With over ten years of blogging behind me, I've gone through a lot of trial and error in trying to find tools to make my blog better. Some things have worked out great, and others were a waste of time and money. I'm hoping that this resource page will help you find tools that work for your blog, without some of the hassles that I went through!
I am only recommending the tools that I use myself and enjoy, and I'm happy to answer any questions you might have. Just send me an email and I'll get back to you as soon as I can!
Note: Almost all of these links are affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, I may get a tiny commission at no extra cost to you.
Cameras & Lenses:
I started shooting back in universtiy with a Nikon D60. It was a great camera, and I used it until it died.
Then I moved on to a a Nikon D5100 which is also a DX format camera (not full frame). It was the best option for my budget at the time when I bought it, and I used it for 10 years before upgrading again!
Now I'm shooting on a Nikon Z 6 II, which I LOVE! It's my first full frame camera, and it's mirrorless too.
Fun Fact: Did you know that DSLR cameras eventually get shutter death? Basically, the shutter can go off so many times before it stops working. This doesn't really matter when you're buying a new camera, but you'll want to know the shutter count on a used camera before buying it!
As far as lenses go, honestly, for the first 4 years I shot with whatever stock lens came on my camera. I know a lot of people are going to find that horrifying, but that's the truth. Use what you have until you can afford to upgrade!
After that I moved on to a nice 40mm lens, which I used strictly for my food photography. I used the kit lens that came with the D5100 for everything else.
Now I'm using a 50mm f/1.8 lens for my food photography, and it's just about the best thing ever!
Social Media Scheduling Tools
CoSchedule is a social media editorial calendar for WordPress. You can use this tool to schedule content for Twitter, Facebook (profiles, pages or groups) etc.
Signing up for CoSchedule will get access to their web application, as well as a WordPress plugin. Installing the plugin will create a new section in your WordPress blog post editor.
This is handy because you can schedule all of your social media messages as soon as you’ve finished writing your post.
I don't use CoSchedule anymore though, due to the price.
I’ve used ViralTag, Board Booster and Ahalogy, but Tailwind is my favourite pin scheduler. It's also a verified partner with Pinterest, which gives me peace of mind.
Tailwind syncs with your Pinterest account to allow you to schedule pins and keep track of how well they’re performing. I love that Tailwind shows me a visual calendar of my scheduled pins, so I can make sure that I’m not pinning too much of the same content at the same time.
You can use the Tailwind browser extension, for Chrome and Safari, to schedule multiple pins from any blog post or website, and schedule them to multiple boards. You can schedule repins from Pinterest too!
Tailwind is an official Pinterest Marketing Developer Partner for Content Publishing, so I feel confident that using it isn't going to get my banned from Pinterest.
Must Have WordPress Plugins
You need to back up your site. Trust me, one day you're going to click the wrong thing and you'll be sad that you've lost hours of work because your web host doesn't have a current backup. I've been there - it sucks!
There are many free plugins and services available to help you back up your site, but I don't recommend any of them. When it comes to WordPress backups, you really do get what you pay for.
I went with BackupBuddy at first, because it was less expensive than VaultPress, which (personally) was a huge mistake. First of all, I ended up paying $80 USD for the BackupBuddy service, PLUS an extra $35 USD for BackupBuddy Stash, so I'd have somewhere to save those backups. Then when I crashed my site and needed to restore a backup, I discovered that the process wasn't as "quick and simple" as I had expected it to be.
If you are not comfortable uploading files to your FTP directory, or you are looking for a simple one-click restore solution, then BackupBuddy is not for you! I wish someone had told me that...
I used VaultPress for a long time and I cannot recommend it enough!
VaultPress integrates with WordPress seamlessly, because it's made by the same company (Automattic). Unlike BackupBuddy, my website backs up on a regular basis, without any work from me/ Then when it's time to restore my site, I click a button. That's it.
I don't use VaultPress anymore simply because my current web host backs up my site for me.
Sucuri is one of those services that I wish I didn't have to use, but sadly hackers (and their crafty progams) exist, and being hacked is no fun.
Sucuri prevents hacks, detects malware and the Sucuri team will clean up your site if you have had a security breach.
I no longer need Sucuri because my web host is very reliable, and if I do get hacked they can help me.
No one wants to deal with spam comments! Akismet does a pretty decent job of catching most spam comments, so you don't have to moderate each one.
This is another Automattic product, and it's free for non-commercial use.
A good recipe plugin can help your post rank better in Google search results! I've used a few different plugins in the past, but WP Recipe Maker is the best one out there, in my opinion.
These services are all essential to any blogger. If you're just starting out, you need to remember that you need to register a domain, get a web host, and find an affordable internet service provider who won't charge you a fortune!
I have always purchased domain names from GoDaddy.com. They are usually pretty cheap, and their customer service hasn't let me down yet (*knock on wood*)
I have used BlueHost in the past, because of their one-click WordPress installation. They are very popular (and have a robust affiliate program), but I can't recommend them. I did not have a good experience with BlueHost (my site was always down!).
I then moved to EZP.net. They have great customer support, and my bill was in Canadian dollars (they are located in Vancouver), so that was nice.
I outgrew EZP over time and now I'm with Big Scoots. Their hosting plans are expensive, but it's worth it. They have outstanding customer service and my site loads much faster on their servers than it ever did before.
I've used MailPoet and Mad Mimi, and MailChimp in the past. MailChimp is great because it's easy to use, has lots of great features, and it's free if you have less than 2,000 subscribers.
Now I've moved to Flodesk, which I do have to pay for but I love how easy it is for me to put together pretty emails for my subscribers.
If you're looking to improve your food photography, be sure to check out Andrew Scrivani's Food Photography course on CreativeLive! The course is so informative, and enjoyable to watch too.
If you're looking for ongoing support and education, you should take a look at Food Blogger Pro (run by the masterminds behind Pinch of Yum). I think enrolment is limited to a few times a year now, but they may have a waiting list that you can join.
These books have helped me improve the quality of my work over the years. I recommend buying the physical editions of these books, as the ebooks are never as easy to flip through. I've heard of issues with the digital versions of Plate to Pixel and the Food Lover's Companion too, so I don't want you to waste money on those.
Plate to Pixel is a great introductory guide to food photography. It's very easy to follow, making it perfect for anyone who is new to food photography. The book is also full of photos, which I love! If you can only buy one book on photography, this is the one to get.
Focus On: Food Photography for Bloggers is a neat little book written by professional food photographer Matt Armendariz. The book is very visual (as you might expect) and includes a chapter on how to photograph difficult foods (reflective foods like soup, brown foods like stew etc.).