I often get asked what kinds of blogging resources, tools and plugins I use to support my blog. While I’m still learning, I’ve found these products and services to be helpful to me as I continue to grow and improve.
I just started putting this page together in December of 2104 so stay tuned as I keep adding to it! I’m in the process of gathering up the some of my favourite articles, tips and tricks which will be added very soon.
Books and Courses
This might be the best option out there for quickly and immensely improving your food photography skills. If you’re a food blogger, beautiful, appetizing photos are absolutely key to your success. Not only will they bring traffic from sites like Pinterest, Food Gawker and Taste Spotting but they will give your blog a professional look You really want to show your recipes at their best! The thing I love about the Food Photography School from Minimalist Baker is for just $99 you get unlimited lifetime access to over 130 video tutorials. I find tutorials to be the best way to learn and this really is an invaluable resource to keep in your food blogger tool box. Click here to purchase.
I’d highly recommend purchasing the Tasty Food Photography E-Book by Pinch of Yum. For just $19 it’s packed with invaluable tips to help improve your food photography. If you plan on starting food blog, this book will definitely help you grow your blog. I learned a lot about lighting, composition and camera settings. Aside from this great e-book, Pinch of Yum also shares their monthly income reports and more amazing tips all for free on their blog. Purchase here.
Food Blogger Pro is an online subscription-based learning platform from Pinch of Yum. They cover everything from SEO, to photography tips, generating income, social media and more. There’s also a community forum which I’ve found to be very helpful in answering questions and sharing with other bloggers. You can get your first month for just $1 if you want to try it out. Click here to get started.
Blogger University from the team behind Minimalist Baker is great for all the back-end and technical blogging details you need to know about when starting a blog. If you can’t afford to hire someone to do all the techy and designy stuff for you, Blogger University will help you do it all yourself, at a fraction of the cost. Check it out here.
The online food photography course by Dana of Minimalist Baker has tons of awesome tutorials and lessons on everything from lighting, to equipment, to editing photos and more. For only $19.99 it’s an invaluable resource for improving your photography skills. Purchase here.
If you’re serious about building your blog and eventually being able to earn an income from it, SEO, or search engine optimization can’t be ignored. Luckily, Pickles and Honey has put together a fantastic e-book with simple, approachable steps you can take to improve the SEO of your website. Following these steps can help you improve your blog’s search engine ranking and successfully grow your organic traffic. Click here to purchase.
7. EPIC BLOG: One-Year Editorial Planner
This one-year blog editorial planner helps you create a purposeful and profitable content plan for your blog through a mini blog business plan, ideal reader survey, monthly theme planning, monthly content planning, and standard monthly calendars. Each month includes a page to plan important goals and tasks before the month begins, a page to track progress on key stats and goals after the month ends, two pages per month to brainstorm content ideas for your blog, email list, products, and collaborations, as well as space near the monthly calendar to write notes or record your content ideas before plugging them into your calendar. Purchase here.
I’m currently working through this step-by-step book by Darren Rowse at ProBlogger. So far, it’s really helped me figure out where to focus my efforts. I’d highly recommend it and only wish I’d completed it when I started blogging rather than 2 years in! I’ve found it’s really helped me take action rather than just continuing to plan and read. You’ll also find a selection of other workbooks at ProBlogger, all of which are very helpful in building a successful blog. Click here to purchase and get started today!
Hosting, Email Management and WordPress
When you’re ready to start your blog, the first thing you need to do is sign up for hosting. Bluehost has free domain registration and is a very affordable solution to hosting. You can get started with a monthly cost of just a few dollars. Starting your blog is simple, just visit my page “How to Start a Blog in 3 Simple Steps” and you can easily get starting using Bluehost.
3. MailChimp for Email Management
MailChimp is a super handy email marketing solution to help you manage your contacts, send emails and build your email list. It’s really easy to use with templates to help design your emails and sign-up forms, plus it’s free version is typically enough for most bloggers.
The Genesis Framework for WordPress is a powerful and popular theme that allows you to quickly and easily build your blog in WordPress. I’m currently using this theme with the Foodie Child Theme listed below. With the Genesis theme you’ll want to purchase one of the child themes that go along with it. You can get both for around $80-100. Purchase here.
The Foodie Child Theme works with the Genesis Framework as listed above. This is the theme that Running on Real Food is currently running on. It has a beautiful, minimalist style and is geared towards food bloggers. If you’re looking for a clean, simple design for your new blog with lots of great features, this is a great option. Purchase here.
The Thesis Theme is a great option, especially for those that don’t know any code but wants lots of control over the design of their blog. It comes with essential SEO tools for improving your Google ranking, a highly customizable design and a number of other tools. They also have great support and a forum where you can get all your questions answered. Purchase here.
I love the clean, simple, professional designs from Elegant Themes. They offer lots of great features to control the design of your blog and they offer great support when you need it. Plus you can buy ALL of their themes for just $67! Now that’s a great deal!!
