One of the questions I get asked often is how did I become a blogger. I’ll be honest, it kind of just seemed like a natural fit for me when I quit my full-time job as a project manager to be a stay-at-home mom. I’m not one of those people who could just give up working all together and I have an aunt who is a blogger, and it just seemed like something I could do.
Now let me get real with you. Blogging is not easy.
And the title blogger is really misleading. Just off the top of my head, my job as a blogger also includes being a writer, editor, photographer, social media manager, developer, business manager, marketing manager, accountant, party planner, party stylist, recipe developer, photo stylist, photo editor, and the list goes on and on. I love this article that talks about how to be a successful blogger. While I don’t wholeheartedly think you need to be learning 2-3 hours a day, as a blogger you have to always be learning. Every single day.
For any of you who are interested in starting a blog or even just growing your blog, these are some of my favorite blog resources that have helped me grow my blog from pretty much nothing 18 months ago to what it is today. Many of these are affiliate links but I’m only promoting things that I personally use and recommend.
Website Setup and Hosting
The first thing I’ll tell you is if you’re serious about blogging and want to blog for money, I highly recommend starting on a self-hosted WordPress.org blog rather than WordPress.com or Blogger. This means that you’ll need to purchase your own domain such as playpartyplan.com instead of playpartypin.blogspot.com (which is owned by Blogger) but don’t worry, domains typically only cost about $10/year. Once you’ve purchased your domain, you need to pick a company to host your blog. I use RFE Hosting for my website hosting and have had a good experience with them.
Next up, you’ll need to decide on a WordPress theme, which is basically a layout of your site. I am using a Genesis Framework with a Foodie Pro theme on top. I LOVE Genesis and though it’s a little expensive, I highly recommend it. It makes doing things in the backend of WordPress so much easier, which is great for someone who’s not an expert in HTML and coding. I also love Foodie Pro because it’s so easy to customize and really gave me the ability to show off my different types of content on my home page and in separate category pages such as my parties page. Many themes require you to build the category pages manually with another plugin but with Foodie Pro it comes built in.
Let me start by saying if you are not willing to put time into taking good photos, you might as well stop reading now. Blogging and photography go hand in hand and while you don’t have to be a professional photographer, good photos drive more sponsored posts, more traffic, and more money.
The first thing you need is a good camera. I actually purchased a Canon t3i DSLR camera before I started blogging for our trip to Greece and loved it. A DSLR just gives you more control over your photos and if you’re going to invest in anything, invest in a good camera. I just upgraded to a Canon 6D and the difference between the two is huge, but if you’re just starting out the Canon t3i DSLR is a great place to start!
If you already have a camera, the three other pieces of equipment I use and highly recommend are a tripod, a good speedlite, a 50mm lens and a macro lens. Those links go to the three that I personally have and use but the 50mm 1.8/f lens is a great option as well. My photography has been transformed with the use of those three things, and they were well worth the investment. I also highly recommend these three ebooks for improving your photographing but the equipment really does make all the difference.
Say No to Auto – great book by Kristen Duke of Capturing Joy on photography and teaching you how to shoot in manual mode on a dSLR
Tasty Food Photography – Book by Pinch of Yum with tips specifically for food photography but great ideas for anyone who needs help with styling, photography, etc.
From Plate to Pixel – Another fantastic book from the amazing food photographer Helene Dujardin with tips on food photography, specifically for digital media like blogs, magazines, etc.
Managing Your Blog
Tailwind Pinterest Scheduling – Tailwind has changed my blogging life. Pinterest is by far my biggest source of traffic and Tailwind allows me to schedule out pins quickly and analyze how each of the pins and posts are doing. I wrote an entire post about the 10 reasons I love using Tailwind for pin scheduling with all of the details.
Unlock the Secret of Google Analytics – This book is amazing. Purchasing the book gets you access to one-click dashboards in analytics that can tell you everything from where your traffic is coming from, what time is best to post to social media, your top posts, etc. You don’t need to understand Google Analytics if you buy this book.
Making Money with Your Blog
Bloggers & Brands – great book about working with brands, writing pitches, etc. by Shannon Acheson of AKA Design
Sponsored Post Companies – A good portion of the money I make blogging is through sponsored posts. Some sponsored posts are done directly with brands and some are done by working with middle man blogger outreach companies. I put together an entire list of the companies I’ve worked with but some of my current favorites are IZEA and Social Fabric.
Growing Your Blog
Elite Blog Academy – a 12-week course that walks you through great tips and ideas for growing your blog
Blog Genesis – Tons of great material and videos to help you with everything you need to know for a WordPress blog
How to Grow Your Blog – a collaborative eBook with tons of information about starting a blog, managing a blog, making money with a blog, and anything else you might need to know. Written by over 20+ successful bloggers including Six Sisters Stuff