These are all the WordPress plugins, software, applications, services, experts, and physical products that I personally appreciate and would recommend to other bloggers.
With that said, I have no control over the offered services or products and cannot guarantee the results that you experience yourself. Please be sure to do your own due diligence to ensure what you're signing up for is a good fit for your budget and your business!
This page contains affiliate links where I receive a small commission for any purchases using these links at no additional cost to you. I appreciate your support!
WP Recipe Maker
WPRM allows you to make completely customizable recipe cards that are SEO-optimized, optimized for speed, and mobile-friendly. Includes a nutrition calculator. Brecht, the developer, is extremely responsive and provides users with great customer support – you can tell how much he cares!
Tasty Recipes produces beautiful recipe cards from a handful of customizable templates that are easy to use with lots of great features. This was the first recipe plugin I ever used and it's grown leaps and bounds in features since then.
Akismet is open-source software that checks your comments and contact form submissions to prevent your site from publishing malicious content. I used Akismet for many years – sometimes spam slipped through, but the tactics that spammers use are always evolving, so I don’t blame the plugin.
Antispam Bee blocks spam comments and trackbacks free of charge and is 100% GDPR compliant. Simple interface, easy to use, works well – no complaints.
Yoast helps your site meet technical SEO standards and gives you tools to optimize your content for SEO and overall readability, and the Premium version will allow you to create redirects as needed. It has a tendency to “over-optimize”, so you want to take its recommendations with a grain of salt.
Rank Math refers to itself as the “Swiss Army Knife of WordPress SEO” and helps your site meet technical SEO standards and gives you tools to optimize your content for SEO. They have a free version and paid version, and its free version has more features than Yoast’s.
Grow Social (formerly Social Pug) is managed by the team at Mediavine and focuses on customizable social sharing. It’s quick, it’s customizable, it integrates with Google Analytics, and the Pro version offers up some great features like setting custom images and descriptions for each individual social network.
ShortPixel is an image optimization plugin to help decrease the page load on your site from heavy images and increase your site speed. It has more features than most other image optimization plugins, and gives you 100 free optimization credits per month.
Imagify was created by the makers of WP Rocket and is a solid image optimization plugin to decrease the page load on your site from heavy images and increase your site speed.
While WP Rocket is known as a caching plugin, it also decreases your site’s loading time to optimize your Core Web Vitals scores. Some hosting platforms and WordPress support teams include WP Rocket in their services toolkit as their caching plugin of choice.
UpdraftPlus performs manual or scheduled backups of all your WordPress files, databases, plugins, and themes.
Limit Modified Date
Built by developer Bill Erickson of CultivateWP, this plugin will prevent the modified date from changing when making minor changes to your posts, like fixing a typo.
Broken Link Checker
Broken Link Checker will scan your site for broken links, either on a schedule or manually, to ensure you don't have dead links floating around that would provide a poor user experience.
AFFILIATE LINK MANAGEMENT
Pretty Links is an “all in one” affiliate link management plugin that will automatically make short links for your domain and allow you to create, manage, and track the data for those custom URLs.
AFFILIATE LINK MANAGEMENT
From the WP Tasty team, Tasty Links will autolink keywords in all your posts to whatever URLs you indicate, comply with SEO best practices by adding “nofollow” and “sponsored” attributes as needed, add affiliate disclosure text after each link, and other helpful features.
Software & Apps
Canva is a free-to-use online graphic design tool. Use it to create social media posts, presentations, posters, videos, logos and more. In my opinion, the Canva Pro membership is 110% worth the expense because it gives you access to tons of awesome tools, stock photos, and so much more.
Lightroom is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of products and what I use to edit all my photos. I have a bunch of different presets to account for different lighting, color schemes, etc. and it allows me to edit photos quickly and easily on a desktop, tablet, or even my phone. You can choose a Creative Cloud subscription with multiple products, or purchase Lightroom standalone.
FileZilla is a fast and reliable free FTP (file transfer protocol) solution. This is handy if you find that you need to access your site's backend files directly for any reason.
If you have a Gmail account, you already have access to Google's suite of productivity tools: Google Calendar, Drive, Sheets, Docs, Slides, etc. But if you're looking to get a custom email domain to match your site (e.g. @stressbaking.com) and additional storage, you can sign up for the Business Starter Workspace plan for a low monthly fee.
