Gift ideas for bloggers, eh? No, this isn’t a thinly veiled attempt to get you to buy something for me. I’m set, thanks!
Rather, this post is 100% designed to help you. Perhaps your spouse or a friend has decided to start a blog. They’re excited about the idea and are dreaming of what their life might be like if they’re able to turn their passion into profits. And you want to help! But you’re not a blogger. You have no idea what advice to give and don’t know where to begin. (Or maybe it’s YOU that’s starting the blog, and you want to be able to give others gift suggestions.)
Well start here!
I’m going to walk you through some gift ideas for bloggers that includes gear and tech that virtually every blogger could use. Some of these items are as inexpensive as a few bucks, while some may range into the thousands of dollars – which gives you plenty of options! I guarantee there are gift ideas for bloggers here suitable for any budget.
One last thing before we jump in… are these affiliate links? Heck, yes! It doesn’t cost you a dime extra though. I have used every one of these items before (or a similar version) and can recommend them. If you were to do some shopping for me, I’d be thrilled with anything on this list.
We’ll break this down into Basic and Advanced gift ideas for bloggers.
Gift Ideas For Bloggers: Basic Gear
It may go without saying but I’m going to say it anyways, every good blogger has a laptop. And I’m specifically drawing a distinction between laptops and desktops here, as most bloggers will need or want to travel. Whether they’re attending conferences or enjoying the fun lifestyle blogging can afford, bloggers need to be able to crack open a laptop and work their blog no matter where they’re at.
Now, there’s the age-old debate of PC vs. Mac and I have to say, for most bloggers, it couldn’t matter less. Most of the work you’ll be doing will be online which means it’s your WiFi that’s most important. However, if you want to record video or broadcast live video, make sure you get the most powerful system your budget allows. Processor and graphics capability are what matter most here. RAM and hard disk space are also important. Here’s what I recommend for the prospective blogger & live streamer:
If you don’t plan to live stream or process video, you can go for a laptop half that price, or any Mac. (Note that if you get a newer Mac, you’re going to have to also get a docking station of some kind. This will give yourself additional USB and HDMI ports. I use this one from Hyperdrive.)
The Logitech HD Pro C920 is the de facto standard for webcams. With full HD 1080p video calling, it’s likely to be superior to whatever camera is built in to your laptop which, sadly, appears to be an afterthought most of the time.
If you’re using a desktop computer, a webcam like this one is an absolute must, even if you don’t plan to record video or livestream. One of the most effective means of growing your audience and personal brand will be to appear on other people’s live video shows or podcasts, so be prepared to be interviewed.
If you want to broadcast the highest quality video possible, we’re going to cover that in the Advanced Blogging Gear section. I still have an old C920, but that’s not what I use any longer.
Just as with the webcam, your laptop will come with a microphone built-in which you should absolutely never use. Remember that if you’re recording yourself, whether audio & video or just audio, the quality of the recording matters a great deal.
People simply will not tolerate a poor recording – it’s too challenging and distracting to try and understand someone who is muffled or soft or crackling. Fortunately, great A/V gear doesn’t have to be expensive! The ATR2100 is an ideal solution for bloggers and costs less than $70. I bought mine 6 or 7 years ago and I’m still using it today!
Are there “better” more expensive mics out there? Absolutely. Yeti and Heil are two excellent brands you can check out. However, if you really want amazing audio – and I get compliments on mine constantly – I have an option for you in the Advanced Blogging Gear section that will give you incredible sound for less combined investment than those more expensive mics.
Every laptop comes with speakers built-in, so why would you want headphones? First, if you’re traveling and want to listen to something on your laptop, it’s common courtesy to use headphones so as not to disturb everyone around you, whether you’re blogging in an airport or having video call meetings in a cafe on the Champs-Élysées.
Second, there will be times when you are trying to record audio and your microphone picks up the output from your speakers and adds feedback or an echo to your recording. Popping in some headphones will correct that immediately. Now, most will simply use a pair of the simple headphones from Apple that we all have a dozen sets of, but if you want higher-quality headphones, I recommend these:
Having used several different wired headphones, these wireless buds are going to be my next investment, and at just $50, they’re very reasonably priced.
