So, you’re thinking about starting a food blog. Or, hey, maybe you already have. Congrats! The world awaits your culinary genius.
Of course, as you’ll soon find out (or have already) that there’s more to becoming a great food blogger than simply whipping up your famous frittatas.
Even if your sole motivation for blogging is your love of food, you want to share that love with the world, right? The best way to reach people is to put your best foot — or food, as it were — forward.
This means investing in tools that really make your recipes shine. Unfortunately, such things don’t necessarily come cheap.
To help you succeed, we’ve put together a list of the top food blogger tools and their cheaper alternatives. This way, you can put all the dough you save where it counts… toward actual dough.
Happy food blogging!
Top: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
If you ask a major food blogger which camera they’re using to get some dreamy, drool-worthy photos, there’s a good chance their response will be the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.
Canon’s EOS 5D series has long been a favorite among bloggers and other photo enthusiasts, and the Mark IV has received some snazzy updates since its predecessor’s time. These include a higher-resolution sensor, 4k video capture, a touchscreen, upgraded AF system, an interval timer and GPS.
Alternative: Canon 6D
Here’s the good news: You can still take amazing photos if you opt for Canon’s 6D over the 5D Mark IV. Even better? It costs less than the downpayment on a car.
This more price-conscious model is what you’d call a mid-range full frame DSLR, and it’s perfect for the food blogger who’s ready to step things up to the next level — but who doesn’t necessarily have the dinero for a major splurge at the moment.
Highlights include built-in WiFi and GPS, an “unprecedented” low-light focusing sensitivity (per Canon), a silent shutter mechanism and more.
While you aren’t getting the super-intuitive updated technology you’d find in more expensive models, the Rebel gives you access to Canon’s coveted lens system. Not to mention, the rear LCD reads crisp and it boasts built-in WiFi.
Top: Canon 24-70mm f2.8
Ask any professional photographer and they’ll tell you the same: Quality “glass” can take your photos from blah to brilliant. And, well, you can’t get much better than Canon’s 24-70mm f/2.8L lens.
The new optical design of this lens equals improved image performance and reduced distortion, so you wind up with “tack sharp” photos. Basically, this lens will be your workhouse — the one you keep in constant rotation.
The catch? It’s intended for Canon’s high-end full frame DSLR bodies. Of course, if you’re ready to drop $1,700 on a lens, you probably already have the fancier camera to go with.
Alt: Canon 100mm Macro f2.8
At $700, Canon’s 100mm f/2.8 macro lens gives you a lot of bang for your buck. It’s a smart choice if you’re still sort of learning the ropes with macro photography, because it’s easy to use, lightweight and focuses quickly.
Macro lenses are, by nature, typically quite sharp — and this one lives up to the standard. But also, you’ll get that lovely bokeh-like background blur you want, thanks to eight aperture blades.
Budget: Canon 50mm f1.8
If you buy a camera within Canon’s EOS system, this is your guy. The 50mm f/1.8 has been around since the ‘90s and is the least pricy EOS lens out there.
If you’re new to this but want to start experimenting with a faster lens (than a kit lens) and sharper photos, this is a fantastic option for the budget-friendly buyer.
Top: Slik 700DXQ
The Slik 700DX remains a top-rated tripod for myriad reasons. Shall we count some of the ways?
It’s strong, allowing for a balanced load. It’s easy to operate, and surprisingly lightweight for being so substantial. It comes with a bag that can hold it without having to remove the handles, and the padded foam covering on the legs means your hands won’t turn to ice every time you grab the tripod in cold weather.
We could go on, but the fact that you get all of the aforementioned features for only $150 speaks for itself.
Budget: Amazon Basics Tripod
In full disclosure, you get what you pay for. And for $25, you aren’t going to get all of the fancy features standard on higher-end tripods like the Slik 700DXQ. However, for $25, you’re still getting a lot with this basic tripod — especially if you’re just starting out.
We’d be remiss not to point out pros like a lightweight body, lots of flexibility, two different bubble levelers and multiple tightening locations to keep your camera secure.
Top: Aputure LS 300d
Aputure’s LightStorm (a.k.a. “LS”) series has always been acclaimed, with the LS 300d being one of the latest releases in that line. Considered one of the most powerful daylight-balanced LED lights out there, it impressively operates with a single COB (chip-on-boad) LED source. What this means for you is a more accurate color reaction.
When you consider that along with the fact this light comes in thousands of dollars cheaper than other pro-range models on the market, it’s basically a no-brainer where smart investments are concerned.
Alternative: Aputure 120d II
If $1200 sounds more like next month’s rent than what you’re willing to spend on lighting right now, Aputure’s 120d II might be more your speed.
Aputure obviously internalized feedback regarding the original 120d when designing this update, because it boasts plenty of improvements. In addition to being 25 percent brighter, it’s also now balanced at 5500K (as opposed to 6000K). Bonus? It’s not super-heavy to lug around, either.
