A huge round up of excellent food blogging articles, along with all the products, resources, and services I use to food blog full-time.
Today’s post is quite different than my usual recipe post, but a subject that I basically live and breath nonetheless. It’s been almost a year since I left my job to pursue blogging, food and recipe writing, and food photography as a full-time job and business. It was a terrifying step and I had no idea if I would be able to make it work. Yet, the idea of finding another job that interested me seemed impossible and the thought of having to take direction from a boss seemed miserable. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and have always wanted to work for myself so I decided to give it a go. I really didn’t have much to loose.
I’m so ecstatic, grateful, and proud to report that the past year has been amazing. Looking back at everything I’ve managed to accomplish I’ve realized that I’ve learned A LOT about food blogging professionally. I often get emails and questions from readers who are interested in starting their own food blog, or other food bloggers who want to know this or that. I decided to make an Ultimate Guide to Food Blogging post to cover some of the basics, including tools and resources I use and love. Below you’ll discover exactly how I run my site (hosting, email subscription provider, camera equipment, WordPress plugins, etc.) and a roundup of my favorite articles and tutorials on every aspect of food blogging. These aren’t just articles I’ve linked to arbitrarily, I’ve read practically everything below and have found value in every link. I hope you will too.
I sincerely hope you find this helpful. I am a huge believer in the idea that a “rising tide lifts all boats” so the more I can give back to the community that helped me create my dream job, the better. If you think this list is missing any links, please let me know in the comments!
Back End Stuff
These are the services I use and rely on to host my blog and share my content.
Liquid Web Hosting
I’ve been with Liquid Web since moving from Blogger to WordPress in 2012. I can count on one hand the number of instances my site has gone down, and most were due to huge jumps in traffic (yay!) or brute force attacks (boo). I’ve never been on hold with them for longer than 1 minute when I call and they’ve even helped me install security measures and WordPress plugins that I didn’t know how to do. They have a variety of hosting options to suit many traffic and resource needs.
MailChimp Email Subscription Service
I am a big proponent of email marketing as I believe it is more reliable and stable than social media marketing. Having access to your reader’s inbox is a privilege and I want to make sure I have control and support for each email I send. That’s why I use MailChimp to manage my email subscriptions. It’s easy to use, extremely reliable (I’ve never had a single problem with emails being delivered), and has tiered pricing options so you pay for what you use. I currently have an RSS-driven campaign which sends an email only when a new post is published which makes my life easy because it’s all automated. I have two segments of email frequency so my subscribers can choose if they want emails as soon as new posts are published, or just one weekly summary. It works wonderfully for me!
The WordPress plugins I use and love.
Yoast – WordPress SEO Plugin (if you don’t already have this, download it now!)
Akismet – Comment Spam Filter
VaultPress – Backup and Security, and must-have!
W3 Cache – Caching plugin that improves your site’s performance, speed, and overall user experience
Limit Login Attempts – limits the amount of times the wrong password can be entered to prevent hackers
WordPress Popular Posts – adds widget to display most popular posts in your sidebar
Mailchimp for WordPress – adds email signup forms to your blog
PopupAlly – creates customizable exit-intent lightbox pop up forms to increase email conversion
Helpful articles, tips, and tutorials on search engine optimization. Having a high percentage of traffic coming from search engines helps ensure the longterm traffic and success of your blog. Relying on one social media platform for the majority of your traffic is risky as social media is always changing and evolving, sometimes to your disadvantage.
Beginner’s Guide to SEO – Moz
Beginner WordPress SEO – DIY Themes
SEO For Food Bloggers (5 part series) – Bake Your Day
A Huge SEO Tip Most Food Bloggers Miss – Food Blogger Pro
10 SEO Tips for Food Bloggers – iFoodReal
The Future of SEO – 2nd Annual Virtual Bloggers Conference
Audience, Content, and Growing your Blog:
How to Figure Out What People Want to Buy From You – Derek Halpern (this DOES apply to food bloggers)
Finding Your Voice and Engaging Your Audience – Minimalist Baker
How to Create Stellar Content – Minimalist Baker
Food Blog Content Strategies – Sally’s Baking Addiction
Being Present and Personable – Sally’s Baking Addiction
Tips for Growing Your Food Blog – Sally’s Baking Addiction
What Should Food Bloggers Write About? – Pinch of Yum
The Recipe Writer’s Handbook – so incredibly helpful for writing recipes, especially if you’re writing for another publication or for a cookbook.
Will Write for Food – another helpful book if you want to amp up your food writing and have professional writing ambitions.
The Flavor Bible – I love this book for inspiration and help when working with specific ingredients. It lists practically every ingredient and cuisine and what will taste good together.
