if you sign up for her newsletter!