When I just started blogging, I had hundreds of questions. Where do I host my website, how do I build my website, what kind of camera’s do food bloggers use, how do I make beautiful pictures etc. etc. It was a never-ending list of questions and also after three years of blogging it happens to me regularly that I am struggling with something and think: how would other bloggers do that?
I have learned a lot in the past years, also because of fellow bloggers. Because of that, I created this page where I share a list of the things that I use for blogging and I hope that I can help other (new) bloggers with my tips!
Some links below are affiliate links, you can read more about how affiliate links work here. All the things that I write about below are things I recommend because I have used them, because they are helpful to me and because I think it might be useful for you to learn more about those products. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask them!
The photography might be one of the most important aspects of a food blog. When I just started blogging I always got a bit annoyed when people said it was important for a food blogger to have a DSLR. I have made pictures with my iPhone for 1.5 years and I thought it that was fine. At least until I started using a DSLR and saw the difference. In the year that I bought my DSLR, the visitors on my blog have quadrupled and I am sure that the quality of the pictures has influenced that. I finally understand why everybody recommends using a DSLR now ;)
Nikon D3300 – Most food bloggers use a Nikon or a Canon DSLR to make their pictures. You can buy these cameras in different price classes and both brands are good. I chose to start with a starter model. The Nikon D3300 is one of the cheaper DSLR camera’s but it is a quality camera and it makes beautiful pictures and good videos. Perfect for when you want to have a good camera and want to learn photography, but don’t want to pay over 1000 euro’s for a camera. The newest model in this line has come out too, which is the Nikon D3400.
Nikon AF-S Nikkor DX 18-55/3.5-5.6 VR – With my camera, I bought the standard 18-55 mm zoom lens. This was a package deal together with the camera. A good lens to start with because you can make pictures from close-up and from further away. I still use this lens a lot.
Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8 G – After about half a year of taking pictures with my DSLR, I bought this 50mm lens. It is quite an expensive lens (I paid around €220), but if you ask me it is really worth its price. You cannot zoom with this lens, but only take pictures at 50mm. With food photography that is quite easy to do because you only take pictures of non-moving objects. With this lens, you can take beautiful pictures where the details of the food really come out. I use this lens for almost all of the close-up pictures of my recipes.
Hama Star 63 tripod – I use a tripod to make better pictures. Especially when you are shooting with a slower shutter speed, it is harder to make a sharp picture if you are holding the camera in your hand. You always move your hands a bit. The tripod makes sure that I can hold the camera very still and make sharp pictures. You have professional tripods that cost hundreds of euro’s, but I bought a very basic tripod for €25 and it works fine!
Sandisk memory card 16 GB – Before I started to learn photography, I thought that all SD cards were the same, but that is not the case. Of course, there is a difference in space, but there is also a difference in the speed of the memory card. The speed is important for saving the pictures that you take on the memory card and also for transferring the pictures and videos to your computer. I choose a card with enough space and a decent speed and it has been working perfectly for me.
Adobe Photoshop – I use Adobe Photoshop to edit my pictures. Adobe programs are pricey, but I found it important to use good editing tools. Because what is a good camera if you can’t edit your pictures well. I always edit my pictures minimally. I try to make sure that the picture that I take is of the highest quality possible, but it is always necessary to edit it a bit. I also use photoshop to make pictures for Pinterest.
Adobe Première Pro – In the beginning, I edited pictures with Windows Movie Maker, but that was a drama. You cannot do anything with it and it got stuck all the time. Because I can work well with Photoshop, I decided to also start using Adobe Première Pro. It is a bit more difficult to learn than Movie Maker for example, but when you know how to use it, you have a lot of possibilities. I think it works great for editing food videos.
Essentials for the blog
Bluehost & Sohosted– I host my own blog at Sohosted. This is a Dutch hosting company so that is only interesting for people in the Netherlands. I am very happy with it. If you are looking for an international host for your blog, I would recommend Bluehost. They offer an easy way to set up your blog on WordPress and it is very affordable.
