I thought it would be helpful to create a resource page that food bloggers can use to see the products and services that I use with my blog. The list will be continually evolving as I find different resources that are worth mentioning.
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I use all of the products listed below and recommend them because they are companies that I have found helpful and trustworthy. Please let me know if you have any questions about anything listed below!
Getting Started with your own Food Blog
Bluehost – Bluehost was our hosting company for the first two years of Pinch of Yum. They offer a slick and easy way to get up and running with your blog on WordPress. Bluehost has free domain name registration, is amazingly affordable, and is the perfect place to start. The whole hosting-domain-Wordpress-website-language-stuff can be kind of confusing at first. Check out the How to Start a Food Blog page if you want a step-by-step run down of how to start your own blog using Bluehost.
MediaTemple – MediaTemple is the hosting company we switched to after Pinch of Yum started to get 5,000+ visitors a day on a consistent basis. We are hosting Pinch of Yum on a dedicated virtual server. I know that sounds like mumbo-jumbo if you’re not a tech person, but the important thing to know is that a dedicated virtual server means that your blog can handle more traffic. We are on the plan that has 512MB of memory. MediaTemple calls it the “(dv) Dedicated-Virtual 4.0 – 512MB” plan.
The Thesis Theme for WordPress – The Thesis Theme was the theme we used for the first three years of Pinch of Yum. Bjork and I went back and forth on what we should do when we were considering moving Pinch of Yum from Tumblr to WordPress. Should we hire a designer (expensive!) or use a theme? After a lot of research we found that The Thesis Theme was one of the best themes out there. It’s great for improving page ranking in Google and making easy updates and changes to your blog. It also has a great forum to call on if you ever need any help. The only reason we switched to Genesis was because the designer we hired preferred using it and we wanted to become familiar with another popular theme for WordPress.
The Genesis Framework – The Genesis Framework is what is currently running on Pinch of Yum. Genesis is the framework used by some of the web’s most popular bloggers, like Darren Rowse of problogger.net and Chris Brogan of chrisbrogan.com. With Genesis, you’re going to want to purchase the Framework ($59.95) along with a child theme (prices vary). It’s also possible to get a Genesis child theme custom designed, which is what we did with Pinch of Yum . The designer we hired was named Shay Bocks. She was awesome to work with.
Free Themes for WordPress – WordPress has thousands of free themes available if you’re not interested in purchasing a “premium” theme right away. It’s a great place to start if you’re looking to start your blog without spending a lot of money right off the bat. Be sure to do some research and check the theme’s rating before you download it and install it onto your blog. I would recommend looking for themes with a four or five star rating.
CrashPlan Plus – When I was a senior in college my computer crashed and I lost everything. Papers, lesson plans from student teaching, and worst of all, every single picture I had taken over the past two years (including all the pictures from my 3 month trip to Spain). Needless to say, I’m pretty intentional about backing up all of my files now. CrashPlan is a super slick program that runs in the background of my computer and creates a backup every 15 minutes. Now, if my computer crashes, or I spill a mug of coffee on it, ahem, I don’t have to worry about losing my documents and photos. I use the CrashPlan+ Unlimited plan.
Vaultpress – Vaultpress is the company we use to backup the Pinch of Yum WordPress account. Pinch of Yum has over 300 pages and posts that we’ve written over the past three years. The blog has also helped us generate some extra income as well. My point? It would really stink if something happened where Pinch of Yum was wiped out and we lost everything. Vaultpress ensures that if that something like that did happen we’d be able to recovery everything from a backup. If you’re looking for a more cost effective solution check out BlogVault.
aWeber – AWeber is the email marketing software we use to distribute our “Blogging Tips” newsletter (you can see the sign up form in the sidebar to the right). We use AWeber’s “follow up” functionality, which allows us to create a queue of emails that are delivered to subscribers at certain intervals. As a blogger it’s important to connect with your readers through all different avenues, including email, and we think AWeber does a great job of making that really easy.
Tips for Monetizing – Every month Bjork writes a post about the different ways that we’re making money with this blog. Our hope with is to provide readers with information and inspiration. We definitely don’t pretend to have any “secrets” to blogging. If you’re interested in monetizing your blog you can click here to check out our monthly reports. In our first month (August, 2011), we earned a whopping $21.97. We’ve since been able to grow that significantly, but even if you don’t plan to get rich from blogging, hopefully the reports can show you some ways to make a little extra money from an enjoyable hobby.
