–This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of these links and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. In addition, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.–
When my husband and I first started bakingkneads.com several years ago, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We just wanted to start a simple blog to share our baking tips and recipes. As a result, it took a lot of trial and error to get to the point where we are today.
Below are just some of the many blogging tools and resources that we’ve come to rely on on a regular basis. We always recommend doing your own research before committing to something, but these should make for a good starting point if you’re dipping your toes into food blogging.
Starting and running a blog can be quite time consuming and can easily become overwhelming. My hope is that by sharing these tools with you, I’ll save you a lot of time upfront if you’re considering starting your our blog.
While there are many content management platforms out there, one easily stands out above the rest. That platform is WordPress. As of 2021, WordPress was powering almost 40% of all websites.
Considering WordPress is completely free to use and so feature rich, it’s not hard to see why so many people use it. That’s not to say there aren’t some costs involved in blogging, which we’ll get to next.
Once you’ve chosen your content platform, the next thing you’ll need are a domain name (the actual URL people use to get to your site) and web hosting (this is basically where your site’s data lives). While we’ve moved on to Kinsta for hosting due to the high amount of traffic we get, we highly recommend starting out with Bluehost.
With Bluehost, you’ll get entry-level pricing and can buy your domain name and web hosting as a single package. There’s really no need to go with anything else when starting out, because Bluehost provides all of the essentials and makes it quick and easy to get your site up and running when using WordPress.
Once your blog has gained some serious traction, we recommend looking into other, more-costly options, such as Kinsta. This will ensure that your pages load quickly when your traffic spikes.
We’ve used a few themes over the years, but the goal is always the same: to find a theme that provides a fast and clean user interface. By clean user interface, I mean that the navigation should be simple and the actual content should be front and center.
Our current theme, at least at the time of writing, is Contentberg. We choose it for the reasons that I listed above. It also doesn’t hurt that it comes pre-packaged with many built in features, which means less plugins.
While Contentberg is a paid theme, you don’t need to spend money on a WordPress theme; in fact, we recommend using a free theme until you start getting a decent amount of traffic. When you first install WordPress, you’ll have access to a library of free themes to choose from.
Speaking of plugins, we use about a dozen or so plugins on bakingkneads.com. Adding plugins to your blog can slow it down or even lead to unexpected issues, so always weigh the pros and cons when installing a new plugin.
Any plugin that you choose to use should provide functionality that you feel is important for running your blog. Here are just a few of the ones we use and find to be helpful:
One of the best (and easiest) ways to grow your blog is to promote it on your social channels. With that being said, if your theme doesn’t already have it built in, you’ll want to get your hands on a good plugins for social sharing. We use Grow Social from Mediavine.
Another plugin that we use and really like is Smush Pro. This plugin is all about image optimization and will help your images load faster, which translates to a faster loading blog overall. While we do use the “Pro” version, they do offer a free version that has plenty of features as well.
reCaptcha by BestWebSoft
Another useful plugin that we use is reCaptcha by BestWebSoft. This plugin adds reCaptcha to the forms on your website. Without using this or something similar, you can expect to be bombarded with spam comments and emails, especially as your site grows.
For generating your sitemap and checking off some of the more basic, but crucial, tasks on your blog, Yoast is a great option. It’s simple to use and is great to make sure you’re meeting all of the basic SEO requirements to get your blog posts found online.
As I mentioned earlier, we use about a dozen or so plugins. Some of these are required by our theme (Contentberg), while others provide various functions, such as speeding up the site or making it easy to add code to your header or footer.
Again, always weigh the pros and cons before installing a plugin. While it’s nice to have all the bells and whistles, with each plugin you install, you run the risk of it conflicting with one of your other plugins or simply slowing your site down. Neither situation is ideal.
When adding a new plugin, always test, test, test. You want to ensure that your site is functioning optimally so you don’t ruin the user experience of your visitors.
Social Media Automation
We have accounts on several social channels: Pinterest, Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram. While we try to stay active on each, it can easily become overwhelming.
While there are some automation tools for pretty much any social media platform out there, the only one we use is Tailwind for Pinterest. In a nutshell, Tailwind allows you to schedule your pins. They also have a great feature where can interact with other bloggers in your niche to pin each other’s pins.
If you’re at all serious about growing your Pinterest account, you need Tailwind.
Email service is important for any business, large or small. If you don’t have a way to communicate with others, it’s difficult to stay on top of your blog.
For managing our day-to-day interactions, we use Google Workspace. It’s simple, familiar, and low cost, so it’s a no-brainer for us.
When it comes to managing our mailing list, we use a service called MailPoet. While there are many services out there that can provide similar functionality, we like MailPoet because you can manage it directly from within the WordPress dashboard.
Traffic Analysis Tools
When it comes to keeping an eye on our traffic levels and sources, we stick to the free tools provided by Google, which are Google Search Console and Google Analytics. You can use these tools to see how your blog is performing as a whole or even dive deep into the specifics of a single post or campaign.
While there are plenty of other tools out there that can be really useful, almost anything you want to know about the performance of your blog can be found using these simple, yet robust, tools from Google.
When you first start a blog, don’t be afraid to use your phone’s camera for taking pictures and video. The cameras built into most phones these days are more than adequate for most needs.
With that being said, I do use a DSLR, which will take your quality up a notch.
Canon Rebel T3i
The camera I use is a Canon Rebel T3i. It’s a mid-level DSLR that I use for both photos and video. Cameras on phones are great these days, but they still don’t compare to the quality you get from a DSLR with swappable lenses.
While my T3i is still a great camera, it is several years old and the model has been discontinued. There have been 5 upgrades since I bought it and the newest, the Rebel T8i, is packed with the newest features like 4k timelapse and vertical video capabilities.
Canon EF 28mm Wide Angle Lens
The lens I use is a Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS USM Wide Angle Lens – Fixed. This lens is a big upgrade from the standard kit lens that comes packaged with the camera. It is a prime lens, meaning it has a fixed range (not zoomable).
The 28mm f/2.8 has an Ultrasonic Motor and Optical Image Stabilization, making for quiet, fast, and sharp focusing. This lens gives me high quality images with great detail and soft backgrounds.
For video editing, I used to use Adobe Premiere, but now I am using DaVinci Resolve, which is a comparable free program. While I don’t have a problem paying for software or services when they’re needed, you can often get by just fine with a free alternative.
Well, there you have it. These are the main tools and resources we use here at bakingkneads.com to keep it up and running smoothly at all times. I hope you found this list helpful.
If you have any questions about any of these tools, feel free to reach out through our contact page. While we’re not experts with these tools, we should be able to answer most basic questions.
Thanks for stopping by!