To keep your laptop elevated and the fans free to do their cooling labor, a laptop stand is a great investment. And if you’re using the built-in camera for anything at all, it’s a requirement (unless you like people looking up your nose). Here’s what I use:
Lighting is incredibly important, both for a pleasant working environment and for recording quality video. I have some more advanced lighting recommendations in the other gear section, but for a quick solution if your normal lamp or overhead lighting isn’t sufficient, try one of these ring lights for less than $15 that can attach to a phone or laptop easily:
STARBUCKS GIFT CARDS
While this might seem like a joke, it’s not!! Bloggers live on coffee like it’s mana from heaven. Not only does caffeine fuel the creative mind, the ever-present Starbucks location is an ideal place to meetup with fellow bloggers, clients, and so on. Starbucks Gift Cards are always a safe and easy gift to any blogger.
Gift Ideas For Bloggers: Basic Tech
STARTING A BLOG
How To Start A Blog eBook – This is THE primer for anyone who wants to start a successful, money-making blog and do it without spinning their wheels for months and months trying to figure everything out. This book walks you through everything from initial research, picking a domain name, setting up hosting and WordPress, to how to structure, write and promote blog posts. The nice thing here is that the book is 100% free!
PLANNING A BLOG
2019 Blogging Planner – One of the biggest challenges facing bloggers is determining what to write about over the next 3 – 12 months. Not only do they need to come up with blog post ideas in order to keep writing and publishing, strategic bloggers are thinking about how all of the content they publish overall fits into an overall plan for success. In other words, what posts does a blogger need to create in order to build real traffic and drive real results?
A Blogging Planner helps map out that strategy. By combining brainstorming worksheets with calendaring and To Do lists, bloggers are able to think through everything they need to do and then simply execute. The planner also helps track milestone events, contacts, campaigns and more! And the best part is, it works out to only a couple bucks a month for a whole year’s worth of assistance.
BLOGGING HELP & TRAINING
360 Marketing Squad Membership – The last piece of basic tech that every blogger should take advantage of is the 360 Marketing Squad. This is an exclusive, private Facebook Group where myself, Jenn Herman, Stephanie Liu and Amanda Robinson provide monthly training and constant Q&A on every digital marketing topic including blogging, social media, email marketing, search engine marketing, live video, analytics and chatbots.
For just $5 a month, you get access to all four of and can ask questions whenever you wish, plus all of the training and resources available (multiple live videos and ebooks and downloads already!).
Gift Ideas For Bloggers: Advanced Gear
Ready to kick your blogging up a notch? Creating a higher quality product will absolutely pay off in terms of brand awareness and authority, so each and every one of these recommendations is well worth the investment. Start with:
Want to step up the quality of your video? You can use a DSLR camera like a Canon and deliver amazing-looking video, whether you’re recording and editing or broadcasting to Facebook Live. Even in meetings with clients! And if you have a Mac, all you need is two free pieces of software: Camera Live & CamTwist (detailed instructions here).
If you already have a DSLR you can try using that. If not, I recommend starting with a Canon T6i and a standard “50” lens for great bokeh.
While the Video Creator Kit from Canon above does come with a lens, for live-streaming in a stationary position, I recommend a 50mm lens which isn’t too expensive. And the low focal stop will create a gorgeous visual of you and your space (do take the time to consider and update your background!).
While you may be able to rig up a platform on which to place your DSLR Camera so that it’s filming you at the best possible height and distance, it will be SO much easier to arrange if you simply have it on a tripod. Do make sure that whatever tripod you get is as tall as possible so that you have maximum flexibility.
While I use my iPhone 8 Plus constantly to keep up with email & social media, one of the features that I adore is the camera. Now, you may be thinking, why would I use my iPhone for pictures when I have a Canon T6i? Simple. I don’t always have my T6i with me. But I always have my phone. And as I do more traveling and attend more conferences and events, this is proven to be essential.
As you wander through this blogging website, for instance, you may note that every single featured image (the large image at the top of every blog post) is a picture that I took personally. And most of them were taken with my iPhone. Walking through the streets of Paris. Yachting off the beaches of Hawaii. Exploring the parks of San Diego.
The best camera is the camera you have with you, and an iPhone is a pretty darn camera (I particularly love the Portrait mode!).
For years I used my MacBook’s 17” screen and was perfectly happy with it. The 21” monitor I had and could have connected wasn’t really that much larger. But Apple no longer makes laptops that large any more so when I got my new MacBook 13” I was feeling shrunk! For most work, a monitor that small is truly a hinderance. So I picked up a larger second monitor and not only is it easier to work with, I have fallen in love with using both monitors simultaneously – my laptop sits on it’s stand off to the right and is a second screen for me.