Design & Web Services:
Purr Design – Lindsay built my custom WordPress blog back in 2012. I would highly recommend!
Blog Design, Plugins, and Tech Talk – First Annual Google+ Bloggers Conference
Canva – Easy Graphic Design Platform
Design Crowd – Custom Design Marketplace
Elance – Freelance Web & Design Marketplace
Creative Overflow – Design Freebies
OneXtraPixel – Design Freebies
Designmoo – Design Freebies
HTML Cheat Sheet – The Blog Stylist
Articles about making money from blogging whether from advertising, sponsored content, affiliate marketing, or creating products to sell.
Food Blogging Income Reports – Pinch of Yum
Turning a Food Blog into a Career – Sally’s Baking Addiction
How Blogs & Brands Work Together – Best Friends for Frosting
Media Kit Checklist – Best Friends for Frosting
20 Example Media Kits – The Blog Maven
10 Things Every Blogger Should Know About Working with Brands – The Blog Maven
How to Make Money Blogging – Amy Lynn Andrews
How to Write an E-Book – Amy Lynn Andrews
How We Make a Full-Time Income Blogging – Pro Blog School
How We Increased Our Blog’s Monthly Income by $1500 – Food Blogger Pro
The Definitive List of Ways to Create an Income from Your Food Blog – Food Blogger Pro
How Do I Turn Blogging into a Career? – Minimalist Baker
5 Tips for a PR-Friendly Blog – Running on Real Food
How to Make Money Working with Blog Networks – Diethood
Connecting with Brands – My Crazy Good Life
Monetize Your Blog with One Simple Adjustment – Hobby to Hot
Books & Courses:
How to Monetize Your Food Blog from Oh My Veggies is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to take their blog’s monetization to the next level. Everything from advertising, to affiliate marketing, to working with brands is covered here. The best part is that the book goes into how to layer your advertisements in a strategic way to make the most money possible. Employing those methods will amp up your ad revenue and pay for the cost of the e-book in days.
Create and Sell Your Own E-book from Minimalist Baker goes into how everything from how to conceptualize and organize your e-book, to using InDesign to create it (using a free Adobe trial!), accepting payment online, to creating a sales page. If you ever wanted to create your own product DIY with no one telling you how to do something (unlike publishing a physical book) and make 100% of the profits, this is a great resource. The course is taught via video tutorials and downloads.
Building an Email List:
Building up your email list is so important because it gives you exclusive access to your best readers’ inboxes where you’re competing less for attention than with social media. Email has been around for decades and is much more reliable than social media, so don’t neglect it!
The 7 High-Converting Places to Add Email Sign-Up Forms to Build Your List – Social Triggers
30 Day List Building Challenge from Nathalie Lussier
How to Convert Pinterest Visitors into Subscribers – The Blog Maven
Converting Blog Visitors into Subscribers (video) with Joanne Ozug of Fifteen Spatulas and Julie Deily of The Little Kitchen
Hello Bar – This is a tool that places a call-to-action message across a bar at the top of your page to increase email sign-ups.
Day Designer Planner – I am obsessed with this adorable paper planner made specifically for creative entrepreneurs.
Daily Blogging Checklist with Printable – Amuse Your Bouche
25 Tips to Becoming a More Productive Bloggers – Blog Clarity
10 Ways to Increase Productivity – The Sits Girls
3 Tips to Increase Blogger Productivity – Food Bloggers of Canada
We eat with our eyes, right?! My favorite photography resources to inspire your inner food photographer. The top three pieces of equipment I use:
Canon Rebel T4i – I’ve used this camera since the beginning of 2013. From 2010 to 2013 that I had been using the Canon Rebel XSi. I purchased the Canon Rebel T4i because it was affordable (unlike the more expensive full-frame cameras which also often require new lenses) and because it had video capabilities. The “auto focus” feature for video sucks, so don’t let that sell you whatsoever. Everything else has been awesome and I’ve had absolutely no issues with this camera. I would highly recommend!
Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens – this is my favorite lens for food photography and I’ve been using it since 2010. It has held up perfectly over 4 years and I love that you can lower the aperture down to get a nice and shallow depth of field, something that really flatters food. The minimum focusing distance is 18 inches, so make sure you have enough room to back up at least that far from your subject.
SLIK Tripod with Panhead – with a somewhat expensive camera, I didn’t want to use the rinky dink tripod from Target that I had been using so I upgraded to this SLIK one in 2012 and haven’t looked back. It’s sturdy and you can get really low or really high with it. The pan had is super easy to use. Often when I’m shooting later in the day with low lighting, or in my kitchen where there isn’t much natural light, I’ll use the tripod so that I can crank down my shutter speed to take in more light but still get a sharp image.
