On this page you'll find a list of tools, services and resources for crafting and diy bloggers. This is everything I use on a daily basis to help run my blog. I've learnt so much from other bloggers sharing their tips and tricks that I wanted to share mine too. Hopefully you'll find it as useful as I have found similar lists in the past.
Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through them. I only link to products and companies I know, use and trust. Please let me know if you have any questions about anything listed below.
Canon EOS 6D I recently upgraded to the Canon 6D before that all the photos on this blog were taken using my 7 year old Fuji FinePix bridge camera (similar to this one). The Canon 6D isn't a cheap camera but well worth the money if you're looking to invest. As well as taking amazing photos it also had HD video capabilities, a big selling point if you plan on sharing video tutorials on your site and want to be able to use the same camera. If you're looking to get started you might want to try a bridge camera like the one mentioned above or something like this Canon EOS Rebel SL1.
Collapsible Round Multi Disc Light Reflector I try to take all of my photos using natural light. These reflectors are great for when I need to brighten up any dark shadows or soften the light when it's too bright. I love that when I'm finished I can collapse them down and tuck them away easily.
Wireless Remote Control This has made my life so much easier. An essential for taking those self-portraits.
I love Blogger. I know a lot of people recommend going the self-hosted WordPress route but when you're just starting out and you want to keep costs as low as possible I think Blogger is a great place to start. It's easy to customise, free to use and as it's run by Google can be easily integrated with all their other services like Google Analytics.
Up until recently I used the Simple Blogger template that I had customised myself but with so many people now using their phones to browse the internet I needed to upgrade to a new mobile responsive design that wasn't the basic Blogger layout. I bought my mobile template for around £5 ($6.95) from Sora Templates and then tweaked the design myself by customising the CSS.
To edit my photos and create 95% of the layouts I use the free photo editing software Gimp 2.8. The rest of my layouts are made using Canva, another free editing resource and on occasion some photo editing apps such as Afterlight, Vsco and Studio.
For each diy project I like to include a list of materials used so you can recreate the project yourself. I use Inlinkz to make the product list. It costs $4.99 (around £3) a month and you can create unlimited galleries using affiliate links (you can learn more about affiliate links below).
Mailchimp is the email marketing software I use to send out new blog posts and the Gathering Beauty newsletter to my subscribers via email. It's really simple to use and is free if your list is under 2000 subscribers.
Here's a list of photo submission sites I use to help build traffic and gain exposure for the blog. Sometimes there can be a bit of trial and error involved in getting your photos accepted so don't get discouraged if you don't get accepted first time.
Another way to build traffic is by installing widgets such as Engageya and Limk and LinkWithin. They show your readers related content at the bottom of each post. I've used all 3 in the past year and would recommend each of them for different reasons.
LinkWithin is free to install and requires no registration. It's simple to set-up but lacks some of the customisation that the other 2 offer. It also offers no way to track how many people are actually clicking on the links, you'll need to use something like Google Analytics to track that but it is easy to install and I liked it's minimal simplicity.
I really liked Limk and found it more than doubled the amount of people that were being referred by LinkWithin. It has some great customisation options, my favourite layout was the 6 big rectangles and it even has mobile responsive pop-up options. You can easily track your analytics from inside the site and it's a great alternative if you want more functionality than LinkWithin offers but I did find it slowed down the loading time of the blog compared to the other 2.
I recently started using Engageya and have to say so far it's my favourite of the 3. More people click on it than the Limk related posts and it doesn't seem to affect how quickly the blog loads.
It offers some basic customisation and analytics but the thing I like most about Engageya is the Reader Exchange. You can choose to show relevant content from other sites as well as your own and send your readers to these sites. In exchange your content will show up on other relevant sites and send lovely new readers your way. They also have an option that lets you promote your Facebook page as well as your blog posts as part of the related content. I love this feature. It's a good way to drive traffic to your Facebook page and then back to your blog.
I love, love, love Pinterest. I use Ahalogy and Boardbooster to schedule pins to my Pinterest account. I like and use them both for different reasons.