The model I’m using is no longer available but the Acer ED273 is an excellent alternative and only costs $179.99. Note that you’ll connect using an HDMI cable and if you’re using a newer MacBook, you’ll need that docking station I mentioned earlier.
Whether you’re hiking out to a secluded cabin or wandering the hallowed halls of the San Diego Convention Center, a backpack is essential gear.
In addition to stowing your laptop and charging cable, you can make sure you keep hydrated, stash your camera and lenses, and all your other gear.
My own backpack has traveled with me literally all over the world.
Ok, here’s some #RealTalk for a moment. Blogging is a sedentary occupation. A full-time blogger will spend all day sitting at their desk, and that’s not healthy!
There are lots of techniques and approaches one can take (including letting your Apple iWatch remind you to stand every hour and exercise every day), but one of the best options is to invest in a standing desk. Now, you can invest in a desk that actually converts up and down, or build your own if you wish. The option I’m going for is to get a converter – a little platform on which your laptop, monitor, keyboard and mouse rest, which can raise up allowing you to stand as needed. I think this makes it a lot easier to sit or stand as much as you wish.
I mentioned earlier how important good lighting is. Not only does it make you look better, it also improves the overall quality of the video as the camera depends on that lighting. Ideally, use a 3-point system where you have two sources of diffused white light in front of you, and one source of light illuminating behind you to eliminate shadows. The best solution is a set of umbrella lights which you can position as needed, and even pack up and move if you need to film elsewhere.
The ATR2100 does come with a small tripod that you can place on your desk and position as needed, but that’s usually not ideal. What most serious bloggers and podcasters will use is an arm that can swivel and extend so that it’s easy to swing the microphone away from you when you’re not using it. It also makes it possible to bring the microphone close to your mouth no matter where or how you’re sitting.
This scissor arm clamps to your desk so make sure that approach will work for you. There are many other options to consider if you need floor mount or something else.
It may be a good idea for you to use a pop filter when recording audio depending on your style of speech. If you tend to enunciate your “p’s” and other key vowel sounds, a microphone will pick up those bursts of sound and make little “popping” sounds. A pop filter helps reduce the breath and wind that comes out during those moments, giving you a cleaner, smoother audio experience. And they’re extremely affordable.
If you want to take your audio quality to the next level, and don’t want to invest $500+ in a high-end microphone, this solution is just as good. You’ll plug your microphone into a mixer and plug the mixer into your computer. The mixer can then improve and enhance the quality of your audio!
Every time I am on a broadcast, viewers and listeners marvel at how amazing I sound. And it’s true! With a mixer you can not only adjust the gain better, you get to take advantage of the “Brittish EQ” to improve the low, mid and high levels.
The key is to get a mixer like the one above that has USB OUT so that you can plug it into your laptop. This one takes XLR in – that’s the three-prong large cable – which is fine if you get the ATR2100 Microphone I recommended earlier, which is USB or XLR. (It comes with both cables for you as well.)
If you’re going to record audio with your iPhone or at a bit of a distance from your computer – or if you’re interviewing someone else – you may want to use a microphone that attaches to your lapel or clothing, a Lavalier mic.
When you’re ready to take ridiculously-good images or video, particularly outdoors, you need to get a stabilizer. The DJI Osmo is the industry standard when it comes to gimbals.
By mounting your smartphone onto the handheld, you allow the unit to eliminate normal jiggles and motion that occur when we hold our phone in our hand. And this kit includes a case, tripod and more. This is one of the gifts we provided to our cherished Agorapulse Ambassadors for Christmas!
Gift Ideas For Bloggers: Advanced Tech
These are the tools and services that I use to run my blog, optimize it, grow my audience, and increase my monthly revenue.
EMAIL MARKETING / LEAD GENERATION
Wishpond – One of the most critical tools that I use throughout my blog is Wishpond. This is the tool that I use for Email Marketing, so all of my subscribers go into Wishpond to receive autoresponders and newsletters. But it’s so much more than that. I can create landing pages and contests and other campaigns within Wishpond. I can also create all kinds of pop-ups and forms which are essential to lead generation, particularly for bloggers.
The #1 method bloggers can employ to grow their audience and email community is to offer a free digital download. With Wishpond you can create a form or pop-up or landing page that presents the offer, have those interested subscribers added to an appropriate list, and then create a workflow that automatically sends them an email with whatever they’ve signed up for. And that takes just minutes to set up. All of the downloads and resources I offer here on Blogging Brute are powered by Wishpond.
