FOOD BLOGGER RESOURCES PAGE
The Herb Family on herbonherbs.com have learned so much about food blogging that we had to get some of it out. Since we found other resource pages very helpful, we decided to put together a page on our site that includes some information and links that have helped us on our journey. We hope that you find as much inspiration/excitement from these as we have. Enjoy!
Note: Most of these links are affiliate links which means we get a percentage of commission when clicked on or if a product is purchased. However, we have these resources on here because we use them and would recommend them regardless! Please let us know if you have any questions with any items listed and we will answer them as best we can!
STARTING A FOOD BLOG
Free and Premium WordPress Themes – WordPress is perhaps the most famous of all blogging platforms because it is free and infinitely customizable. With all that power under its belt, it is still surprisingly simple to use and set up. You can find thousands of free themes or premium themes on the website or, for the more technically inclined, download to your own server space. We found a theme that we liked and tweaked it to our needs, but many free themes are ready to use right out of the box. If you aren’t sure about how to get it on your own server, many hosting companies will set it up for you for free. There are also many companies that make (and more importantly update) their own versions of wordpress themes. One company is DIY Themes. They have professional support and fantastic built-in SEO, which equals high rankings on Google.
***Update: Although I love how easy wordpress is easy to use and how user-friendly it is, I cannot underestimate the need for some sort of security for your site – especially for your own installation. The best deal I have found so far is Vaultpress. For $5/month ($55/year) they will backup your site daily, give you 1-click restore, hold your content for 30-days at a time, and give you access to a full support/wordpress-expert team. Their premium plan at $40/month ($440/year) gives you all of that plus daily security scans for malware or other nasties.
GoDaddy.com– We decided to register our name through GoDaddy.com at a mere $11 a year, plus we received a special rate for buying more than one year at a time. This price comes with free support, auto-renewal, domain forwarding or masking, email, and many well-written guides to help you get started. Even though their ads can be obnoxious (and let’s face it – also memorable) , they are one of the most painless way, I’ve found, to purchase your domain name.
***Update: If you have used them before, you will notice now that they have almost completely de-cluttered their website to be much more user-friendly!
TOOLS FOR FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY
Adobe Photoshop CS6 – Once you have taken the pictures you need to edit them. Adobe Photoshop is a great program that will allow you to do so. It is very a expensive product so if you aren’t sure that you want to use it you can always start with a 30-day trial or use. There are many videos online to help you get started by searching google or you can find them on the manufacturer’s website, adobe.com. If you are an educator or student, like I am, you can also receive special educational pricing, which is considerably less than the retail version.
***Update: The newest version of the Photoshop is out now and is included in Adobe Creative Cloud. Check out this link for more information!
Adobe Lightroom – For almost all of my editing, unless I am working with a few images, I prefer to use Adobe Lightroom ( which is also nearly 1/6th the price of Photoshop!). Lightroom was designed by professionals who edit many images at once giving the user efficient tools that make it a breeze to edit, organize, and publish your photographs. My workflow consists of Adobe Lightroom for cropping, color/tone correction, and then photoshop if I want to do more precise editing. For more information about Adobe Lightroom watch this creative video to get a better idea about the product. Adobe Lightroom is also available with educational pricing, which is a bit less than the retail version.
*** Update: LightRoom 5 was released this past June with many amazing features and is also available on Adobe Creative Cloud. My favorite though had to be the Smart Previews feature which makes it possible to edit your images without the original files attached. Which means if you keep your images on an external hard drive like me, you don’t need to always have the hard drive attached to edit your images like before. A-ma-zing! The only catch is you must be running Mountain Lion or Mavericks, the lastest Mac operating systems, to install it.
Canon 5D Mark ii – The first digital SLR camera that I owned was a Canon EOS 20D that I bought while still in college. After reading reviews online and talking with experienced photographers, I decided to purchase the 5D Mark II. A great all around camera that can shoot well in low-light and produce HD video – all with a full-frame sensor for true wide-angle lenses. Another camera that performs just as well but has a smaller-sized sensor is the Canon EOS 7D – a favorite among food bloggers and wedding photographers alike. If you are just starting out, though, and looking for something less expensive, I recommend the Canon Rebel EOS t3i.
Canon EF 50 mm f/1.8 II – This is the lens that I mostly use for my food photography. It’s very light and has incredible low-light abilities. This lens is able to let in a lot of light into the camera with a f-stop at 1.8 (most lenses only go to 3.5 or 2.8 at most). It is very affordable as well (the next best lens,The Canon EF 50 f/1.4, goes for almost $200 more) which led to its nick-name: “The Plastic Fantastic”.
**Note: Ebay is a good place find great deals on photography equipment. It is where I have purchased my 5D mark II and lenses. If you do go that route be sure to buy from someone with an excellent rating, many reviews and high selling record. There are also many great stores on ebay that are very reputable. Ebay also offers buyer protection for high-dollar purchases.
Lexar 16 GB Professional 400x CF Card – The compact flash card that I mostly use with my camera. The memory card fast enough to quickly transfer both HD video and RAW data from my camera using a card reader.
Tasty Food Photography – One of our favorite food bloggers, Pinch of Yum, has given us much inspiration in starting our food blog. They released this ebook stocked with great tips on composition, food staging, and other topics. I learned a lot from this book and I know you will too! They recently updated the ebook with a new addition and added even more goodies. I definately recommend this resource, if you are a beginner or even an old pro.
Ways To Drive Traffic To Your Blog
These are some sites that we use to drive traffic to our blog. With these sites you can submit food photos and, if approved, they will almost double yourblog traffic overnight but it can be tricky to discover what each site will accept. Don’t give up if they don’t accept your submission the first time. The first site can be the most finicky, however, more often than not what it doesn’t accept, the others will. Don’t think this is an extensive list by any means. Here is another great list of 26 alternatives.
This is a list of some of the WordPress Plugins we use on our site. All of them are available for free!
Easy Recipe – We use this WordPress Plugin to help organize our recipes. The plugin allows the viewer to click a button for easy printing or viewing while cooking. It was recommend to us by Pinch of Yum and is great and easy to use!
Jetpack by WordPress.com – We recommend using this set of WordPress Plugins. It’s one plugin that comes with over 10 different plugins built in. We use the site stats, sharing, contact forms, mobile theme, proofreading, and social networking capabilities for our site.
Askimet – Possibly the best WordPress Plugin out there. This plugin is a guard against spam comments on your blog so you can focus on creating great content but beware – hackers use this sometimes to infilltrate your blog.
Nrelate – This WordPress Plugin sits at the bottom of your post and automatically will give the reader links to other posts on your blog that relates to the current post which keeps your reader on your blog longer.
Broken Link Checker – This WordPress Plugin checks all of your links and notifies you if one is not working, or broken, which can give you a lower ranking from google.com
Post Ender – A simple WordPress Plugin that allows you to add content to select posts or every post on your blog.