Last week, I hit three years of blogging here at Gold & Graphite–11 years blogging total which is absolutely wild. I’ve had so many fantastic moments in this space so far and I’m looking forward to watching it continue to grow. I am certainly not an expert but I am often asked the tools I find essential to blogging so today, I’m sharing every single one.
iPhone: I hope it goes without saying that any phone will do (okay, maybe not those Cricket phones for children with like 6 buttons) but I’m sharing the exact tools I use and for me, it’s the X. The cameras allows me to confidently take photos on my phone without feeling like I’m making a huge sacrifice for quality. Remember, “the best camera is the one you have on you at the time” and often that just happens to be our phones.
MacBook: again, any computer will basically do the trick. I’ve used a MacBook since 2010 and have never looked back
iPad: an iPad isn’t essential unless you’re an artist OR need to work on-the-go and prefer not to lug your laptop around. I’ve linked my exact iPad and find it to be just what I need-no extra bells and whistles but it’s compatible with my Procreate app and my Apple pencil which is all I need.
Apple pencil: Whether you just want to practice hand-lettering and calligraphy or take advantage of everything the app offers, an apple pencil is a must. I love the ease of hand lettering in the app rather than on paper when I need digitized lettering in a hurry.
Photoshop: I took a single Photoshop course in college and I probably know 4% of the software but I use it to make all my mood boards, collages and nearly all my compilations on the blog. I also couldn’t possibly finalize artwork, remove paper backgrounds or make prints of my work without Photoshop. I can’t recommend it enough-along with maybe a Skillshare course or a few YouTube videos on the topic.
WordPress: I know many people who use Squarespace or Blogger for their blogs but I absolutely love the versatility, freedom and customization of WordPress. Getting the hang of HTML takes a while but I’m a WordPress girl for life.
Canva: Canva is incredible. Canva is a great place to make cohesive templates for your business/blog without having to be a graphic designer. If I don’t want to make something fully custom in Photoshop, Canva has me covered. I use Canva to get my photo ready for Pinterest, to create a series for Instagram Stories, create Facebook Ads and everything in-between. I upgraded to a Pro membership because I found myself using it enough over the years to justify it.
I still get questions all the time on what cameras I use and how I learned to take photos. I am 100% self-taught and have had a camera in hand for as long as I can remember. I am not a professional by any means, but it is a hobby I enjoy more than most. I have a full blog post on every single photography detail you could ever want to know right HERE so I’ll keep this pretty minimal.
Canon G7X: This is the best beginners camera and second camera I could ever recommend. I love that it has a reversible screen (a ‘selfie’ screen, if you will) which makes it the perfect camera for YouTubers. The fact that it has WiFi earns it even more gold stars so I can quickly send the photos to my phone without having to first upload them to my laptop. I have found it to be my favorite camera to throw in the bag on trips to be sure I document and get great video of everything even if I don’t want to have my large DSLR. The photo quality is stunning and the video quality is something you won’t find in any other camera at this price-point. This makes the top 5 must-have blogging essentials for me.
Canon 5D Markii: I just upgraded to this camera last year and while it is absolutely a big investment, it has been worth every single penny for me. The auto-focus is unmatched and the touch-screen + Wi-fi combination make it very user friendly. I’m hooked on the creamy, dreamy bokeh I’m able to get with this camera and love it for keeping up with my always-moving kiddos. I used the 5D for years and the Rebel with this 50mm lens is a great place to start if you’re not ready to pull the trigger on my camera. I share all my favorite lenses for each occasion in this post
Lightroom: I use VSCO more than I use Lightroom these days (we’ll talk about that when we get to Apps) but Lightroom is one of the best resources available for editing photos.
VSCO: I edit the majority of all my photos in VSCO. I prefer A6 and play around with brightness, contrast, grain and such to make them my own.
Unfold: I used to make all my stories look cohesive. Same filter, super clean-the works. I now prefer to make it more realistic for two reasons: one-I have three littles and can’t afford to spend that amount of time making things look perfect. two- I try to make things a little but more real rather than curated beyond belief. Still-I love using this app at some point nearly every day to share something in stories.
ColorStory: I don’t use this photo editing app quite as much but I do enjoy the ‘Flashes of Delight’ package and love the look it gives photos. There is an entire world of options in this app from light-leaks to glitter so I highly recommend playing around with it.
Canva: I use Canva on my laptop and also the Canva App to make social media tasks simpler
Voxer: This isn’t an absolute essential but as I’ve grown my team this year, I’ve found the walkie-talkie nature of this app to be so helpful. Think of it as exchanging voicemails. I also use this with my friends and love catching up with them this way when we don’t have time to get on the phone.
Podcasts: I have found podcast to be an unmatched resource for my business. I am a full-time mom. My kids are home with me every day and I’m nursing a three month old baby. To say I have less time to dedicate to learning in the traditional sense is an understatement. Being able to listen to teaching via audiobook and podcasts has been irreplaceable. Here are the podcasts I personally find most helpful:
Skillshare: Please take full advantage of Skillshare. Whatever it is you’d like to know, there’s likely a way to grow in your knowledge of the topic there. It’s another place to learn
The most important resource for blogging is the feedback of your readers and the message on your heart. Sure, it sounds pretty cheesy to type out but it’s so true. Growth will come when it comes- serving your audience whether it be 10, 100 or 10,000 people-is the key.
(the glasses in these photos are my real glasses but I do have this blue light pair that look similar and I recommend for hours in front of a screen0