SOCIAL SHARING BUTTONS
Social Warfare – Every blog post needs to have social sharing buttons, and I completely recommend Social Warfare. You can see them here throughout my own blog. Beyond giving you gorgeous customizable sharing buttons for the networks of your choice, you also get incredible behind-the-scenes capability like pinnacle images, share count recovery, and more.
PREMIUM BLOG THEME
StudioPress – New bloggers often use free themes to control the look and feel of their blog, and that’s totally OK. But once you’ve committed to building a great blog, you need to commit to offering a great design and experience. While you could pay a designed to build you a custom theme (and many established bloggers do), my advice is to spend less and invest in a premium theme that you can easily customize.
Premium Themes from StudioPress (I’m using Mai Theme for this site) give you flexibility and control without having to do a lot of programming.
SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT & CONTENT AMPLIFICATION
Agorapulse – When it comes to amplifying my content, social media is a must, and for that I turn to Agorapulse. I’ve been using Agorapulse since 2016 and would recommend no other tool for general social media management. I can schedule shares of my evergreen content to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn… even Instagram and Google+! (While it lasts.) And I can monitor comments and feedback on those shares all in one Inbox.
Tailwind – Pinterest is every bloggers best friend. While many refer to it as a social network, it’s really more of a visual search engine. People search and browse for solutions or stoppable items and save them for later all the time. Which means a successful Pinterest strategy will not only drive shares and clicks of your pinned content, but those pins will contribute for months and months on end (unlike tweets, for instance, which are never seen again after 18 minutes).
Tailwind is the Gold Standard when it comes to building your Pinterest presence. With it you can schedule pins, share them to multiple boards with time intervals in between, and get tremendous insight into how your pins and boards are performing.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
SEMrush – Google Analytics is tremendously helpful in determining how your content is performing in terms of traffic and sources, but if you really want to drive organic traffic, you’re going to need a tool for Search Engine Optimization. SEMrush is what I use to help me track how key pieces of content are ranking and determine what else I can do to optimize them.
With SEMrush you can also research key topics related to your blog and brainstorm additional blog posts to create in the coming months (and insert them into your Blogging Planner!).
CONVERT BLOG POSTS INTO VIDEOS
Content Samurai – A blog is obviously all about writing, so how can a blogger take advantage of YouTube, the #2 search engine? With Content Samurai. This tool will help you turn your written blog posts into great-looking videos that you can upload to YouTube or Facebook. These fun videos can summarize the key points in your content and then direct viewers to learn more from the blog post itself!
Monster Insights – With Monster Insights, you can merge data from Google Analytics with and within your WordPress blog to gain tremendous insight on where your readers are coming from and what they’re doing. Armed with that information, you can make adjustments and create more content that delivers real business results.
ONLINE COURSE CREATION & MONETIZATION
Thinkific – Once you’ve been blogging for a while, a great way to monetize that content is to turn it into a course people can buy! While lots of people will read through blog post after blog post, organizing and enhancing all of that content into an online course is a very attractive option to your readers. And Thinkific is a brilliant, easy-to-use platform for just that purpose.
EVENTS & NETWORKING
Social Media Marketing World – Finally, one of the best things you can do for any blogger is get them to attend a conference, and there’s none better than Social Media Marketing World. Thousands and thousands of marketers and bloggers from around the world converge in San Diego in the Spring each year. The teaching tracks on content marketing and blogging are always incredibly helpful.
But more important than that is the opportunities for networking and relationship building. When you have an opportunity to meet someone face to face, it blows open massive doors of opportunity. In the months and years after a trip to SMMW, you’ll learn from the people you met, help each other, and find fantastic ways to collaborate. The investment is worth every penny.
If you just can’t afford to attend SMMW in person, you can consider the Virtual Ticket to still benefit from the learning at a fraction of the cost, or take a look at the Midwest Digital Marketing Conference in St. Louis that costs significantly less to attend (and where I’ll be teaching a session on Blogging and a workshop on Content Marketing). Either of those would be an excellent gift idea.
The Right Gift Ideas For Bloggers?
While every blogger won’t need all of this gear and tech, I guarantee any blogger would be thrilled to find one of these under their tree or in their Inbox on Christmas morning! And if you’re looking for even more gift ideas, my dear friend Donna Moritz has put together “Gift Ideas For Entrepreneurs.“
Wondering whether your special blogging someone really needs one of these items? Just ask me in the comments!