Budget: Neewer Softbox Lights
Few things can make food photos look more amateur than harsh lighting, and you certainly don’t want to ruin all your hard work in the kitchen. But dropping close to $1000 (or more!) on lighting might ruin your budget, right?
Don’t stress — Neewer softboxes are here to save the day! If you can’t afford the upscale lighting units like the 300d, softbox lights can do the next best thing by diffusing the light for just the right level of balanced lighting.
Bonus Must Have: Fotodiox Reflector Disc
Useful and cheap — if we had to describe reflector discs in two words, it would be these. These super-portable tools collapse easily, making them ideal for carrying with you wherever you go.
So, what do you they do? In a nutshell, they help you set the right white balance and exposure and can serve to diffuse and reflect light.
Top: Adobe Lightroom
Anyone who’s been blogging for any amount of time — or who’s even just spent any time scrolling Pinterest — has undoubtedly heard the virtues of using Adobe Lightroom.
And there are many. It’s non-destructive. It allows you to import, catalogue, process, import and export your photos straight from your camera. While this all sounds intimidating, the software is so intuitive that it’s actually easy to learn. It’s basically a one-stop shop for photo and video editing, making it the standard for most food bloggers.
While 10 bucks a month for Lightroom doesn’t sound like much in the grand scheme of things, anyone on a budget knows that 10 bucks a month can be a big deal when you’re pinching pennies.
This is why we love the VSCO Camera app — it’s free! You can use it to edit photos straight out of your phone (in which case we recommend at least springing for a phone with a decent camera), or you can upload photos from your camera to edit in the app.
It offers some fantastic tools and filters and, bonus, makes it easy to share on all your social networks. If you still need a little convincing, mull this over: VSCO Camea was originally created as a film-emulsion emulator add-on for Adobe Lightroom and Apple Aperture.
Here is the honest truth: If you ask 10 food bloggers what the best hosting platform is, you likely won’t get a unanimous answer. Having said that, the odds are just as high that you will learn the majority prefer WordPress.
WordPress is considered a top-tier blogging platform and, arguably, the best there is. It can also be adapted according to your budget, since you can technically start a WordPress blog for free. (We recommend securing your own domain name and using a WordPress hosting provider, though.)
There are thousands of free WordPress themes to choose from — and likely even more available for purchase — so the sky is the limit when it comes to design.
If you aren’t as concerned about ownership of your blog, Blogger may be just the ticket. This free blogging service is powered by Google, so you certainly have brand comfort to fall back on.
Cons? Tools are more limited with Blogger than WP, as are templates to choose from.
Starting at $35/month
Once your site starts getting heavy page views, as in 100,000 views or more per month, then WPEngine is the way to go as it can handle the higher capacity traffic.
The last thing you want is for a recipe to go viral only for the incoming traffic to crash your page, rending all your had work fruitless.
Bluehost is the way to go for those who are just starting out. Reliable and affordable, many well-known bloggers use Bluehost as their go-to for hosting.
Other resources and tools
As soon as you get your blog up and running, you should link it to Google’s free web analytics service. Why? For starters, it’s free so why not? But, more importantly, it will allow you to analyze in-depth exactly how much traffic your website is generating, from where and at what times.
This sort of insight is invaluable should you ever decide to monetize your food blog.
We love Amazon; you love Amazon; we all love Amazon! If you’re going to be recommending Amazon products to you readers — who undoubtedly love Amazon, too — you’d practically be leaving money on the table by not signing up for an Amazon Associates account.
This program hooks you up with affiliate links specific to your blog, which means you get paid when people buy something based on your rec’s.
Advanced graphic design programs like Adobe Illustrator and InDesign are great; don’t get us wrong. But there’s so much to be said for Canva, which is free and allows you to create quick and easy graphics for use on your food blog. Plus, you can pay a little to access a lot more.
So, you’ve been at this food blogging thing a minute, and you’re starting to get serious about making some money in the process. Well, you’re going to need to grow your audience — and one of the simplest ways to do so is through an email marketing program.
ConvertKit helps draw people to you blog so that you can gain readers, build a strong bond with them and, ultimately, generate the kind of traffic that makes revenue a reality.
How many recipe-related pins do you have on Pinterest? A ton, right? Yeah, us too. You’d probably be hard-pressed to find any Pinterest user who doesn’t have at least a few boards devoted to food-centic pins.
Which is precisely why you need Tailwind. This program allows you to create visually dynamic pins, schedule them, shuffle them, edit them, pin them to appropriate boards and — here’s the kicker — add them to tribes.
You can see how many times your pins have been repined or liked, as well as analyze the engagement activity. Bottom line: If you want your food blog pins to go viral, Tailwind is your friend.