ConvertKit is a popular email marketing platform that is designed for online creators to help grow your audience (and monetize digital products, if desired). They have a free plan for up to 1,000 subscribers, but signing up for the Creator or Creator Pro plans give you access to lots of helpful tools like automation and the Creator Network (which has helped grow my own audience immensely).
I consider Mailchimp to be a good starter email marketing platform. It doesn't have a ton of bells and whistles, so if you just need a way to send out email without too much fuss, this works great. It's free for up to 1,000 subscribers and then has three additional tiers of paid plans based on the amount of monthly email sends.
accessScan is a site that lets you run a free audit of your site to check whether or not it is accessible for people with disabilities and ADA and WCAG compliant. It will give you a detailed rundown of what is and isn't compliant, and you can even have a PDF emailed to you with the details.
a11y Color Contrast Accessibility Validator
When it comes to website accessibility, the contrast between the text and the text background is a concern for colorblind and other visually impaired users. This color contrast tool will run a free and quick test of your site to ensure you're complying with website accessibility regulations.
Clariti was spun up by TinyBit (the umbrella company for Food Blogger Pro and Pinch of Yum) as a content management solution specifically designed to integrate with WordPress and Google data. It gives you insights into all of the nitty-gritty details of your posts and you can create projects to track the work you're doing to update and maintain your site. I have Clariti open in my browser 24/7 and it's been invaluable for me to have manageable data about ~400 blog posts.
CapCut is a free all-in-one video editor that you can use on desktop or on mobile. It's great for editing recipe videos in any ratio/perspective you need to post on social media, and has endless options for editing, AI-based tools, music, effects, filters, and more.
Depending on the different applications and services you use, you'll likely encounter some that will request that you set up two-factor authentication (2FA) for your account for additional security. All that means is that you'll download this app to your phone, and when you log in to that service's site, it will prompt you to enter the number token that appears in the Authy app.
Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am a Todoist superfan – I use it for every aspect of my life, personally and professionally. Todoist is a task manager and to-do list app (for mobile and desktop) that is simple to use, but still powerful. There is a free version, but the Pro version is totally worth the low annual expense.
Airtable is a cloud-based platform that combines features of a database, spreadsheet, and collaboration software. I personally use it for tracking blog post metrics, ongoing projects with third parties, content management, and documentation management. It's great for collaborating with other remote team members (contractors, VAs, etc.), but might feel like overkill for brand-new bloggers.
ClickUp is a cloud-based project management and productivity tool for managing tasks, projects, and goals. It offers features like subtasks, due dates, and comments to help with task management, and it's also great for collaboration with other team members.
Notion is an organization, productivity, and note-taking web application that has a variety of integrations to tools like Slack, Google Drive, Canva, ClickUp, Loom, and tons more. I've been using it personally since 2019 and found it useful enough to use for business purposes as well.
SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT
With CoSchedule, you can generate and manage your content calendar and social media for Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest in one spot. I used CoSchedule for years when I was really trying to get a handle on how to manage it all myself.
SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT
I used Later for several years and only stopped using it because I had hired a VA who was handling my social media management. As a visual person, I found it easy to use and reliable.
Like many bloggers, I have a real love/hate relationship with Tailwind. It's a fantastic way to get all your Pinterest content planned out months ahead, you can have it pick the best times to post for you, and it provides analytics and a bunch of other useful features. But it can be hard to justify the cost when some of the features are no longer best practices because they're based on recycling older content (and Pinterest is now only interested in new “fresh” pins and more real-time trends). My organizational side still loves it, but I just hate paying for tools where I'm not utilizing half of its feature set. There's a free plan if you want to give it a shot and see how you feel about it.
Creative Market is a collaborative marketplace for digital design assets like fonts, stock photos, illustrations, themes, templates, icons, and more. You can find beautiful and unique assets created by folks from all over the world, and I have personally benefitted from tons of materials I've found on the site over the years.
Grammarly provides writing assistance in real-time by reviewing your spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. as you're writing using AI. It suggests replacements and can help you adjust your tone, style, or context-specific language. Their free account is enough for me, but if you feel you could benefit from some extra help (especially if English isn't your first language) you can grab a paid Grammarly Premium account.
Semrush is known as the most costly SEO tool in the food blogging community, but I personally think it's worth the investment. I use this daily, and more than any other tool for my sites. It helps me with keyword research, tracking rankings and backlinks, keeping an eye on my competitors, and suggesting ways that I can improve. If I could recommend only one tool to help you with your SEO, it would be this one.
