What do I get? Where do I even start!?
A few years ago I decided to do this crazy thing and start a food blog. I spent hours upon hours bugging my family and friends to help me decide on a blog name. Bits of Umami was the lucky winner and now I was ready to start blogging! WRONG. Who knew something so “simple” as taking photos and writing about food would be so difficult. Thankfully, the following resources helped me immensely & lucky for you – you don’t have to spend 6 months trying to find them all on your own. Cheers to spending less time researching & more time doing what you love…. talking about food!
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Food Photography Tools
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 – This camera is what I am currently using. It is a great starter camera for those of you that are just starting out and don’t want to use your iPhone for photos. This is one of Canon’s cheaper cameras, but it definitely gets the job done. Pair this with 1 or 2 of the food photography books below and you’ll be on a fast track towards success.
Canon EOS 6D – Okay so in a perfect world this is the camera I’d have. This perfect world is one where I have all the money in the world and I could justify buying this and not having to starve myself to save up enough money to do it. If money isn’t an issue for you (I’m accepting donations) then get this camera!
Canon 50mm 1.4 Lens – This is the lens I use for 100% of my food photos. It’s a great all around lens and works for both close up shots as well as overhead shots. My photography game changed so much when I finally got this. If you’re gonna splurge on a lens – get this one. You won’t regret it!
Canon EF 100mm 2.8L IS Lens – This lens is not currently in my camera bag, but if you have the funds available I’d recommend adding this to your shopping cart. I would not recommend getting this over the 50mm 1.4 lens though. This one will get you some dramatic close up shots that could be super nice, but if you’re just starting out it might not be necessary to buy upfront.
Portable Light Reflector – A reflector is very helpful to guide light into or away from certain areas you might be trying to highlight. I have 1 of these, but I wouldn’t be opposed to grabbing another. I typically use the white side of it, but I have also used the black to shield light completely. The biggest perk of this is that it folds up super small so storing it will take up no space at all.
Lowel EGO Indoor Lighting Unit – So it’s 4pm and you’re wrapping up cooking. You set up your final shot and boom the sun is now down. The horror. I hate taking photos without natural sunlight, but sometimes you just don’t have that luxury. This light is the perfect thing to bring out in these situations. It is a little too bright though so I like to diffuse it by throwing a white sheet or pillow case over it. I know. I know. I’m such a pro 😂
SanDisk Extreme PRO 64GB Memory Card – You may think 64 GB is excessive, but let me tell you… IT IS NOT. I actually just ran out of space on my 64 GB card and I delete all my photos off the card after I load them up to my computer. Let’s just say this girl was not a happy camper when I was sitting there deleting photos so I could take more all while trying to finish before the sun went down. Do yourself a favor and buy 1 of these. If you can… buy 2 so you have another as a backup.
Canon Battery Pack LP-E12 – The only thing more annoying that running out of space on your SD card is having your camera die during a shoot. Both of these scenarios happened to me on the same day. Of course I did not have a backup battery pack. You best believe I do now. This battery pack is for the Rebel camera. If you have the 6D you’ll have to look up which to get.
Photoshop CC + Lightroom – The only thing more important than learning to take good photos is learning to edit them. I use Photoshop, but I know that a lot of bloggers are fans of Lightroom. To be completely honest I just haven’t taken the time to learn Lightroom which is why I stick to Photoshop. Learning both would be a very smart move. Adobe now has a monthly plan for PS+LR making it very affordable!
Tasty Food Photography – This is by far one of the best purchases I have made since starting Bits of Umami. This book is written by Pinch of Yum and gives so many detailed steps on both how to photograph and how to edit photos. Pinch of Yum uses a Canon for their photos so if you buy the Rebel (or the 6D) you’ll have a pretty good guide with this book. It’s a quick read with a ton of useful information.
