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I have been getting a lot of questions lately on how to start, setup, and monetize a blog and I thought it would be helpful to share my experience.
To be a successful food blogger, the two obvious tools you need in your arsenal are good recipes and helpful content.
Other enablers matter as much – beautiful photography, a well-designed site that loads quickly, impactful social media presence, and SEO friendly site that determines how quickly you are able to monetize your site.
Here is a resource page of all the equipment, plugins, courses, and services that will help you grow and monetize your blog.
Table of contents
Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links here are affiliate links, which means that I may earn a commission if you click on the link or make a purchase using the link. I only recommend products that I use and love myself, so I know you’ll be in good hands.
There are many good hosting companies and Big Scoots has my vote. My page speed improved by 50% after I switched to this hosting company. Their customer support is the best and their response time is phenomenal.
I also have a yearly subscription to the Feast plugin which allows me to choose any of their 5 themes (seasoned pro is included). The advantage of using this plugin is that theme updates are delivered through the plugin along with features that help you keep your blog compliant with SEO and accessibility requirements.
Read more about it here – why should you use the Feast plugin.
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens – My go-to lens for all my photography needs.
Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens Base Bundle – This is the other lens I own and use from time to time. This is a macro lens you can use to take beautiful close up shots.
Chicago winters can be dark and cloudy and I often used to get frustrated when I had to shoot and there wasn’t sufficient light. I took Joanie Simon’s course – Artificial Academy and it was life-changing.
Joanie is an excellent teacher and getting her course will allow you to shoot pictures at any time of the day.
These are the equipment I bought to shoot flash photography.
Godox Speedlite Light & Godox XPro-N Wireless Flash Trigger Transmitter – This is the Speedlite and flash trigger transmitter kit I have which is compatible with my Nikon D750 camera.
Neewer Portable 5 in 1 59″x79″/150x200cm – This is a large reflector that I use for both Flash photography as well as shooting in natural light.
Photography Lighting Kit – I have used this light quite a bit for shooting videos. They are budget-friendly lights and great for folks who are just starting out.
Sandbag weight for C-stands – You need to get sandbags to prevent C-stands from toppling over. You can also use them with your tripod.
This is the tripod I have – but it does not have an overhead arm.
The equipment listed below are on my wish list. If you have the budget for it get these instead of the ones listed above.
Godox Photo Studio Softbox – This softbox along with the light below is perfect for videos and mimicks natural light really well.
Backdrops and Props
My favorite place to shop for backdrops is Erickson surfaces. Their boards are sturdy and just the right size for all food photography needs. Other stores that I have used in the past and loved include
- WP Recipe Maker – This is the recipe plugin I use to display my recipes. I chose this plugin over others because it was easy to calculate nutrition info for Indian ingredients. Brecht provides incredible support too!
- Easy Affiliate Links – I use this plugin to store my affiliate links in one place and then I grab them as I need them. You can also see analytics on how many clicks you got per link. The big advantage is if your affiliate link changes, you have to change it in one central location and not in every post that has that link.
- Feast Plugin – As I mentioned above (in the themes section), I use this plugin because most if not all updates or features to my theme will be delivered through this.
- Social Warfare – This is a sharing plugin that provides your readers with a way to share your posts with others. I chose this particular one because it is easy to configure and also allows me to upload multiple images for Pinterest.
- WP Rocket – There are many caching plugins in the market, I chose this one because it came recommended by my host and is one of the most popular ones too.
- Imagify – This plugin compresses your images so that your site will load quickly.
- Yoast SEO – You can use the free version of Yoast too but I use the premium version because it includes the redirect manager, internal linking suggestions, and internal linking blocks. Here’s a link that compares the paid vs the premium version of Yoast.
Blog / Tech Support
I worked with Grayson from iMark Interactive in the past for a speed audit on my website. He tweaked my site so that it would load quickly. He is also my go-to person for any issues on my website that I can’t solve.
Other than site speed audits and monthly maintenance plans, he offers a lot of different services such as website domain change, permalink change, custom development, etc.
- Lightroom – This is my tool of choice to edit my photos.
- Tailwind – I use this to schedule my Pinterest pins. I love it because I am able to schedule 6 months in advance :-).
- Coschedule – I use this tool to schedule posts both on my Facebook page and group.
- Canva – I use this graphic design platform to design my pins and sometimes Instagram stories.
- Later – Of all the Instagram scheduling tools, I like Later the best since it saves your captions and hashtags so that you can reuse it over and over again.
- Grammarly – Install this free tool to help identify spelling and grammar issues and ensures that your writing is clear and without any errors.
I do invest in a lot of courses every year but I don’t want to overwhelm you. Here are the ones that have made a huge impact on my business.
- Joanie’s Artificial Academy – Highly recommend this course to learn how to shoot photographs in artificial light.
- Food Video Academy – Brita and Lorena teach in an easy to understand way on how to shoot videos in natural light. They go out of the way and help their students with troubleshooting and are always ready to shoot new videos to support them.
- Rachel Korinek’s Lightroom magic and composition essentials – This course helped me take my photography skills to the next level.
- Matt Molen’s course on email marketing – This course will teach you the techniques on how to grow and nurture your email list.
- Food Blogger Pro – This membership-based community has over 350 easy-to-understand videos that’ll teach you how to start, grow, and monetize your blog. I have been a member for over 3 years and even as a seasoned blogger, I am still able to get value out of it. Read my detailed review for Food Blogger Pro.
- Food Bloggers Entrepreneurs – If you are looking for a simple system that works, one that will help you get focused and organized, FBE is the way to go. From time-saving tips on organizing your blog to helping with food photography/video/ SEO – the course covers it all.
- Grayson’s Site speed course – This course offers over 40 lessons to help you troubleshoot your speed issues.
- Pitch Perfect Pro – In this course, Jenny Melrose teaches how to strategically reach out to brands for sponsored posts.
- Pinning Perfect – This is the only Pinterest course you need to take. I love the fact that they update this course couple of times a year to keep up with Pinterest changes. This course has helped me develop a strategy that helps me get all my pins scheduled for the month in less than an hour.
I did an audit with Casey Markee and I found it really helpful. He reviewed my site for any issues, taught me how to do SEO the right way, and gave me a long list of items to work on to improve my site.
It was a worthwhile investment but if his audit is not something that’s within your budget right now, check out the list of free resources below.
Facebook groups – Food Bloggers Central and Transparency in Blogging. These are two of my favorite groups for blogging questions and I have really appreciated the support I have got from here over the years.
Joanie’s channel on YouTube – You’ll learn essential food photography skills and some helpful tips and tricks.
Eat blog talk community – The basic access allows you to interact with others in the forum and lets you find service providers who can help you with your business.
A few of my favorite ones that I listen to religously are
- Food Blogger Pro by Bjork Ostrom
- Eat Blog Talk by Megan Porta – I was featured in episode 65 – Common Food blogging mistakes and how to avoid them.
- Eat Capture Share by Kimberly Espinel
I wanted to keep this post short and provide a list of tools with a brief explanation of each. If you have any questions or need additional details, drop a comment below and I’ll be happy to elaborate.