Ahalogy spreads your pins out over a day or week and schedules them to go out when they'll get the most exposure. It has this really great little pop up as part of the code you install on your site. When someone clicks on a pin you've pinned using Ahalogy it pops up letting them know they can follow you on Pinterest. If you pin content from other Ahalogy users your pop up Pinterest profile will appear on their page and vice versa. You send them traffic, they give you potential followers.
Ahalogy is free for content creators to use although you do have to apply and not everyone gets in first time. If you want to know more about Ahalogy check out this episode of the Food Blogger Pro Podcast with Susan Wenner Jackson from Ahalogy.
Boardbooster is a little different. A monthly plan starts at $5 a month although you can sign up for a free trial including a 100 pins. It's biggest selling point for me is that you can pin directly from Pinterest. You create a secret board through Boardbooster and pin directly to that board while in the Pinterest app. Boardbooster then schedules your pins from that secret board so there's no need to go to a separate site or use a browser extension.
There's a few different ways you can make money with your blog. Here are a few of the most popular.
Sponsored posts. When a brand pays you to write about their product.
Sidebar ads. Google Adsense is one of the most well known ad networks. You get paid any time someone clicks on an ad. You can also use ads that pay per impression (per thousand page views) such as Sovrn and Switch Ads. And don't forget you can sell ad space to other bloggers and small businesses using a service like Passionfruit Ads.
Affiliate links. I use a couple of different affiliate networks. Amazon Affiliate is the main one. Every time I refer someone to a product or service on Amazon and they make a purchase I receive a small commission (4-8%). I use Amazon to link to any materials or tools I use to make a diy project.
Another affiliate network I use is shareasale.com. Shareasale is good because it has thousands of affiliate programs you can apply to be a part of. It works in a similar way to the Amazon Affiliate program, you receive a commission, normally around 10-30% of every purchase or sometimes even a sign-up you refer. You can refer people by using text links, banner ads like the ones in the sidebar or product reviews. You also get access to any sales or special offers like this one ahead of time so you can let your readers know.
If you're a diy/craft bloggers here are a few affiliate programs I would recommend:
Craftsy Affiliate Program. This is one of my favourites. Craftsy offers fantastic high quality online video courses on sewing, knitting, crocheting, food, paper craft and many more. I've completed several of their courses and would recommend them. They offer a 10% commission structure on all purchases.
As well as paid classes it has plenty of free classes for you to promote as well as free download resources like this 20 page Beginners Guide to Crochet and this one for 6 Stash-Busting Paper Crafts Projects. I love it when you can give people free stuff.
Creativebug Affiliate Program. This is another company that offers online video courses but instead of buying individual classes like with Craftsy, you sign-up for a monthly subscription of $4.95 and get access to all their courses. I love Creativebug. They have a fantastic range of classes and for every month you're a member you get 1 class to keep forever.
Blurb Affiliate Program. The Blurb affiliate program has a 15% commission rate. You can use it to design, publish and share your own photo books. I love the idea of using Blurb to make a book using a photo project series that you've shared on your blog or as a way of producing a photo diary of your year. I've made a couple of the Instagram books below and really like the look of the Facebook ones as well.
If you're brand new to blogging and don't know where to start I recommend the book Blog Inc. By Joy Deangdeelert Cho. It covers all the basics from naming your blog, setting it up, finding your voice, creating content and how to market and grow your site.
If you're looking to invest I loved April's Build a Successful Creative Blog class on CreativeLive (it's currently $99). I took pages of notes when I first took this course and refer back to them often. CreativeLive has loads of classes that are free to watch live and then available to purchase afterwards. It's worth registering and keeping an eye out for any free upcoming online courses you think you might be interested in.
Podcasts can also offer a wealth of information on blogging. I love Elise Gets Crafty for all kinds of creative business inspiration. The Food Blogger Pro Podcast is fantastic resource and not just for food bloggers. Being Boss is another good one as is Oh So Pinteresting. After the Jump the podcast by Grace Bonney from Design Sponge is currently on a break but still has loads of amazing tips and insights to share from it's archives.
If you want a more in depth look at how someone has grown and monetised their blog then take a look at Pinch of Yum's Income Reports. Lindsay and Bjork have been sharing monthly reports since 2011 showing how they've grown their blog and diversified their income.
I'll be adding new resources to this page so make sure to check back.