Hey everyone! I had the pleasure of hosting a fun workshop this past week where I shared beginner’s tips on how to take Instagram worthy photos along with advice for those looking to get into blogging. I wanted to share a few personal tips and tricks, especially being a blogger on a budget who works a day job! Read more below on how I make my content ideas come to life and a special thank you to everyone who attended my workshop- I hope you had as much fun as I did!
So you want to start a blog…
I will be honest here. Starting a blog takes a lot of time at the beginning. From deciding on what you want your blog to focus on, the name, what site you want to host (or house) your blog, to the overall design of your blog. For me, I read a TON of blog posts from Lindsay Humes’ website which got my blog up and running pretty seamlessly. She also has such cute blog design templates (I use hers!) and she is always so helpful if I have a random question (which I do on occasion!). She has everything you need to help get you started, especially if you were like me and didn’t know where to begin.
The biggest advice I have before starting your blog is knowing what you want your content to focus on and stick with it. For me, a lifestyle focus keeps my blog pretty broad, but my core topics and themes focus on my city, styles I love, fitness, travel guides, public relations advice and my life thoughts/advice.
Content, planning and more content
As I began my blogging adventures, calendars quickly became my friend. I like to plan my blog posts well over a month in advance, so then I can easily rearrange my scheduled posts if something else comes up last minute. When I was super new to blogging, I would spend a few days taking countless photos to build an ongoing photo bank so I had ongoing content. My weekends and early mornings were filled with shoots (and still are time to time!) because I work Monday-Friday, 9-5. Google Calendars and a notebook are still what I use today… so simple I know.. but so so helpful.
How to build your following
So you have your blog and Instagram ready to go with a few articles and photos. What’s next? Building your following is important, and is an ongoing process. Here are a few tips I try and stick by to help my content get noticed by as many eyes as possible, and on top of that, reach the right people.
- Use hashtags that you want to be known by: One hashtag I always use is #citystyle, and with that same hashtag, I search to see what others are posting about who use it too. I love searching for other creators, learning about them and their story. I am not afraid to leave a nice comment on someone’s photo, especially if I appreciate and respect their content! Think of this like a networking opportunity- the only difference is you are networking through a social media platform and getting to know other bloggers who share similar interests as you.
- Tags and Geo-tags are your friend: I always love tagging the brands I have on, the restaurants I am at, my location, city, etc. This allows my photo to pop up in different feeds and reach more people.
- Decide who you want your audience to be? Imagine who would be your dream followers. For me, people who love style, live in a big city, or work in public relations is a WIN in my book! I know there are people out there with similar interests as me and I want to know who they are so I try and find these exact people and learn about them through their content. This is similar to my first tip, but you never know who you might meet.
Photography Tips for Beginners
I have always embraced the challenge of finding a good photo opportunity, but ever since I got a professional camera, (I have a Canon 80D!) I have been one to read up on how to properly use it to capture the best photo.
General photo tips
- Decide what kind of message you are trying to convey: What do you want to express to your audience? Are you wanting to show a happy go lucky time? Or are you trying to show a moment that is a bit more dark and mysterious. Knowing what kind of message you want to send to others helps you form my next two points.
- Setting is key: Sometimes I get SO excited about a photo opportunity, I have to hit pause because that setting might be better suited for something else down the line. I try and decide what are three different photos I could capture in the same setting, what is my message, and which photo would resonate best with my audience. From there, I aim to get the ‘money shot’ that I feel most confident and excited about.
- How you edit the photo is important: I get into which editing apps I use below, but this goes along with what kind of message or story you want to tell your audience and lighting is an important factor when it comes to editing your photo.
A few of my tips for those with a professional camera but are beginners:
- It is OK to shoot in AUTO: I actually find the photos I am happiest with are in the “Creative Auto” setting on my camera. Creative Auto gives you the flexibility to control depth of field, flash or no flash etc. if you would like, but still does the leg work for you to set you up for success.
- Prime Lens will give you a nice blur effect: It’s a blogger staple to be the focus of your photo with a beautiful blurred background. Who wouldn’t want to be the center of the photo within a gorgeous shot? As I researched lenses that allow this magical ‘blur’ effect, they cost well over $1,000 (AH) so the more I researched, I found out about a prime lens which gives you a nice blur effect, and only costs around $100. The only thing is you have to back up to fit a lot in your frame, but with practice it becomes easier to maneuver.
- More is less (in photography terms): I have faced the problem of having to perform an awkward crop job one too many times because the full photo can’t fit within the specific dimensions of Instagram. I constantly have to remind myself to back up 3 more steps than I usually would so I get everything I want in the frame, with enough space above and below me, and I can downsize later if needed. More than less is a better problem to have.
A few tips when using an iPhone:
- Lighting: I always click the subject of my photo before I take it so the camera knows what to focus on. There is nothing worse than asking someone to take a picture, and then the photo is completely dark and even the best editing app couldn’t help give the photo life and zest.
- Use the editing feature within iPhone for a quick edit job: When I want to enhance color in my images quickly, I edit my photos using iPhone and save it down. Saturation and contrast are my go-tos!
- Turn up the sharpness to make your photos more crisp: Might seem like a no brainer, but I have been asked numerous times “was this taken with a professional camera?” and when I say it was taken with a phone, the response is always “no way!” or “that’s awesome!”. I always like using the Sharpness feature (It is an editing feature in Instagram) because the photo looks much more crisp and professional.
Even the best camera won’t be able to show the level of detail and color that I saw within that one photo worthy moment I was experiencing. That said, I am never opposed to using editing apps that help highlight the moment I was living and breathing.
- My favorite apps: One fun fact with my photos is I never use photo shop on a computer. I edit directly on my phone and honestly prefer that because time is of the essence and it allows me to post content in real time for the most part. The two apps I use the most are Adobe Lightroom CC and VSCO. Adobe Lightroom is around $4 and I use the free VSCO app!
Some of my tips are pretty simple, but maybe you never thought of one of my points before, so I hope it helps! Last but not least, remember to stay true to YOU and don’t force a photo if it doesn’t make sense. It is important to capture photos that happen in your everyday life, and to not be so scripted. I am a strong believer in people want to know the REAL you and not someone who lives behind a screen. Stay true to who you are, and never think twice about what other people think. Don’t forget to have fun when you’re capturing your content-the good news is you’ll have photos to remember those fun moments. Laugh lots and surround yourself with people who share similar interests as you and support you in all you do <3.
Leave any and all questions below- I hope my VERY beginner’s guide helps you in your photography and blogging adventures!