There are so many things that need to come together to create an awesome blog. many of them are inexpensive and easy to use. Here are a few of the essential resources that I use on my blog. I will update it as I use new resources.
*Some links are affiliate links, but are all products that I use everyday and highly recommend.
Setting Up Your Blog:
Getting your blog up and ready is really a whole lot easier than one would think. When I first started blogging I thought the part of actually setting up the actual blog was going to be the hardest part. In actual fact, that was the easiest part of blogging. So in order to get started you will need a few things:
BigScoots: I was really nervous about setting up hosting when I originally started Baking-Ginger so I did a TON of research about which hosting company to go with. I settled on BigScoots and have been using them ever since. I have honestly been incredibly happy with them. Hosting plans start from $3.49. That's nothing right? I also found it incredibly easy to follow their instructions and even set up Wordpress from within BigScoots. They offer free domain registration (score!) and they are incredibly helpful and responsive. If you want to read a little more about how to set up your blog, head over to my post about setting up a profitable blog.
Once your blog is all set up. You have to add your own flair and make it look pretty (more on how to make your blog pretty...here). In order to do this you need to find and install the perfect theme.
The Feast Plugin is a supercharged Wordpress theme that gets rid of so many technical headaches, and includes access to a bunch of themes!
Now you have your blog set up. Now what? Well lets get you going with a few basic plugins.
Yoast Seo: When I started out, I had heard the words SEO but I didn’t really know what it was and also didn’t think much of it. Boy was I wrong! SEO is one of the most important things that you should set up and get right from the beginning. It takes time to build up your SEO and to get Google to trust you, so the sooner you start optimising your SEO the better. So with that being said. Download the Yoast SEO plugin NOW! It does all the hard work for you. All you have to do is fill in a couple of keywords, and it will even tell you what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. If you want to learn more about SEO, I have an awesome article about getting your SEO game on! If you really want to get serious about your SEO, The Art of SEO is a book that really dives in deep and will teach you everything you need to know.
Antispam Bee: Well now this is one of those little plugins, that your not quite sure what it does because you can’t actually see anything. BUT you need it in your life. Antispam protects your blog from spam! Jip, you would think why would your website get spammed? Well trust me it will get spammed, and it will get hammered with spam! So instead of ending up with a million comments on a blog post telling you which new slimming product from Asia is so amazing, just download the Askimet Plugin and you can concentrate on the comments that actually matter.
Shareaholic: I have used a whole bunch of different plugins for share buttons but have found shareaholic to be the best. It looks nice, it doesn’t feel spammy and it is user friendly. Social sharing buttons is incredibly important to have on your blog, because without them it will be virtually impossible for your blog to get “out there”, because nobody will be sharing your awesome posts.
Shortpixel For a long time my blog was incredibly slow. Like in super dooper slow and it eventually lead to a massive decline in blog traffic. It wasn’t until I ran a site speed test that I realised that my images on my blog were WAAAAY to big. I was uploading massive images that would take minutes to load and essentially slowed down my entire site. So I decided to start uploading smaller images and I also downloaded WP Smush. Which, as the name suggests, “smushes” your images to make them smaller and to optimise your site speed. It doesn’t do anything to the quality of your images and you won’t even notice that your images are smaller. It will simply help with the overall speed of your website.
Mailchimp: One of the first things you want to do, is to start building up a list of email subscribers. Mailchimp makes it really easy to set up signup forms as well as to send out customised emails to all your subscribers. Best part... it is free until your reach 2000 subscribers.
Tailwind: I cannot talk about Tailwind enough. It is amazing! Okay so, Tailwind is a Pinterest scheduler and an amazing one at that. I use it to schedule my own pins from my blog as well as to repin other bloggers' pins. It might seem like a slightly unnecessary expense, especially if you are just starting out. But seriously I wish I had started using Tailwind right from the start. Pinterest is a game changer (read more about how to use Pinterest to boost your traffic...here) for bloggers and having a tool that makes pinning 70-100 pins per day super easy is sooo worth it! After using Tailwind for a few months, my blog traffic increased by thousands. It was amazing. It is so easy to use and you will only need to spend about 15min a week pinning instead of spending hours and hours a day.
Getting your photography right is probably thee most important thing to grow your blog. People are attracted to recipes that have delicious, beautiful photos. So really investing in your food photography will do wonders for blog. Here are a few of the photography tools that I use (or check out my post over...here for more in depth info) and recommend.
Canon 70D - This is the camera that I currently use. I love this camera. It wasn't the cheapest camera, but is most definitely not the most expensive either. So it truly is the perfect middle ground. One of the things that appealed to me about this camera is its incredibly video functions. It shoots amazing HD videos which is really coming handy now when recipe videos have become so incredibly popular.
Canon EF- S 18-135mm Lens - This is the lens that came with my camera and it is also the lens that I still currently use. It is perfect for starting out because you can get all kinds of shots with this lens and you don't need a whole bunch of expensive lenses. This one lens is perfect for pretty much everything, especially if you don't have the funds to purchase a dozen expensive lenses.
Canon 50mm f/1.4 Lens - This is my next investment ;). I have been eyeing this baby for quite some time. It is perfect for food photography. It produces clean and crisp photos with that beautiful blurry background.