Food Blogger Pro – Food Blogger Pro is a central location for people that want to learn how to start and grow a food blog. There are two primary parts of site, the video training and the community forum. The videos provide easy-to-understands tips for getting started with your food blog and step-by-step instructions for how to do things like install advertising code, create a branded email address, or use the manual settings on your DSLR camera. The community forum is a place where you can go to get questions answered by other food bloggers. We’ve really been honored to walk along side other food bloggers as we continue to figure out ways to really understand the crazy world of food blogging.
Food Photography Tools
Adobe Photoshop – Photoshop isn’t cheap, but it’s an amazing tool! If you’re interested in getting it I’d suggest getting the free trial first to give it a test run. If you’re still a little hesitant on purchasing the software you can always purchase a month-by-month subscription until you know you’re ready to purchase the software outright. If you’re a teacher (like me!) be sure to check out the Adobe Education Store.
Canon EOS 6D – I recently upgraded to the Canon 6D after using a Canon 7D for a year (and before that a Nikon D40 for a few years). Not only does the 6D shoot incredible pictures, but it also shoots really incredible HD video. It’s an expensive camera, so if you’re just getting started look first at purchasing something like the Canon EOS Rebel T3i or even using the camera on your phone. Remember – the best camera is the one that you have with you.
Canon 50mm f/1.4 – An amazing lens! It isn’t cheap, but you get what you pay for with a lens. This lens is considered a prime lens, which means that it doesn’t zoom in or zoom out. You’re only able to shoot at 50mm, which isn’t a big deal with food photography (unlike people, food tends to be good at sitting still). I shoot 99% of all my food photos with this lens. The Canon 50mm f/1.8 is almost as good for $200 dollars less. When I need a zoom lens I use a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8.
Indoor Lighting Unit – Lowel EGO – Lighting a shot at 6PM in December in Minnesota isn’t easy! I always try to take my food photos in natural lighting, but sometimes it’s just not possible. If I need take photos after the sun goes down I always bring out this light. It’s really simple to use and doesn’t have any complicated switches or dials – just an on and off button. If you’re serious about food photography you should have some type of light that you can use in situations where natural light isn’t possible.
SanDisk 64GB Extreme SD Memory Card – Let’s be honest, it’s never fun to buy a memory card. Camera? Yes. Lens? You bet. Memory card? Nope. But let me make a case for this little plastic piece of awesomeness. It’s a really fast memory card with tons of space. This is especially important if you’re shooting your photographs in RAW mode or recording video. If you have room in your budget it might even be worth it to buy a couple of these, just in case.
Tasty Food Photography – Photography is an incredible tool that can have a profound impact on the life of your blog or website. I’ve learned a lot of things – both big and small – in the last few years, and this book is my way of sharing all that with you. My hope is that the tips and tricks I write about in this book will be practical, easy to read, and will ultimately help you take food photos that make people say, “I am dying to eat that right now!” To date, over 1,409 people have purchased Tasty Food Photography and used it to help improve their food photography. You can learn more about the book and read some testimonials on this page.
Driving Traffic to Your Food Blog
Here is a list of the food photo submission sites that I use. There are SO many out there, but the ones listed here are just the ones that I submit to. It can take some time to go through the process of entering a submission, but the traffic you gain from getting a submission accepted can be great! It’s not uncommon to see 1,000 – 1,500 people visit your blog in a day if you get a submission featured on the right site at the right time. I also think that having links on these sites helps get your content in front of more people who might be likely to share the recipes and pictures on Pinterest or other social media.
Easy Recipe – This is the WordPress Plugin I use to enter in my recipes. The name says it all, it’s an easy plugin to showcase your recipes!
Akismet – Spam comments stink! Akismet is a like a comment guard, making sure that no spamming comments get through to your site.
WP to Twitter – A slick little plugin that automatically tweets whenever I put a new post up.
Limit Login Attempts – A simple but important plugin to increase the security on your WordPress blog. This plugin limits the number of times that someone can enter in an incorrect password. It’s amazing how many people try to hack into Pinch of Yum every day.