Social Media and Marketing Tools
1. Feedly – Keep up to date with following all your favourite blogs in one place. Integrates with Twitter, Buffer and other social media platforms. Free and premium option.
2. Buffer – Schedule content out to your social media platforms at pre-determined times. I love because it’s so easy to use and has a handy extension so you can add content to your queue from any webpage. Free and premium option.
3. Hootsuite – A powerful social media management tool. I primarily use it for monitoring Twitter but you can do a lot more with it. I make streams from keywords I want to follow, I use Twitter lists to keep track of certain groups and I use it for scheduling social media content.Free and premium option.
4. Pocket – A handy bookmarking tool that works across your desktop and mobile device. I use it for keeping tracking of links and articles I want to read again later, refer back to or share. Free and premium option.
5. Evernote – I use Evernote to keep track of blog post ideas and other important things I don’t want to forget. I find it handy because it syncs across desktop and mobile with both a website and app so I can access it anywhere. If I don’t write my ideas down, I forget them so I try to keep quick notes for blog posts when I think of them.
6. Bloglovin – A great way to follow all of your favourite blogs as well as discover new ones. I use Feedly as a blog reader but I find Bloglovin is great for finding new blogs to check out. It’s also a great way for readers to find your blog as well.
7. Swayy – I love Swayy for finding great content to share or just getting content ideas. You can base your dashboard on your Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn followers to see what’s trending in your community.
8. Buzzsumo – Another great way to discover trending content from around the web based on any topic. It allows you to quickly see what content is working well in your niche which is great for researching SEO strategies.
Keep Learning: Blogs to Follow
1. Copyblogger – A wealth of information about creating content, copywriting, SEO and internet marketing.
2. Problogger – One of the best sites out there for advice on creating successful content, blog design, writing content for your blog and SEO.
3. Social Media Examiner – A huge resource for everything from Facebook to Instgram, blogging and more. Stay up to date with all the current social media trends.
4. BloggingTips.com – The team of writers from BloggingTips.com offer advice on blogging as well as a list of must-use blogging resources, WordPress information, case studies and more.
5. Hubspot Marketing Blog – A huge amount of information and resources to improve your marketing skills, functionality of your blog and more.
6. Moz – Go beyond basic WordPress and get tips on how to optimize your blog to perform it’s best. Learn about SEO, social media, marketing, link building and more.
7. Daily Blog Tips – This site covers blogging basics, design, SEO and online marketing. they also have a sister site called Daily Writing Tips for information on grammar, spelling, punctuation and vocabulary.
8. Razor Social – Explores social media tools and technology with well-illustrated, detailed posts written by Ian Cleary.
For more digital marketing, blogging and social media blogs, check out:
• Top 25 Blogs About Blogging from Daily Blog Tips
• My Top 33 Digital Marketing Blogs from Convince and Convert
• 20 Social Media Marketing Blogs You Should Read from Pamarama
Free Stock Photography Sites
This is just a small sampling of what’s out there these days for high-quality, free stock photography. Thank goodness, because stock images aren’t cheap! Although I’ve listed these as free, please double check the licence details on each site. I believe most of them are free from any copyright restrictions but it doesn’t hurt to double check.
1. Death to Stock Photo – They send out 10 excellent-quality free photos each month by email. They offer a variety of beautiful and creative photos available for use free of charge which you can use for you blog or social media posts.
2. Unsplash – One of my favourite places for beautiful free high-res images. They add 10 new photos every 10 days for you to use in any project. Sometimes I find myself just strolling their site because the photos are so good!
3. PicJumbo – An awesome collection of free photos for both commercial and personal use in a wide variety of topics. You can search by tag which is handy if you’re looking for something specific.
4. Gratisphotography – Creative and unique high-res images you can use for personal and commercial use. New pictures are added weekly.
5. Life of Pix – An excellent collection of free high-res photos with no copyright restrictions meaning you can use them for any of your online projects.
6. Splitshire – A lovely collection of free stock photos by Daniel Nanescu. The photos are free for personal and commercial use. You can search by category if you’re looking for something particular.
Free Blogging Workbooks
1. Create a Style Guide for Your Blog – Do this early on and develop consistent branding throughout your site. This is very important and this FREE workout helps you get everything sorted out and in one place so you can refer back to it.
2. Create a Blog Business Plan – If you’re really serious about growing your blog into a business, I would recommend this on this business plan workbook from By Regina. There are so many facets to consider and this really helps you focus so you can make money, grow your blog and enhance your plan.
3. Daily, Weekly and Monthly Blogging Checklist – It can be hard to stay focused and productive when you’re working on your blog. Using some sort of checklist like this one really helps you stay on track, make the most of your time and ensures you don’t forget any important daily or weekly tasks.
More reading from my Better Blogging Series:
• How to Start A Blog in 3 Simple Steps
• 3 Simple Tips to Optimize Images For Your WordPress Blog
• 15 Quick Tips for Pinterest Success
• 5 Simple Tips for a PR-Friendly Blog