I’ve put together a quick list of the tools you’ll need to start your own blog. These are the tools that I have used to build my blog, and tools every new blogger should have.
Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning I earn a commission if you decide to buy through the links. This is one way bloggers earn a living. All of the products below are ones that I use to build my blog.
Blogging: Getting Started
Bluehost – Anyone who wants to start a blog or a website will need to have their own domain name and website host. For all of my sites, include Ministry of Canvas, I use Bluehost as my host. Bluehost will give you a free domain name when you sign up with them, and they will install WordPress onto your new site for you. Their starter plans range from $3.95 to $5.95 a month, depending how long the plan is. The good thing with Bluehost is that you are not locked into the plan. Even though you need to pay the entire plan upfront in one lump sum, this helps save you money, you can cancel at any time and Bluehost will refund you for the months you haven’t used.
If you need a step by step guide to help you get set up, you can check out my written guide here: How To Start a Blog – Your Step by Step Successful Launch Guide or I have a video guide here: Starting a Blog [Video Guide]
WordPress Themes – Once you have your blog set up, you’ll then want to find a theme that you like. There are free themes that are included when WordPress is installed onto your domain with Bluehost, but you can find better designed themes with more features, when you buy one. The places I go to look for themes are Theme Forest and Creative Market. I am a heavy user of Creative Market as they have tons of graphic elements that I use to create post header images, topic logos, and much more.
VaultPress WordPress Backup – Once I had built my home design website, Home Tree Atlas, into a popular blog (and one that was making a bit a money), I wanted to make sure it was safe and secure. This is where Vault Press comes in. For $5 a month they backup your blog daily. So if anything were to happen (say you messed up editing your html, or someone hacks into your blog) they can put everything back to normal.
Inspiration – Blogging is a long and tiring journey. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything as the payoffs are priceless. For me the freedom that comes with owning and running a successful blog is the biggest benefit I get from all of the hard work I have put in. Blogging can also be a bit lonely at times, as the only other people who know what you are going through are other bloggers. This is why I am publishing a book. It’s going to be a behind the scenes tour of what life is like for a blogger. 30 bloggers share their stories of how they got started, the mistakes they made, how they make money, how they stay creative, and so much more. If you to know more details and be notified when this book launches, sign up here:
My Blogging Life Inc – A Behind The Scenes Tour of What It’s Like to Be A Blogger || 30 Bloggers Share Their Stories
Taking Great Photographs for Your Blog [and Creating Videos]
A DSLR camera is an investment. Not just in terms of money, but also an investment of time. As you’ll need to learn how to take great photographs and learn how to edit them. Your photos will be what defines you and your blog. They will also be the main fuel for driving traffic to your blog – Pinterest is the biggest source of traffic for a lot of blogs. Having a good quality camera and knowing how to use it is a great skill to have, and not just for your blog. This camera can also be used for taking family photographs and videos, taking photos of weddings and events, or having it with you when you travel.
Canon T5i – The camera to go for would be the Canon T5i (or Canon 700D if you live outside of the US). You get a great camera for taking photographs and you can create awesome videos for your blog. It will cost you $699, and this includes a 18-55mm lens. The reason why you want to get this one over the more basic and cheaper $399 Canon T5 / 700D, is that with the basic T5 you don’t have autofocus when recording video and more importantly, there is no microphone jack which limits your audio recording when shooting video. If you have the funds, I would go with the Canon T5i. If you are on a tight budget, then the T5 is still a great entry level DSLR for bloggers.
Canon 50mm 1.8 – When starting out, the kit lens that comes with the camera (in our case it will be the 18-55mm lens) will be perfect for new bloggers. It is a versatile lens that you can use pretty much anywhere. But if you want to create more professional looking photographs, photos that have an uber blurry background, then you’ll want to look at also getting the Canon 50mm f1.8. For a camera lens it is pretty inexpensive. The lower the f number, in this case f1.8, the more blurry the background will be. Another benefit of getting a second lens like this, one with a low f number, is that you can better photos in dimly lit places like inside a house. So this is great for home crafts, DIYs, and food photography.
The basic set of accessories you’ll need for your new camera are a UV filter and an SD Card:
A UV Filter – These filters just screw onto the front of your lens – and protects the glass of your expensive lens. They will cost $7-$12 depending on the size. So you can always replace these filters if you get a scratch. Make sure you get a filter that is the same size as the front of your lens. The Canon 18-55mm kit lens that comes with the camera has a filter size of 67mm. While the 50mm Canon lens has a 52mm filter size.
64GB SD Card – You’ll need a memory card to put into your camera. The Canon T5i and T5 cameras I mentioned above use SD cards. There are different levels of speeds for SD cards. The higher end cards are used to record in super high definition, like 4k or RAW, so the cameras need fast memory cards. You won’t be needing these expensive SD cards. To start out, get the 64GB Sandisk and you’ll have a ton of space for photographs and recording videos.
1TB WD Passport – Once you start taking photographs and creating videos with your new camera, the files will start taking up a lot of space on your computer. I’ve just got myself a new hard drive to go with my new camera. This is the one I got – the 1TB WD Passport. It’s going to take me a while to fill this up, hopefully.
Ravelli Tripod – A simple and sturdy tripod, like the Ravelli one that I have, is good to have around if you need to take photographs of food, crafts, or of your home and family.
Photoshop – This isn’t cheap. But it is an amazing tool to have and a great skill to have. You’ll be able to completely edit your photographs, or create graphics for your blog (or buy professional graphics from Creative Market and edit them). You can get a monthly subscription for $9.99 here. It is worth the price and the time needed to learn how to use it to build your blog. There are free photo editing software, so it’s not absolutely necessary starting out, but I say get on it as fast as possible.
Zoom H1 for Recording Video Audio – I want to start creating little documentaries. I knew that the camera I had did not have a good enough audio recorder. So I went out a researched a lot into finding an affordable way of recording audio with my DSLR. The solution I have is the Zoom H1. The reason I bought this over other microphones and recorders is that it can be be attached to the top of my camera OR it can also be attached to somebody and record their voice using a lavalier (clip on mic). You can plug the Zoom H1 into your camera, but for best audio quality it is better to not plug it in and just record the audio separately. Then sync everything up in Premier Pro of Final Cut Pro.
JK Mic – This is the lavalier / clip on mic that I use with the H1 Zoom.
Fotsay Hot Shoe Adapter – I also bought a cheap adapter that lets me attach the Zoom to the top of my camera.
For Beginner Food Bloggers
If you are starting a food blog, then you are in luck. There are some amazing resources that will help you save time and money learning the ins and outs of building an amazing food blog.
Food Blogger Pro – I’m a member of Food Blogger Pro. For $29 month you get access to a library of videos that go over everything from how to create recipe posts, where to share your recipes, to building your traffic, and how to use social media (all from a person who has built her own amazing food blog). You also get access to a bustling forum of food bloggers who share their stories, tips, and questions. Food Blogger Pro is a must have if you are starting a food blog.
Tasty Food Photography eBook – Another must have for beginner food bloggers is Pinch of Yum’s Tasty Food Photography eBook. If you want to build an audience and spread your food blog, you’ll need great photographs. Your photographs can be shared on recipe sites that will jump start your traffic. This is a must have: Tasty Food Photography eBook.
Get started building your own blog here: How To Start a Blog – Your Step by Step Successful Launch Guide