WordPress – My blog runs on WordPress. I started with a free domain: karlijnskitchen.wordpress.com. This is a nice way to start if you are blogging for the first time and you want to find out if you actually like blogging. But with a .wordpress.com domain, you have limited possibilities. So if you are serious about blogging it is better to buy your own domain and host it (via Sohosted or Bluehost for example).
Pankogut Biscuit Theme – A WordPress blog uses a theme. That is the framework or layout for your blog. In the beginning, I used a free WordPress theme, but also with a free theme, you have limited possibilities. It is hard to customize your blog to your own taste because you can usually only make a few adaptations. That’s why I chose to use a paid theme. I am using the Biscuit theme by Pankogut now. I like the clean style of Pankogut’s themes and I think they have a good price. I have been able to totally customize my blog to my own taste with this theme. The support is also good, they answer your questions quickly.
Vaultpress – Vaultpress is a tool that I started using at the beginning of 2017 to backup my website. I had been feeling uneasy for a while because I didn’t make enough backups of my website. I always forget to make backups. My blog currently has over 400 blogs in two languages and the thought that I could lose that all because of a mistake or a hacker made me very nervous. Vaultpress backups my website continuously and makes sure that there always is a copy of the most recent version of my website. Like this, I never have to think about it myself and everything is safe. I pay $39 per year for Vaultpress.
WD Elements portable – Next to Vaultpress, I use this external hard drive in which I save all of my pictures, videos and other important files from my computer. Like this, I have both my website and my other files secured.
Programs and tools
MailChimp – I use MailChimp for sending my monthly newsletters. I find Mailchimp very simple to use and up to 2000 email subscribers you can use it for free. In the free version, you have plenty of possibilities to make a nice personalized newsletter.
Board Booster – Board booster is a Pinterest tool. I use this tool to schedule pins and the tool makes sure that they are posted on different times of the day on different boards. This is great because it is good to pin at different times of the day, but because I have a full-time job, I don’t have the time to do this myself. I have the cheapest subscription of $5 per month.
Food Blogger Pro – Food Blogger Pro is a membership site by Bjork and Lindsay of Pinch of Yum, a food blog that I really look up to. Bjork and Lindsay set up this platform to help new food bloggers to build up their blog and their following. When you join Food Blogger Pro, you get access to all the video’s and the information on the platform and to the Food Blogger Pro community. I really believe in the idea “why find something out yourself, if somebody else knows how it works already” and that’s why I joined this community. At Food Blogger Pro, I found a lot of answers on questions that would have taken me hours to figure out myself. They have instruction videos about making videos, using social media, but also basics such as how to set up a WordPress blog. I also found the community very valuable because you can ask all your questions to hundreds of other bloggers on Food Blogger Pro. Together you know a lot more than alone.
I have been a member of Food Blogger Pro twice, for half a year. You pay 28 dollars per month. I have ended my subscription now because I didn’t have enough time to spend time on the platform and that is a waste of money. Food Blogger Pro has two periods per year where you can join the platform. If they are not taking new members now, you can put your name on the waiting list and then you will get notified when subscriptions open. I will probably join again in the future when I have some more time because I think it is a great community and because I love what Bjork and Lindsay do!
Those were my blog essentials! It’s a lot of words, but I hope you will find my tips useful. If you are just getting started with your blog, don’t get afraid because of all the tools that I am using. I started to use these tools step by step in the past 3 years, not all at the same time. Blogging is a process and you should never compare yourself to people who have been blogging for longer than you do. If I compare my pictures to the pictures of some other bloggers I sometimes think they look horrible. But if I look at my own pictures from two years ago and compare them to the pictures I take now, I see how much I have learned in the past two years. And that is where you should look at :) “Only compare yourself to yourself”.
If you have any questions about the tools that I use or about how I do other things, don’t hesitate to send me a message!