I thought some of you might find it helpful or be curious to know what resources I use behind the scenes. Listed below are some of the things I use to make Flo’s Kitchen well, flow. I am certain that these will change as time goes by, so check back now and again to see what’s new. One thing’s for sure, blogging is a continuing education. One of the many things I like about it.
Please be aware that many of the links below are affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link and purchase items through that click, I may earn a commission. Rest assured that this is at no extra cost to you. The items listed are things I use, or have used in connection with running this blog, and that I find very helpful. I think you might too.
Canon EOS 80D
I had been wanting a new camera for quite a while now. I still love my Canon Digital Rebel, but I needed something that would do video and I also wanted something with WiFi capabilities. I did a lot of research and when it came down to it, it was between the 80D and the Canon EOS 6D. I went with the 80D because it was a little less expensive and had rave reviews regarding its video capabilities. So far, not a single regret. I feel like a former Ford Fiesta owner who has just bought a new Ferrari.
Canon Compact-Macro EF 50mm f/2.5 Lens
I have had this lens for a number of years. It is a prime lens, meaning it does not zoom in or out. The macro means it is made for very close up shots. I love the bokeh (that lovely background blur) I can get with it. I also can shoot in pretty low light with it because it is a very short lens. Most of my latest featured shots are taken with it. You can still find used ones online. If I were buying a comparable new Canon 50mm macro lens, this is the one I would buy.
RPS Studio Softbox Light Kit
As winter waned, the natural light in the house completely changed. The window of time when I could get any decent shots, grew smaller and smaller. After several months of frustration, I finally decided I needed to learn to use artificial lighting. There has been a bit of a learning curve, but the flexibility that comes with this light kit is so worth it. This kit comes with two 20 inch square softboxes, two light stands, four 280 Watt fluorescent bulbs and a carrying case. This continuous light kit allows me to photograph my food anytime. I also like that it is portable.
Insignia 5-in-1, 32 inch Collapsible Light Reflector
This handy collapsible light reflector has 5 different surfaces (silver, gold, white, black and diffuser). It folds down to 1/3 of its size and fits nicely inside the bag that came with my Studio Softbox Light Kit. I use it quite often to diffuse the natural afternoon light that comes in the kitchen window.
Puroma Universal Cell Phone Tripod Mount
I shoot quite a few photos for this site with my iPhone 7 Plus. The camera in it really is amazing. That is, as long as you have really abundant natural light. This sweet tripod mount is instrumental in my being able to frame really nice food photography shots. I love being able to look at that nice big screen on my iPhone. Did you know you can use the volume buttons on your head phones as a remote shutter release? Love that. This mount works with pretty much any smart phone.
I initially started this blog with a Premium Plan on WordPress.com. In retrospect I wish I had started out with a self-hosted sight from the beginning. If you want the flexibility of using most WordPress plugins, you need a self-hosted sight. I switched to BlueHost about 6 months in and have very happy with them. They have great customer service, a 30 day money back guarantee and the price is great!
Envato Market WordPress Themes
I used the Rosemary Theme by themeforest to create this website once I moved to self-hosting. A theme is basically a template that you use to create your website or blog. I liked the clean design of the Rosemary theme. It came with features that work well for food blogs. That is another benefit to self-hosting, you can choose from a wide variety of very reasonably priced WordPress Themes. This theme came with 6 months free support. I used this benefit a couple of times and received great customer service. If you have any questions about going this route, I would be happy to tell you more about my experiences putting together my blog using an Envato product. Contact me here if you like.
WP Recipe Maker Plugin
This was one of the first plugins I installed. For food bloggers, using a plugin with schema.org/Recipe JSON-LD metadata is essential to your recipes’ SEO. This plugin makes writing a recipe easy. It also makes going back and editing one you have already published a piece of cake. I am currently using the free version. There are several flavors of paid versions which I eventually hope to upgrade to.
Shop Page Plugin
I love this simple plugin for adding an affiliate link shop to your WordPress site. It’s quick, it’s clean and it’s free. When I had a question, I emailed the developer and had an answer in a few hours. There are just a few lines of shortcode you need to add to the page and your off to the races. I admit, I needed the help of some experts at my WordPress meetup to get started with this plugin. If you try it and have questions, drop me an email. Have a look at my Shop here. I am still adding to it.
If you go to the effort of creating content for your blog, of course you want people to be able to find that content when they search Google or Bing. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. The Yoast SEO plugin checks your posts and gives you a score on its search-ability. It offers suggestions to improve your posts ranking in search. There are free, and paid versions. So far, I am getting good results from the free version.
Tailwind is a tool that allows you to manage your presence on Pinterest and Instagram. Just as Google is a language search tool, Pinterest and Instagram have become the main means of visual search. For food blogs, since you eat with your eyes first, visual search is essential. Tailwind allows you to schedule your visual content when it’s convenient for you. Tailwind’s scheduler adds your content to Pinterest and Instagram at optimal times determined by the app. The algorithm for that in itself, is pretty handy.
Tribes are the other big benefit of Tailwind. They allow you to find and share each others content. Therefore greatly expanding your reach. You also get Analytics and Monitoring so you can see what content is most popular, along with Hashtags Suggestions, Education and more. Tailwind plans start at $9.99. You can try a free 30 day/100 pin trial here.
Skimlinks is an Affiliate Network with a WordPress plugin that is a no brainer to install. We all need ways to pay for the expenses of running a website. Skimlinks makes it easy. Besides the easy plugin install, and the large merchant network, Skimlinks has a browser extension that allows you to generate affiliate links right in your browser. What a time saver!
Cronometer.com is a membership website that helps you track your nutritional information and calories. I find it so handy, I did a whole post about it.