The founder of RankIQ has quite the impressive backstory, and he's built a popular and easy to use SEO tool along the way. It's very helpful with digging into untapped keywords for niches, including food blogging. Brandon is very hands-on and dedicated to his customers, and you can tell he really cares. He also has a popular podcast, The Blogging Millionaire, which I would recommend subscribing to.
Ahrefs is a less expensive SEO tool that functions similarly to Semrush – I just personally prefer Semrush for my working style. However, I do recommend signing up for a free Ahrefs Webmaster Tools account. I enjoy the reports they email me, as I feel strongly about getting my information from multiple sources. When it comes to keyword research and SEO in general, it's good to have a variety of perspectives – from humans and from online tools.
KeySearch is another good keyword research tool and by far the most affordable one. I used KeySearch when I was first diving into SEO, and it was great for a less fully-stacked solution. Semrush is loaded with tons of options, and that can be very overwhelming for a beginner. I find that a lot of people will either choose RankIQ or KeySearch, and strongly favor one over the other depending on their style and what they need.
Services & Experts
Andrew and the NerdPress team provide WordPress support in the form of site security, nightly site backups, Core Web Vitals optimization, and Cloudflare firewall/DDoS protection. They have three different tiers of monthly plans to choose from, depending on your needs. They have a great support team, and if you check out their team page you'll get to see everyone's pets, too!
The Blog Fixer
The Blog Fixer is just what it sounds like: fixes for your blog. They offer a variety of different services that can fix things like changing nofollow links across your entire site by automating those updates without needing to click into each individual post to make the changes. Other example services are filling in missing alt tags, removing links from comments, internal permalink redirects, and more.
40A Virtual Assistants
Founded by Cheryl of 40 Aprons, 40A provides a wide range of services to help you with your business so you can outsource what you don't have time for and focus on what you enjoy. Some of their services include photography, social media marketing, podcast editing, web stories, and much more. I've used a couple of their VAs for various work and they were great.
Tried & Tasty Recipe Videography
When I tell you to run – don't walk – to get Yvonne and Steve to do your recipe videos for you, I'm not kidding. Get your running shoes on! I'm terrible at video and wanted to outsource it to someone who knows what they're doing, and not only do they produce beautiful customized videos, but they are a fricking pleasure to work with. RUN TO THEM!
Peach Perfect Financials
Ansley offers accounting services specifically for bloggers and content creators as a CPA on retainer, monthly bookkeeping, setting up S Corps, tax preparation, 1:1 consults, and more. She also offers a Blogger MBA School self-paced online course for people who want a comprehensive set of courses about growing and sustaining a profitable business.
Grace & Vine Studios
Madison and her team create beautiful custom websites for food bloggers. She has become a trusted expert in the blogging space for not only site design but for strategic branding, her podcast The Vine, and being a great source of information about growing your audience. I've worked with Madison and her team for their “Designer for a Day” package and can attest to what a pleasure with which they are to work!
Matt Molen is a trusted email marketing expert who helps bloggers and other creators transform their businesses through email marketing. I thought I knew quite a bit about email marketing, but I took his “Email on Autopilot” course and I learned so much – especially about how to design a great welcome series.
Everything Digital Marketing
Ty Kilgore doesn't know much about food, but he knows a LOT about SEO (don't worry, he's the first to admit his gap in cooking knowledge). I've seen firsthand how he can help people grow their organic search traffic with completely personalized SEO strategies. He offers a MasterClass as well as 1:1 services. If you have the budget, it's worth it!
Woman-owned Restored 316 creates beautiful customizable feminine WordPress themes built on the Kadence Framework, and they’re the best in the business at it. If you want to break out of the mold and stand out a bit, one of their themes would be a great way to do that. You can see my full review of their Limoncella theme here.
Feast creates minimal WordPress themes specifically for food bloggers. They offer the Feast Plugin which controls all of your theme's functionality and customization in one place with access to all 5 of their themes, or you can purchase individual themes. This is an extremely popular setup for many food bloggers. You can see my full review of the Feast Plugin here.
Danielle Liss is a well-known and reputable attorney who frequently works with bloggers to draft partnership agreements, contracts, website policies, and more. You can also find many legal document templates she has created for purchase on Businessese.
Pricing starts at $32 per month. I've been with them for a few years and I’ve been really happy with the customer service and uptime.
HOSTING & DOMAINS
Bluehost domains start at $13 per year, but they also offer a free domain for your first year if you sign up for one of their WordPress hosting packages that start at $2.95 per month. I was with them near the beginning of my blogging journey – the service was good, and the price is definitely right when you’re just starting out.