The Food Photography Book – This book by RecipeTin Eats is another great buy for mastering your food photography skills. RecipeTin Eats uses a Nikon camera so if you have one of those instead of a camera I’d recommend getting this book before you get Tasty Food Photography. Either way though it still gives you really great tips that can be applied towards your Canon as well. Buying both of these food photography books + a lot of patience will take you very very far. Patience is truly the key though. I can’t even explain how frustrating learning to take photos is. These books are a godsend.
How I Made $40k My First Year of Blogging – This is one of the first books I read prior to starting my blog. This is written by Chelsea’s Messy Apron and gives a play by play of her first year in blogging. It goes over everything she did to monetize her blog and provides very helpful tips on the world of blogging. If you start your blog with the sole intention of making money off of it though then close this browser now. You’re gonna have to love what you’re blogging about if you want to succeed. It is a lot of work – more than you can even imagine. It has also been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done though. This book helps you see envision what a future of blogging could eventually lead to and is a very inspiring read.
How to Start
Bluehost – This is hosting company used for Bits of Umami. It’s a great starter hosting company to choose. I have heard that as traffic increased it may be necessary to move to another company, but unless you plan on having over 5k users a month starting out then this is who I’d pick to host your site. It is very straight forward in setting up and their support is fantastic. One thing I’ve learned is to pick companies to work with that have great support. Blogging is a lot of work and can be very technical. You need smart/supportive/responsive people on your side. Bluehost is all of that and on top of it all is quite affordable.
MailChimp – When I started out I was using another mail service – MailPoet – I read all the reviews for MailChimp, but still went with MailPoet. I’m not exactly sure why, but I’m going to guess it was because they were easier to setup. Bad call. A year in my newsletter stopped sending. I tried getting help and no one was able to solve my issue. I then had to migrate everything to MailChimp and I’ve never been happier. Support is fantastic. Reporting metrics are so much more insightful. & wanna hear the best part? There is a free account option! YAAAAS.
Genesis Framework + Foodie Pro Theme – Make your blog look pretty! Foodie Pro is one of the best starter themes I have found for food blogs. There are a ton of online tutorials too. It is very easy to customize and I’ve been super happy with it. Sure the price may be a little scary, but it’s a one time fee and you’ll set your site up once and be on your merry little way. Even if you don’t choose Foodie there are a ton of different Genesis themes to choose from.
Gourmet Ads Network – Once you’re rocking and rolling you’ll want to get on an ad network. Gourmet Ads allows you to apply after you hit an average of 10k users per month. Their application and implementation process is super easy. Support is fantastic. & they have a 100% fill rate. They basically do everything for you which is quite helpful. My job is to set up ads and not having to do that on my personal time is one of the biggest perks of joining this network. If you’re at the 10k user level and want some gorgeous food related ads on your site – look no further. Apply now!
Growing Your Blog
Here is a list of food sharing sites I submit my recipes to & social platforms I use to promote my recipes. Promotion of your recipes may actually take you the same amount of time as actually posting them. This was one of the bigggggest shocks to me, but it is a VERY important step. There is an ongoing debate between bloggers on what the proper time needs to be between post creation & post promotion. I don’t think there is a correct answer really. I’m going to give you all the sites I use so that you can pave your own way. I’d recommend using everything below for the first 3-6 months so that you can see what performs best for you. Now I know this all looks like a lot, but one trick I’ve been doing is writing my entire post in a word doc and include all top line info so that you can quickly copy paste into these sites.
Food Submission Sites
- Food Gawker
- Food Yub
- My Recipe Magic
- Healthy Aperture
- Taste of Home
- Google Plus
- Join a Facebook food bloggers group! I’m currently a member of Food Bloggers Central & it is one of the most helpful/supportive groups I have found. Any question you have you can post and get a quick response from others who have faced similar issues.
- There is also a FBC Social Sharing group where other bloggers share roundups they are putting together and you can submit your recipes for entry into them. It is an easy way to promote your blog amongst other bloggers. Friends are what it’s all about!
- Comment. Comment. Comment. Every week I would recommend commenting on at least 20-30 other food bloggers posts. Doing this is a key step in networking and you’ll develop ongoing relationships with other bloggers.