Hello fellow bloggers! Here I’ve compiled a list of my favourite resources to help you and your blog, from the very first time you decide to create a blog, right up to making your established blog even more successful.
(please note that there are several affiliate links included below. If you click on these links and go on to make a purchase, I receive a percentage of the cost. I only ever link to services that I genuinely recommend – never just to make money. Clicking on these links doesn’t cost you a single penny extra, but it helps me to keep Amuse Your Bouche running, so I appreciate it greatly!)
To begin with, you might like to check out my series of blogging tips, which cover a range of topics:
How to reduce your bounce rate
How to find out how many times a blog post has been pinned
How to add titles and alt text to images
How to start a blog in 5 minutes
How to make a blogging media kit
How to set up a Facebook page for your blog
When to use ‘nofollow’ links
Should I use ‘CAPTCHA’ on my blog?
10 things to check before hitting ‘publish’
Common sidebar mistakes
5 simple SEO tips
Daily blogging checklist (with free printable!)
How to add a downloadable printable to your blog
Setting up your blog
WordPress.org – a blogging platform that requires you to buy your own hosting (this is what I use now). This is definitely the option I’d recommend if you’re ever thinking of trying to earn money from you blog. Here’s how to start a WordPress.org blog in just 5 minutes.
Blogger – a free blogging platform. Your URL will look something like www.myblog.blogspot.com (this is the service I began Amuse Your Bouche on – I used it for just over a year).
WordPress.com – the free version of WordPress. Your URL will look something like www.myblog.wordpress.com.
Tumblr – a more social blogging platform that allows other people to reblog your posts. I would only recommend this for far more casual bloggers.
BlueHost – this is the only hosting company I have experience with, but I highly recommend them. They’re cheap (from $3.95/month), and their customer service is fantastic. Every now and then when I do something stupid and completely break my blog, they have it back up and running again within a couple of hours. Here’s how to set up a blog with BlueHost.
Designing your blog
Genesis – I use the Genesis framework for WordPress, which is highly customisable and I would really recommend it. It’s a responsive design, which means it’s optimised for both PC and mobile viewing.
Foodie theme – this is the theme that I currently use on my blog. It does cost a small amount of money, but it’s a great theme for food blogs that is really easy to customise.
Free WordPress themes – if you don’t want to pay for a theme, there are plenty of free themes to choose from. It’s fine to start with a free theme if you’re just starting out, but they’re less customisable so in my opinion it’s worth buying a theme.
Food photography / images
Tripod – I use a tripod for at least a few photos in each photo shoot I do. It’s really useful for helping to get sharp images, and is one of my must-have tools. Mine isn’t fancy or expensive – as long as it holds your camera still, it’ll be fine.
Tasty Food Photography – this ebook by Lindsay at Pinch of Yum helped me improve my food photography immensely. It costs just $19 and considering I refer to it all the time, it’s been worth every penny.
PicMonkey – I use a few different online photo editing tools to edit my photos. PicMonkey has a free version, or you can pay $2.75 per month to upgrade and get more features. I just use the free version though, which has great functionality.
Pixlr – this is another online photo editing tool I use often. There’s an ‘express’ version which is similar to PicMonkey, and a more in-depth version which is more similar to proper photo editing software.
iPiccy – another online editing software. This one’s totally free, and has a great selection of fonts.
Canva – great for making posters and infographics.
Growing your blog and gaining traffic
If you have a food blog, there are several photo sharing sites that you can submit your food photos to. The ones I use on a regular basis are:
It can be tricky to get accepted to some of these sites at first, but keep trying and eventually it will happen!
Helpful WordPress plugins
Askimet – protects you from comment spam! I don’t think a single spam comment has been published on my blog since I installed Askimet. It saves you from having to have an annoying CAPTCHA code on your blog!
EasyRecipe – a recipe plugin that allows you to format your recipes neatly (see my recipes for an example). It’s also beneficial for your SEO as it helps Google to recognise a recipe.
Limit login attempts – makes your blog more secure by limiting the number of times that an unknown person can attempt to login.
Monetising your blog
Adsense – place ads on your blog and earn money each time someone clicks. You need fairly good traffic to make a decent amount of money off this, but once you’re receiving a few thousand hits a day, it becomes worth it.
BlogHer – this is another ad network, as well as an online community. These ads must be the only ads that appear above the fold.
Lijit / Sovrn – my favourite ad network at the moment! These ads bring me a great income.
ShareASale – another affiliate program with a large selection of companies to sign up with.
I’ll add to this page as and when I find something new, so keep checking back for updates!