Posts I’ve written about my food photography:
More photography resources:
DIY Faux Slate Chalkboard Photo Background – WhipperBerry
Styling and Props: How to Find Your Style – What’s for Lunch Honey?
Photography 101 – Edible Perspective
Which Lens Should I Choose? – Kevin & Amanda
DIY Distressed Wood Photo Backdrop – Love and Olive Oil
Food Photography Guide – Simply Delicious
How to Edit Photos in Photoshop from Diethood
Current Food Photography Styles and Trends from Desserts for Breakfast
My Take on Food Styling and Photography from 6 Bittersweets
When Good Food Looks Bad from Running with Tweezers
Food and Prop Styling for Food Bloggers from Souvlaki for the Soul
Food Styling Tips for Food Bloggers from Simply Delicious
Styling and Props: How to Find Your Style from What’s for Lunch Honey?
10 House Hold Items and 10 More Household Items That Can Improve Your Food Photography from Pinch of Yum
Eight Food Blogging Trends That Need to Stay from I Am Baker
3 Things That Changed My Food Photography Forever – Creme de la Creme
Food Photography Tips for Bloggers Part 1 and Part 2 – Bakers Royale
Photography Cheat Sheet – The Tripod Diaries
Food Photography Tips & Tricks – Sally’s Baking Addiction
Books & Courses:
Tasty Food Photography from Pinch of Yum is really helpful guide book, especially if you’re relatively new to food photography. Lindsay’s photography goes viral on Pinterest, so this is an excellent behind-the-scenes resource into some of their success. Lindsay covers everything form basic technical know-ho, to lighting, composition, props, editing, and workflow. I love that she includes photos for every teaching element so you can see what she’s talking about.
Food Photography E-course from Minimalist Baker which is perfect for visual learners as it includes 22 video tutorials on every lesson you need for learning how to take stellar food photos. The course also includes 14 troubleshooting guides which are super helpful! They have great success on Pinterest as well, so learning how they approach their photography is a valuable insight.
Plate to Pixel written by the talented blogger and food photographer Helen Dujardin covers EVERY aspect of food photography and styling. Her photos are seriously gorgeous, sometimes I just flip through the book for inspiration. She covers the basics, camera settings, natural and artificial lighting, composition, workflow, styling, and editing. I love that she includes the f/stop, ISO, and shutter speed alongside every single photo within the book. There’s even a resource appendix which lists other useful books, supply and prop sources, and places to get inspiration. She also tells you what equipment she uses personally for everything.
Viraltag – Pinterest Scheduling Tool, this is the best way to schedule loads of pins from both your site and others. Since using this tool my following has grown tremendously! Unfortunately the new pricing structures are quite pricey.
Ahalogy – Pinterest Marketing & Scheduling Tool
Buffer – Social Media Manager and Scheduling Tool
The Ultimate List of Google+ Tips from Amy Lynn Andrews
Facebook Post Frequency: How to Find Out What Works – Social Media Examiner
Pin Count – Check how many times a blog post has been pinned
How to Be a Pinterest Rock Star – Pink Heels Pink Truck
Overall helpful resources:
Food Blogger Pro Membership Site a monthly membership site with training lessons and videos to start and grow your food blog. This site was created by the couple behind Pinch of Yum, who make VERY good money from blogging. Membership gives you access to exclusive videos covering topics such as building traffic, food photography, social media, generating income, and creating an e-book. If you are just getting started or need help with some of these topics specifically, this is an immensely valuable resource. It is more focused on bloggers who are in their freshman or maybe their sophomore year of blogging.
Overall Helpful Business & Personal Development Resources:
Fizzle business training – monthly membership site with online business training.
Marie Forleo– one of my favorite business and personal development experts! Her goal is to help you create a business and life you love and has tons of free resources for doing so.
Business, Improvement, and Creativity Books:
Steal Like an Artist – ever have that hopeless feeling that every recipe or idea has been done already? Read this book.
Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us – learn about how and why you should become a leader to your readership.
Choose Yourself – more inspiration and information about creating a life and business you love.
The Success Principles – the bible of personal development.
Strengths Finder 2.0 – this book actually includes access to a renowned “strengths” test so you can carve out a job and business that you will love and excel at.
Have comments or questions about food blogging? Think I need to add something to this post? Let me know below!
*This post contains affiliate links
Did you find this interesting?
If so, you’ll probably love the new project I’m working on called Food Blog Academy. Feel free to signup just below to receive more blogging articles, tips, tricks, and tutorials straight to your inbox. If you want to go a step further and enroll to receive exclusive training on how to transform your blog into your dream job, be sure to check it out here. Happy blogging!