I have been blogging here at Toby Goes Bananas for six and a half years now (and I had a different blog for about four years before that). So although I don’t claim to be an expert I’ve been around for a while! If you are just starting out with a blog then it can be a bit daunting so I thought I’d share my top 5 blogging essentials for getting started.
Top 5 Blogging Essentials
WordPress and web hosting
There are loads of different ways to set up a blog or a website, and some of them are even free. If you are writing a blog purely as a hobby then any one of these would do the job. Blogger is a popular platform which is owned by Google which is easy to use and doesn’t cost anything. I started my first blog on Blogger and it was great for what I needed then.
WordPress also offers a free option at WordPress.org. However, with both of these free websites you won’t have your own personal website address, which is fine if you are a hobby blogger. If you want to try and make money from your blog then you really need your own URL. You can do this with Blogger but probably the most popular way to do it is paying for self-hosting through a web hosting company (I use Quality Host *affiliate link) and buying your own domain.
It can be a bit of a faff switching to a self-hosted blog after starting with one of the free options so if you are definitely planning to try and earn an income from your blog then I would recommend do this from the get go. I’ve written a few posts about going self-hosted before and you can find them all here.
OK, so you don’t strictly need a computer to start a blog but again if it something you are planning on doing long term then I would say it was something you will probably need.
You can write a blog on anything you can connect to the internet on so you could do it on a phone or tablet, but typing a long post on a phone isn’t the easiest thing to do, and it is also difficult to do the behind the scenes things like changing the appearance of your blog.
I use a laptop for blogging as I do a lot of work on the sofa with the TV on in the background. Sometimes I go and work in a coffee shop for a change of scenery and it’s handy to have a laptop I can take with me. I have an Asus one which is fab – it’s small and light and does everything I need. I’d love a Macbook one day but at the moment I can’t justify the price tag!
A camera isn’t really essential to write a blog, especially if you are just starting out, but good quality photos are. Although I do use my phone a lot for pictures I also have a ‘big camera’ that I use for most photos on the blog, especially for work I’m doing for brands.
I have a Canon DSLR – it’s quite old now and we would like to upgrade it soon, but it works well for now. You don’t have to have a DSLR though, I know lots of bloggers who use bridge cameras like the Canon G7 X which are great for both photos and video.
You don’t really need lots of other camera equipment when you’re starting out. If you want to do product reviews then it’s helpful to have somewhere with good natural light where you can take photographs. A plain-ish background works best – we have a big wooden worktop in our kitchen so I often use that.
In fact the picture above was taken on the kitchen worktop with a wooden chopping board propped up behind it! If you don’t have anywhere suitable at home you could always buy a backdrop. There are lots available such as these great photo backdrops from foxbackdrop.
I know probably everyone has a smart phone these day but I think it really is an essential for a blogger. I’m team iPhone, and currently have an iPhone 8 Plus . I use it for everything! Taking photos and videos, writing to do lists, checking email, and keeping my social media updated.
Having social media accounts for your blog is really the best way to let people know about it so they come to read your posts. I use Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – you can find me as TobyGoesBananas on all social media. While I’m mentioning this actually, one of the hardest things about starting a blog is thinking of a name! When you’ve got one you like it’s worth checking if the name is a available on social media too. It really is easier if your name is the same everywhere!
My final blogging essential isn’t really essential at all. But, it will make life as a blogger a lot easier and more enjoyable! When you are starting a blog you will undoubtedly have lots of questions and although Google can be your friend here, it can be a lot easier and quicker to find the answer you’re looking for by asking another blogger.
And this is where Facebook groups come in. I’m in a few Facebook blogging groups now. One for parent bloggers, one for North West bloggers, and a few where we share paid opportunities.
I’m not going to tell you which groups to join but if you search for your niche, whether that’s parent blogger, or food, or DIY or whatever it might be, you’ll find plenty of options. You can also search Facebook for your location and see if there are any local blogger groups you can join.
There are loads of blogging groups out there so you are bound to find a few that are relevant to you and useful. The added benefit of Facebook groups are that they are a great way to make friends. Some of my best friends now are other bloggers that I met through Facebook groups. I’ve met most of them now at various blogging events but even the ones I haven’t met in real life I would still count amongst my closest friends!
I hope this post of blogging essentials is helpful if you are just starting out blogging or even just thinking of starting a blog. And if you’ve been blogging a while I’d love to know what your blogging essentials are.