I have always been a writer in general and blogging became a natural extension of that. In fact, my desire to teach even after leaving the classroom is what inspired me to start blogging. However, i did not realize that my blog would truly become a profession and be something I could replace my income with! Now it seems like there are many people out there wanting to blog for income. But what should you know before trying to blog professionally? What tools do you need to blog, what will start-up and up keep costs be, and how can you be successful?
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Blogging became a professional endeavor for me around October 2013. I started researching, learning, networking, and improving. While there are still posts on my site that I cringe at, long ago are the days of hobby blogging. But in order to fulfill the needs of successful professional blogging, I have found that it truly is very important to have the right tools of the trade.
It wasn’t until I was struggling to keep up that I realized I was not adiquately prepared in terms of the equipment I owned. And it wasn’t until I purchased better and more appropriate blogging gear did I realize what I was missing out on and how much better my income & professional blogging has become.
These are things I wish I would have known to start with. Even though you absolutely do not have to have each of these things to start (or even to be successful or to make money), they can make a huge difference in your traffic! (Yes, really). And blogging for a profit also means you may have to spend some money to make money.
Photography Equipment for blogging
DSLR – My personal opinion is that every serious blogger needs a DSLR camera. We are in a visual age and gone are the days of writing without beautiful photography. Sure, you can buy all stock images if you so desired, but the ability to create and take your own images seems to tell a better story.
I personally have a Canon 70D. I love it because it’s a mid-level camera that is easy enough for beginners or those unfamiliar with using DSLR cameras (like my husband) to use and can grow with his skill set as well as my own. This makes it versatile for us to use a family as we both blog and are not blogging at the level, but we are both doing it for income. Plus, this camera has WiFi and a phone app you can download to use your phone as a visual remote control!
It may seem silly that photography is a part of making a better blog, but aren’t we all more likely to stop, gush, ad read if a good photo accompanies it? Especially if the photo tells a story?
A Prime Lens – Even if you don’t want to spend major money, having a simple 35mm or 50mm prime lens is important. I have actually lived without taking off my 50mm lens for almost a year now. I have become a more creative photographer in the meantime and better at telling my story through photos.
I remember sitting at a conference listening to Courtney from Click it Up a Notch talk about getting a prime lens if you could only afford one. This helps build a skill set and give you more quality photos.
Again, try a 50 mm f/1.8 to start with because it is inexpensive at around $120 and it lets in a lot of natural light for shooting beautiful photos! Plus it’s a good start to kind of be mid-range where you can scoot in or walk backwards as needed to get your photo.
Photo editing Software – It doesn’t even have to be fancy and in many cases, you don’t even have to pay for it. You can use online services like Fotor.com and PicMonkey. Both have both free and paid options and I really like both. So if you know you don’t have the budget for Photoshop, no worries. But you should still be editing your pictures.
Smart Phone as a Camera – My husband and specifically purchased the Samsung Galaxy S5 for its ability to take photos for blogging purposes. Again, gone are the days that a blog is just a blog. To be really successful, social media is important so a great phone camera means great pictures on instagram, quick FB shares, and tweets. Plus it’s a great back-up when you can’t have a bulky DSLR hanging around your neck.
My husband at Rehabitat Home primarily uses his phone because he is doing home repair in tight spaces many times or is doing emergency fixes where he doesn’t have time for anything else. He successfully uses it for both still photography and video as demonstrated in the link above.
Kim from Life Over C’s exclusively used a Galaxy Tab 3 before upgrading to a DSLR Camera.
Carla at Preschool Powol Packets also uses her phone for 90% of her pictures and has used both an LG G2 and an HTC.
Some Basic Photography Tools – Any type of tripod, even if just a small tabletop tripod is SO helpful. Some days I just can’t get a steady hand and other days I need to be in the photo. Trying to find a suitable replacement for a tripod has proven difficult… so I absolutely needed to get one.
Also, buying some white canvas and some flooring samples can instantly become a perfect photography set-up that doesn’t cost much, but provides a much more professional product.
Computers, Software, and Technical Support for Bloggers
MacBook – I have always been a PC girl, but I am truly a convert. It’s much more powerful and more versatile than any PC I have ever had. And I am still in awe over all the things I can do on my MacBook Pro that I couldn’t do with lots of paid upgrades on my PC.
One of the best ways to make money in the blogging industry is to publish your own book/eBook. This is because you’re keeping the profit that you want out of sales instead of vice versa. Before I had my Mac, I was buying other software to help me do things like design book covers and format my book. But the software already included in purchasing a MacBook can do these things and even better than the software I was paying for and making do with before!
Great Hosting – I fully believe in the power of having a self-hosted site, hosted through a premium host. I personally use Servously Premium Web Hosting. It’s worth the $10/mo when starting out and the subsequent payments. I was originally living the free life on Blogger, which is fine for many. In fact some people have hacked the Blogger templates like And Next Comes L, but I personally still like the traffic spikes I got when I switched. When I moved to WordPress.org, my traffic skyrocketed. It skyrocketed again the week I moved from basic hosting to Servously Premium Hosting because my site speed increased so much. Plus I love that I have such great support and personal access to my host. I know my host by name and have easy contact to her any time.
Smart Phone for Accessibility – Back to the Smartphone… so necessary in my opinion. Part of blogging is micro blogging. Microblogging is capturing moments and stories for your readers and sharing them on Social Media. If you do not have an internet connection and the ability to have direct access, you may miss an opportunity. So not having the ability to snap a priceless photo and post it on instagram in the moment just means you lose that engagement. Or maybe you have an idea, even accessing an app on your phone like Trello could mean saving what you need. Better yet, start a draft on your site.
Think about how to be successful in today’s blogging culture. It requires connectedness even if you have to schedule it out in advance. But many times this means doing little things here and there. For instance, I try to pin a few things while waiting in the car for my husband after work. I wouldn’t have that opportunity without a smart phone.
Blogging is absolutely a lifestyle, meaning at least knowing the tools of the trade and saving up to get them is part of growing and becoming better.