Most domains are $12 per year, but it will give you estimates for aftermarket prices if they’re taken but for sale. If you purchase the domain with Google, it will also help you get set up with Google Workspace so you can purchase the corresponding email address domain as well. Note: On June 15, 2023, it was announced that Google Domains registrations would be purchased by Squarespace, which means current Google customers will become Squarespace customers. Google Domains customers will have their pricing honored for the first year on Squarespace, but the timing of the migration has not yet been announced.
Courses & Groups
Eat Blog Talk Mastermind
I met some of my favorite people over the course of the 2023 EBT Mastermind Group. We had weekly calls, monthly calls with industry experts, and a Slack channel where we could all ask questions and share knowledge 24/7. The last day to apply for the 2024 group is December 15, 2023, so make sure you sign up before then and mention my name in your application!
Food Blogger Pro
I was a part of Food Blogger Pro for many years when I decided to get serious about learning all the things about food blogging. It was an absolutely wonderful resource back then, and they've done nothing but improve upon it since then. I'd recommend this to anyone getting into food blogging!
Nikon D3400 DSLR Camera
This is the only DSLR I've ever used and I love it dearly. For the purpose of close-up food photos, I like to use either the NIKKOR AF-P DX 18-55mm lens it came with or my Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G lens.
Nikon Remote Release Cord
The only downside to my Nikon D3400 DSLR is that it doesn't support a wireless remote, so I've been using this 1 meter (~3 feet) remote release cord for years and it's worked great for me.
Replica Surfaces are the only backdrops I use on Stress Baking! They're sturdy but lightweight, stain-resistant, hyper-realistic, and sort of turn into a “collect them all” situation. I have about a dozen of their surfaces, as well as the Replica Studio mobile photoshoot stand on wheels.
Large portfolio storage case
Since I have a whole bunch of Replica Surfaces, and I needed a place to store them that was pretty slim to account for the small amount of room I had. This large zippered storage case is the perfect size!
The Blogging Millionaire Podcast
The Blogging Millionaire is hosted by Brandon Gaille, the founder of RankIQ, and each episode is relatively short. He teaches the latest traffic-building and income-boosting growth tips, and remains very topical with current events in the blogging space.
Food Blogger Pro Podcast
The FBP podcast is run by Bjork of Food Blogger Pro (and originally Pinch of Yum with his wife Lindsay), each episode features a different food blogger or expert in the food blogging space. They dig deep into the details of the backstories and strategies those people used to become successful.
Eat Blog Talk Podcast
Eat Blog Talk is hosted by Megan Porta of the Eat Blog Talk Mastermind group, and she is truly one of the nicest people you're ever going to meet. That comes across in interactions with her, as well as just listening to her on the podcast. She interviews other bloggers and industry experts to deliver interesting stories and valuable insights.
The Influencer Entrepreneurs Podcast
Hosted by Jenny Melrose, who is an absolute ball of sunshine, this podcast aims to teach others how to build a stronger small business with proven blogging and social media tips.
The Simple Pin Podcast
The Simple Pin Podcast is hosted by Kate Ahl of Simple Pin Media, and each episode aims to help you learn how to use and grow your Pinterest account. While I find a lot of the material is more geared toward digital marketers, it's still got some goodies for food bloggers as well.
The Vine Podcast
Hosted by another absolute doll of a human being, Madison Wetherill of Grace + Vine Studios, each short episode focuses on action items you can take to increase your impact, grow your audience, and expand your business.
The Ultimate Blog Podcast
The Ultimate Blog Podcast is run by two lovely ladies I've had the pleasure of meeting in person, Amy Reinecke and Jennifer Draper. They're both bloggers themselves and started Spark Media Concepts and this podcast to help women share their stories, passion, expertise, and perspectives to share content that adds value to others and inspires through their blogs.
The Blogger Genius Podcast
The Blogger Genius Podcast is hosted by Jillian Leslie, the founder of MiloTree, and is about learning how successful bloggers grow their businesses and how you can apply their strategies to your own.
Please @ Me
Please @ Me (how good is that name?) is run by a husband and wife team that I'm proud to call friends, Georgina and Dan Whalen. Dan has run The Food In My Beard since 2008 and has published several cookbooks, and Georgina is a successful influencer marketing manager. In the podcast, they chat about the blogging industry, current events, and – my favorite part, what's going on with them personally.